Okabe has a theory about time travel, but is dismissed by everyone as a goofy mad scientist wannabe. After listening to a talk on time travel, he encounters a woman dead on the floor. Shortly thereafter, a satellite collides with the building. The next day Okabe spots the same woman alive and well. Surprised, he starts talking to Mikase, although she's less than enthused.
Mikase is in fact a genius of sorts, and not impressed by Okabe nut job babbling. However she is intrigued by the unusual microwave which has odd side effects under certain circumstances. Things only get more convoluted when they work out a way to send cell phone text messages into the past, and how this relates to a conspiracy by CERN.
Stein's Gate looked like a sure fire hit with me, but it took a while for me to warm up to. That may be a contrast to the many reviews gushing over this show. This anime has a long wind up time, but is worth it if you hang in there.
First the bad stuff. The art design is very... pedestrian, further subdued with muted colors, and abundant dark shadows. There is also a curious lack of background music. That sounds like a minor problem, but with varied content it's hard to understand what the intent of a given scene is (comedy? serious?), which music could have helped with. Early on Stein's Gate feels a little dry, something a soundtrack, more vibrant colors, and perhaps improved artwork would have helped. In the beginning episodes can feel tedious with dialog, the plot only seems mildly interesting, and the characters are only okay (at first). This was Stein's Gate: the anime everyone loves?
You can't understand how things go wrong until knowing how things were "right". Bits and pieces foreshadow future events which aren't utilized until later on (especially with characters). It isn't until it unravels that it becomes clear what was built. By the middle, seemingly harmless time travel consequences accumulate into large problems. This is the pivot point where the anime comes together with insignificant things find their meaning. I also liked how characters are developed. At first it doesn't go far beyond their introductions, but as Okabe goes back he digs into their current situation to set their past right.
While intelligent in writing, time travel details and science isn't the forte of this anime. Provided you can live through banging your head on your desk after hearing about "data compression via black holes", most of it can be overlooked. But don't expect this one to excel in flawless logic.
What I loved most about Steins Gate is properly doing a true time travel love story. Okabe faces many hardships which Makise helps him work through. Each time he jumps to another timeline, Mikase isn't aware of how she helped and or how they previously grew closer. Eventually Okabe falls in love with Mikase, even though from her perspective the relationship never started. This makes the sacrifice all the more compelling at the end, and I have to say I truly loved the ending. As far as plot or details in time travel, Stein's Gate isn't flawless but it's certainly has the best love story in the genre.
Highly recommended provided your patient enough to let it grow, and not too much of a stickler on details.
Makise: I've only been alive eighteen years, but I don't want to change any of it. It's my life, failures and all.
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