Steins;Gate 21

Just as Hashida is about to start cracking SERN’s database, Okabe having realised what returning to the Beta worldline would mean that Kurisu would die instead, stops him.

Following this Okabe takes to the rooftop while Mayuri prepares to head off to the last day of the convention she’s been preparing for, but before this she decides to check on Okabe and gives him a bottle of water and her hat. Okabe then goes on to contemplate what negating the Dmails mean while he hangs out with Mayuri, trying to find a way to save both her and Kurisu. Putting up the Hououin Kyouma facade when Mayuri picks up on something and just covering it up when Kurisu does. And when the time finally arrives as he and Mayuri head back he thinks he’s found it, as a car closes in he realises that this may be possible if he were to die instead.

However as he attempts to sacrifice himself Mayuri pushes him out of the way and is hit instead, and in her last moments she asks him if she was useful with a smile as she attempts one last Stardust Shakehand. After which Okabe returns to the lab with her and uses the time leap machine one more time. Once again he also takes to the rooftop but the one who visits him this time is Kurisu wondering which eccentric reason he chose to stop the cracking. But upon pushing him he snaps, telling her that Hououin Kyouma is something he made up and goes on to reflect on how selfish he’s been, ready to smash his phone. But just before he can swing his hand down Kurisu stops him and sincerely asks what’s wrong, leading to him explaining how the first Dmail prevented her from being stabbed, meaning returning to the Beta worldline would mean her death. And while she tries to make it look like it doesn’t bother her much after Mayuri calls Okabe, it’s obviously hit her pretty hard.

Okabe eventually finds Mayuri visiting her grandmother’s grave, telling her of how she’s been having nightmares where she dies over and over again, of how Okabe always comes to save her but never cries and how her voice can never reach him. She then goes on to talk about the new lab members and looks back on how she and Okabe were the first lab members, and while they didn’t talk much it was through the beginning of Okabe’s eccentric persona, Hououin Kyouma that they started to open up to each other. Above all else she can also tell that he’s suffering and feels as if it’s her fault, at this point though she realises that he’s right behind her and he tells her not to worry about him, that when the time comes he’ll tell her the truth. Elsewhere, Kurisu has visited the site of her own stabbing.

Thoughts:

At first I was expecting to be disappointed by this episode, one of Okabe moping about indecisively at a crossroads where neither path leads to a happy ending definitely wouldn’t have made for a good one. However it certainly picked up in as it went on, giving Mayuri a bit more focus as something other than the damsel to be saved and presenting Kurisu with the fate that would await her.

Now I’m not saying that Okabe’s state in this episode was absolutely terrible, because lets admit it, currently he’s been chasing blindly after an end where Mayuri can be saved but in doing so he hasn’t exactly taken a good look at the full picture. That in saving her he would be giving up someone else who’s close to him as well, even ready to sacrifice himself if it meant a way to save Mayuri and Kurisu at the same time. And in a sense he even seemed to admit that he had sacrificed the happiness of those around him to reach even this sort of end. To put it simply he’s torn and isn’t sure whether he’s willing to pay the cost of the ending he once sought or whether he even wants it, so this kind of state was understandable.

Alongside this, him admit that the persona known as Hououin Kyouma was completely fake wasn’t that bad either, earlier I had speculated that he’d made it up for Mayuri so in a way it was a welcome sight to see it confirmed. And the fact that it coincided with him admitting to Kurisu about what shifting back to the Beta worldline would entail, especially for her, really made it a powerful scene for both of them. Providing another point where the cracks in Okabe’s resolve appeared to grow a bit and for Kurisu a revelation that must have shattered her despite the front she put up before taking off. As towards the end of the episode Kurisu went out of her way to confront the very site of her supposed death, something that was presented in a kind of creepy way.

More prominently I also liked how the second half allowed Mayuri some time to become something more than the damsel in distress, more of a character than the object to be saved. As admittedly the direction that her predestined death pulled the story in didn’t really give her much room to move around, throughout all of Okabe’s struggles and attempts to save her whether we cared or not seemed to rely more on the attachment Okabe had for her than Mayuri herself. So it was because of this that seeing this distance from her close was great to see, in the last episode it hadn’t gone much further from her feeling distanced from Okabe, but the talk she had with him her grandmother’s grave really did a lot for her. Giving her before missing side to everything Okabe was doing and even hinting that she may possess some form of a Reading Steiner, as well as showing how the lab started up. In all it just did a lot for her, and before that, even after we’ve seen her die and die again you can’t really say that her death in this episode didn’t have any impact.

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