Time Travel Mostly Sucks, But It Could Be Good If Stuff Actually Happened: A Steins;Gate Movie Post

Do you know why I don’t usually like character-based stories? Not because I have anything against strong casts or whatever. It’s because most anime seem to think that you can just do what most films do with Robin Williams: just put them in your product and somehow you’ll make a good watch out of it. To which I say, “oh, so you’re one of those fans aren’t you?” You know, the fans who support the “let’s talk about cool stuff whilst focusing on dull character development and interaction that doesn’t really go anywhere instead of doing cool stuff” anime that I absolutely loathe with a passion? Why do people like that kind of storytelling?

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In case you guys didn’t know, an early kinda low-to-middling quality version of the Steins;Gate movie got released two weeks or so before the actual DVD/Bluray rip came out. I managed to watch the thing and…you know, I’m still not quite over the fact that as of right now, that anime is ranked #2 on MAL. I know why that’s the case. It’s the same reason why After Story became #1 for a while: VN fans are very enthusiastic and all that. What amuses me less is the fact that the film is currently ranked #77 at the time of this writing on said site, and it’s sure to increase as time goes on like those awful Madoka movies, whilst the new Evangelion film sadly stays at ranked #725 or an actually good VN adapted film like the Clannad movie is in the goddamn 1000s despite the fact that both of them are based off of really popular franchises with die-hard fans who usually eat all their shit up and came out past 2007 when people on the site actually started to care about anime. I’m not one to judge other people just because they don’t think the way I do, don’t get me wrong. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Steins;Gate movie is just not very good.

This thing was dialogue-heavy. I know that a bunch of Steins;Gate’s charm is supposed to come from the character interaction, but a ton of it is just random exposition regarding the Steins;Gate timeline and shit that (surprise, surprise) goes absolutely nowhere to the point that it felt like nasu moved on to quantum physics or something. Also, a bunch of the interactions felt way too much like fanservice that doesn’t really add to anything. I was fucking sick of Ruka and Feyris even faster than I was in the show, and they didn’t even show up all that much. Not helped at all is the cryptic direction this movie tries to go for, filming most of the scenes like one of Mamoru Oshii’s atmospheric shows. Steins;Gate was never an abstract show akin to something like The Tatami Galaxy, another anime that uses time-travel, so trying to make it that way when the charm is supposed to be on the characters is jarring.

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Without the characters to hold the thing up, the stupidity of the time travel story stands out all the more. Let’s face it, none of the 5pb semicolon stuff is all that well-written in any way. The actual details show some sign of education, but a bunch of it comes off as stupid and is not delivered very well. And even if it was, what it’s in service to is kind of shit.

The plot is so flimsy and contrived it might as well not exist. Okabe is suffering from trauma due to all the timelines he went through and this leads to him disappearing from the characters’ lives one day. Kurisu is the only one who remembers him and thus tries to save him through the same methods that Okabe tried to save Mayuri in the series. This means that Okabe is absent for a majority of the movie, and even when he’s not, he’s not very enthusiastic and his trauma feels forced. Like the writers felt they needed a conflict and erased his character growth from the series. Kurisu manages to hold up the movie on her own somewhat, but because most of the film is her being fed exposition by other characters, she doesn’t get much of a chance to be fun. The movie literally gives the characters nothing to do and they’re all left wondering aimlessly when we’re not being fed with info-dumps. And when something does happen, it goes absolutely nowhere or is told in a “oh we’re being so deep and cryptic” way that I can’t understand what’s going on (in a bad way).

This really is like one of those awful early to mid 00’s anime that tried to cram so much symbolism and ideas into the thing that they forget to be fun and have actual progression, only made into a movie, isn’t it? And yeah, I know there is a film version of Rahxephon out there. You don’t have to remind me. I haven’t seen it, but I know enough about it to know I probably wouldn’t like it.

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I’m not going to say the movie is without its moments. The part where Kurisu pretends to be Hooouuiinnn Kyoouuummmaaa is alright. I guess the idea of the ending is cool, but the execution was a goddamn mess and it wasn’t at all worth the tedium that came before. If I were to judge the anime movies I saw this year, Steins;Gate would be one of the worst ones. I mean I’m not a big fan of Aura, which is basically just one of Romeo Tanaka’s VN routes adapted into movie form, but it had way more life and story to it than this shit. The Steins;Gate movie is a 90 minute-long slog of awful. It’s basically one of the Iron Man movies except Robert Downey Junior’s charm is played waaaayyyy down, which leaves you with not much reason to see those films other than to see a really long preview to something that may not deliver. And there’s nothing else coming out from Steins;Gate after this (thank god). Just let this series die already. Please.

On a random tangent, White Fox is getting so lazy nowadays. I don’t like their ambitious series or anything, but nowadays it feels like they’re not even trying to be interesting. That fucking idol anime? That moe slice-of-life comedy coming out sometime? I mean there’s nowhere to go but up after making Jormungand, but you can go up further than that.

4 responses to “Time Travel Mostly Sucks, But It Could Be Good If Stuff Actually Happened: A Steins;Gate Movie Post

  1. VN fans may be enthusiastic, but I somewhat doubt that there are enough of them to be responsible for putting the likes of Steins;Gate and Clannad After Story at the top of MAL rankings. Personally, I eat up the character stuff (yes, even Ruka and Feyris), and the VN is where I get the most of that, which is why I stopped watching the Steins;Gate anime to play the VN instead and never came back to finish it. Same goes for why I skipped the first season of Little Busters!

  2. “Why do people like that kind of storytelling?” I have to say that I’m the opposite. I usually get tired of watching the umpteenth anime action scene without the proper context, bar ‘it looks cool’.

    So I guess a dozen gunfights that doesn’t amount to anything significant apart from being violent, for violence’s sake which to me is similar to your dissatisfaction for character driven dramas.

    That said, the film is somewhat overrated compared to the original series, given it establishes no new character arcs.

    • Actually, I like a bunch of character driven dramas. I just saw La Femme Nikita, a movie about a female assassin that was more focused on the conflicts within her life and less about shooting. The characters just have to be doing “something”. Okarin wandering around aimlessly, and then Kurisu doing the same thing, is less “something” than what happens in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

      • Oh, I didn’t mean to surmise that you hated character dramas. Also I haven’t *actually* seen the film completely given they finished all the main arcs in the story so I can’t render judgement on the quality of the film so basically, ignore me.