Steins;Gate: Rintarou Okabe

El Psy Congroo with the ultimate levels of awesome.

After a few(?) weeks of self-imposed hiatus, I am back to bring you something from an anime series that I really liked: Steins;Gate. Obviously, this will contain spoilers for those who haven’t started and finished the series.

Steins;Gate is a show that managed to avoid attracting too much attention towards potential gaping plot holes by not focusing on the time travel concept itself. This is one of the things that made Steins;Gate so good. It never bothered to dig deeply into the concepts and physics behind time travel, only giving us explanations that are within the layman’s grasp.

You have to admit, for a given sci-fi movie, you won’t really care about anything other than the plot and just fix your focus on the underlying mechanisms that move it: the science – or at least that’s how things go for me when I’m watching a sci-fi movie. Watching a movie this way will make you notice faults like an open manhole in the middle of the street complete with a sign that says: “Open manhole. Do not fall in it.” and you will start questioning the very foundations of the show itself. And here’s where some sci-fi movies fail miserably.

However, Steins;Gate focused on what science fiction rarely does: the characters, or at least, one of them. The main character, Okarin, is probably one of the best fictional characters ever spawned by the human mind. He is childish and full of ambition, waving around his mad scientist persona to cover up that very kind, fearful and plainly human personality within. After making him go through all that crap, his personality is molded in a way that it comes off as natural, yet so unbelievably sad and twisted.

When he was in that loop trying to save Mayuri, we all knew that it will end up as another meaningless endeavor that we see happening in every time travel-related movies and series that we see. Yet we still watch it. We watch as Okarin’s persona is slowly crushed and his core personality twisted to something that starts to care only for the accomplishment of his mission, which is to prevent Mayuri’s death, while ironically starting to ignore her completely. It’s a very realistic and believable approach.

We also see how Okarin can be extremely selfish, wanting to save Mayuri even at the expense of the others like Feyris, Moeka and Ruka(ko). It is my belief that humans are generally kind, but would put less important things in his/her point of view in a compromise if there is something that he/she deems more important at stake, be it an opportunity, a relationship or a physical object. Okarin falls under this. In his mind, Mayuri is more important than Feyris, Ruka or Moeka, thus it will only make sense that he would compromise their welfare for Mayuri’s safety. Oh, so human.

But then he is faced by a heavy dilemma: Kurisu comes in the picture. Over the past weeks that Okarin is with her, Kurisu has become more and more important to Okarin, soon rivaling the level of importance that Mayuri has in his mind. He becomes hesitant. I mean, who wouldn’t be? If you save one, the other dies. You cannot argue that Okarin should just simply save Mayuri without thinking it through so that we can get a move on. No, it’s all part of what makes him all the more awesome as a character. He thought it through, and had it hard. He will be the one most affected by the death of either of them. It was his problem, more than the world’s. An unaffected audience would simply let their superego take over and pick Mayuri over Kurisu, since that would save the world from the evils of SERN. But the audience is not Okarin so they can all shut the f*ck up.

After considering his available options, and getting the help of Kurisu, he ultimately decides to save Mayuri, though he is quite affected by this decision as shown later in one of the best pieces of voice acting I have ever heard, next only to Homura’s promise in Madoka Magica episode 10, Nagisa’s simple speech in episode 15 of After Story and Lelouch’s powerful command in Code Geass episode 1. The emotions portrayed in Okarin’s “victory speech” was painfully human and fantastically self-ridiculing, and I loved it.

Steins;Gate doesn’t let go of Okarin until the very end. His personality was now completely different, becoming something akin to a true mad scientist to be respected, instead of to be laughed at, as seen in the previous episodes, his ridiculous poses are now crowning moments of awesome, and whatever he does now seems sensible, and even the cast of the anime take him very seriously, all coupled with a fantastic ending that justifies all the sh*t he’s been through. Okabe Rintarou, you are a character deserving to be one of my favorites.

I give Steins;Gate a well deserved 8/10 in MAL, along the ranks of some of my all-time favorites like Code Geass and Kanon 2006. Steins;Gate takes the top 5 spot in my all-time favorite anime, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Oh, wait. There will be a movie! Remind me to book a plane ticket to Japan when it shows up in theaters.

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18 Responses to Steins;Gate: Rintarou Okabe

  1. Acbe says:

    Great review.

