Those are some crazy compression ratios. Hey, CERN, want to give me access to the LHC? Then I can store petabytes of anime on a floppy disk!
Steins; Gate has been one of my favorite shows this season, with some great characterization and by far the wittiest, best directed dialogue in any recent anime. That’s why what happened this week’s episode was entirely unexpected: the creators completely blew the previous episodes out of the water. Not only did this episode continue (or even surpass) Steins; Gate’s well established trend of spectacular dialogue, but the plot took a tremendous leap forward as well.
And boy does the shit hit the fan hard (spoilers): the lab gets stormed by CERN, led by Moeka, and she murders Mayushii. I speculated before that Moeka was with CERN, but I definitely didn’t expect her to go far as killing Mayushii. I have no doubt that Mayushii will return— this is a show about time travel, after all— but this still hit hard, especially in a show which has been so peaceful up till now, with the exception of the first episode.
There are three big questions that this episode raised for me (and my most recent conspiracy theories are included).
- What is special about Mayushii? Mayushii, although she initially seemed to be one of the most straightforward characters, is now the person most deeply enmeshed in enigma. I mean, the intro to this episode was a conversation about her chasing Okabe which took place before mankind even existed (although it seemed like Okabe’s dream). But there is definitely more to her than meets the eye. She has been with Okabe since he was a child, and we know that Okabe had also opened Steins; Gate at that time. I’m led to wonder whether Steins; Gate or even the time travelling microwave are products of Okabe or science, or whether Mayushii may turn out to be the one responsible.
- What is part-time warrior up to? She claims she is searching for her dad, which may be true, but there is clearly more to her than that. In this episode we learned that she knows of Christina’s work with CERN through a prophecy— which sounds like a perfect word to describe the memory transfer procedure Christina just invented — and she also realized that CERN was going to attack the lab and escaped. It seemed that she was hesitant to abandon them though.
I’m thinking that John Titor might be associated with CERN, since he and Moeka were both searching for the IBN 5100. But come to think of it, part-time warrior’s dad wasn’t John Titor, but Barrel Titor. Perhaps Moeka is John Titor, and is part-time warrior’s mother. Now who is her father? Well, part-time girl was heading to the time travel forum to meet her father. Who else was going to go but cancelled due to changes in the timeline? Daru. And we already know that Daru has the hots for Moeka. Of course, this entire discussion presupposes that part-time girl was born in the future, which, according to Christina’s theories, is impossible. But there doesn’t seem to be a rule that memories have to be sent from and to the same person.
- What is CERN‘s goal? Interestingly, CERN only decided to interfere when Okabe decided to stop messing with time travel. It’s possible that this could be a timely coincidence with the memory transfer device’s completion. But transferring memories doesn’t seem much more dangerous than sending cellphone messages, especially when Okabe already has been transferring memories (of which CERN is no doubt aware through their eavesdropping). The more likely explanation is that CERN is concerned about time travel being made public. They appear to have even greater capabilities than Okabe, with the ability to even stop time. It seems that Christina’s theories are not the end of the story.The other interesting point is that Moeka shot only Mayushii, which leads back to my first question. Mayushii knows absolutely nothing about time travel, so she is the person they have the least reason to kill. Of course, it’s possible they want to interrogate the others first or use them. But both Okabe and Daru understand about as much of how time travel works as Mayushii. Which leaves Christina as the only valuable person from this perspective. Which leads me to reach the opposite conclusion: that Mayushii was killed because she is in fact the most dangerous lab member in the eyes of CERN.
In addition to the exciting plot developments which will inspire all anime fandom to have fun creating conspiracy theories, the dialogue in this episode continued to be topnotch. As just one example of this show’s masterful use of dialgoue, let’s take a look at the conversation between Okabe and Christina on the bridge while heading home from grocery shopping. While they talk about the decision to reveal their invention to the world, Christina worries that they won’t have time to meet her father. To which Okabe replies, “I’ll solve all my lab member’s problems” and calls Christina his dear companion. This was after Okabe decided not to use the memory transfer device. At this point, I was wondering if CERN hadn’t replaced Okabe with a clone. What happened to his mad scientist act?
But then, to Okabe’s surprise, Christina said “Thank you”, and Okabe became blustered and confused, and tried to check her temperature because she was saying “un-assistant-like things”. Then Christina denies being a tsundere in a very tsundere way, and asks what’s wrong with Okabe for saying such weird things. So my point is, Okabe acts completely out of character for the beginning of this episode, but the dialogue makes it seem perfectly natural: because the other characters realize that he’s acting out of character. This is one way to make your characters take unexpected actions and also appear even more consistent.
To make what Okabe said earlier even more believable, they bring it up again a few minutes earlier: after Christina begins to cook, Daru asks what happened to solving all his lab member’s problems. Another pro-tip which anime creators often forget: viewers have memories longer than ten seconds. Make use of them. I also love it when shows can do a convincing job of inerleaving the serious and comedic elements, which this scene was a shining example of.
I look forward to hearing your conspiracy theories in the comments. No spoilers from the visual novel, please.