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…
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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…
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: