The plot is interesting enough, but I’m with those who are in this for the dialogue. It’s almost scary how smart and hilarious it is. The words themselves are brilliant enough, but as any fan of old screwball comedies will tell you, timing is critical. In a really well-written scene the banter develops it’s own rhythm, almost like a verbal tap-dance. It sounds easy, but it’s incredibly hard to do as well as this show does it.
Another thing I love about the wordplay with Steins;Gate is how it operates on so many levels. Some of it is very broad – like Okarin’s “ancient Sumerian for ‘Have you had breakfast’?” line. But you also get very inside stuff like “Stop trying to show everyone you’re a klutz” to the crude sexual double entendres Daru specializes in. I can’t recall another series that’s made me laugh so much strictly with dialogue for a very long time.
This being the loving sci-fi homage that it is, though, we certainly do have a plot – and a rather convoluted one it is. We’re slowly being let in on the secrets, though, with major leaps forward in each of the last two episodes. This time Okarin figures out that the phone microwave (name subject to change) only works as 1200 and 1800 (though I suspect it would work at 600 too, if anyone in the lab was ever awake). Makise figures out that each second the timer is set for equals an hour of time travel – thus, 120 seconds = 5 days. And Daru figures out that all the D-mails (more in a minute on that) are broken up, just like unfortunate people and bananas – there’s a 36 English or 18 Japanese character limit.
Mayuri’s contribution – aside from three “Duturu!” sightings – is in helping draft that D-mail name, though her idea was “Derlorean” and it’s Makise who shortens it. Mayuri isn’t developing much as a character herself, but she’s certainly one of the main drivers in Okarin’s. He’s a fantastic lead, with his “Death Note” laugh, fake phone calls to his Swiss banker, and general mad scientist paranoia – but more and more he’s showing a serious side. It usually presents when he thinks about the dangers he’s exposing his assistants to – Makise and especially Mayuri, for whom he clearly has strong protective feelings. His dream has an extremely ominous tone to it – foreshadowing?
Unfortunately, a couple of the supporting characters are not proving to be especially winning thus far. Moeka – “Shiny Finger” – is little more than a cipher with a weird habit at this point. I assume we’ll find out sooner or later what the deal with the texting is… As for Suzuha she’s marginally better – Yakuri Tamura is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me – and at least we have the intriguing hints she’s from the future. Still, she’s not doing anything for me yet. And where the heck was the uber-kawaii Miko trap this week?