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Steins;Gate: Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 24, 2012 by  



“Steins;Gate” is turning out to be one of the most fascinating, smart yet fun, science fiction anime series that I have seen in a long while.  You often watch many sci-fi anime series but rarely do you find one that is this addictive and captivating thanks to its characters and its clever writing.  “Steins;Gate part 1” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of ©2011 5pb nitroplus steins. 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Steins;Gate: Part 1

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), Dolby Digital, Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

RATED: 14+

COMPANY: FUNimation

RELEASE DATE: September 25, 2012

Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki, Takuya Sato, Tomoki Kobayashi

Series Composition by Jukki Hanada

Music by Jun Murakami, Takeshi Abo

Original Character Design by huke

Character Design by Kyuuta Sakai

Art Director: Koji Eto

Chief Animation Director: Kyuuta Sakai

Anime Production: WHITE FOX

Featuring the voices of:

Asami Imai/Trina Nishimura as Kurisu Makise

Mamoru Miyano/J. Michael Tatum as Rintarō Okabe

Ayano Yamamoto/Brina Palencia as Nae Tennōji

Halko Momoi/Jad Saxton as Faris Nyannyan

Kana Hanazawa/Jackie Ross as Mayuri Shiina

Masaki Terasoma/Christopher R. Sabat as Yūgo Tennōji

Saori Goto/Jessica Cavanagh as Moeka Kiryū

Tomokazu Seki/Tyson Rinehart as Itaru Hashida (Daru)

Yu Kobayashi/Lindsay Seidel as Ruka Urushibara

Yukari Tamura/Cherami Leigh as Suzuha Amane

The microwave is a time machine. Okarin proved it. The self-anointed mad scientist nuked bananas into some gelatinous version of the future. Or maybe it was the past. Doesn’t matter. No one thought he could do it, but he did it anyway. He sent text messages through time to people he knew. To his friends. Some of them female. Pretty. He should have been more careful. He should have stopped. Tampering with the time-space continuum attracts unwelcome attention.

Clandestine organizations of nefarious origins take notice. SERN. Always watching. Okarin knows; he can feel their eyes. That’s why he started the top secret Future Gadget Lab. To stop them. You should join. We get to wear lab coats, and it’s dangerous. Danger is exciting because it’s deadly. The microwave is a time machine.

With the success of their video game “Chaos;Head”, 5pb. and Nitroplus went to work on a new Japanese visual novel titled “Steins;Gate” which was released for the XBOX 360 in 2009 and followed by a release for Windows, PSP, and PlayStation 3.  And a storyline that relates to events presented in “Chaos;Head”.

As with other 5pb. works, “Steins;Gate” would receive a manga adaptation for Media Factory’s “Monthly Comic Alive” before its first video game release, a secondary adaptation later that year for Mag Garden’s “Monthly Comic Blade” and an anime adaptation courtesy of White Fox for 2011.

“Steins;Gate” is directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki (“BioHunter”, “Ai Monogatari”, “Texhnolyze”), Takuya Sato (“Armitage III”, “CODE-E”, “Fate/Stay night”) and Tomoki Kobayashi (“Galaxy Angel”, “Amagami SS+”, “Rozen Maiden”) and series composition by Jukki Hanada (“Campione!”, “Chobits”, “CODE-E”, “Accel World”).  Character designs are by Kyuuta Sakai (“Pita Ten”, “Strawberry Marshmallow”, “Ichigo Mashimaro) and music by Jun Murakami (“Grappler Baki”) and Takeshi Abo (“Memories Off 2nd”, “Monochrome Factor” and “Robotics;Notes”).

With a film in production and curiosity by video gamers of the series, “Steins;Gate”, the anime series will be released in two parts, with the first part to be released in September 2012 on Blu-ray & DVD combo-pack courtesy of FUNimation.

“Steins;Gate” revolves around a scientist named Rintaro Okabe.  Seen as a mad scientist, life for the scientist is getting out of hand as people he had conversations with are acting as it never happened, people he saw dead are alive hours later and situations that he feels are real, never happened.  His friend and colleagues worry that perhaps the scientist is going crazy but perhaps Okabe’s latest invention, a microwave that can send text messages into the past and also allowing him to travel between alternate worlds is working…or perhaps, is this all in his mind?

And if the invention does indeed work, how will it benefit mankind when the man who invented it thinks he will be a messiah that can change the future?

Meanwhile, Okabe brings in a few people to join his team.  Kurisu Makise is a neuroscience researcher who is often at odds with Okabe, but despite her being repulsed by him, she enjoys spending time with him and his friends, because despite being intelligent, she has been having personal problems with her father.

Working alongside Rintaro is the otaku Mayuri Shiina, a cosplay fanatic and airhead. Itaru “Daru” Hashida, the hacker and otaku who is always wanting to get close to women.

