Time goes on. The time I chose.
- Episodes : 23
- Genre : Sci-Fi, Thriller
- Airing Date : April 12, 2018 – September 27, 2018
- Studios : White Fox
Steins;Gate 0 Introduction
Steins;Gate is part of the renowned science;adventure series, a collaboration between the gaming companies 5pb Games and Nitroplus. Within this series, are stories that share a universe, and within this universe is the series that took anime by storm: Steins;Gate.
Steins;Gate 0 is the “midquel” of Steins;Gate, a story that takes place within the final sections of the original. After failing to save Kurisu, the world descends upon the Beta Wordline, a future doomed towards World War III.
Steins;Gate 0 is a thoughtful adaptation. Its source material is non-linear, peppered with impactful scenes spread about its routes. Its heavy focus on inner monologue, creates an insular world where the mood was easily influenced by the character’s disposition.
Whereas the first story had religious connotations, themes of resistance, and the inevitability of fate, the midquel focused on themes of loss, trauma, and renewal.
As the esteemed continuation of Steins;Gate, its midquel received a lot of praise as a visual novel, but also had legitimate critiques--critiques that I wholeheartedly believe were on the minds of the staff.
Steins;Gate 0 is the response to those critiques, an original experience intended for fans unaware of the source material and those with its knowledge. As a result, the adaptation is mindful of its material, arranging, expanding, and adding scenes in different and nuanced ways. Steins;Gate 0 is a carefully woven tapestry beautiful from afar and intricate once you see its threads.
1. An Original and Insightful Experience
Given the size of its source material, if the staff wanted a more consumable experience, it was inevitable that portions of the story would be left out. An ordinary adaptation will be pushed around by its constraints, time being a major obstacle. An excellent adaptation, however, maneuvers around its constraints, building new bridges where they didn’t exist before.
A good adaptation needs to communicate the strengths of its source material while showing a different perspective on it--that’s exactly what Steins;Gate 0 does. By giving more screen time to certain characters and supplementing their appearance with original scenes, relationships are given new light. Mayuri, in particular, becomes more active in the adaptation, reminding viewers that Okabe’s loss (Kurisu) is mirrored by her loss (Okabe).
The show heavily focuses on the story’s key moments. Sometimes these scenes are positioned chronologically different, forming an obvious arc of rising and falling action. Sometimes, the scenes are given minor additions, creating nuance where it didn’t exist before. While these changes will be invisible to those inexperienced with the visual novel, their results are experienced by the new emphasis on character growth, its streamlined story, and its different interpretations of key scenes.
2. Overall Character Growth
The original Steins;Gate 0 was a story that set its mood low and its sights lower. Mirroring the mindset of Okabe meant the heaviness of his thoughts permeated into the story’s tone.To say the least, Okabe was a shell of a man, and the viewer was chained to him, creating a very personal understanding of his trauma.
In contrast, the adaptation has removed most of the internal dialogue. The insular nature of the original is less pronounced in the adaptation, but this is not a concession. It is an exchange.
To give more development to other characters, characters involvement increased, revealing more motivations, growth, and clarified intentions. The feeling of loss is undeniable in the story, but the adaptation has an underlying hopefulness, a connection through pain.
3. Better Sound Direction
Sound Direction, or the purposeful placement of audio to influence media, is an area that the adaptation excels over the original. The original, burdened with a smaller OST, would stretch the use of one song across multiple instances, at times ending a composition too soon or pausing, only to have the same song repeat itself.
The anime adaptation has the advantage of borrowing the original OST. To convey a better range of emotion, more soundtracks were added to better fit important dialogue or an emotional scene. Variations of the main theme were created, allowing subtle changes to be felt by the audience. These subtle changes seem miniscule, but they are the beginnings of moving forward.
Bad sound direction can feel jarring, taking viewers out of their immersion and breaking the emotional impact. Good sound direction enhances the experience, adding “subtext” to scenes with seamless application. While the visual novel’s soundtrack suffered from overuse, the adaptation is blessed with choice, creating a uniqueness to the anime.
1. A Change of Mood
This is a subjective weakness, and something that might turn away fans of the original. The original visual novel had a sense of claustrophobia, it depicted a future so limited that it seemed actions no longer mattered--life no longer mattered. The world was closed off, a box of no surprises. The intimacy you gain with its characters was a matter of course--you’re fettered inside the minds of so many of them.
While the adaptation opens up the world, allowing more characters to grow, it does sacrifice something personal: a very intimate, viceral representation of depression. Okabe’s mental health in the show is seen, but in the visual novel, it is felt. You live the experience. You suffocate under the the heaviness and its restraint. When the heart gives up hope, when a shadow casts itself upon the mind--that experience is something truly painful, an experience that the visual novel rewinds.
2. Not All Growth is Equal
While certain characters get far more screen time, other characters aren’t really expanded upon or given further nuance. For fans of certain characters, this can definitely be a downer. Part of the reason for this is simply the direction of the show: the rearranging of scenes was meant to create an obvious progression. Scenes existed in a particular order to give Okabe the momentum to move and the plot a push forward. Unfortunately, this means some emotional arcs don’t exist or don’t land as well as their counterpart.
Steins;Gate 0 has proven itself as an integral part of the story. Where the plot of its predecessor had already ended, Steins;Gate 0 picks up the emotional leftovers. It reignites the flame and shines new light upon the importance of Okabe’s Journey and its meaning.