What They Say:
A year has passed since Okabe reached the Steins Gate world-line where Mayuri is alive, Kurisu hasn’t been killed, and time only moves forward. Visiting Japan, Kurisu stops by the Future Gadget Lab where everyone is up to their usual shenanigans. But something’s not quite right—memories of other timelines continue to haunt Okabe… or are they visions? Out of nowhere, a message is left for Kurisu: cell phone, microwave, SERN. Strong emotions blur the world-lines and trigger déjà vu. Before she knows it, Okabe disappears. Unable to let go of the one who never existed, Kurisu makes a daring return to the past. Hoping to save the mad scientist who tried countless times to save her, she must make a decision—risk everything, or live in a world without Okabe.
The audio presentation for this release is pretty solid as we get the original Japanese language track in and the English language track in 5.1, both of which use the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The feature is very much dialogue driven so the use of placement throughout and depth during certain sequences is where it stands out and the series handles it all quite well. The few big moment scenes mostly come in the form of music, but it has some good effects elsewhere as well that stand out. The show is not one that’s designed to knock your socks off, but you do find the mix drawing you in overall as it progresses and gets more intense and atmospheric in its own way. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally in theaters in 2013, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Animated by White Fox, there’s more than enough room for the film here on the single disc and the bit rate has a solid average so that there are no real issues with it The film largely reflects the look of the TV series, which looked great for what it was doing to begin with, and has a rather good real world look to it with a few stand out areas in terms of color and some of the animation is incredibly fluid at times. The film is like the show in that it tends to be more about the talking and standing around, but the encoding captures the details well here and brings the atmosphere to the screen in a very good way.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the separate DVD and Blu-ray discs against the interior walls. The first pressing comes with an o-card that replicates the cover artwork but the colors are so very different so as to not be the same thing really, particularly with the blue tones. I like the artwork as it’s a striking key visual piece that makes it clear who the lead is here but it just works a distinct feeling and makes me become more engaged with it. The back cover works a lot of text and widgets with blueprint style design in the background while the foreground just has a big black block of space where we get the old school text that has the summary of the premise. It covers things well but with just a strip of shots along the right that doesn’t offer too much about the film, and are progressively smaller, it’s not a terribly useful piece nor does it sell the film more. The production information is basic but the technical grid covers everything in a clear and easy to read form. There are no show related inserts and the reverse side of the cover is an inverted piece of the cover background that’s mostly black and indistinct.
The menu design for this release works nicely as it’s done with the familiar concept of just clips from the film playing, which have some nice facial close-ups that are fun to have come across. The navigation is kept in theme as well along the bottom with some of the cover background material which doubles as the pop-up menu as well. Submenus load quickly and easily and navigation is a breeze..
Extras for this release are kept very simple but welcome for English dub fans as we get a new commentary track from the production team talking about their experiences on the project, and things happening on screen at the time.
When the original Steins;Gate TV series came out back in 2011, it was essentially trying really hard to be my favorite show of that year. It got beat out by a hair by Shiki, but the series has made a lasting impression. It took two years for a feature film sequel to come out in 2013, which unfortunately took another four years for various undisclosed reasons to actually make it to release, even though it was licensed some time ago. With it being some five or six years overall since I last saw the series, which makes me feel even older, it was definitely interesting trying to get back into the dynamic of the film since it picks up from the events there and it does kind of require knowing the details of it fairly well. While I’m unable to rewatch the series prior to this, I’d definitely recommend doing just that.
The film itself takes place a year after the events of the TV series itself where Okabe is simply dealing with the weirdness of everything that went down. Everything is back to normal in its own way with Okabe having ensured that everyone is still alive and none of the weird or bad things have taken hold. His trip across the timelines previously was pretty intense and that kind of relief upon being back has lead to a kind of laid back period, what with Kurisu having left for a while and now coming back and even Daru getting a girlfriend. The problem comes in that Okabe is struggling with some things as the side effects of all that he’s seen and done is taking its toll. It’s wearing him down in a general sense but what we discover, along with some time spent with Kurisu as it progresses, is that the deja vu that they’re experiencing is basically short circuited and out of order/unsynced memories coming into play. I’ve always enjoyed discussions about deja vu and what it means within this context and the pair play at it well enough.
Where things get shaken up is that along the way, while everyone is reconnecting after the time apart, Okabe himself suddenly disappears and nobody recalls him. We’ve seen shades of that before with his timeline jumps so it’s a fun angle to play with him being the one missing here. What this also does is shift gears and puts Kurisu fully in the leading role as she has the faint memory of him and is struggling to put it together and then figure out how to save him from a tragic past that has now eliminated him. It works similar to what we saw in the series but with her running the show and we even get some fun with SERN and special visitors from the future. Kurisu’s struggles in getting all of this fix largely dominates the second half of the film and makes for a pretty engaging piece overall as it also ties into the unresolved feelings the two of them have for each other and the larger group dynamic itself.
The Steins;Gate film really does just feel like three slightly padded episodes of the TV series that serves as an epilogue to events there. I adored the TV series greatly for what it did over its run with its creativity and its humor. The film plays things more serious and more focused on Okabe and Kurisu, though the others have smaller but welcome roles over the course of it. Funimation’s put together a solid release here overall with a very good encode and presentation, but it does leave you wondering what took so long because the time gap between releases (five years!) really does diminish interest in it. I know this isn’t how they wanted to deal with it, or the questions about it over the years, but coming back into this with that much space between releases had this leaving less of an impact on me. I definitely enjoyed reconnecting with these characters, or the leads at least, after so long, but this is also a film that I really do recommend revisiting the TV series first before going cold into this project. It’s a welcome feather in the cap of the most popular of the Science Adventure series for me.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: March 28th, 2017
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.