Mirai Nikki is pretty insane. No, seriously, this anime is crazy. And so, I thought, why not write about it for the wonderful month of February, known for romance, love, and psycho girlfriends. Wait.. what? Alright maybe not exactly, but I’m still going to write this review.
You are first introduced to Yukiteru Amano, referred to as Yuki, who is your typical loner. He keeps to himself for the most part, not really interacting with his schoolmates and instead chooses to keep himself occupied by writing in his cellphone diary, documenting detailed observations of everything that goes on around him. His friends are imaginary, and consist of Deus Ex Machina, the God of Space and Time, and his servant named Murmur. One eventful day, Deus pulls Yuki into a survival game with 12 contestants fighting until there is only one left standing, with the winner granted the position as successor to Deus and title of God. Contestants share one particular trait, that is, they each had in possession a phone diary before the commencement of the competition. Once the survival game begins, each phone diary is turned into an enhanced “future diary” which is able to accurately predict the events during the next 90 days.
Each diary differs in the kind of detail recorded, which reflects the kind of person keeping the diary. Thus, each contestant has their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses that come with their diary, making for a particularly unique story backdrop with great potential for some awesome showdowns. This anime does not disappoint in that regard. As expected, each contestant also has the ability to alter their destiny by diverging from the events laid out for them. A “dead end” signifies their game over, which can come about through either their death or destruction of their phone. Along with the ability to change one’s own future, changes in the events of the diary may also trigger changes in the events of another contestant.
Yuki starts off as the innocent, weak protagonist who can’t do all that much for himself, and gains your admiration as he completely lacks the power and allure that comes with the title of “God”. Very early on, he is thrown into a partnership with a girl named Yuno Gasai, his classmate, a fellow contestant, and… a stalker? Yuno is madly in love with Yuki and she swears to protect her boy toy no matter what, to the point of going berserk when anyone threatens to come between them. While most of the time she plays the part of a cute and shy high school girl, Yuno quickly becomes one of the most feared contestants in the game as she wreaks havoc every time Yuki’s safety is compromised. This anime is exciting from the very beginning, but it doesn’t really hit addiction-level good until at least 5 or 6 episodes in, when you are introduced to more and more of the contestants.
Yuki and Yuno are introduced in the anime as the favourites of the competition, but you meet some contestants that will undoubtedly make you feel conflicted about who you root for, especially late in the anime. While the end goal of the competition is for one winner to become God, not all of the contestants are interested in winning, and everyone has their own motivation pulling them to act in certain ways. The most engaging part of the anime is the rich backstories of the contestants that bring a lot more depth into the anime. Morality is heavily warped, and as more information is revealed, decisions only become more and more conflicting. Strategy is definitely key in making it through the game, and it’s interesting to see the different dynamics pan out between characters as they struggle to survive.
Even common sense thinking is questioned in the face of this twisted anime. Stay away from the psycho girlfriend who could go berserk any moment, or trust her because she is quite possibly the only one willing to protect you no matter the cost? I can honestly say you likely won’t see any of it coming. What’s great about this anime is that there are no “good” or “bad” characters. Even when a character is introduced as either, they undergo changes and transformations, and new revelations are constantly made throughout the course of the anime. This places characters at different ends of the morality spectrum at different times in the anime. What’s most evident is that these characters are slaves to their circumstances, and I appreciate the dark sentiment that comes along with this idea.
I think it’s hard to love any of the characters, because all of them are selfish in one way or another. If anything, this anime is a pretty good reflection into the worst of humanity and the capacity for good people to be driven to do bad things. At least it’s not a typical good guy defeating bad guys then, right? It’s interesting and I guarantee moments where you are absolutely torn with what to think of the characters in the game. The characters you choose to have the most faith in will find ways to make you reconsider your original impressions of them, making for one hell of a rollercoaster ride.
My major complaint with this story is that the actions of the characters completely neglect what real life is like. I don’t usually have a problem with this, except there are just times where I just stop and think to myself, “wait, wait, wait, how can people get away with killing hordes of people, how!?” It’s almost like Grand Theft Auto, you wreak havoc on a city, killing all the people in your path, destroying cars, and racking up those stars. Then just as quickly, after bringing your van in for a paint job and laying low for a while, the cops won’t recognize you anymore and you can breathe easy. Murder apparently has very little consequence, allowing these characters to essentially do anything they want with no repercussions.
I don’t think that for all the leading up, that the ending was particularly great. It wasn’t bad by any means, I just felt it was a little drawn out. The characters are great, the art is great, the plot is definitely interesting despite some pacing issues, and well, I think that it’s well worth the watch. Next time you’re thinking of having a romantic night in with your significant other, pull out the thought-provoking, and (somewhat) romantic anime that is Mirai Nikki. Enjoy.