Review: Future Diary
Is ‘Survival Game’ becoming my favourite genre of anime? It just might be. Nothing can really compare to the thrill of watching a bunch of Japanese teenagers try and kill each other, and Future Diary also benefits from a well thought out structure and some extensive character development. There’s no denying that trying to kill your friends to become god would change you, and in Future Diary actions always have appropriate consequences. It’s one of the best in the genre, and fully realises ideas many other shows have attempted to explore.
The future diaries themselves actually operate on some fairly complex mechanics, although the show never gets bogged down by the details of the alternate timelines necessary for them to function. Each of the twelve diary users have an object (most commonly a mobile phone) that allows them to see messages they have written in the future. Of course every message sent would effectively alter the past, thus rendering the timeline in which the message was written obsolete. Because of this we never see the characters writing messages, and instead the story follows a linear narrative where everything that happens really does happen, and the diary itself is simply a tool each user must use to outmanoeuvre their enemies. Each diary has it’s limitations, and each character must use this to their advantage to ensure survival.
Main character Yuki is a bit too weak for my liking. He cries a lot, and early on his survival requires a slight suspension of disbelief, considering that the majority of other diary users are terrorists, serial killers or psychopaths. But whilst I wasn’t initially that interested in him as a character I found that he did grow on me. Future Diary is a show where people realise their own flaws, and also realise they are powerless to change them. Yuki does become stronger, but it isn’t easy, and this makes the eventual change more convincing.
Yuno on the other hand is superb from the very beginning. Her crazy stalker/girlfriend character alternates between adorable and terrifying, and her relationship with Yuki is a complicated and engaging. Whilst the whole anime is well written, this element is particularly exceptional, and their relationship is explored further than most shows care to document. The boy and girl usually get together at the final episode, and this is seen as end of the story rather than the beginning. Because writing about characters in a relationship is difficult, right? Future Diary takes this challenge head on, and the result is compelling. Far too few shows have main characters in relationships, and even fewer incorporate this into interesting story lines. This makes Future Diary feel unique, and it’s great fun to watch.
You’ve also got an amazing supporting cast, and pretty much all twelve diary holders are brilliant characters in their own right. Whilst some are present for short two or three episode story arcs, others reoccur throughout the series, making for a good structural balance. You never know who might die next, and Future Diary gets lost in it’s smaller self-contained arcs before subtly returning to the main narrative. Across 26 episodes there’s enough room to fully cover all the characters, and things never feel rushed or unexpected (unlike say, Eden of The East). It’s a lengthy series, but this feels just right, and the pace never lets up. Around episode 14 the show kicks things up a gear and by episode 21 you’ll think it’s almost finished. The last five episodes? Well there’s a few surprises before it’s over…
I’ve actually got very few complains with The Future Diary, but there are a couple of things that keep it from being perfect. The first episode is only okay, although the second easily makes up or this. Some of the smaller storylines feel a little far fetched at times, and the resolutions can be slightly unbelievable. However I was a huge fan of the show’s ending, and whilst insanely ambitious it manages to leave things on a very satisfying note. It’s also worth noting that there’s quite a lot of adult content including nudity and excessive violence in the show. It didn’t bother me, and the violence in particular helped cement the brutality of the ‘survival game’, as well as the fact that everyone is in immense danger.
The Future Diary is a modern classic, and it’s so much fun to watch. Once I was into it I was watching about seven episodes at a time, and I loved every second of it. It’s thematically ambitious and explores character relationships in a unique and compelling way. With a great narrative, awesome supporting cast, and satisfying ending, it’s a superb show all round, and quite possibly the best in its genre.