Don’t worry… Ahnnnnn~… Readers… I’ll write for you.
The craziest anime series of the Fall 2011 just came to a close, but it left with me with something that didn’t live up to the zany expectations of the middle episodes. Not to say it was disappointing, but it felt that something was missing. No, rather, it felt like something was out of place. It’s been a fun ride, Mirai Nikki, especially not starting off as a reader of the manga, but I must say… why?
Everything was going well… Yuki…
The survival premise of Mirai Nikki is not a premise I have not seen in Japanese fiction before. You can thank Battle Royale and Kamen Rider Ryuki for that. What brought me into the series was the precognitive cellphones/diaries (which, admittedly, sounds oddly familiar) and of course, the commonly-crowned Queen of Yandere, Gasai Yuno.
Because the basic premise isn’t really anything unique, you can see a bunch of basic tropes and common elements that are used in various other series of the same concept. Amano Yukiteru, an expy of Ikari Shinji of Neon Genesis Evangelion, is also an expy of Kido Shinji of Kamen Rider Ryuki (two Shinjis… funny how that works out). While Amano is meek, as opposed to Kido, who is more courageous, he shares Kido’s initial desire of not wanting to take part in the survival game and wants to use the powers given to him for more positive things rather than kill, meeting other neutral and chaotic evil participants in the process. One can also make a certain parallel to works like Battle Royale, in which an average school student is forced to take lives in a game that isn’t in his control.
Opening spoilers. Awesome.
But Mirai Nikki offers a unique twist to the survival game genre by deconstructing every trope employed by various other genres, making the pivotal plot point of the series centered on the relationship of our (realistic) 14-year-old main character… and a girlfriend that happens to be forced on him by the end of the first episode. Gasai Yuno isn’t your typical magical girlfriend that wakes up with you in bed one fateful day, declaring her innocent and undying love for you; she’s a crazy stalker that wants you all to herself. While we have many other examples of the yandere in various types of stories, Gasai Yuno sits on the trope and makes it her bitch. You can usually (forgive me if I’m using the phrase incorrectly) “smell that bitch from a mile away”. With Yuno, she’s unpredictable and it’s hard to tell if her cute outer shell and her inner psychotic self are the same person or the result of a split personality because the “act” seemed truly genuine, and the mysteries behind her character makes it even more eerie. Kudos to the original mangaka for knowing how to make a yandere girl so… intriguing.
That, coupled with elements such as gang rape, child killers, and decapitations with nothing holding it back other than Japanese television censorship, Mirai Nikki is certainly the type of anime that evangelists would love to shoot down with their protest signs.
She really is soft on the inside, isn’t she? Well, I mean for a crazy terrorist.
What’s strange about watching Mirai Nikki is the fact that even the characters that do the most atrocious things can manage to be likable at some point. Uryuu Minene, the Ensemble Darkhorse of this series, is a prime example of this. Despite bombing schools and killing schoolkids (and, yeah, being a crazy terrorist) in her very first appearance, something that I personally found appalling, her character development, sad background story, and quirks quickly made her a valuable ally and a fan-favorite.
If it’s one thing I got to hand it to Mirai Nikki, it’s the fact that Esuno knew how to appropriately/realistically portray the faults that every person has. They’re only human after all. The Fourth Diary Owner, Kurusu Keigo, comes to mind, with his betrayal being fueled by the good intentions of saving his son, at the cost of his integrity as law enforcement. Like Ikari Shinji, I think Amano Yukiteru gets too much flak from fans. He’s a withdrawn 14-year-old middle schooler who is thrown into a bloodbath… you can barely get 14-year-old kids to go up to their rooms and do their homework let alone “man-up” and take part in a murder game, I think they need to cut him some slack. I was in his shoes once, and if I was thrown into a killing spree where my entire family was caught in the crossfire, I wouldn’t have made perfect decisions either. Of course, this is an example of anime fans missing the point. Again.
