A thoughtful response to current anime.

Steins;Gate – Episode 4

In Steins;Gate things are really starting to “heat up” for our heroes, they hacked into CERN’s secret black-ops database and, haha, sorry they hacked into it and they found evidence that the large hadron collider had been used to… hehehe sorry this is silly. Conspiracy theories, man. They take some getting used to. Like in Deus Ex, when SPOILER ALERT the United Nations agency turns out to be part of the vast world-spanning conspiracy. It’s hard to get used to the idea of real life organizations which are mostly harmless or even mildly prosocial being the big bad enemies in your fiction. And it’s hard to imagine a vast conspiracy of physicists, although I guess that’s what the Manhattan Project was. Maybe this time travel experiment is being funded by the government? Of whatever podunk European nation CERN is located in? So they can go back in time and win whatever podunk European war they lost way back in ancient history against whatever podunk European rival? You might say this is a narrow, cartoonish view of European politics, but conspiracy theory fiction often takes narrow and cartoonish views of politics. Well, maybe they will surprise me in Steins;Gate episode 4.

…thirty minutes pass…

Sick freakin' science burn out of nowhere.

Again I am having to make allowances for this show because it is trying to be faithful to the original John Titor postings.  They were not always plausible or internally consistent!  In particular, this episode’s quest for the IBM 5100 is straight out of Titor, and utterly ridiculous.  It is like these people have never heard of emulation!  You do not need to have, say, an original Playstation to run a secret time-travel conspiracy Playstation game.  All you need is a special piece of software that takes the machine code instructions in the game and applies them to its virtual machine it constructs in RAM, and then shows you the output of that virtual machine.  This is a computer from 30 years ago, so a modern computer could probably do that and play back an episode of HD anime with only minor desyncing.

Apart from the ridiculous plot, which I recognize is not entirely their fault, I liked this episode.  I enjoyed seeing Hououin face down Feris-nyan.  There is a danger with characters like him that their buffoonery gets played up too much, and then you are left with Homer Simpson as your protagonist, harassing his labworkers and ranting about imagined conspiracies without actually getting anything done.  It was nice to see him come up with a legitimately clever plan and put it into practice.

Makise Kurisu feels a little flat.  (Personality-wise, I mean.  Her development, so to speak, is perfectly fine.)   She’s like a stock standard tsundere character with kind of a plain character design that doesn’t fit in with the rest of the characters’ more detailed designs.  I enjoyed her scenes in this episode, but that was just because she made a good punching bag for Hououin.  She’s not bringing anything to the table herself.  And there were hints of some parent-based issues in her past, which I’m sure will be boring and ordinary and I will be rolling my eyes in a couple episodes as she pours her heart out.  Something to look forward to.


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