Anime, Aru Akise, Diary Holders, Dues Ex Machina, Future Diary, Hinata Hino, John Bacchus, Kamado Ueshita, Karyuudo Tsukishima, Keigo Kurusu, Mao Nonosaka, Marco Ikusaba, Masumi Nishijima, Minene Uryū, Mirai Nikki, Mur Mur, Muru Muru, Ouji Kosaka, Reisuke Houjou, review, Survival Game, Takao Hiyama, the anime harvest, Tsubaki Kasugano, yandere, Yomotsu Hirasaka, yuki, Yukiteru Amano, Yuno, Yuno Gasai
Future Diary is a twenty-six episode 2011 show, form the studio that brought us… well, actually, I’m not familiar with any of Studio Asread’s other five shows. The show centres on our main character, Yukiteru Amano, and the powers bestowed upon him by the god of all space and time, Deus Ex Machina. Unfortunately, god doesn’t play favourites, and his gifts are really more of a danger than anything.
Yuki is one of twelve people (all of whom are conveniently located within murdering distance of one another) gifted with a cellphone diary that tells the future. His works by giving him the when and where of things he observes day to day, because that is exactly the type of diary he kept up until divine intervention. Other diary holders get their future sight in ways specific to diaries they kept. For example, Yuno Gasai, our female lead who is madly, yanderely in love with Yuki, would write exclusively about things happening to Yuki, so her diary tell her all about him. Another character, only know as Third, is a murder, and keep a diary about his kills, so his diary helps him track his future victims.
All twelve diary holders are in a last-man-standing style competition, where whoever doesn’t get killed gets to become the next god. There’s a lot of fun to be had in just seeing the strengths of weakness of each diary, and the ways to get around them.
Now, you might think a premise like this must be really hard to keep together, avoid plot holes, and give some explanation of freewill playing to the dilemma of both having a written-in-stone future, and the ability to change it. Well, Death Note this is not, and you just sorta have to role with what the show gives you, even towards the end when the plots holes get quite large. For me, the show was pretty much constantly walking on the boundary of just how much disbelief I can suspend; it wasn’t enough to keep me away by any means, but it was certainly a weak point.
Almost all of the characters are emotionally broken in some way, and this is by Dues’s design. In choosing candidates to replace him, he placed emphases on uniqueness of personality, meaning that the next god would assuredly be a weirdo/homicidal killing machine. Dues is clearly very wise. They are broken to different extents though, and by the end of it all, the wanted terrorist comes off as the most well-adjusted of the bunch, while Yuno gets to claim the throne of crazy. All the diary holders have their motivations to become god, and for most of them it is to repair something that they’ve lost.
Yuki himself is not a particularly noteworthy main character. He’s always stood back from everything and just observed because, by his own admission, he is too scared to get himself involved. Going by the sub, he’s your typical, emo, Shinji Ikari clone teenager, just without the daddy issues, but the dub seems to try to make him “cool”. I’ll get to my issues with the dub later. He does grow throughout the show, and his transition from observer to actual force for change in the series does have its payoff, but nobody watches Future Diary for Yuki, and even from the perspective of the other characters, his significance is thrust upon him by the real start of the show…
I don’t think I’m blowing any minds when I say the appeal of Future Diary lies almost entirely in its yandere female lead, Yuno Gasai. She is the quintessential yandere character in anime today, yandere being a character who is madly in love, to the point of going homicidal to protect that love. She’s really not a deep or complex character, and doesn’t get any progressive development until right near the end of the series, but she is fascinating to watch from start to finish. Her kills (and there are plenty of them) can get downright Higurashi-like. Though the true feeling of horror she brings to the show never comes up when she is doing something horrific.
She’s a very quick, efficient killer. It’s when things slow down, and we see her decent into madness that she really draws you in, and then catches you when you realize, there was no decent; she’s been this crazy from the beginning. This, contrasted with how much she seems like a sweet, anime waifu type at times, makes for a character that you can never quite predict.
