Getting back to the Steins;Gate series (including 0 and their respective vn and anime) was a rather surreal experience, to say the least. Initially, excitement was all over the place since this is a franchise that more or less contributed to my early phase as an anime fan when literally everything was an instant 10/10 watch for me.
However, as soon as the rewatch commenced, a sense of unease slowly crawled its way inside me. That was when I realized something, that is, with every new anime/manga/novel that I consumed, my sense of criticism would grow as a result.
To stop beating around the bush, I just really don't want to toss away another one of my OG series for this has actually occurred on several other works I've been revisiting.
But such a worrywart I was. Steins;Gate has demonstrated itself to be capable of nullifying the corrosion of time, something only a few major titles could ever accomplish. Of course, I'm not claiming that this series has no flaws, but just as I've expressed myself in the Baldr Sky post, dedication is the keyword here, and the people responsible for this phenomenal series had truly outdone themselves by crafting such a timeless classic.
Admittedly, there're plenty of exploits to make the story advance the way the author wants them to be. However, before they proceed there's always an extensive exposition in place to make sure the audience would follow or at least have a grasp of what to come next. Nonetheless, that would be the lesser concern in this infamous series.
More than often, in attempts of lightening up the mood, S;G would mix in a lot of chuuni talks (coming from the esteemed protagonist of course 😂), western culture references or memes, and blatant sex jokes which could either work or backfire entirely.
Regardless, I don't have much issue with that approach since I'm also one who has spent (way too much) time on the Internet so it's kinda relatable in a sense, and ngl the chuuni shit might be cringey at the beginning but turned out to be quite addictive as I kept putting up with Okabe's nonsense lol.
The slice of life segments in the early game might serve as friction for the real deal to come. I mean, I'm aware that not many people have the patience to sit through a fair amount of time just to see characters doing their very down-to-earth things without anything grandiose going under the hood whatsoever. But to me, this is also a necessary build-up to fully appreciate the radical impact of the twist to come out from mid to late game.
As time travel is the central point of the series, this effectively paved the way for a variety of diverse themes to arise and supplement the story with spice and substance. The most prominent one in this regard is facing the consequences of your action.
This does not strictly apply to the butterfly effect thingy, but more so about how well you should be aware of your surrounding as you keep up with your daily banter and habit, which might eventually pile up and create unwanted side effects to yourself, or worse, those dear ones who also happen to be next to you.
Apart from that, never rejecting the past brought forth an interesting antithesis to the whole deal with time travel. Like, normally when you think of it this topic it's mostly about undoing the mistakes you've done right?
But here, to reach the true ending, S;G brilliantly (or should I say mischievously) came up with a roundabout way to propose an alternative, which worked out really well from how I see it.
With all said and done, when it comes to the cast of Steins;Gate, things can be tricky. Sure, many of them suffered little to no development but sometimes I can just make do with a fun and wholesome characters like these. Okabe and Kurisu are no doubt the main stars of the entire story, but over the time I had found the secondary cast to be very endearing and comfortable to sit through as well (on top of having unlimited meme potentials kek).
Still, if I have to name a few noteworthy ones, it has got to be Daru and Suzuha who at first appear to be kinda weirdos but damn the more the story progressed the better they got (that Suzuha ending tho 🤯). Mayuri could be up there but sadly she was destined to be a liability to plot so rip (didn't mind the tutuuru spam tho)
And to put the cherry on top, Steins;Gate was blessed to be backed by a hefty production value. Be it in visual novel format or the anime adaptation, I'd go as far as saying it was invested really well to present the story in its finest form.
To further elaborate, the visual novel offers more interaction with texting and calling features, which in the end is just another form of "picking" a choice like every vn out there but regardless it was still a lot more enjoyable and refreshing than relying on the usual approach.
Meanwhile, the anime went out of its way to polish character interaction, giving them more nuances to solidify their already established image in the source material, which is cool.
Steins;Gate 0 might have certain issues with its plotline and failed to live up to the OG's reputation but I really dig the thematic expansion from time travel to AI and human memories since the former is quite trendy lately while the latter hasn't seen much explorations in 2d media.
Furthermore, Imo, what Zero lacked in plot, it made it up with character polishing.
Put simply, Maho is arguably the best addition to the franchise period. I mean, the way she works resonates greatly with me, and that "YOU ARE YOU" talk with the girls was straight up her spitting fire. Not to mention she had some seriously intriguing chemistry with some other characters. Her inferiority against Kurisu was covered pretty well, shit basically convinced me to watch the film Amadeus and it was a wild one. Her friendship with Moeka in Twin Automata basically made me go ape shit (I'm still a bit mad about how wasted Moeka got near the end though). Lastly, I'd say her dynamic with Okabe was really on point despite their occasional clashing ideas which go well with the mood of Zero (but of course, Kurisu is still the bezt grill)
Kagari is probably where things get seriously complicated, I understand why many people would hate her but part of me would like to blame the writing associated with her plot rather than the character in question, simply put she was forced to go potato mode for 90% of the time and when things get a bit brighter for her she just switches to moe, clumsy type which kinda makes it incompatible. That said I don't really feel anything negative towards Kagari since she's a factor of important role in deciding the path to Steins;Gate.
Other than that, Leskinen was kinda wasted as a potential S-class villain. There needed to be more focus on him to make his motive and action more profound in any sense (tho the anime did a better job at portraying his twisted view), a shame but at least the shaman girl meme was pretty solid.
So yeah, as mentioned above, a visit that was meant for me to re-evaluate this franchise turned out to be a trip of self-realization and a bit of reaffirmation as well. Though it is true that it was the plot that defined Steins;Gate, whenever I see the cast of Steins;Gate going on their usual silly routine, I just could not help but laugh and felt a rare, tingling sense of satisfaction and as the end credit rolled I found myself wishing for a little bit more content of this amazing series.