A divergent continuation of the original Steins;Gate ending, Steins;Gate 0 explores an alternate worldline where Okabe abandons time travel. While attempting to forget past traumas and get his life back on track, he meets an AI that re-opens old wounds.
* SPOILERS FOR THE ORIGINAL STEINS;GATE * Full disclosure; I am a huge fan of the original Steins;Gate. It's one of those shows that doesn't really kick in until about the halfway mark, but instead allows for a slow build of characterisation and mood-setting before a real gut-punch of a volta that genuinely shocked me the first time around, and continues to be effective on re-watch. It was followed up by a fantastic original movie, and I even went back and played the visual novel out of interest (it's a little flabbier and more excessive than the anime but still very good). So believe me when I say that I'm not angry with how S;G0 turned out. Just disappointed. Very, very disappointed. Synopsis time: S;G0 takes place sequentially after the penultimate episode of the original season but in a different continuity, one wherein Mayuri didn't step in and compel Okabe to go back in time once more and attempt to stave off the seemingly inevitable demise of super best girl friend, Makise Kurisu. Instead, Okabe has had to go to therapy for a while and has seemingly hung up the mad scientist mantle for good, in favour of a dapper dark suit and a sterner countenance. Just as it seems like he might be able to move on from what happened in the past/future/alternate present (despite the warranted nagging of Suzuha, his best mate's daughter from a dystopian future), Okabe is introduced to Maho, a former colleague of Kurisu's, as well as Amadeus, an AI built upon Kurisu's own pre-Okarin memories. To be honest, while the concept of a darker alternate timeline to the original ending was intriguing going in, swapping Hououin Kyouma for a more jaded, sad-sack Okabe has what I have to imagine was the opposite of the intended effect, namely that he (like much of the rest of the season) has become colourless and boring. The character work in general is pretty underwhelming, the already large cast swollen with a handful of newcomers who for the most part have little to do, and many of the old favourites such as Faris and Ruka also struggle to find their places, which leads to a couple of laughable attempts at initiating sub-plots involving them that basically go nowhere. Maho is an interesting character when first introduced, but the show quickly becomes repetitious as every scene with her and Okabe in it, or with her and Amadeus, seems to have much the same content and much the same presentation. Mayuri, my bestest favourite from the first season, is especially disappointing in that (without spoiling anything) her relationship with Okabe is Flanderised to Nedding point, and no-one else really shines either, perhaps maybe Moeka who is used just the right amount for the context of the show that she's in, only turning up when it makes sense for her to be there. Daru, meanwhile, continues to be routinely the worst thing about this entire franchise, a comic relief sidekick who I’ve never found especially funny and whose more serious moments are (but for one or two exceptions) the dictionary definition of the idiom “to fall flat”. The narrative, such as it is, ends up being the big killer though. The first season had quite a winding plot and would jump between sub-plots and character arcs fairly often, but there was generally rhyme and reason to the interpolations, whereas in S;G0 there’s a clear excess of material that the writers clearly don’t have a real handle on. Amnesia, conspiracy, time-travel, AI, déjà vu and more interpersonal-romantic subplots all threaten to jostle eachother out of the show for episodes at a time, such that, whereas the first season initially seemed aimless but then revealed itself to have quite a satisfying structure (Okabe struggling to undo progress made in the first half in order to stave off Mayuri’s predetermined death), the second winds up feeling poorly-plotted. Consequently, while the first season started off slow before it’s whole “oh shit” moment about halfway through that led to a really excellent second half, Zero is peppered with moments that seem designed to be “oh Shit” but which are 50% “saw it coming” and 50% “this doesn’t make sense to me”. Most egregiously, perhaps, the season is hamstrung by the fact that all of its twists, turns and time travel ephemera seem to be lesser reproductions of the same moments we had in the first season. I had hoped that this season would instead use AI and Amadeus as a jumping off point and be very slightly less about time travel as a result (looking at new scientific phenomena and their menace in every new instalment seems like a good way of keeping the franchise fresh and interesting) but most of Amadeus’ appearances in the first half of the season are basically just her calling up Okabe and Okabe either answering and smiling in reminiscence, or else declining the call and looking troubled while Maho looks on. This is not what I would call good resource management, and it gets worse when the later season essentially forgets about her for a good long while. In fact, the problem of managing intersecting sub-plots and continuities only grows as the episode count drags on. It’s difficult to keep track of how much time has passed between events or conversations due to the condensed nature of certain episodes, one example being a character remarking that two other characters “haven’t talked in a while” despite the two having conversed about five minutes earlier in real time. What ends up happening is that it's not until late in the season when Zero decides to be about something in particular, and by then you're already frustrated and demoralised, and the writing quality isn't really good enough in that last third or so to be of great recompense. If you're looking to end on a high note, I've got a small handful; yes, there are some genuinely awesome moments to rival the "El. Psy. Congroo" sign-off near the end of the first season, and the voice cast continues to be the real highlight of the franchise, including a few gloriously overracted moments from Mamoru Miyano. The show is very fond of Epic Music Credit Sequences, which can be grating when the show isn't being quite as stirring as it thinks it's being, but in general the soundtrack is also well put-together and very Steins;gatey, again coming from someone who has watched the original multiple times and played through the VN to the True ending. This said: TL;DR, Steins;Gate 0 is a real let-down in many respects, a show which seems unable to capture the magic of the original season. Maybe it was unreasonable to expect anywhere near the same level of quality, after the surprises of the original have already played out, but I would still opine that the blame lies on 0 for trying to retread old ground while also having no idea how to spin new yarn without being a fractured mess. But hey, it's not the worst sequel to come out of anime in 2018, so that's at least SOME kind of anodyne for a broken heart...
