Mirai Nikki Ep. 4: Stuff happens

There have been lots of shows lately where the plot is nigh unpredictable. As you watch these anime, you just have no clue what’s going to happen next. This week, Yuki and Yuno find themselves amidst a group of crazed cultists. We then cut to Ninth’s mysterious assailant doing hip thrusts in the air while wearing some a ridiculous costume. I dare anyone to say that they saw this coming. On a more serious note, however, when crazy shit gets trotted out week after week, I think I develop a bit of a tolerance to it.

Take Mawaru Penguindrum, for instance; at first, it was a huge surprise to me when Shoma got run over by a car. He’s one of the show’s main characters so what will this mean for the rest of the series? Unfortunately, when plots usually swing wildly, they also tend to shrug these developments off all too easily. Shoma’s accident didn’t mean anything in the long run; he instantly recovered the following day. This sort of thing happens over and over in Mawaru Penguindrum too. Oh, Yuri might rape Ringo? Well, no, she won’t. Stories like this drive me crazy because I feel as though crazy shit happens for the sake of crazy shit.


The typo is nevertheless apropos.

Mawaru Penguindrum is a bit of a mystery though. The audience is just as long as the characters in the anime so even though I’ve developed a tolerance to the show’s cliffhangers, I still want to see how everything turns out. Mirai Nikki shares Mawaru Penguindrum’s narrative strength and weaknesses without any of that mystery factor. I can’t predict what will happen next in Mirai Nikki, but I’m not exactly at the edge of my seat? Why? Because it just doesn’t feel like there will be any real consequences for the main characters. This little incident at the Sacred Eye compound — I’m sure Yuno will get Yuki out safely. Sixth will probably die, but who cares about her? We just met her.

My point is that no matter what trouble Yuki and Yuno find themselves in, there’s no way a completely life-altering consequence will come about at this early stage of the series. Much like how Shoma’s accident amounted to nothing even though he could’ve been written as a cripple for the rest of Mawaru Penguindrum. This problem actually reminds me a bit of a comparison someone made between Dexter and Breaking Bad. The former is a show about a serial killer trying to seem like a normal dad on the outside, but he constantly runs the risk of being found out. Well, guess what? Dexter‘s on its sixth season by now? I like the show, and it’s not as though absolutely nothing of consequence ever occurs. After all, the second and fourth seasons had some serious “There’s no going back” endings. At the end of the day, however, the show’s titular character doesn’t get caught and then it all gets very tiresome.

Breaking Bad, on the other hand, does a better job at actualizing the consequences of the main characters’ actions. The lead character, a poor high school chemistry teacher dying of lung cancer, starts cooking meth so that when he dies, his family will be financially secure. But like I’ve said, he’s a goddamn high school chemistry teacher; he’s got no idea (at first) what it’s like to “break bad.” There are actually consequences to his actions; his wife leaves him when she finds out what he’s been doing.

Anyway, you probably didn’t click on this post to read about two American TV shows. For that, I’m sorry, but I thought this was the best way to get my point across. I’ve written before that no one in Mirai Nikki is likeable. I still stand by that sentiment. So when crazy stuff occurs, I don’t really care. I actually do want to see Yuki get his just desserts, but four weeks into the season? I just know nothing will happen to him. I just know Yuno will go into yandere mode and save Yuki’s whiny ass. All of the stuff about Twelth and Sixth… I don’t care. They’re throwaway characters, i.e. meatbags put into the show to be slaughtered for effect or exploited in other ways (see: Ninth’s near-naked status throughout this week’s episode).

So in a strange way, a plot that is unpredictable is simultaneously predictable. I can’t imagine what trouble Yuki and Yuno will get into next, but I know that nothing will really happen to them… at least not yet. Ultimately, I find this a little dissatisfying.

38 thoughts on “Mirai Nikki Ep. 4: Stuff happens

  1. Zammael

    Gotta agree with u here. Solid point about the predictably unpredictable plot, but it’s not so much a criticism as a complaint. If the strength of the series is the haphazard plot then that’s a compliment and little more than a complaint that the show isn’t a complete suspenseful thriller.

    Since it ended on an ultimatum I’m on the edge of my seat: Yuki doesn’t have the balls to either kill the Seer or kill the Yandere.

