Future Diary Critical Analysis Part 6 (Episodes 12 and 13)
Welcome to Part 6 of my critical analysis of Future Diary / Mirai Nikki. The point of this analysis is to practice making fair criticisms about an anime that I love and enjoy. The purpose is not to hate on the anime. In fact, some time will always be spent on analyzing the strengths of Mirai Nikki. It's just that I'm trying to include some critique as well. Let's start.
Warning: This post is longer than my usual critical analysis entries. Be prepared.
Episode 12: No Service Area
This was a thrilling and exciting episode for me. It might be difficult for me to critical about this episode since it was so good in my opinion. As usual, the music and voice-acting were great too. I have some notes about each of the characters. First, there's Kurusu the Fourth diary owner. At his first few appearances, he seemed logical and just. After his son was diagnosed with a terminal illness that would kill him in a matter of months, Kurusu's plans changed drastically.
He believes that if he becomes God, he will be able to bring people back to life. So he's changed to an aggressive strategy to try winning the survival game. It would be a good move to get rid of First and Second, since they have beaten the most diary holders. Even if Kurusu's son was killed in the hospital battle, he could presumably just bring him back to life after winning the game. Kurusu's actions still follow a certain system of logic, and he's more stable than someone like Yuno, at least on the surface. On the the other hand, he's still killing people and working with a terrorist in the name of love-- a father's love for his son. That's ultimately not different from Yuno, who kills and commits crime in the name of love.
Next let's talk about Yukiteru. In this episode, he's acting somewhat more like a proper anime protagonist. That is, he leaves his comfort zone and does something brave (going scouting and taking what he thought was a real grenade with him). In addition, Yukiteru is feeling more confident about being with Yuno. He has realized that he loves her. Furthermore, Yukiteru was able to change the future with determination alone. When he aimed the gun nervously and noncommittally, the diary predicted he would miss and hit Yuno. But after he decided he was going to save Yuno out of love, the prediction changed. Yukiteru shot Kurusu. It's pretty impressive if you ask me.
Then there's Minene the Ninth diary owner. As usual, she was calculating and confident, only using others when it was convenient, and escaping whenever things got bad. But despite being a shrewd opportunist and a full-fledged terrorist, Minene started to act a little different in this episode. For one thing, she seemed a bit invested in Yukiteru. It's like she wanted to see him succeed and get stronger. As the episodes go on, this will become more apparent. It may be because she sees her past self in him. Another unusual thing Minene did was work with the police to prove Kurusu was corrupt. Of course, it's only temporary, and she'll escape later.
The last odd action Minene took was to make a serious promise to Kurusu. She would win the survival game, become God, and bring back his son from the dead. Now, there's no denying the fact that Minene is a raging psycho in her own right. She's killed dozens of children at a school bombing. But it's still possible she would make a decent God. Like Kurusu, she probably thinks she'll be able to bring back the dead; and if she can't, she will make the world a better place to justify the sacrifices made. We don't know precisely what kind of terrorism Minene did before becoming a diary owner, nor do we know her motives. It's possible she had a good cause but used evil means. Thinking about Minene is pretty interesting.
Finally, we come to the psychology of Yuno in this episode. She was willing to die for Yukiteru to live. I don't believe she knew the grenade was actually a flashbang. Yuno literally resigned herself to die to save Yukiteru. Later, when Yukiteru was hesitating to shoot, Yuno again showed that she would die for him. She told him to go ahead and shoot to avoid his Dead End flag. In these instances, Yuno was being honest. Remember that existence is painful for her, since she felt guilty not only for killing her parents, but for allowing the Yukki of the first world to die. At the end of this second survival game, Yuno wants Yukki to kill her. She wants to die by his hand, after their "happy ending" night. But if necessary, Yuno is also willing to die early in the game, if it will indeed let Yukiteru survive.
All that being said, Yuno is still nowhere close to being consistent with her selfless love. Arguably, dying for Yukki was actually a selfish idea to ease her guilty existence and escape from life. Regardless, when the danger is passed, Yuno goes right back to her manipulative lying self. She steaks Yukiteru's phone, deletes the warning message from Akise, and tells Yukiteru it was a spam mail. She's also carrying weapons, drugs, and her parents' skulls in her travel bag. The presence of the pills and capsules indicate that Yuno planned to drug Yukiteru from the start of their trip. Now, in her mind, she's not being cruel to Yukki. She's just keeping him prisoner to keep him safe from other diary owners who are stronger. But of course, it's still wrong, and not a loving thing to do at all.
