Both Rintaro and Subaru are cheaters.
In both Steins;Gate and Re:Zero the protagonists are chasing the “perfect” outcome. The working definition I am using is that the perfect outcome is the outcome that satisfies the protagonist, or the outcome the protagonist is happiest with. Both series have different premises, settings, and character backgrounds. In fact they are more dissimilar then they are alike. While the series’ vary in how they go about achieving the perfect outcome, there are some similarities that stuck out to me: both Okabe Rintaro and Natsuki Subaru are forced to go to extreme lengths to achieve the perfect outcome. Both also get to cheat life.
There are logical breakdowns in terms of how Okabe Rintaro uses time travel and his personal reasons for doing so, versus the fact that Natsuki Subaru’s “Return by Death” ability isn’t something he has direct control over. There are similarities in both the time travel element of Subaru’s “Return by Death ” and the fact that Subaru can’t move forward unless he achieves the perfect outcome, Rintaro also can’t completely control the outcomes of any given scenario so he has to keep trying. In a way both are striving towards a perfect outcome for the given scenario, and can use time travel to overcome obstacles in their way because they can retain memories of their previous failures in previous timelines.
However the journey of time travel isn’t something that a human psyche is ready for or meant to do. During the course of both Rintaro’s and Subaru’s adventures they fail more times than they succeed. Every failure seems more devastating than the last because each time they move closer towards their goal of reaching the perfect outcome, they continually fall short along the way. There is no prize for either Subaru or Rintaro in their failures, and no way to move forward until they accomplish what they set out to do. Retaining memories of previous failures certainly helps, but there comes a point where retaining memories of failures becomes a burden on the psyche that both possess.
The confidence and sometimes arrogance of the characters quickly becomes a depressed mess. Each struggles to overcome their situations. Their demeanor changes, they seem different to the world around them. Both Rintaro and Subaru become more anxious in the process, more desperate to succeed each time they return to a previous time point. Both Rintaro and Subaru are cursed to relive their failures over and over again. The beauty of time is being able to progress, accept certain past situations, and being able to change your perception based on your experiences. Neither Rintaro nor Subaru have to do that since they can literally warp time and space itself to achieve what they set their mind to.
Rintaro and Subaru are allowed to cheat. While their experiences do change them, they never have to accept a bad outcome. Rintaro and Subaru get to transcend time and space as though they were divine beings. Time travel is the ultimate life hack, but the price that both Rintaro and Subaru pay is steep. They pay with their emotional well-being, and their sanity. Steins;Gate and Re:Zero are cautionary stories that serve to remind us that moving on with life is better for us in the long run rather than reliving the failures of the past. Sometimes what happens can’t be fixed and while it may be difficult to accept ultimately time keeps moving forward. Luckily, or maybe unluckily, Rintaro and Subaru never have to accept an outcome they don’t like. Both are the ultimate life cheaters.
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