In its first two episodes this adaptation did a very good job of showing its gloriously manic, exciting and absurd side. But there’s a lot more to Mirai Nikki than that, and this week revealed some of the other facets to the series. It’s a lot like Yuno Gasai in that way – once you think you have everything figured out, the sands shift under your feet and you’re back to guessing again. As big as the story starts, we’re now starting to see some of the depth that’s lurking just underneath the surface.
Make what you will of Fourth’s motivations for sending Yukiteru and Yuno on a mission to act as bait for Fourth, but it did give them a chance to do some serious bonding. As Yuki himself said, Yuno was “cuter than normal” at the amusement park (and normal is pretty cute). Both manga and anime do a nice job of putting you inside Yuki’s head and getting a sense of the bewildering array of thoughts and emotions running through him, and I’m glad Asread decided to keep the occasional cuts to his first-person narration. While he tries to keep an intellectual distance in assessing his situation with Yuno, it’s not so easy when she has “ginormous” breasts and seems totally devoted to his happiness. And when he finally “pops the question” of why she’s so dedicated to his welfare, her recollection about their conversation at school a year earlier seems perfectly reasonable.
There are some important tidbits about Yukiteru laid out in the amusement park sequence, some obvious and some a little more subtle. Yuno as well, though one big clue regarding her – the reaction at the haunted house, seemingly odd from such a calculating and fearless girl – are revealed within this very episode, during Yuki’s memorable visit to her house. There’s not much I can say about that scene without going places I shouldn’t go, so I’ll just talk about how well it was executed in the anime. There was a sense of wrongness from the minute Yukiteru walked through the door and saw that apple on the table in the dark, and I thought the scene was just right atmospherically – which proves you can still animate effectively without having a huge budget. It’s not telling tales out of school to say that was an important moment – just look at Deus and Murumuru’s reactions if you have any doubts.
There’s no denying that this ep was more of a slow build than the first two, which were pretty much in sixth gear as soon as they backed out of the driveway. But I think that kind of balance is better for the show in the long run. And there’s no denying the payoffs were big – both the big reveal at Yuno’s house and the travails of poor Ninth in the hidden cottage. She’s had a tough life, starting out as an orphan in a war zone, but in her weakened state and on the lam she found herself at the mercy of a seemingly helpful stranger (Kawahara Yoshihisa) who speaks of his commitment to justice. Again skillfully manipulating POV, the anime shows us what it feels like for Ninth when she finds out that the pain pills she’s taken weren’t pain pills – and what happens next is pretty much self-explanatory (and icky). If you love a story that can really make you squirm, this is the one for you.
It does seem as if a ton has been packed into these three eps, and while things haven’t felt rushed to me I can only hope that’s also how it feels to the non-manga viewers who comprise the bulk of the audience. While the introductory eps ran on pure adrenaline, I really enjoyed the use of misdirection and suspense in this week’s effort. The best part for me is knowing that the surface has only just been scratched, and the best is still very much to come.