Something I wanted to do for a while was give summaries/etc. of some VNs I read, if I find them good, because I feel like this medium has a terrible reputation. Not at all undeserved, mind you, most of the shit that fouls up this medium is what Japan is known for, but there're many of us that dig into this medium because there're some absolute gems out there, especially those that wouldn't shine as well in other mediums. After all, there aren't a whole lot of mediums in which a very, very dense story can be told with the emotion of voicing, the addition of soundtrack, and in some cases, good picture cues. As many in the Anime/Manga thread know, VN -> anime transitions tend to fall flat (too much material to condense into a season, for instance) and VN -> manga transitions just lose too much of the work.
That's not to say there're a whole lot of good reads, especially coming from myself, a notoriously hard-to-please person (ask anyone who knows me from LoL, I complain about every hero when it comes to what I want, hahah). But I adore the ones that do shine, and want to spread understanding about the medium of storytelling I love. After all, this thread about 999 cropped up quite recently, and it made me feel warm seeing more acceptance over "games that require a crapton of reading" from a wider audience. A similar, highly-regarded mainstream VN game was for the Wii, 428 - in the sealed-off Shibuya, which actually ended up spawning the anime Canaan based off of one of its bonus stories.
For starters I'm going to be doing a review and summary of Steins;Gate, following my previous "zomg walkthrough orz" blog post here. Steins;Gate was originally released on Xbox360 in October 09 amidst great fanfare, hype, and anticipation. I'd say it more than met those expectations. To quote wiki,
Steins;Gate placed 13th in sales during its first week of release with 16,434 copies sold, 28th on its second week with 4,253 copies, and 26th on its third week with 6,095 copies, totaling 26,782 copies. Steins;Gate placed fourth in overall Xbox 360 game sales on Amazon Japan on the year starting on December 1, 2008 and ending November 30, 2009. Senji Ishii of Famitsu Xbox 360 praised the scenario for its detail and noted that events that were overlooked as insignificant later returned to affect events of the future. Due to the way the plot ties the many different events of the game together, Ishii believes it must have been a lot of work to write the scenarios. As for 2009, Famitsu awarded Steins;Gate as annual game of excellence award. 4Gamer.net commented that Steins;Gate is comparable to 428: Fūsa Sareta Shibuya de and felt that it is a gem that has not been seen in recent years. ITmedia Gamez noted that players should be attentive to all the details in the story as the twists will surprise the player in many different ways. It was also suggested to the player that the characters' voices be left turned on as the voice acting is very good. The review did caution that players who have played through the demo and who did not enjoy the atmosphere of the game were not likely to find the rest of the game interesting.
The narrator of the story is Okabe Rintarou, sometimes Hououin Kyouma, the self-proclaimed Psychotic Mad Scientist who will bring chaos unto the world. He's 18, 4 months off of having graduated from university (yes, that's kinda early), and is (against) self-proclaimed LabMember01 and head of Future Gadgets, a club he set up to do research and development. Voiced by Miyano Mamoru (Death Note, DRRR, Gundam00, StarDriver, etc.) in what I feel is his finest performance, Okabe is slightly... quirky. What you immediately realize is that this guy is cuckoo. He speaks in this haughty voice, has an OBNOXIOUS laugh that would make Kefka blush in shame, and when he gets flustered or excited pulls out his cell phone and speaks into it, as if talking to an accomplice (of course, the cell phone isn't actually connected to anyone). He also ends his calls with El Psi Congloo. At the start of the story, he's on his way to a time-machine scientific conference held by Dr. Nakabachi, fairly reknown around the world, with the intent of crashing the party. But when he goes onto the rooftop of the building (after evading security) he happens upon a SATELLITE just propped up there, and it's sealed off. When he descends, he runs into Makise Kurisu, whom he recognizes as the 17-year old girl genius who published a Thesis in Science, and after making a mockery of Dr. Nakabachi at the conference, takes a bit of a stroll, and happens upon the bloodied corpse of a stabbed Makise Kurisu. Flustered, panicked, he runs out of the building with friend Shiina Mayuri in tow, fumbling on his cellphone texting his colleague "Daru," typing, "Makise Kurisu was stabbed! What the fuck do I do!?"
He hits send.
His head feels like it's screaming, and after a moment of pain, he looks up. Where he was once in the middle of a busy, bustling crosswalk, he now stands only with Mayuri. The entire central block of Akiba is devoid of people. There is also now a satellite embedded in where Dr. Nakabachi's conference should have been.
Chapter 1 involves him making his way back to "the lab," which is actually just a room he's borrowed on the second floor of a CRT TV store ("who uses CRTs these days?"). The Future Gadget club's been tinkering around with a Phone Microwave (Temporary) - a microwave you can control using your cell phone. Yes. Amazing invention. Not. He's screwing around with the thing and wondering if defrost changes anything, about rotating the thing counterclockwise, etc. but nothing really comes of it. There're also some changes you end up encountering from the prologue.
First of all, Dr. Nakabachi's conference was actually canceled, due to the mysterious crashing satellite. Instead, an impromptu little lecture was held by Makise Kurisu, about whom he cannot hide his astonishment at seeing "What're you doing! You're supposed to be DEAD!" He also finds out that he was standing in a barren Akiba because of the satellite - the area had been sealed off with ticker tape and he'd just ho-hum gone through (no memory of this). He notices something's "wrong," in that some of the things he knows aren't... true. For example, John Titer showed up online 10 years ago, in the year 2000, yet no one recognizes the name, and there's no wiki entry for it (despite him remembering distinctly reading up stuff by Titer, including a book about Titer-isms). Also curious is that the mail he'd sent about Makise Kurisu's death had arrived in Daru's inbox a week earlier, making Okabe look like a complete and utter psychotic, especially when taking into account that Makise Kurisu was not dead.
Much of this chapter is an introduction to the dramatis personae.
