Last episode on Steins;Gate Okabe was still agonizing over which of his haremettes to allow to die in order to save the other. Now that I think about it, isn’t Moeka also dead in the current timeline? On a pure haremette maximization metric, we should prefer to return to the original timeline. In the original timeline Okabe never meets John Titor, but it’s not like she sticks around in the current timeline, and anyway she’s Daru’s daughter so that whole thing is kind of weird. In any case, there are important considerations besides Okabe keeping his haremettes alive, such as for example foiling CERN’s plot and preventing dystopia. Let’s hope Okabe gets back on track in episode 22 of Steins;Gate.
…thirty minutes pass…
Okabe's kiss of death.
This was a moving episode, but a depressing one. Maybe more depressing for me than in the abstract. I don’t know why exactly, but partings, separations, the voluntary relinquishment of strong emotional ties are just about the saddest thing in the world to me. I mean, I cried at the end of Angel Beats, and that show was just about graduating from high school, not leaving the woman you love and who is the only person in the world you can really connect with on an intellectual level to die after you’ve finally admitted your feelings for each other. I think it’s the “voluntary” part that’s key – it sucks to have the one you love separated from you by cruel chance, but it’s torturous to have to do the separation yourself.
For a little while it seemed like Okabe was going to man up and play hero, and he wouldn’t have to let Makise Kurisu die. He was refusing to accept the outcome, he had hardened his heart against the horrors of Mayushii’s repeated deaths. However many times it took, he’d find the solution. Unfortunately, that was all a facade. People aren’t heroes. People are just people, and they hurt when the people important to them die over and over as they look on helplessly. People learn to despair after failing one hundred times at the same task. You can say “I will be a hero and live for an eternity righting the wrongs of humanity”, but once you’ve lived for a piddly thousand years cleaning up humanity’s messes you’re apt to change your tune. If you ever find yourself thinking in that way, try to imagine how it will feel after spending a year (just a single year) taking the burden of the world upon yourself. Don’t try to be stronger than you can be, it leads you to utter collapse where you give up on time travel altogether and send your Phone Microwave to the city dump.
On the other hand, now John Titor’s come to rescue us, and lead us into the gamma timeline where everybody gets to be alive (except for all the various people who die all over the world every day, but nobody cares about them). Okabe laid down the burden of the hero, but John Titor is here to pick it up. She’s only on her first trip, now, so she’s still fresh and idealistic, still thinks she wants to sacrifice herself for the good of others. And she has the good of the whole world in mind, too, as opposed to Okabe who is just selfishly protecting the people he loves. Hooray for John Titor!