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!”