Mysteries, Murders And Diaries That Tell The Future

Mysteries, Murders, and Diaries That Tell the Future

2011's The Future Diary is one of my favourite anime from the past few years. And with the release in Japan of the epilogue OVA The Future Diary: Redial, now is the perfect time to take a look back at what makes The Future Diary such an amazing ride.

Good — A Gripping Premise

Mysteries, Murders, and Diaries That Tell the Future

The Future Diary is the story of a middle school boy named Yuki who one day finds that his mobile phone diary tells the future. But his is not the only one. Eleven other people hold a future diary of their own. There is one catch, however. The last one of them alive will become god.

This is an excellent setup for the show. Not only does it have an interesting sci-fi premise but it also has a conflict that guarantees tense action from start to finish. More than that though, each diary tells the future in a different way — be that how to escape any given situation or everything a certain person does in 10-minute intervals. Thus, Yuki must not only discover who the other diary holders are but also what aspect of the future their diaries show in order to defeat them.

Good — A Yandere Heroine

Mysteries, Murders, and Diaries That Tell the Future

But while Yuki is the main character of the series, it is Yuno who steals the show. She is smart, beautiful, strong, agile, driven, and a fellow future diary holder. She is also a violently obsessed stalker who is willing to kill anyone around Yuki that could even possibly get in the way of their "love." In other words, she is the quintessential obsessive Yandere.

In fiction, Yandere characters are almost always villains. By their very definition they are prone to kill, if not the hero himself, then everyone around him. But in a world where anyone and everyone is a potential enemy — and a good number of the people getting close to you are actually out to kill you — a Yandere suddenly becomes not only a heroine but also the one true ally you can always count on. Her violent paranoia is suddenly a boon; and while it does constantly cause more than its share of problems, it is also the only reason that Yuki lives past his first encounter with another diary holder.

Watching Yuno's unpredictable madness unfold is easily the most captivating aspect of the series — and the mysteries that surround her origin are nearly as much so.

Good — Wide and Varied Cast

Mysteries, Murders, and Diaries That Tell the Future

The other members of the cast are interesting in their own right. Each diary holder has a unique and interesting background ranging from serial killer to international terrorist to police officer to self-proclaimed hero of justice.

But by far the most interesting character outside of Yuno is her rival Akise, the most excellently realised boy detective this side of Death Note. Like Death Note's L, Akise is a master manipulator able to think dozens of moves ahead. The games of mental chess between Yuno and him over the fate of Yuki make for many of the series' most exciting moments.

Good — Sometimes Parents Are Just Horrible People

Mysteries, Murders, and Diaries That Tell the Future

One of the other interesting aspects of The Future Diary is the role of parents in the series. Yuki's parents, for example, are a carefree workaholic and a desperate gambler. Yuno's are a physically abusive, controlling mother and a father who works long hours to avoid the problems at home. Among the other characters, parents range from scam artists and religious zealots to those who abandon their children in public areas. The best parents seem to be the ones who have died before they could turn into horrible people.

Over the course of the show, many of the cast are forced to confront the fact that some people are just not cut out to be parents. And the various ways they each deal with this fact really serves to explore and develop their characters.

Mixed — A Both Satisfying and Unsatisfying Ending

Mysteries, Murders, and Diaries That Tell the Future

[Please skip this section to avoid spoilers on the ending.]

The climax of The Future Diary is rather well done and the scenes in the credits that showcase the fates of the surviving characters in the time after the series' ending is a welcome bonus. However, Yuki, the protagonist, is completely left out of this. He is instead relegated to his own downer of a post-credits ending — which itself finishes on an emotional cliffhanger. It is a painful tease that raises countless questions and answers none.

Of course, this unsatisfying cliffhanger is the entire reason for the creation of the recently released The Future Diary: Redial OVA (which we will get to next week).

Bad — Mass Murder, No Consequences

Mysteries, Murders, and Diaries That Tell the Future

Five episodes into the series, and Yuno's body count is so high it's insane to think that even having an ally on the police force could keep her out of jail. By the midway point in the series, both Yuki and Yuno look to the world like violent terrorists. And by the start of the final arc, they have both committed mass murders in very public places.

Yet each time they are somehow able to return to a normal civilian life. It is laughable how utterly incompetent the police must be — not to mention the press.

Random Thoughts

Mysteries, Murders, and Diaries That Tell the Future

I watched The Future Diary for the second time when writing this review, and I was greatly pleased to see how well it held up. Just as in a second viewing of Modoka Magica, knowing the series' major plot twist going in makes every episode interesting in new ways as you watch the actions of certain characters in a completely different light. It's rare to find a series with such great rewatchability.

Final Thoughts

Mysteries, Murders, and Diaries That Tell the Future

The Future Diary is an excellent sci-fi anime. The concept is intriguing, the characters are deep, the mysteries are complex, and the flaws are minor — at least if you are able to suspend disbelief. If you like supernatural mysteries like Death Note, death game stories like The Hunger Games, or enjoy time travel tales, you'll no doubt have a great time with The Future Diary.

The Future Diary can be watched for free with English subtitles Funimation.


    One of my all time favourites, although, the ending is only really understood and satisfactory if you've seen the manga ending... Stuff happens there that makes everything worth wile...

    Looks interesting, might have to check it out. Kinda sounds similar to Eden of the East:
    People with phones that they use to change the future, all being hunted by each other (kinda)

    After reading this popped into my head.

    I got about 4 or 5 episodes into the anime before other series took my attention but a few months ago I read all of the manga in a short span and really enjoyed it.
    You're right about the consequence free murder sprees but the character development and plot twists make up for a lot of that (apart from some characters never getting an explanation, like the holder of the Killer Diary and the insane hero-wannabe character).

    Love that Anime, is one of my must watch Animes :D

    It can't be watched on Funimation if you're in Australia unless you're running a VPN to hide your region.

    The Australian distributors are Madman, but Madman doesn't have a release date for the DVDs/Blu-Rays yet. As the Funimation DVD release is next month, it's likely that Madman have been waiting for dub materials before proceeding with the release. We can probably anticipate a release late this year or early next.

    Unfortunately Madman don't seem to have a stream or even a trailer available yet either. The only mention I could find on their site was the announcement of the licence back in 2011.

      On madmans forums there is a thread that deals with future coverart that can be found on the website and they show the cover art for future diary there. In general it seems that when something turns up on that thread they are include in the upcoming release lists on madmanb2b so I think it may come out in november.

      I just got it from the pirate bay :D Loved it. So much so, that I went through the history Tab on chrome to find this page just to type this!

    This anime was great, mostly cause it was so crazy and weird :p

    Last edited 25/08/13 9:52 am

    "psat few years"??? Future Diary anime only been out for over a year.
    October 2011.

    I've been waiting for this series to come out for ages.
    I was a huge fan of the manga, which never had the final volume released locally. Decided to wait and watch the ending via the anime adaption rather than look up a fan translation.

    i watched the anime with the expectation that it would be as gripping and addictive as Steinz;Gate... to that end I was fairly disappointed, but not to say the anime was bad.. i probably just hyped myself up too much for it.

    lol y review such an old anime get with the time people lololol

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