Have you ever heard of the Butterfly Effect? It’s a part of chaos theory, going along the lines that the flap of a butterfly’s wings on one side of the world can cause a hurricane on the other. It’s often used to refer to the potential, unforeseen effects of time travel, as changes in the past can affect the future in ways that can’t be anticipated. Now what would happen when a guy and his friends accidentally build a machine capable of altering the flow of time, effectively rewriting history? This is exactly what kicks off the plot of Steins;Gate.
Steins;Gate is a visual novel adapted into a 24-episode anime by White Fox, an animation studio who has a good reputation under their belt with such other works as Re:Zero-Starting Life in Another World and the controversial Goblin Slayer. It follows the adventures of Rintaro Okabe: college student and self-proclaimed “mad scientist” who insists his name is Hououin Kyouma (really it’s just a bad case of chuunibyou) and his friends in the Future Gadget Laboratory, which is really nothing more than a room rented out in the bustling streets of Akihabara. Initially, the group is comprised of Mayuri Shiina, Okabe’s happy-go-lucky and somewhat ditzy childhood friend, as well as Itaru Hashida, an overweight otaku and amazing hacker with an unmatched level of perversion. Together, they build particularly useless inventions (dubbed Future Gadgets) in an effort to thwart “the Organization” and throw society into total chaos (more of Okabe’s chuunibyou fantasy).
One gadget, however, shows some promise. The PhoneWave, as it’s called, is a phone-activate microwave that can turn bananas into green gel, appropriately named gel-nanas. However, the PhoneWave holds an amazing alternate ability: the power to send emails back in time. With the aid of their newest member, renowned scientific prodigy Kurisu Makise, they begin experimenting with the machine and altering the past. These experiments begin causing consequences as per the Butterfly Effect, bringing troubles to the group. However, Okabe is the only one capable of retaining his memory of the past before it was altered while everyone else’s memories are reshaped to accommodate the change as if it had always happened. With his “Reading Steiner” as he calls it, Okabe has to go through countless alternate timelines and suffer countless heartaches and psychological torment to save his friends.
Everything about this show is done well to an amazing degree. The dialogue is well-written, allowing every moment to be expressive and fitting to the situation. The voice acting compliments it well, fitting each character like a glove and expressing emotion unbelievably well. The characters are all immensely enjoyable, each one having unique and interesting traits that leave you wanting to see more, from Okabe’s maniacal laughter to Mayuri’s little greeting of “tu-tu-ru!”. Storywise, I personally believe it’s one of the best out there. It all culminates into a beautiful work of humor, wholesome moments, suspense, and tragedy that actually had me feeling emotional. This is something no other anime has been able to accomplish to me. As Okabe goes through the immense suffering of failing time and time again to preserve the smiles of his friends, you feel his pain. As the lab members interact with one another, you feel the warmth and joy of their friendship. Although, I would say there is one drawback, it’s that the story takes a bit to kick off. It goes through a few episodes of world building and character introductions before everything is in full swing. Get past that, though, and you’re left with near perfection. All in all, Steins;Gate is one that I cannot recommend enough. Every part of it is done so well that you’ll be left feeling a bit empty when it’s over. The story takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions that will have you laughing, crying, and on the edge of your seat all the while. The characters will make you resent your real friends for not being them. It all fits together like an immaculate puzzle detailing a work of pure art. It almost seems like the hand of fate itself guided it to its magnificence. I guess you could say it is “obviously the will of Steins Gate! Muahahahaha!”