A thoughtful response to current anime.

Category Archives: Steins;Gate

Sun Tzu’s Picks: Top 10 Anime of 2011

2011 has ended, as years often do.  Soon the new year’s anime will be starting; I haven’t taken a close look at them, but I’ve heard there isn’t much to be excited about.  So rather than worry about the upcoming year right now, let’s take a moment to stop and reflect on the year that has passed, and rank the ten best anime of the year.

Some rules regarding what I consider eligible to receive a ranking: I’m counting anime (so no J-Dramas or My Little Pony) that aired on TV (so no movies or OVA) starting in 2011 (so no Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu for #1 anime five years running).  I’m also excluding any anime that were just continuations of a series that began prior to 2011.  There were a few good second seasons that aired this year, like Ika Musume 2 and TWGOK 2, but those shows have already received consideration during their original airing years, and it’s time for them to step aside and make room for new blood.  Shows that aren’t done airing or shows that I haven’t finished watching are fine, though, so long as I’ve seen enough of them to have an opinion.  All the descriptions below are going to contain spoilers, so maybe you should just read the titles and then go off and watch all of them?

The Top 10 Anime of 2011, in Ascending Order (the last shall be first and the first shall be last)

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Prepare for Dystopia

Scientists at CERN seem to have measured a particle going faster than the speed of light, which if true would open the door to a reworking of the fundaments of theoretical physics, possibly leading to an ability to send messages backward in time.  Article here.  Now, before you get excited, things of this sort almost always turn out to be some sort of measurement error or the media blowing something mundane out of proportion, and even if it’s a real phenomenon it doesn’t necessarily imply the possibility of time travel (as I understand physics, which is probably better than your average joe but worse than for example a physicist).  Also, CERN appears to be telling the world about this discovery instead of hoarding it to conquer the world, so Steins;Gate was probably not actually a documentary.  But you have to admit, it’s kinda funny, coming just days after the thrilling conclusion of Steins;Gate, to see a news article talking about the possibility of a time travel discovery at CERN.

Steins;Gate – Episode 24

Last episode on Steins;Gate, Okabe got a mission (Operation Skuld) from his future self to protect Makise Kurisu from her father and, as a happy side effect, save the world from collapsing into war and anarchy.  To be successful, he will need to fool his past self into thinking Makise Kurisu has been killed.  It has been said that God could not create a counterfeit corpse so convincing that even he could not tell it was a fake, but the powers of God pale in comparison to those of the mad scientist Hououin Kyouma!  AHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAH!  Let’s watch as Okabe transcends even the bonds of fate and predestination in episode 24 of Steins; Gate.

…thirty minutes pass…

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Steins;Gate – Episode 23

Last episode on Steins;Gate, Okabe finally broke the 1% barrier and returned to the original timeline at the cost of his companion’s life.  Now John Titor has come back to tell him that his work is not done, that World War 3 is going to break out if he doesn’t do something.  This seems like a perfect opportunity for him to enter a third timeline and save Makise Kurisu’s life.  I won’t even complain about the writers undoing a poignant death for the sake of a happy ending – in a time travel show, that’s perfectly fair.  In fact that’s what you should be doing with time travel!  Undo everyone’s poignant deaths and create for us a happy ending, Okabe!  Or at least get a start on it, I don’t think episode 23 of Steins;Gate is the last episode of Steins;Gate.

…thirty minutes pass…

I realize you're just trying to show how much you care about Makise Kurisu, Okabe, but that's an incredibly awful thing to say. Imagine telling a guy you don't care that his whole family died, and then multiply that a billionfold.

I was a little confused as to why they had Okabe playing bodyguard for Makise Kurisu instead of John Titor who has actually had some combat training and knows the mission, but then it all became clear.  Gosh, future Okabe’s kind of a dick.  You would figure if you could trust anybody not to send you on a wild goose chase and make you murder the woman you love it would be yourself.  On the other hand, you are probably the only person who would forgive yourself for an asshole move like that, if you understood it was necessary.  Okabe wouldn’t doubt his own motives… except to the extent that 15 years and the eruption of world war 3 might change his value set.  But he knows himself well enough to know that all he has to do is dangle the prospect of saving Makise Kurisu in front of him and he’ll do whatever he says.

It’s a little strange to think that the key to changing the timeline is to preserve the original Okabe’s observations.  That doesn’t seem to fit with time travel physics as we know it…  except for one thing.  We know Okabe is special – he has the power of Reading Steiner.  His Reading Steiner activates when the timeline shifts, and he experiences disorientation as his memories fail to line up with his past experiences.  This could be his brainwaves syncing, as with the Time Leap machine.  We know there is some disorientation involved in using that.  But in that case, how is it possible to get the Reading Steiner to activate across gaps of ten years, as in the case of the crossdresser?  With the Time Leap machine, we know that only leaps of up to two days are possible, because beyond that the world is too different and you can’t sync.  Is Okabe’s brain just that much more adaptable?  But we’ve seen him Time Leap, he doesn’t go back further than two days and when he does he experiences disorientation as one would expect.

What I propose is this: Reading Steiner acts as a constraint on the evolution of timelines.  Reading Steiner is, in fact, the Attractor Field.  The reason you can’t change too much is because Okabe has to come through any timeline shift with his brain intact.  Therefore, his life will look pretty much the same afterwards, with only the equivalent of two days worth of change, even if you send info back in time ten years and destroy Akihabara.  That explains the somewhat uneven enforcement of the Law of Conservation of Interpersonal Relationships – it’s not all interpersonal relationships that have to be conserved, just Okabe’s.  This leaves us with no explanation for why Okabe is so special, unfortunately.  And it’s still a mystery to me why John Titor thought Makise Kurisu was a CERN spy.  I had been holding out hope that she actually was one, but now that we’ve seen the circumstances of her stabbing, I’m convinced she isn’t.

