Hello everybody, and welcome to The Fullmetal Narcissist blog… For the second annual SciFi July!
For my first post this year, I’d like to share with you a comment that North1085 left me, offering their take on some of the questions and complaints I raised in my Steins;Gate review from last July. Let’s see what they had to say!
Read a good portion of your Steins;Gate review (you’ll forgive me for not reading the entire thing, as it’s quite wordy and I didn’t exactly have all that much time) and I’d like to start off by saying that I gave S;G a 6.5/10, just for reference.
So, about Faris. She’s actually a very good character in the Visual Novels (particularly Linear Bounded Phenogram, the spin-off that has other characters as protagonists). Hell, I’d even say she’s the best character of the lot, rivalled only by Okabe. It’s a real shame the way they presented her in the anime, because she hardly ever gets any attention and the more shallow side of her personality is shown – what makes her a brilliant character is never really touched on. Basically, they completely butchered her character the way they represented her, which also brings down the anime as a whole. Well, it was a 40-hour long Visual Novel, so I can understand why they might have some difficulty fitting all that in. I thought you might find that interesting, anyway.
The main thing I wanted to address was your issues with the time-travel plot, and this is something else which the anime doesn’t go into nearly as much depth with as the visual novel. A lot of the stuff you need to know to solve most apparent plot holes is mentioned, but there are some plot holes like right at the end of the series that you need external knowledge to solve. The plot hole I’m talking about, of course, is when Okabe travels back in time to save Kurisu in episodes 23/24. He fails the first time, and then he goes back the second time but there are only two Okabes. Since this is the second time he’s traveled back in time, there should be three Okabes (the original one in that world line, the one who travelled first and the one just getting here second). So where did the second Okabe go? This is a plot hole that takes quite a bit of explaining to do (that’s not exactly what I want to address right now), so we’ll just say that when the time machine travels back in time from world line 1.1980 (for example), they are going to diverge from that world line (so they’ll land on a world line near it, 1.1979, for example), and the divergence is greater the further back in time they travel (they travel back a month and diverge about +-0.0001, and Suzuha travels back in time from 0% in the Alpha attractor field and diverges maybe 0.33737% or higher/lower). This is information you can’t actually get from the anime; they simply didn’t have enough time to explain it, but the explanations are in the source material.
“I can’t say much about it’s time travel logic without giving away too many spoilers, but it does cheat towards the end and go in the Back to the Future direction. What I can talk about is the huge turning point that everybody loves so much. Halfway through the series, a tragic event occurs, and Okabe starts using the time machine over and over again to try and prevent said tragedy, but his efforts prove futile. This is fine at first, until it’s revealed that even when the cause of the tragedy is completely removed, the tragedy still happens in all of it’s Final Destination glory. Frankly, if you can get through this story arc without even once saying “Oh My God, They Killed Kenny!”, then this show has you by the short and curlies.”
All right, this is what I actually wanted to address. I’m pretty sure you’re talking about the point where Mayuri dies, but this part confuses me slightly, though I think I see what you’re getting at: “This is fine at first, until it’s revealed that even when the cause of the tragedy is completely removed”
Basically, Mayuri dies because the rounders shoot her up (hooray). The rounders are the cause of her death, so if they are removed, then Mayuri shouldn’t die, right? This is explained in a spin-off novel briefly when Okabe says ‘causality’ (I recommend you read The Distant Valhalla, it’s quite a good one, only about 30 pages too). If you’re versed in time-travel fiction or anything like that, I’m going to assume you know what this means. I’ve never researched the topic, I don’t know what it means, but I’m just bringing it up because they do blatantly say why Mayuri continues to die.
In the Alpha attractor field (0%-0.99% divergence), Mayuri dies, SERN captures Okabe Rintaro, Itaru Hashida and Makise Kurisu for a year and a half, before Okabe and Itaru escape. In 2025, Okabe Rintaro dies. In 2034, Makise Kurisu dies. In 2036, Hashida Itaru finishes a time machine that can only travel back in time, not forwards and dies soon afterwards. Suzuha travels back in time from 2036 to 2010.
These are events that ALWAYS occur in the Alpha attractor field and cannot be avoided because they are world-changing events – every single world line in the attractor field converges to ensure those events occur. If these events don’t occur, it changes the world way too drastically and screws up time-space, so the universe itself ensures these events occur to repair time-space. Not sure if this is explicitly said, but it’s heavily implied.
So, the only way to alter these events is to move attractor fields – move from the Alpha attractor field to the Beta attractor field. You can only move between attractor fields by altering big events that changed the world massively. Okabe moves from the Alpha to Beta attractor field when he ensures that SERN never discovers the message he sent to Daru about Kurisu being dead is never read (fuzzy on the details) and therefore they never take an interest in him and don’t steal his time machine. Instead, SERN gains dominion over the world through Nakabachi’s thesis. Another example of this is in the Gamma attractor field (2%-2.99%), where Y2K is actually a devastating event that claims the lives of many people, including Okabe and Mayuri’s parents. Okabe and Mayuri are separated for 7 years and when they meet up again, Mayuri is stricken with an illness. By that time, Okabe had become a rounder, M3, and was partnered up with Moeka, who now would do anything for Okabe, because he was the reason that she lives.
Altering these events flings you into different attractor fields. The reason Mayuri always dies is because of world line convergence, or because of the Alpha attractor field. I believe this is also explained in the anime, but not in nearly as much depth.