My Thoughts on the Live-Action Steins;Gate Adaptation

This is written with a general understanding of the series in mind

This is written with a general understanding of the series in mind

During the celebration of the hit visual novel Steins;Gate’s 10th anniversary, a live-action Hollywood series adaptation was announced to be in the works by Skydance Media. This news comes as a surprise to many, but there are plenty of fans that are none too pleased. Frankly, I’m one of them.

 I love Steins;Gate. It’s one of my favorites, if not my favorite anime of all time. So one would think that this news would bring me joy. And on one hand, it does. I’m really glad that it’s getting this sort of attention. On the other hand, though, I’m almost certain that it’s going to be bad. From the translation of the series to an American standard to the history of Western anime adaptations as a whole, I have very little faith in this series being anything worthwhile.

First, let’s discuss the setting of the story. It takes place in Akihabara, which I don’t think it’s a stretch to call a unique place in the world. It’s culture of moe is something that I feel would be incredibly difficult to pull off in an American setting, especially with how tied into the story it is. You can’t just pick any random city and call it good here, so it’s concerning to think of how they plan to handle it. 

Next, and primarily, I want to talk about the characters. Just about the whole cast has something that is difficult to pull off in an Americanized style, such as Okabe’s chuunibyou to Feris’ fixation with moe culture (which could be applied to many of them). But there’s a couple that worry me more than the rest. First up to bat is Daru. His perverse nature and innuendos are a constant source of comedic relief throughout the story, but I’m afraid to see how well that carries over to a land in which that sort of thing can get you chastised by the woke community and leave your career in tatters. The sexual comedy in anime has been a cause for controversy plenty of times before, so I’m worried that they’ll just ditch that in favor of painting him to be a bad guy in an attempt to push a message that really has no need to be pushed.

My main concern, however, lies with Ruka. The controversy surrounding this boy-then-girl-then-boy-again seemingly has no end and I get the feeling we’ll be dealing with it with refreshed vigor when this adaptation airs. Since Steins;Gate’s release, people have been constantly trying to paint Ruka as trans and this seems like a golden opportunity to play that card. Western entertainment spares no opportunity to push an agenda and Ruka is the prime candidate. He’ll be paraded around as the trans icon of 2020 for those internet good-boy points and the fires will be lit anew as another online war breaks out. Also, it will be difficult to find someone to play the role. Finding someone that can play a boy and a girl like that will most definitely be a problem. I can handle them casting a girl for the part, but I won’t be pleased about it.

When it comes down to it, there’s so much that can go awry with this adaptation. And this is all on top of the fact that the west doesn’t have a very good track record of American live-action adaptations of anime. Take the Death Note film for example. It was a train wreck that tried to capitalize on the name alone while not sticking to any of what made the series good in the first place. Light went from sociopathic megalomaniac to wimpy pushover, L became an emotionally unstable gremlin rather than an equally sociopathic gremlin, none of the established rules were seen through, and they didn’t even face half of the problems that this Steins;Gate adaptation does. Needless to say, my faith in this is all but gone.

But if they cast Dwayne Johnson as Yugo Tennouji then I’ll be content.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Does it Still Hold Up?

Back in the days of October, 2004, the world was taken by storm by the latest and greatest installment of Rockstar North’s Grand Theft Auto series, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Moving from the bustling Vice City to the gang-filled streets of Los Santos, San Andreas was regarded as a damn masterpiece of the time. With a quite large open world for the player to explore and plenty of side activities, it’s no wonder why it was regarded with such praise at the time. But what about now, 15 years later? Does it still hold up as a quality game or have we been blinded by the rose-colored glasses we look through?

First things first, a brief recap of where we begin. We follow the story of and play as Carl Johnson (better known as CJ), a former member of the Grove Street Families, who is coming back to his hometown of Los Santos after the death of his mother. What he comes back to find is Grove Street to be a shell of its former self and their lifelong rivals, the Rolling Heights Ballas, reigning supreme. Determined to stay and build the Families back up as one of the leading gangs in Los Santos, CJ once again finds himself back in the world of crime he had tried to leave behind.

Note: This review is based off of the PC version available on Steam. Experiences may vary on other platforms.

Well as far as the story goes, I say it still holds up in true GTA fashion. It checks the boxes of actual intriguing story as well as giving the over-the-top outrageousness that the series is known so well for. From drive-bys (and drive-thrus) to killing deliverymen with RC planes, there’s a wide array of missions CJ is tasked with to keep the game lively and entertaining. The plot itself is one I find to be actually rather compelling. The twists and turns keep the player intrigued and invested in what’s to come while also providing an element of comedy that’s still brought up to this day. I can say that this aspect holds up to this day rather well.

The characters themselves are memorable in their own way. From the preaching words of Big Smoke to the uncanny skills (for a blind man, at least) of Woozie, each one has their own unique personality, giving the game more dynamic and fun interactions. But on the downside, there’s a good deal of poor voice acting in the game. It seems that the non-crucial story characters (take T-Bone Mendez for example) have just really bad VAs, while the more important ones are pretty good. My guess is that Samuel L. Jackson took up too much of the budget and they had to take what they could get. Other than that, though, the characters are some of the most iconic in the entire franchise.

Now for the technical side, where the disparity really starts to show. First off, the graphics really show that it’s from 2004, with textures that look better off in Minecraft nowadays. Outside of cutscenes, everything is jagged and rough. Hell, I’m not sure if there’s anything resembling a curve in the game. The audio is another issue, prominently the dialogue. When in cutscenes, it sounds just fine, but in-game, anyone other than CJ sounds like they’re speaking through a cheap Xbox mic. It’s not the most pleasant thing in the world to listen to. Gunshots don’t sound great and explosions could be related more to someone blowing into a microphone than an actual explosion. Another somewhat uncommon issue is that the game can crash while loading, leaving you looking at a black screen that’s annoying to Alt+Tab out of. I’ve resorted to restarting my PC whenever it happens.

Controls are a whole different beast entirely. The camera control when running and driving can be a hassle, but it’s manageable. On-foot movement is nothing different for the GTA franchise, so it’s easy to get the hang of. The driving, on the other hand, is quite annoying when starting off. Most notably is that you have no control over your acceleration. As it’s controlled by a button rather than a trigger, the only options are “go” or “don’t go”. However, once you get a grip on it, it can feel quite good to drive around in the game. Shooting is where my main issue lies. It’s primarily controlled by a target-lock system that can be a bit buggy at times, not allowing you to lock on to someone standing directly in front of you. Another issue is more of a personal gripe, but when you try to shoot someone behind you, CJ simply just shoots into the air rather than turn around. You have to turn and face the target for CJ to actually aim at them. I understand why it works like this, but it’s just annoying to deal with.

Overall, I think that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas would not hold up today in terms of graphics and audio, but the story, characters, and gameplay are still of a high quality that keeps the player entertained for countless hours. From when singleplayer games reigned supreme, this gem has stood the test of time and lives on with a legacy that won’t soon be forgotten.