Directed By: Hiroshi Hamasaki; Takuya Sato; Tomoki Kobayashi
Written By: Jukki Hanada
Voice cast: Rintaro Okabe – Mamoru Miyano; Kurisu Makise – Asami Imai; Mayuri Shiina – Kana Hanazawa; Itaru “Daru” Hashida – Tomokazu Seki; Suzuha Amane – Yukari Tamura; Luka Urushibara – Yu Kobayashi; Faris NyanNyan – Haruko Momoi; Moeka Kiryu – Saori Goto; John Titor – Hiroshi Tsuchida; Yugo “Mr Braun” Tennouji – Masaki Terasoma; Nae Tennouji – Ayano Yamamoto
Genre: Psychological thriller; science fiction
Number of Episodes: 25
Run Time: 24 minutes each
Steins;Gate is an animated series that deals with time travel. It is about a group of friends who run a ‘future gadgets’ laboratory wherein they make a phone microwave that allows them to send mails to the past and affect the future as a result. The lab is headed by self-proclaimed mad scientist Rintaro Okabe (Mamoru Miyano), the super hacker Itaru “Daru” Hashida (Tomokazu Seki) and his childhood friend and ‘hostage’ Mayuri Shiina (Kana Hanazawa) who calls herself Mayushi.
The series starts off with a science conference on time travel and this is the first time we are introduced to the name ‘John Titor’, an enigmatic figure who claims to be from 2036. His theories become the base for the scientific plausibility of time travel. Titor is also the reason they start looking for an old computer, the IBN 500. Supposedly because it can decode the time research done by the organisation SERN.
The conference is where Okabe meets Kurisu Makise (Asami Imai), a science prodigy, for the first time. She eventually becomes a lab member and helps him perfect the device that sends their “d-mails” – futuristic messages. Kurisu even helps Okabe create other gadgets that become pivotal to the storyline. However, their first meeting ends on a traumatic note when he finds her in a pool of blood, sends Daru a message about it and accidentally sets off a d-mail that alters events.
Steins;Gate camouflages itself as a comic series because even when Okabe realises that he is the only one who is able to remember events before and after time alteration, his eccentric mannerisms and the fascinating characters he meets, hoodwink us.
For instance, Suzuha Amane (Yukari Tamura), the part-timer who works for Okabe’s landlord Yugo Tennouji (Masaki Terasoma), calls herself a warrior and eventually becomes a lab member. Moeka Kiryu (Saori Goto), a socially awkward young woman who prefers to communicate only through text messages becomes another lab member especially when Okabe and she find out that they are both in search of the IBN 500.
The changes wrought by the d-mail are minimal at first but much like the butterfly effect, everything begins to spiral out of control pretty fast and they are left dealing with consequences they did not anticipate. As the story progresses, one realises that even the seemingly delusional stories they tell each other become a mask for latent concerns.
The series starts off as a story about an oddball group but quickly snowballs into a fast-paced thriller where time becomes an entity to combat. It is a series with undercurrents of violence that throws up questions about identity and morality.