From the moment I picked up the first volume of the Mirai Nikki manga I thought this was an absolute no-brainer for an anime adaptation. Not only is it a deftly written and vastly entertaining read, but it’s extremely visual and perfectly suited to the demands of modern anime. It’s great pulp – like a more wry and less self-consciously “deep” version of Death Note. It’s episodic, fast-paced, funny, sexy and angsty with a full-on, first-class yandere as the female lead. What more could a production company ask for?
What we’ve been given here is a sort of oddity – like a true OVA dry run like the Tegami Bachi one of 2008, but a kind of 8-minute trailer for a possible series. It’s basically a composite of some of the more important early scenes from the manga, which follows 8th-grader Yukiteru as he becomes embroiled in a kind of strategic steel cage death match arranged by God, in an effort to choose his replacement. That explanation doesn’t do the manga justice, but once you’re well into the first volume it all makes sense. This is one of those rare stories that’s both simple and complex at the same time.
I can hardly imagine this little video would have been made unless a series were under very serious consideration. They got a decent studio – Asread – and a well-established director in Naoto Hosoda involved, and the production values are pretty decent. The manga is popular and seemingly a very safe choice for adaptation, a crucial factor in today’s risk-averse environment. Taken in itself this OAV is only a tiny, flawed sampling of what the story has to offer – but I can’t see any reason to see it in that context. As a preview and/or audition tape, it does a pretty decent job of giving a taste of what the viewer would get with a true adaptation. I sincerely hope that’s what happens, because this is a terrific manga and would have a chance to be a very successful TV.