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Steins;Gate 0 – 03

「Protocol of the Two-sided Gospel -X-day Protocol-」

I have to give an awful lot of credit to Steins;Gate 0. Yes, I had a lot of skepticism about it for starters, there’s that. But I also think that skepticism was justified, given all the intangibles behind this show and its creation. In a sense this series really shouldn’t be as good as it is – but make no mistake, based on three episodes at least it’s pretty goddam good. As good as the first one at this stage, probably, or close enough for it to be a moot point.

I think the get out of jail free card for Steins;Gate 0 (if you set aside the lingering suspicion I had that the whole franchise wouldn’t work for me as well as it did 7 years ago) is this. It’s not trying to duplicate what the first series did. It’s different without being inconsistent. There’s a freshness about the new approach to the mythology that makes “0″ feel essential and alive in a way I didn’t think it would. Whether that will remain the case when timelines start to converge I don’t know. But it’s certainly working for the series right now.

Make no mistake, there’s an overriding sense of melancholy to this sequel that may not be to everyone’s tastes. That makes a character like Mayuri stand out even more, with her constant (and at times obviously forced) cheerfulness. Mayuri, frankly, is one of the characters in S;G that I really shouldn’t be able to stomach. And there are times when she’s a bit much, especially (as was the case this week) when she’s surrounded by her otaku-bait entourage. But there’ an underlying sense of tragedy to Mayushi that cuts through the tropes. Part of it is that we’ve seen what Okarin has seen. Part of it is that we know she has feelings for him that he’ll never return, even if she won’t admit it. That’s why the comment about her being Rintarou’s girlfriend really had some bite to it.

Kurisu, meanwhile. is sinking her claws into Okabe ever-deeper. She’s checking his schedule at school and calling him relentlessly. She’s prying and demanding, and dispensing advice. She even eavesdrops (with the help of his carelessness) on Okabe’s group date. Whatever Amadeus is and whatever it isn’t, it’s Christina in a meaningful enough way that poor Rintarou is falling for her all over again. He knows that in profound and myriad ways this “relationship” is doomed – but he can’t stop himself.

Maho, to her credit, is rightfully concerned about him. Professor Leskinen seems not to be, being much more vested in scientific curiosity about Okabe’s interactions with Amadeus. I don’t think it’s cruelty on his part – he just doesn’t have the emotional sensitivity to sense the danger in an innate way. Just as I don’t think it’s her own feelings for Okarin that are driving Maho’s concern – she’s generally worried about what will happen to him. She’s not reading articles about displacement and coping for entertainment purposes, that’s for sure.

All of this comes to a head when Leskinen invites himself and Maho to the Christmas party Mayushi is throwing at the lab (also, in part, a surprise party for Suzu). There’s some very funny stuff here, proving that Steins;Gate can still operate in that mode. A lot of it comes from our affection for the characters but many of the biggest laughs are courtesy of the newbies, like Leskinen’s comment about Ruka being “incredibly sexy”, or Maho being asked what grade she’s in by Nae. Jackhammer comic dialogue has always been the spine of this series, and it’s good to know that hasn’t changed.

Ultimately, though, S;G seems more than ever a tragedy. All of the central figures are tragic in their way. Okarin lives with the pain of what he’s seen and cannot change, Mayuri suffers from knowing there’s only so much she can do for (and with) him. The supporting cast – Suzu, Daru, Ruka – are all carrying burdens of their own, and it’s clear that Maho (whether she has feelings for Okabe or not – which I think she does) – is forever changed by what happened to Kurisu and being forced to carry the pain with her in the form of Amadeus. Surely, though, Kurisu is the most tragic of all – with all the memories and seeming feelings of a person, but unable to truly live. And perhaps even worse, unable to even forget. It’s a powerful setup, and Steins;Gate 0 is thus far exploiting it rather brilliantly.

April 27, 2018 at 3:38 am
13 comments »
  • April 27, 2018 at 5:45 amsouma

    • April 27, 2018 at 6:01 pmstarss

      Also ……. a dude.