Most of the other ten diary holders are just episodic villains, yet all of them are memorable. For re-watching Future Diary for this review, I could clearly remember Third, Sixth, Super Sentai Twelfth, Fifth, and Tenth. Two others have more significant roles. And even among the rest, they all have their own very distinct voices. It wasn’t the usually medley of forgettable baddies to just fill space. While I can’t say all of them were integral to the plot, none of the diary holders felt wasted or filler-like. They were all fully, or at least partially, developed characters.
The animation isn’t setting any bars. It by no means looks bad, but it never really impresses. It does certainly step up to the plate when it’s time for someone to face the sharp end of Yuno’s stabbing knife, but that’s not the bulk of the show; if it were, it would have gotten boring at some point, which it never does.
Where technical finesse falls short, decent direction pulls through. The colour pallet and character designs hit an odd balance between realistic and overly simple, vibrant and dulled, which at least at the time gave the show a unique look, though you probably wouldn’t notice it right away. It really comes through in the characters’ faces; they aren’t very detailed, but can become very expressive. It looks good, even though the actual quality of the animation isn’t all there.
And when it comes to the opening and closing credits, the quality is there in spades. The first opening being by far the most well-known and in my opinion best of the bunch. His heavily stylized animation mixed with the creepy song, “Fantasy Mythology” is a pleasure to watch every single time. The second OP, “Dead End” is good on its own, but it doesn’t have the same creepy tone, and it plagued by an abundance of terrible engrish. Meanwhile, its animation is as if not more stylized, and much creepier. As for the endings, I’d say both are worth watching once, but after that can be skipped.
As for the dub, it’s not great. I watched the Japanese before the English dub came out, which usually leads to a little anti-dub bias, so take this with a grain of salt. The script does succeed in giving every character, and I mean every single character, even the most minor ones, unique voices. It’s so good that you could easily tell who is talking just by their dialogue. Even diary entries are written differently for each character to reflect their personality. But while they have good voices, they aren’t written as well as the original Japanese. The voice actors take some time to settle into their roles, with the exception of Todd Haberkorn as Aru Akise, who is wonderfully bishounen from the moment he appears on screen. But most of them get there before too long. The only thing which remains unbearable right through to the end is Yuno’s stupid pet names for Yuki; “sweety”, “pookey”, it makes me want to put a drill through my temple.
Overall, Future Diary is a great thriller of an anime, that gets more and more tense as each other diary owner is eliminated, and we’re reminded that the way things are going it will eventually just be Yuki and Yuno. Once you get past the plot holes, the ending is very satisfying, and almost every character is memorable in some way, and their lines carefully crafted to suit their personality. Not to mention the amazing first opening. And of course, Yuno’s really quite impressive talent for murdering is devilishly fun to watch.
The downside is it’s not the best dub there is, and the fanservice thinks it’s subtle when it’s either not, or even awkward or disturbing. And of course the plot holes, which really are plentiful if you start thinking of all the mechanics of the future diaries and trying to figure out that parts that aren’t very well explained.
If you’re looking for fun, fast moving roller-coaster that splatters you with blood on the loop-de-loops, Future Diary will not disappoint you in any way. If you can forgive a plot that doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, you’ll have no problems with it. And if you just love seeing anime yandere going psycho, you should probably already be very familiar with this show, and have a shrine to Yuno set up somewhere in your house.
Future Diary is one of the best in its field of anime, and I strongly recommend checking it out to anyone with even a passing interest in that field.
Alternate recommendations, because I’m doing that now, are Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, another anime dealing with odd, supernatural, temporal mechanics and bloodthirty insane characters. And Deadman’s Winderland, which, though I have not watched it myself, I’m lead to believe is another style of survival game wherein a girl of questionable mental stability sheds blood to prtect a much less interesting male lead.
Don’t Lose Your Way