「回折叙唱のマザーグース」 (Kaisetsu Joshou no Mazaa Guusu)
“Mother Goose of Diffractive Recitativo: Diffraction Mother Goose”
I don’t think I’ve been cagey about it in any way, but the Kagari arc of Steins;Gate 0 really isn’t doing much for me. Last week’s episode had such a one-off feel to it that I was hoping we might be past the focus on her character, but no such luck – and now that we see Kagari is getting a full treatment, it may be a while.
This sort of thing certainly isn’t unique to Steins;Gate, of course. It’s an occupational hazard with VN adaptations – sometimes a route comes along that doesn’t float your boat, and with an anime you don’t really have the option of skipping it. One thing the original Steins;Gate excelled at far above most such adaptations was in making the series feel like a cohesive whole – sure, there were obviously routes followed, but they were stitched together quite artfully and seamlessly. And most of them were very engaging to boot.
I’ve found Steins;Gate 0 to be pretty engaging for the most part, but the quality delta between it and the first series does seem to be growing wider as it progresses. The Amadeus storyline was the engine powering a lot of the dramatic thrust of the first arc, and it – and the characters behind it (though Leskinen did seem to make an appearance of a sort this week) – have been sorely missed. Without the ever-present reminder of why he got that way, rather than cutting a tragic figure Okabe plays more as generally mopey.
The other problem with the Kagari arc is that she seems to be triggering the pandery side of S;G, which is always lurking but tends to be kept manageable. As to how and why she got the way she is, it doesn’t come as any surprise to hear Tennouji-san suggest she’s been brainwashed – there’s obviously been external manipulation of her memories. Nor is it surprising that Leskinen seems to have been involved, since there’s been plenty of foreshadowing suggesting he has sinister motives beneath his affable gaijin facade.
About the best part of this episode for me was the road trip Okabe and Moeka took to the mountains, because at least he (and the series itself) showed some signs of life. The tension between those two (certainly understandable on his part) is palpable. As to what they find, it’s just more evidence that Kagari has been the victim of substantial abuse, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing what the connection between she and Kurisu is. Above and beyond looking eerily similar, the both of them being part of the Amadeus project seems to seal the deal in that regard.