This movie is “fan-service” in the best possible way – it doesn’t explore new ground, it doesn’t truly do anything new, but for people such as I, who really liked the cast, and wanted more time with the cast, and especially more time for Kurisu and Okabe’s relationship to be allowed to blossom, then this movie had been aimed at them, at pleasing them. But, given the premise of the show, you can also see that it includes what is also a weakness in that regard, even as it perfectly mirrors the series.
Needless to say, this is a Things I Like post – it assumes you’ve watched the series and the film, and spoils them. It doesn’t make sense to read this post unless you’ve watched the films, as I don’t describe what the film does, but discuss it. This post in particular might be somewhat less of a discussion of the film in a fully coherent manner, so please forgive me.
I kept tearing up during the movie, and not due to anything that actually happened. This is probably similar to tearing up early on when you rewatch Madoka Magica, and perhaps even Steins;Gate, though less so in the case of Steins;Gate – why did I tear up? Because I had powerful deja vu moments to the series. They made the movie remind us over and over of the series – not just of the endless sacrifices and pain Okabe had gone through, but also of the small moments, and how we felt when we watched the series. The movie reminded us not just of what the characters had gone through emotionally, but mimicked specific events, being another “repeat” of the cycle. And so, not only did the movie remind us of what the characters had gone through, but what we, the watchers did, when first watching the series.
That movie continuations, and even movie adaptations of series, keep bringing up the series during their course and in our memory is necessary. I plan to write about it at more length at some point, but the characterization and emotional investment in movies is often “missing”. Should someone watch just the films (again, talking of adaptations as well) they won’t get why we’re attached to the characters, or why we find certain moments so emotional, but they’re not wrong – the movies don’t have that sort of emotional content in them, to create said attachment. It only works because we come to the movies already pre-invested in the characters and their stories, so a 2 minute synopsis of someone’s story is fine, because we remember the full 60 minutes spread across 8 hours of show that go along with it, we summon it up and the emotions rise within us as well.
That’s why memories work. We don’t need to remember everything, we just need a tiny mnemonic key to remind us what it is that lies underneath, and the emotions, they come on their own. A memory is merely the key, we don’t need to delve within memories, we delve into emotions, after the memories have unlocked the key.
That is the same thing Kurisu had realized. We can let go of memories, for they can be so small, but the bag that is the emotions envelops us even so.
This movie had Kurisu retracing the steps Okabe had taken. On the overt level, she literally did follow him to see where he had gone, on the slightly more symbolic level, she had taken the same course he did, she had dived into the time-stream, time and time again, to try and find the one she loves, amidst the chaos of the intersecting timelines.
Now, the last third of the movie was slightly less impressive to me, the anguish and sadness, the horror over the world without Okabe had felt slightly weak. It’s probably a byproduct of having less time to work with, but also that the masterful Miyano as Okabe, that had carried the show on his shoulders wasn’t here. I think it could’ve used a few more moments, a montage, of Okabe dying. Sure it would’ve been overt and somewhat ham-fisted, but it’d have also worked. Moreover, we’ve watched this film to see Kurisu and Okabe together, so it’s understandable that the part where they are apart feels weaker.
Finally, I was also not entirely satisfied with the way things concluded. Now, I’m fine with Houhoin Kyouma being introduced by Kurisu to Okabe, that sort of time-travel shenanigan often occurs in time-travel movies, it’s true, but my problem is that it shouldn’t have worked. Anything happening before 2010 happened before Okabe shifted timelines, and thus is shared amongst the Okarins of all the timelines, and isn’t unique to the Steins;Gate timeline alone. Whatever Kurisu should have done should’ve happened between the 2010 return to Steins;Gate and 2011, where the memories will belong only to the Steins;Gate timeline. I thought she’ll have sex with him, honestly. Or just flat out admit she loves him.
I give this movie a 7.7/10 reunited mad scientists. I enjoyed it, I liked the characters, I liked the determination and their travails, and I liked how it made me remember, how it gave me deja-vus of the series, even if the emotional impact was lessened – well, it’s a movie, and definitely worthwhile!