    Reply
      1. zammael

        It’s the difference between a critique that actually explains the criticized, and a complaint that only says “Me no likey.” Criticism isn’t necessarily prejudice made plausible, but hey, it’s your blog. :)

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          In my opinion, the very heart of criticism is still “Me no likey;” it’s just dressed up in verbiage to purport to legitimacy. Still, I never did claim that I was offering up “criticism” of Mirai Nikki. It just seems that every time I express my opinions on this blog, people feel compelled to post, “Dude, that’s just like your opinion, man.” Uh, thanks? This isn’t specifically directed at you or anything. Just a general observation.

          Reply
        2. zammael

          That’s a damned shame. I guess it takes maturity & perception to see the difference between a great work and one’s favorites. For example, Fight Club is one of my all-time favorite movies. But is it necessarily the best movie I’ve ever seen?

          Reply
          1. E Minor Post author

            Regarding your Fight Club analogy, mac and cheese is one of my favorite comfort food. Doesn’t mean I rank it up there with, say, a sous vide bavette of steak. Does that mean there isn’t any prejudice involved in praising the latter? Of course not. All I’m saying is that people make a bigger deal out of the nuanced distinction between criticism and complaint to attack a claim they dislike. If you don’t agree, oh well.

            Reply
        3. zammael

          Sorry. I actually wanted to talk about the show, but since you want to immunize your opinions in a bottomless well of subjectivity, then is there any point to discussion? I myself am not a critic but would like to learn how to write proper review of anime sometime in the future. I gather a good critique would be a fine line between fan-boy-ism and elitism, made honest with subjectivity, yet always in the direction of the ideal anime.

          Aside: would you please stop editing your comments? Not all of us can sound objective and last-word-ish like you :(

          Reply
          1. E Minor Post author

            Sorry. I actually wanted to talk about the show, but since you want to immunize your opinions in a bottomless well of subjectivity, then is there any point to discussion?

            Don’t be so overdramatic. You can criticize my opinions all you want; I won’t edit your comments. People can and have had dumb opinions. If you don’t like mine, feel free to say so. I just laugh when people pretend like there’s a higher level of “criticism” that’s a shining beacon of 100% objectivity.

            Aside: would you please stop editing your comments? Not all of us can sound objective and last-word-ish like you :(

            Sorry, I’m just not mature and perceptive enough to craft the perfect comment on the first go-around.

            Reply
  2. wanderer

    I can guess that in about 2-3 more episodes you’ll wind up dropping this. There’s a specific diary holder that I’m guessing will be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.

    It’s this kind of stuff that has me saying there’re way too many diary holders, and the sixth in particular is a bit of a wasted opportunity.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I think I probably will. There’s no real depth to the anime. No more than any of the other slasher fests, anyway.

      Reply
      1. wanderer

        There’s some depth to the overall scenario but waiting for it to develop seems painful. Even so the manga’s like reading a rough draft of a great work: the potential’s there, but oh man could it have been so much better if it’d could’ve been edited before it was released, but manga economics don’t work that way. It’s too bad, too, b/c the core scenario has that all-too-rare unresolvable messiness.

        I get the sense the humor isn’t translating to animation that well, probably b/c humor is so sensitive to timing and delivery. The first half of the temple arc is pretty funny in the manga.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          oh man could it have been so much better if it’d could’ve been edited before it was released, but manga economics don’t work that way.

          And despite this, most fans don’t want any changes in the manga-to-anime conversion. The ideal anime adaptation is basically a rough draft.

          I’m flabbergasted that part of this episode was supposed to be funny in some way.

          Reply
          1. E Minor Post author

            Nah, I just scanned the episode and don’t see it. The only humor in any of the episodes seem to be the short “epilogue” after the credits. I rather enjoy them, actually; I wish these shows would stop taking themselves so seriously.

            Reply
        2. wanderer

          Huh, presumably it’ll be part of the next episode then, b/c if stuff like that is getting cut out (or is becoming unrecognizable) then yeah, I can totally see why the humor isn’t making it through.

          Without the humor it’d be a lot harder to tolerate.

          Reply
          1. E Minor Post author

            Well, from the looks of it, we’re already past that scene so I really don’t think we’ll show it at all.

            Reply
        3. wanderer

          Whelp curiosity got the better of me so I bit the bullet and watched this episode.

