Japanese animated tv series (2011). White Fox. Based on the 2009 Visual Novel / Videogame developed by 5pb. and Nitroplus. Directors include Tomoki Kobayashi, Kazuhiro Ozawa and Kanji Wakabayashi. Written by Jukki Hanada, Toshizo Nemoto and Masahiro Yokotani. Voice cast includes Saori Gotō, Kana Hanazawa, Asami Imai, Mamoru Miyano, Tomokazu Seki and Yukari Tamura. 24 24-minute episodes, plus one OVA. Colour.
Self-proclaimed Mad Scientist Rintarou Okabe (Miyano), with his child-like friend Mayuri Shiina (Hanazawa) and hacker Hashida ("Daru") Itaru (Seki) are the "Future Gadget Laboratory", housed above an electrical store. One of their gadgets is surprisingly effective: a customized microwave that – in combination with a mobile phone – sends "d-mails" – that is DeLorean Mail, referencing Back to the Future (1985) – several days into the past. If the recipient acts upon them, they create a new timeline, with only Okabe clearly remembering the old one. A Scientist, Kurisu Makise (Imai), is found murdered by Okabe, but shortly after turns up alive due to a timeline changed by the first d-mail: she joins the team and her input results in their being able to send memories into the past, overwriting an individual's mind with their future memories.
Taking an interest in the Laboratory are Suzuha Amane (Tamura) and Moeka Kiryū (Gotō). Moeka is an agent of the agency SERN, which is worried by the independent discovery of Time Travel Technology. Suzuha has a Time Machine and comes from 2036 when SERN rules the world. This is a reference to the real-world blogger "John Titor" who in 2000 claimed to be from a CERN-controlled 2036: these posts are an inspiration for some of the plot, their content doubtless having been influenced by The Terminator (1984) amongst others. In show, Suzuha is Titor.
Moeka kills Mayuri: Okabe (repeatedly) grafts his mind onto his past selves to prevent this, but she still dies, again and again and again: Okabe is driven to despair. Kurisu notices his anguish and gets him to explain: working together they conclude that the five d-mails the Laboratory originally sent must be deleted, to undo SERN's intrusion. This is done, each retraction having a tragic cost to their friends – until they get to the first, which brought back Kurisu from the dead. Okabe must work out how to save both Kurisu and Mayuri. Fortunately he has help from himself (future version) and Suzuha, now from a different timeline and here to prevent World War III: SERN's threat has been diminished, but at the cost of setting in motion a global conflict.
Steins;Gate is a very enjoyable Anime. Though Okabe's persona can grate (ameliorated, however, by his concern for Mayuri), and his romance with Kurisu follows the "arguing means they'll fall in love" cliché, the characters are generally engaging, while the obligatory Time Paradoxes and repercussions expected from a time travel plot are interesting and well handled.
A film, Steins;Gate: The Movie – Load Region of Déjà Vu, was released in 2013; a sequel to the anime, called Steins;Gate 0, began airing in April 2018. [SP]
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