A self proclaimed chuunibyou-level-delusional mad scientist makes a time machine that would embroil him in a series of time leaps to decide which sacrifices he will make to save the world from the control of SERN, an organisation who in the future monopolises time travel technology and thus effectively ruling the world.
Steins;Gate explores the theme of time travel, quite an unoriginal setting but still interesting till today, most likely as there is no definite proof that time travel cannot happen, so the possibilities of something as miraculous as time travel in fiction continues to attract readership.
Luckily for Steins;Gate, it is not so much of a focus on the principles of time travel itself, as it is a focus on the main character. It has a very single character focus, as only the main protagonist has the ability to retain memories through different world lines. It was a weak reason given that the main protagonist has that ability because of a fever-related seizure, but as most of us are not experts in that field, taken superficially, that could be possible. This plot device meant that only the main character would be subjected to grief everytime he time travels, and make his existence on a near equivalent plane as ourselves, to know what has happened before the shift in world lines.
This gives us a lot of room to observe his emotional changes and personality growth throughout the series, as even as the other characters ‘restart’ as blank slates, he continues on with his previous failures, making him and his actions the main focus of the show. This is both good and bad, since it means that essentially, the onus is on him alone to change world lines, and thus the other characters lack sufficient participation in rescuing the world.
Nevertheless, we do get to see how the show develops its other characters besides the protagonist. Each episode after the Phone Microwave was made, we get to see each character desire to change something that they regret and send a D-mail to do that. The resulting changes and the backstories of Faris were the means of which other characters get fleshed out. Flashbacks of the childhood with Mayuri also helped.
As clichéd as time travel fiction is, Steins;Gate manages some sly plot twists, throwing in revelations that you never would have expected unless you read the wiki and spoilers. What a great coincidence that almost every character introduced is someone crucial to the plot. This also means that characters you thought to be side characters at the start could wound up to be characters that play a major role in causing the result of the current world line. For instance, how the start of the first episode ties in with the last episode. Time travel’s butterfly effect made it so that small minor details like a metal Upa could have a big impact on the future, which gives Steins;Gate a great way to surprise you that something that seemed to be done in passing was actually crucial to the plot.
Steins;Gate: Ending Remarks
In terms of physics, as a physics blockhead, I have difficulty understanding quantum mechanics, much less time travel. I have no idea if time travel is shoving something big into something so small it can’t fit in, (wink- hey it’s a Daru reference) but in terms of literature, I would say that this story has been written well. With lighthearted comedy marshmellow bits sank in a chocolate fondue of choice and sacrifice, it is, when condensed, a rather simple story at its heart. But the characters and emotions that guided us through made it seem like so much more. 10/10
P.S.: There’s also a visual novel that is rather worthwhile playing, although I’m unlikely to get into it. Check out Steins;Gate Visual Novel.
Obligatory Ruka Shrine
May there be a cute trap character in every anime~ (๑♡⌓♡๑)