Do you guys remember what I said two weeks ago? Do you?  I asked if the time leap machine could leap forward? I really did!!??!! Are you starting to get a little freaked out?

Steins;Gate 0 episode 20
this may give you a clue about how this review will go…

I found out that Rinascimento  is the Italian word for renaissance which is the French word for…well guys should really get your own word for that. It seems wrong to have a word for “meme” and have to borrow one for an entire time period, artistic movement and general state of affairs! Does it look like I’m stalling? I am. This week left me, a touch shaken.

The sober tone and almost banal way Steins;Gate 0 portrayed the impossible this week was an unexpected slap in the face. A glass of ice water down my back. I’m sure reactions will be divided but if Rinascimento of the Unwavering Promise made no impression on you…we are simply very different people.

It really seemed like we were never going to see first hand the tyranny of time. That the dark future would forever remain an abstract nightmare looming in Okabe’s path. An invisible threat made all the more frightening for its lack of shape. Steins;Gate has never been one to shy away from unpleasant consequences though. And so we were plunged in the middle of WW3 without the slightest hesitation.

Steins;Gate 0 episode 20
spoiler – some of it is not great…

Seeing the lab men so much older gave substance to the passage of time. In a way, Steins;Gate 0 gave every character’s ego a physical form. Daru thiner and older, a slightly less excessive version of himself. His maturity mirrored in his more conventional silhouette. Okabe’s frail and broken body failing him just as he finally started mending his psyche. My beloved Ruka becoming the best possible version of himself. Impressively strong in his distinctive delicate way. Menacing through his chuuni devotion. Undeniably manly without having given up any part of him. This was not quite the development I hoped he would get but it worked so well. As usual, Steins:Gate 0 schooled me. They managed to give so much back to Ruka’s character in such a short time. If only for that, I really loved this week’s episode. But there wasn’t only that…Ok, he looked decent too.

By contrast the women hadn’t aged at all, and this was significant as well. Watch me make way too much out of the designers not wanting to make old lady models… Obviously Suzuha was going to look the same, she’s in fact slightly younger than when we first met her. This is a Brasher more self assured young gun, who still has her daddy to fall back on. She finally gets to look like the kid she actually is. But we also have Maho in her eternally youthful body that now clashes with her grim outlook and exhaustion. Finally the tragic Faris, trapped in arrested development. Never having found the strength to grow up. I actually asked my tv “why the f**k is she still nyaning!?! It’s probably just for cutes. To me, it was because there was nothing else she could do. And it was heartbreaking.

Steins;Gate 0 episode 20
read the room girl, now is not moe time

And you know what else was great this week…the science. Finally, we get an episode with some interesting nerd material. In a beautiful subversion we find out that there was no time travel involved at all. Once again the 2 week break in real life parallels a considerable passage of time in narrative! Despite what we saw in episode 19 (this may be important in later episodes), Okabe failed to leap anywhere and went on to cause the very world cataclysm they’d all been trying to prevent. Ain’t that always the case.

In time, he was captured and tortured until effectively brain dead. After years of trying though, the remaining lab mems managed to reboot his broken mind by overriding the information and trauma therein with the neural information from the attempted leap twenty years earlier. So a used up and broken future Okabe suddenly finds himself with the will and foley of his youth, ready to make the same mistakes all over again!

I can’t explain why but I found the scene of Daru, Okabe and Maho all discussing what to do next, really inspiring. You expect young men to be foolish, to play hero. It’s a different story when desperate old men try to grasp one last chance to make it all better for the kids that will come next. There’s something stately and meaningful there.

Steins;Gate 0 episode 20
dude… that’s not Maho….

Remember two weeks ago when I told you that I had soft spot for losers. How I always loved that Steins;Gate was a story of failing a whole lot to succeed just a little. You probably don’t remember but you can go back and read it if you truly want. My exact words were: It’s a story about the value of failure. It’s an illustration that any worthy success is built on a collection of defeats. Okabe is more often than not a complete failure…. This week Maho said that they had all “endured countless failed futures”. You should be freaked out!! They probably put a chip in my brain while I wasn’t paying attention. It’s the ONLY explanation.

I’ve been making a big effort with my Steins;Gate 0 review titles. They’re not all winners but there’s a couple of pretty good ones. I knew from the start I would eventually want to make a play on The Once and Future King. It’s one of my favorite books and could be viewed as a time travel story. On top of that I’ve always loved that title. It’s a true test of my discipline not to use it each week. I was adamant about keeping it up my sleeve until we saw the return oh Hououin Kyouma. But after this week, I knew the time had come. Let’s face it, it was the perfect title for this episode.  And besides, Steins;Gate 0 earned it this week.

Steins;Gate 0 episode 20
now let’s fix the world

These may or may not be all pictures of Ruka. You’re welcome!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

12 thoughts

  1. For me, this episode doesn’t really work. Ruka looked cool, but her plot-timed death left me cold. Pretty much all characters are reduced to talking heads or drama conduits to me, by now. S;G 0 has almost completely lost me, which is a pity, considering how much I loved the early episodes. I’ll probably stay out of future posts, so as not to dampen the mood (it’s not like I have anything insightful to say).

      1. I feel like I’m saying the same thing every week, but with less and less enthusiam. If I don’t say that stuff, it’s easier to ignore, because I don’t remind myself. Something like that.

        I’ll definitely continue reading these threads, and if there’s something to say I’ll certainly reply. But to make a post just like the one above feels like negativity without much of a point to it, since I’ve been saying things like that for a while now.

  2. Just said a similar thing on another blog but, if you enjoy this show and haven’t already played the VN, please give it a whirl. As with most VNs you get a number of endings (with the anime following the ‘true’ ending) but Zero takes two wildly different paths depending on a couple of actions. Thoroughly worth it.

    Happily reliving it through the anime now though, gotta love the voice cast.

  3. I thought the episode was absolutely amazing. I agree that seeing World War III first hand was a great plot point. What I loved about it is that they still managed to show you both the world wide impact and the personal stories of the characters and not make it feel forced. I’m also waiting for that aha moment where the solution is figured out by Okabe. There have been some not too subtlu hints in the last few episodes.

  4. I guess animators don’t like to make women look older or uglier for that matter. When watching Sword Art Online I remember Kirito looking so frail when he logged out, but Asuna looked no worse for wear.

    1. There are plenty of mother and grandmother characters out there to draw a model from. I think they are afraid the young male audience will abandon them. Older women are beautiful, but my opinion doesn’t count.

      1. I think it’s laziness. No one is dropping Steins Gate at ep20 because Faris looks a bit more mature… at least I don’t think so

Leave me a comment and make my day!