Woah woah calm down there spring anime season. We haven’t seen half of the shows’ first episodes yet, and here you are throwing us yet another quality show? Something is seriously up when even the VN adaptations are performing. Better yet, Steins;Gate performed in an area I’ve never seen a VN adaptation perform in: The strength of it’s characters. The Mad Scientist lead is fantastic. He’s not mad in the classical sense. He doesn’t talk to invisible people because he can actually see invisible people. He doesn’t really think there’s a conspiracy agency after him. But he still talks into his phone to an imaginary Juiz to tell them that the agency is after him. Because that’s what a mad scientist does. It takes a special kind of crazy to think like that. I’m perhaps less impressed by his HanaKana voiced ditsy female sidekick, but in a way she’s the perfect foil for him. She happily accepts his attempts at being mad, which further adds to this idea that he really isn’t the kind of mad he likes to pretend he is.
It’s also clever in how it set up the mystery element. A lot of anime, generally those animated by JC Staff, seem to believe that a good way of setting intrigue and mystery is to throw out a lot of technical terms without telling the viewer what they are. Alternatively another lame method anime tend to do when setting up a mystery is have totally random shit happen that makes no sense whatsoever and make you want to continue on just to see what on earth that was all about. Steins;Gate is clever. What happens in this episode isn’t necessarily anything crazily stupid or weird. It’s little things that are unsettling. A text message you thought you sent yesterday was actually sent a week back in the past. A lecture you thought you went to was apparently called off, yet you can distinctly remember going to it. Little things that creep you out in that position, not big stupid incidents with no prior foreshadowing.
Now I am wary because this is still a VN adaptation, and VN adaptations suck (mwahaha go my biased views go). Plus this is from the creators of Chaos;Head and that started interesting before descending into stupidity. What keeps my faith in Steins;Gate a little higher is it has two aspects in its favour that don’t really have the capacity to change over the course of the show: Strong characters and witty writing. Even if the plot gets silly, it generally takes the show to go down an entirely different focus if either of those facts change significantly from the first episode. On the negative side though, this episode I watched was the Nico eye-cancer quality broadcast that didn’t have the opening or ending. This may not sound like a worrying fact to you, but I am still haunted by that shockingly dreadful Chaos;Head ending song. How I would start to panic 5 minutes before the end of the episode, waiting to pause it before those accursed first few lines started up, or else the song would be stuck in my head for the rest of the week. Never again do I want to experience that torture. Please have a better ending song than that one Steins;Gate.