Kogepan and Otaku Sensei have been experiencing anime withdrawal, the result of a harrowing semester, both of us teaching far more classes than a sane person should ever want to juggle. Our brains were jargogled with rhetoric. We needed an Anime Night. But, what to watch? We were both so far behind on our viewing that the entire genre might have changed, or even imploded, without our ever knowing. Even our fellow fans had little to recommend, having themselves been too busy to watch much, either.
Otaku Sensei had been trolling trough Amazon recommendations and thought that Steins;Gate sounded promising (although what’s up with that semicolon?). Ten episodes in, we can say that semicolon or not, Steins;Gate is a win. The series is redolent with visual and auditory references to Serial Experiments Lain, from the pervasive sound of cicadas to the images of wires and washed out city streets and the idea of the mysterious powers of computers, but the resemblance stops there. Confusion and lack of any kind of a comfort zone ensued with the first episode. Between the unrealiable main character and the uncertainty of whether events really happened or not, we actually watched it twice before moving on. Take a self-styled mad-scientist with a maniacal laugh who always wears a lab coat and talks into a cell phone that isn’t on; throw in a heavy dose of paranoia and memory lapses; add a cosplaying childhood friend who works in a maid café, stir in a stereotypical chunky otaku hacker boy; shake vigorously before including a beautiful genius scientist who may or may not be dead; and then wrap it all up in time-travel. The element of time travel is handled in an interesting way, shying away from relying on dramatic changes to create tension, and instead focusing in on how small changes can make big differences. That strategy preserves the suspense that comes from each time shift and lets the viewer experience the surprise with the main character. And to top it off, Stein’s;Gate is funny! Double-entendres and character antics make this series as hilarious as it is intriguing.
Otaku Sensei and Kogepan will definitely be watching the rest of this series and will add our perspectives here. In the meantime, we would love to hear your opinions!