First is Okabe Rintarou, aka Hououin Kyouma, as described above. Then there is Shiina Mayuri, his airhead of a childhood friend. Third is "Daru," real name Hashida Itaru, a huge (height and width) stereotypical otaku. Fourth is Makise Kurisu, the genius 17-year old who he'd seen stabbed and killed. Fifth is Kiryuu Moeka, whom he dubs "Shining Finger" over her ridiculous cellphone typing speed - she's looking for the IBN5100 that was sought-after by John Titer, and this is how the two of them encounter each other. He was looking for the IBN5100 to try to prove the existence of John Titer, and she's also looking for it. Sixth is Feiris, an absolutely ridiculous girl that always wears cat ears, speaks like a cat (nyan nyan) and takes over Okabe's world. In that, he'd start going on a rant about OH MY GOD MY RIGHT ARM, THE SEAL IS BREAKING, IT BURNS, IT BURNS and then she'd pick up on it and launch into a KYOUMA~ YOU NEED TO STOP CHASING YOUR BROTHER LIKE THIS *breaks down in tears* I JUST WANTED FOR US TO LIVE TOGETHER IN HAPPINESS, WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS and go on and on and on and on and, yeah. She's pretty awesome by the way, because of that. o/ You also meet "Mr. Brown," his name for the owner of the CRT TV store below (also his landlord). Seventh is "Rukako," a girlish boy who works at the Yanagibayashi shrine, whom calls him "Master Kyouma" and apparently he teaches him swordsmanship or something. It's a bit weird, but anyways this kid looks like a girl, acts like a girl, talks like a girl, but isn't a girl.
I guess the final introduction is "John Titer." Here, he is explained as having come from the year 2035 in search of a relic of a computer. He had never shown up in 2000, as this is his first-ever jump.
The climax of the chapter is when he sticks a banana into the Phone Microwave (Temporary) and reverses the spin. See, at the beginning of the chapter he does this, and the banana is like, jelly-fied. Mysterious. But he chalks it up to cellular deconstruction and tries again.
Only to have this happen:
Where did you go!? Bannaaaaaaaaana! Bannaaaaaaaaaaaanaaaaaaa!
Flustered, agitated, and wondering if Daru had fucked with the experiment to spite him, he reaches for the pack of bananas...
Flabbergasted at the Mystery of the Banana that Disappears from the Microwave and Reappears on the Banana Clump, the two of them (Daru and Okabe) repeat the experiment, with the same result every time. He wonders if it's teleportation. They take a break to try to recoup, and while they're relaxing, he notices Daru looking at the LHC from CERN (SERN in this VN though >_> hahah). After receiving an explanation about the LHC and such (Daru's a technology maniac) he has a flash of inspiration. Wouldn't SERN know something about what's going on? So he gets Daru to hack into SERN. When Daru succeeds, and actually starts pulling out files, you realize that this dude is actually worth his moniker as a "super-hacker." After finding out that SERN had actually created the LHC in around 2000 (despite officially announcing it in 2009), they further dig in and find out that what John Titer was posting in 2ch (@ch here) was true: SERN already had a working black hole, they were just hiding it from the public. During the hacking (given that he has nothing to do, 'cuz he blows at computers) Okabe's just been killing ~two days browsing @chan (lol) and had gotten into enough debate with John Titer to have earned his trust - they actually converse via private texting. During one of his breaks he runs into Makise Kurisu, who wanted to meet him after their contentious meeting at her seminar, and had tracked down his not-exactly-much-of-a-secret hideout. During one of his breaks he also runs into Amane Suzuha, a girl who'd been recently hired as a part-time assistant for the CRT TV store. He dubs her "Part-time Warrior" because she insinuates a lot of tough survival training.
Eventually, he prods Daru into delving so far into the SERN server that they come across a database that seems broken. It's unintelligible, and nothing Daru does makes it work.
I SMELL A CONSPIRACY
exclaims Okabe and then after breaking out in a cold sweat
I AM THE MAD SCIENTIST HOUOUIN KYOUMA! I FEAR NOTHING! ONWARD, MY MEN, TOWARD THE RAGNAROK
Are you thinking what he's thinking?
With a grin, he roars with laughter, takes a screenshot of the unintelligible database, and sends it to John Titer. Who responds with astonishment at seeing the screencap, and explains that it, indeed, requires the IBN5100 to decipher. What follows is a bit of a wild goosechase as Okabe tries to track down (futilely) the legendary IBN5100, before ending up at Feiris' maid cafe, because apparently her father was a huge retro-PC maniac. Eventually (after much verbal combat) Feiris explains that she'd shipped the IBN5100 to the Yanagibayashi Shrine for safekeeping. He sprints to the Shrine, asks for the IBN5100, and it is delivered into his hands. With the help of a not-exactly-willing Kurisu, he drags that big monster into the lab, whereupon they try to repeat the banana experiments (Kurisu had caught wind of the time machine because they have very loose lips). He also realizes that the time machine only works from ~8am to 6pm.
Regardless, that night, the three of them (Daru, Kurisu, and he) resume hacking into and peering through the SERN database. They finally come across the Jellyman's report. A series of documents written in 2004 detailing the discovery of "jellymen": people whom were sent elsewhere in time, and were discovered (mostly through good? luck) as jelly-fied people in walls, stuck to trees, etc. These people crop up anywhere from the early 1900s to more recent times. And so comes to pass the realization the SERN had long ago figured out how to make time travel work, they just couldn't make it work perfectly, in that the people they sent out would always come up dead, and in random locations throughout the world. Also disconcerting was that they'd performed 100 or so such human tests and only 14 were discovered - the rest may have been tossed out into space, given the speed of planet movements. There is also insinuation of the "300 man committee," and the whole secrecy of this makes them all realize that there are unkind forces about. Now that they, too, have made a time machine, one that works significantly better (as they can target texts by hours), Okabe feels like they're like fish in a barrel. Daru insists he's not being tracked, but he doesn't know how much to believe it.