          And yeah: a lot of the humor isn’t making it through in the adaption. It’s disappointing, but not too surprising: it seems like the director is focusing on trying to make the “thriller” part of it work, and including the comic angles amidst the “thriller” scenes would risk inducing mood whiplash and ruining whatever tension the “thriller” scenes are trying to generate. As a stand-alone thriller it’d be pretty monotonous and would suffer a lot more from its plot holes, logic issues, weak character, and so on.

          As a concrete example of “not making it through”, that specific sequence I linked is in fact in this episode, but it’s paced a bit differently, is missing a few “shots”, and is broken up a bit by cuts to the 12th’s antics down in the basement. The net effect is that if I hadn’t read the manga I wouldn’t have seen any humor, and without the humor it’s honestly a strange sequence of interactions to include. As part of just a “thriller” it’d have to be changed up more to really work, but then the customer base would start raging, so that’s checkmate, I guess.

          FWIW most of the humorous moments aren’t laugh-out-loud funny on their own, but taken collectively their net effect is to make it clear the story isn’t taking itself too seriously. EG: the gist of the humor in that sequence is just that Yuki sees Yuno coming to the cage with an axe and tries to stall for time, but Yuno keeps reacting in ways that’re open to an interpretation along the lines of “Wow, isn’t he great! He’s delivering Tsubaki right to me!”. Nothing too amazingly funny, but it helps lighten the mood.

          Reply
          1. E Minor Post author

            Well, yeah, I meant that the scene is in there but the humor was missing. Mood whiplash would be an odd thing for the studio to worry about when the story isn’t really poignant or heavy. You’re not risking a corruption of your message or point because neither exist. It’s just a silly scenario where combatants duke it out for God-ness. I’m getting an inkling that the manga is clearly superior to the animation here.

            Reply
  3. V

    I’m still enjoying this one, even though there are some wild moodswings plot-wise. It’s the kind of series that can hopefully carry them along, though, so we’ll see.

    Also, I love your little bit about Dexter. That’s the exact reason why I think the sixth and potential seventh series are getting really extraneous now. The books by Jeff Lindsay are really interesting pulpy thrillers, and the TV series does extremely well to adapt them, but there’s so many seasons now that I don’t see what’s going to happen next. Though I have to admit, the greatest ‘HOOOLY SHIT HE’S GONNA GET CAUGHT’ scene in Dexter has to be the end of the first episode of season two, when it cuts to underwater and some diver finding all the body parts of his victims.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Yeah, the best Dexter seasons were when there was real consequences. His wife dying at the end of the fourth season made me think things would be right back on track. Unfortunately, that mishmash of a fifth season occurred and I haven’t been bothered to check out the sixth that’s currently airing.

      Reply
      1. V

        I abandoned the fifth series halfway through. :< It's good, but it's slowly turning into rehash after rehash of 'Dexter almost getting caught by the genius detective investigating him but who also works with him'.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          It was really the weakest season. The main baddie just wasn’t very fearsome… hell, he’s a motivational speaker. After multiple serial killers, a motivational speaker who “motivates” others to rape and kill is just kinda lame.

          Reply
  4. Fading Sun

    Indeed…the whole Yuno being a crazy bitch is getting pretty tiresome. At first it was sort of funny in its own way but now she’s gone from the point of being funny to being one of the characters I hope they kill off in the near future. Which probably won’t happen (Yuki needs his happy ending after all).

    The whole hypnosis thing seemed really farfetched as well. I mean, as if missiles coming out of ninth’s outfit was silly enough. The show is really going overboard in regards to the amount of awful, unbelievable things that occur within it.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I’m not sure Yuki will get his happy ending. But Yuno is definitely going to be around for the long run. I just find Yuno one-dimensional and I don’t understand how the yandere character appeals to people so much. It’s all the same schtick every anime. Girl goes nuts for guy and that’s it.

      Reply
      1. Naota

        I think it’s all in the strength of their rationale for the aforementioned crazy. You could of course argue that a character with an understandable reason to madly devote everything to another isn’t actually yandere, in which case you’re absolutely right.

