Future Diary: A Critical Analysis Part 2 (Episodes 3-4)
Welcome to the continued analysis of Mirai Nikki (Future Diary). The point of this project is to practice critiquing things even if I really enjoy them. The goal is not to hate on the anime, but to practice being critical in a reasonable way. Let's jump right in.
~Episode 3: Early Predicament~
Episode 3 is largely filler and fanservice until the last few minutes of it. Yuno and Yukiteru are at an amusement park to draw the attention of other diary owners while Fourth works out how to defeat any who arrive. Just as Mirai Nikki isn't subtle with psychology or violence, it isn't very subtle with fanservice either. The fanservice is also just not very creative. For example, Yuno of course loses her bikini top in the pool. To avoid anyone seeing her breasts, she hugs Yukiteru, who nearly passes out from the experience of bare boobs against his chest. This is stupid.
One thing that occurred to me while I was watching this episode was how manipulative Yuno was being the whole time. Every time Yukiteru tried to ask her his question, she deflected and distracted from it. On the Ferris Wheel, she finally told the story from a year ago about talking to Yukki in the classroom and their joke-promise to get married. However, Yukiteru has the sense to know that's not the whole picture. But instead of giving him the complete story, Yuno makes a show of kissing his forehead and says, "It's a secret."
I'm not sure what would have happened if Yuno tried to tell the truth, nor do I know how she would go about making Yukiteru believe her. Maybe she was too afraid to admit what happened with the first Yukiteru. But many of the problems throughout the series boil down to Yuno lying and manipulating. She made things hard for herself by not trying to be honest with the person she supposedly loves.
(I've written a lot about Yuno, since she's one of my favorite yanderes and psychopaths in all of anime; and at this point, I don't believe she has any genuine love for the second Yukiteru. She's simply obsessed with him, viewing him something she must possess to keep life worth living for her. By the end of the anime, however, I argue that Yuno does feel a bit of actual, altruistic love for Yukiteru. It's going to take a long, long time to get to that point.)
There were no major mistakes that I could find in this episode. I thought this installment was impressive besides the stupidity of the first half. The part where the viewers are shown that Minene has been hypnotized was excellently done in my opinion. This anime is good at being unnerving, and it really shows in this episode. Besides the hypnotism and torture of Minene, the part where Yukiteru opens the sealed room was also creepy. The last scene, wherein Yuno peeks through the mail slip to say good night to Yukki, remains unsettling even after seeing the anime many times.
I have two other notes to make/ questions to answer. First, why did the discovery of the bodies in the sealed room lead to such a major future change? The course of the game changed, because finding the bodies made Yukiteru distrust Yuno once and for all. After their day together, he was willing to work together with her, and they most likely would have beat the survival game easily together, much like in the first version of events. However, now Yukiteru believes Yuno is a murderer in addition to being a stalker. He won't want to work with her; or if he does work with her, he will never give her his full trust.
I noticed that Deus knew about the sealed room and the bodies within. Doesn't that mean he knows the truth about Yuno? Not necessarily. As far as Deus knows, Yuno is from this timeline, and not an imposter. It's just that the sealed room still changes the course of the game regardless of whether Yuno is from this timeline or not (Yuno killed her parents in both worlds). Deus might have detected the truth sooner if Murmur wasn't also an imposter, working behind the scenes to rig things in Yuno's favor. This does raise the question of why Murmur is doing so much for Yuno, but I believe I have a plausible answer. Yuno simply doesn't give a shit about being God or having those powers, except where it allows her to time-leap. Essentially, Murmur gets to be God if Yuno wins the game.
~Episode 4: Handwritten Input~
I noticed a few things in this episode that I never picked up on before. First of all, there is an alliance of diary users early that isn't very clearly explained. The Eighth's follower, the short brown-haired girl, has infiltrated the Sixth's base. She is there along with Ai, one of the Sevenths. This means Eighth and Seventh are already in alliance and keeping an eye on Sixth this early in the game. However, they stayed in the background and didn't get involved in the conflict between Sixth and Twelfth in this episode.