  2. jenn says:

    Okarin~~

    I really enjoyed Miyano Mamoru-sama’s voice acting here. ^^

    • @fkeroge says:

      I have to admit, I was not very impressed by Mamoru Miyano’s performance in some of his other works, like Death Note. But here in Steins;Gate, he really shines above the rest, and by that I mean, in five years, Okarin may be the only member of the cast that I don’t have to think about when asked about Steins;Gate. One of the most memorable pieces of voice acting in my opinion.

  3. Seinime says:

    Top five, really nice!

    I put it into top ten, since I’m not sure whether I’ve watched enough anime yet. But definitely one of the best this year!

    • @fkeroge says:

      When I rank my favorite anime, I use these criteria, in order of importance:
      Entertainment value, plot execution (if plot is available), character development, animation, voice acting, emotional impact (how I feel about the show in general), concept, plot (if plot is available) and everything else.

      Using these criteria, Steins;Gate really nailed it with its voice acting and animation, the awesome embodiment of character development itself, as well as the concept… by my standards anyway, making Steins;Gate one of my all-time favorites, along with Clannad After Story, Madoka Magica, Code Geass and Kanon.

      About rating anime, well, you can see that even though Steins;Gate is one of my favorites, I only gave it an 8/10 for the reason that there may come an anime that is better than it. It gives me room to rate better anime higher, and also because I haven’t watched that much anime myself.

      • Seinime says:

        Indeed. Superb voice acting and concepts. Looking forward to the next series, Robotic;Notes or something similar, but Steins;Gate really set the standard. Although you can never know…

        • @fkeroge says:

          Robotics;Notes, much like ChaoS;HEAd and Steins;Gate has a pretty silly concept at first glance, yet the games actually work very well. And while the ChaoS;HEAd anime failed so badly, the original material was quite good. I’m looking forward to it as well.

  4. Nopy says:

    Okabe’s character development in Steins;Gate was stellar. I was wondering if all that time travelling would turn him into a shell of a man, but I’m glad that it toughened him up into a hero.

    • @fkeroge says:

      It seems that Okarin’s character development receives much acclaim even from the most hardened critics. If that’s not a sign of a good character, I don’t know what is. At first, I also though that maybe all this time traveling will drive him insane, but it turned out to be the most awesome growth of a childish and ambitious man into a respectable, walking embodiment of badass.

  5. glothelegend says:

    I put him up there as possibly one of the greatest male protagonists I’ve seen. He pretends to be a mad scientist….which pretty much makes him a mad scientist.

    You know a character is awesome when the punch on of their wounds in order to bleed more blood #bad-assandawesome

    • @fkeroge says:

      “He pretends to be a mad scientist….which pretty much makes him a mad scientist.”

      So true. The way the act of him pretending to be a mad scientist evolved from a humor element to a character defining personality is really a sign of how anime can still be great at what it does, no matter what detractors say.

      “You know a character is awesome when the punch on of their wounds in order to bleed more blood #bad-assandawesome”

      Although I have seen many scenes in fiction like this, I still enjoyed it because of all the buildup to it and of course, Okarin’s masterful taunting.

  6. Shizuo says:

    Steins;Gate was nice and interesting to watch.

    Gonna miss Mayushii… tutt turuuuu

  7. Azure says:

    If you think about it, Okarin has a lot of issues in many ways: he is possibly schizo and with all his mad delusions and all and seems to be well aware of it. yet he comes off surprisingly manly and heroic. And his evil laugh. It keeps coming out during the initial few episodes then completely disappears when Mayuri dies and finally returns in the second last episode. I really missed that crazy laugh.
    Steins;Gate has done a great job on Okarin’s character development I’m just disappointed that the other characters can’t really grow much (especially Feyris and Rukako who have been fairly useless) since they can’t keep their memories.

    “I am mad scientist. Its so cool! Sonnuvabitch.”

    • @fkeroge says:

      For one, we need more crazy dudes like Okarin in our anime, more so if they actually turn out so awesome and badass in the end.

      “I am mad scientist. Its so cool! Sonnuvabitch.”

      “El Psy Congroo.”

      “Steins;Gate no sentaku da!”

  8. Mathew says:

    Okabe Rintarou = Japanese Yossarian

  9. theycallmetomu says:

    As often, the visual novel is even better-to the extent that I, a huge Xenosaga fanboy-have placed the game as my all-time favorite game of all time (redundancy department of redundancy). The number of stars I give it is as infinite as the endless possibilities of space and time.

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