Approximate Reading Time: 5 minutes
Mirai Nikki is, in essence, a blend of various clichés, spiked with a enticing plot. Despite the clichés it entertains, its one-sentence gimmick is rather intriguing; a boy and 11 other individuals are given limited perception of the future, and must fight each other to the death, with the position of God as a prize for the last living participant. This interesting enough concept, however, is muted by overuse of old ideas.
Feel free to skip onward to the bolded bits below.
Though I was quite annoyed at many times, I was never compelled to stop watching, and I was rather entertained throughout. Yuno, for example, is your typical yandere character, but the anime spends a great deal of time describing just why she acts this way, and her back story was very touching. This tends to be the case with much of the anime, actually. Old ideas are fleshed out in a new light that, which while it doesn't make them fresh, adds interesting depth to them that kept me wanting to watch more.
Nothing really outright bothered me about this show. It wasn't brilliant, but it was consistently mediocre, and certainly wasn't stupid. Animations were excellent, the psychological aspect was prevalent, the plot was moderate, and character development was moderate. All in all, I would say this was a very moderate anime that is worth your time, but maybe not all of your attention.
Character Designs; Animation: 9/10
We'll start with the show's high points. Animation was what you would expect of a 2011 anime, and all character designs were unique and quite pretty. There is a distinct drawing style that makes everything feel almost doodle-y, which I feel adds to the uncertainty effect of the anime. No over usage of black lines, colors were strong and vibrant, and motion was quite fluid. Backgrounds were, for the most part, quite good, though there are some occassions where they were rather flat— nothing bad enough for me to remember specific scenes, though. All and all, this is probably the strongest factor of the show.
Characters; Character Development: 4.5/10
Here are where the clichés come in, and the two main characters are almost pitiful. Shinji Ikari has flashed forward in time and gotten a nice face lift, and is whinny and bitchy as ever. Shinji— or should I call him by his alter ego, Yukki?— has somehow caught the eye of your typical yandere, whom he ends up falling in love with.
Listing cliché and shallow characters chronologically henceforth; we have a serial killer with a part-time job as a high-school teacher, a five year old kid with supreme military knowledge, a robiticly sweet foster mother, a man who is in love with his dogs, a mayor hell-bent on destroying his city, and that extremely intelligent, homosexual 14 year old boy with white hair, who appears in three out of every five anime you've ever seen.
However, there are several characters that, if not unique, at least had very beautiful back-stories or personalities. These characters include Fourth, a seemingly unemotional police chief, Sixth, a 16 year old figurehead of a cult who was deprived of her freedom and innocence, Seventh, Ninth, and the ever-humorous Twelfth. Even Yuno, the archetype yandere, is given a uniquely beautiful back-story that makes it difficult not to love her.
Unfortunately, these exceptions don't really help the fact that the two main characters, along with several significant supporting characters, are either totally overused, or just seem generally non-human.
Sounds and Musics: 6.5/10
The first opening sequence was a lot of fun, and the two ending sequences are powerful and interesting. By contrast, the second opening song is so blatantly terrible that it almost made me stop watching. The English accent was so poor that I actually mistook it for Japanese the first time I heard it.
I immediately loved the OST, but I couldn't help but feel that I had heard it all before. As it would turn out, the song that is played most throughout the show is almost identical to Avatar: The Last Airbender's "Dai Li" and "Ba Sing Se" themes. In fact, almost every song from the OST sounds fairly familiar to other songs from other shows. For a show that's already struggling with cliché, this was a big disappointment. Be that as it may, everything still sounded fine and was played at appropriate times, and a 3/4 for intro and outro songs helps keep the music score on par for acceptable.
What was actually a fairly original and formidable plot struggled to keep afloat amidst mass cliché abuse and shallow characters. However, keep afloat it did, and the climax, sub-plots, and backstories were quite beautiful and interesting (with the sole exception of Yukki's backstory, which was frankly idiotic and lazy).
Many shows that feature a series of bosses suffer from feeling episodic; as though each episode were limited to one boss only, making the entire series rather predictable (See Evangelion). Mirai Nikki avoided this, and that effort should be lauded. The series progresses thoughtfully, and everything seems to happen rather naturally. This is a big bonus for an anime that seems rather insincere in many other important areas, helping to bring Mirai Nikki's score a solid B- .
Mirai Nikki is a bloody, action-packed adventure that focusses on psychological themes, as well as straightforward and chaotic action. If clichés bother you, stay away. Otherwise, you'll probably find yourself at least intrigued, if not moderately captivated, by its beautiful animation style, decent music, and almost-near-lavish plot.
Thanks for reading!