Disappointed. the first couple of episodes were so good and i was really thinking: is it possible? is it possible to finally see a sequel that doesn’t sucks and then it happened! it immediately take a huge turn and transformed into a fanservice with no actual meaning type of anime and some of the parts that made sense a little were boring af. they really tried to make you feel like a ww3 is about to happen but it was extremely boring and unbelievable they tried to make it interesting with a plot twist but that was just too unnecessary and kinda stupid. the story is full of cheezy moments which doesn’t make slightest of sense they tried to be creative and create a bond between people from future and people in the present but it turn out really bad and made you feel like it is totally forced for example -- 1)Kagari and Mayushi get along the moment they spend time together and turn into bff. 2)Suzuha and yuki amane (her future mother) get along and cry together while hugging! after the first time they go shopping together! it doesn’t make any sense (unless we assume they suffer from borderline personality disorder!). 3)Kagari looking like Makise so when Okabe first meet her calls her Kurisu which was totally unnecessary -- and in the case of Mayushi and Kagari since they were both unaware of that fact! it was even more nonsensical long story short: Lazy writing Characters: Moeka: she had no real role in this anime, the only moment she shined was when Faris was playing with her boobs for 8 minutes! a lot of useless characters are introduced as well for example Nakase, i bet you don’t even know who she is, yet an entire episode was devoted to her, giving command to others to clean! was that supposed to make characters relatable or cute and make the relationships between characters more natural? *coughing with blood DIDN’T…WORKED Kurisu: Kurisu herself wasn’t that interesting as she was in the first Steins;gate she is just there to make okabe feel bad, she doesn’t serve any real purpose, in one episode okabe kinda time travels and meet her again and the next day the first thing they do is kissing each other! EVEN THOUGH IT IS A TOTALLY DIFFERET WORLDLINE!! in the show people like Hiyajou often are refering to her as god which didn’t make any fucking sense at all. Suzuha was an irrational and annoying character as well, that fucking psycho shot at Okabe! multiple times, it was really stupid, i am unable to describe how dumb that moment was! both because she shot and because we knew she wouldn’t actually harm him and the whole thing is a desperate attempt to create tension. and of course the Most absurd character in history of any anime ever! Kagari: Mommy, Mommy,i Love my Mommy also i’m brainwashed! yeah that’s about it, that’s the deepest you’ll get! i really couldn’t care about her in fact i would appreciate it if she would suffer a little more. she also has a superspeed ability somehow, which makes her able to take down 20 trained soldiers at the same time! which is totally bullshit another bad writing was in the episode where they tried to give Daru some sort of creepy meditation technique to get more confident around Yuki and he then, on the top of the roof, in the lamest way possible, purpose to her and she runs away because obviously it is too much creepy shit going on there and the next couple of hours he gets another date with her! over the phone! overall this is an insult to the first anime, i’m not a huge fan of the first anime but i did like it but this one is a total crap, people are giving it 10 and 9 just because they love the main character but the anime is just abusing the first steins;gate
While I can't say Steins;Gate 0 was awful, it did NOT live up to its prequel. At all. But there's a genuine reason for this. Steins;Gate 0's curse was was none other than being a frankenstein's monster amalgam of a storyline. I believe the nail in Steins;Gate 0's coffin was the nature of the visual novel it adapted. For insight, the original Steins;Gate visual novel had a linear main storyline. The other routes outside of the main storyline were not necessary to enjoy and understand the story, and were more or less just extras focused on a specific character. Hence why the Steins;Gate anime thrived so well as an adaptation, despite only adapting the main route; the other stuff wasn't even plot important. In stark contrast, Steins;Gate 0's VN had DRASTIC plot divergences from route to route, and reading each route was ENTIRELY necessary to enjoy the full story. With six extremely different stories to adapt, each going hand in hand, it's no wonder the anime suffered like it did. Several elements are glossed over and/or left unexplained. But perhaps the most major flaw, getting a proper grasp of the new antagonists simply just wasn't possible in 0's anime. In fact, one major villain of the VN's entire existence is left ambiguous until they're killed off. There are a few positive elements, though. For one, while Steins;Gate 0 was by no means an amazing adaptation, it didn't suffer NEARLY as bad as Steins;Gate's lesser known big sister Chaos;Head's anime. So, the verdict? It's watchable. If you liked the original, go ahead and give 0 a try, but don't raise your expectations too high. You're better off waiting for a Steam sale (or whatever platform you prefer), and snagging the visual novel for the proper story.
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