There are a lot of “high stakes game” anime out there that really don’t seem to be that high stakes, nor contain the kind of drama I’d expect of something executing that genre. I’m looking at you Eden of the East. And while I have had a few run ins with series with great ideas for these games, but terrible execution, Mirai Nikki has broken that trend and given me both an interesting plot, as well as a good execution of said plot. That’s not to say that Mirai Nikki is not without its faults, for it does inevitably have many areas where it falls short.
Mirai Nikki translates to Future Diary, which is what is given to twelve contestants in a game to win the seat of God. All twelve of the participants of this game are given various forms of diaries (whether they be scrolls, a sketch book, or cell phones) which tell them different things about what will happen in the future. For instance, our hero, Bitch Boy…I MEAN YUKITERU AMANO, has a diary that tells him about his surroundings. Meanwhile, his stalker, Gasai Yuno, has a diary that tells her all about what Yuki is doing. The different holders of the diaries are made by God, named Deus, to fight for his position in the universe as he is dying. Why did he pick twelve random people to fight to take the place of God instead of find a worthy candidate through an application process or something like that, who knows. But for the purposes of not going into too much nitpicking, let’s just go along with this.
From the start, our heroes (or hero(or anti-hero(this show gives us a cast of very gray characters))) are made to fight some strange characters, including a teacher who kills on the street, a terrorist who has a seemingly infinite number of explosives at her disposal, a cult leader, an insane super-hero, and a guy who has turned his dogs into mechanical monsters. All the while, Yuki and Gasai are establishing one of the strangest relationships you’ll ever see, as well as forming alliances, breaking alliances, and generally going insane with the fact they can trust no one.
What makes the execution of this show good compared to shows like Eden of the East or Deadman Wonderland is that it creates a game, and it sticks with the game. It never goes off into side-crap and there’s never a point where everyone comes together and battles the big bad guy so that nobody has to die and everyone is happy. While the show does have a happy ending, the ending is attained through a lot of good ol’ fashioned violence, insanity, and gore. The gore is so bad that it has to be blocked out on Japanese TV. That’s not to say this is in any way competition for Tokyo Gore Police or any horror movie along those lines; the gore may be a little too much for some, but for me was just the right balance, never too disgusting, never too friendly.
Another reason the execution is good is the psychological aspect that is played out throughout the show. This is especially prevalent in an episode concerning Yuki choosing his friends or Gasai. These moments are tense, dramatic, and slow; they play up the drama just enough, but never overdo it. They leave you at the edge of your seat, queuing up the next episode despite the fact it is well past your bedtime. This show has a real sense of drama about it, and it is character driven, but it’s also the basic psychological aspects of putting a bunch of people into a fight for their life. While much of the drama is forced, I must at least commend the portion spoken of before and a couple of points throughout where I did want to keep watching to see what would happen.
One of the major factors to this show is that none of the characters are infallible. Every character has issues and problems that come up to either bite them or help them, and the fact that every character, even the bad guys, are given at least a tiny smidgen of exposition and backstory really helps us care more about them. And I know this is not true of the first bad guy we encounter, he was more for story exposition. Future characters are all given some time so you can figure out whether you like them or not. Of course, there are many unlikeable characters to be found (I.E most of them), but the fact that these characters are given a bit of backstory and humanity really helps Mirai Nikki not be totally unbearable.
Our main character, Yuki, is a huge pussy. He’s a bitch who cries at the slightest inclination. It’s not fun to watch. There are some points, toward the end especially, where he does get bearable, but half the time you wish he’d just die so we didn’t have to deal with the torrent of tears that comes with every death, toe stub, toilet, and revelation.
I much prefer Gasai Yuno, who I would like to consider the main character. She gets enough screen time and attention to be the main character. She’s a creepy stalker at first, then she’s an insane creepy stalker, but she slowly grows on you if only because she is the complete opposite of Yuki and provides some insane bloodshed, rather than some little bitch baby tears. That's probably the only reason I liked her was the respite I was given from dealing with Yuki.
Minene Uryuu was my favorite character. While Gasai is a badass, I thought Minene was even better. From the first time seeing her blow up half a fucking middle school, I knew she was going to be amazing. As the series progresses she lightens up a little and takes on a certain humanity that is both touching and well executed, but watching her go insane and hearing her scream is pleasant. She’s a no nonsense kind of girl, kind of like Gasai. But more badass. Because she has an eyepatch.
Let’s talk about the ending, which is truly where the show loses itself and becomes a bit sloppy. Now, people have complained about everything about this show from the poor art to the poor direction. I didn’t really give a damn about either, because I was just here to see people get the shit beat out of them. What I have a problem with is the overly complex and almost Madoka like ending. What is up with time travel in anime recently? A second world and a third world? It wasn’t exactly confusing as much as an excuse to create a happy ending. And while I love a happy ending, I’d have been perfectly happy if Mirai Nikki didn’t attempt to be smarter than it was and instead ended the tournament, explained Gasai’s intentions, created the infinite loop that was sure to come, and then ended it there. I didn’t need to have the Dragon Ball Z style fighting between Murmur and Minene…that kind of killed her character for me (I preferred the explosive part of her, not the panty shot flying part).
And on top of that, the ending...is weird. Not weird because it is strange, it’s weird because it ends five pages before the manga does. Instead of just showing Gasai and Yuki living happily ever after, it teases this, then ends. YOU COULDN’T FIT THE LAST FIVE PAGES OF THE MANGA IN? SERIOUSLY?
Mirai Nikki is bound to get a lot of shit, but as far as entertainment goes, it’s got that in the bag. The plot could be considered stupid by some, but I thought it was decent enough. The characters can be considered bad by some, and I can see that. Yuki is a horrible main character and Gasai, while a badass, is very inconsistent in character. This could be attributed to her insanity, but I like to attribute it to bad writing. That goes double for the romance, which seems to develop out of nowhere. Yuki pretends through most of the series, yet suddenly falls for Gasai? For no reason? He even asks why he fell for her at one point and doesn’t come up with a clear enough answer to give me any sort of warm feeling. And of course, the ending becomes something huge and painfully broken. If it had ended with a bad ending where everyone dies and Gasai keeps replaying the past over and over, it would have left a better taste in my mouth than the ending I was given.
It’s not amazing, but, at least for me, I found myself really enjoying a lot of it. I’m a sucker for dumb violence and gore, and Mirai Nikki provides in that respect. In the respect of good characters and ingenuity, it doesn’t have much…other than Minene.
-No nonsense with the blood and gore.
-Some tense moments.
-Yuki: King of Vaginas.
-Gasai's inconsistent character
-The overly complex and terribly executed finale