Steins;Gate Episode 2
What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don’t have to! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.
Series Premise: Steins;Gate is a 24-episode weekly television series that started in April 2011, based on an X-Box video game by 5pb. A small group of friends headed by self-proclaimed mad scientist Rintarou Okabe (a.k.a. Hououin) manage to create a way to send messages into the past using a modified microwave oven. However, a larger, more sinister government organization has also been doing research in time travel and Rintarou’s group soon finds itself in danger.
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ep. tl;dr review: Rintarou meets several women, discovers history has changed, and turns another banana into gel; Look out, it’s a trap!
Episode Summary: Rintarou (aka “Hououin”, aka “Okarin”) is completely flabbergasted when the murdered Kurisu shows up alive and well — the events of his memory have never happened. But she then proceeds to completely school him on time travel in a lecture, putting him to shame. Returning home, Rintarou meets up with a “girl” at the local shrine (Ruka), then the new employee at the shop downstairs (Suzuha). Researching online, Rintarou quickly discovers that the famous purported time traveler John Titor has been essentially erased from history, that he never traveled back to 2001. Totally confused, Rintarou meets a strange woman on the street (Moeka) who is looking for an elusive computer. Meeting up with Daru at a maid cafe where he also meets another girl (Feiris), he learns more about the computer. They return to the lab to conduct more experiments with their “teleporting microwave”, and manage to return a banana back to its original bunch…but in the creepy gel form. And the Kurisu shows up out of the blue.
My Impressions: If I didn’t know any better, I would think this show was a set-up for some harem anime series. Last episode we were introduced to the ultra-moe character Mayuri, plus the assumed-tsundere character Kurisu. This time around, we are introduced in short order to creepy trap Ruka, tomboy Suzuha, the extremely reticent Moeka, and fanboy maid bait Feiris. Okay, now we have a whole raft of characters, including just about one girl from your stock list of anime character types to choose from…but so far we don’t know how they all tie together. This episode was all about the character introductions, but it’s just throwing the puzzle pieces on the table without putting any of the together yet.
As for the story itself…the jury is still out at this point, because I can’t really make heads nor tails of what is going on. The second episode does not make anything clearer regarding the strange “teleporting” device, time travel, or exactly how the “alternate worlds” fit together. I think that is intentional, we are supposed to be as confused as the main character, Rintarou, who is equally as flummoxed. Since we are essentially experience the world through Rintarou’s eyes, the series is held together almost entirely through him at this point. And that’s a good thing, because he is a fun character to watch, as opposed to the rest of the flimsily-detailed cast, which might as well be played by character cut-outs so far.
However, as a self-professed “mad scientist”, it’s an unconventional view of the world, to say the least. He clearly is paranoid about some “secret organization” that is after him, the kind of nutso person that is tagged as “mostly harmless” and you just humor him about his delusion. Yet, if I was a betting man I would bet that his delusion will actually turn out to be true (there really *is* a secret organization after him…I wonder if Kurisu is involved…?) Or, with the whole “multiple worlds” idea of alternate realities, would it be more accurate to say that he could “make” his reality come true. Food for thought.
My biggest complaint? The damn trap! Is there really any compelling reason to have a boy/girl as the shrine “maiden”? Of course, I have no idea if that turns into some sort of plot point in the future, but my innate dislike of “traps” in anime are setting off warning klaxons in my mind. Then that is followed by a trip to a “maid cafe” and the catalog of girl character types on parade, I am worried that Steins;Gate will rely on far too many tired, over-used anime tropes instead of the hard sci-fi that I hoped for.
On the artwork and animation side, I’m somewhat bothered by the whole over-exposed, wash-out look as if everything is being viewed under a very harsh white light. And the character designs seem somewhat…uninspired, sometimes strangely plastic/emotionless. But maybe that’s just me.
The verdict: – Less impressed, but still along for the ride.
- My earlier reviews: Episode 1 (May 19th)
- Info resources: My Anime List, Anime News Network, AniDB, and Wikipedia
- Watch full episodes online: on Crunchyroll
Sampling of Online Reviews:
- “Okarin took a notch up for entertainment this time around, as there’s something about the intonation of his voice that gets me every time, but that’s just Miyano for you…The story’s definitely getting into its groove, but judging by the rate of their microwave development, any actual time travel antics might not be for a while, so I hope it keeps chugging along.” – Random Curiosity
- “Meh. I still can’t get into this. The episode was less Steins;Grey than the previous one, but the presentation is still completely uninspired. Maybe even moreso now since any of that potential use of color I talked about last week is now gone and most of this episode was spent on Okarin running into what basically amounted to a laundry list of your standard harem archetypes.” – Tenka Seiha
- “Now that I’ve seen more, I’m pleased. Very, very pleased. There was a lot less jumping around this episode since Okarin didn’t time travel, so that might be why I found this episode so much easier to like. A LOT happened this episode. All the character introductions are out of the way, so they can jump in and cause commotion whenever they want now.” – Metanorn
- “I’m kind of shocked that we have an authentically crazy person as our protagonist. This could be interesting as his claims of time travel which (from what we know right now) are true will be misconstrued as more ramblings by his friends. ” – Sea Slugs!
- “It’s hard to pin down this series at this stage since it hasn’t really revealed much, but it’s put some intriguing things out there. Some shows can work very well in teasing things out like Steins; Gate is doing and it definitely keeps you coming back to see what the next little twist will be. Grade: B.” – Mania.com
- “Stein’s Gate has the most subtle build-up of the season, and yet at the same time it has its moments that are completely un-subtle. The colours are all washed out, there is no complex background music but instead it consists out of simple sounds, and yet it has a very hammy lead character that combines together surprisingly well. Grade: Good.” – Star Crossed Anime Blog
- “Okabe is a great character. I really can’t see him getting boring even after two seasons. Makise also seems like she’ll be a great character based on her bullying of Hououin at the lecture. That beginning scene was great. But in this episode we’ve met a ton of new characters that seem rather lame by comparison…Of course, this is only the second episode, so hopefully I’ll be proved wrong.” – Draggle’s Anime Blog
- “The main center of attention here is the actual story and plot twists. There are a bunch of little random facts peppered into this episode, yet at the same time it’s pretty obvious that these seemingly “barely related” facts have some sort of correlation…The key question here is not if they are related, but as to exactly how they are related, and that so far has captivated my interest in this series. Grade: 4.2/5.” – Emory Anime Club
- “Why oh why did this series need a trap anyway? Why did every single one of these girls have to conform so perfectly into standard harem female stereotypes?…Character archetypes aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but put some more effort to make your character stand out!” – The Cart Driver
ROUND TWO RESULTS FOR SPRING 2011 SHOWS:
Thumbs-up for Round Two: Steins;Gate
Thumbs-down for Round Two: None yet.
Coming up next (in this order): Deadman Wonderland, Hanasaku Iroha, Dog Days, Moshidora, Ano Hi Mita no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai, Tiger and Bunny, Fireball Charming, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, A Channel, Sengoku Otome Time Paradox, Nichijou, Yondemasuyo Azazel-san, C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control, X-Men, Blue Exorcist, Kaiji Season 2, Hyouge Mono, Showa Monogatari, Appleseed XIII, Fujilog