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Mirai Nikki: The Future Diary PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 20 April 2012 09:25
Well, here's an... interesting piece of work. When the God of Space and Time, Deus Ex Machina, decides he needs a replacement (not as omnipotent as you might think from his name), he decides on a rather strange form of Elimination Game to choose his successor. Contestant number 1, Yukiteru Amano, seems the sort of person who'd last about five minutes in such a position - but contestant number 2, the very smart and very cute Yuno Gasai, is also very, very insane, and about to turn the Game on its head...

Yukiteru "Yukki" Amano is a loner who spends his time writing in his cell phone diary and talking to his imaginary friend, Deus Ex Machina. However, one morning, he finds his diary entry for the day has been filled in already. Stranger yet, the events portrayed in the diary start coming true. Deus, who reveals he is an actual God and not so imaginary after all, warns Yukki that if he loses his diary, he will die. As Yukki starts using the diary to his advantage, he is approached by a girl from his class, Yuno Gasai. Yuno also possesses a Future Diary - one that foretells Yukki's death at the hands of a serial killer, another Future Diary owner.

There are twelve Future Diary holders in all, each one's diary fortelling the future in a slightly different way, dependent on their personalities and obsessions. Deus has decided that these twelve will fight to the death in his Elimination Game, each using their diaries to try and gain an advantage over the others, and the last one standing will become his replacement - and with Deus' own powers waning rapidly, there's not much time left for the Game to play out. If Deus dies before the Game is over, it'll be the end of existence.

Helping Deus run the game is his sidekick Murmur, who on the one hand is cute and funny, but who seems to be running to her own agenda, one that's a little different from Deus' - which turns out to be one of the main plotlines of the show, when you get into the final arcs. But that's not the main event.

The main event is the very strange relationship between Yukki and Yuno. Yukki is your typical anime protagonist - a loner, indecisive, generally clueless about relationships with those around him, and generally weak, he's not the sort of person who'd last five minutes in the sort of Elimination Game that Deus has in mind. Enter his classmate Yuno: an abused child, kept in a cage by her adoptive parents and heavily pressured over her school grades, she once had a brief encounter with Yukki where her told her he'd one day marry her - a passing comment that meant nothing to him, probably, but a ray of light in a terrible life that Yuno grabbed with both hands. When she also found herself in the Elimination Game - and with a future diary that, thanks to her obsession with Yukki, focusses entirely on him and her feelings for him - her path was clear: she was going to attach herself to Yukki, and make sure that he won the game. Even if that plan would, by necessity, lead to her own death.

Yuno, you see, is batshit insane in a way that I don't think I've ever seen in anime before. She's the yandere girl to beat all yandere girls, violent in the extreme and mentally disturbed to the point that her perception of reality is skewed by her feelings, and her need to hide certain events from her past. She's completely over the top in personality, her actions in defending Yukki are completely over the top and hyper-violent, but by god she is glorious to watch in action, and that's 75% of the appeal of the series right there – along with Yukki’s developing reaction to her, from appreciating the attention, through being terrified of her when he realizes what she’s capable of, through manipulating her for the ‘combat bonus’ that she brings – to eventually falling in love. Bless.

The other 25% is down to the way the main story plays out. The series is so full of twists and turns that it's nearly impossible to keep track; the plot gives the feel that there was no coherent plan worked out in advance, but that it just moves from chapter to chapter in whichever way the manga author decided would be the most entertaining (and if you've read the manga, the anime is remarkably accurate to the source). By rights, it should be a Guilty Crown-style mess - they both have that making-it-up-as-you-go feel - but whereas each "twist" in Guilty Crown promoted a facepalm, in Mirai Nikki each twist results in an exclamation of "they did what!?" and even greater enjoyment of the craziness of it all. And it's all helped along by a varied cast of diary holders, each twisted in their own little way (a special shout-out here for "moe-moe terrorist" Minene Uryuu, who's the one character in the series who is genuinely likeable for something other than her style of craziness), and Yukki's motley group of friends that help him along, unaware of the ire that's building in Yuno at the thought of people other than her helping her beloved Yukki.

Mirai Nikki is 26 episodes of complete chaos, with each episode doing its best to outdo the ones before it in action and plot-twist silliness. A lot of it either makes no sense or doesn't stand up to close scrutiny for plotholes, but once you get into it and develop an attachment to Yuno, Yukki or Minene, all that fades into the background and you start just enjoying the ride. It's a total rollercoaster, and like the real thing you just can't stop the ride once you've started.

In case you hadn't guessed, then, I loved this, and once it hits Blu-ray (I believe Kaze have the UK physical rights) it'll be a certain buy for me. The craziness won't appeal to everyone, I'll grant, but there's a huge amount of fun to be had from simply going with the flow and seeing where it goes - it's never where you expect. A word to the wise, though: if you haven't already read the manga before starting the anime, do not read it, and stay well clear of spoilers - moreso than most shows, this is one where advance knowledge of what's going to happen will seriously affect your enjoyment of the series. With that warning in mind, go for it - Mirai Nikki is well worth seeing.

Rating - ****