Steins;Gate – 21

[HorribleSubs] Steins;Gate - 21 [720p].mkv_snapshot_02.52_[2011.08.23_20.26.26] [HorribleSubs] Steins;Gate - 21 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.39_[2011.08.23_20.29.13] [HorribleSubs] Steins;Gate - 21 [720p].mkv_snapshot_10.09_[2011.08.23_20.33.52]
[HorribleSubs] Steins;Gate - 21 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.11_[2011.08.23_20.36.10] [HorribleSubs] Steins;Gate - 21 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.58_[2011.08.23_20.36.57] [HorribleSubs] Steins;Gate - 21 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.42_[2011.08.23_20.37.40]

Wow, that was really a heartbreaker. It might have been too slow for some tastes, but I wouldn’t change a second of it.

In a sense, I think this episode was a reward for 20 episodes of tremendous character build-up. The emotional intensity here was a direct result of all that heavy lifting, and as a result I thought this episode was tremendously moving. As much as a reward, though – and perhaps a bit of a breather – I think it was a necessary raising of the emotional stakes for the three episode final arc. An episode like this one will make you feel the urgency and tragedy of everything that happens over the final three episodes that much more deeply.

Really, this was an episode about how each of the three main characters, despite their closeness, are truly, existentially alone.  As there wasn’t much action here, this was basically an actors’ episode – and that makes it a good time to reflect on what an incredible job this cast has done. Goto Saori’s fabulous work as Moeka in episode 19 was noted in this space, and Tamura Yukari was amazing during Suzuha’s arc. Miyano Mamoru has been fantastic all along (and again here, really bringing the depth of Okarin’s despair to life) but this was the moment for Imai Asami and Kana Hanazawa to really shine. KanaHana tends to be devalued a bit for her overuse and the fact that too many of her characters blend together, but when she finds a character in her range she’s spectacular. Her Kuroneko in Oreimo may have been the best performance of 2010, and Mayuri – to Hanazawa’s credit a radically different character – is one of this year’s best. She takes what could be a saccharine and cloying part in lesser hands and really makes us feel the purity and innocence of the girl. Mayushi is just good, plain and simple – she’s cute and funny, but her love for Okarin and her simple trust in him are incredibly heartbreaking in an episode like this one. As for Asami-san, it’s only when we stop and think that we realize how her portrayal of Kurisu has evolved subtly over the show’s run. She’s managed to wring incredible nuance out of this whip-smart, proud and ultimately noble young woman who has clearly fallen in love with Okarin.

While it can hardly be disputed that it was a terrible decision born of desperation, thanks to the writing and acting I could really believe that Okarin might try to defeat fate by killing himself. One of the possible outcomes for the Kobayashi Maru problem was for Okarin to save both girls by sacrificing himself, but I didn’t expect it to be attempted so soon and so literally. I don’t see any reason to think it would’ve worked and I suspect now that we’ve seen what we have, it’s off the table for the real finale, but as heartsick and defeated as the poor guy was, I can believe he’d resort to it. As much as anything, I don’t think he thought he’d be saving Mayuri as much as putting an end to the misery he’d been suffering. But interestingly, the last moments of the episode might subtly hint that Kurisu is considering an option along similar lines – and one that might be considerably more integral to the finale.

Of course, Mayuri has been suffering too, and not just in terms of her repeated deaths. She’s been dreaming each of those horrible moments in grisly detail, and refused to talk to Okarin about it even as he refuses to share what he knows with her. Her message to her Grandmother was as vulnerable as Mayuri gets, and as much as she likes the new lab members it’s clear she misses the days when she had Okarin to herself. But while she plays along with his games and fantasies, Kurisu is just the opposite – as she says she knew within five seconds that the entire Kyouma act was BS. That makes her his confidante in a way Mayuri can never be – but the implication here is that if ultimately forced to face the choice he dreads most of all, with all alternatives exhausted, Okarin would choose Mayuri. He’ll always protect his hostage, even from the truth – but he respects Kurisu’s intelligence and integrity too much to patronize her in the same way. He loves them both each in their own way, but in a sense Okarin is the father on the lifeboat with his wife and child, who can only save one of them. Everyone would answer that riddle differently, but I think I know how Okarin would answer it. He’d throw himself over the side if it was an option – but that trick won’t work with this dilemma.