The mad scientist's curiosity goes to the next step. Now that he can reliably send something backwards, he wants to start changing time. And so his plan is to send text messages back in time. Butterfly Effect etc. be damned he wants to know how this machine and how this world works. Unfortunately while he's doing this, Kiryuu Moeka shows up, wanting to see the IBN5100, and he hesitantly allows her in, only to have Daru and Mayu careless spill the beans about the time machine. Not having any other means of shutting her up, he designates Moeka LabMember05 (04 being Kurisu). He then explains how he wants to test the limits of changing the past by sending winning lottery ticket numbers back in time. Chickening out from #1, he goes for #3, a "more manageable" 90,000.
However, when he sends it, the world quakes and bends, and he is left, standing there in the laboratory. History changed; he just doesn't know what exactly. But he is not rich. Eventually Ruka enters the lab, tearfully explaining that he messed up the Loto6 numbers; the text message had arrived in two and he mis-read the thing, so they didn't win. But what Okabe realizes is that the message size can only go up to 18bits per message, probably due to the size of the machine. Anything else and the transmission is "jelly-fied," or broken up in the case of their text messages. He finds it a bit disconcerting that people teleported around him when he changed the past, and that things happened that they don't remember but he does. So he contacts John Titer, who doesn't actually remember the texts from chapter 2, but explains to Okabe that he was experiencing divergence between different time worlds, and that it was odd and amazing that Okabe was able to retain memories in between worlds (apparently you're not supposed to be able to). After some explanation about the 2035 understanding of the world, he suddenly realizes that John Titer was beginning to sound like some religious freak, given that he was imploring Okabe to "become a messiah." Disgusted, he resists the urge to smash the cellphone.
The chapter starts off with a round-table meeting (trying to act like King Arthur lol) detailing the Lotto6 mail and how it ended in a failure with regards to changing history, and then they want to move into doing more experiments. Problem is, Mayuri is too stupid to thing of anything, and Kurisu refuses to perform such an experiment. That leaves Daru, who would like to change the past wherein he lost to Feiris in a Lightning Battle (cross between Yugioh and Shogi as far as I could tell lol, never really explained) match with hand-made cooking on the line. Daru tries sending himself Feiris' battleplan. Nothing changes. This repeats about three times; nothing Daru can do will change the fact that Feiris is like a billion times better than him, and Okabe seriously regrets even trying this "idiocy."
Eventually he comes across Moeka, who willingly goes along with changing the past. She wants to revert her cell phone; apparently two weeks ago she'd changed to a newer machine but she didn't like it, but it was too late now especially given that the new machine was high-demand. Happy to just have an experimental subject, this happens.
Again, the world contorts, numbers appear, and when he finds himself standing again, Moeka is nowhere to be seen. Heart racing in fear (did he exterminate her from the world? why was he being so reckless with time travel!) he desperately contacts her, and gets a response. He calms down.
He moves onto his next target: Ruka. After some conversation, he lets on that he actually wants to be a girl, and that maybe if he were a girl he'd have more confidence regarding his looks etc. Going off a hunkydory "if you eat meat during pregnancy you'll have a boy, if you eat vegitables during pregnancy you'll have a girl" myth they send a message to her pokebell some 15 years ago.
The world contorts, numbers appears, and when he finds himself standing in the lab, nothing seems to have changed. But unlike Daru's mails, the world DID contort, so he knows something changes.
Then when he gets back from doing laundry he remembers wanting to crack the database using the IBN5100. Only, to his horror, he realizes it doesn't exist! In this "world" he never FOUND the IBN5100! He begins seriously ruminating the effects of changing history.
Curiosity wins over again, though: re-tracing his tracks to the IBN5100, he arrives at Feiris, who realizes he has a working time machine, and implores him to let her change the past, and then she'll tell him where the IBN5100. You obviously see he's being jacked but he's so overwhelmed by Feiris' personality that he backs into it, without even seeing the content of the mail she's sending back in time! So they do a "blood pact," she ends up being LabMember07, and off goes the mail.
The world contorts, numbers appear, and he finds himself standing in Feiris' room (he'd sent the mail from her room; Kurisu had turned on the machine in the lab). He can't figure out what's wrong except that Feiris, Mayuri, and Daru are all playing Lightning Battle, and catches wind of them remarking that she'd won the championship last year. "Wait that's not right," he thinks, because Feiris was supposed to be too busy with her maid cafe to actually participate in tournaments...
... and then when they're returning back to their lab, it hits him. Akiba in its entirety had changed. It was a standard business town, no otaku stuff could be seen, and in fact it seemed like otaku stuff was disdained here. The electronic town was actually in Nakano. Feiris had never built the maid cafe store, and she was living with her father (instead of a butler).
... but he can't for the life of him figure out how the hell this happened.
No matter, what happened happened. But then he's sent a text from a mysterious address patghqskim@ninwsixpbb
and attached is a picture of red jell-o.
Scared out of his mind he retreats home.
Later on he becomes a bit closer to Amane Suzuha, the part-timer from below. He realizes there's something up with her, but he can't figure out what exactly, and she's not really letting anything on. However she does let slip during a break that she was here looking for her father, and that this would be her one and only chance to see him. She doesn't know his name, how he looks, or anything. She says she just has one clue. And that one clue would take place tonight, and if she failed finding her father, that was it, she was leaving. Comforting her and touched by how she mentioned that she appreciated being counted as one of them for a short week, and that it was the first time she was able to feel comfortable around other people, she tells her, "if you succeed, come back to the lab tonight and we'll have a feast." Wiping away tears, she replies, sure, why not.
Some of the things you find out about Amane is that she "knows the truth about Kurisu" and always hates on her, but admits it's their first time meeting. She also claims "John Titer' on @chan is fake, and that the real John Titer went by the name "Barrel Titer."
