Time travel! That's what connects the two series we're looking at today, aside from both being animated by White Fox. Enjoy the reviews!
Originally aired: April 6, 2011 - September 14, 2011 Studio: White Fox Episodes: 24
Steins;Gate is an anime that had interested me for a while now, ever since I saw it in the top 5 ranking of MyAnimeList(currently sits at number 4). The concept seemed fantastic; a show following a group of scientists who discover the ability to send messages back in time to change the past. And thus, with a sense of curiosity I began watching Steins;Gate.
I quickly discovered that the main cast weren’t scientists(one is), but a group of teenagers who spend their time in the main character Okabe’s apartment in Akihabara and tinker around with different gadgets, all the while Okabe acting as if he is a mad scientist. But the overall story was the same; the group uses a special microwave to send messages to the past using email, and problems quickly arise when they realize the effects of changing the past has on the future, leading to many world-changing developments that quickly begin to spiral out of control.
What Steins;Gate does excellently is the unique aesthetic of its world; a color palette with many contrasting whites and blacks that always convey a sense of mystery to the setting. I also found the time travel mechanics to be well-established, with enough links to real-world science to lessen the level of suspension of disbelief required to believe the mechanics could be possible in the near future. The second half is where the show begins the sparkle with its concept, turning into more of a high-action drama compared to the relatively mundane first half.
But despite the fantastic aesthetic and second half, the show’s first 8 episodes were an absolute drag for me to watch through. My main issue comes from the characters themselves, mainly the two leads; Okabe and Kurisu. Okabe’s constant role playing as a mad scientist quickly became grating for me, especially when he continued to role play after hearing a character open up to him about a personal matter. But in the interest of not repeating myself, I will go into further detail about these two in my comparison section. None of the other characters got much in the way of character development besides Okabe and Kurisu, so I won’t touch on them at all.
Originally aired: April 4, 2016 - September 19, 2016 Studio: White Fox Episodes: 25
Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- is a story that centers around Subaru Natsuki as he is mysteriously transported to a fantasy world after a normal trip to a convenience store. As the plot progresses, we soon learn that Subaru resets at particular points in his time in the fantasy world whenever he dies. What follows is a dark reflection on the horrors of repeatedly dying does on one’s psyche, as Subaru suffers through constant mental and physical challenges while trying to save both himself and the cast of friends he soon meets along the way.
In terms of characters, Re:Zero breaks the conventional approach of having boring audience-surrogate protagonists by portraying Subaru as the normal cringe-worthy otaku in the first episode...but quickly makes him realize that his behavior isn’t appropriate and continues to develop his character through the various time resets he must go through to make sure the situations don’t end with his friends dying. Despite being the main character and having the time reset power, Subaru isn’t portrayed as the normal overpowered protagonist...quite the opposite. He is arguably the weakest character in the series, having to rely on building relationships with people and enlisting their help in solving the various problems he runs into. He goes through various arcs with his mental state changing with the amount of suffering he has experienced, frequently breaking down from the pressure of it all. These moments, I feel, serve to humanize Subaru as a character as he slowly morphs into a better person who other characters can actually look up to at times. There are many other fantastically developed characters, which I will cover in the comparison section.
In addition to the characters, Re:Zero is fantastic at portraying its action scenes with an appropriate level of strategy and brutality that makes the audience believe that anyone could die at any time, especially with the knowledge of Subaru’s ability to come back from the dead. A fight near the end of the series was an absolutely colossal battle that involved many different characters and factions, each working together to bring down the legendary foe. The strategy shown during the battle and sheer brutality shown to the monster makes it one of my favorite battle sequences of all time.
That said, Re:Zero isn’t without its faults. The middle of the series has Subaru in a particularly bad mental state, which could rub certain people the wrong way before he improves later. Episode 13 in particular was painful for me to watch, with Subaru constantly making a situation he shouldn’t even be in worse with each word he says. But if one is able to make it through these moments, they will find that there was a purpose for said scenes and do receive a payoff later in the series.
