by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Steins;Gate 0 ?
I'll give Episode 10 of Steins;Gate 0 one positive mark right off the bat: Nae as Sergeant Clean is absurdly cute, and I will officially endorse any further appearances from her if it means she'll be wearing a little army hat and yelling at everyone to dust better. I could honestly do with less Creepy Daru though; he's always been a perv, but I take exception to the thought of him getting off on the verbal abuse being dished out by his landlord's eleven-year-old daughter. Also, while I did enjoy the lab members' cleaning party shenanigans on a purely emotional level, they also served as yet more detours that only make this expositional stretch of the season feel even more meandering than it should. This isn't to say the episode is a waste of time, however. The lab's cleaning session, Faris' sleepover with Maho and Moeka, and Maho's outing with Okabe and Amadeus all work nicely to serve Maho's character development, which is the central focus of “Pandora of Provable Existence”. But as always, I do feel like S;G 0 is taking too much time to get to the point.
The problem isn't that the cleaning and sleepover scenes take up over half the episode; I just remain unconvinced at S;G 0's attempt to mimic its predecessors' formula, despite already diving headfirst into time travel conspiracies and attempted kidnappings. Maho's slovenly nature is already well established, which makes the otherwise fun cleanup scene feel redundant, and her brief exchange with Moeka during the sleepover that follows is nice, but it also reiterates themes of self-actualization that get addressed better later in the episode. Combined with the scene's excessive fanservice, this middle section of the episode is the closest this week comes to truly feeling like a waste of time.
More successful are the sequences focusing just on Maho and Okabe. While our central hero persists in a largely reactionary role, Maho gets more interesting material, both as an individual character and in regards to her relationships with Makise/Amadeus and Okabe. While I'm still not a fan of Maho and Okabe being set up as a romantic pairing, I will admit that I enjoyed seeing them spend time together this week. Okabe was the only character to have an especially layered relationship with Makise in the original story, so it is refreshing to see him play off someone who shared equally complex feelings about her former colleague. The extended Amadeus/Salieri analogy that Maho brings up a couple times this week works well, revealing Maho as a woman who genuinely cared about Makise despite being put-off by her natural genius. Her perception of the Steins;Gate story and Okabe's relationship with Makise provide a rich avenue of emotions for the series to explore, and I hope we get more from Maho in the future beyond just being another girl that falls in love with Okabe.
At the very least, Maho is becoming more directly involved with the series' burgeoning World War III plot, as it seems the Radio Building is the place for characters to go when Steins;Gate 0 needs to get things moving. While I'm getting tired of the series' need to constantly remind us of how troubled and prone to stress-vomiting Okabe is, I did appreciate giving Maho more time to explicitly confront Makise's murder. Not only did it work as an emotional beat, it also finally saw Maho asking some obvious questions about how Okabe could possibly have developed such a deep understanding of Makise and her research despite only having known her for a handful of weeks at most.
While this doesn't lead to Okabe revealing everything about time travel, he does start to freak out when Maho posits that the thieves who broke into the lab earlier were probably after Makise's original laptop, which contains all of her notes and research on time machines. The episode leaves off on a cliffhanger, with Okabe frantically warning Maho about the impeding World War that will break out over the contents of that computer, though whether Maho will believe all of this at face value remains to be seen. At the very least, I hope this gets some sort of dialogue about the War started with characters beyond Suzuha; it's the most interesting aspect of S;G 0's premise, but it's barely been touched on all season. While I'm fine with fluffy filler every now and again, I think S;G 0 has officially hit its quota for the foreseeable future, and I'm crossing my fingers that next week will finally break the show out of its doldrums.
Steins;Gate 0 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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