Regardless, worried for the person he'd come to dub LabMember 7, he tries to follow her, but Kurisu stone-walls him. They run into Daru, who was trying to go to a Time Machine Offline Meeting, whom he tricks into going back to the lab, and then they wait. Heavy rain falls, and it makes them extremely anxious. They keep waiting. And finally, he's given the mail, "Farewell.
Chapter 5: Dogma of the Boundary Between Time and Space (* here's where things start REALLY happening; beware, everything up to this point might as well be a prologue, this chapter is your last chance to turn back from massive spoilerage) + Show Spoiler +
Stunned, he runs out, trying to track her down, and he finds her, but loses her in the Akiba crowd.
Unwilling to let things end like this, he changes time. "Don't let the bitch Kurisu stop you. STALK AMANE AT ALL COSTS."
The world contorts; when he returns to, Amane thanks him for the fun banquet.
Afterwards, he, Kurisu, and Daru ponder about how the time machine works. Daru realizes that for some reason their building has a direct route to the SERN computers. How the f- and it's always been there. They deduce this means while SERN can track them at will, they have free access to the LCH! Kurisu then points out that her thesis that was published in Science was about turning human memory into data; using the LCH they can compact that data into a few bites, and send that backwards in time! Calling this "time leap," she quickly gets to work putting her thoughts into action. This is around the first time Okabe really begins to recognize how much of a genius she really is.
While he's out buying parts for Kurisu, he runs into Moeka, who persistently asks him if the time machine still works. Told yes, she starts laughing, and wanders off. He, of course, is relieved just to see her alive and well, after that "holy shit I made Moeka disappear" episode. During one late-night work session Okabe catches Kurisu reading @chan and finally confronts her on what the reader (and him) already figured - Kurisu is a closet @channeler spewing internet memes at will. She just tries (and fails) desperately to hide it.
Incidentally the calender is creeping toward Comic Market. Mayuri begins working all-nighters to finish cosplay costumes, and so she and Kurisu decide to sleep in at the laboratory together, since they're both pulling an all-nighter anyways. Okabe is kicked out, forced to go home "since it's close anyways." As he walks home, he's sent yet another mail from patghqskm@ninesixpbb
"You know too much"
And attached is a file of a doll's head with red liquid under it
He again breaks out in cold sweat, but realizes there's nothing he can do about it. Daru insists (upon conversing) that his hacking is absolutely clean, and there's no other reason he can think of for them to be suspected (aside from the terrible sound-proof walls that make everyone in the neighborhood hear them).
The next day, at roughly 2pm in the afternoon, Kurisu completes the Time Leap Machine. ~30 minutes later Okabe realizes that one of the key components of the time machine was the 42" CRT TV downstairs, which was powering (via proximity and power output) the microwave to act as a black hole. Kurisu realizes the power output couldn't be too much or too low; this was just unbelievable fortune.
Okabe decides to not use the time leap machine, though, which works in such a way that you attach a piece of headgear to you, which pulls the data, plugs it into a computer, compresses it using the LHC, and sends it back as a mail attachment, which automatically opens if the recipient places the phone to their ear, and then "copy/pastes" the memory from the future into the past. There are lots of dangers here, for instance, no one knows if people can withstand having a full lifetime of memories infused into them in a matter of moments. No one knows what happens if the WRONG person picks up the phone. etc. etc. They all agree, and agree to just publicize their findings; research on this would take too much time, came with too much risks, and just wasn't worth the risk anymore for them. With all in agreement, they decide to have one final banquet in celebration.
At roughly 5:30pm, the TV announces that a bomb threat shut down all the Akiba rail lines.
At roughly 6pm, 5 foreign-looking men burst into the room toting assault rifles. Kiryuu Moeka leads the assault. She wants Daru, Okabe, and Kurisu; the rest are unnecessary. To make Okabe comply, she shoots Mayuri. Amane Suzuha bursts in and buys time for Okabe, who realizes what Suzuha's telling him to do. He scurries into the lab, and begins time leaping. He hears shouts and screams as everyone is gunned down one at a time. He's shot in the leg. And then he jumps, amidst rage and fury at Kiryuu Moeka for her betrayal.
I'm going to brush through this really quickly (you'll see why) but It is now 8/13, roughly 5pm. Wondering if "his memories" of 8/13 are true, he stands pat. It's all a dream. It's all a dream. At roughly 5:30pm, the TV announces that a bomb threat shut down all the Akiba rail lines. At roughly 6pm, 5 foreign-looking men burst into the room toting assault rifles. Kiryuu Moeka leads the assault. She wants Daru, Okabe, and Kurisu; the rest are unnecessary. To make Okabe comply, she shoots Mayuri. Suzuha bursts into the room. Okabe dashes into the lab, furious at himself and the world, lashes out at Kurisu to let him jump, and jumps.
It is now 8/13, roughly 5pm. With only 30 minutes left, he desperately tries to find Mayuri. He finds her at 5:45ish. They try to flee via rail, only to find that it's shut down because of the threats. Cursing himself for his shortsightedness, he finds themselves surrounded by men in black. They flee, for what it seems is an eternity, and then a car comes careening in, hitting and killing Mayuri. Kiryuu steps out, explaining that Akiba is filled with "her men." Pulling a fast one, he escapes, returns to the lab, and jumps.
It is now 8/13, roughly 5pm. They try to flee via taxi. Traffic is congested. A man in black opens the door and stabs Mayuri in the heart. He flees to his lab and jumps.
It is now 8/13, roughly 4pm. Armed with the knowledge of Mayuri's whereabouts, he tries to fleet via rail, early. She's accidentally pushed into an oncoming train and killed.
