Public Service Announcement: Redline is being released on DVD/BD in Japan today. It comes with english subtitles, so there won’t be any wait for fansubbers. It should be showing up on various torrent sites within the next 24 hours. Watch it.
And now back to your regularly scheduled Steins;Gate. Not the lame Steins;Gate of the past 2 episodes. The good Steins;Gate.
Before I get to the juicy part of the episode, I want to talk about how brilliant the first half was. There was so many little things that clicked. For example, how Kyouma has slowly become detached from the human Mayuri. He barely recognises her presence, even when she’s trying to cheer him up. When Kurisu gives him a call on the phone, panicked and distressed, his facial expression doesn’t budge. Instead of looking at Mayuri, he looks only at the hourglass. It really feels like he’s not doing this for Mayuri anymore. He’s simply doing this for his own sake because he’s pushed so far. It’s about the act itself, rather than the consequences, such is the effort he’s put into it. Even convincing Kurisu to join his time-travelling team has become something he’s deadened to, remarking aloud how many times he’s had to do this all. Speaking of Kurisu, thank you Steins;Gate for allowing her not to descend into typical tsundere lines for the sake of including them, allowing her to say something heartfelt to Okarin without blushing. I guess the reason why she does this is because Kyouma has become deadened to this part of her that he no longer expresses any surprise when her softer side is revealed.
Now for the creepy part. Judging by some of the responses on twitter, I wasn’t the only one a touch horrified by what was effectively an assault and rape scene. I said after the last two episodes that I hoped Steins;Gate was recognising that Okarin’s morals had become severely skewed recently in his attempts to save Mayuri. Moeka is deranged and mentally scarred, yet Kyouma punches her in the face, kicks her across the room, rugby tackles her and pins her to the ground in prime rape position. Moeka offering that she’d do ‘anything’ to get her phone back while being pinned down with that panicked look on her face brought home the impact of the scene even more. Then a concerned neighbour, upon hearing all the fuss, walks in, sees them sprawled on the floor, and then just walks away? Talk about bystander syndrome.
Here’s the thing about that incident, the scene, and the entire direction the Steins;Gate is taking: I hope it was intentional. I hope Steins;Gate was offering a critique of the detachment of humans to help their mentally unstable neighbours when they appear to be getting assaulted. I hope the show realises that Okarin has started to go beyond noble hero and into a morally ambiguous stage where he’s become difficult to side with. I have faith in the writers, as they’ve proven themselves quite admirably thus far. If Steins;Gate goes in the direction I think it’s going, Okarin is not going to have a happy ending. The young adult with delusions of grandeur trying to alter the path of history for his own gains through morally ambiguous methods is not a story that typically ends in roses. He’s not quite Light Yagami, but he’s certainly pushing slightly closer towards the Lelouch end of the morality spectrum.