A thoughtful response to current anime.

Steins;Gate – Episode 1

Steins;Gate is a sequel to Chaos;Head, which I enjoyed a lot toward the beginning, but which had a compressed, nonsensical ending.  I’m sure they had a great story to tell there, but they didn’t tell it.  They had too many characters and didn’t develop them, too many plot points and didn’t develop them.  It was based on a visual novel, a medium with looser length constraints than a one season anime, and they had to hit all the plot points and have all the characters from the visual novel, or the people who liked the visual novel would have taken it as a betrayal, so I can understand their choices, but I can’t agree with them.  Anyway, this is all by way of saying, I don’t remember what happened at the end of Chaos;Head, so I guess everything that happens in Steins;Gate episode 1 will be perplexing to me.

…thirty minutes pass…

That strikes me as unnecessarily pessimistic.

So if my problem with Chaos;Head was that I couldn’t follow the plot, it sort of strikes me that adding time travel won’t help.  I do love a good time travel story, which basically means I love Primer and nothing else.  Time travel is hard to do well as a key element of your plot.  You can throw it in as a premise at the start, to send your Connecticut yankii back to King Arthur’s court  or whatever, but if you are going to make it an ongoing part of your plot, it has to work by sane, sensible rules, which is kind of tricky to set up given how inherently paradoxical it is.  I’m sure even Primer didn’t actually get it to work, but they made things complicated enough I couldn’t see where it broke down, which was good enough.

So the plot promises to be nonsense, but there might be something in the characters.  A hacker who hangs out on 2-ch and makes cynical comments?  Sure, seems realistic.  A weird girl that hangs out with the two losers for no good reason?  Well, every loser wants a weird girl to hang out with them for no good reason.  These characters are fine, but what’s really got me pumped is the protagonist, the self-described mad scientist, who builds Future Gadgets and fights against the Organization.  There is perhaps one thing about the steampunk “aesthetic” to like, and it’s that in steampunk, Men of Science are valid heroes.  You don’t save the world by being passionate, friendly, or just.  You save the world by investigating important phenomena, by having clever ideas, by making rational choices.

Of course, the protagonist seems pretty crazy.  He seems like he’s just donning the trappings of Science, rather than moving fully in tune with it.  On the other hand, he can turn a banana into gelatin.  That’s pretty impressive.  I can’t do that.  So maybe there is something there.  Maybe there is something here!  I’ll keep watching to find out.  7/8 for Spring.


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