“Missing Link of the Annihilator: Absolute Zero”

「零化域のミッシングリンク」 (Rei-ka-iki no Misshingu Rinku)

Note: Needless to say, please avoid any VN spoilers in the comments. The rule here is if it’s appeared in the anime, it’s fair game – if not, it’s 100% banned. And no spoilers disguised as “speculation” either (yes, I can almost always tell). Thank you for your understanding.

The first thing I have to say is – has it really been 7 years since Steins;Gate aired? Damn, time flies – but it really has been, almost to the day. This was a show from pretty early in my anime blogging career, and though it’s hung around in various incarnations since (a movie, some semi-advertisement and legitimate OVAs, and one other thing which we’ll talk about shortly) it really does feel like it comes from a different time both for me and the medium. And, I suppose, that’s only fitting.

The next matter of importance is the issue of timelines. Because in the often indecipherable tangle of plot that is Steins;Gate, timelines are everything. If one remembered enough from the original TV series ending and hadn’t paid any attention since, this premiere would seem very confusing. Indeed, my memory of it is dodgy enough that I was confused myself until I stopped the player halfway through and did a little review. Obviously “0” is operating on a different timeline from the one which concluded the series – a “Beta” timeline, one where Mayuri still lives but Kurisu dies. That, of course, explains Okarin’s depressed state as we rejoin the story (indeed, he’s undergoing hypnotherapy).

What’s interesting to note here is that there was an alternate Episode 23 from the original series – though it came later, first airing when the show was rebroadcast in 2015. Steins;Gate 0 seems to take up directly where that left off, more or less – and that, of course, means things are off to a rather grim and gloomy start. Okabe’s failure to save Kurisu (indeed, he was the one that killed her, albeit by accident) – and just as much, the hell he went through trying to cheat destiny and save both girls he loved – has left him so traumatized that he’s abandoned his old life and dedicated himself to college (he plays tennis, for cripes’ sake), leaving Akiba and the lab behind.

Now, it should be noted that few anime in the modern era are as beloved as Steins;Gate, and (equally importantly from my perspective) few have crossed the divide between artistic and commercial achievement so successfully. As such, I suspect that the general reaction to 0 was going to be overwhelmingly positive, no matter how good a premiere this was, just because so many were so happy to have S:G back. I think it was very good, as it happens, but I’m not yet sold that it needs to exist for any reasons apart from commercial ones. I’d also be very interested in knowing whether I’d love the first series as much now as I did then, with so much more exposure to this industry under my belt. Maybe I would – but since there’s no way I can take the time to re-watch it, it’s one of those things I can only speculate about.

There are some important changes this time, notably that neither of the original series’ directors is back for this trip. Ultra-experienced adapter Hanada Jukki is, though, and this is an instance where that may be just as important. Most of the cast is back, though of course there is one notable exception (for now) and there are some new faces this time – like the (very) diminutive Hiyajo Maho (Yahagi Sayuri), a researcher at the same lab as Kurisu and as assistant to Professor Alexis Leskinen (Ueda Youji – hooe! ) in developing a new A.I. called “Amadeus” that’s based on Kurisu’s research, and seems to be at the nexus of this timeline going all to Hell.

As we re-enter this mythology, the drama seems primarily to stem from Suzuha’s attempts to get Okarin to once more try and change time in order to prevent the dystopia she knows is coming, and his weary refusal to be drawn back into the same horrific cycle. While it’s fair to point out that the mood of this first episode is extremely dark, Steins;Gate has always had a profoundly tragic air about it – especially from Okabe’s perspective, because he’s the one who has to see all these terrible things and carry the memories with him. It’s one of Miyano Mamoru’s finest performances – and far different from the sort of role he seems to have been typecast into in recent years.

I would certainly love it if Steins;Gate 0 is every bit as great as the first one, and I’m still at a place as a fan where I can enjoy it on the same level. I get the impulse to go back and mine immensely profitable franchises for more gold, and it’s understandable – I just feel like the first series ended so perfectly that it might have been best left to stand alone as the franchise’s signature anime statement. But this series has 23 episodes to prove me wrong, and I heartily hope it does.