And so on and so forth. He repeats this many times, and Mayuri begins dying in very bizarre ways completely unrelated to SERN. Eventually he breaks down in despair, and Kurisu finds him, and he reveals what's going on to her. Who then tells him to jump back an additional 5 hours, and repeat everything he said to Kurisu just as she finishes the time leap machine. That'll give them more time to think.
He does so, and what he realizes is that by jumping back to around 2pm and talking to Kurisu about what's going on, they're overheard by Amane Suzuha, who jumps on her mountain bike and takes off. He doesn't know where she goes, but he has a hunch. He finds her, sitting in the wrecked satellite on the conference building. Her hands are bloodied after she'd spent hours desperately trying to make it work. Tearfully, she turns around.
"It broke, it's all my fault, I'm sorry."
I'm not sure if my summary did the clues enough justice - probably not. There're lots of subtle hints I forgot to mention that I can't remember the timing of just via a walkthrough Sorry, I tried. She reveals that she is the John Titer of @chan, the very one that implored Okabe to become a messiah. She explains that in 2035 the world had become a dystopia due to SERN's uncontrollable time travel power, and that she was part of a resistance going back in time to try to change this. Her mission was to return to 1975 to find the IBN5100 and deliver it to Okabe, but her time machine had been wrecked by heavy rain. In this timeline, because she is unable to return to 1975 to deliver the IBN5100, Okabe never finds it (hence why it's missing), and she also wonders if it's the reason why SERN is there at their doorstep. She must have raised suspicious flags. She explains in more detail the workings of the world (how the world is like a string of yarn, with lots and lots of threads intertwining, and how changing small things would only affect things by saying 0.00000000000001% but big things would cause giant divergences, one being 1975 (IBN), one being 2000 (y2k bug) and one being 2010 (Okabe Rintarou creates a functional time machine). The string they were on demanded Mayuri's death around the 13th, but if he could change their area of divergence, he could eventually end up at over 1% divergence from the original world, and maybe in that world Mayuri wouldn't die. Either way, she NEEDS to get back to 1975, but the time machine is broken, and they have no means to do so.
The reason for the IBN?
Because it cracks the database.
Why do they need it?
Because SERN had been tracking them from the start - remember his original letter-that-traveled-time, the one about Kurisu's death? SERN had a computer logging all transmissions, and that one would be flagged. But they could find no trace of such a letter in their database because... it was stored on the IBN. So they need the IBN to crack the database and delete the letter, restoring time.
So Okabe leaps back two days. And then he explains everything to Suzuha and Kurisu and Daru, all of whom understand; Daru gets to work immediately on fixing the time machine. Two long days pass; finally, the time leap and time machine are both completed. Suzuha thanks him for the precious 10 days, in which she was able to taste the sort of carefree, adolescent life she never could experience in 2035. Okabe also apologizes for not being able to find her father.
But on the night of the departure, one of Okabe's leads turns up a hit; someone had come asking to create the very medallion Suzuha had as a memento of her missing father!
He time leaps back a few hours, and waits. And finds... Daru! Who admits he was just trying to make a fake to make her happy, and reveals that Suzuha had told him that her time machine was incomplete - it couldn't jump forward, only backward. Suddenly farewell took new meaning.
He's forced to stand through the same "thanks for the 10 days" speech but can say nothing new in return. She reassures him that even if she goes back, and can't see them again, she would enjoy life in 1975, because it's better than 2035 anyways. And then Mayuri actually pipes up, saying she found Suzuha's father. It's Daru! The name of the time machine (something like FG202 VERSION 2.35) was totally with Daru's crap, Okabe had already been assassinated by 2035 and Kurisu was hailed as the goddess of time travel (though she was dead) as well as a high-ranking (though dead) member of SERN, but no one knew the whereabouts of Daru, which is odd given that he's the third of the triumvirate. Also, she was going to the Time Machine Offline Meeting to see her father, because her father had talked about it - that's where Daru was going, too! And her father knew itty bitty details about the past, hence being able to formulate the strategy of finding the IBN - who other than Daru would know enough about the origin of the time machine to be able to do that?
Eventually, holding back tears, they all bid farewell, and Suzuha jumps into 1975.
They return home. According to their final promise, on the eve of the assault, they would get a letter from Suzuha detailing where the IBN is.
But it doesn't arrive, or rather, they get a letter, written in trembling handwriting.
I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I failed I failed I failed I failed I failed I failed I failed I failed I failed I failed I failed I failed What went wrong? I got back to 1975, but I lost my memories, until a year ago. And then I remembered everything but it was too late. The IBN5100 is gone. I failed I failed I failed I failed I failed I failed I failed I failed I failed I failed I failed I failed I failed My life is worthless I should never have remembered this I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry It must have been the rain I had to go then But you stopped me You had to let me go I hate you But I hate myself more For letting all of this happen I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry
Apparently, she hung herself soon after.
Stunned, Okabe staggers, thinks, and realizes that the only way to fix this is to un-do his experiment with Suzuha - he needs to tell himself to not look for Suzuha. Doing this would "undo" everything from the 10th onward, changing time. However, this would also purge the time Suzuha had spent with them - time that she tearfully thanked him for. And then for the first time he realizes how heavy the burden of sin is for a time traveler, and is forced to sacrifice Suzuha's time to right the world.
Interestingly enough, Suzuha, who returned to going by Hashida Suzu in 1975, would live a stoic, lonesome life, and when a French/Japanese man returned upon hearing about the death of his parents, and that man lost his house in a fire, was given space in her house. "Just keep sharing generosity," she told him, and he took that to heart. That man is none other than Mr. Brown, the CRT man, who was helped immensely by Suzu, ended up creating the CRT store, would "share generosity" with Okabe, and eventually hired a younger Suzu to work part-time.
When the world finishes shifting, he finds the TV airing announcers talking about the satellite's sudden disappearance. Suzuha, before that rainy night, had managed to take off. The night of 8/13 passes and nothing happens.
