Sigh… this show you guys! Thank you so much for sharing it with me….
For a story about World War III and saving the future, Steins;Gate sure looks to the past a lot. It uses memories as currency. Okabe trades in his friends’ for a chance at “fixing” the past and in return as penance, he must shoulder the pain of remembering all by himself.
But memories are deceitful above all else. There are volumes written on the unreliability of eyewitness testimony precisely because we know human recollection cannot be trusted. We are wired to forget and invent things. And now that events seem to slowly be bubbling up once again, Okabe finds himself in the familiar nightmare of not quite recognizing his own memories.
This episode was particularly brutal with Okabe’s already fragile mind. He thinks he felt reading steiner activate so someone may affecting the world line’s divergence, possibly on purpose, but with no one even aware of the ‘Phone Microwave’ (name subject to change) he can’t even validate his own memories. He’s always been a bit out there. He could just be slipping. I mean, he’s been through a lot. It wouldn’t be that surprising, would it?
It seems inevitable that cramming a system, like a human brain, full of incompatible and logically compromised data, like the histories of competing world lines, is going to have some negative effects. For Okabe, it is driving him insane. He is anew finding himself remembering things that haven’t happened yet and things that will never happen at all, and it’s impossible to tell the two apart.
Figuring out what to do next gets very tricky under these circumstances. When Daru brings up a new challenge, namely finding a girl that’s been missing for 12 years and also will be Mayuri’s daughter in the future, Okabe naturally feels compelled to turn to someone he trusts for help. Except can he really trust Kurisu? Does he know her at all? I’m not even talking about the larger overhanging issue of whether the AI can really equate the girl. I’m talking about the immediate problem of her remembering the past week differently from Okabe.
Our hero has become unmoored in a sea of recollections. He’s simply making a frantic grab for anything that seems vaguely familiar and trying to fill in the rest. He’s having visions, nightmares. He’s deeply shaken by new information such as Mayuri having a child in the future. The entire episode mocked him with an unrecognizable past coming back to haunt him.
And a strong presence of past was everywhere. The show takes place in 2010 but Kagari (the missing girl) was lost 12 years earlier and so now, everyone is trying to go back to that time. Maho and the professor both got very childish Christmas presents hammering in that sense of nostalgia. Heck, Steins;Gate 0 as a whole is banking on the audience’s attachment to the original series, capitalizing on the beloved characters and previously established elements.
For me it was seeing that divergence meter in the opening credits and hearing Okabe say the words “Reading Steiner” that brought it all back. It may as well have been an actual time machine. I was instantly transported to a wondrous time when I first discovered this story. But that means I’ve already filled this new adventure with everything I’m anticipating to find. Memories come with expectations. And if anything, I expect this show to screw with Okabe.
And boy does it not disappoint!
The girl he fell in love with is back from the dead but it’s not really her and also, they never fell in love. His oldest dearest friend is becoming someone he doesn’t entirely recognized. He’s a Normie! Okabe has no one to turn to, least of all himself.
But this episode didn’t stop at playing with Okabe’s mind…it went after the audience…it came for us, guys!…
After all, we have never been clearly told which world line Okabe is currently on. This is the first time we hear about Kagari, doesn’t that seem like something disciplined and responsibility driven Suzu would have mentioned before? In all that time we spent together, with everything we went through?…. (side note – Daru and Mayushii as parents was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen for either of them!) For that matter, why didn’t Kurisu ever mention Maho? She had so few friends and was so proud of her science cred, she would have at least named dropped a beloved and brilliant senpai like Maho. At least once. Would she?
There’s the little things. Okabe transformed his persona, but why did everyone else’s fashion tastes change after wearing the same things for years. Since when is Daru quite that respectful? Ruka quite that bold? Faris… nevermind. Since when does anyone except Mayu call Okabe, Okarin?
We think we recognize these characters, but who exactly are these people? What do we really know about them? Can we trust anyone? Does any of this matter now that Moeka is back in the picture????
It’s a good thing I have you guys, I’m not sure I would be able to untangle all of this by myself. Besides, I would probably explode waiting for the next episode if I didn’t have someone to talk it over with. But I think together we can make it…
I couldn’t stop myself…so many pics