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?
I found out that Rinascimento is the Italian word for renaissance which is the French word for…well renaissance..you 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.
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.
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.
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.
These may or may not be all pictures of Ruka. You’re welcome!