Relieved, he settles down.
Only for, on 8/14... to have everything happen again.
His spirit in shambles after seeing Mayuri shot in the head yet again, he barely escapes in time (even without the help of the now-gone Amane Suzuha) to leap himself back. And then he, again, explains everything to Kurisu to get help. They IBN5100 still didn't show up - this time it was never given to Yanagibayashi Shrine. They need to backtrack and cancel Feiris' time manipulation... but he doesn't even know what changed.
He confronts her, and after some boring events, he finds out that what Feiris changed was her father's death. See, at that point her father was very busy with setting up the city (her real name is Akiha Rumiho... Akiha... Akihabara, yeah), and as a little kid she was insecure, so she ended up pouting for him - he gets on plane - plane goes down - he dies. So what she did was tell herself in the past that she's fine, and that her daddy loves her, and so history changed; her father didn't die, she was never tasked with building Akihabara, and it never warped to her tastes and become an electronic town. Okabe realizes that in order to "save Mayuri," to change time, he would have to order the death of Feiris' dad (basically). Again, carrying the burden of shattering another person's dreams and happiness, he reverts time.
Which unfortunately didn't move the IBN back to you. The IBN was handed from Suzuha (now Hashida Suzu) to Feiris' dad (a retro PC lover), who then handed it to the Yanagibayashi Shrine. But it's gone. And Ruka obviously knows something about it, but she's staying silent.
So it turns out that Ruka DID turn into a girl, you just could never tell 'cause she looked the same as she did as a guy. And unfortunately this is yet another dream Okabe's going to have to walk all over to get where he wants.
Sorry to mix a bit of review into this but this chapter was batshit hilarious but pointless. It really could have been removed from the novel and it would have worked just fine, but... whatever. I guess the writers can have some fun too So most of this is going to be me pointing out some funny moments.
So at first, he goes straight to Ruka, telling her that she's actually a guy (lol, nice tact) and that he needs her to go back to being a guy so that Mayu wouldn't die. L M A O she cries and runs away. He returns to the lab, and speaks to Kurisu.
K: Sounds like you got a Flag O: ... Flag? Like Death Flag? K: No doofus a Romance Flag O: WHAT
(remember, Okabe still thinks of Ruka as a guy, but Kurisu has only known Ruka as a girl)
But anyways he has no better strategy to deal with this so he goes see Ruka again, who then promptly confesses her love for him. His reaction?
"Give me 2, no 5 minutes!" *dashes 10 minutes to his lab* "In other words, microwaves inherited the will of the Rose Cross Knights and were created using their alchemy and so their DING! sound is actually a brainwashing switch and so there's no actual reason to for their to be a DING!.... I, I call for a strategic withdrawal When should I jump to? Somewhere far Yes Somewhat Very, very far"
*jumps 4 days into the past, to the 11th, maximum distance*
And then he enlists the help of Kurisu, who goes to Ruka and this is her fabulous solution to the problem:
"Did you know that the brains of boys and girls differ? Boys tend to work their right brains more. Girls work their left brains more. Incidentally, right brains have things like visualization, spatial thinking, and overall thinking. Left brains get used for things like language, and calculation. Oh, right, right brains and left brains are connected by a corpus callosum, and in girls' cases this is quite active. You know, don't you hear? Girls can multitask quite well. Some people say that's because the corpus callosum is at work. Of course, all of this is more in the area of imaginary science, so there's not a whole lot of trustworthiness behind it. So, would you mind if I test you? Whether your brain displays patterns of a girl or a boy, I want to try mapping it. Brainwave mapping. I'm just going to take a sample of your brainwaves. As long as I can study it, we'll know. Right? Right? It won't hurt. Here, don't worry. I promise, okay...?"
Anyways he ends up going out with her, for FOUR days as opposed to TWO because he jumped backward the maximum distance. GENIUS.
Anyways after a bunch of dating and stuff, he ends up successfully getting the pokebell number from Ruka, and he gets to watch and hear her sobbing as he dials up the number to the time machine. By the way, what happened is that, as a guy, Ruka was cleaning the warehouse, and accidentally broke the IBN5100. GG.
There's only one mail left - Kiryuu Moeka. Yes, the one that shoots and kills Mayuri like a billion times. LabMember05. He tracks her down using her falsified ID, which leads him to a place she "worked at" for 2 days. Then to her apartment. Which... to his horror, is sealed off by the police, whom are investigating a suicide. Oh shit.
When he returns to his lab he finds someone using the time leap machine, but is unable to find out who (do to divergence) nor what for. He immediately time leaps because there's nothing he can do about it.
He confronts Moeka at her apartment... or rather comes across Moeka who's huddled up in a corner staring at her cellphone mumbling FB no reply FB no reply FB no reply; it's apparently she's cried herself out and she hasn't slept in days. Given that you know in 4 days she'll kill herself + she keeps killing Mayuri you don't really care. Anyways, what you need is her cell phone, to un-do her message from before. Eventually you have a phone call with Kurisu in which she states you should grab the phone even if you have to kill to do it, especially as you can time leap anyways. Okabe basically tries strangling Moeka, but fails, grabs the cell phone, runs out, closes the door behind him, and frantically tries sending un-do mails back. "Don't not change phones, it'll run out too soon," etc. but nothing works. And he's running out of time because The Zombie Moeka is trying to ram down her door with a table (LOL). He then realizes he's been tricked; she types so fast that before she sent the mail she'd prolly re-written the thing with something else. But he doesn't see it in the memory because that's just how these mails work.