Okabe Rintaro Subaru Natsuki
On the surface level, there doesn’t seem much in the way of similarities between Okabe and Subaru. Okabe considers himself a mad scientist, while Subaru is said to be an otaku...but it isn’t a characteristic that is referenced at all past the first episode. What I can say is how far both develop, in that Okabe didn’t seem to change much at all by the end of the series. His constant role playing as a mad scientist quickly became grating for me to listen to, and outright annoyed me after two instances where a particular character opened up to Okabe about their feelings...and he constantly interrupted them to make stupid jokes in his mad scientist character. The jokes weren’t funny for me to listen to, and the character opening up clearly thought he was being disrespectful to them. I understand there is a reason for why Okabe acts that way, but if he can’t turn off the obnoxious character when someone is trying to have a personal conversation with him, it just makes him look like an asshat in my eyes. I will say I found him much more tolerable in the second half, though.
Now, let’s look at Subaru. He also started out obnoxious, but through character interaction and repeated suffering turned into a much more likable character. Sure Subaru had low points along the way, but he realizes those flaws and tries to improve upon them as the series progresses. By the end of each series, it appeared to me that Subaru was a completely changed character while Okabe regressed back into his old tendencies.
Emilia Kurisu Maikse
Again, there are few similarities between Kurisu and Emilia. Kurisu is the prodigy scientist who joins Okabe’s ‘lab’, and seems to be the only sensible person in the team. She does the majority of work on the time machine, keeps the group on task, and has to deal with Okabe and Daru’s constant immature comments. She also has a mild tsundere personality, easily getting flustered over little things that the group does to her. I personally found her character to be annoying as well, being too much of a wish fulfillment for science geeks. She’s a prodigy scientist, but also a secret geek who gets flustered at teasing and stays with the group despite the idiotic nature of the people she is around, when any self-respecting person would be pissed at the environment there. I found her much too passive, only giving half-hearted annoyed comments when bugged by Okabe and Daru.
Emilia, by contrast, is a kind half-elf who rules over a region of the country she resides in. She is a powerful ice mage who likes to help people who are in need, without making them feel like they need to repay her afterwards. I’m not about to spoil her character development, but I feel she gets too much hate from the Rem-loving crowd. Emilia is both capable of showing affection toward people she likes, while also putting them in their place should they become too much of an issue. Though personally, I found Ram the best at that last part.
Other Main Female:
Mayuri Shiina Rem
Now, Rem and Mayuri are similar in a few ways. Both have absolutely adorable designs, and have a past much deeper than what is immediately apparent from their outward appearance. However, it is how they both develop as characters that separates them. Mayuri mostly acts childish and innocent around the group, serving as the one normal person in a group of weird people. That role sometimes allows her to be the person who sees a situation from a more practical standpoint than Okabe and Kurisu, who can overanalyze a situation. Her greeting of “Too-too-roo” is also the most adorable greeting I have ever heard.
Now...Rem. She starts out as the strange counterpart to Ram that isn’t distinct...but it is when they are separate that both shine. I’d have to give spoilers for what happens to Rem, but for this let’s just say that she has trouble asking other people for help. The scene between herself and Subaru in the middle of the series is easily one of the most heartwarming moments I have ever seen out of an anime.
In conclusion, both Steins;Gate and Re:Zero approach the concept of suffering through a time loop in widely different settings. Steins;Gate is more realistic with its art style and setting, while Re:Zero is geared more toward a fantasy setting with the addition of magic to create a wider range of situations possible. However, I personally found Re:Zero the superior series. Its deconstruction of the ‘trapped in another world’ genre coupled with how they reformed a traditionally boring otaku character, and the fantastic battles made me give the series a perfect 10/10. Steins;Gate had promise, but the first 8 episodes were entirely focused on the characters...and I only liked one of them; Mayuri. The series only really picks up at around episode 12, so for the weak first half, I’m giving Steins;Gate a 7.4/10.
BONUS: My thoughts on Emilia and Rem(MAJOR SPOILERS)
Most people seemed to be annoyed at how Subaru denied Rem at the end of her heartfelt confession speech, and hate Emilia for it. However, i see it as a play on the trope of how a female character would fall in love with the overpowered main character after saving her from a situation. Only this time, it’s the powerful female having saved Subaru in episode 1, which is followed by the two of them spending time together in town. Subaru has multiple touching moments with Emilia in the first half of the series, only part of the second half is dedicated to Rem and Subaru, which is fantastically developed. I feel most people just forgot about the first half of the series between Subaru and Emilia, and thus started hating her for preventing Subaru x Rem. When in reality, I think that Emilia and Subaru are a much better match.
