This week we’re reviewing the first episode of the long awaited Steins;Gate sequel, Steins;Gate 0. Let’s put it this way: if you’re looking for a fun, banana-melting time travel anime, this isn’t it. This show has a markedly different tone from season one, and places huge emphasis on the burden that time travel places upon its main characters.
Straight away, it becomes apparent that something is different. Okabe no longer plays the goofy mad scientist, and in fact, seems markedly more serious than in season one. It seems he’s dealing with profound psychological issues resulting from his previous adventures through time.
The friend group has changed slightly too. Suzuha’s mother (previously only seen in the OVA) is now a member of the supporting cast, although she’s unaware of the group’s history together.
Of course, the biggest change is that this series takes place in a timeline where Kurisu died. At the end of season one, the group manages to save Kurisu, but Steins;Gate 0 offers an alternative perspective wherein Okabe leaves to live in a world where she didn’t make it.
A Tortured Soul
Although Okabe has tried to put the previous few years behind him, he’s reminded of it at almost every opportunity. Even the mention of Akiba throws him for a loop, so by the time he revisits the old lab, he’s feeling thoroughly awkward. Not even a combination of medication and hypnotherapy can help, so he’s clearly been trying to deal with the symptoms for some time.
Despite Suzuha’s insistence that everyone will die if he doesn’t help, he refuses to interfere with time again. This is in direct contrast with his “go get ‘em” personality from the original series, and just serves to show how broken he has become. There has to be a tipping point soon – something that forces his hand and thrusts this responsibility onto him.
This may well come in the form of Amadeus – an artificial intelligence that perfectly simulates a human’s personality. The episode closes with a digital version of Kurisu being shown off at a conference.
Underneath Okabe’s delusional ramblings about The Organization, Kurisu was always his driving force. Although she’s dead in this timeline, it’s possible that Amadeus can provide Okabe with the help he needs to prevent World War 3 from breaking out.
It’s been several years since Steins;Gate was released, but the show remains a community favourite. As such, season two had to nail its execution in order to avoid becoming another Berserk. We’re pleased to announce that it manages this effortlessly. It’s hard to judge too much from a single episode, but if the stars align, this show has the potential to be an all-time great.