Genre: Thriller, Sci-Fi
Season: Spring 2011
“Steins Gate is so boring!!” Perhaps we have all heard or mutter this phrase while watching Steins Gate, whether it be with friends, or binging the show yourself. Truthfully, even I somewhat felt the same way, initially, it was.
Look, I get it. The plot starts off getting you really confused about the whole time-traveling aspect of the show. What’s more, nothing seems to be happening. Okabe, along with his lab members are merely changing the past in exchange for their wishes. And worse off, Okabe’s jokes are at times over the top, and seemed too exaggerated to be even funny. What’s defined as a thriller anime show is transformed into a slice of life anime where its plot is, truthfully, isn’t going anywhere. So there you have it, end of discussion. Steins Gate is truly a boring anime…
But wait. Those of you who watched anime for a long time have probably heard of the 3 episodes rule. It typically means that 3 anime episodes will allow you to decide whether to drop and continue an anime. And in the case of Steins; Gate, there is a hard exception on this rigid 3 episodes rule.
Ultimately, Steins Gate is that one particular anime which, ignoring the 3-episodes rule, will bare its hidden fangs after its 12th episode. What’s that? You don’t have time to be watching 12 episodes of anime to decide whether it should be dropped or not? Well, just hear me out!!
Initially, viewers are showcased a relaxing and playful atmosphere of the Future Gadget Lab. Okabe, boasting an evidently unique personality, constantly cracked jokes here and there with his prodigy assistant, Makise Kurisu. Then we have Mayuri, a soft-spoken and cute character who admitted to being Okabe’s hostage. After Mayuri comes Daru the Super Hacker. Using his genius programming minds, as well as his Otaku spirit, he was able to debunk the basis of Okabe’s lame jokes; in which there is really no meaning behind them.
But behind Okabe’s lame jokes, and behind the seemingly meaningless side characters are their incredibly important backstories. That is why Steins Gate seemed so slow and boring initially. Those who dropped Steins Gate failed to understand the importance of the tiny and minuscule events that occur within the first 12 episodes of the show.
Necessary or Redundant?
This is precisely why the climax to Steins Gate is so tremendously thrilling and addicting. Arguably, without initially showcasing the deep and complex persona of each side character, the climatic events that followed would merely be mediocre. For those wishing for a fast-paced plot, you will simply criticize the show for its ‘lack of substance’.
Admittedly, Steins Gates wouldn’t be what it is without Okabe’s lame Chuunibyou persona. No one would really care about Mayushi, Moeka, Ruka, or Faris later on. And certainly, the side characters would simply serve as obstacles that hinder the plot progression.
Ironically, however, such a slow buildup is perhaps Steins Gate’s best aspects, as well as its most flawed element throughout. Naturally, a deep and complex build-up oftentimes result in a great climax. Yet, in doing so renders the first 12 episodes of the show unwatchable for the majority of its audiences.
Dive Into The Otaku Culture:
In reality, those who enjoyed Okabe’s Chunnibyou complex possessed a rich and deep comprehension of the Otaku culture. Indeed, such a task could only be accomplished by Veteran Anime fans. The experience of your everyday anime fan would be vastly different, where Okabe proved to be a cringeworthy character. And Daru’s love for Faris-chan, as well as his Otaku lifestyle were viewed as stained, or even nasty for some.
But for many, finishing the show was a non-regrettable accomplishment. The show was a solid 9, and even 10 for some folks. Some reflected back on the initial events within the first 12 episodes, and some never once talked about them again.
In my experience, those who dropped Steins Gates were folks who never finished the show. And those who finished Steins Gates utterly loved it. Whichever category you are, or will be in, just remember that it’s ok to hate Steins Gate for its snail-paced build up. It’s ok not to care about Okabe’s cringey jokes, and it’s ok to point out the meaningless farce of the side characters.
Because I know that, as the show progresses, all the pieces will be in place. Okabe’s Chunnibyou will be withstandable. The initial pacing will make a lot of sense. And you will LOVE the show!!
But for now, who can we blame? It’s not like we are time travelers who knew the importance of Steins Gate’s initial character build-up, right, John Titor-san?