The year has been good for anime so far. Thanks to making a recent decision to upgrade to a paid Crunchyroll subscription, I’ve been able to take advantage of the many new series being simulcast with the Japanese broadcast. I watched or added a few series to my queue list, like How To Keep A Mummy and Persona 5. In addition to new anime, it has also been the year of sequels to beloved original series that have ended many years ago. Among those sequels have been Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card and the newly released Steins;Gate 0.
Based on the visual novel game, Steins;Gate 0 is the followup to 2011’s stellar Steins;Gate anime about time travel. Steins;Gate 0 takes place after the ending of the original anime and explores an alternate world line in which main character Okabe Rintaro lives in a reality where Kurisu Makise is dead. The very first episode of Steins;Gate 0 is mostly grim from start to finish. Whereas the original Steins;Gate anime ends on a lighter and hopeful note, we as the audience get to experience what would have happened if Okabe fails to save Kurisu from her inevitable death, while preventing childhood friend Mayuri Shiina from dying in each alternate world line that isn’t the original one before Okabe begins screwing with time. There are currently two episodes of the anime out right now. At the time of this writing, I have only watched the first episode and I will talk about my impressions of what I’ve seen of the show.
As Steins;Gate 0 is still in the beginning stages of the series, it’s too soon to determine if the sequel will live up to the original Steins;Gate but it shows promise. Like Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, Steins;Gate 0 brings back the original Japanese voice actors from the first anime. The animation style still looks the same as the original series, but maybe more polished. The sequel also feeds into fans’ nostalgia of revisiting the old gang and seeing where everyone ends up, even if it’s under grimmer circumstances. The set up for the sequel is intriguing in its focus on further exploring a different what if scenario. Aside from Okabe failing to save Kurisu from her death, we’re also introduced to an entirely different Okabe.
The Okabe in Steins;Gate 0 has given up on all time travel, buries himself in his college coursework, and abandons his white lab coat in favor of a sleek, all black jacket and slacks. The delusional mad scientist Okabe “Kyoma Hooin” Rintaro from Steins;Gate is seemingly no more. Okabe is serious, reserved, and remains severely traumatized in the aftermath of being unable to avoid Kurisu’s death. While I do miss the goofier Okabe from the first anime, I am excited to see how this version of Okabe plays out in the anime’s sequel. Similar to the approach of the Clear Card anime, Steins;Gate 0 feels familiar but different. Just like Clear Card is sticking with the card collecting plot, while making the occasional callback to previous episodes from the original series, time travel will most likely still play a pivotal role in Steins;Gate 0 even as it creates a new set of circumstances our protagonist has to deal with.
If Steins;Gate 0 presents a scenario where Okabe lets Kurisu remain dead, then how will this particular world line unfold? Will this alternate reality have a happy ending for Okabe, like his original counterpart got in Steins;Gate? These are the questions that will keep me tuning in for the sequel each week.
Are you watching Steins;Gate 0? What’s your impression of the first episode?