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Fridge Horror in Steins;Gate (spoilers).




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errinundra
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 9:02 am Reply with quote
Warning: spoilerific

I've just completed my third (or is it my fourth?) watch of Steins;Gate and enjoyed it as much as ever. But there's a worm in that enjoyment that has been bothering me. Sure, the science is preposterous, while the time travelling and leaping do seem to create plot holes. I'm not going there. They've been covered elsewhere.

No, the worm is that the lab members are directly responsible for the multiple deaths (dozens according to Okabe) of Mayuri, as well as the trauma suffered by those who are left grieving for her.

As I understand the world lines in S;G whenever Okabe does one of his memory time leaps or sends a text message to the past a divergence is created, ie a new time line is created. The old time line remains. My present favourite character, Suzuha, illustrates the principle with her rope analogy: the time lines are threads in the same rope, heading towards the same destination. If Okabe can jump the 1% divergence gap he can create a thread in a different rope - the so-called alpha and beta time line groupings - with each rope having its own destination.

In episode 12 Moeka kills Mayuri; the Multiverse ledger is:
**one time line - dead Mayuris 1; saved Mayuris 0.

Okabe time leaps once; the Multiverse ledger is:
**two time lines - dead Mayuris 2; saved Mayuris 0.

Okabe time leaps, in his own words, dozens of times (let's say 48) and, BINGO, Mayuri is saved. The Multiverse ledger is:
**48 time lines - dead Mayuris 47; saved Mayuris 1.

In accounting terms, that strategy is bankrupt. Does Okabe really hate Mayuri that much? If he loved her wouldn't it make more sense just having one version of her dying? Not 47?

But here's a funny thing. Every time a Mayuri dies a Kurisu lives. At the end of the 48 time leaps there are 47 time lines with a living Kurisu and 1 with her dead, on top of her death in the first episode. (If you count that time line there are two time lines with a living Mayuri). Okabe then time travels twice with Suzuha - the first time ending in Kurisu's death, the second with her living. It's not clear whether these constitute new time lines or whether the two are visiting an alreay existing time line. Let's assume the former or we have the problem as to why there aren't 3 Okabes present at Kurisu's murder. That means that the final tallies are:

**Dead Mayuris 47; living Maryuris 3; dead Kurisus 2; living Kurisus 48 (with one faked death).

(Here's another parallel with Puell Magi Madoka Magica (in addition to the time travelling): every wish must be balanced with a curse, although in S;G you can cheat fate by fooling all the witnesses.)

A counter theory might be that all possible time lines already exist. S;G's many diagrammatic representations show otherwise - forks are clearly indicated. But even if you accept that the time lines already exist, why should Okabe bother trying to find the ones where Mayuri lives? It doesn't change anything. It's just selfish. I am imagining 48 Okabes swinging from time line to time line seeking the happy ones, like 48 Tarzans swinging through the trees in the jungle, all searching for the 3 available Janes.

Silly visions aside, if Okabe and Kurisu thought through things clearly they would have asked themselves the question: which is preferable - one dead Mayuri or one living Mayuri with 47 dead Mayuris? Perhaps they are trying to maximise the number of opportunities for their first kiss. (Well, it is a sweet scene.)

Anyway, on that note I'll continue to enjoy S;G for its characters and their emotional journeys.
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Blood-
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 9:47 am Reply with quote
The answer is simple. There has never been a time travel story that didn't have a huge plot hole or an inconsistency or both. There has never been a writer intelligent/skilful enough to avoid pitfalls. It has to do with the nature of time travel itself. Early time travel writers weren't savvy enough to understand that if someone from the future came back to the past to do something, they automatically would be creating a new timeline. This is conceptually unavoidable.

So any story that had someone coming from the future to prevent an act from happening (and by doing so avoids a negative outcome in the future) is inherently dopey. Sure, by going back in the past and doing something you avoid a nuclear war in timeline +1, but it does jackshit for YOUR timeline where said nuclear war has already happened.

That's also what makes the Terminator franchise's use of time travel dopey. Okay, so Arnie fails to kill Sarah Connor in Movie 1. So what? Just send another back another Terminator and try again. Continue indefinitely. Not that it matters because even if you succeed, all you've succeeded in doing is changing the outcome of timeline +1. Your timeline remains the same.

This is an unfixable problem with using time travel as a story element. Nothing you do will ever truly make sense.
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errinundra
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 10:25 am Reply with quote
Blood- wrote:
...So any story that had someone coming from the future to prevent an act from happening (and by doing so avoids a negative outcome in the future) is inherently dopey. Sure, by going back in the past and doing something you avoid a nuclear war in timeline +1, but it does jackshit for YOUR timeline where said nuclear war has already happened...


Which means that Okabe doesn't really care how often Mayuri dies, so long as he is living on a time line where she doesn't. Suzuha doesn't really care if 5 billion people die in World War 3 so long as she can be sometime else.