Akise Aru: The most badass bisexual of 2011-2012.
Enough of the praise and onto the negative aspects of the show! One of my favorite male characters of this show was Akise Aru. Despite the homoerotic flashes to Kaworu of Neon Genesis Evangelion (jeez, I’ve been mentioning that a lot, but the white hair, Ho Yay with the main character, and Ishida Akira just makes it way too much of a coincidence), he was presented as a unique character in that he wasn’t a Diary Owner but could still hold his own against the future seers, and his abnormal detective skills help bring the story together from an outside standpoint. If the police department and the Diary Holders, too absorbed into the game, couldn’t delve into the more mysterious aspects of the game, it was up to Akise.
However, his revelation as an artificial human created by Deus and his overall characterization felt very weak as we don’t really get to see him as much as we could, and his love for Yukiteru seemed rather forced, much like Kaworu’s “love” for Ikari Shinji (yaoi fans are going to shoot me for that). It certainly could have been explored more. I know that a side-story manga of him exists, but I don’t think Asread had the budget to include it in the series.
Even Yuno is speechless.
Speaking of budget, the animation seemed to take a dive halfway through the series. The early half of the series had animation that ranged from average to crisp, the characters were well-proportioned, and the overall art looked nice. That screenshot of Akise a few paragraphs ago can attest to that. But somewhere along the lines after Yukiteru started breaking down, the animation’s level of fluidity decreased by a drastic amount and the amount of times the characters went off-model skyrocketed. Even the last episode, where I expected most of the budget would go into, didn’t look as nice as some of the earlier episodes, and that’s kind of disappointing.
I felt sorry for this Yuno… she was literally denied of screentime…
One of the aspects that made this series a fun ride was the amount of twists they manage to squeeze in, whether it be forced or not. Overall, out of all of the series’ attempts at shocking the viewer, the most shocking revelation didn’t come as a surprise to me, believe it or not. I’ll even go as fair as to calling it “predictable”, at least for people that are good at taking in context clues and making educated guesses. I’m referring to the reveal that the Yuno we got to know in the series is a time leaper that replaced the original Yuno of the main world we see in the series. Take note that I did not read the manga before the anime. Every context clue they put into the episodes were as obvious as the nose on my face.
Overbearing Girlfriends: The True Face of Evil.
First off, we had the first episode in which we were treated to an unexplained prologue where Yuno is crying over a dead Yuki and then the scene switches to Yuno in dreary room, talking to her dead “mama and papa”, and being killed by a mysterious assailant. Not only that, but the Yuno during the first scene calls Yukiteru “Yuki”, while the Yuno that got killed called Yukiteru “Amano-kun”, implying that these scenes don’t exactly take place in chronological order (of course, with this prologue alone, I just thought Yuno was some creepy reanimated corpse or something, since that opening scene gave me the impression that this was a horror anime). Right when Yukiteru finds the dead bodies of her parents in episode three, I felt something fishy going on, especially after Akise’s investigation that led to his theory about Yuno being able to supress her memories. It wasn’t until the episode where Yuno keeps Yuki on lock-down that I put all the pieces together. There was a mysterious, unidentified third body found buried in Yuno’s home.
“Oh, so Yuno won the game before and became god, went back in time to be with Yuki again, and killed her other self so there wouldn’t be a paradox.” It didn’t help that when the second opening rolled around, it threw in words like “time leaper” while two Yunos were duking it out and “combining”, further supporting my belief.
I believe that was several episodes before the reveal. As expected though, when I presented the theory on a message board, someone treated me like some crazy conspiracy theorist. Now I take pleasure in knowing that I was right all along. Again.
It’s funny, because it takes us to another parallel to Kamen Rider Ryuki, where the main antagonist is willing to create as many time loops as possible in order to obtain the outcome desired. Except, in this case, it isn’t the game master (for Mirai Nikki, that would be Deus) that’s manipulating the game to serve his own ends, it’s one of the players that’s the main antagonist.
