Review: Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryōiki no Déjà vu
Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryōiki no Déjà vu is to Steins;Gate what Burial at Sea is to Bioshock: Infinite. It’s the bit extra for those that really like the franchise. That final piece of story that exists despite the fact that the original narrative has been fully concluded. And, of course, it only exists thanks to some haphazard use of parallel universes. You thought Steins;Gate was over? Well now the main character keeps jumping onto a different world line for no reason, and it’s not really over till this stops happening.
One year has passed since the original conclusion to the outstanding anime based on 5pb’s (also excellent) visual novel. It’s of course nice to catch up with the characters, and in some regards ‘more Steins;Gate’ is always going to be a good thing. But the series had a conclusive ending, and then an entertaining OVA that acted as a nice epilogue. I’m not really sure what this makes the Steins;Gate movie, but it feels like an epilogue to the epilogue.
The film mainly deals with the relationship between Rintarō Okabe and Kurisu Makise, which hasn’t progressed since the last time we saw them. Kurisu travels to Japan for a conference, the Future Gadget Lab is reunited, and her romance with Okabe is put in the spotlight. This is interesting enough, and the discrepancies between their memories (because they both come from different world lines) makes for a complex and emotional relationship. However, when the film starts to re-enter the realm of science fiction and time travel, it starts to become a little muddled, and ends up contradicting a lot of what made Steins;Gate great in the first place.
In the original show the mechanics of time travel were precise and well thought out. Jumping between world lines was not done lightly, and Okabe ended up putting himself through massive emotional turmoil as he struggled to change the past into the future he wanted. The Steins;Gate movie attempts to replicate this to a certain extent, but this time it’s Kurisu who’s travelling through time and it’s not as interesting or believable. Her actions feel reckless, yet are carried out without the devastating consequences that made the time travel mechanic so compelling in the anime.
Not only this, but the rules by which time travel operates appear to have changed, or at least a few sub clauses have been added. The entire cast’s memories are altered almost randomly to fit whatever need the movie requires, and before long the Future Gadget Lab finds themselves living in a world with no Okabe where they’re doing a bunch of really weird and random activities for no reason.
What made Steins;Gate so good was that Okabe kept his memories as he travelled between world lines; he couldn’t get rid of them. But here memory is a fickle and deceptive thing. Events feel random and out of place. It certainly doesn’t help that Okabe then disappears to another world line (known as the ‘R world line’, this isn’t explained properly) under very suspect circumstances (he has too many memories from the other parallel universes). There’s no science or logic to back this up, and nothing previously mentioned in Steins;Gate that would suggest something like this could happen. It feels like a cheap ploy designed to add an element of danger and suspense to the film, and it comes off as melodramatic and unconvincing.
The Steins;Gate film isn’t great, but as a fan of the show I did still quite enjoy it. It’s not as emotionally robust as, say, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and the science fiction doesn’t do the original anime justice, but overall it’s not too offensive. If you like the characters then I’m sure you’ll find it an acceptable enough conclusion to the story. Having said that, is this really the end of Steins;Gate? I bet there are some more parallel worlds out there…