Sometimes in an anime, a character will say something that’s been obvious to the reader all along, but never muttered aloud on screen. The interesting part comes in seeing how the characters react to it.
I’d say that Marco has the honesty of the doomed, but he was pretty much a straight shooter all along. In Mirai Nikki the line between nobility and insanity has always been a blurry one, anyway. It should be obvious to any viewer by now that all of the diary owners so far are broken in some way – these are not people plucked from idyllic lives of happy contentment in the bosom of their loved ones. The common thread among every one we’ve met so far is that their family lives are shot through with dysfunction of various kinds, and one of the interesting things in watching the story unfold is seeing how each reacts to their own pain in their own way.
In many ways, the prologue (over seven minutes) reminded me a bit of the landmark seventh episode of Kamisama Dolls, though it wasn’t by any means its equal in terms of execution. What’s fascinating is that the flashback scenes with Ai and Marco were much shorter in the manga, cutting out the high school scenes altogether. I’ve already had displeasure over the anime’s artistic choice expressed to me directly by a reader, and I can definitely understand why one might be offended by the direction the Asread team chose here. My honest answer is that I’m not – in fact, I think the added buildup for Seventh made the climax of the episode much more emotionally powerful. The fact that we’ve already had rape in a diary holder’s tragic past (Sixth) does call the decision to use it here into question, no doubt – perhaps it reflects a lack of imagination. But this is a brutal story that treats its characters harshly, and I didn’t feel that the horror of what happened to Ai was minimized or that the attackers were painted in a kind light. I thought it was effective – your mileage may vary, and I won’t say you don’t have a right to feel that way.
There were obviously some key lines of dialogue in this episode, starting with Marco’s screed about Yuno and Yuki. Of Yuki, Marco said that he was weak and a hypocrite – letting Yuno do all his dirty work for him so he could keep his hands clean. Of her, that what she had with Yukiteru wasn’t love or cooperation – it was just manipulation and domination. Is there anyone in the audience who would disagree? In it’s twisted way what Marco and Ai had was at least a true partnership, and the depth of feeling was never in question. What does Yuki do with this knowledge, now that it’s slapped him in the face and he can no longer pretend it isn’t true? And does Yuno resume her on-again off-again relationship with reality long enough to acknowledge that what she has with her Yukkii right now isn’t remotely love?
For his part, it was indeed Yuno’s hand that Yukiteru reached for in the beginning, and who can blame him? For all her insanity Yuno is the one person in his life whose dedication to him has never come into question, and the fact that his father was present only drove home the point. For Yuki the key question is the obvious one that’s been hanging over his relationship with Yuno all along – “Do you really love me or are you just insane?” I’m not sure those two are mutually exclusive, but confronted yet again with what a coward and a selfish bastard his father is, what choice does Yuki have but to ask it? Even not yet knowing the terrible truth that awaits him once he and Yuno fall back to Earth, Yukiteru has come to fully realize that he can’t count on his parents to give him the support of a real family.
The paradigm has certainly shifted, and bridges to Yuki’s old life burned. And with Seventh gone, we’re officially down to five diary owners left – our main pair, Minene, the oddly-shaped Eighth (who hovered on the fringes of this arc without ever quite becoming directly involved) and the mysterious Eleventh, about whom we know almost nothing. I equate that owner’s role thus far to dark matter’s role in the physics of the universe – we can’t see it, but we know it must be there because we do see things that can’t be explained any other way…