Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu Review: The Disappearance of Rintarou Okabe and Kurisu’s Time Travel Endeavors
Steins;Gate is among my favorite anime, and as such, I was incredibly excited about the idea of a new movie installment, Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu. All the more so because it was not one of the great many recap films but rather a new story, a sequel to the TV anime. While I was worried about how such a thing could be done considering how well the TV series had concluded, I couldn’t help but anticipate the release of the movie, and I remember watching the trailer many times, excited about the great potential the movie had. The wait lasted many months, and eventually, come winter break (which now seems so long ago), the movie was subbed and I at last had the opportunity to watch the movie I had been so excited for. Ultimately, the movie proved to be a very worthwhile watch and a strong sequel to the series, and while it didn’t entirely live up to its full potential and could have added a bit more to contribute to the quality of the story as a whole, it was still an incredibly enjoyable experience and far from being a disappointing flop that drags down the rest of the series. It should be mentioned that it is necessary to watch the Steins;Gate TV anime and its special episode sequel to understand much of what takes place in this movie, and S;G in general is such a fantastic series that it should be watched regardless of this movie. While I don’t intend to give massive spoilers, it is almost impossible to describe the foundation of the movie’s story without alluding to the ending of the series and specific events leading up to it, so do keep that in mind if you plan to read the rest of my review (and if you haven’t already, go watch Steins;Gate since it’s such a fantastic story).
Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu takes place a year after the events of the TV anime. With Okabe’s success in reaching the Steins;Gate world line, the deaths of Kurisu and Mayuri have at last been avoided and peace seems to have been achieved. The lab members no longer have to worry about the dangers of time travel or the destruction of SERN thanks to Okabe’s efforts. Unfortunately, however, not all is as it seems. Okabe’s constant world line jumping with the Reading Steiner allows him to reach the one world line with a satisfactory ending, yet it is this ability that leads to Okabe’s ruin as he becomes an anomaly that should not exist. Having experienced many different world lines, Okabe’s experiences begin to blend together and his existence begins to fall apart as he vanishes from the world along with his friends’ memories of him. Kurisu, who experiences déjà vu and manages to piece together the memories she loses, is the only one who is capable of restoring Okabe’s place in the world and must jump into the realm of time travel that had plagued Okabe’s life not too long ago.
The Steins;Gate movie has an interesting premise, and while it lacks the level of content and development that are present in the well-constructed TV series, it still has quite a powerful story that holds up well in the S;G universe. There are many clear parallels to the TV series and it is an engaging watch seeing how Kurisu handles a situation quite similar to the one Okabe originally faced. The movie contains both the silly humor that the fans are familiar with and the suspenseful plot in which the protagonist (now Kurisu) must travel through time and fight all odds to save those close to her. If there is any big problem I have, however, it’s that the movie spends a great deal of time on introduction and buildup, and only a small portion of time dedicated to the culmination of the major plot. A good portion of the movie is spent on the more lighthearted moments as well as establishing the foundation for the main events of the story. While the basis for the story is clearly set, only the very last portion of the movie is truly focused on how Kurisu handles her situation. I feel that if the movie had perhaps 10 or 20 more minutes dedicated to presenting the main story, the plot could have been developed in a more satisfying way and the movie may have been closer to being a masterpiece in my eyes. In spite of this, however, the movie does provide a gripping story with very interesting food for thought and some worthwhile developments that contribute to the overall Steins;Gate experience.
The cast is the same fantastic bundle of characters we’ve come to know and love from the TV anime, though only a few of them get the spotlight in this movie. Kurisu is the main character of the movie, and her characterization is handled very well. As she comes to terms with her situation and makes her decision about how to respond to everything that happens, Kurisu develops beyond her established character in the TV anime, making her a fantastic character with even more depth. Kurisu’s character is truly humanized as she acknowledges her feelings for Okabe and accepts just how important her attachment to him is. Kurisu often presents herself as a strong and rational individual, and the movie gives much more focus to her emotional side and fleshes her out a great deal. Okabe’s screentime is limited for obvious reasons, though he has some moments to shine as well. Aside from his fabulous Hououin Kyouma behavior, Okabe shows his great concern for Kurisu as well as just how deeply his time travel efforts have affected him, strongly discouraging Kurisu from doing the same out of worry for how it would impact her mind, even if it means he must disappear. The other characters play a relatively minor role and only have a few lines for the most part, though this is understandable given both the nature of the movie’s plotline and the runtime limitations the movie already had.
The Steins;Gate movie is an addition that isn’t truly necessary for the series, as the TV anime ended on a strong note and did not truly need to be continued. In spite of that fact, however, I feel the Steins;Gate movie excels overall. Perhaps the strongest component of the movie is how it handles the characters of Kurisu and Okabe as well as the interactions they have. While the other characters have minimal screentime and don’t shine much beyond what they showed in the TV series, Kurisu and Okabe (especially Kurisu) benefit a great deal from the movie. The romance between Okabe and Kurisu is only given a few scenes in the TV anime (and some attention in the special episode as well), so it is quite refreshing to see it get more attention as there are some very nice interactions between the two in this movie. The connection between the two is strengthened tremendously by the events of the plot, and while I do feel that the movie creates a very decisive relationship between the two in comparison to the nature of what takes place, it is still a very powerful portrayal of how the two ultimately influence each other. One of my favorite aspects of the movie is self-sacrifice and how it pertains to the actions of Kurisu and Okabe. Kurisu and Okabe care deeply for each other after all of the ordeals from the TV anime, and the natural consequence of those events is the inevitability of sacrifice. Okabe decides it would be better to disappear to retain the security of the world line he fought for and to keep Kurisu safe, yet Kurisu cannot stand the hopeless stagnation of life without Okabe and is willing to risk herself and experience the same time travel suffering that Okabe did in order to save him. The movie also puts emphasis on the conflict between security and desire, and this is the main dilemma Kurisu faces when the plot truly begins to kick in. Kurisu is forced to decide either to accept the course of the world and Okabe’s wishes or to risk herself and fight to restore the world she wants with Okabe in it. This differs tremendously from the TV series, where the only truly secure option was the Steins;Gate world line and every other choice involved inevitable loss of some sort.
The Steins;Gate movie was a very enjoyable watch for me, and is a welcome addition for any Steins;Gate fans. While it is not as suspenseful, thrilling, or well-developed as the TV series, it does provide profound development for Kurisu and her relationship with Okabe as well as build on the nature of the S;G universe’s time travel mechanics. I do feel that a few adjustments to the storytelling and pacing would have done wonders for the movie overall, but it was still quite an enjoyable watch that contributed a good deal to the series overall. Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryouiki no Déjà vu ultimately earns a 9/10 from me. On a side note, one of these days I want to give the Steins;Gate visual novel a try since it’s the source material and has content not covered in the anime adaptations. I recognized the psycho Nae scene in the movie as one from the visual novel so I’m curious about that as well as other events I might not be aware of. It seems there are a great many visual novels I need to try out in the future so I do hope I can get the opportunity soon.