So he ends up in a fight for his life, eventually pinning her down and having a war of wills. She relies too much on her cellphone though, and eventually breaks down mentally because her phone's been taken away. It becomes apparent than an "FB" commands a group of "rounders," a bunch of mercenaries hired by SERN to track down and retrieve IBN5100s. But after telling FB the whereabout of the Yanagibayashi IBN (which was stolen in this time world) she stopped speaking to Moeka... essentially a dumping of a used tool. In denial, she sat there waiting for a reply, but she would never get it, and would commit suicide days later. This is hint enough for Okabe, who figures out what coin locker the IBN was stored in, and decides to watch over it (as it hasn't been retrieved yet) for the retriever. Tracking this chain of retrievals leads him to
none other than Mr. Brown.
They confront him, he pulls out a gun, and flabbergasted, Okabe reveals the truth about Amane Suzuha = Hashida Suzu, which Mr. Brown quickly comprehends, then laments about "how things came about this way," remarks how he couldn't do anything else with his daughter being threatened, quips about how all rounders are eliminated upon finding an IBN (which means he and Moeka would be eliminated anyways), and shoots himself in the head. Moeka would later die to his daughter, who spurred by this moment vowed revenge, and 15 years later hunted down, imprisoned, and tortured to death a 33yo Okabe Rintarou and then used the time leap machine some 5000 times to return to this day, when Moeka (by way of the world time string theory) was fated to die, just so she could stab Moeka to death with her own hands. Unfortunately(?) Okabe isn't destined to die yet, so she doesn't bother trying, just saying that she'll get to kill him in 15 years so he should tremble in fear until then.
'course, none of that really matters. He realizes the monster he's created (time machine -> little girl turns into a vengeful machine) and tries to shoulder the weight of having ruined everyone's lives. He sends a phone from Mr. Brown's text to himself, telling "himself" to suspend looking for the IBN.
The world shifts. He's back in what amounts to the original timeline as the game started. The IBN is back in his lab, as he'd left it after he found it at the shrine and dragged it back with Kurisu. He then explains to Kurisu and Daru how THE TIME OF RAGNAROK HAS COME. THIS HOLY WAR WILL COME TO AN END. And talks about how they need to use the IBN to find the original mail, delete it, and revert time to the point wh-....
This chapter is pretty straight-forward. He mourns over the decision he must make; in order to save Mayuri, he needs to get out of this time-world. However, in that other time-world, Kurisu dies, stabbed during that conference. He struggles with the decision, even watching Mayuri die once in an effort to see if "enough has changed," but can't bring himself to "kill" one of them. Mayuri, who'e essentially his little sister, or Kurisu, who he's basically fallen for over the course of this hectic ordeal - she's the one he kept turning to for help after all. Not even Daru.
On the rooftop of the now-missing satellite, Kurisu tells him to choose Mayuri - it's not worth it, after all the people he's had to sacrifice, to choose her over Mayuri, to betray Suzuha's wish and to let the dystopia happen. And, after all, going from one world to another only looks that way in HIS perspective; in HER perspective a world without her would never exist anyways. He doesn't buy it. She probably doesn't really either.
He eventually retreats to a time loop, trying dozens of times to save them both. And then, tired, he sits dejected at his chair next to the machine.
K: Time-leaping is an escape O: All this time... waving around "To save Mayuri" banner... I've been hurting so many people O: But even that feeling of sin, is becoming dulled... O: I'm losing it, the feeling of being human... K: Then, why are you running away now? O: Maybe, maybe I wasn't using this machine... maybe it was just swinging me around...
Helpless, he tearfully apologizes to Kurisu for being unable to save her.
The next morning, she departs for America, and he presses the Enter key for the mail history deletion via the IBN5100.
The world shifts.
He's now back in the true original world, back over 1% divergence from Suzuha's world. Days pass. Mayuri lives. Vowing to not repeat the same mistake, he begins dismantling and throwing away the Phone Microwave (Temporary). And being the only Lab Member to remember Kurisu, he vows to live with her memory for ever.
During the credits, the phone rings. Daru picks up. "Hello? What? My daughter? What are you talking about?"
"Can you change to Okabe Rintarou?"
It's a year after chapter 10. And it is Hashida Suzu, from the year 2035. She wants to meet him on the roof.
This time she appears in a pristine, crisp time machine, placed perfectly on the roof. Her hair is braided, she's wearing a military uniform, and she looks a lot "colder" than before. "This future ends in World War 3," she imparts. "Only one billion people have survived so far. I need your help in changing the future."
Okabe is filled with rage.
"I REFUSE. YOU told me I needed to get here! I sacrificed the woman I love to get here, so that the world would end in peace! I'm DONE! FUCK THE WORLD."
But after a bit, she explains that she's just following the plan set up by "Uncle Okarin" (who died in 2025 ) and "Daddy Daru." And that they were trying to get to Stein's Gate, a temporal plane in between alpha and beta, where the future was still uncertain. And to do this, Makise Kurisu needs to not die. Also, there's something up with Dr. Nakabachi that triggers WW3.
Feeling the spirit of the challenge, Okabe steps up to the plate, goes back in time to the prologue, and hides where Kurisu was stabbed. It turns out that Dr. Nakabachi is Kurisu's dad. And he steals Kurisu's new thesis... and ends up stabbing her. Or that's what was supposed to happen. Instead, Okabe manages to disarm Dr. Nakabachi, but instead of stabbing the dad, Kurisu shields her dad and dies instead; the dad escapes with the thesis. Overcome with anguish over killing his beloved, he's dragged back into the time machine, and returns to 2010.
He gets mail, from 2025. It's himself. He's telling him to look at the TV.
On the news is a story about Dr. Nakabachi, who defected to Russia, carrying a time travel thesis that survived in a rare-edition metal mascot that Mayuri had actually hit jackpot on at the beginning of the prologue.
And then the first mail in your cell phone - this was in your cell phone from the start, but you quickly forget about it cuz it does nothing and is empty and you get like 200 mails over the course of the game. You can view it now. It's a video from yourself, in 2025. By 2025 he's figured out how to send larger transmissions, more than the mere 18bits you could. And he's explaining that you had to fail once at saving Kurisu in order for a temporal paradox to not happen. Because you failed once, Okabe 2025 would work feverishly for 15 years to create a plan to avoid that ending.
