Apr 21, 2012

Nostalgia Drive – Steins;Gate review

Imagine you have created a time machine. Now, imagine this time machine can only send text messages to the past using your mobile phone. What would you text yourself besides the winning lottery numbers? How much do you think a single text message could change the future? That's what Steins;Gate is all about: a new take on time travel.

The story is very engaging, thrilling, hilarious, and dramatic. I strongly recommend it to all of you that like anime and a bit of crazy science fiction. I personally loved it.

In the future SERN is an evil organization that controls all time machines to bring about dystopia. SERN is a deliberate misspelling of the real CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). In the present, SERN has developed the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) in order to create mini-black holes and research time travel; they have succeed in creating the mini-black hole but they have failed to send any living creature through time. Houoin Kyouma, a self-proclaimed Japanese mad scientist has developed the Futuristic Gadget No. 8, also called the Phone Microwave, or in other words the very first successful time machine. He and his team hooked a mobile phone to a microwave oven and this somehow can send short text messages, in the form of e-mails, to the past. They called an e-mail sent to the past a d-mail (or Nostalgia Drive). After Kyouma and his friends have sent just a few d-mails, things are already out of control. When they succeed altering the past, their memories would automatically be altered to fit with those changes, thus forgetting their former reality. However, Kyouma was able to retain his memories even after the past was altered, that was his gift, 'the magic eye: Reading Steiner'... and the fact he had this power made him destined to save the world from dystopia, the choice of Steins Gate.

Later, they upgrade their time machine to a 'time leap machine'. With this upgraded machine Kyouma is able to send his memories of the present self to himself in the past using a cellphone. In the story, the problem with time traveling is that they can only send a few bits of information through time; that's why they are limited to sending short text messages. To overcome this problem, they first convert the memories of the person into a digital file and send those remotely to SERN's Large Hadron Collider. They then use a mini-black hole to compress the memories to just a few bites, return them to their computer and send them by phone to the person's brain in the past. The great advantage of this form of time travel is that only memories are transferred so no unintended alterations of the past are caused.

Things get complicated and tragic and no matter how much Kyouma tried to repair the past, it seems that—after all—certain things are meant to happen no matter what. In order to save his dear friends and the future from SERN's dystopia, they have to significantly alter the course of time and reach 'divergence 1%'.

The anime is actually based on a visual novel released for the Xbox 360 at the end of 2009. It aired in Japan during mid 2011 and it was made into 24 episodes by Studio White Fox; a relatively new studio that also produced Katanagatari, another pretty awesome anime series. The animation quality of Steins;Gate is neat, fluid, and beautiful. I recommend it to all anime lovers.

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