Steins;Gate Blu Ray Review


There are plenty of anime series out there and many of them draw some form of critical acclaim from us  humble otaku. One such series is the highly lauded Steins;Gate. Based on the visual novel of the same name, SG has become something of a media sensation. Since the release of its initial visual novel on Xbox 360, it has spawned a number of manga series, more games, a tonne of merchandise, an anime film, an anime series and Anime News Network have even reported that a stage show is in the works.

Mucking around with the time space continuum is never a good idea, as self-proclaimed mad scientist Okarin finds out. Life, love and death all come and go when Okarin and his band of misfits learn to alter "world lines" but at what cost?


Time travel is a notoriously difficult subject to deliver without being convoluted and downright confusing. At times, SG has a tendency to be slightly confusing but manages to keep the time travel aspect of the storyline simple enough to be accessible to everyone and not just those who have read a few of Stephen Hawking's books. Simplicity is the key but instead of dumbing things down to a point where it loses effect, the story is instead focused on the human element more than the scientific. The shining glory of SG is that it showcases the characters instead of the science.

Although characters are the overwhelming jewel in the crown of SG, it takes them a little while to get there. At first, it can feel as though these characters are slightly forced with scenes that laboriously draw out character traits which are in opposition to what you see on the surface, but after a few episodes you learn to love it. The fact that you only truly learn to love some of these characters in the last few episodes is almost a reward for sticking it out til the end. Just like in real life, you won't necessarily see a persons true colours initially and this series forces you to wait for the payoff. In fact, the entire series is rather subtle in the way that it handles not only the oft ham-fisted handled subject of time travel but also interpersonal relationships. While the characters are fantastic, it is the incredibly rich and subtle story that draws the most out of each and every major protagonist.

SG starts off innocently enough and scenes with Okarin hamming it up, indulging in his own self-righteousness and paranoia are nothing short of hilarious. In fact, if it weren't for later developments in the story, this series could very well have been an out-and-out comedy. However, later in the piece certain story developments make way for a much more dark and emotional story. While there are glimmers of comedy, Okarin quickly learns that he can't fix time and even changing the past won't always make things better. While not forced down your throat, there is a smattering of philosophy to be had in this series. Everybody has thought at some time of another that they wish they could go back in time and change things. Steins;Gate shows that this doesn't always work out as planned.

Visual novel producer's 5pb and Nitroplus previously worked in conjunction with animation powerhouse Madhouse on the anime adaptation of Chaos;Head which, quite frankly, was a slight disappointment. However, the adaptation of Steins;Gate with relative newcomers White Fox has completely restored any form of broken faith. White Fox deliver a completely recognisable setting in modern day Tokyo, from Akihabara to Shibuya. The overarching aesthetic stays reasonably constant, relying on storytelling to set the scene instead of animation style or a colour palette while consistently delivering great quality artwork which really pops in HD. One thing's for certain, White Fox is an animation studio to keep your eye on.

Steins;Gate is worthy of every gushing review that you may read. Although commercial success isn't necessarily a measure of quality, in this instance, it is. While the animated film hasn't even been released in Japan yet, I've got my fingers firmly crossed that Madman will pick it up for a local release. Time travel is one of the most confusing and poorly executed genre tropes but this series shows that it can be done right. A spiritual successor to Chaos;Head and predecessor to Robotics;Notes, Steins;Gate is unnervingly close to perfection.

Steins;Gate Collections 1 and 2 are available from Madman now on Blu Ray and DVD.

If you're still not sold, you can check out a couple of episodes in Madman's Screening Room!

2 comments :

The character development is one of my favourite things about Steins;Gate! Can't wait to see the film!

30 September 2013 at 16:45 comment-delete

I couldn't agree more with you there. The characters are fantastic and for the most part original. It's a really great series, period.

Thanks for reading!

1 October 2013 at 16:18 comment-delete

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