「循環座標のアルタイル」 (Junkan Zahyou no Arutairu)
“Altair of the Cyclic Coordinate: Time-leap Machine”
It’s always interesting to speculate when a series announces a delay mid-stream. That’s exactly what’s happened with Steins;Gate 0, which will be pushing back Episode 20 until September 5. It’s clearly nothing pre-planned or related to a preemption, as a repeat of this week’s ep is airing in its place. Production issues would always be the first suspect, but while the production values for “0” have been slightly uneven generally, I haven’t noticed them getting any worse. In any event, we’ll be waiting for two weeks for the next episode, and they’ve left us with quite a cliffhanger under those circumstances.
The good news is- well, there’s a couple chunks of it, really. First off there were no real clunkers this week (though Okarin being able to sneak up to the roof of Radio Kaikan was a bit silly), and hopefully we can put the ugliness of that whole rooftop shootout behind us. Second, we finally got an episode that really looked and sounded like Steins;Gate. True, if one scratched beneath the surface just a little there were some off notes here, but generally things seemed to be on a more familiar footing.
As S;G goes, nothing could be more familiar ground than a mention of SERN. They haven’t been strictly relevant this time around very much, but that changes now that the imperative is the completion of the Time Leap Machine ASAP. We’re back in serious beat the clock mode – though Okabe’s little trip to the Radio building did cast doubt on the idea that Mayuri and Suzuha died when that missile struck. Still, Okabe isn’t relying on that thread of hope – he commits to completing the machine at last, which means he fills in the missing pieces in Daru and Maho’s knowledge of how to do that.
With the help of a kawaii little Swiss black hole and an ugly 42″ CRT, that machine does get finished despite Maho’s continuing self-doubt, and despite that doubt Okarin subjects himself to being the guinea pig. He knows all this works in theory of course, but it’s still a brave leap in more ways than one. He ends up getting back to the roof just moments before Leskinen’s shock troops arrive, and Suzuha and Mayuri actually convince him to let them leap this time – but events repeat, and the machine is struck by a missile just when making the time jump once again. Okarin even injures the same leg that was shot by Suzuha.
Is the machine being destroyed a convergence point, as Rintarou theorizes? It’s certainly possible, but with all his safe choices having been taken off the table, he’s fully committed to risking everything once again. Whether “Project Arclight” has survived or not, in Steins;Gate it always falls on Okabe to be the one to save the day (a whole bunch of days, in fact), and there’s no reason to think it’ll be any different this time around. We’ll just have to wait a little longer than expected to find out.