I’m down to the last episode of FMA Brotherhood but I just couldn’t watch it after this week’s Steins;Gate 0. There are only so many feels a girl can take…

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watch out for that lamppost!

We are watching Rintaro lose his way. They are forcing us to sit and stare helpless as the man trips over his own heart and falls down a rabbit hole out of which he may never climb out. There’s a certain beauty to the breakdown. Okabe, a man so ill at ease with the world and its people that he had constructed his own chunni reality to hide in, has forged such a strong connection with another person that he is bringing them back from the dead. There’s something like a crushing sense of bleak hope underneath it all. But even though the episode was dedicated to Okabe’s growing relationship with Amadeus and all the implications wonderous and tragic, my thoughts went out to the women he’s leaving behind as he retreats into himself.

All the twists and turns and leaps in Steins;Gate occasionally distract us from the fact that the story is deeply harsh to everyone in it and the supporting cast are all eventually sacrificed to a potential greater good.

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the planet seems pretty destroyed already…

It’s those desperate souls that crowd around the broken mad scientist that once again captivated me and held my attention hostage through their fragile strength. In the background, Steins;Gate is paying tribute to the little girls lost.

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such a tiny word

Kurisu is of course displaced and incomplete. A literal shadow of her former self and smart enough to realize exactly what that means. She is clinging to Okabe in a drastic attempt to regain from him what parts may be missing and start making herself hole again, but he’s talking to someone else. His eyes are seeing through her to someone who isn’t really there anymore. Amadeus is trapped, sensing a reality beyond her but unable to access it.

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trust me, it could be worst…

As this is happening, Suzuha is running out of time. She is in an impossible situation, living alongside ghosts of the people she loves, unable to show her true self, carrying the weight of the future on her small shoulders with no one to turn to. She’s alone in a crowd. And the one person that was supposed to make it all better, her savior and humanity’s great white hope, is nothing but an empty shell of a man. What is she supposed to do now? Suzuha’s aggressive helplessness has always been a source of awe for me. She’s the personification of disappointment. Sometimes you can do everything right, you can be amazing, you can be an all around perfect hero and the world still goes down in flames…and it’s your fault!

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no one ever wants to Karaoke with me either…

As the new kid, Maho is struggling to find a place to fit in. She’s use to isolation but as she’s recently lost her only friend, it’s left her longing for a connection. This is why a chance meeting with Okabe holds such significance for her. After all these years, right when she needs it most, she stumbles across someone that actually has a hope of understanding her. Someone who she could even forge a bond with. She’s trying very hard not to let expectations get the better of her but it’s difficult with the professor and Kurisu annoyingly pushing her from all sides. However, it’s becoming clear that this dim beacon of hope may hold nothing but empty promises and even more pain. Already, he’s failing to head any of her warnings and idiotically falling into the traps she went out of her way to outline for him.

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Mayuri is always smiling….

Of course, there’s Mayushii. The epitome of the little girl lost. She’s a bit of an oddity dressed up as a cliché. The apparent stereotypical damsel in distress, it turns out she was never the one we really had to save, not the shiny trophy for the valiant knight to end up with, not even the gentle mother figure to open up a hardened heart. For all the suffering she goes through, the plot just tosses her aside as soon as her particular role is played, as the man she considers her whole world simply looks the other way. And now, Steins;Gate 0 is finally acknowledging how this must make her feel. Those lonely touches, showing us Mayu mask her sad words with a cheery tone, pretend not to notice, smile as her heart breaks. Okarin will never know how she feels, her one true friend may never have known the real her at all.

And we can’t forget the girls that never were.

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Ruka is my style icon!

A return of the “but he’s a dude” running gag at Ruka’s expense, felt particularly mean spirited without the context of his redemption/empowerment arc. It reminded me that Ruka is both a literal yet alternative example of the little girl lost and surprisingly progressive, all things considered. I hope this series will give him a chance to regain what he lost in the first game. On a side note, the *Linthalo* joke, reversing the standard of making fun of accents was a little bizarre. I’m not sure how to take it…

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you are so much more than this

But for me, it was the glimpse of Faris that twisted my heart into a painful knot. The kitty cat maid girl, caricature of a person. Of all the sacrifices made in Steins;Gate, I always felt that Faris’ was the most ruthless. Yes, what Ruka had to give up was a tragedy but I feel like he at least has a chance to reclaim that development. Faris is lost forever. Her family, her childhood, that happy, adjusted, fiercely intelligent potential girl she could have become, will never get a chance, and no one will ever even know. It hit my while I was watching this episode that I am still mourning the Faris that never was, and I think I will write her an Eulogy of her own. She deserves better than this. They all do!