For all the sci-fi and the otaku lingo and the meta-humor, Steins;Gate is a very elemental story. This is a classic moral dilemma dressed up in modern attire, but it’s a classic just the same. In terms of plot, S;G has followed the rules pretty much from the beginning, and whatever the ending is I expect it be something closer to a Greek tragedy or Shakespeare than some sort of wacky “third way” technobabble deux ex machina that hits the reset button. As surely as equivalent exchange had to be followed in FMA, I think certain guardrails are set up here. I’m preparing myself for something that will hit hard and take no prisoners, and I’ll be disappointed if I get anything less. I want poetry and elegance and astonishment – and as great as the writing for S;G has been, I’m pretty confident I’m going to get them.

[HorribleSubs] Steins;Gate - 21 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.36_[2011.08.23_20.45.29] [HorribleSubs] Steins;Gate - 21 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.47_[2011.08.23_20.45.41] [HorribleSubs] Steins;Gate - 21 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.12_[2011.08.23_20.46.05]
[HorribleSubs] Steins;Gate - 21 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.54_[2011.08.23_20.46.48] [HorribleSubs] Steins;Gate - 21 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.32_[2011.08.23_20.47.26] [HorribleSubs] Steins;Gate - 21 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.10_[2011.08.23_20.48.04]


  1. l

    To be honest I'm not much of a fan to see anyone sacrifice themselves to save others. I'm more of a fan of a Deux Machina that lead all the way to Beta worldline( I would wish for Delta worldline, but that will be too greedy)

    So anyway, one crazy theory I had will be since Okarin had to make the choice(as stated above) and based on how suzuha say that Kurisu is evil. My theory is that Kurisu make herself out as evil villain so that Okarin can kill her without feeling guilty. I guess it's time for Kurisu to join the Sern.

    P.S. I know I don't like Moeka but it seem Okarin never mention her name when he said other people sacrifice the thing they hold dear. I guess in Okarin mind once a villain always a villain.

  2. Interesting idea about Kurisu. I wonder, is there any way she could make Okarin believe that?

  3. d

    @Enzo: Would you be covering Carnival Phantasm?

  4. A

    I take back my earlier post. There is not enough things going on for anyone to blog about it.

    On another note, Enzo, I doubt okarin would die. He is the moan character of a game. How often does the male lead die at the end if a visual novel? I only know of phantom ziel and higurashi. And that is most likely that novel is about killings. And if I can reference chaos head, after all that stuff happened the guy didn't die. And chaos head was a whole lot deaths. I also feel okarin dying would make what keima calls a game company no one would buy from.

    Very much looking forward to their next collaboration to turn into anime. Not talking about the romance spin off of chaos head.

  5. A

    Hmmm. Can't use iPod touch to post with name. Only anonymous works?

    P.s. Sorry about the triple post. Maybe u can join them?

  6. @deafvader: Probably not – I haven't really followed that mythology enough to get the jokes.

    Not sure what the problem with the Touch would be – it's nothing in the settings on this end…

  7. t

    @deafvader:well phantom was nitro+ and this is nitro+ too so I really wouldn't rule out anything coming from them.

    And man,watching steins gate is suffering….

    Really,just in case we had forgotten how darn dramatic the whole situation was this episode was a pretty hard reminder

    And yes,props to all the VAs here,the HanaKana fan that I am is glad to see her talent used to its full potential (one of the disapointing things about deadman wonderland to me is that I really wanted to see how Hana Kana was going to deal with the later parts of the story)

  8. l

    Finally watch carnival, I must say that it is awesome. Although I have to admit you need to know watch Fate series and VN to get all the jokes.


    Anyway the crazy theory I had above been proven wrong, although cool but at episode 21 with 3 more to go. It is very unlikely such a forced drama is going to work with us. But in the end I do agree that Kurisu will sacrifice herself to save Mayuri. I'll bet that the remaining episode will be how to connect the episode 1 with the last to finally get rid of all time-travel evidence and also save Kurisu.

  9. No shortage of theories, Ikaze – that's not so crazy!

  10. d

    Agree with Ikaze. Sounds like the most plausible. Goes back to ep 1. Guess the static phone call in ep 1 was for the future (ep 21) not the past (ep 1) Okarin? Memory leap to save Kurisu

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