In the tenth episode of Steins;Gate, the world has undeniably changed in multiple ways, and Okabe wonders about changing it further. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steins;Gate.
Trigger Warning: For a section that addresses transphobia (specifically transmisogyny), misgendering, and sexual assault, with a description of said act
The world changed, y’all. The various forms of pop culture—mostly attributed to anime, if I understood this correctly—that used to exist in Akihabara are all gone. GONE. An entire cultural force simply does not exist any more, and it’s because the Lab group sent an email to the past. It is undeniably an affect of the PowerWave. (One of two major ones in this episode, for the record.) Y’all, WHAT THE HELL DO YOU DO AFTER THIS?
There are tons of interesting observations here and details I imagine are seeded to either hint at future storylines or to build up this idea that the world is changing in escalating ways. The satellite disappears from the building at one point; is that meaningful? When did it get removed or did something else crash there in this world line? Why is it that the principal friendships in the Future Gadget Lab still the same? Why hasn’t the shift of the world lines affected them? Is that an important detail or just a sign that enough hasn’t been changed in the past?
It is unfortunate, then, that Ruka’s story—which I find really heartwarming and heartbreaking—is brought to such a viscerally uncomfortable place in order to show how the world has changed. I can’t speak to what this character means to others, but this is probably one of the only shows I’ve seen where a transition of sorts—albeit one that is due to the most bizarre form of time travel I’ve ever seen—actually happens, and a trans character gets what they want. It just… wow, it really sucked to learn that through an act of sexual assault? As someone who has been groped like this—gay men can be really, REALLY terrible towards the bodies of other people, particularly those they think they are entitled to—I can attest to how utterly dehumanizing and terrifying it is. And I mean that some gross dude actually made a joke about whether I was a “real” man or not at a bar and reached down and groped me very, very hard.
Is it the same situation/context? No, and I wouldn’t think it’s fair to say they are comparable beyond a surface examination. But that scene is HORRIFYING, incredibly uncomfortable, and then… Ruka is perfectly fine later in the episode? There’s no reaction from her at all beyond the scene itself, which felt odd, too. It’s only Kurisu who allows for their to be any accountability in support of their friend. (Which isn’t to say that they’re always supportive either? In one of the previous timelines, they also technically groped Ruka and then there was some trans panic on display. I only remember that I did not comment on it until right now.) I don’t think it’s right for me to delve into this any further and look forward to a conversation from the community on it, but I did want to say that Okabe’s violence made me feel gross.
It’s unfortunate, too, because he’s already such a complex character with so many unlikable qualities to them. And they’re actually starting to peel away, too! During the blackout in the midst of “Chaos Theory Homeostasis III,” he and Kurisu have an incredible conversation about friendship and Kurisu’s slowly changing feelings for Okabe. And for once, he doesn’t actually ruin it! He lets her speak and doesn’t rush off to his mad scientist character. That continues to fascinate me because he’s dropping it more frequently than he was before, too, and I wonder why that is. Does he think he doesn’t need it anymore? Well, I should also note, as I did on video, that more than any other character, Okabe jumps in and out of this mad scientist persona with Mayuri. In fact, when she complains that he didn’t do it at the supermarket, he deliberately goes back into character for her. That makes me think that he’s doing it because of some childhood joke, maybe? She’s the only person who has never made a negative comment about it, you know?
I DON’T KNOW, I’M TRYING.
Which brings us to Suzuha, who becomes the subject of the next experiment, despite that Okabe almost decides that maybe they should stop changing the past. For the first time, we get a significant dose of her backstory, only to learn that it has been years since her father disappeared, and she came to Tokyo to find him. All she has to connect herself to him is a small badge/pin, the one we saw earlier in the show, and the slim chance that he will be at a certain location the following day. With what little we know, it’s already an emotional story. Y’all, Suzuha has been working a part-time job, one she’s routinely bored by, so that she can be in the same city as her father and hopefully find him.
But a terribly complex bout of events occurs that prevents Okabe from assuring this happens and that Suzuha visits the lab for the first time to attend a going-away party in celebration of her reunion with her father. Instead, she just texts Okabe that she’s sorry, and she’s leaving. That’s it. It’s a heartbreaking moment (once that hits right after the blackout scene in the lab) because… well, I didn’t expect it. I thought she was going to have a positive outcome. But I should have known that something would push Okabe to a darker place, and he decides to change the past again, and…
It does not go as planned. BECAUSE IT RARELY FUCKING DOES. Yeah, she went to go meet her father.
At a time travel forum.
And his name is Barrel Titor.
WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE? Who allowed this??? WHY ARE YOU ALL TORTURING ME LIKE THIS????????
The video for “Chaos Theory Homeostasis III” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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