Future Diary

Future Diary

1aaYukiteru Amano is very much a loner who has never really interacted with people. Instead, he 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 far from a figment of his imagination 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 the owners both advantages and disadvantages that help and hinder them on their way to winning the game.

When I hear of Future Diary (or Mirai Nikki, to go by its original Japanese title) I knew instantly that I would enjoy it. I love high-stake elimination games in my books/manga/anime, and Battle Royale is one of my all-time favourite mangas. It was a hell of a premise to me, especially with the female protagonist’s, Yuno Gasai, reputation preceding her (in my case).

It seems that Sakae Esuno didn’t waste any time or spare any detail when forging this story and went full force from beginning to end. To me, it was like every other page consisted of a revelation, a twist or a mind-blowing development. And none of it feels out of place or gives the reader a feeling that it’s all leading to nothing. You’re not left wondering at mysteries for too long before they are revealed, resolved and replaced by a new mystery. And then the reading roller coaster begins anew.

IMG_1107.PNGIt was a detailed and exciting story that I found very easy to enjoy. The entertainment factor is off the scale as a result of many attractive factors. From the start, there is the aforementioned briskness in the narrative that drags you along with it at breakneck speed; the characters are stark, simple and interesting for the most part and everything seen and heard is geared towards a future plot device as well as being appealing in the process.. The main protagonists, Yuki and Yuno, are somewhat standard anime archetypes. Yuki is the typical whiny, helpless male protagonist and Yuno is a yandere. But she’s not just any yandere. She could be, arguably, one of the most famous yanderes to date. In archetype examples, you will always see her picture (with a big smile and a knife) and, now having read the manga that effectively gave birth to her, I doubt I will see a more impressive and terrifying ‘psycho girlfriend’ for a long time. In fact, the character development overall in this show is as well paced as its action and even a number of the minor characters (other diary owners, Yukiteru’s friends, Deus’ minions) get the development they deserve.

The violence is in a class of its own. It’s very exciting, always inventive and gruesome without being horrific. It has a little pinch of dark comedy that stops it all from getting too ridiculous. Future Diary is always kicking things up to the next level to hold your attention. If a school gets blown up, a hospital is next. Not enough? How about exploding city landmarks? A fight to the death? Only if it’s in a house filled with poisonous gas and terrifying booby traps. This manga forbids boredom. You might be confused, shocked and horrified, but bored? Not a chance.

IMG_1127.PNGOf course, continuously raising the stakes does backfire. The louder and crazier events get, the more chance the reader is going to stop, sit back and think “Hang on… what?” If you’re inclined to think “Well, that wouldn’t happen,” then perhaps this one’s just not for you. The one drawback of Future Diary is, of course, that the plot doesn’t bear any degree of scrutiny. Just enjoy what’s going on and don’t question – otherwise it all falls apart. The more it pushes itself to plot extremes, the bigger the strains on structure and characterisation. Yuki can often be terribly whiny and annoying for the most part, and Yuno takes psychotic to a whole new level – one that defies reason completely.

But in the end, Future Diary does what it does – and does it well. It’s not supposed to be smart or clever, but it gets the basic things right and that’s why it’s so popular. It’s pacing and execution is spot-on, the characters are interesting and there’s always a twist waiting around the corner. If plot holes niggle at you, then these might prove difficult to ignore, but on the whole this manga is exciting, unpredictable, satisfying and, most important of all for me, fun. I loved its uncompromising plot and the way it both captivated and boggled my mind. If you loved Battle Royale and Death Note – you’re going to love this.