Well, ain’t Yuki a winner? Some people have been making comparisons of Mirai Nikki to Death Note and I guess that’s possible. There is sort of a mind game — a mental chess match — between the various future diary owners that might remind one of the cat-and-mouse tussle in Death Note. For all of Death Note‘s flaws, however, I had a very clear idea of why I was watching: to root for or against Light. Personally, I rooted against him, but this isn’t important or rather as important. In my mind, it’s much more crucial that the line is drawn in the sand. In Mirai Nikki, there isn’t any sort of ideological struggle. It’s just kill or be killed. Eventually, there will only be one diary owner left standing and that person will ascend to Deus’s throne. In this case, it seems rather arbitrary to me that we are following Yuki at all.
What does Yuki stand for? For all the pathetic, introverted losers out there, I guess. I know I’ve always preached that protagonists need an arc — as a character moves from the start of the plot to the very end, he or she should change. For better or worse, it doesn’t really matter, but it’s boring if a character remains static throughout a story. This is why I excused Guilty Crown‘s loserish Shu because not every hero needs to start out on top. Still, there should be a limit to just how poorly off a character’s arc begins. I can’t find one redeemable quality about our boy hero in this week’s episode. He even knowingly takes advantage of Yuno’s sick obsession with him for his own protection. Yuki’s portrayal thus begs the following question: why him? Of all the heroes we could root for or against, why someone so wormy — so undeserving of any attention?
In the end, the characters drive the show so while Mirai Nikki‘s premise might remind one of Death Note, our two main leads remind me more of Deadman Wonderland. For the life of me, I could never understand why Ganta was the hero in DW. He was whiny and prone to tears at any moment — hey, just like Yuki! Plus, Mirai Nikki and DW do share this same schlocky mode of storytelling where the story “isn’t afraid” to shock the audience with the countless deaths of innocent people, especially children. If either show was making a deeper, grander point, I wouldn’t care, but there’s nothing of the sort here. There’s no doubt some of you will counter that it isn’t necessary for stories to have an overarching message in mind as long as they are entertaining. That’s true, but do you find mangled corpses of little children entertaining? Well, I guess to each his own.
Mirai Nikki and DW also share this sort of divisive absurdity. The latter had a monk who could kill you by strumming his mega-guitar. In this latest episode of Mirai Nikki, the ninth diary holder, a bomb-crazy terrorist in a mild gothic lolita get-up, holds an entire school hostage to get her hands on First, a.k.a. Yuki. Along the way, you get all those silly faces that — well, I wouldn’t say the anime invented them, but Higurashi no Naku Koro ni definitely popularized these twisted shoujo faces. Some people find them creepy; at best, they just make me laugh. Anime’s recent overuse of this style (see: C3) is just eye-rollingly lame. But speaking of eye-rollingly lame, here’s how Ninth makes her escape:
Your mileage here may vary. You might think this is all incredibly entertaining. The first thing I said when I saw her motorcycle escape, however, was “This is fucking stupid.” After napping on it, I’ll still stand by this sentiment. Nothing, however, perplexes me more than this giant crush on Yuno that everyone seems to have. Case in point, I watched the anime with the other Moe Sucks “bloggers” and Fin kept going “yuno tiem!” and “yuno ftw” on AIM. It’s very interesting how each of the aforementioned anime series contain a female counterpart who is defined by her twisted devotion to the male hero. Misa, Shiro and now Yuno are all obsessed with their respective man and boy heroes, but the audience seems to like Yuno most of all.
To me, she seems to have even less motivation for any of her actions when compared to the other two heroines. Her sick love is just hand-waved away as “Oh, that’s just the yandere trope.” I could maybe look past this if Yuki wasn’t such a goddamn loser, but there’s nothing redeemable about him! And so what if Yuno takes charge? She takes charge only for Yuki’s sake. We’re so starved for female anime characters that don’t constantly require male protection that Yuno might seem like a good compromise, but she isn’t. She may as well be Yuki’s God mode plot device that just so happens to own a pair of (middle school) breasts.
Will Yuki become less of a piece of shit in later episodes? Maybe. Will the anime develop Yuno’s character beyond “I really love this cockroach for no good reason because I’m yandere!” Doubtful, but it’s possible. But even if the best case scenario works out, there’s still the question of why I should give a damn at all about these two kids’ fate. Light stood for something. I didn’t like that something, so I rooted against him, but at least I had a position to stand in the sand; I was invested in the events of Death Note‘s story. On the other hand, I don’t care whether or not Yuki lives. The same goes for everyone else in the show; they’re all selfish pricks to me.