A review, in brief

So, real quick, wanted to pop in and fire off a bit about the series I just finished before it all drizzled out of my mind, so here’s the piping hot and super fresh review for you on Future Diary (Mirai Nikki for the Japanese purists), the anime.  Try not to burn your mouth as it comes out the oven, eh?

So, ever wonder what might happen if Death Note and Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor had a mutant anime baby?  No?  Then you’re likely sane.  But that’s ok, we’re gonna answer that question anyway: you’d get Mirai Nikki.  The story follows poor wallflower Yukiteru “Yuki” Amano as he is drawn into a survival game using a diary that lets him see the future around him.  Yeah, that part is basically taken straight from Demon Survivor, practically down to an early line along the lines of “Let’s Survive”.  Granted, the trope is older than that, but still.

Episode one starts off confusing and brutal, and follows through with a scene change where the real plot gets to become unraveled.  I love some of the dialog between Yuki and Deus, and I could write whole papers on the implications of the early conversations on later episodes and the ending itself, but that’s something for another time.  Let’s just say that it opens itself up to a number of possibilities, and at least one of which is likely FAR more disturbing than the actual ending of the story.

Anyway, after a very fast paced opening, the show crawls itself on for a bit and all in all kinda reminds me of a sprinter trying to do a marathon.  One moment, it surges forth with an alacrity that has you pinned to the seat, but the next minute we become so dialog heavy (with good exposition, don’t get me wrong) that you think about grabbing a soda to pass the time.  Don’t get me wrong, you do yourself and the show an injustice to miss most any line as it builds on itself to much, but wow, exposition ho!  Honestly though, the expositional parts are no worse than When The Cry (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni) or Death Note as it gives you bits of information and clues to start putting everything together.  After all, despite the very intense fight scenes, at its core, Mirai Nikki is a horror/thriller instead of an action show, and it pulls it off pretty well.

One thing to admire for it is the number of times that things look one way and turn out another.  I won’t spoil with examples, but yeah, show is great for setting an anticipation and then ripping your heart out, or giving a key role a sudden face heel turn when things look grim.  Totally fitting to the characters once you start to learn their why too, which is another thing to really admire the writer for: these characters may be nuts (in most cases) but they’re still three dimensional, and trapped in one of the most horrible games imaginable.  It adds a good flavor of humanity even to the most otherwise irredeemable characters, which makes the “everything is a shade of grey” theme all the more fitting.

In the end, though, I think it loses a lot of itself when it starts worrying more about causality and less about the interaction between Yuki and Yuno, but maybe that’s just me.  There’s several points at the end where the expected (and practically spelled out) next event doesn’t happen, and I don’t mean because of the Future Diary changing itself.  An epilogue (longer than the 5-second-a-group treatment anyway) would have been nice, though the show was already at 26 episodes, so that may have been a pacing issue, or simply having 27+ episodes worth of stuff and only 26 episodes greenlit, so I’ll overlook that, at least there was an attempt at closure outside the obvious.

All in all, while it has its moments that make you question your sanity, and the sanity of most, if not all, of the characters (or at least their reasoning ability, their sanity can hardly be questioned in most cases), it is definitely worth watching.  Right now, the whole thing is free on Hulu (subtitled, if you care), so even more of a reason to scope it out.  If I get some interest, maybe I’ll do a much more spoileriffic review and discussion, so if you’re interested in that, let me know.

A half moon, it has a dark half and a bright half, just like me…

Ja ne!

The Ranting Loon

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