Steins;Gate – 22 Review
In this dark world where he now dwelt, ugly things and surprising things and once in a long while a tiny wondrous thing spilled out at him constantly; he could count on nothing.
The 22nd episode sees Makise and Okabe getting emotional. The 21st episode had Mayuri getting all nostalgic but this episode got really romantic but still had the same dramatic air that Steins;Gate had build up over the last episodes. Not like I want to spoil anything but we all know that death means nothing because somewhere in some another worldline you’re always alive and combined with the memories of the people that survived makes you theoretically alive. See, death isn’t that bad, it’s life that sucks. As described by Makise, death in two words: Basically okay. Death is basically okay.
Makise is emo-chilling on the roof of the building where she will supposedly die when the world-line changes to the beta-one. Okabe appears seemingly having searched for her concerned how she would take his message that going to the beta-world-line would involve her dying. As he founds her it starts to rain and they flee inside the building. Inside Makise notices that Okabe’s lab coat has ripped at one place and offers to sew it right there since she always has a sewer-kit with her. As she sews the ripped part she tells Okabe that in her sleep she sees hazy visions of what happened to her in the other world-lines and she confesses that she’s okay with dying if it means that Okabe can save Mayuri. But Okabe can’t accept her death as the price for saving Mayuri and flees therefore to the lab trying to travel back in time to find another way but Makise who followed him unnoticed stops him from doing that and is enraged by his detached view on saving Mayuri. Makise explains to him thereafter why her sacrificing herself is right and justified and Okabe confesses his feelings for her which leads to them kissing and becoming further “romantic involved”. Later Okabe alone says goodbye to Makise as she’s going to travel back to the USA. Back at the lab Okabe together with Daru and Mayuri delete the last D-Mail and change the world-line to the one where Makise is stabbed. But the peace doesn’t last long as suddenly Suzuha calls telling Okabe that he has to stop World War III.
Okabe: “Okay, I will count to ten and then we start World War III, ready?”
I guess, most of what I said about the emotional drama in the review of the 21st episode still is true for this episode. Even more so as Makise and Okabe become VERY emotional in this episode. This episode was as character-centric (this time Makise) as was the last episode with Mayuri and with the situation of her life being the price for saving Mayuri it’s been a necessary episode.
The problem I had wasn’t really the way the episode was emotionally handled but it was the way the dialogue had these pseudo-philosophical phrases that everyone has heard before. It was acceptable as far the characterization with it goes but if I hear phrases like “I’m okay with dying since I will live on in your memories.” I can’t help but roll my eyes. It’s cheesy! Face death, that’s drama! And not getting all dreamy and sappy while talking about heaven and stuff as a reason why death can’t be that bad.
The concept itself of Makise coming to terms with the fact that she dies for a love greater than her person by sacrificing herself (yeah, it’s just that kind of thinking) is nice and all but the metaphors that are associated with it should change. I just hate these pseudo-philosophical dialogues that use the same metaphors again and again without thinking about their own concepts. Also another thing that really bugs me about these theatrical “last speeches”: If you’re able to close a minute-long speech with a short sentence that summarizes the whole speech then why bother letting the character talk for so long alone? I know what Aristotle has said about the purpose of an epilogue in a speech but it’s just one point this speech is circling around. This speech doesn’t need to convince anyone, Makise just explained her reason for sacrificing herself, one puny sentimental reason and the writers really shouldn’ve gotten that fancy with constructing her speech, I mean, simply saying that she did it out of love for Okabe sounds far better than circling around with this romantic idealism.
But I guess in contrast to the Mayuri-episode which was perhaps a bit too long for the purpose it served and too melodramatic to be tragic, this episode had a sufficient reason for the way it got romantic although I didn’t like to see another scene of a character admitting that he somehow knows how to see what happened in the other world-lines.
That’s not how this stuff is supposed to work.
Okabe still can’t believe how much this whole thing feels like an ending but happily he will be disturbed a few moments later to be reminded that there are still two more episodes to go before this thing is over.
Somehow the plot views the worldliness Okabe visited as a sort of “before-after”-event where a character can remember the other world-lines as they happened to Okabe before and are part of his past – but they aren’t. I really don’t like how this parallel-universe-thing has played out, it sure isn’t hard sci-fi I can tell you that. Okabe’s gift for remembering what happens after time-traveling should’ve had more consequences than these kiddy-logics of treating the existence of parallel universes like a house with an infinite amount of doors. It’s not that simple because if we think of Schroedinger’s Cat it may be possible to think that Okabe influenced the future by already having seen it. That’s at least if you think of time not as a sort of tree-roots but a single line with a finite amount of possibilities that are in a state of “can happen” but as Okabe looks at these things they are determined just like Schroedinger’s Cat is dead and alive until someone looks at it. The future is determined in this concept because Okabe knows it. He doesn’t think about choices he thinks about this one future he saw, that he determined by looking at it. That’s a far more convincing model, I think, than the whole “house with an infinite amount of doors”-model with the world-lines. It’s certainly easier to explain when one believes that time-travel and its influences are as easy to describe as going into another room.
But back to the plot… at least this episode saw also some plot-progress with its ending which was a nice twist since the dialogue before it and the whole structure of this episode made it easy to believe that this is the end but then Suzuha calls. Well, World War III, they sure don’t aim too low as far as drama goes but that means they still have a finale and at this point it would be only rushed to include villains, therefore the only way I can imagine a true villain to pop up would be one of the characters from the dystopia-future coming back with the will to destroy earth (what can I say, they are villains, right?) and it should give an interesting dramatic situation for the finale and some closure as far as characterization goes.
The episode spent a good amount of time just showing the emotional relationship between Okabe and Makise but in contrast to the previous episode with Mayuri this episode’s characterization made it clear that it was a necessary part of the plot but even if it’s good. But it’s the twist in the end with the promise of an exciting finale that gives the close look on Mayuri and Makise the position of semi-final which is more appropriate than the far too emotional ending it would’ve been on its own.