Finally, here we are, the last episode. The center of all my mixed feelings. While I have a shameful love for the series, the last episode is a giant mixed bag for me. While I thought the middle of episode had a beautiful resolution to the game, with Yuno realizing how much of a monster she’s become in the presence of her third world self, and Yuki becoming god after a tragic suicide, the epilogue was a bit of a downer. At least, in a different way for me.
ONE THOUSAND YEARS OF MIRAI NIKKI. ONE THOUSAND YEARS.
This is also taking the manga ending into account, as I became curious after hearing from a friend that the anime is similar, but not the same, due to being shorter. Hammers aside, I think a forced happy ending for the sake of having one is one of the worst things they could have done with a series like Mirai Nikki, as one of the redeeming qualities was the theme of human desire leading to destruction, and destruction leading to sadness, and I think that was pulled off quite nicely despite how much some people think it’s a trainwreck.
Third World Yuno gaining First World Yuno’s memories was such a kick to an ass after the “no resurrection rule” was shoved down our throats, and how much it was stressed that despite being counterparts with the same history, the people in this alternate universe are not the same people we to came to know. Making it a fake resurrection – a different Yuno with fake memories. Of course, Yukiteru is alright with this, despite showing himself to be rather appalled at the thought of being replaceable for another version of himself in the eyes of the First World Yuno. I guess the killing of all the Yunos was the only thing that bothered him… the more Yunos, the better, I guess?
DEMI-GOD TERRORISTS MAKE THE BEST MOMS.
And as much as I like Minene, I feel that she got off rather easily… having babies with the Third World Nishijima and preparing to have a threesome with her Third World counterpart. What a nice example of Karma Houdini. I would have preferred she died valiantly, because the redemption wouldn’t have cheapened her character.
That nice smell of putting your arm in your ass and pulling out a happy ending.
I guess what I’m saying is, the impression I got from the ending was: It’s alright to kill the people you love as long as you have the power to hop universes and replace them with their counterparts.
Although, it’s actually quite funny in retrospect. Second World Yuki gets to feel up and deflower two Yunos after one of them killed his, First World Yuki gets to mingle with one Yuno without losing his virginity because she accidentally screwed him over… and Third World Yuki doesn’t even get to interact with his and is stuck with boring ol’ Wakaba, who bares a disturbing physical resemblance to his mother. I blame the Neon Genesis Evangelion parallels.
The manliest character in the series.
Ideally, if I was writing this manga, my ideal ending would have involved Third World Yuno and Yuki meeting under normal circumstances in the new world (finally forming something stable and possibly more genuine), Minene somehow inducing her own change of heart in the third world (so Babies Ever After still remains), all of the alternate Diary Owners lives would remain the same as what we see here, and our Yukiteru overlooking the new (possibly more peaceful) paradise he had created, yet still sad because he is essentially alone because he killed off his loved ones, and thus has no one to share it with. There is the problem of finding a new god for the Third World, but I’m confident that there are lots of other ways to have Deus find other ways of determining a new god, other than saying “YO, YUNOCEPTION. GOD STATUS. SAY HI TO MY BRO YUKITERU”. It might be a little predictable, but at least it doesn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth.
Becoming a god isn’t worth killing your friends… what a beautiful Aesop that would have been. I’m sure the ever-so-handsome defender of justice, Twelfth, would agree with me. I find it amusing that after all of that work trying to save the second world, they just leave it barren in the end.
Overall, the ending to Mirai Nikki is a mixed bag, but the ride certainly makes it worth the watch. What makes this series stand out from the rest, despite some pacing issues and some instances where you ram your head onto the wall because of how stupid it can be, is that the sheer entertainment value keeps on saving it regardless and keeps you glued to your seat. I’m certainly interested in reading the mangaka’s latest work, Big Order.
Oh, and did I mention WAKAMOTO IS A GOD?
Looks like one Yuno finally achieved a HAPPY END.