For better or for worse, Okabe is the deeply flawed hero of this story and he better pull himself together soon, or he may end up losing much more than just his mind.

Here are some more pictures for you but trust me – you want to see this story for yourself:

 

 

19 thoughts

  1. That Suzuha surprise party really drove home that from when she comes surprises are rarely nice.

    Half an hour is too little. I should wait and marathon the whole thing, but I don’t have the patience.

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  2. Steins;Gate is what tipped me off the Semicolon Rule, and the studio that produces that genre of horror anime. Of course you’re going to run out of patience with the emotional exploitation. Maybe not today but eventually. The whole show is basically the first hour of the remake of The Time Machine, with the hero trying to save his girl from the inevitable death which causes him to learn how to make the time machine, which he learned how to make because his wife/girl died, so he uses it to go back in time to stop the death, thus endless loop. When you get that you stop enjoying it, and realize the whole show is a Thumb Hammer: a hammer you use to hit your thumb with while chanting “stop hitting yourself” over and over. That’s how I feel about Steins;Gate.

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      1. Time Machine is cheesy because the author basically invented Scifi as a genre. He’s been copied endlessly. That’s how it is with actual literature. It seems familiar because its original. Irony, right?

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          1. Wells and Verne are the fathers of the genre, though I give credit to Mary Shelley as well. She wrote Frankenstein, and thats the first cyberpunk novel. I also include Robert Louis Stevenson for his scifi short stories.

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            1. Chekov invented the android. He deserves credit for that. And for his “Chekov’s Gun” trope that gets so abused today. Does that soothe your pride?

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            2. Well I’m a fan of the old school utopians Sumarokov, Bulgarin, Levshin was writting about voyages to the moon in the 1700s which was pretty interesting as well. These were the roots for the later more politically influencial works like What is to be done? or Red Star.
              Of course that’s my personal preference. The sci fi genre is traditionally repected in ex eastern block countries since it has never really been associated with pulp and it was also beleived to be one of the potential ways to get around state imposed censorship during the communist years as such most authors and poets have a least some works in the genre, Chekhov included, although his are parodies.

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            3. Ah, the Utopians. Yeah, I overlook those because they’re inherently flawed. All utopian stories turn out to be about human sacrifice, cannibalism, or other badness like mind control or slavery. Even Sailor Moon falls into that, committing all the evils along with genocide to have their perfect city of mind controlled people acting like robots. The three writers you cite aren’t taught in western literature so I wasn’t aware of them. Imagine writing a modern take on semi-utopian novels and you still have to show how imperfect it is revealled to be. Are you aware of the post modern scifi like Cyberpunk? Blade Runner was a great example of a dystopian tragedy. Ghost In The Shell is a great anime using cyberpunk themes and tropes. The TV show is excellent.

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            4. I am familiar. I’m actually a pretty big fan of sci fi. I mentioned Philip k Dick’s fantastic craziness before. As i said in my time of eve post I tend to favour the quiet speculative stories which I guess is kind of obvious as I mention that City is my favorite book all the time

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            5. PK Dicks last wife is a personal friend of my Aunt. I liked his books and read a bunch of them until they started to repeat too many tropes. The man worked while high on methamphetimine, writing in a single long session, which is why the stories are so nuts.

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            6. Also, to be fair, Heinlein’s first wife was a boshevik communist, back in the 20’s. He was blacklisted in Hollywood, but several of his stories were major motion pictures, including his hard scifi novel about going to the moon. NASA used his book in their engineering plans for the actual mission to the moon. Invasion of the Body Snatchers was another of his books, adapted without credit into Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which was a metaphor about communism turning friends into monsters. Heinlein would qualify as Silver Age scifi, I guess. After pulp, but still not as respected as it should have been. He got credit for Starship Troopers, though they pretty well gutted key parts of that story because they couldn’t do the powered armor suits right, and all mecha anime are based on that book, whether they know it or not.

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            7. Sorry. The Puppet Masters was turned into Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It later got made into a movie properly, though without all the nudity in the book.

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  3. It’s easy to see the overall base negative effect this timeline has on everyone, especially Suzuhara and Mayurii, but damn, your analysis here took it to another level. I totally forgot/failed to realize just how much we lost with Faris, and Ruka.

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