Going blind into a film adaptation of any series is risking. In my case going into Steins:Gate film adaptation without any exposure to the anime series, visual novels, and (to my surprise) a video game based on the series was not a good decision. Many of the film events, characters relationship, and world are build up from its many different medium that offer more time to build everything as oppose to a film which works on a specific time frame. Regardless of a lack of exposure to the series the film itself stood on its own feet. As a piece of romance, sci-fi’s, drama, and time traveling philosophy that is intricate, layered as its compelling protagonists.
Steins; Gate the Movie: The Burden of Deja Vu is about Kurisu’s internal conflict to save Rintarou Okabe (a time traveler who constantly saved her) is erased from existence. My synopsis of the films plot is about as simple as its ever gets. Once pass the basic first fifteen minutes the film goes heavily into memories linking different worlds with time travel thrown into the mix. At its own pace the film takes it time to explain how memories in different timelines can be retained and how using time travel to create branching path holds consequences. Admittedly half of the film dialogue is reliant on these specifics delicately balancing key focus on its main story. While a complete understanding of how everything works in Stein;Gate universe is difficult what’s more accessible is the core of the story. A sci-fi love story that takes risk in its protagonist tempted to accept defeat to prevent further damaging the timelines fate has already sorted out. Internal conflicts created by the protagonist love interest challenging her philosophy whether or not his existence is important because it’s right versus her true feelings. Conflict is unavoidable in our protagonist. Much like newcomers to this universe we become involved in our protagonist journey uncertain in her decisions to accept the world created for her. Its major draw and best benefactor are the characters. Filled with interesting personalities and strong interactions (with few moments of humor) can make the film’s most complicated moments easy to follow. Never does the film remain simple just like its characters dilemmas creating multiple layers in what otherwise who would been a basic sci-fi love story. Just like its characters, the narrative chooses what it believes is the best possible outcome that when reaching the ending that nicely wraps its story adding more depth and significance to what unfolds on screen.
Animation style while nothing outstanding or visually impressive is all solid in design. There’s no stiff animations to be found when characters move, small usage of CG is not a jarring distraction, and characters blend well with their backgrounds instead of sticking out. Sets are common everyday places like an apartment or laundromat while not exciting are detailed. The same attention given to detailing the characters is noticeable in what they wear and what they interact with. Meshing well with everything instead of overlapping. Asami Imai is the definite standout among the cast. Sure it helps that she voices the main protagonist, but at the same time exert an emotional yet restraint performance in her character. Making her difficult to read and just as captivating as the character she voices. Other voice actors Saori Goto, Kana Hanazawa, Yu Kobayashi, Mamoru Miyano, and many others receive little to medium screen time. Some won’t of the voice talent won’t have an expanded performance, but nonetheless are great in their roles regardless of size. Music on the other hand works is decent with only the ending credit track standing out in the film. Its sounds are ambient setting the tone serving better its narrative more than just exposition from scenes to scenes.
Stein;Gate the Movie: The Burden of Deja Vu is a difficult film to understand, but easy to get behind with strong characters and tight narrative that keeps the focus among its many layers of complex ideas. It’s not a film for everyone not because of its complex nature, but depends on the viewer exposure to the source material. While some events won’t connect to newcomers as it will for fans one thing it does well enough is work as a stand alone film. Containing strong characters, a deep philosophy, solid animation, and tying everything up for a animated film that narratively aims highs and reaches greatness.