    • April 28, 2018 at 2:45 pmmicheleuno

      One of the few traps that is not a trap just for the sake of confuse the MC

  • April 27, 2018 at 6:29 amotamega

    almost… he almost found them.

  • April 27, 2018 at 10:41 amWHAT

    Okabe is a fucking turbochad, of course she has feelings for him.

  • April 27, 2018 at 12:37 pmMayuC

    Can someone please explain why some people are acting like AI Kurisu is SO different from the Kurisu we know? People are like “she’s too nice” and “not tsundere enough” without taking into account the fact that AI Kurisu is dealing with toned down/relatively normal Okabe as opposed to real Kurisu who had to deal with the mad scientist.

    People seem to have this idea she’s tsundere by default and a jerk to anyone she meets.

    • April 27, 2018 at 3:05 pmflCer

      I did a rewatch of the original S;G just a week ago. I feel that Christina in 0 has acted more friendly than in the original, but still feels like the same person as the one in S;G.

      I could accept that as her normal personality, and she was only grumpy in S;G because she kept getting called names like “The Zombie” and “Celeb 17″.

    • April 28, 2018 at 12:05 amPasserby

      We should also recall that in the alpha world line Okabe introduced himself to Kurisu by assaulting her.

  • April 27, 2018 at 12:55 pmMagnus Tancred

    http://randomc.net/image/Steins%20Gate/Steins%20Gate%200%20-%2003%20-%20Large%2028.jpg

    Suzuha’s razor-sharp instincts (and military training) causing hilariously awkward situations remind me of another displaced soldier, Sousuke Sagara of Full Metal Panic, who incidentally has the same voice actor as Daru. :D

    http://randomc.net/image/Steins%20Gate/Steins%20Gate%200%20-%2003%20-%20Large%2024.jpg
    Brightening up at the mere mention of “party”, what are you, twelve? :D
    The professor is quite an excitable person.

    Ultimately, though, S;G seems more than ever a tragedy.

    Just 3 episodes in, and I’m already wondering how can all this possibly end well. Definitely a tragedy.

  • April 28, 2018 at 12:47 pmRenaSayers

    1I would like to know the ethics behind developing an AI that essentially mimiced past loved one. Since Maho is a colledge student I would believe her college made her take an ethics course prior to graduation. Creating AI and adding Krisu’s personality crosses a line and cheapens Krisu’s importance in Okabe’s life.

    • April 28, 2018 at 3:04 pmPancakes

      Ethics was mandatory at one time, now though you’ll only need to take an ethics course if you’re in a specific degree (ex. philosophy, engineering). Science students for example require just a handful of arts/humanities, and they are free to select from a large list of options of which ethics is only one.

      As for the ethics behind Amadeus it’s not that controversial IMO. The AI is basically a fleshed out version of Siri or Alexa, with Kurisu’s memories simply allowing for more complex, “organic” responses. So far at least there’s nothing present regarding a unique “soul” which drives the entirety of AI ethics, and why Maho always stresses Amadeus as being artifical. Moreover if Kurisu originally agreed to allow her memories to be used (which is likely), there’s little to drive serious controversy, especially given Amadeus isn’t intended for public sale.

      Right now this AI approaches the line, but hasn’t come close to crossing it. What happens in the future though, well that remains to be seen.

    • April 28, 2018 at 4:49 pmWHAT

      She was made to take a full course in patriarchal opression studies and wimminz rights tho.

  • April 28, 2018 at 5:11 pmxlinks

    Great episode !
    While I was watching the episode again, I noticed that Suzuha gave a picture of the IBN 5100 (or other model, who knows) to the little girl with the Upa we saw in episode 1. Do they need to hack the SERN one more time ? If they were searching for the IBN in 1975 (like Suzuha said in episode 23) I wonder if the little girl traveled back in time with her. But where is she now in 2010 ?

    Can’t wait to see what happened next !