The first half of Steins;Gate
was a very pleasant
surprise. Based on a video game, I
wasn't expecting a lot, but the quirky show started out nicely and I
the first handful of lighter themed shows.
Then it took a serious turn and the series became really, really
good. Part one ended on a nail-biting
cliffhanger and this second collection keeps up the pace and raises the
stakes. It's one of the best anime show's
I've seen all year.
In the first part of the show viewers are introduced to
Okabe Rintarou is a self-described mad scientist, and a paranoid nut. He lives with a hacker friend, Daru Hashida
in a small apartment above a TV repair shop that doubles as their
secret lab. Along with their (female)
friend, Mayuri, a
cute and naïve cosplay fan who often stops by, they make up the Future
Lab and devote themselves to making high tech gizmos.
The Future Gadget Lab gains more members in the first few
episodes. Kurisu Makise is a young
female scientist who lives in America and argues frequently with Okabe,
Kiryu a quite, socially awkward girl who prefers to communicate via
message, and Suzuha Amane, a part time worker in the TV repair shop
Things really start to pick up when Okabe hooks his cell
phone up to a microwave oven and discovers that he can send text
in time. The big problem is that every
time they do that they change the past, which in turns alters the
'present.' No one can tell that these
except Okabe, an ability he labels as a "Reading Steiner."
Well, that's one big problem. Another one
is that fact that Sern, (the
European group in charge of the Large Hadron Collider) has actually
black holes in secret and that they're attempting to use them to make
time machine. They are very protective
of their technology, and when they discover that someone else is
working on a
time machine (having detected the texts that lab members have sent to
themselves) they send out a hit squad to confiscate Okabe's time
machine. During the scuffle, Mayuri is
In this second half of the show Okabe has to figure out a
way to save his childhood friend. He
manages to jump back in time and changes the past, but not enough. No matter what he does, where he goes, or how
he tries, Mayuri ends up dying. He's seen
it time and time again and it's starting to have an effect on him. It seems that the more he changes time, the
worse things become. He finally decides
that he has to 'undo' all of the changes that the Future Lab made...
saved lives and improved the lot of several people very close to Okabe.
This series was excellent.
The plot was full of twists that worked very well, and even if I
couple of them coming, the show was still surprising.
Added to that is the fact that the story
moves at a good clip, changing on a dime and zipping off in new
directions. The time travel aspect can
be a bit confusing in parts, but if you pay attention it all makes
While the plot was very good, the creators didn't skimp on
characterization. The people who inhabit
the show are very nicely done. Some are
a bit thin in parts, I would have liked some more background on a
them, but they're very likable and Okabe especially changes from a
in the first episode to a realistic person by the end (well, as
realistic as a
time-traveler can be.)
The show also has somewhat of a false ending. By
the end of episode 21 everything is
wrapped up for the most part. After the
credits roll there are a couple of more minutes of program time that
set the plot for the next two episodes in motion. After
those two are completed and the show is
finally wrapped up, there's still one more show. Hey,
I'm not complaining... I enjoyed it all.
This combo pack contains two DVDs and two Blu-rays in a
double width Blu-ray case. Each format
has the first 12 episodes of the show.
This set presents the show with the original Japanese Dolby
True HD 2.0 soundtrack or an English dub in Dolby True HD 5.1. While I really wish the Japanese track had a
Dolby True HD 5.1 option too, both tracks sound very good.
People who prefer dubs will be happy with
this one; the voices aren't artificially high for the women or filled
accents. The English actors did a good
job and brought their characters to life.
It's also more engulfing than the original language track. They throw some dialog to the rears
occasionally (when someone is walking out of a room or behind what's
shown on screen) and that's very effective.
The 1080p 16:9 image looks pretty good, but there is some
banding throughout the series which slightly mars the picture. Aside from that, which appears to be inherent
in the anime and not a problem with FUNimation's encoding, the image
fine. The lines were tights and the
colors were bright.
There are two commentary tracks with the English voice
actors and the English ADR people. These
are on episodes 19 and 24. I have to
admit I'm not a fan of commentary tracks on anime by the people
the English dub. Unlike director or
actor commentaries on movies or even those involved with the original
of the anime, I just haven't heard any that add to my understanding or
of the show. I spot checked a few of
these and they generally left me cold.
There are also two clean openings and closings, a trailer for
the show, and some FUNimation trailers.
One of the better anime shows released last year, Steins;Gate
is a multifaceted program
that gets better as it progresses, and it starts out well too. With a nicely convoluted story and some
excellent characters, this is a must-see show for anime fans. Highly
Note: The images do
not come from the Blu-ray discs and are not an indication of the HD