And then he challenges you, the Psychotic Mad Scientist, to dupe the world, because the only thing the world had set in stone was that "Okabe Rintarou saw a Makise Kurisu laying in a pool of blood" and "Dr. Nakabachi's thesis was burned."
With the obnoxious laugh you haven't heard since like chapter 4, Okabe swings into action.
And then he goes back in time.
Pops the gachapon once to take the metal mascot - Mayuri now lands a plastic one, which wouldn't save the thesis from the fire.
Then the showdown.
Where Dr. Nakabachi tries to stab Kurisu.
Okabe goads him into getting stabbed instead. Then he tasers Kurisu, and then glops blood all over her (lol). Dr. Nakabachi thinks they're both going to die because Okabe's acted like he was after both father and daughter, and runs off cackling.
And Suzu drags the severely wounded Okabe into the time machine, thanks him because if time DID change she would be extinguished, smiled, and then vanished (time paradox).
EPILOGUE: After a month of being hospitalized, Okabe leaves. During his stay he had a medallion created, in the form of the one an Amane Suzuha had once shown them, and gave it to each member of the lab, even though most of them don't have any clue why they're being given the medallion. In the end, he has two; his own, and one for Kurisu, who's gone back to America because she no longer as a need to stay (she overstayed before because of the time machine).
But then one day as he's walking, he walks past Kurisu, who turns toward him and tearfully says she's been looking for him all this time, to thank him for saving her life.
"No worries, Christinia, it was just what Stein's Gate decided." "That's not my name... nor am I an assistant!"
*they both pause*
"Why did I say that?" "... It's what Stein's Gate decided," he says, as he hands her LabMember04's medallion.
Review If I were to scale from 1-100 I'd probably give this a 95-98, purely on a "how satisfied were you, how happy were you reading it, how much did it pull you in and keep you, and how much would you recommend it to others" sort of scale. I loved it. It had a lot of subtleties that I unfortunately can't really bring out in a review, but there were a lot of oh SHIT moments and a lot of twists.
I had a few serious issues with the story though. As I mentioned in the summary, I felt like the shenanigans with + Show Spoiler +
Ruka and Feiris
were pointless. Take them both out and you still have the same flow. + Show Spoiler +
What you lose obviously is his stomping all over peoples' happiness, but that's a concept I have an issue with because that happiness didn't exist in the first place anyways. You know, the grass is always greener on the neighboring pasture. It's why it was interesting in Feiris' chapter when things started going downhill for Feiris, but that didn't really happen for anyone else (except I guess Moeka, who was destined to die every time because of the time world string theory.
The concept of "duping the world" sounds nice but really isn't logical if you actually think about it. Who said those two points have to be the only confirmed things? It's just a case of perspective!
I guess that doesn't detract enough from the whole thing to make me mark it down significantly though. It's definitely one of the best VN reads I've come across in several years when it comes to this sort of genre - Baldr Sky and Ever17 are the two main ones that come to mind that touched on this sort of subject and did really well.
Voicing was done well, as is usual in a Japanese production, especially in a high-budget production like this, but I felt like Miyano Mamoru took the pie, cake, and the world. Holy crap he was good. It takes tremendous effort to switch from psycho mode to feeble mode to serious mode to "I just wanna die" mode and so on and so forth. The extreme variety of voicing he displayed awed me.
The characters kind of went the same way. I felt like most of them were solid, but so much of the story rode on Okabe's shoulders that he shouldered most of the legwork, and he did a phenomenal job. If you take a step back, most of this story is like a human drama involving mostly him. A lot of the actions end up only affecting him, his personality, and his psyche after all. It's a testament to the writers that they were able to make a protagonist stand up almost entirely solo for such a whopping amount of text and keep it up from start to finish.
Production value was very nice - there was obviously a lot of effort put into the writing. From all the internet memes (can hardly think of any that were NOT used - this thing has a in-game dictionary for science/memes/etc. that has like 100 pages worth of text lol) to incorporation of urban legends and contemporary happenings, I felt extremely immersed in the world. Because it was our world. Unfortunately this is going to be something that is hell on wheels for translators to deal with, because all those Japanese memes are NOT going to translate.
I think this is one of those VNs that you could show someone, and if they're willing to invest the time into it (given that it's like a super mega long book) will thoroughly enjoy... if they enjoy the genre of course. Privy to all the disclaimers applicable to any regular book
Total playtime for me was roughly 17 hours and 40 minutes, including all the "alt-tab to chat with Ecael" and going through all but one ending. I can kinda understand why Ecael said it's worth looking through them but I didn't really feel they added anything. Especially given that one of them actually had a better ending than the real ending, lol! Oh well. It's actually on the shorter side of things, I think. Full Metal Demon Muramasa took me well over 40 if I remember correctly, and Little Busters! even with skipping like 2-3 of the routes (I never read 'em) took me about 20. Could have been shorter without the two sections I felt were extraneous but oh well.
Hope people find it a good read o/ If anyone has comments etc. on the way I summarized it or whatnot let me know. Also if anyone wants me to summarize/review a VN let me know; if it's not something I dislike I can give it a shot and/or go back through it to summarize better.
El Psi Congloo
Last edit: 2010-12-25 11:20:54
Southlight United States. December 25 2010 07:51. Posts 9999
On December 26 2010 16:02 HeavOnEarth wrote: Is it on PC? i just see xbox. ;(
Steins;Gate (シュタインズ ゲート, Shutainzu Geeto?) is a Japanese visual novel developed by 5pb. and Nitroplus, and was released on October 15, 2009 for the Xbox 360. This is the two companies' second time collaborating together after Chaos;Head. A port to the Windows operating system on the PC is released on August 26, 2010.