Steins;Gate, Steins;Gate. Steins;Gate…. I thought we had an understanding. I thought we agreed you would stop ending on those shock scenes and taking over my entire mind until the next episode. I thought we got the emotional stuff out of the way. We were just going to do some nice convoluted time hopping adventurin’ and get this season did. What wasn’t clear for you?
Steins;Gate “0” or otherwise, has always been completely indifferent to my expectations. It takes the basic concept of what I think I want, refines it into something better, then gets there through a completely different path. I wanted Daru to stop being super creepy around children and go back to being a lovable perv. Steins;Gate raised me a loving father and devoted friend by showing me an adorably clueless boyfriend.
So when I mentioned that it would be nice for Mayuri to get a bit more agency, I should have known Steins;Gate 0 wouldn’t have stopped at giving her some snappy comebacks and an action sequence. By now I really should have figured out that this show isn’t playing by my rules. Some of us just need to fail a whole lot before giving up…
So curse you Steins;Gate 0, for taking my least favorite (still favorite) character and making her my hero. Also, thank you…
It’s been brewing for a long time. Simmering in the background, coming up in isolated scenes throughout this entire season. We all knew something was coming. And now it’s here. The rise of Mayushii the strong, and a lesson on subverting your core characters without ever betraying them.
Mayuri’s been watching her closest friend and a man she loves, struggle and fall for a year now without knowing why. She’s been brushing aside the uncomfortable feeling that everyone knew something she didn’t. She’s been ignored and coddled. She found an inexplicable connection with Kagari only to loose it almost immediately. And now she has to deal with the knowledge that she might be the cause of all this pain.
That’s a lot to take in for anyone. Any normal person would unravel under such stress. But Mayuri has always used her *innocence* as a shield. Pretending not to notice, stubbornly smiling. After Okabe’s obviously panicked plea last week, Mayuri realized she would finally have to throw it away. In an astoundingly logical move, she started by seeking out the information she was missing.
If we needed actual proof that Mayuri’s always known way more than she let’s on, she immediately went to the best possible person to get all the info she needs. Not to her close friends, Ruka or Faris. Not to even to Daru or Maho who would have the science stuff down. She went to Suzu, who knows more about the future and implications than anyone else and who would tell her the truth. And she went to Suzu, because deep down, she always knew Suzu was not in her own time.
As I listened to the world line explanation for the umpteenth time. The descriptions of world lines A and B. The theories of other lines beyond those two. I realized something I already knew.
I said last week that the myth of Tanabata is a simile for Steins;Gate as a whole. The classic story of star-crossed lovers doomed to never meet but refusing to accept it. Ever rebelling against cruel fate. It’s really a classic premise that’s been used time and again. And suddenly it hit me. In Steins;Gate, it was never about Okabe and Kurisu, it’s about Mayuri and Kurisu. They are the ones that cannot exist in the same place at the same time. They are the souls kept apart by an unknowable power. It’s their faiths that are inextricably intertwined. If Kurisu lives, Mayuri must die. Yet if Mayuri lives, she becomes a life saving presence for Kagari, who is Kurisus clone… Oh what a tangled ouroboros we weave.
On a practical basis, I guess this slight play on the theme doesn’t really change much. But thematically, I find it really interesting. Okabe is closer to the audience than the play. He is an observer (or an instrument of measurement). His presence makes the story possible, but it isn’t about him. This also forces him into an active role rather than to passively follow his destiny. In my opinion, an absolutely crucial aspect to make a flat character like Okabe, interesting.
And so, little Mayushii learned of the world. The horrors and wonders therein. And little Mayushii did exactly what she would. She cried a little, she got scared, and she made up her mind. Mayuri has two particular lines that resonated so much with me during this sequence that I praised her out load. Shouting encouragement at my TV. I was so proud. First, she stated loud and clear for anyone to hear, that she loved her friend MORE than anyone else. To heck with modesty. She was there from the start, she earned her feelings. Then, she proclaimed that she would no longer be a hostage. To her regrets, her fears, her guilt.
Mayuri knows who she is. She knows her limits and her strengths. She is going to save the world her way. Through patience, kindness and understanding. Mayuri is infrangibly soft. And now that she has finally found her way, all by herself, she may just save us all.
Of course, this is Steins;Gate 0. Of course, Mayuri had just shed metaphorical chains just to fall into very physical peril. Of course, Mayuri died. I watched her slowly fall as time froze for an instant that lasted an eternity. Through games, manga and anime, I have seen Mayuri die more times than I can count. It’s what she does, it’s her role to play. Mayuri is a victim to save. At least she was.
For once, I want Mayuri to live, not because she’s a sweet broken bird to protect. Not because happy endings don’t punish good little girls. Because Mayuri has stuff to do. She’s a mother, a friend, a hero. She is going to show us the different faces of love and strength. Mayuri’s story has just started, and now that we have to go back and reset the world again, so has Steins;Gate 0’s.
We’re pretty relaxed here on this blog. We don’t bother too much with fancy things like promotion or spelling… Generally, I don’t try to push you into reading my posts. But you know what, this time I’m going to insist. I love this show. I think it’s going somewhere really interesting and I want to share this ride with you guys. So please, come back next week. I’ll wait for you. As long as it takes.
I took a ton of caps this week. A lot of them are up there in the mini Mayuri slideshow but here are the rest!