Rintaro Okabe is a self-proclaimed "mad scientist" who believes that an international scientific organization named SERN is conspiring to reshape the world according to its own interests. He and his friend Itaru Hashida inadvertently create a gadget able to send messages to the past. The discovery and experimentation of this instrument become the catalyst of fundamental alterations to the present. Okabe is the only one aware of these changes because he possesses a Reading Steiner, the ability to retain the memories from previous experienced timelines. Oblivious of the consequences of their actions, Rintaro and his friends end up creating modifications of grievous proportions. He must then try to find a way to return as close as possible to the original timeline in order to save his precious lab partners.
This is a show that you don't immediately assume will completely engross you. The first half of tihs show is very entertaining, and it has some really neat ideas, but you don't really realize how much set up is being done until the incredibly intense second half. It is a plot that must've required inhuman amounts of meticulous planning in order to get just right. The original source material is a game, so I wonder how they handled a plot like this in that format.
Rintarou and his friends discover they can send texts into the past through the PHONE MICROWAVE, a device they created that wasn't supposed to have any actual practical use, but turns out to be a world-changing time machine. Calling them "D-mails" (Delorean mails), if a D-mail is sent and changes the past drastically depending on who it was sent to, the "world line" or current time line shifts to a new world line that takes into account what changed. Later on, another form of time travel is introduced that is even more fascinating. But the kicker to all this is that Rintarou Okabe, the protagonist, is the only one who can recall previous timelines, while everyone else has no idea.
The concept of having only ONE character remember shifting timelines is fascinating. In worse plots, Rintarou would just be totally okay with it a la Back to the Future. But part of what makes Rintarou such a sympathetic protagonist is how you get to watch the emotional toll build up on him. Being the only person who can remember the previous timelines is a wearying and sometimes soul-crushing experience.
Speaking of Rintarou, the characters in this show are really very likable. Rintarou is a really awesome protagonist. When you first see him, you don't really know what to think of him. He calls himself a mad scientist and seems genuinely delusional about conspiracy theories. He starts out as a very outlandish character. But as the series goes on, you realize just exactly why he acts that way, and he becomes more and more human (and incredibly sympathetic) as the series goes on.
You've got the other characters, most of them female, with the exception of two. I was initially worried that this was going to turn into some bullshit "harem anime" because of the sheer number of female characters, but it avoided that completely. The thing about Steins;Gate's cast is that almost all of them are not what they seem to be. Steins;Gate excels in its various twists that pop up through the show, some more explosive than others. And the most satisfying moments are when you go, "OHHH THAT'S WHY THAT HAPPENED/THEY SAID THAT/ETC"
One of my few complaints about the show (and this might also partly have to do with the fansubbing group) but it seemed like the dialogue sometimes was WAY too pandering to otaku. It's in-character, especially with characters like Daru who are self-proclaimed giant nerds/channers. I just personally find that type of memetic dialogue irritating, but at least in some respects, it is justified. Don't misunderstand; it's not like the WHOLE SHOW is irritating dialogue. There are just some moments where I'm like, "god, 4channers are gross."
It's really difficult to talk about the plot, because it's impossible not to spoil. But Steins;Gate is a show that knows exactly what it's doing throughout the whole thing. There may be a few tiny hiccups here and there just cause time travel is such a difficult concept to handle. But when the plot explodes with its first major twist, the second half of the show is completely engrossing. It's not a show to dismiss just because the first half may not seem AS impressive as the internet says it is.
Great show. Any medium that does time travel right always impresses me a whole bunch.
Here's the opening: