The shadow-government organization that’s out to kill you is all fake until it isn’t. Steins;Gate 0 is the sequel to the 2011 anime Steins;Gate. It was a fun show full of quirky characters that were repeatedly killed and/or tortured into insanity because of time travel and government conspiracies.
This is one of the anime I’ve been anticipating the most since I heard it was announced. I loved the original Steins;Gate, despite its flaws. I haven’t read the Visual Novel the sequel is based on yet, so I won’t be able to say if this is a good adaptation or not. Hopefully, it will be a solid story regardless.
Because this show is a direct(ish) sequel to the original, it is impossible for me to discuss this anime without talking about its predecessor. I would highly recommend that you watch or read the previous series before jumping into 0. Just be warned, there is an uncomfortable amount of sexual assault and transphobic slurs in the original. I have no reason to believe that the sequel series will be much different.
The episode opens with Mayuri and a little girl who looks like Kurisu standing in a bombed out building at the end of the world. Suzuha stumbles upon them, and Mayuri laments that things might have turned out differently if she had done more for Okarin in the past. An image of Kurisu flickers on a screen outside.
It looks like WWIII happened despite all of Okarin and Suzuha’s hard work at the end of the original. Except that’s not entirely accurate.
This series takes place in an alternate world line, where after failing to save Kurisu the first time, Okarin gives up and tries to move on with his life. He gives up his chuuni tendencies, stopped visiting Akihabara and the lab entirely, and just tries to live a normal college life.
Mayuri picks Okabe up from a hypnotherapy session and convinces him to come with her to eat lunch with some of their old friends. Faris and Ruka cannot handle the life changes that Okabe has made. It’s understandable. Dude dropped off the map in the summer, and pops up again in the winter acting like a completely different person. Apparently, the only person that he’s been in contact with after Kurisu’s death was Mayuri.
Skipping ahead a little, Okabe has some intense PTSD flashbacks and hallucinations on the way home. The events of the previous series affected him profoundly. Despite the fact that his inaction is literally allowing WWIII to end the world, it is hard to root against his staying out of the conflict. It’s a very human reaction, which contrasts well with the beginning of the first anime where he behaved like an over-the-top anime character.
Back to the café, Mayuri gets a text from a friend, Yuki, asking her to meet her at the lab. Everyone decides to tag along, and we cut to the lab itself. Suzuha is annoyed with Daru for tooling around on the internet instead of working. Her original and only plan didn’t work out, so now she’s settled for hanging out and making Daru research time travel on his own. Their expository banter is cut short when Suzuha hears footsteps outside.
It turns out to be Mayuri’s cosplay friend, who they casually reveal is Suzuha’s mother. I literally didn’t recognize this character, to the point that I don’t think she was even in the original series. Mayuri had a cosplay friend that was mentioned, but I don’t know if she ever actually appeared on screen. I could be wrong about this, but I don’t think she even got a character portrait in the VN. It’s super weird that the anime revealed the answer to the Suzuha’s mom mystery in the first episode, and the answer is this character we’ve never seen before. Despite this, the artist did a pretty good job of making them look related in a way that isn’t just same-face syndrome.
Suzuha hides, because she doesn’t want to talk to her mom. It works out until Okabe needs to use the toilet that she’s hiding in. After he stumbles upon her, they go up to the roof and argue about the plan. She reminds him that everyone in the world will die if he does nothing and tells him about how she watched her mom die right in front of her. Suzuha still believes the plan will work if he just goes back and fixes the past, but Okabe doesn’t believe it’s possible. Every change he made in the original series only made everything worse, to the point that the back-half of the series was just Okabe fixing all the shit he ruined in the front-half.
This doesn’t really have anything to do with the subject at hand, but I’m glad they changed how they draw the teeth in this anime. They were really distracting in the original Steins;Gate series, and a more stylized look works a lot better.
After the fight on the roof, Okabe goes home. He has the hallucination I mentioned earlier and agrees to go out drinking with his college friends. The following day he does some work as a guide to a conference one of his professors recommended, and he meets Maho Hiyajou, who is probably going to end up playing a major part in the series to come.
In the crowd, Okabe spots Moeka and tries not to panic. Since it is a beta world line, he believes that she is not working as an assassin for any shadow governments. Probably.
The conference proper starts, with Maho acting as an interpreter for the American professor who is presenting. He explains that their current project is based on research that Kurisu did while she was alive. The same research that allowed her to create a time machine that projected a user’s consciousness into the past is now being used to create an AI that is based on a human’s memories.
The episode ends before the introduction of the AI, but I think we can all guess who’s going to pop up on that screen next week.
So, this episode was a pretty strong opener. I’m looking forward to seeing how the series develops from here. To be perfectly honest, I’m not a huge fan of some of the cinematography decisions in this episode. In particular, the scene between Mayuri and Okabe on the train was not great.
Cinematography hiccups aside, this series looks like it’s going to be some good stuff. I’m excited to see where they’re going with this new AI plot point.