Also found it funny that they both are basically harem, except Stein;Gate have a shipping at the end. My problem with the middle part of Re;Zero and even Stein;Gate is not the fact that they are acting like shit, is the fact it goes so slow and you know the direction is going, and you waiting for it and they just drag their god damn feet. Especially the stupid speech episode with Subaru and Rem that made me want to punch something. The thing is they repeat that formula three freaking times except this time he act like shit thats all. Like god damn it, if you going to repeat the formula just make it go a bit faster because we already know where this is god dman going.The same with Okabe for not trying to explain once at least when that time loop thing was happening. I mean giving all his struggle, you would think hey let me try explaining, but nope it took two god damn episode later. Is like seeing someone putting a square block in a circle instead of the square and just waiting for them to finally figure it out with you not being able to say anything.
That being said I personally love Stein;Gate more. While the first four episode were a drag, I did start really liking the concept of the show and even Okabe grew on me.He basically don't judge a character, and see what they actually are in the inside which I find more interesting. Not to mention Subaru still is carbon copy of other wish fulfillment character aka Kirito, which is not a bad thing as he was executed well for the most part. I guess the thing that annoy me is the fact that Emilia character was pretty weak, and they did basically do repeat the formula and it gets pretty easy to guess what is going to happen. Stein:Gate kept me on my toe and what was going to happen, and had lot of interesting commentary.
Edit: That being said, still suprise how much I like Re:Zero. At first glance, it looks like another average stuck in a other world, aka Grimgar Fantasy aka generic as hell. Instead I got a fantastic show that really suprised me even if it has some flaw. I mean I prefer Konosuba, or Gate if you count that as another world, but still overall it was great.
Personally, I disagree with either of them being a harem show. Both of the protagonists go after a particular person, Okabe at the end and Subaru pretty much from the start. It's kind of why I respect the writers for having Subaru deny someone at the end, when a harem show would just have him change the subject or something. I do agree that Okabe was being dumb for not explaining, or say...call the police to get a certain character protection.
I think Okabe is just a polarizing character in general; if you like his humor style, he's great. If you don't like I did and found him to be in general an annoying character...it hampers the experience. But hey, thanks for the thoughts on both series!
Vapovile ,the VN would disagree with you XD. Well if Sword art online 2 taught me anything, liking someone and even dating them does not mean you can't have handful of girls who likes you around you at all time.
Oh god no Okabe was annoying as hell at first, but once they start peeling his character, and understand why he acts that way, is easy to sympathize and even relate to him. What was an annoying character, start to be actually charming. That being said I won't blame anybody if they still find him annoying in the end, but would not be suprised if he won over some people.
I don't care how cute as hell Rem is, getting killed by her viciously once or twice versus Emilia who was always there for my boy Subaru, no contest.I mean I like Rem, but I think most people would still get flashback of her brutally killing you. Granted I still did not like that episode for being a god damn speech episode. Now I am having flashback of that terrible speech episode of Log Horizon 2.
To be fair...Subaru DID smell of the Jealous Witch, which only the Witch's Cult and the beasts created by her have that scent. Was it overboard to outright kill him those 2 times? Yeah, and that should have been explored later. I agreed that Emilia was the better one for Subaru, anyway. I personally thought the speech was great, but hey, we all have our preferences.
Old Man Dream: ...later titles in the Macross franchise can finally come stateside with all involved parties finally coming to a truce over how to handle things with the Macross trademark and all later anime in the franchise associated with it.
Apr 9, 2021 10:26:05 GMT
Taka: I see. A global release will benefit it. Gundam did pretty good. The only few franchises that are only popular in Japan but not popular in the west - Yokai Watch comes to mind.
Apr 10, 2021 1:55:16 GMT
Master Menos: F for Respects. DMX did all his work while suffering from a drug addiction, and I almost never knew until a point. I hope his next life treats him far better.
Apr 10, 2021 15:30:45 GMT
HungryWorld: Sorry for taking so long for the things i have to do, have been suffering from some health issues (including mental health deterioration). Anyways hope i can be a bit more active here soon enough once i am properly patched up again.
Apr 27, 2021 17:45:38 GMT
Taka: No worries, health, family, school, and work take priorities first.
Apr 28, 2021 7:41:52 GMT