Also, featured is Moeka Kiryu, a shy girl that Rintaro has given the nickname “Shining Finger” (because she prefers to communicate only via texting, even if she is right next to the person she is communicating with); Ryka Urashibara, a male bishonen who looks very much like a girl; Feris Nyannyan, who works with Mayuri at a maid cafe; Suzuha Amane, a motorcycle riding girl who works for Rintaro’s landlord.

What happens when these characters start finding out about Rintaro’s possible time machine?

VIDEO:

“Steins;Gate: Part 1” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Although there are major animation studios who do a great job with some TV series, the fact is that they are busy doing several series at a time.  But when you have a company who doesn’t have so many things going on all at once, sometimes these anime studios put all they have into an anime TV series, making it so well-detailed, that you can’t help but be impressed.  My belief is that White Fox, the animation studio behind “Steins;Gate” put a lot into this series because it looks fantastic.

I love the amount of detail that goes into the character design but also the backgrounds.  If anything, the cool look of what video gamers have seen through the “Steins;Gate” video games will notice the the high quality production with the TV series.

There are scenes that are intentionally created to look soft, but colors are vibrant at times and if anything, the series looks amazingly robust and well-saturated on Blu-ray!

AUDIO:

“Steins;Gate” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  As one would expect, the dynamic range for the English dub is much better and there is also differences as the writers really made “Steins;Gate” feel sci-fi with the inclusion of the “Dr. Who”. “Star Trek” references.  I actually enjoyed the English dub a lot more because of the 5.1 lossless soundtrack but the more in-depth sci-fi writing.  But both are well-acted, it’s just a slight difference of what was added to the English dub.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Steins;Gate: Part 1” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Audio Commentary – Featuring an entertaining audio commentary by Trina Nishimura (voice of Kurisu) and Tyson Rinehart (voice of Itaru).
  • Episode 12 Audio Commentary – Featuring writers J. Michael Tatum (also voice of Okabe) and John Burgmeier (head writer) discussing the integration of sci-fi elements to the English dub version of “Steins;Gate” and why they love the series so much.
  • Akihabara Map – (1:32)A virtual tour through Akihabara and locations featured on “Steins;Gate”.
  • Textless Opening Song “Hacking to the Gate” (Version1)
  • Textless Closing Song “Toki Tsukasadoru Juuni no Meiyaki”
  • FUNimation Entertainment Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Steins;Gate: Part 1” comes with the entire series on both Blu-ray and DVD.

As a big fan of science fiction, storylines of time travel have always been an interest to me.  I love shows such as “Dr. Who”, films such as “Back to the Future” and even the holodeck simulations of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.

So, prior to watching “Steins;Gate”, what I did know is that it was a popular video game series and the fact that 5pb. and Nitroplus were behind it and that the series had a connection with “Chaos;Head”, peaked my interest.  But when I heard that the anime series was coming out on Blu-ray/DVD, I was excited because I know the series and the games have done well in Japan.

Watching “Steins;Gate”, at first, I admit I was a bit confused.  The protagonist, Rintaro Okabe, was a mad scientist with a maniacal laugh who was working on a time travel experiment.  And I guess at first, I wasn’t getting into his character all that much.  But then when the series started to showcase character development and introduce characters such as Kurisu, Moeka, Ruka, Feris and Suzuha, I started to warm up to the series because a series solely about a mad scientist who is arrogant, was not going to catch my interest.

But then I realized how clever the writing was for the series.  How each of these individuals that were introduced, begin to ask for Rintaro to use his invention to help them out.  For example, Ruka is a boy who looks so much like a girl and believes that because his mother ate a certain food, he was born a boy instead of a girl.  So, he asks for Rintaro to send a message to his mother, to eat a certain food and see if it changes time and Ruka is born as a girl.

But then we are introduced to the problematic situation of changing time.  Once you start meddling with time, it can lead to disaster or situations that Rintaro never expected.  And the interesting situation is that because he is the only person that can remember a change in timeline and no one else, his ability can also be used improperly if the invention is in the wrong hands.  But also, because he is a person that doesn’t have much in terms of social skills, no one knows what to expect when he does meddle with time.

Part of the enjoyment of the series, especially for the English dub, is the fact that you have two writers who love sci-fi, especially “Dr. Who”.  And the references integrated into the English dub, really made this series so enjoyable and fun.

As for the Blu-ray release, we are treated with two audio commentary tracks and as for the series itself, “Steins;Gate” looks amazing on Blu-ray, while the lossless soundtrack is appropriate.

But so far, the first half was really exciting.  The first half of the series is upbeat and for the most part happy, crazy and the characters just having a lot of fun.  Pretty much character building stories to establish these various characters.  But right when you get to episode 12, it ends with something so unexpected and shocking, you can’t wait for Part 2 of the series.

Overall, “Steins;Gate” is turning out to be one of the most fascinating, smart yet fun, science fiction anime series that I have seen in a long while.  You often watch many sci-fi anime series but rarely do you find one that is this addictive and captivating thanks to its characters and its clever writing.

“Steins;Gate: Part 1” is highly recommended!

 

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