ED Sequence

ED: 「Amadeus」by いとうかなこ (Itou Kanako)


  1. I’ve been waiting for this.

    Perhaps the biggest mystery thus far is not of tine travel but Urushibara

    Urushibara Ruka, delicate as an orchid, fair as a cherry blossom, the personification of feminine grace and also… a dude. Tall as a willow, slender as a reed, a dude. Radiant in shrine vestments, dude. The sun dips low in a rosy sky, secateurs buzz, Ruka is a dude.

    Ruka comtinues to pander the fascination of traps. Liking traps isn’t gay right?

    Steins Gate continues to turn the wheels of legality. Legal lolis? What’s next? Time travelling idols equipped with Reading Steiner?

    I can’t help it but to keep reading this as UTX

    Henrietta Brix
    1. Too often in anime we have cases of traps that are traps just for the sake of needlessly confusing the audience (looking at you, Togashi). Ruka is probably the only one I’m fond of as a character, because Ruka’s personal struggle is very well thought and it makes her (I’m referring to her as a she since that’s how MAL is doing it, which is appropriate) feel like a real human.

      1. I feel like I should clarify. I meant Ruka is the only one who’s status as a trap is actually a factor that makes me care about her more, whereas in case of someone like Alluka, the trap status serves no purpose whatsoever, and I find it unnecessary.

      2. Agreed. I’ve grown tired of the “trap” for “trap’s” sake trope, like you say it’s unnecessary, and ultimately degrading since it’s not treating them like real, full people. So Ruka’s character and development is a step in the right direction.

        Bamboo Blade Cat
  2. Nice episode and overall series thoughts, but one opinion of yours sounds quite ironic to me – you feel that the original series ended too perfectly and it might have been best to leave it alone. But isn’t Steins;Gate 0 the story which actually will fully explain how we get this, no doubt, amazing ending to the original? After all, while we knew how Okabe managed to get to the Steins;Gate timeline, we never knew what happened to the Okabe who lived through this Beta timeline and how he came up with the plan for operation skuld. Surely milking the franchise is a thing nowadays, but it didn’t occur to me that this version of Steins;Gate gives this feeling.

    Also, needless to say, very solid premiere. Great to see all the characters again, as Steins;Gate always was this kind of series for me that every each character is well written, there are just no bad characters in this show. So glad it finally happens seven years later.

    1. I somehow didn’t realize this was the tale of the cool, badass future Okabe at the end of episode 23 of the original series. I simply thought this was a side-story, or a “what-if” scenario.

      Now I’m even more interested in Steins;Gate 0.

    1. If you have no recollection whatsoever, then I’d recommend you rewatch it. I never played any of the VNs, but I think some plot points from that series are going to be necessary in order to better understand this series. Plus, besides getting to know all the colorful cast once more, this is a direct sequel to that series, only make sure to watch episode 23 beta (should be available somewhere on the internet) instead of the original episodes 23 and 24 before jumping onto this one.

  3. This is Hououin Kyouma, the mad scientist, no more. This is someone who is a completely different person, a shadow of his former self that couldn’t help but to attain a new persona that is all about trying futilely to move on all because of the unavoidable tragedy that has befallen him and his loved one. And, honestly, I think that is only appropriate. No human being would accept to be his normal (in this case, goofy yet determinant) self after such PTSD inducing event. But it is this Okabe that has to go through the same hell that that future Okabe must’ve gone through in order to finally arrive at the answer that would lead everyone into that world line where everything is just right. This is another Okabe, in both personality and essence. This Okabe’s existence is necessary in order for everything to become alright once again. So honestly Enzo, when you said you might refer it if the original anime would be left to stand alone as the franchise’s signature anime statement, I couldn’t help myself but to look at it differently. Since this Okabe is the key to the world line where Kyouma would be at most peace with himself and everything and everyone around him, I’d say the existence of Steins;Gate 0 is also necessary in order for us to appreciate what happened at the end of the original Steins;Gate some more, even if that series itself may not need it. Welcome back to my life Steins;Gate. I was waiting for so long.

