Mirai Nikki: Future Diary – Complete Collecton 2 (Episodes 17-26) (Cert 15)
2 Disc Blu-ray/3 Discs DVD (Distributor: Kaze UK) Running time: 309 minutes approx.
It’s been an agonising five month wait, fraught with delays and setbacks but the concluding volume of this violent, supernatural psychological thriller is finally here. Because of the complex nature of the plot and the protracted wait, you may want to reacquaint yourself with the events of the first volume as we rejoin the story directly where we left it.
By way of a quick refresher – twelve people called Diary Holders are given mobile phones that can control the future via text message. They are forced into a murderous tournament called the Survival Games where the winner becomes God.
We pick things up with the gloriously unhinged Yuno Gasai having secluded her sweetheart, central protagonist Yukiteru “Yuki” Amano, in a sealed off room in an abandoned hotel, having tied him to a chair. Meanwhile locked up in another room are other Diary holders whom Yuno plans to gas to death, but Aru Akise, who has a Detective Diary, has found incriminating evidence concerning three bodies Yuno recently dug up.
They eventually escape when blogger Ouji Kosaka becomes a Diary Holder, and Yuki walks out on Yuno. But Yuno isn’t giving up so easily and vows to protect Yuki until July 28th when the game ends. In the meantime Aru seeks to find the truth behind the secret Yuno is keeping from Yuki, while the current God Deus is forced to interject himself in the Survival Game upon learning of his servant Murmur’s interference behind his back.
If you are returning from the first volume you’ll know that Future Diary is a show that refuses to sit still and the thirteen episodes featured here are no exception. The first part of the above summary is just a brief outline of the first chapter in this set while the second barely scratches the surface of the numerous developments and twists which follow.
As mentioned earlier, the prize for winning the Survival Games becomes God. Yuki learns this late in the game, hitherto fighting for survival only but when the body count starts to rise and his loyalties are reduced, Yuki decides to fight for the big prize, vowing to revive all of the deceased.
Yuno applauds this noble sentiment but there is a caveat – there can be only one winner meaning if it comes down to Yuki and Yuno, one of them has to die. Since Yuki won’t harm Yuno and Yuno serves as Yuki’s protector how do they settle this? But Yuno is also a complete fruitcake and has manipulated Yuki to cause the most deaths, suggesting she has another agenda. This is where things start get interesting – and confusing.
How much of this reflects on the original manga I am not in a position to say but many producers of anime adaptations have gone into business for themselves when it comes to the conclusion, and if this is the case here I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with it but getting there is a bit of a confusing ride.
There is both an upside and downside to this – the upside is that we are continually entertained and invested in the story right to the end, where the outcome that seems the most likely invariable isn’t. The downside is the typical anime problem of having a fertile but convoluted concept which is taken so far until an ending is required, then they just anything at the wall, sees what sticks and use that.
In all honesty while the concept of mobile phones able to manipulate time, events and the future is a great concept, there are going to be inherent problems with keeping track of the various threads born out of the changes executed. Plot holes will occur and in the first volume, accepting these is easier as the story is just getting started and the temporal interference of the Diary Holders has yet to create any real problems.
With Aru making a significant and shocking discovery about Yuno, the story is suddenly flipped on its head. At first there doesn’t appear to be anything majorly questionable about this revelation but the script decides to play with this a bit and introduce a second plot twist which brings with it the aforementioned distortion of logic and credibility.
This makes for a fascinating new direction for the story if you can switch off your brain and not concern yourself with the logistics and plausibility of this development. But, some anime fans possess the same level of intensity towards the minutiae of the science in their shows as Star Trek fans do in theirs, thus there’ll be blog posts galore in how the actions are impossible and their enjoyment of the show is now compromised.
Credit then to script writer Katsuhiko Takayama, director Naoto Hosoda, and indeed the original manga creator Sakae Esuno, for sticking to their guns and seeing this through to the end. One thing I will say is that this isn’t a deus ex machina situation, it becomes an integral part of the story and dominate the final few episodes with plenty of room to breathe – just be warned there is a lot to take in.
Even if you start to lose track of the plot there is still plenty of violence to enjoy, with the gore factor turned up to eleven and the deaths graphic and wholly unpleasant. The animation from Studio Asread remains consistent and of a high quality, even when the character designs get silly, like the incongruously disproportionate Kamado Ueshita of the Mother’s Home orphanage.
Future Diary is one hell of a trip overall delivering intense, visceral and involving entertainment value, provided you let yourself follow the ride even when it goes off the rails a little. It is definitely a show that will reveal more of itself on repeated viewings, especially without a five month gap between episodes, and may even make more sense second time around!
Japanese 2.0 w/ English Subtitles
Clean Opening 2
Clean Ending 2
Rating – ****
Man In Black