Steins;Gate 8 – Is being too cute a crime?
May 25, 2011
Steins;Gate episode 8 keeps the pressure up. As Hououin Kyouma’s mad science experiments become increasingly risky, world-line changes proliferate. Without a doubt this is the show that keeps me guessing, and each week poses more fascinating questions, and throws in more bizarre twists.
John Titor’s wish that Okabe be the savior doesn’t look like it will pan out. As Okabe himself puts it, as a mad scientist, his desire is for “chaos and destruction”. Okabe decides to let others send D-mails, so he can research his apparent ability to retain his memories across world-lines. In the process Shining Finger disappears from the room, and from most people’s memories. She also stopped sending Okabe messages in the past (“not since July 31st”). Both her eagerness to send the D-mail, and her behavior change after sending it, were perfectly balanced between being reasonable and suspicious. She claims to have wanted to warn herself not to get a new phone. Why this resulted in her no longer trying to contact Okabe is unclear. Also unclear is how someone would react to receiving a message from herself that she doesn’t remember sending.
But Okabe proves his willingness to experiment wildly when he agrees to attempt a sex-change on Ruka. Poor Ruka wishes to be a girl, and asks if he can send a D-mail to change his own past. This really was a well set up development. At first we have the typical joking around, including some jokes at Christina’s expense. Then Ruka’s preposterous request, and Okabe’s willingness to grant it. Then the planning to get a cryptic message back to Ruka’s mother. All leading up to Okabe’s attempts to determine if the experiment was a success.
The experiment with Ruka is particularly notable because it is unclear what could have happened. Okabe shares this concern after the fact. something happened; from his perspective, the world-line changed in some way. But what could be the effect of sending that message to the past? Said a different way, how might Ruka’s mother have interpreted a page consisting of a string of digits that should translate to “eat your veggies”?
Impressively, despite giving more and more a sense that time travel is real, and that all sorts of crazy things are going on, Steins;Gate still leaves me with that lingering doubt, that Okabe is just a nut case, talking to imaginary people on his phone, and fantasizing wildly about his ability to send messages to the past. His singular ability to realize changes in the world-line conveniently means that most of the significant events are only real in his memories. I find this show utterly unpredictable, and am fascinated at each week’s revelations. If, somehow, this is all a massive troll, and Okabe is just mentally unstable, I will completely accept that I was taken in, and even enjoyed the ride.