That's the fridge horror.

Quote:
...That's also what makes the Terminator franchise's use of time travel dopey. Okay, so Arnie fails to kill Sarah Connor in Movie 1. So what? Just send another back another Terminator and try again. Continue indefinitely...


True, but it's the terror of an unstoppable Arnie robot that makes Terminator so good, not the time travelling, just as it is the way the Steins;Gate characters go to hell and back that makes it as good as it is.


Last edited by errinundra on Sat Jul 12, 2014 10:42 am; edited 3 times in total
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Ignatz
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 10:34 am Reply with quote
It's never good to dig so deep when you're dealing with a time travel story. But basically, all it boils down to is this:
Quote:
It's just selfish.


Last edited by Ignatz on Sat Jul 12, 2014 11:11 am; edited 1 time in total
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errinundra
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 10:54 am Reply with quote
Ignatz wrote:
It's never good to dig so deep when you're dealing with a time travel story. But basically, all it boils down to is this:
Quote:
It's just selfish.


I'd have thought both Okabe and Suzuha were better than that. But, alas, it seems it ain't so.
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Animegomaniac



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 11:05 am Reply with quote
errinundra wrote:
It doesn't change anything. It's just selfish.


Well, yes. It's not so much a paradox in the time travel itself but the problem is getting the audience to root for the coward.The real fridge horror is that Okabe always remains in the world he just left, knowing that a part of him is going on while he is left behind, only able to go forward {Here it is: It's Japan, how

I wanted him dead.

many Okabes do you think committed suicide?}. It doesn't matter if the ideal world exists or not for the seeking Okabe because the 50 plus other Okabes will never get to see it, plus their world is now broken because of that one guy who's them but not and the choice he'd thought he'd try this time because it didn't mean anything to him. Hey, they now get to live with it

He really got off too lightly.

I'm not too much of a fan of Steins;Gate; Not because of the show but because of the audience. And on that note...

The Terminator, the cyborg was sent back after Skynet was defeated so, yeah, it had one shot {so to speak} and it went the route it did. The sequel introduced another one but at least you could imagine it working in tandem with the first. Also, don't think of it as a simple murder but Rube Goldberg device constructed by a machine in 5 dimensions {4 is time travel, five is universe hopping}.

Movies 3 and 4 don't exist; A terminator went back in time and killed them.
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Blood-
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 12:31 pm Reply with quote
@ errinundra - I certainly don't mean to suggest that either Terminator or S;G sucks because the way time travel was handled - just that time travel itself can never be handled properly. So as Ignatz suggests, best not to think too deeply about it.

@ Animegomanic - okay, but even if you accept the "one shot" premise, you still can't escape the conceptual reality that all Skynet was doing was ensuring that the rebels didn't win in timeline +1: they themselves are still screwed.

Probably the worst handling of time travel I've ever come across was in Dragonflight. I'll put the following in spoiler tags for the benefit of those who haven't read the book yet:

Okay, so the problem on Pern is that spoiler[there aren't enough Dragons. Long in the distant past, a bunch of dragons and their riders disappeared mysteriously. Nobody knows what happened to them. Now that Thread has started again, there aren't enough Dragons to burn them.]

Our hero Lessa spoiler[comes to the rescue! She goes back in time and leads a whole bunch of ancient Dragonriders forward to save the day! Yay!]

Except: the reason there aren't spoiler[enough Dragons in present day Pern is that Lessa led them forward in the past. In other words, she "solves" the problem she created in the first place.] Oi vey.
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Kruszer
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 1:03 pm Reply with quote
Spare yourself the headache and don't think too hard about temporal and quantum mechanics, at least until it becomes law and not just something in the realm of theory speculated by science fiction. Hell, not even every science fiction show is on the same page about alternate dimensions and time travel. You just have to accept what you're given and be entertained.
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jl07045



Joined: 30 Aug 2011
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 1:36 pm Reply with quote
errinundra wrote:
As I understand the world lines in S;G whenever Okabe does one of his memory time leaps or sends a text message to the past a divergence is created, ie a new time line is created. The old time line remains.


I've always seen it this way. There aren't 47 Mayuris. There is one. When Okabe makes a jump, the universe changes it's "configuration". Previous configurations are "saved" somewhere and can be jumped back to. Matter reforms to suit the configuration. This would obviously mean that Universe has memory storage. So Universe tries to course-correct to save memory.
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errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 4:56 am Reply with quote
jl07045 wrote:
I've always seen it this way. There aren't 47 Mayuris. There is one. When Okabe makes a jump, the universe changes it's "configuration". Previous configurations are "saved" somewhere and can be jumped back to. Matter reforms to suit the configuration. This would obviously mean that Universe has memory storage. So Universe tries to course-correct to save memory.


I like your optimistic take on things. Thanks.
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