Steins;Gate – Episode 22

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… Read more of this post

Steins;Gate Episode – 21

Last time on Steins;Gate, Okabe was faced with a dilemma – in order to prevent Mayushii’s death, he has to undo all his D-mails, but the next D-mail to undo is the one that prevented Makise Kurisu’s death!  It seems like sort of a false dilemma to me, though.  The timeline has already shifted once, from Makise being dead to Makise being alive.  Why do we have to go back? Why can’t we shift to a third timeline where both Mayushii and Makise are alive?  Maybe because Makise plays an important causal role in Mayushii’s death?  John Titor seemed to think she was a CERN spy, and we never really got a satisfactory explanation for that.  It seems like it would be worth a try, at least, though, and if you repeatedly fail you can take that as evidence that maybe Makise isn’t really even so much worth saving.  Let’s watch episode 21 of Steins;Gate to see how well Okabe follows my advice.

…thirty minutes pass…

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What I Watched On My Summer Vacation

I’m heading back home tomorrow morning, so I hope to be back to my regular somewhat-irregular anime blogging schedule then.  I have watched some episodes of currently airing anime while I’ve been here, so here are some brief thoughts on them, almost twitter-style.

Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Episodes 5 +6:  Funny enough.  The jokes about how the girls dominate and beat up the boys for perceived infractions are starting to grow a little repetitive, though.  It was fine when it was just Shouko, that was sort of her gimmick, but it’s getting old.  And I dunno that I’m really looking forward to the rest of this arc, the whole “track down the secret blackmailer” hook never really took with me to begin with.

Hanasaku Iroha Episode 19: Cute!  We got lots of Minchi, and even some Yuina.  I’m always in favor of seeing Ohana’s school life, too.  And it looks like we’re headed toward some sort of resolution on the Tohru/Minchi/Ohana love triangle maybe?  I know I’ve said that before.

Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 5: I still don’t understand what this show is trying to do.  Maybe it’s trying to deconstruct a genre I’ve never watched and so has never been constructed for me in the first place.  I thought Ringo was a murderer from last episode, but she seems unwilling to murder in this one, so I dunno what’s going on.  It’s starting to look like they may eventually tell me?

SKET Dance Episode 19: Quick fun double feature.  I never have anything to say about SKET Dance so I’ll use this as an excuse not to say anything.

Steins;Gate Episodes 19 + 20: Things have gotten serious again, it was almost in the “horror” genre the way everybody was treating poor Moeka.  I’m surprised that recovering the computer wasn’t enough: why can’t they just give it to John Titor and let her do the stuff she was gonna do with it?  You’re so obsessed with returning to the Alpha timeline, why not create a new Gamma timeline where nobody has to die?  Maybe it’s because Makise Kurisu is a CERN spy after all, and we can never be free so long as she lives? BTW I totally called the identity of FB right the first moment his name was mentioned.

Usagi Drop Episode 6: Yep, Rin’s a cute kid.  It’s nice that we have issues of ownership squared away so now Daikichi and Rin can just hang out doing cute slice of life stuff, at least until the next crisis arises.

Steins;Gate – Episode 18

So! Last time on Steins;Gate we undid Feyris’s fondest wish and ruined her life, who is next?  As I recall, the timeline shift prior to Feyris’s was the crossdresser’s?  It seems likely to be a hard sell to turn her back into a dude.  On the other hand, when you get right down to it, Okabe doesn’t really need his consent.  He has all the details, he knows what message was sent to the crossdresser’s mother, he doesn’t really need her help to reverse the effect.  He really shouldn’t hesitate.  Compared to killing a dude, turning a chick into a dude is not so bad.  I’m a dude, I get by.  Let’s see if he can bring himself to do what needs to be done in episode 18 of Steins;Gate.

…thirty minutes pass…

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Steins;Gate – Episode 17

Last time on Steins;Gate, the future had consented to change.  Okabe’s little numbers went up, but he still ended up short of the exciting divergence-level based reward of saving his girlfriend’s life.  Or at least, that was how things had been represented to us, but Mayushii sure seemed to be alive.  Maybe she was secretly kidnapped by CERN and replaced with a spy android?  Would creating a relationship with a spy android violate conservation of interpersonal relationships?  Finally, we have an empirical test for personhood!  Let’s watch the Future Gadget Lab ignore this amazing philosophical breakthrough in favor of dicking around with time leap headphones in episode 17 of Steins;Gate.

…thirty minutes pass…

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Steins;Gate – Episode 16

Last time on Steins;Gate we were taking time off from fixing their time machines and fighting the evil agents of CERN to hunt down John Titor’s father.  I guess time travel means never having to get your priorities straight.  If Okabe were feeling up to it, he could do a brute force linear search of all of Akihabara to find him.  If he turned out not to be there, he could expand the search parameters to cover all of Tokyo, or all of Japan, or anywhere he can get to within 24 hours (because he needs the other 24 to get back to the time leap machine).  I imagine that would get kind of boring after a while, though.  It’s too bad he doesn’t still have the D-mail; with the D-mail he could organize a brute force search with a fresh mind every iteration.  From his perspective… well, thanks to Reading Steiner, from his perspective only the first iteration will have happened and then suddenly he will have found John Titor’s father.  But the point is, with this strategy there is never an Okabe from whose perspective he has been searching for centuries.  I am struck once again by their folly: why, oh why, did they disassemble the D-mail!  Let’s see if they can succeed despite this crucial error in episode 16 of Steins;Gate.

…thirty minutes pass…

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