John Titor’s request doesn’t exactly sit well with Okabe as it would contradict his mad scientist persona, and as he begins the next phase of Operation Urd he unintentionally reveals to Hashida and Kurisu that the D-mail had been used to change world lines. So to test his power he intends to do it again.
After a few unsuccessful attempts to do this Okabe goes on to talk about this ability, which he dubs the “Reading Steiner” and she tells him how the idea of changing the past doesn’t exactly sit well with her, she’s proud of the past she’s already spent. Following this he’s barraged by messages from Moeka, gets given some candy by Mayuri, and Suzuha finds it hard to believe that John Titor wasn’t clear enough.
Once the lab members meet up again Ruka brings over a watermelon and Moeka volunteers to be the one to change the worldlines by using the D-Mail. However while what she was supposed to send was only meant to change her cellphone, when the worldlines change she’s nowhere to be seen, Ruka hadn’t passed by, and the messages from Moeka stopped on the 31st of July. Following this Okabe and Kurisu are both suspicious of what could of happened as he explains the Reading Steiner to her, and just as Kurisu and Mayuri are leaving they receive a message from Ruka.
When he comes over Mayuri takes the chance to force him into the cosplay outfits that she had made and the sounds of this give Hashida the impression of a very yuri atmosphere, for which Ruka being a guy only makes it better. And the result is something that not only manages to entrance Hashida and Okabe, but also Kurisu to a certain extent and before Mayuri can force him into more costumes Ruka decides to ask them what he came over to ask in the first place. That having heard about their time machine he wants them to use it to turn him into a girl, and only now does Kurisu learn that Rukako is a guy.
The idea to do this is to encourage his mother to eat more vegetables while she’s pregnant, and seeing how serious he is along with not believing that it will work, they decide to do it. To do this though they will have to send a message as far back as 1993, and there’s just one problem, cellphones weren’t anywhere near as common as they are today back then. However Okabe comes up with a plan, pagers, and so they send Ruka to find out if she had one. So after some quick reconfiguring and altering of the message, they send it and the result leaves Okabe with a similar feeling but Ruka(ko)doesn’t appear to have changed.
Considering that there hadn’t really been an episode for it, it was kind of nice to see Ruka(ko) get an episode to shine in, it’s just something that hadn’t really happened, and given what it was for to have it during this experimenting sort of stage in the story was great. Allowing the characters to do whatever they could to test Okabe’s ability.
The thing that probably made Rukako getting an episode stand out was probably that out of the three “girls”, Rukako had barely even appeared, showing up every now and then for things that didn’t really have much impact to them. Being limited to things like the IBM 5100 magically being at the shrine and bringing over the lottery ticket, while Suzuha and Moeka got more than their fair share of times to appear and add some suspicion to their characters, it just ultimately felt like all of Rukako’s appearances were tacked on the side. So to see her/him get an episode to do this as well turned out to be pretty nice. Not to mention that it was also pretty fun to see even Kurisu walk into the “but he’s a guy” trap.
This also managed to work in how they were testing Okabe’s ability, the Reading Steiner in what could have been the most dynamic way yet by using the D-mail to do something like alter someones gender. Even allowing them to get creative by sending the message to a pager instead. And while it kind of confused me how a simple message encouraging a would be mother to “eat more veggies” could change something like this, especially how it really just comes across as an old wives tale, given that Okabe got a bottle of Dr Pepper out of a minor worldline change, I guess even a slight alteration can result in a major change. Since from the way that Mayuri referred to Ruka with the honorific “chan” instead of “kun”, we can quite safely say that it worked.
Lastly there was another worldline change that was also particularly interesting, the one that Moeka sent that caused her to pretty much disappear and cease messaging Okabe. The latter being something kind of worrying. That said how she told them that she was sending a message about which cellphone she should use is something I’m not buying in the slightest, she’s just too protective of that phone to change to another one on a whim. And so given how determined she is to get her hands on the IBM 5100, even attempting to make off with it while Okabe and the gang weren’t looking, and from Okabe mentioning where he got it, I think we can safely deduce what she really messaged about.