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Since this is a new thing on The Anime Harvest, I should probably explain what an Adaptation Audit is. First off, it is not a review. It would be redundant for me to give a full review of the Future Diary manga, since I already reviewed the anime last September. But an anime review isn’t the same as a manga review; there is a lot of overlap, but also key differences.

That’s what Adaptation Audit is for; looking at how well a series works in a different media format. So the key question is, how well is the story adapted? And yeah, I know the manga is actually the original in this case, and the anime is the adaptation, but screw you, I do word play good.

So, today on The Anime Harvest, an Adaptation Audit of the Future Diary manga.

Licensing Reaper:

We’re starting with a topic I wish I didn’t have to talk about so much, but it’s one of the biggest issues for English manga buyers trying to beware. And, unfortunately, the Licensing Reaper has not been kind to this one, killing it twice now.

Twelve volumes of Future Diary were released in Japan between 2006 and 2011, as well as three side-story volumes, Mosaic, Paradox, and Redial. The series was originally licensed by Tokyopop in 2009, and the first ten volumes were released in English paperback before the company nearly shut down and lost the licence in 2011. Tokyopop never translated the last two volumes, or any of the side-stories.

In 2014 Viz Media acquired the license and made the first nine volumes available for digital purchase only. Viz still owns the license, but while they haven’t said anything about it that I know of, it’s been nearly two-and-a-half years without a release of volumes 10-12, or any of the side-stories.

So, after seven years of licensing turbulence, only the first ten volumes of Future Diary are available in English. Three side-stories and volumes 11 and 12 have never seen a translated release. My personal collection houses volumes 1-9 of the Tokyopop paperback, so that’s what this critique will be based on.

Feel:

As far as the physical structure and tactile experience of holding the books go, it’s bad. It is the worst experience I’ve had holding a manga book, and was actually physically painful at times.

Everything about these books is rigid. The covers are too firm, the pages are needlessly stiff, and even the glue seems overly thick, holding everything tightly together. The result is that the books fight you while you try to hold them open. They clamp down on your hand, and depending on how you hold them, corners will dig into your fingers. I never thought this would be an issue before, but I had to put a bandage on my pinky finger just to hold volumes open.

What’s most odd about this is that it wasn’t the case with every volume I’ve read, but it seemed to be random which one’s had it and which didn’t. In my set, volumes 5, 6 and 7 were all much better, and didn’t have this issue, but all the ones before them and all the ones after did. It’s not a print number thing either; my volumes come from three different runs, and it doesn’t make a difference.

Also, the glue holding the volumes together is somewhat fragile, or at least more fragile than other manga. I left one of my Future Diary volumes, along with a volume of the Toradora manga which seems to have a much more typical assembly, in a car for several hours during the height of blasted Canadian Winter. When I got back and cracked Future Diary open, well, it really did crack. Toradora, on the other hand, opened just fine. This is admittedly a pretty extreme stress test, and probably won’t be an issue for the average reader.

Story:

And here’s where the direct anime comparisons begin; what does the manga do different, and how does it hold up? Well, for the most part the story is unchanged between the manga and the anime. A couple minor inconsequential scenes at cut, mostly sexual or fanservicy ones like the Hinata-Mao bath scene. Tsubaki’s (Sixth) backstory is also a bit abridged. That does make me wonder about that non-inconsequential Yuki-Yuno sex scene, but I guess that’s kind of a moot concern, since we can’t actually read those chapters in English.

That said, the issues that already were in the anime story are exasperated by the manga, specifically all the plot holes. It’s not from anything the manga does differently, but because reading involves more engagement than watching, all of the little issues with the future diaries’ predictions feel much more apparent. And when the characters put together a clever plan by manipulating the prediction mechanics, it feels much less satisfying because the plot holes encourage you to not think of ways to manipulate the diaries.

Characters:

Not much change here. The supporting cast of other Diary Holders is great (with the exception of Eighth, who never had much character), Yuki’s friends are still the same, and Yuno is still the queen of yandere. The only character who feels any different is Yuki himself, who somehow manages to be even whinier, but since his character is written well around that whininess, it works.

Writing:

Shame about losing all that good voice acting, but at least Yuki and Yuno don’t use any stupid pet names for each other.

Art:

This manga just doesn’t look very good. Certainly not amateurish, but not up to the wonderful style and fluidity of the anime. Look at these two shots here, and tell me those shadows are correlated to any solid surface and light source.

Future Diary manga

Excuse the fuzziness; that’s due to poor scanning.

Future Diary manga

Also, either Yuno shrank or that a hallway is massive!

It also seems much more reserved than the anime. The violence and sexuality are still present, but toned down. Here are two shot from one of the most violent scenes. It’s not tame, just tamer.

On the bright side, Akise’s facial expressions are just brilliant.

Future Diary manga

Here’s his and Mao’s response to Hinata letting slip that she kinda likes Yuki.

Conclusion:

It sucks. Not just the manga, but the fact that I have to pan Future Diary. I love the story and characters of this series, which are the two things the manga handles well. But between the uninspired art, terrible assembly, and the fact that it’s not even finished in English, there’s not much good to say about this release. It’s a great franchise, but stick to the anime.

Don’t Lose Your Way

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