Anime Studio Challenge: 12 Diary Holders' Mirai Nikki (Future Diary) (Review)

So the studio / producer this time is 12 Diary Holders, which only has Mirai Nikki under their belt, on MAL at least. I imagine this was something created specifically for Mirai Nikki, given the name.

Makes me wonder why someone would do that, or what the reasoning for it is, like if it was for marketing purposes. Anyways, this challenge isn’t really about the studios / producers themselves, and more about watching anime.

The anime this time is Mirai Nikki!
This review will be spoiler-free, with nothing spoiled beyond what is already mentioned in the anime’s synopsis on MAL.

Synopsis

A reclusive middle school boy, Amano Yukiteru, finds himself wrapped up in a deadly game with 11 other individuals to determine who will become god. The catch? Each player in the game has a “future diary”, that provides them with certain details about the future. No two future diaries are the same, and each provides different information. Let the games begin!

A Real Psychological Thrill

Love it or hate it, there’s no doubt that Mirai Nikki is a wild ride, especially for anyone’s first time watching. The premise alone is so interesting – and the anime delivers on it perfectly. 12 diary holders, 12 diaries. Learning their identities, and how their diaries work is exciting. When you add in that this is a murder game, it gets even more exciting.

Honestly, that alone would probably be enough to make an enjoyable thriller. But Mirai Nikki doesn’t stop there!

No, Mirai Nikki then ups the stakes even more, in the form of Gasai Yuno. A classmate and diary holder who at first seems innocent enough, only trying to help Yukiteru survive. That is, until we learn that she has been stalking Yukiteru, and that she really, really loves Yukiteru. In fact, she loves him so much that she’s willing to do anything to protect him. Anything.

And that’s the beauty of Mirai Nikki. You’ve got the external threat of the other diary holders in regards to the overarching game, but then you’ve got Yuno, a mentally unstable girl whose intentions are very unclear and morally questionable at times. A girl that can be trusted, but can’t be trusted.

Without a doubt, this is the biggest selling point for Mirai Nikki in my books. It’s a real psychological thrill, because Yukiteru, a helpless and weak boy, is forced to walk a fine line between staying alive with Yuno’s help, but also keeping safe from Yuno herself.

Amano Yukiteru

Yukiteru is an interesting character, in that I hate him, but I understand why he is the way he is. Yukiteru is designed to be someone who is forced to rely on others, or at least feels that way, due to his own weakness and inability to convict himself in troubling situations. As I mentioned previously, if he wasn’t this way, the psychological dynamic of the anime wouldn’t be as powerful as it is.

So while it can be frustrating to watch the protagonist act very pathetic at times, it’s important that he is that way.

Now I won’t spoil anything, but I will mention that Yukiteru does develop throughout the anime, and it’s interesting to watch him change several times as the game goes on. His psyche affects the psychological dynamic of the anime, and so it’s very enjoyable to experience how the tone of the anime shifts due to changes in his character.

One fun fact with Yukiteru as well is that he was voiced by a female VA, Togashi Misuzu. Just something I noticed now, and while I didn’t realize it during the anime, I can see it now. Very well done voice acting there! She also does the voice of Origami in Date A Live, pretty neat.

It’s “Edgy”

This will be a little bit of a tangent away from Mirai Nikki specifically, and onto something that I know people throw around a lot. And that’s the claim of something being “edgy”. Some people love edge, some people don’t. But I don’t really like when the term is used to discredit an anime like Mirai Nikki.

To me, edgy is when something tries too hard to be “cool”. Things like eyepatches, fake intellectualism, exaggerated poses… I’ll just give some examples of what I mean.

  • Classrooom of the Elite was edgy when it used random philosophical quotes in it’s intros.
  • Hajime from Arifureta was edgy with his eyepatch, mechanical arm, black trenchcoat, and sassy attitude.
  • Cloud from Final Fantasy 7 is edgy because of the way he speaks few words and likes to lean up against walls, arms crossed.
  • Divine Gate is edgy because of the ridiculous and overly descriptive narration.
  • The typical “villain playing chess alone” character is edgy for laughing to themselves and acting pompous when no one is around.

Also, this music video (which is the song for Mirai Nikki’s opening, great song) is definitely edgy:

All that said, what I’m getting at here is that just because an anime has blood / violence, just because characters die, and just because the tone of the anime is dark, it doesn’t mean it’s edgy.

Yeah, there’s some edge in Mirai Nikki. One of the characters has an eyepatch, and perhaps some of the violence is overdone or over-exaggerated at times. There is edge but not what I’d call “anime defining edge”.

I just think the idea that a dark tone and death in anime automatically means the anime is edgy and a write-off is dishonest.

The fact is, Mirai Nikki was designed the way it was precisely to deliver that exciting thrill, and that psychological uncertainty. A dark tone is often necessary for psychological anime. Being dark doesn’t always equate to being edgy, or else all psychological anime for the most part would fall under that umbrella.

Don’t write this anime off, there is much more substance there than you may realize.

There are definitely edgy anime out there, and blatantly edgy characters, but I fail to think of many examples that would drive Mirai Nikki over the… edge… in this regard.

Rating

Mirai Nikki is a very memorable and properly executed psychological thriller. It’s very well done.

I’m going to give Mirai Nikki a 8.5 / 10.

Great psychological / mystery / thriller anime, and while it might get some flak because of it’s popularity, as popular anime usually do, it’s popular for a reason. This is an excellent psychological experience, through and through.

Might not be for everyone, but I would say that if you don’t like this you probably won’t like most anime that have a dark tone. Personally, I always find it refreshing to watch anime like this, because there are so many “sunshine and rainbows” anime out there where you know that nothing bad will happen, and there’s no tension.

Wrapping Up…

This is probably one of those anime that people either love or hate. I enjoyed it the first time I saw it, and I enjoyed it again now. Only I feel like I appreciated it more now, and the dynamics involved. It’s made me realize just how impressive a story like this is.

Anyways, this was the second studio / producer down!

Until next time,
Thanks for reading.

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