I've talked an awful lot about the characters and their psychology, but I haven't really been critical of this episode at all. To be honest, I can't find much wrong with the execution of this installment. The only thing to complain about is a moment of casual sexism. Minene gives Yukiteru the scouting mission. When he expresses anxiety, Minene says, "What? You're a boy, aren't you?" which is both insulting to Yukiteru and a misogynistic sentiment. Unfortunately this kind of casual sexism is still very prevalent all over anime. That's really all I have for episode 12, but I might be able to think of more general criticisms during the next episode.
Episode 13: Number Withheld
In an earlier post, I mentioned there was no explanation provided concerning the unavoidable death of Deus. In the beginning of episode 13, Deus finds out that Murmur interfered with the game a little bit in order to make it more interesting. Murmur then points out that she had to hurry things up because there's not much more time before Deus' life ends. The chamber of causality and Deus' throne are already starting to crack and crumble. It makes sense that Deus created the survival game in order to choose the next God, but why must he choose in the first place? Why is "God" dying? Aren't Gods guaranteed to be immortal? Well, not in Mirai Nikki.
It can be called a weakness of the plot that there's no explanation for why Gods die. I do consider it a mistake that they didn't offer a reason for this part of the mythos. However, a rough answer can be inferred from other clues throughout the series. My theory is that the power of God is finite. We learn later that the power has hard limits; for example, it can't fully restore a dead person's consciousness. Every time a God tweaks causality, makes a miracle, or creates things, they use some of their delineated power. That means eventually, they will use all their power and die.
After Yukiteru becomes God at the end of the series, he creates or alters nothing for ten thousand years. Deus is probably only a few centuries to a couple millennia old, because he likes to interfere with reality a lot. This "solution" of the God power being finite does create more questions. For instance, how is possible that when a new God starts his reign, he is at full power? Where does that power come from? I don't have the answers for this. But I do think it's important to acknowledge the finite, limited nature of Gods in the Mirai Nikki Universe. The fact that Deus is dying should be the audience's first hint that raising the dead may not be possible. Anyway, let's move on to the rest of the episode.
My first real complaint about episode 13 is the "fanservice." There is a scene with Hinata and Mao bathing naked in a hot tub together. I would have thought it was a sweet couple moment if they were simply shown bathing together and did not sexualize the scene. As it is, we are shown the bodies and breasts of both girls in detail. It apparently doesn't matter that these characters are supposed to be about fifteen. While there are a few exceptions, direct and detailed fanservice weakens a series for me. This is especially true if the characters being sexualized are minors. It's a big issue for me.
Episode 13 is the first episode that starts to reveal the Eighth's ability to use her future diary as a server. She uses her future diary to make disciple future diaries with lesser powers, and all of them connect back to her. In this episode, Kousaka has downloaded a phone diary app, and at just the right time, it "upgrades" itself to have some predictive capabilities. I think the Eighth's server diary was a really creative version of the future diary model that made the game a lot more interesting in the second half. The show also does a good job with slowly introducing the idea using Kousaka early on. When a show manages to make use of a fairly worthless and unlikeable character, it's a sign of resourcefulness in writing.
Note: Episode 13 also deals a lot with Akise, and raises questions about who he is and why he's doing all this. However, due to the length of this post getting out of hand, I'll address and discuss the existence known as Akise in a future article. For now let's finish covering the last point.
So far Mirai Nikki has a history of being over-the-top and showcasing some absurd events. Some might find this to be true in episode 13 as well. It's a little bit hard to believe that Yuno set up everything so perfectly. She not cameras set up to give her surveillance of several abandoned hotels, she set death traps randomly, and she stopped an elevator somehow. The most unbelievable part was that Yuno would have access to tanks of carbon monoxide gas and be able to remotely release them into the locked room. Personally, I don't find it impossible to believe. Yuno is extremely smart and resourceful, and she had several days to prepare. Still, it's fair that some viewers might have their suspension of disbelief shattered.
Takeaways from These Episodes
As usual, I've arranged some notes into a table below. All in all, I think this anime is getting better over time, but there are still some issues to be sure.
Casual sexism in episode 12
Excellent music and voice-acting, some creative animation, and thrilling pacing
No explanation for why Deus is dying in episode 13
Evokes sense of dread and horror like it's supposed to in a psychological thriller
Fanservice of minors in episode 13
Fascinating character psychology and interesting character development
Some of Yuno's perfect set up is not believable in episode 13
Creative abilities of the future diaries
That sums up part 5 of my critical analysis. Before going on to episodes 14 and 15, I will probably make a "halfway there" article summarizing all the issues in Mirai Nikki in the first 13 episodes. So look out for that post in the next few days! Thanks for reading!