Steins;Gate

The universe has a beginning, but no end. – Infinity. Stars, too, have their own beginnings, but their own power results in their destruction. – Finite. It is those who possess wisdom who are the greatest fools. History has shown us this. You could say that this is the final warning from God to those who resist.

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What happens when you combine time travel, otakus, a cat girl, and a college student who likes to make believe he’s a mad scientist? You get Steins;Gate, a media franchise spanning multiple video games, tv shows, audio dramas, and comic books. Originally just part of a long series of barely related media from developers 5pb. and Nitroplus which all use a similar “Word;Word” naming theme, Steins;Gate separated itself from the other games in the series by delving more into so-called “real science” with a lot of the content based on existing theories and real-life occurrences. The game was very popular in Japan when it was released in 2009, leading to North American visual novel localizer JAST USA to translate it into English. Initially in the west it didn’t catch on due to visual novels not being particularly popular here, and its primary distributor being J-List, a site that mostly deals in mature content imported from Japan. However, in 2011 the visual novel was adapted into a 24-episode anime series, which followed the “true ending” narrative arc from the game, cutting investment time from potentially over 100 hours for the game down to around 11 hours to watch the series.

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In all of it’s forms, we’re placed with Rintaro Okabe, an eccentric college student who likes to pretend he’s the mad scientist Kyoma Hooin as our protagonist. Founder of the “Future Gadget Laboratory,” Okabe along with Lab Member #003, Daru Hashida, develop gadgets that have little to no practical use such as a ray gun that can turn a TV off but not back on, or an instant humidifier shaped like a claymore mine. Lab Member #002 is Shiina Mayuri who is a childhood friend of Okabe’s. They spend their afternoons piddling around in their “lab” which is really just a rented space above an old CRT repair shop in Akihabara.

This all changes on July 28th, 2010 when Okabe and Mayuri attend a conference held at the Radio Kaikan building about time travel, being hosted by Dr. Nakabachi. Okabe notices a lot of similarities between Nakabachi’s theories and ideas posited by John Titor on online forums in 2000 and 2001. Titor claimed to be from the year 2036 and predicted several things for the coming decade including a civil war in the US in 2004, largely caused by the presidential election that year, which would last until 2015 followed by a World War III which would result in the nuclear bombings of Washington DC and Jacksonville, Florida. Obviously, none of this came to pass, causing Titor to be considered an elaborate hoax, and thus Okabe finds Nakabachi’s ideas outrageous due to their lack of foundation. As Nakabachi is about to lash out at Okabe, a young woman walks up to Okabe, grabs his coat and pulls him from the conference room.

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Okabe recognizes this woman as Kurisu Makise, something of a child-prodigy who had a major scientific paper published at only the age of sixteen. Kurisu inquires as to what Okabe wanted to talk to her about, but is met with a confused look. He didn’t say anything to her, in fact he had never even met her before, nor did he know she would be at this conference. Thoroughly confused, Okabe leaves Kurisu and goes to find his friend, Mayuri. Realizing he can’t go back to the conference, if it’s still even in progress after his outburst, the two decide to leave, and as they’re exiting the building they hear a blood curdling scream. Okabe, in a strange act of heroism, runs to where he believes he heard the scream come from to make sure things are okay. Instead what he finds is Kurisu, face down, in a pool of blood. Petrified he runs away, finds Mayuri, and they exit the building. While walking through the ever-crowded streets of Akihabara, Okabe sends a text to Daru, and then everything changes. Okabe suffers a sudden onset headache that goes away as fast as it came…and then he notices everyone is gone. The bustling street he was just standing in is now entirely vacant, save for him and Mayuri. He begins to panic, trying to understand what is happening, and looks up towards the sky when he notices a large satellite has crashed into building he’d been in just moments ago.

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From here we follow Okabe, Mayuri, Daru, and a large cast of characters as they try to understand what has happened. How they can change past events to bring people back from the dead, change a person’s destiny, and that playing with time is a very, very dangerous thing. From trying to prevent a global dystopia from developing to trying to prevent the third world war from beginning, Okabe and his friends must determine what the right course for history is, try to set the timeline on that path, and hopefully reach the Steins Gate.

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A fantastic series that looks good, flows fairly well, has decent English voice acting and superb Japanese voice acting, and a captivating story full of drama, humor, and some macabre. I’ve rated it a 9 out of 10 on MyAnimeList and highly recommend anyone who is interested in science fiction or anime to watch it, and if you have the time to invest, play the visual novel, which is available on
Steam.

The series can be viewed, for free with some advertisements, at http://www.crunchyroll.com/steinsgate and is available to purchase from most retailers who sell anime, such as www.amazon.com or www.RightStufanime.com.

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