Mark Watches ‘Steins;Gate’: Episode 22 – Being Meltdown

In the twenty-second episode of Steins;Gate, Kurisu and Okabe try to transcend time. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steins;Gate. 

If there’s one thing I could pick as missing from this episode, it’s that I wish that Okabe had been a bit more apologetic about how he had treated Kurisu in the earlier episodes. Now, I admit I’m at a cultural disadvantage here, and I know there are elements of this show that are either criticizing or engaging with certain tropes and stereotypes that are going over my head. I’m curious, then, if one of those has to do with the sort of “playground” mentality we’ve seen between Okabe and Kurisu. I recognize that the dynamic of their relationship resembles the trope of people having romantic feelings for one another, yet they express them through cruelty and jokes. In Okabe’s case specifically, he fits a trope (admittedly one that’s probably pretty American) of the boy who mistreats a girl because he actually likes her. Of course, the truth is that Kurisu also likes Okabe, but for the most part, there still seemed to be an uneven amount of aggression from Kurisu, so I would have liked to see an acknowledgment of that within the episode itself. 

Other than that, this is, like the previous episode, a resolution that’s less about the logistics of time travel and more focused on the emotional intensity between these two characters. Y’all know I love character development so much that I’m willing to overlook plot holes if a story feels right, but there aren’t plot holes here. Rather, it’s a continuation of the motif that I noted in recent videos: Steins;Gate began with a narrow focus, expanded to affect the whole world, and now, at the end, that focus is narrowing all over again. 

This conflict is all about these two characters grappling with mortality. With their feelings for one another. With the suffering that others have gone through. With the impossibility of time travel. And throughout this show, both Kurisu and Okabe have been the primary agents of change. Yes, it was Okabe who sent that first D-mail and who was instrumental in making decisions for the lab, but would the PhoneWave have existed without Kurisu’s genius? You could also argue that she’s often been the moral voice of reason throughout this, keeping both Daru and Okabe in check when their more reckless tendencies came to a head. And through this surreal journey, Kurisu has been the person Okabe has come to, time and time again, to work through the complications of the world line changing. 

Why, though? Why her? Well, “Being Meltdown” introduces a few new details that help us put this into context. I made this theory on video, and I feel more comfortable stating it again: technically, everyone can remember the change in the various timelines. However, how that manifests differs from person to person. Okabe triggered memories in Feyris, and ideally, the memory of her father still being alive is powerful enough to break through the timeline. Mayuri remembers her deaths (and Okabe’s attempts to save her) through dreams. And in Kurisu’s case, she was drawn to Okabe because she could sense the utterly pure love he felt for Mayuri, demonstrated by his dogged persistence in trying to save her, and Kurisu desired that. Not necessarily his love, but to be loved that fiercely by another person. (I mean, I believe she was going to tell Okabe she loved him before the world line shifted near the end of the episode, for what it’s worth.) 

Thus, memories become this romantic conceit within the show. Multiple characters just want to be remembered after the lines change. We heard that motif fairly early, back when Mayuri was concerned that Okabe would forget his conversations with her. It has come roaring back into prominence now, as Kurisu desires to give Okabe happiness and to be remembered in the other world line. There’s a selflessness there, since she is the one to recognize how badly Okabe is suffering from witnessing Mayuri’s death. And it makes sense! We literally don’t know how many times Okabe reset time and tried to change Mayuri’s death, but he had to go numb from seeing it so many times, right? And because of that, he was willing to live in this world line, repeating it over and over, to try and save Mayuri, entirely unaware of the psychological damage he was doing to himself in the process. 

So Kurisu grants him the permission to let go. To let go of her, to let himself fix this world line and push it over the 1%, to let go of watching Mayuri die, to let go of all the suffering he has put himself through to fix the mistakes (and the accidents) that he caused. And before she does, she wants to make sure that he remembers her. How? By giving him a memory so strong, so powerful, that no matter how many times the world changes, no matter what line he is thrown into, he cannot forget it. I admit to feeling about 2,235 feelings about Kurisu and all of them have destroyed me, so I know I’m biased in how much I love her character. But there’s something beautifully tragic in a character recognizing that they’ve been lonely and sacrificing themselves in order to ensure that someone else is not lonely. Because Kurisu can’t live in a world knowing that Okabe suffered for nothing. Y’ALL. WHO ALLOWED THIS. WHO ALLOWED KURISU INTO MY HEART. 

I admit once more that I am incredibly worried about what is about to happen. There are two more episodes left, and everything appears to be resolved, and I am not a fool. THIS MEANS SOMETHING ELSE IS GOING TO GO WRONG. Is Okabe going to try to stop Kurisu’s death anyway? Can he even do that anymore? He doesn’t have the means to travel back in time, so if he messes this up, that’s it. He’s stuck in a single world line. But I gotta point out one little detail in that final scene that broke me even further: Mayuri telling Okabe that she is fine and that it’s his turn to cry now. WOW, HOW DID YOU KNOW, WHO ALLOWED YOU TO SAY THAT.

I’m scared.

(Note: I was not informed until literally like an hour after I watched this episode that there was a scene after the credits that I was supposed to watch. It will be attached to the beginning of the next video AND I’ll address whatever happens in the next review as well. Sorry about that!)

The video for “Being Meltdown” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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