The Future Diary
Yukiteru Amano (Yuki) is a loner who has never really interacted with people and prefers writing a diary on his cell phone with his only companion being an imaginary friend named Deus Ex Machina, the God of Time and Space. However, Yuki soon learns that Deus is not a figment of his imagination but real when Deus makes him a participant in a battle royale with eleven others. Within this "Diary Game", the contestants are given special diaries that can predict the future with each diary having unique features that gives them both advantages and disadvantages.
I will come out and say this straight off the bat, I am a HUGE fan of this show's original manga. Now, that doesn't mean I'm going to turn this review into an extended comparison of the story's two forms but it does colour my view of the show in certain ways that are inescapable. Firstly, I knew the story completely before hand and while there are differences in the two versions, they are largely cosmetic changes (such as extra fanservice or a change in scene layout). This means that any draw I might have received from a desire to know what is going to happen next was unavailable to me. Secondly, it is physically impossible for me not to make judgements on the show based on my prior knowledge and enjoyment of the manga. I can avoid it in writing and push myself towards objectivity but I can't simply forget that I already know the story in a different format.
In any case, Future Diary is a show I find very easy to enjoy. The main reason for this is the story is so damn entertaining! From the start, there is briskness in the narrative that washes you along at an exciting pace, the characters are stark, simple and interesting for the most part and everything seen and heard is geared towards being cool and fun. The main leads, Yuno and Yuki, are standard anime archetypes (the yandere and the whiny brat protagonist, respectively) but the show does a good job of developing them into characters worth caring about (at least by the end). In fact, the character development in this show is as well paced as its action and even a number of the minor characters get the development they deserve. Musically, the heavy faux-gothic rock of the OPs suits the tone of the show very well, capturing the show's bombastic and flamboyant narrative style with heavy drum line and lyrics filled with meaningless German and Latin. To be honest, if Future Diary knows what subtlety is, it certainly doesn't believe in it and that fact is both a positive and a negative. Everything that is great about loud, uninhibited storytelling is here for the taking. The violence is, for a lack of a better word, glorious; it is inventive, exciting and merrily gruesome for those who like that sort of thing. Nothing about Future Diary's set-piece events is small or unassuming. Do you want to see a school blown up? How about a hospital and a Tokyo landmark too? Is a house too dull a venue for a fight to the death? How about a house filled with poison gas and deadly booby traps? To Future Diary, to be boring seems to be the only sin and it consistently fails to commit it.
There is, of course, a problem with all this. The louder and crazier the proceedings get, the more and more the viewer is required to suspend disbelief to more and more ludicrous levels. If Future Diary has a core problem it is that, its plot cannot bear any degree of serious scrutiny. Anybody who has watched Death Note will understand this; the more a show ups the ante, the more it pushes itself to extremes for the sake of being cool, the more strain is put on a plot and the characterisation. It's a fact that the actions required to create the most awesome sequence of events possible will likely be counterintuitive to any even semi-sensible human beings and while Future Diary does not commit any unforgivable acts of narrative contrivance, it certainly shows the strain. It has been said by others that Future Diary does not make sense because of this but I firmly disagree. There are plot holes but none big enough to sink the story, it does not have the tightly woven masterpiece of a plot of a show like Monster but neither is it the mangled mess of a show like Another. There are other problems though. Obvious budgetary restraints become very apparent at points, there is some talking heads dialogue and some scenes have pieces of animation that would make South Park blush. Also, as well as they are characterised, Yuki can be annoyingly wimpy and whiny (before he grows up a bit) and Yuno can come across as psychotic to an alienating degree, making it hard to sympathise with her.
In the end, Future Diary does what it does and it does it well. It's not smart, it's not clever, but it gets the basic things like pacing and spectacle right and gives us a good show from that. It has flaws that are not easy to ignore, especially if you hate plot holes to an almost irrational level, but the show is irredeemably fun, exciting and satisfying. If you don't want to think too hard for a while then Future Diary might be just what you are looking for.
Even with all its flaws, I read the manga twice and still watched every episode of the show without a moment's hesitation. That has to count for something. Take away a star if you can't stand Yuki or Yuno and take away another if plot holes really bother you. — Aiden Foote
Recommended Audience: There is no doubt that this is for adults only. There is infrequent nudity, multiple cases of sexual assault and all this on top of frequent scenes of gore and violence ranging from the implied to the explicit. If that isn't enough, some might be disturbed at how morally ambiguous (or downright villainous) the show's protagonists can be.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital source, censored
Review Status: Partial (24/26)
The Future Diary © 2011 Sakae Esuno / Future Diary Production Committee
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