Many diaries, potential futures, and one yandere.
It’s been nearly a year since Tokyopop exited the manga publishing scene, and with the liquidation of Borders last fall, manga series with the familiar logo are becoming increasingly difficult to come across. By far I would say that the most sought after series for most fans is Fruits Basket, but if I could go back and grab any of the complete Tokyopop releases, I’d shift toward Great Teacher Onizuka and Future Diary. The former because it’s loaded with awesome, and the latter so I could be the envy of the huge, sudden influx of Future Diary fans just now getting their first glimpse of the yandere poster child, Gasai Yuno, in the highly anticipated anime series that recently wrapped up after a two-season run.
Amano Yukiteru is a quiet, unassuming high school student with a strange habit: keeping track of his surroundings in a diary on his cell phone. He is not well-known or liked at school, so he often retreats into his imagination, engaging in conversation with his imaginary friends, Deus ex Machina and Murmur. One day, Yukiteru’s imaginary world comes alive, and a now tangible Deus, who reveals himself to be the God of Time and Space, gifts a new cell phone to Yukiteru. After being forcibly pushed from his imaginary world, Yukiteru finds that his phone can predict the future in the form of diary entries. He soon discovers that he is only one of several that own a Future Diary and that he is now an unwilling participant in a gruesome survival game involving the diaries. The rules are simple: survive and kill all the other diary users — the winner will replace Deus as god. Yukiteru finds himself being hunted, despite his wish to avoid violence, but Gasai Yuno, a classmate and diary user, swears that she will protect her “Yukki” from any harm. The look in her eyes is sincere, but it does nothing to ease Yukiteru’s suspicion — there’s something horribly amiss about his beautiful new protector.
Future Diary starts off as a Battle Royale with a cellphone twist, sparing no time in letting the manhunt begin. Yukiteru and Yuno are unique among the other contestants in that they form a strong alliance from the get-go, though with Yukiteru doing so more out of general fear for his life and not any ambition to become god or any other motives. While the series goes about its agenda presenting the other diary users as obstacles for the Yu-duo, it remains extremely character-centric, particularly in regard to Yukiteru’s life. There is a constant pressure that Yukiteru faces as almost every aspect of his life comes into conflict with Yuno’s presence; he is endlessly reassessing her loyalty and whether she is actually looking out for his well-being.
Which brings us to our pink-haired yandere. Gasai Yuno is completely obsessed with becoming Yukiteru’s girlfriend, so much that she intends to protect him from being murdered while at the same time slaying the other diary users on his behalf. She’s cute as a button normally, but press her or make a move (friendly or not) on her “Yukki” and she’ll quickly find some way to turn anything she has on-hand into a weapon. And she has no reservations about killing anybody that might interfere with their relationship. While her callous attitude definitely fits within the serious tone of the story, the fact that she often enters yandere mode without even shifting from her happy facial expressions adds more “crazy” to her personality. That and her obsession is clearly elevated stalker status.
Though she steals the show, Yuno isn’t the only thing worth watching Future Diary for her. The diaries themselves each predict the future in some way, and the physical form and way that the future is recorded is dependent on its user. Typically a part of their personality is reflected in their diary: Yukiteru sees the future of his environment, Yuno sees the future of all things related to Yukiteru, and so forth. Seeing how each of the diaries work and unfold is pretty interesting, though near the end it starts to get a bit too complicated. At the beginning, the diaries showed more ‘absolute’ timelines; actions taken by the cast didn’t seem to affect the predictions too much. Near the end of the series, though, the diaries amounted to little more than an RSS of your own personal psychic hotline.
Absurdity is a general problem with the series as it progresses, though. It’s filled with alarming plot holes (though to be fair, they existed in the manga source material as well), and with a supporting character actually named Deus ex Machina, you can be sure that Future Diary favors random solutions to any and all situations. It’s one of the more universal complaints about the series, but I’d still regard the overall story with positives — great in the beginning, hazy in the middle, and controversial near the end. From my understanding, however, it follows the manga very close (for better or worse), though it chisels away a few more foolish aspects of the original ending. Another problem is that while Yukiteru is bearable as the typical ‘wussy protagonist,’ he is also mind-numbingly stupid. Whether it’s a bad dialogue, bad logic, poor trains of thought, or any combination of the aforementioned, there’s a lot about Yukiteru that makes you just want to reach into the screen and strangle him while Yuno isn’t watching. Other than that, though, he’s a pretty ‘cool’ pathetic guy that actually makes friends and experiences some growth throughout the series. He’s not as monotone as a character like Sakai Yuji, and probably slightly less whiny than Ikari Shinji, but …. man this guy is stupid.
The series is definitely one worth dipping your toes into, at least for the first half. Even if you decide to not pursue it all the way through (and many have opted not to), exposure to Yuno as a character will go a long way with being able to identify memes and tropes. Really, as far as this decade is concerned, she is one of the most interesting characters you will find in an anime series. She’s certainly my new favorite Ax Crazy Yandere.
Future Diary – Character Ranking
- Gasai Yuno
- Uryu Minene
- Amano Yukiteru
- Deus ex Machina
- Amano Rea
- Keigo Kurusu
- Mikami Ai
- Akise Aru
- John Balks