        There’s no real dimensionality to “person is unreasonably fixated on other person because they’re completely insane”. Any depth would have to come with a proper reason for why they act the way they do rather than taking the easy way out and claiming total insanity that can’t be comprehended by the audience. A better “yandere” wouldn’t love people because they’re crazy, but rather do crazy things out of love, in spite of logic or morality (as humans are occasionally known to do). They require logic and morality to go against in the first place, and a well thought out reason to do so.

        I think it’s easy to see why the yandere archetype has such appeal: unlike a tsundere, they actually force the plot away from boring-as-sin everyday life by virtue of being absolutely bonkers. If they’re not dangerous and unstable, they’re not yandere. Likewise, they actually show some goddamn affection. You said it yourself – it’s a sad state of affairs when the only way to see an anime couple acting remotely intimate is if one side of the relationship is a mental case driven only by pure infatuation. This is the state of affairs however.

        There’s also the sheer interest factor of the situation that comes with being unconventional (for an established archetype anyway :P). How often does someone caring too much about the main character become a real danger in anime? Unlike other antagonists which you can hate or pity unconditionally, there’s the irony and uncertainty of being antagonized by love of all things rather than hatred, greed, or ignorance. Yanderes don’t want to do any harm to the object of their affections – they have only good intentions, yet they take them so far that they may become as threatening and dangerous as a sworn enemy.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          I think it’s easy to see why the yandere archetype has such appeal: unlike a tsundere, they actually force the plot away from boring-as-sin everyday life by virtue of being absolutely bonkers

          I don’t know about that. I think yandere is just as predictable and passe to me nowadays. You can always expect them to do something bonkers and it’s really not that refreshing or unpredictable

          Unlike other antagonists which you can hate or pity unconditionally, there’s the irony and uncertainty of being antagonized by love of all things rather than hatred, greed, or ignorance.

          I’m just not sure how far irony gets you. I think the novelty might work once or twice, but in 2011, yandere is just a trope. The irony is stale. As for the uncertainty of the yandere character, I’ll disagree.

          Any depth would have to come with a proper reason for why they act the way they do rather than taking the easy way out and claiming total insanity that can’t be comprehended by the audience.

          And I think this is the only way to portray a proper yandere at this day and age without being tired and cliche. You have to subvert the trope. You have to deconstruct the idea… and if the end result doesn’t resemble a yandere to some fans, so be it. But you can just keep trotting out the same character over and over. I’d take depth plus hints of yandere over the classic yandere any day. Yuno is boring.

          Reply
  5. domino

    i thought with this show its all about how the problems are solved, not the outcome. neither do i have to get emotionally attached to these characters to like it. either way, i see mirai nikki only as mindless action and fun. and it might more enjoyable if you think more about the concept of their diaries and how it will advance the plot instead how much depth the series holds.

    but i suppose a blogger taking an anime at face value probably isn’t gonna happen lol.

    Reply
  6. Taka

    Off topic: Did you watch (or read) A Game of Thrones? That’s one series in which all actions has serious consequences.

    Reply
  7. appropriant

    Eh. Having read the entire series, I think your issues with the main characters’ plot armor are justified, but I think you’re being a little unfair given this is just the fourth episode. Yukki DOES end up having horrible shit happen to him, and as you learn more about Yuno you learn more about the shit that made her go batshit crazy in the first place. Yuno in particular, because she holds more importance than what the story would like to tell you at face value. Her characterization is part of the suspense; she’s not going to stay one-dimensional forever, but you might get frustrated over her the longer you wait for the one flashback to occur and explain everything.

    Reply
  8. Orange

    This show is a riot, I think it stepped over the “so bad it’s good” line couple weeks back.
    And Yukkii is so astonishingly stupid it takes me out of the show every time he says something. “If If I hadn’t seen what I saw behind that door would it have been okay for me to fall for Yuno?”. Well shit, I don’t know about you, but I might mind having a girlfriend who has proven herself to be extremely hostile against pretty much every person I meet. He even offers another possible reason for his problems with Yuno to be that she’s a stalker. Like worrying about a stain on your shirt when your stomach is punctured.
    Another thing that really baffles me is how the show repeatedly tries to pull the “maybe-this-character-is-sane-after-all-OH-NOPE-he/she’s-not” card which really loses its novelty after first few pulls, especially after you learn there’s no developed and likable character in this show. It’s just a batshit-insane bloodbath with no consequences.
    I really like the opening.

    Reply

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