DVD Review: Steins;Gate Complete Series, Part One (Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Steins;Gate: Complete Series, Part One Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo FUNimation 12 episodes Extraordinary.  I think that might be the best catch-all to describe Steins;gate, the unique and riveting series...

Steins;gate volume 1Steins;Gate: Complete Series, Part One
Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo
FUNimation
12 episodes

Extraordinary.  I think that might be the best catch-all to describe Steins;gate, the unique and riveting series recently released by FUNimation.

The premise is pure science fiction.  Between attending lectures on time travel and dodging away from an imagined organization that has it’s sights set on him, self-declared mad scientist, Rintaro Okabe, runs a motley lab out of his apartment in which he creates “future gadgets.”  He and his brilliant team find themselves inventing a machine that is capable of sending messages back in time.  Though excited about the discovery, they soon discover that manipulating time has dire consequences, not least of all because the covert society tracking Okabe may not be so imagined after all.

An outline of the story gives the gist of the plot, but it doesn’t convey the uniqueness or excellent execution of Steins;gate.  The tone of the series is almost claustrophobic, exemplified by the small apartment in which much of the action occurs, the bland tones used to animate the series, and the choices in animation, including the extreme close-ups and other angles at which the “camera” often focuses.  But further, the series is as much mystery as science fiction, and also contains plenty of comedy, angst, romance, and yes, moe (which plays a purposeful role in the show and it’s setting of Akihabara).

The characters of Steins;gate are particularly memorable.  Okabe reminds me of a favorite character, Vash the Stampede (Trigun), in terms of being portrayed as a humorous caricature, whom we get to know better and better as his humanity is revealed through unimaginable circumstances.  Other characters include Kurisu, the young genius who will long be remembered as a prime example of tsundere; Daru, the overweight and perverted hacker; and Mayushi, Okabe’s childhood friend who becomes a most essential part of the plot, particular as this DVD set reaches it’s cliffhanger climax.

The voice cast excels in these meaty roles.  Mamoru Miyano is particularly memorable as he digs deep to express voicing ranging from maniacal laughter to deathly distress (sometimes in the same breath!).  The English voice actors have much to live up to, but do a good job in bringing their own quality to the characters.  Again, the actor playing Okabe is a bright spot, as J. Michael Tatum delivers a strong performance doing the English version of the mad scientist.

The FUNimation release is relatively bare on extras, though voice acting aficionados will enjoy the fun insights provided by the company’s VA’s on commentary tracks.  The set also features an interactive map of Akibahara, showing important locations in the show.  The Blu-Ray DVDs are of the expected quality, though perhaps they’re not a necessary upgrade over DVDs.

Volume one ends on a cliffhanger (though the time travel focus of the series perhaps makes it a bit less shocking than it would otherwise be), but it’s not necessary to keep the viewers entranced.  The story, characters, style, and depth of Steins;gate make it so that most viewers (and certainly this one) find it impossible to resist watching the rest.  It’s among the best releases of FUNimation’s recent slate, and one of the best anime of recent years.

Rating: A

Review copy provided by FUNImation.

Comments

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  • renxkyoko
    4 February 2013 at 10:34 am

    Now you see it, now you don’t… a game of mouse and cat. I’m here again. Ha ha ha.

    Leave a Reply
  • sweetpea616
    4 February 2013 at 11:55 am

    Steins;Gate is fabulous! It has tons of character (in all senses of the word) and a ton of style. I have to admit, the first six eps or so were slow going for me – I had to press on based on the word of a friend, but once I got past the build-up it was smooth sailing. Great show all around!

    Leave a Reply
    • TWWK
      5 February 2013 at 7:29 pm

      I agree – the first few episodes are slow going. It’s a strange show at first, but you’re gripped before you even know it.

      Leave a Reply
    • Julz
      30 August 2014 at 2:57 pm

      I also agree with you on the slow start, but I’m so glad I stuck with it because now I think it’s one of the greatest shows around.

      Have you any of you seen Robotics;Notes? I’ve heard it’s quite similar to Steins;Gate in some ways and I’m thinking of checking that one out next!

      Leave a Reply
      • TWWK
        1 September 2014 at 9:41 pm

        Robotics;notes is part of a sort of trilogy that includes Steins;gate. I only watched the first couple of episodes and dropped it because of a slow start (pattern?). However, I’ve heard that second half of the series is pretty good, so it might be worth the watch!

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  • Ethan
    4 February 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Great review of a great show. I think what makes this show for me is the interaction between the characters. The dialogue is extremely clever… especially between Okabe and Kurisu. I watched it with subtitles, though… I’ll need to give the dub a viewing.

    The end is so intense… I think I watched the last 8 episodes in one sitting. Definitely one of my recent favorites.

    Leave a Reply
    • TWWK
      5 February 2013 at 7:31 pm

      The dialogue is fantastic! I really paid more attention this time around (this is my second viewing) and I thought there was such great dialogue for virtually every character in the series.

      And yes, SO intense. I tried to go through the series slowly this time around, but couldn’t help but watch big chunks at a time. Too addicting.

      Leave a Reply
  • dmdutcher
    5 February 2013 at 11:30 pm

    I’ll have to check it out. I’ve wanted to, but it’s pretty outrageously priced up where I live unless I buy it on Amazon, and $100+ for two seasons of anime is really hard for me to justify. Nice to know though it’s a good series.

    Leave a Reply
    • sweetpea616
      6 February 2013 at 9:43 am

      If only it were two seasons – it’s one season, broken up into 2 parts for marketing. In some ways that makes it harder to justify spending that money on it >.>”

      But yes, this is a fabulous anime, and I hope that at some point you can see it!

      Leave a Reply
    • TWWK
      6 February 2013 at 6:46 pm
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