Something I also noticed was the way Yuno "switches", not between two distinct personalities exactly, but between two states separated from each other by mental dissociation. Most fans know there are two sides to Yuno Gasai. There's the softer part of her that never really grew up and is still an abused and confused little girl. Then there's the merciless side of her that shuts out empathy and remorse, and even sometimes derives pleasure from violence. Again, these are not two completely distinct personalities; they often blend together. One could also argue for a third state within Yuno: the one that ties together her two sides so they can work toward long-term goals like protecting Yukiteru and keeping important secrets.
Yuno is complex mix of multiple facets; that being said, there are some moments where she is much more "in" one state than another. One example is when Yukiteru accuses her of planning to kill him the previous night. He says he cannot trust her and that she is "kuruteru," meaning mentally twisted. You can see the change come over Yuno from the relative level of dilation in her pink eyes. I think the animators gave us this clue on purpose. Yukiteru turns away, and we see Yuno looking hurt and crying. Interestingly, we see only one of her eyes in this shot; the other half of her face is covered by hair and shadow. I believe this symbolizes that part of her is genuine in this instance and part of her is not. There are a few other instances in the series where Yuno has one eye covered, and usually those scenes serve to highlight her expression as either innocent or malevolent.
A lot of things in this episode are absurd, but many of them make sense with the explanations provided if one pays attention. For example, how did the fire start in Tsubaki's futon? One possible explanation is that it was set up by Eighth's servant and Ai the Seventh. The proof is that they were the ones who brought in the futon. One or both of them may have been hypnotized by Twelfth.
Other events in this episode are explainable, but not quite believable. For instance, Twelfth's hypnotism ability is too powerful and convenient, especially since we never actually see him doing the hypnotizing. How did he hypnotize each and every one of Tsubaki's followers? Is it likely that the fire and the actions of the zombified followers after would really work without any issues? It makes very little sense. Note: As for Twelfth's insanity as he dances around dressing up like a power ranger, that actually didn't seem too absurd to me. He's supposed to be extremely mentally ill and operating on delusions of grandeur. His antics are obviously meant to be bizarre.
Related to Tsubaki's followers, there's a direct contradiction/mistake. We saw the followers killing each other with axes. We saw these people dying in a bloody fashion. Yet we're supposed to believe that they were only playing dead due to hypnosis, to attack again when Sixth was vulnerable. That's too much of a stretch for me. The episode ends with Yuno defending Yukiteru from the hypnotized followers. She gives him an ultimatum: to choose the Sixth and die, or to choose her and live. I like how that final scene was done and how Yuno looked so strangely happy and self-assured as she chopped people with her ax.
Final Note: Although it bothered me that Yukiteru was so easily scared and helpless in this episode, his behavior does make sense. We know he had major anxiety issues before the start of the survival game. Now, he's being more traumatized every day, fearing for his life and living through horrific situations. On top of that, he can't even sleep with Yuno stalking him and texting him all night. Yukiteru's easily frightened behavior is understandable.
~Takeaways from Episodes 3 and 4~
Let's look at what we can gather so far. Compared to episodes 1-2, there seem to be more significant issues, including a serious mistake in episode 4. However, the positive elements also continue. Just like I said with the previous two episodes, you're unlikely to enjoy Mirai Nikki if you can't deal with things being over-the-top or sometimes absurd. In addition, if you don't like main characters with anxiety issues and trauma, you will hate Mirai Nikki. Here is a table showing my observations about episodes 3 and 4.
Table 1: Episodes 3 and 4
Time wasted on fanservice
Impressive creepy/horror elements
Absurdities/ Events challenging suspension of disbelief
Fascinating, detailed character psychology
Mistake regarding Tsubaki's followers
Continued excellence in audio/visuals
Some may dislike fearful protagonist
That's it for today. Thanks for reading and take care till next time!