Blu-Ray Review: Steins;Gate 0 – Part 1

World lines and ideals collide in the follow-up to Steins;Gate, but does it manage to keep its momentum, or does it fall through the cracks of time? Let’s take a look and find out in Manga Entertainment UK’s Blu-Ray release of Steins;Gate 0 – Part 1.

Synopsis:

Okabe couldn’t save her. Plagued by the guilt, his only solace lies with academia and with his friends who have been by his side from the start.

But nothing’s ever easy. While Okabe struggles to leave his traumas in the past, he meets a familiar-faced AI that re-opens old wounds and could lead to a terrifying new future.

Our View:

Steins;Gate 0 recaptures the essence of Steins;Gate in an entirely new light that further extends the concept of the original story; and the events within this first part are just the beginning. Gone are the scientific feats of venturing into the past, or in some cases future; as instead emotional turmoil of overcoming ones grief and anxiety with those unwilling to let go of the past are the talking point here. For Okabe it is dark and difficult times indeed, but as one door closes another must open and this is where the story of Steins;Gate 0 not only begins, but flourishes. Nail-biting edge of your seat exhilarating entertainment this is not, but with its exceptional presentation of mystery it does leave you wanting more.

Before diving in to this dark and twisted world of Steins;Gate 0 it is recommended to watch Steins;Gate, as the events that take place within Steins;Gate 0 take place directly after Episode 22 of the aforementioned series. In the original Steins;Gate storyline Okabe travelled into the past to save Kurisu Makise from death which in turn would stop World War III from taking place in the future; however in Steins;Gate 0 Okabe was unable to do this and as such finds himself thrown into a beta world line without Kurisu.

The alternate events of Okabe failing to save Kurisu can be found in Episode 23B, of which is included in this Part 1 release of Steins;Gate 0 on the main menu, while the aftermath of Okabe’s decision plays out within the main story of Steins;Gate 0.

Naturally Steins;Gate 0 can be watched independently, as it is its own story after all, but you will miss out on fundamental character build-up and back stories that help create the world of Steins;Gate 0.

In this instance Steins;Gate 0 spares no time in crafting the world of science; it simply throws you in at the deep end expecting you to already know who everyone is and what has happened in Okabe’s past. Put simply Steins;Gate 0 should be treated as a second season rather than a stand-a-lone story with the same cast of characters from a previous work.

Regardless of its origins Steins;Gate 0 has a story to tell and within this first half at least it is about introducing a grief-stricken Obake attempting to find normality in his daily life.

Naturally this proves difficult, especially with Suzuha constantly requesting Okabe to use the time machine to save Kurisu, but when Okabe meets the Maho Hiyajo, a scientist who previously worked with Kurisu, things begin to change. Maho has developed a new AI system known as Amadeus, a system which turns digital memory data of a person into an independent personality, and at the focal point of this system is an AI variation of Kurisu.

After Maho learns that Okabe had connections with Kurisu she agrees to let Okabe become a test subject with the Amadeus variation of Kurisu to see if Maho’s objective of creating a true digital variation of real person, can become a reality. Throughout the next handful of episodes we see Okabe interact with Maho and this digital Kurisu through all sorts of ways; but soon enough trouble starts to stir.

Firstly another time-leap sees Okabe jump to the Alpha world line, whereby Kirisu is alive and well, secondly a mysterious organisation emerges from the shadows to hack Amadeus servers and steal data from Maho’s research facilities and thirdly a girl from the future, who shares a resemblance to Kirisu, is found and being hunted by the same mysterious group.

What do these three different events have in common? That is currently unclear; but it all ties together within the prospect of World War III looming in the near future and Okabe must do everything in his power to put a stop to it; even if it means losing Kurisu for second time. This first half of Steins;Gate 0 sets down the groundwork for will most likely be a dramatic second half; but at its core the episodes within this first half introduce new characters, new possibilities and dives deeper into the backstories of characters we thought we already knew.

Extras:

The supplementary content included with the first part of Steins;Gate 0 can be found on the second Blu-Ray disc, with standard extras such as Cast Commentary and textless songs being included alongside an original Japanese promotional trailers for the show.

As far as bonus features go then it is pretty standard for a FUNimation related release but the English Cast commentaries included do provide an entertaining insight into the minds of the voice actors. For example J. Michael Tatum, the English voice actor for Rintaro Okabe, provides his own personal insight in what it was like voicing the character during the original series and that it resulted in him having some personal time due to how emotionally involved he became with the character. It is rare to see (or hear) surprising insights such as this in an English Cast Commentary; so it is well worth giving it a watch (or listen) – especially if you enjoy the English Dub.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50, BD 25
Region: B
Running Time: 2:23:42 (Disc 1), 2:25:13 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: Dolby True HD 5.1 (English) & Dolby True HD 2.0 (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Steins;Gate 0 continues to build upon the foundations of the original story to deliver an alternate story filled with uncertainty and surprise. The characters may be the same, but the rules have changed and in this ‘new’ world an outbreak of war looms in the distance with countries competing against each other in the background in order to develop a time machine. This first half of the series, of which features twelve episodes in addition to the alternate variation of Steins;Gate Episode 23, focuses on Okabe attempting to overcome his grief of losing Kurisu and in doing so meets the scientist Maho and her new invention Amadeus.

Amadeus is a new type of AI that turns someones memories into a living virtual person and it is the brainchild of Maho and Kurisu before Kurisu went to Japan. This chance encounter with Maho leads Okabe to become a test user of the service and, more importantly, Maho and Okabe begin to develop a deeper bond and understanding of each other as well as Kurisu.

In addition to this on-going-story we have the reveal of a girl who previously time travelled with Suzuha appearing with no memory and a mysterious organisation that wants both this girl and the time travel data created by Kurisu. These two events cause the story of Steins;Gate 0 to move swiftly from a grieving process to a more sinister and darker toned story that seemingly doesn’t have an end or clear enemy in sight. Surprises are in store; but more importantly this is different to the Steins;Gate you remember.

Although the story of Steins;Gate 0 does provide a different experience to that of Steins;Gate this Blu-Ray release is presented to the same quality and style of that as the original. Firstly both the English and Japanese voice cast return to reprise their roles for their respective characters and in terms of the English dub it is provided in 5.1 Surround sound for that added cinematic experience – which during some scenes does help. The subtitle presentation meanwhile is the same as other FUNimation releases, with White subtitles presented for both Dialogue, Songs and Signs. As Steins;Gate 0 is a dark toned series it is easy to read these subtitles.

Overall Steins;Gate 0 is a return to form and the events within this first half introduce new characters and build up this familiar world with secrets and hints being dropped for future events. Naturally only half of the story is being told; but it is shaping up to be a exceptional story that is on par with the original story. Familiar faces, a different story – but this is still Steins;Gate.

Score: review-stars-5

Steins;Gate 0 – Part 1 is now available on Blu-Ray within the UK.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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