If there’s a consistent criticism of volume one of Steins;gate, it’s that the opening episodes are cold and inaccessible, with characters that are difficult to initially connect with. These issues are long forgotten by the start of volume two of the series, which follows self-proclaimed mad scientist, Rintaro Okabe, as he deals with the consequences of the time machine he and his colorful team have built. In fact, the story and characters have become so compelling that viewers will be glued to the action of part two, not because of the premise and unique feel of the series, but because we desperately hope to see Okabe fix the future and rescue the other characters from sometimes horrible fates.
The focus of the second half of FUNimation’s captivating series is on Okabe as he does everything humanly possible (and impossible) to reverse the effects caused by his tinkering with time. Most of these episodes are particularly intense, as character origins are revealed, a sinister and violent society closes in, and mysteries of the past and future are unraveled. But the show doesn’t leave us cold – it’s particularly intimate, as viewers see and feel what Okabe does on his very personal missions.
We come to know and appreciate the other characters in a most unique way. The series repeats the same days over and over as Okabe travels through time, often saying and doing the same things over and over again. However, it’s through the others’ responses, both their similarities and differences, that we gain insight into their true characters and through which we become attached to them. For instance, Kurisu isn’t just defined by her tsundere traits; she’s just as importantly shown to be a tried and true companion.
As with the previous volume, this one contains enjoyable voice actor commentary tracks. The Blu-Ray discs are of the expected high quality.
If you watch this series, be prepared for a marathon – volume two of Steins;gate is about as addicting as any series I’ve seen. The storyline that begins with the last episode of volume one is possibly the emotional climax of the series, and is followed by the quickly moving and also emotionally involving final episodes, which end the series in a satisfactory manner. Well, that is if you ignore the “final” episode, which pales in comparison to the rest of the show and feels a bit like a sellout.
Overall, though, volume two of FUNimation’s release of Steins;gate is every bit as good as part one. There have been very few anime releases in recent years that have matched this, both in terms of technical execution and pure enjoyment. I use the phrase, “must buy,” too often, but in the case of Steins;gate, I don’t think I could use it enough.
Review copy provided by FUNImation.