I decided to just stop assuming things in Steins;Gate. What’s the point? I mean sure, episode 7’s ending brought up so many questions, memories, feelings! This time surely, they’ve overplayed their hand. If it gets resolved in the first scene as it usually does, that’s going to be just as cheap and hollow as the Amadeus thing from the previous episode. If it goes on for too long, it’s going to get grating…
I cautiously examined this Kurisu. Or should I say this girl that looked like Kurisu. Which one is she? Which world line are we on. Can I….
And then everything just crumbled. My questions, my doubts, my misgivings all blew away like dandelion seeds in the wind. That hug had to be the most cathartic thing I’d seen all week. And maybe it was this fragile emotional state that lead me to overpraise the moment in my mind. However, I could have sworn it was better animated. Unlike in last week’s fight, Kurisu’s lab coat folded and creased as Okabe’s arms wound around it. Long shadows snaked their way across with the bend of her body. All these little details added to emphasize the sudden, clumsy and a little brusque explosion of relief and love. My heart followed right along with its own awkward skips. The OP hadn’t started yet…
I’m not particularly emotional and generally uninterested in romantic tales. Well usually. The original Steins;Gate is the only actual romance I consider to be on my list of favorites. I’ve never tried to hide my bias. These reviews aren’t the least bit objective… Okabe be Kurisu together again was exhilarating. We could finally take a moment to celebrate.
See what I mean about assuming things…. I didn’t even get the first balloon filled with helium that the other shoe dropped. Of course, it was too good to be true. Of course, equilibrium had to be sustained. For Kurisu to be standing there, something of equal value had to be traded. All it took was a simple mention of how much Mayuri was missed for cruel reality to drag Okabe and me right back to earth.
A few weeks ago, I obliquely accused Okabe of being cold to Mayushii. You see, in both the anime and the game, after literally tearing reality apart in order to save Mayuri, Okabe and I eventually turned our full attention to Kurisu, seemingly almost forgetting about our childhood friend. We all tend to do that, don’t we? Push faithful companions to the sidelines when a new flame catches our fancy. I always thought this was a bit careless of Okabe but relatable. Stil, he must have known at least on some level how special he was to Mayuri.
Assumptions man…I just never learn.
This Okabe is simply not the Okabe I knew. This was made clear to us from the very start. And this Okabe had chosen Mayuri to begin with. He had actively stood by his friend and given up the promise of new love. And having Kurisu back in no way made up for losing Mayuri. I adored this.
This is the Okabe that gave up. The Okabe that resigned himself to losing someone he loved no matter what and who took on all the guilt and responsibility for that loss. We find out through conversation that this world line’s Okabe had been just as traumatized and shaken about losing Mayuri as ours is about Kurisu. He may love them in different ways, but he clearly loves them both. I’m sorry I doubted you. You’re a good friend Okabe.
I rather enjoyed that all the upheaval of the last episode was put on hold. Not a single sighting of Moeka or FB. No sign of secret codes. Mayuri’s cosplay friends have never been introduced to the lab members. As Okabe tried to get his bearings and explore this new world line, Steins;Gate 0 mined the nostalgia of the original deeper than it ever had up until now.
The lab was back to its former glory, phone microwave and all, all be it (revised). Daru was short tempered and unimpressed, Faris was a caricature, Ruka was introverted and shy. As for Kurisu…. Amadeus had never really been a perfect copy to me. She was fine, but just not the same girl. I liked Kurisu in the original, but she was never my favorite character. There’s something too uncomfortably recognizable about her. I was ok in a world without her.
This Kurisu was the real deal. She was the person I remember, granted from the end of the series rather than the beginning. As the episode progressed, I had to agree with Okabe, Amadeus doesn’t hold a candle to her. There’s just no substitute for the original. I’m not entirely sure at which point in the episode I suddenly realized how much I had missed Kurisu. Since the beginning of Steins;Gate 0, I’ve never felt this comfortable or safe. Everything is going to be all right – Kurisu will help us figure it out. She always knows just what to do.
I know I occasionally refer to Okabe as “we” or even “I”. It must be confusing for you. I figure if you’re one of my regular readers, you have a pretty good tolerance for muddled. I’ll try my best to keep this next part comprehensible. No promises.
Okabe and I got lost. Not literally, we know the town pretty well, but figuratively. The choice between Mayuri and Kurisu had already been the hardest thing we had to do and now it’s being dragged up all over again. Sure, we could just try and get back to our world line, pretend this was yet another nightmare. But can we really make the decision again. Kurisu is here and she’s real. Mayuri is gone. Can we again sacrifice the real girl for the one that was? Will it even change anything? Does any of this suffering matter in any way?
We were spiraling. We argued about it some. We both knew there was no solution here. No lesser of two evils, no greater good. OK, the preventing WW III thing could fall into that greater good category but we won’t even be able to tell if we accomplished that anyways. Playing with the fabric of the universe is a pretty imprecise science. We were talking in circles, trying to perpetually delay a decision we were no longer able to make.
And then of course, Kurisu saved us. Her simple speech and calm demeanor was our port in the storm. I never realized how much I had come to rely on her. I never realized how important it is to be someone people can count on.
I let Okabe and Kurisu go on a walk together. I figured they needed some alone time. I could tell things were going to change no matter what.
Aside from romance, the genre I tend to have the least patience for is full blown drama. I’m extremely picky with dramatic scenes. As soon as Kurisu brought Okabe to visit the Shiina family grave, I did a few eye exercises, assuming I would be rolling them soon. I was just a touch heavy handed but Kurisu can always be counted on to keep things even keeled. As the scenes went on to mirror the image of little Mayuri staring off into space all alone at her grandmother’s grave, I completely stopped caring about how cheesy it was.
Okabe and I had spent countless hours worrying about that little girl. Watching her from a distance and desperately racking our brains for any way to make the pain a little more bearable for her. We would have given anything to make her smile just for a second, to shake her back to life, to make her feel anything. We had wanted to save her ever since we were children.
Kurisu and I watched Okabe in silence and hoped he would be ok. We hoped he could find his way out of this endless maze. We silently agreed that we would help.
So far, Steins;Gate 0 has made a habit out of ending on shocking cliffhangers. Although I wouldn’t exactly call the ending of episode 8 boring, it wasn’t exactly a cliffhanger either. Seeing Kurisu running by herself as the closing credits rolled had me glued to the tv. Seeing the future gadgets team, Mayuri included, made my heart jump. Watching Kurisu hesitate by the door had me holding my breath. Hearing her confess, was everything I needed. It was a good place to stop. Satisfying and devastating.
I have speculated more than a few times that Steins;Gate 0 is playing with the viewers. Not in the classic unreliable narrator way – I do believe the events we are seeing are happening and in exactly the way they are shown, but I think the natural assumption that these events are taking place in a world line we are already familiar with has yet to be proven. Episode 8 ostensibly takes place in world line alpha but some little things didn’t add up for me. Amane was in Mayuri’s comiket picture, but I could have sworn I’d already seen all the alpha variations of that pic and Yuki was never in them. The news is still reporting on the mysterious earthquakes even in this world line. Even Okabe seems to have noticed some discrepancies between his version of the past and this Kurisu’s.
I don’t actually know anything, this is just wild assumptions of course. All I really know, is that it was good seeing the real girl again. I hope we go see alpha line Maho next.
I also couldn’t stop taking screencaps. I really liked this episode: