Amano Yukitero is an average, socially awkward middle schooler. He doesn't have any friends and he goes day to day filling out entries in his journal about the people around him. Occasionally he talks to his imaginary friend, Deus Ex Machina and his servant MurMur. One morning, he finds his diary entry for the day has been filled in already. Stranger yet, the events recounted in the diary start coming true. Deus tells him that he has been pulled into a death game where the winner will become god. Twelve contestants with "Future Diaries" must fight in a 90 day battle royale. Thankfully, one of the contestants is an obsessive stalker who says she will do anything to help him survive the game, but is she really who she says she is?
Psychological Thriller at it's finest
The show definitely has a lot of similarities to "Death-Note" especially in terms of plot twists, and the general feeling of hopelessness(? maybe the wrong word). While it doesn't necessarily prescribe to all the strengths of that show (namely, the deeply personal, intense battle between Light and L), it does tend to screw with your mind in all the best ways possible. Shifting alliances, surprising deaths, interesting, unique abilities, all of these things function to move the plot forward in exciting ways, keeping the anime fresh at every turn. Explosions, murders, arrests, betrayals, it's all here, and it's all super high octane.
This show is extremely compelling, I could not stop watching. Though there are occasional breaks in the pattern, each episode usually ends with some kind of cliffhanger either large or small. Usually it takes between 1-4 episodes to deal with the next diary user that they encounter. But there aren't any boring episodes and each episode serves to move the plot forward. I just wanted to keep watching episode after episode. I'm not even sure how many I watched at a time.
Character's are more complex than they appear
All of the diary owners seem super twisted when you first meet them, and they all have some kind of flaw. They're all so universally twisted, it seems to much for your suspension of disbelief. But in reality, almost every one of them has had some extremely traumatic event in their past that's turned them into the people they are today. None of them deserve to be god, but each them wants to be god desperately for some reason or another. Destroy the world, live in bliss, save their son, create an empire, to right some past wrong, to fulfill their true wish and that's what makes the stakes of this game so high. Nothing else matters when the prize is becoming the incarnation of god.
It is very rare that I will go on singing music from an anime after the fact. Usually, it's just a part of the show, and even if it's very good, I don't remember it afterward. The exception to the rule is the FMA:Brotherhood OST, and the main theme from AoT. Certainly, Steins;Gate had good music as well, but even though it's one of my favorite anime I just can't quite remember the music unless I look it up. That said, there are two piece of music from Future Diary that were absolutely incredible. The battle theme was always used during those, "Oh crap, shit's about to go down" moments. And the other is the opening of the first half which, especially when paired with it's visuals, is absolutely awesome. Otherwise, the music served it's purpose and set the tone for the anime just like it should. It wasn't especially notable one way or another which is perfect.
—> Battle Theme
—> Opening #1
Gasai Yuno is a compelling, dynamic, mysterious character. She is a Yandere, which means, for those unfamiliar with anime archetypes, that one minute she is cute and bubbly but when the one she loves (Amano Yukitero) is threatened, she will kill anyone in her path to protect him. She is equal parts sexy and terrifying, adorable one second and bloodthirsty murderer the next. She has at least three different versions of her personality. One, she has the adorable face, when she just looks like a normal, cute, 15 year old girl. Two, she has her sexy persona, where she looks like some 22 year old who wants to eat Yuki for dinner. Third, she has her dead eyes persona, where she's just about to unleash hell on earth and her eyes are just completely blank and empty. And fourth, her "she just lost touch with reality" face, this is usually when she's confronted with some unfortunate truth and instead of dealing with it just chooses to forget. The ease with which she easily and dynamically shift through these completely opposite personas is absolutely incredible. I think it helps that she can be drawn differently as the show progresses, especially in terms of physique and facial features. The death game only takes place over 90 days, but for some reason it looks like she's aged three or four years by the end of the show.
Throughout the entire show, Yuno does whatever she can to keep Yuki all to herself and you can see the desperation in her eyes whenever she feels she is about to lose him. Most of all, the amount upon which she relies on Yuki for emotional support makes you sympathize heavily with her character, showing that despite her strength she's just a hairsbreadth away from cracking under the pressure. Despite everything that she's done, despite the huge body count that she's racked up, you still want Her and Yuki to win the game and have a happy ending which is what she so desperately wants as well. And in spite of all her crazy, psychopath murder sprees, she really does love Yuki which only makes her that much more enticing and terrifying of a character. Honestly, Gasai Yuno was the best part of the show for me, she was just someone that I very much wanted to see through the end. She's one of my favorite anime characters of all time, and certainly one of the best female leads.
Best of all, it turns out that despite her crazy actions throughout the story, her psyche and most of her actions are understandable based on the trauma that she's had to undergo. First, her parents locked her in a cage whenever she misbehaved. She would often not get any food for days and would blame herself for her parents behavior (typical child abuse pattern). Eventually, she locked her own parents in the cage so that they would understand what it was like to be her and stop treating her that way, but she doesn't bring them enough food and they starve to death leaving her in a supremely emotionally unbalanced state without any support. This is why she latches on to Yuki so completely, because after all that happened with her parents, he (non-seriously) suggested they get married and go stargazing together.
Second, this is actually the second time through the game for her. In the first time through, She and Yuki agreed to commit double suicide and let the world be destroyed. However, she fakes her own death and became god with the reasoning that she could bring Yuki back to life. Unfortunately, she had to learn firsthand that as god she could bring the body back to life but not the soul. This also devastated her mental state. So, in order to spend more time with Yuki, she goes back in time.
Third, this also means killing her younger self and replacing her in the second world in order to participate in the game again. Needless to say, after all that has happened to her it's pretty understandable why she's so mentally broken.
This is a 26 episode anime. During the first 22 episodes of the anime, it goes pretty much as expected. Regular battles with Future Diary owners, major plot twists but it follows a pretty straightforward pattern. Then during episode 23, the pace and goal of the show change completely. There are so many plot twists packed into these four episodes it almost feels like too much plot for too little screen time. However, This is probably the best part of the story since it ties up all of the loose ends from all over the story, and gives a huge amount of emotional closure to the relationship between Yuki and Yuno. Unfortunately, while it legitimately ties up the actual events, it doesn't really have enough there to give us that finality as viewers. It just kind of ends. Fortunately, there's an OVA called, "Data Migration" which solves the last of the problems and gives us the same ending as the manga according to Wikipedia. Since it isn't really for sale anywhere, you can find it on YouTube (Part One). After watching that, it really does feel like the true ending to the series, though they could have taken that credits montage and turned it into actual footage. Then it would have been perfect.
Yuki is a huge whiner the entire anime. During the first two-thirds, he hardly does anything for himself and he never shuts up about how weak he is. This is partly because he relies so much on Yuno to save him that he never grows, and partly because he's just not a great person. On several occasions he admits to Yuno that he's just using her to keep himself safe. It really is pretty pathetic. After, a tragic occurrence after about two-thirds of the way through the show, he decides that he's willing to kill whoever he has to in order to achieve his goal and prevent his personal tragedy. However, by the end of the show, he shows more and more initiative in how he handles dangerous situations and instead of acting for selfish reasons, tries to help someone because he cares and not because he get's something out of it. It's a gradual, but very real transformation in his personality that I personally enjoyed quite a bit.
There are so many characters who committed huge amounts of wholesale-slaughter in this show it's almost hard to keep count. Yuno has a big body count obviously, but even characters you never expected to get their hands dirty do for the sake of the game. But it seems that no matter what anyone does, Yuki always forgives them. Now this isn't some great character trait he has, the show just acts like he's completely forgotten. Maybe it's for selfish reason, like with Yuno because she protects him, but it's not a strength because the show never actually addresses it. He's betrayed all the time, but he never ever seems to care. It just didn't make a whole lot of sense to me while I was watching.
Everyone heavily accuses this show of having massive plot holes. I personally, didn't notice them myself, but people who really think about these things would notice. And a lot of them are explanations that people haven't taken the time to think out. If you have a question about the show, there's a 50/50 chance you can find a legit answer.
I enjoyed this anime way more than I thought I would. I watched the first episode a long time ago, but never came back to it. I was browsing through my Hulu queue and saw it. After watching a couple episodes, I couldn't put it down. Just like with something like Steins;Gate or FMA: Brotherhood, you just want to keep going. It's an absolutely fabulous ride from beginning to end.
A Quick Note: This anime is rated TV-MA with good reason. I cannot in good conscience recommend this to younger kids. If it were just the blood like in Attack on Titan, then it would be no big deal. But a lot of the themes in this show can't really be processed in a way that's healthy until you get a bit older. Do what you want, but don't say I didn't warn you.
The Future Diary can be watched on Hulu streaming service in North America. Mirai Nikki is based on a manga by Sakae Esuno and ran in the Shonen Ace magazine from 2006-2010.
And if you find any mistakes, let me know so I can fix them.