Steins;Gate – 23

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I love blogging Steins;Gate for a bunch of reasons, probably the most important of which is that it’s much more fun to blog a superb series than a mediocre one.  But it does occur to me that whatever I say in these blogs is almost irrelevant, because the discussion surrounding the series is so self-driven that all I really need to do is say “Go!” and you guys are all set.

So with that in mind I’m going to go against character and make this post a brief one, which is fitting I think in that this penultimate episode was one that pretty much speaks for itself.  And I’ll start with a confession – I finally caved and re-watched the first episode before I watched episode 23.  One of my axiom’s is that “There are no coincidences in anime”, but even I was surprised at the degree to which White Fox tied everything together – the static message, the “15 minutes ago”, right down to the damn metal oopa!  As many theorized, it was indeed Okabe screaming in episode one, and now we know it was for good reason. 

I’m sure there are a few surprises left for the final episode, but in terms of theory and speculation it really feels as if most of the questions were answered this week.  We’ve now seen three totally distinct forms of time travel (four if you count the different capabilities of Suzuha’s machine in the Alpha and Beta world lines) but the consistent factor seems to be that time travel is all about fooling someone. Fool yourself, fool someone else – it’s all perception, and the perception changes reality.  It would be well to consider Okabe’s warning from the premiere now, as we near the end of all things and he embarks on one last mission of deception.  Did I anticipate that Dr. Nakabichi (Ogata Mitsuru) was Kurisu’s Dad?  No, I confess I didn’t – but I was impressed that this almost-forgotten storyline from way back in episode 5 was tied to the dramatic events of this ep in such a vital way.

In the final analysis, I’m glad this sci-fi epic realized that for the conclusion to work it had to be character-driven, because it’s the characters that make Steins;Gate such a great series.  The grand payoff of 22 episodes of character-building was this: when Okabe first saw Kurisu after traveling back to 7/28, when Mayuri slapped Okabe, when the 33 year-old Okabe spoke through time to his teenaged self, and especially when mad scientist Houoin Kyouma reappeared in all his goofy glory – when these things happened they really meant something.  We could understand the emotions behind all those things, and we could understand that bringing Kyouma out of hibernation wasn’t just a comic bit but an expression of hope and a celebration of life itself, and a triumph of Okabe’s spirit despite all the pain he’s suffered.

So that’s it – go ahead and speculate and argue and have a great time, because that’s what S:G is all about.  Go!  I’ll leave you with some simple words of wisdom from smokin’-hot Suzuha in fatigues: “Of course it can. It’s a time machine!”

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  1. l

    True enough for a series as great as this, you can just say go and we will all go wild with comments but that doesn't change the fact that we still enjoy what you write.

    Honestly I could only recall Kurisu having a conversation with Okarin about her father. Never in my wildest dream will I think that Dr. Nakabichi is her father. Who would have thought that the world inside anime is such a small place.

    Anyway, contrary to my previous episode feeling. I don't feel like making any sort of prediction or theory since most of them seem to be already answer. My actual feeling now is wanting to watch the next episode NOW. Since I don't have a time machine, I will wait like a good boy and not theorizing the future …..until someone started it with me.

    P.S. El Psy Congroo!

  2. I like a happy ending as much as the next guy, unless the next guy happens to like happy endings more than me. But as much as I root for one here, it sort of feels cheap to me if everyone has their cake and eats it too. If Okarin is happy, Kurisu survives and she and Okarin are together, Mayushi lives, there's no WW III and no dystopia – well, that's great and all. But shouldn't there be some sort of lasting cost to all this time meddling – something that can't be erased by further time time meddling?

    Again, I love these characters and I'm neither rooting for tragedy or assuming the above "everybody wins" scenario is already locked in. But S;G has generally played by the literary rules so far, and if does work out that way it would feel just a little like cheating to me.

  3. d

    OKARIN did a Mayushi's original sure kill move "Star Grapper"!!

  4. M

    I can understand how you may feel "betrayed" by a potential happy ending after all the angst and painful decisions in the second half of the series. However, I prefer to see it as a reward of sorts to Okabe for enduring all that suffering.

    Happy endings are often frowned upon and I count myself among those who don't like them when they are attained through deus ex machina. But when a series like S;G pulls it off so well, making it clear this is what it was aiming for from the very beginning, you won't see me complaining.

    As I see it, you would have preferred episode 22 (or something similar) as the finale, wouldn't you? I have seen people stating that elsewhere so let me explain here why I wouldn't have been as satisfied with that ending: it would make this show similar to those where the final twist is "everything happened only inside the protagonist's head" (not exactly, but no one in the current timeline would know anything so it makes little difference). So it would make this a show in which the only difference between the series' first few minutes and the last few is the main lead having some serious emotional scars. The ultimate reset, if you will.

    So yeah, bittersweet endings will generally be more emotionally touching and memorable but if a series can manage to make a happy ending feel as rewarding and fitting as S;G then I'm all for it!

  5. Murkel, it's not so simple, and I don't think 22 would have satisfied me either. Emotionally, I'm rooting hard for a happy ending and I think Okabe has suffered enough.

    If you want to quantify it, I guess it's a sort of "equivalent exchange" idea. If all this meddling in time was wrong, how is it that everyone gets to walk away at the end and be happy? I talked about the "Seven basic plots" earlier, and so far, S;G has stayed within the boundaries of the rules pretty closely. But if there's no lasting cost to it now, that's a sort of rogue ending.

    Again, though – emotionally, that's exactly what I'm rooting for. They deserve it.

  6. l

    There is an obvious lasting cost already stated. Okarin spent or will spend 15 years of his time obsess into building time machine. Chances are Kurisu probably not by his side to do it. Since if Kurisu is helping him, he will not need 15 years to do it. MHO

  7. But the time machine as Suzuha defines it is far, far more advanced than anything Kurisu did in 2010. Even with her skills, it could still take 15 years to get to the point we see in episode 23.

  8. M

    Ok, I think I might not be following you :p

    So if I got it right, you are fine with a happy ending as long as a "price" is paid in return?

    So in order to get the "whole pack" (both Kurisu and Mayuri alive, WW3/dystopia prevented) a higher price should have been paid? If that's the case then I think I see your point. If we were to quantify it I consider Okabe has done enough to deserve having both the girls. When it comes to preventing WW3, I do agree it comes off as too easy but maybe you could think of it as the reward to Suzuha's and Future!Daru's work instead.

    Still, I think it might be a little too soon to talk. We don't know the specifics of the ending yet.

  9. True – it's wait and see for now.

  10. t

    I know you already said it but my mouth droped when even the metal oopa didn't turn out to be just there for the HanaKana hearporn.

    You know how I can be a "cold bastard" but here in this case I think Okabe has pretty much "earned his happy ending" as tv tropes would say,all the stuff he has had to go through are already enough of a price to me.

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