The term ‘modern classic’ has been thrown around recently, and being guilty of using it myself, I thought I should define what I mean when I use the term as far as anime goes. I consider a modern classic in anime ‘a series that has maintained a consistently high rank by multiple 100K-up voted on polls for over a decade’ (e.g. Code Geass). Having been ranked in the top five for MAL, Anime Encyclopedia and many other 100K-up voted on sources for the last five years, my prediction is that Steins;Gate will be among the next lot of anime I would consider modern classics. Truth is, I’d love it either way.
As most time travel stories go, Steins;Gate begins with the discovery of a working time machine by eccentric mad scientist Okabe Rintaro and his crew of oddball friends, which grows throughout the series. After a few accidental and purposeful uses of this machine, Okabe, the only one to keep his memories from previous timelines, notices how the butterfly effect has affected the world and his friend’s lives. However, his actions have not gone unnoticed by powerful groups of people. After the death of one of his friends during a raid of his lab, he retraces each change made in order to get back to the timeline where their death is not an inevitability.
The animation is brilliantly consistent without the overly rich candy colors of most visual novel adaptations. The voice acting is very good in both the sub and the dub (yes, I watched both). The BGM isn’t over bearing and used at suitable times in each scene and the OP and ED are among the best in anime, the OP perfect to hype up and foreshadow the episodes to come and even a remix of the original visual novel opening is utilized for the climactic revelation that works to gratify the concluding events. I would go so far to say that this climax in the anime is the key reason for its superiority over the visual novel as it succeeds in delivering much of the punch the visual failed to pull off.
It’s hard to pick holes in this anime. The biggest problems are the aforementioned pacing issues in the first twelve episodes building up to it’s more exciting events in the latter half, but even those I can’t give sins to simply because those with too low an attention span to deal with having fun with time travel don’t deserve the payoff that is to come afterwards. Sure, some character arcs are better than others, as it is for the inevitability of some characters being better than others, but even the worst arcs are still better than the average character arcs in many anime I’ve seen. This isn’t even considering the main character himself and his involvement in each arc, who I would rate among the best protagonists (and not just in anime).
I have a sneaking suspicions that the similarities in this protagonist’s design is why I was so open to anime like Parasyte – the Maxim, and despite ranking in my top visual novels, I think the anime is the key reason why I favor it so highly. If Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is going to head the next line up of modern classics for the next decade, Steins;Gate is also a shoe in right behind it. This says a lot considering it’s 1/3 of its episode count and under half that of Code Geass (yet is still ranked higher). In other words, Steins;Gate is a hard hitting, superior adaptation of a visual novel about time travel that you would be amiss not try (at least past episode twelve).
Total Rank: 9.5/10