LATE TO THE PARTY: “MIRAI NIKKI” (“THE FUTURE DIARY”)
DON’T LET THE YANDERE FOOL YOU
EPISODES: 26 EPISODES & 1 O.V.A.
WATCH: HULU & FUNIMATION (The OVA you have to look for.)
Disclaimer: This is my second time watching this, but I had to show it to my wife.
Fourteen year old Yukiteru Amano is dragged into a death battle royale with 11 other people to determine the successor to the god of time and space: Deus Ex Machina. Despite that log-line, this anime is not a Shonen Jump piece. Mirai Nikki is one of those rare anime that can take itself seriously without looking cheesy and still poke fun at itself. It’s also a perfect blend of mystery, gore, romance and science-fiction. There are even special comedic segments at the end of each episode that also add to the overall plot.
For three months, Yuki must craft his way out of deadly encounters with the other 11 death game participants dubbed “Diary Holders”. These Diary Holders use their cell phones to track and avoid their deaths since their cell phones can actually predict their incoming future; including their deaths at the hand of other Diary Holders. Straight from the first episode, Yuki runs into two Diary Holders; one who tries to kill him and the other, Yuno Gasai (the anime’s Yandere), who aims to keep Yuki alive.
Despite a relatively normal runtime, (it could’ve maybe been extended) Mirai Nikki actually fleshes out all of the Diary Holders and supporting cast nicely (a total of 20). All the characters appear two dimensional to portray their tropes until the viewer actually sees their motivations and adversity leading into the game. You end up wishing that some characters could live and avoid the game completely. Smaller details such as Akise’s body walking after being beheaded are a beautiful touch. The sci-fi aspects are introduced through time travel, but Mirai Nikki keeps multiple timelines simple and the mystery regarding Yuno Gasai is a slow burn that starts with extreme creepiness that slowly transforms into a love story. You cannot predict the payoffs ahead of time like most programs. Mirai Nikki‘s romance if anything is an homage to Romeo & Juliet, just with time travel and murder; but it’s not cheesy and truly upsets you.
Mirai Nikki can also stress the detrimental effects of psychological conditions. As viewers witness Yuki’s gradual kill count and the numerous losses he suffers, his eventual shift in personality is considered gruesome and disgusting. Yuno’s backstory instantly redeems her as she becomes a vessel of melancholy; but you can’t help to still distrust her. Both of these turns are thrilling slow burns while you try to solve Yuno’s underlying mystery and analytically survive the various death encounters through Akise’s and Yuki’s mindsets.
Despite being a modern classic, there are issues with the series. Yuki and Yuno really don’t need to be 14 as it cheapens some moments in the series by resembling a Shonen Jump series. There’s also the multitude of weapons that appear. How do 14 year-olds find assault rifles, revolvers and drugs and why are they able to just commit murder and walk around freely the next day regardless of their participation in the death game? The first half of the death game is also a little too fast compared to the second half, with five of the other 11 Diary Holders dying within the first nine to ten episodes. While the yandere aspects of the series propel it to fame, it can also be excessive. The ending also hurts as it leaves you depressed and heartbroken to the point the OVA had to revise the ending two years later.
Mirai Nikki was one of the best from 2011 to 2012 and should be considered one of the best of all time; regardless of its history at defining the term “Yandere”. Full of tasteful gore for murderous scenes, beautiful romantic confessions and intimacy, a simple yet effective use of time travel and a modern spin on battle royales. The best part is that the manga and anime are not that different like most cases of adaptations. This also happens to be anime where all of its theme songs are amazing. This series could be remade in the future and it would still hold up. Mirai Nikki gets an A- in my book.