  4. It’s been so long since I’ve seen the original, but I picked up on it fairly quickly. I’d say that it’s nice to see everyone again (seeing Ruka, Daru, Suzuha, and Fayris really takes me back), but Okabe’s shift into the sadness timeline just makes me wanna buy the mad scientist a Dr. Pepper to cheer him up.

    But 0 works really well as an alternate version of the story where Okabe doesn’t go above and beyond like in the original. Hiyajo and Yuki look like interesting members of the cast, and it’ll be neat to see how they play into the Beta Timeline.

    1. Anyone who can get this depressed Okabe out of his comfort zone and make him make even the slightest of jokes is automatically a good addition to the cast in my book, and Hiyajo fits that bill nicely. Yuki, on the other hand, I’m not quite sold on personally, but she makes Suzuha more than just a soldier. She makes her into a daughter as well. So that’s nice too.

    2. I agree, I think most people who went through what Okabe did on his first attempt to save Kurisu would have given up. This Okabe just didn’t have an Okabe to pick him back up again and tell him that it’s possible and to try again. The lack of a pep talk changed everything, and the Beta Okabe was born!

  5. Mamoru Miyano in 3(?) anime this season. We have him hamming it up in Tada-kun, his super serious and understated performance as Reinhard in LOGH, and of course here with his dynamic performance as Okabe. Blessed season.

  6. I was scared that I’d hate that they didn’t let this show just be the great show it was so I didn’t want to watch S;G0 at first… and well I finally did and OMG I’m so hyped actually.
    Looking forward to the whole show !

  7. The episode raises more questions than answers, though mentioning “Beta time line” explains a lot. Certainly had trouble figuring out from which episode did this split off from. Daru knowing that Suzuha was his daughter was certainly bewildering.

    Looks like Suzuha got a lot from her mother. Sure is a looker. Did she ever show up in the original series? Still glad to know how Daru met his future wife.

    I know why Okarin is fearful of her, but can’t really remember the details. What exactly was her mission? Strange seeing her in a presentation about AI.

    Since it was just mentioned, yeah my jaw dropped when Okarin said he plays tennis. XD

    1. Yuki didn’t technically show up in the original series as how it was run on TV, but Show Spoiler ▼

      About Kiryuu Moeka, the girl Okabe fears, if you recall the original series (by which I mean, if you don’t, then don’t touch the spoiler I put in here and go rewatch it when you have time, unless you don’t care about spoilers),Show Spoiler ▼

      1. Still remember that part about Moeka, but what I can’t remember is if she was more of an observer or assigned with interdiction. I think it may relate to her current role, even if she’s just a normal employee right now. But lets see what happens next episode. As far as I know, the personalities didn’t diverge much unless a significant event happened in one time line. So, it’s still a curiosity seeing her there.

    2. Time travel stuff can be confusing. The Beta worldline is sort of a branch caused by Okabe not having the mental fortitude to save Kurisu.

      So you basically have.

      Timeline A: Kurisu dies, Okabe never saves her(Original Worldline).
      Timeline B: Kurisu is alive through Okabes time meddling, Okabe fixes this, and Kurisu becomes dead again. Okabe travels back in time with help(Seen in series before the happy end).
      Timeline C: Okabe saves Kurisu and gets his happy ending(Steins;Gate WL).
      Timeline D: Okabe fails to save Kurisu, and gives up trying. Eventually sends a V-Mail to the Okabe of Timeline C to not give up and makes Timeline C a reality.(Beta Worldline).

      Well I could be wrong but whatever. It’s time stuff meh.

    1. I think it’s because this Okabe is a different person in a lot of aspects. He still values the relationships he has, but he completely lost the daring and scientific persona that led him to the playing-God tragedies the time machine caused, and all the woes that came with it. In essence, this S;G anime is different because it’s as if it has a different protagonist. Not everything is the same, and I believe that’s only appropriate due to what happened.

  8. I wonder if this anime adaptation will cover every branching arch in the story. The original Steins Gate had multiple endings but the events still happened in a linear fashion so it was easier to just go to the true ending. Steins Gate 0 on the other hand had blatant path/event deviations depending on the choices player made in the game. If they just animated the true end only there’d be tons of missing into.

    Guess I’ll stick around and see how the studio decides to handle this.


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