Steins;Gate 0 – Anime Preview
Synopsis: A divergent continuation of the original Steins;Gate ending, Steins;Gate 0 explores an alternate worldline where Okabe abandons time travel. While attempting to forget past traumas and get his life back on track, he meets an AI that re-opens old wounds (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Steins;Gate was never something I grew into the hype for. I came to the series late, and only ever thought it was ‘okay.’ My biggest issue centered on how haremy the plot got, with Okabe constantly shifting his attention between all the various girls, rather than the grander, darker narrative. Steins;Gate 0 in some ways feels an answer to that criticism, wallowing in the more depressing end of the Steins;Gate story where Okabe, incapable of guiding himself through all the various alternate worldlines, and saving the one girl who really mattered, has given up.
The series starts with a flash of the future, the dark timeline they so desperately tried to avoid before then returning to the new present, where Okabe has given up his time hopping ways and years have now passed. The series very much contains a similar tone to the lighter aspects of the original series, with the whimsical characters, the silly antics, and only Okabe really feels like he’s suffering at least in the first half.
Steins;Gate 0 also assumes a familiarity with the property that even those who watched it years ago might not retain. The series makes only a passing effort mid-way through the episode to try and catch audiences up to speed on how this series interconnects with what we know from the original. Greater details, reminding us of who characters are, the smaller points of the original series, are absent, perhaps forcing some audiences to either wiki the original series or do a rewatch before approaching this. With the simuldub still a couple weeks out, you got time and it might be advised to do so.
Still, Steins;Gate 0 is easy enough to follow if you can remember the big plot points of the original. It also works as an introductory to the new status quo, and eventual, gradual shift towards a darker tone. Towards the end of the episode things take a turn for the worse, with introduction for the series main focus, giving things a darker air to them that I welcomed as someone never truly smitten with the original’s focus.
Assuming Steins;Gate 0 can keep up its darker mood, and feel like a true ‘dark timeline’ compared to the original run, I think it has the chance to satisfy viewers like me, who enjoyed the series, but never got sucked in. It goes without saying that Steins;Gate 0 is a terrible place to jump in without prior familiarity for the franchise, but for returning fans its an excellent start that looks to put to shame many of the other Blank;Blank anime adaptations of late.