There are two kinds of anime movies from existing franchises. The first is made because the creators wanted to continue the story in movie format. The second is made because the original TV series gave them a lot of money and they didn’t want to waste the brand. Steins;Gate is the second type. Of that second type there are three further types. The first is the rarely used complete rewrite where the creators decided to fuck the original story and make up an entirely new ones because they’ve got so much creative juices they can’t be bound by canon. This was not the Steins;Gate movie, although I wish that is what they did do. The second type is the movie set randomly somewhere within the established canon where nothing of consequence ultimately happens and everything returns to the status quo at the end apart from the one character they introduced for that movie along. This is what Shounen Jump movies usually do. This was not the Steins;Gate movie, although it would have been preferable because at least then it tells a self-contained story.
The third type is movie hastily bolted onto the end of a story that was already completely wrapped up and the writers were just desperately trying to force some kind of conflict that tampers with the original ending and makes the whole thing feel pointless and silly. This is the Steins;Gate movie. Funnily enough, it wasn’t very good.
The movie plays out in a very similar fashion to the Steins;Gate TV series, complete with the same animation quality as the TV series which was a little disappointing. I would have liked improved animation since they had the time and money for it, but whatever. I like the directing style in Steins;Gate enough to get a kick out of seeing it again, and there’s a limited amount you can do with its grey muted tones by throwing money at it. Watching Okarin flail about like the nutter he is, interacting with Kurisu and Daru and co has all the same charm as it always did.
Due to the limited time it does have the problem franchise movies often have where they have to hastily reintroduce all the old characters and make them do their one character quirk before disappearing again. Not that I had any affection whatsoever for the stupid cat maid or the trap, but the scenes did feel rather forced. The earlier scenes between Okarin and Kurisu though do no feel forced. They work great and are ultimately the highlight of the movie. For all the dramatics and long monologues and time travelling that happen later on, the best part of this movie will always be Kurisu rubbing her face against Okarin’s cheek.
Then, much like the TV series, after a period of characters mucking about and little weird things happen, time travel goes crazy and Okarin disappears. Sort of. I won’t spoil why or how, but the upshot of this is that Kurisu ends up taking the reign as main character, which ultimately ends up being the downfall for the movie. I love Steins;Gate because of Okarin. It’s his interaction with characters and his view of the world that makes this tale exciting. How his delusions turn to reality and the shift is his character from that. Strip that out and you have a decent time travel story that moves a little too slowly. And that’s the main series. The time travel story in this one is even more nonsense than the original and doesn’t have time to play around with the possibilities that made the slow pace interesting from the original.
I like Kurisu a lot, don’t get me wrong on this one. Having a movie from her perspective sounds like a great idea. Turns out that’s not the case. Living in Kurisu’s head is boring as fuck. The back third of the movie is spent listening to Kurisu monologuing incredibly boringly about how she’s kinda sad. There’s no dressing to this narration. It’s just a bland boring monologue. Combine this with the grey artstyle and I honestly started to drift off during the movie. The oppressive grey art style only worked because it was combined with Okarin believing conspiracy theories. From the mind of Kurisu and her more sane view of the world, it just makes Akihabara look like the dullest place on the planet.
Finally, and arguably even more damningly than making Kurisu the main character, you can’t help shake the feeling that this was just tacked on at the end because they needed to extend this series further. The entire central plot and what’s happening to Okarin was clearly created long after the original script for Steins;Gate was written. I know this is all franchise movies ultimately, but there are ones that do it well without feeling like I’ve been suckered. Trigun did this really well with Badlands Rumble. Steins;Gate not so much. I do love me some Steins;Gate, but I would recommend just sticking to that original series.