Anime of the Week: Steins; Gate
Steins; Gate is a well-beloved Sci-fi anime series, but with Steins; Gate 0 coming out this Spring, it is only appropriate to give this series the attention it deserves. The plot revolves around Rintarou Okabe, a self-proclaimed scientist who rounds up a small group of friends to help him with new, questionable, inventions. Among these is an invention that allows him to communicate with the past, and the series focuses mainly on the consequences of this invention.
Art. Like many anime based on visual novels, Steins; Gate has rather elegant character design, but what really stands out about the art of the series is the lighting. The lighting in key scenes is essential in setting the tone of the show as a whole, and much of the inherently human understanding of light choices in a series is what I believe to be responsible for Steins; Gate being such a success.
Plot. Upon beginning Steins; Gate, the viewer can tell that something about the show is different. Perhaps it's the lighting, which at the beginning seems to directly oppose the almost happy-go-lucky attitude demonstrated by Okabe. Often the viewer may be confused or overwhelmed by the lack of explanation given for the first chunk of the series. Even Okabe spends much of the series inventing an organization to be suspicious of, though as we move through the series, it's evident that this is intended is a coping mechanism.
Characters. Aside from the general mania of the main plot, the story also focuses on the complicated relationship between Okabe and Makise Kurisu, a real scientist with papers published in the academic world. Steins; Gate easily weaves through Okabe and Makise's struggle to align their views of what it means to be a scientist, their inevitable friendship, and their exploration of who they really are outside of their field. While sometimes this journey is emotional and difficult to watch, it is a journey that keeps the show together until the specific points along the plotline in which the scientific chaos gains some clarity. It is 100% vital to the watchability and coherence of the series. Alongside Makise, the relationships of other characters Mayuri (Okabe's childhood friend), Suzuha (A mysterious girl in the second half of the series who appears to request help on her own time machine), Rumiho (a troubled Ojou-sama with a passion for maid cafes), and Itaru (Okabe's trusted male friend who does the bulk of the tech associated with the inventions). While this may seem like an odd group, they are all relevant in showing just how powerful relationships are in troubled times, and in showing how one small action of a single person can dramatically alter the lives of those around them.
Overall. This show has grit, and should one finish it, they will find that it is excellent. Even if one does not enjoy the show itself, they will have difficulty not appreciating it critically in the very least, though a specimen who has completed the show and does not regard it highly remains to be seen. It should be stressed that this series will not comply with the "3 Episode Rule" for most people. Should one want to evaluate it, it must be evaluated in full.