Steins; Gate 20 — Brawny Mr. Braun

I’d always assumed his first name was Wernher. Major spoilers ahead.

So FB is revealed, and it’s none other than Okabe’s landlord. I can’t say I expected it, but I can’t say I’m all that surprised either. There weren’t all that many choices among the characters we’ve met so far who aren’t in Okabe’s harem. Mr. Braun, Feyris’ dad, Mr. Braun’s daughter, the guy who sold Daru the charm… so yeah. Pickings are slim.

So Mr. Braun was poor, lived in the sewers, CERN helped him get out but he became a puppet, yada yada. Not a terribly interesting backstory. I think the creators of the anime realized this as well and skimmed over it. But two things do make him interesting: first, his daughter, and second, his relationship with Suzu. His relationship with his daughter drives him to commit suicide in a manner that was unexpected. I did not see this one coming. He also gets angry when Okabe mentions Suzu. I have to wonder what her role in all this is.

CERN has a pretty impressive organization, for a system composed of social rejects such as Moeka. I kind of assumed they were just a bunch of European megalomaniacs with a small leadership and a hit squad or two, but they seem to actually have a vast network of associates even in the present day. Their organization would be the envy of spy and terrorist cells the world over- everyone only seems to know a couple of people. The handing off of the IBN5100 was quite impressive (but not too effective against someone who can send messages to his past self). And their members are completely dedicated to the cause to the point of death, even if only out of fear.

We learned one thing from Mr. Braun which none of the characters seemed to think much of, but that seems critically important to me: that Okabe will be killed as well once he has finished his task. This seems to go together with another suspicious circumstance: the fact that CERN always allows Okabe to travel back in time with the time machine, even when they are shooting at him or invading his house.

So why is Okabe useful to CERN? It could be because he’s the one they’re relying on to build the time machine, but I doubt it. It was mostly luck. Or was it? Mr. Braun’s television serves as a critical component of the time machine. I’m going to hypothesize that CERN has been five steps of Okabe the entire time: that in fact, CERN wants Okabe to “oppose” them and prevent Mayushii’s death. Why? I’m not entirely sure, but perhaps their true goal is something more ambitious than ruling the world. Okabe’s ability would be useful to an organization such as theirs.

Lastly, Okabe finally realizes that Christina dies in the timeline he’s planning to return to. Took him a while to realize that. I wonder if he’ll choose to go back there or try something different. Christina has been guiding him in his return to the original timeline, and without her he’s going to be even more lost than he is without Mayuri.

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