SPOILERS! OH MY GOSH SO MANY SPOILERS!
The Spring season marches on, bringing with it one of the most highly anticipated shows of the season: Steins;Gate 0.
Following the events of the “Beta” ending of Steins;Gate, Rintaro Okabe is still traumatized by his inability to rescue Kurisu. With the world on a destructive path towards World War III, Suzuha must do her best to put her Uncle Okarin in a position to save the world once again.
The episode opens with a more somber Okabe, dressed in black and wandering the city with Mayuri. It has been months since he has been back to his lab following the disastrous summer that changed his life forever. Still, his friends do their best to put him in a better mood.
Mayuri mentions taking a trip back to the lab, and Okabe agrees to return and say hello to everyone. Shortly before he arrives, Suzuha is busy scolding her own father, Daru, about not working on a time traveling machine. Citing the fact that he knows he creates one, Daru is taking the typical procrastinators approach – much to Suzuha’s annoyance.
With the truth behind the current time travel and manipulation only readily known to Daru, Okabe and Suzuha, it makes things a bit awkward when we discover that she’s hanging out with her own mom. Paradoxes are a crazy thing.
When Okabe makes his way to the lab, Suzuha goes into hiding in order to prevent upsetting him, but fails pretty spectacularly once he makes his way to the bathroom. The two make their way up to the roof, where Suzuha reflects on the peace and stability of the world in the current moment. She clarifies that World War III is inevitable, but that Okabe has the ability to change the timeline. Okabe, legitimately traumatized from wandering through multiple timelines and witnessing his friends die, refuses to tamper with time any further.
Following their confrontation on the roof, Okabe goes home with Mayuri, who expresses concern that the two of them had a fight. Okabe assures her that it wasn’t a fight, and goes out to meet a professor and some colleagues for drinks in preparation for an upcoming AI conference. Walking home from the bar, he’s overcome by an episode of PTSD, seeing bloody images of Kurisu again and again as he stands shellshocked, nearly vomiting in the street as he comes out of the vivid scene.
The next day at the conference, Okabe is met by a young girl – only to discover that she’s actually a staff member for Viktor Chondria University: the school where Kurisu studied.
Making his way into the conference, Okabe sees this same girl alongside Professor Alexis Leskinen. Before introducing his topic on Artificial Intelligence, he introduces a paper written by Makise Kurisu positing that memories could be stored as data, leading to an advanced artificial intelligence system known as “Amadeus”.
Okabe is stunned at the introduction, and the episode concludes.
From the start, I love how Steins;Gate 0 embraces the Beta timeline. Mayuri and Suzuha, with what looks like a tiny Kurisu, definitely posit some interesting questions on how the timeline is currently shaping up. Seeing the characters, hearing the soundtrack…it’s a refreshing trip back in time (pun intended?) to the classic series. Okabe’s characterization as a psychologically wounded man struggling through PTSD is impactful, as are the efforts of his friends to try and keep his spirits up.
The tension between him and Suzuha on the rooftop scene is an interesting dynamic: Suzuha essentially arguing for the fate of nearly 6 billion people while Okabe sticks to his guns, refusing to wander into “God’s Province” ever again.
White Fox, which has done a lot of impressive work, including the recent fantasy/tragedy Re:Zero, appears to be applying some of the same elements and themes from Subaru’s hellish existence when bringing Okabe’s visions to life. I’ll be curious to see how else they tweak and emphasize his emotional suffering as the series progresses.
Obviously the first Steins;Gate had a lot of questions being asked in the early episodes with no sign of answers. There are a few open threads with this opening episode, but since it’s building on a previous season, you feel a bit more oriented when it comes to the world and the technology involved. This definitely helps the viewer get situated a bit quicker, which I appreciate.
Overall, a solid opening episode for what is surely going to be one of the biggest hits of the season. You can watch Steins;Gate 0 on Crunchyroll every Wednesday!
Steins;Gate 0 - Episode 1
- With Steins;Gate as a foundation, it's much easier to settle into the plot
- Stellar animation
- Okabe's emotional turmoil is impressively communicated
- Not terribly surprising, but it really only makes sense if you've seen the first season