As usual, it’s dangerous for me to discuss the meaning of events too much in the post (and please, you all know my spoiler rules for the comments by now). Safer ground is talking about the impact of the ep – which might have been titled “How the Hell Do We Animate This Without the Whole Ep Being Behind a Censor Bar” – and some of the timing issues. It’s hell to choose 36 caps for this one – I took well over twice that many and I could easily use them on reaction shots alone. Asread did a pretty good job of being creative in showing the horror of what happened in whatever way they could. It’s also worth pointing out that the breakneck pacing of the last few episodes has left the adaptation with four eps left to finish the story at a rate of less than two chapters per episode – roughly half of the pace they’ve been going for the last few.
Now, it’s certainly interesting to speculate on what that means. As you know I think insane pacing works well for Mirai Nikki, because the series works best when the audience has no time to do anything but react – so I’ve loved these crazy last few weeks. Is it possible Hosoda and Takayama-sensei have plans to materially change the ending? Or do they simply have plans to savor it, animate those remaining chapters in exquisite detail and flesh them out a bit? While they’ve generally hewn close to the author’s intent in matters of substance, the creative team has shown an occasional willingness to tweak significantly – but if I were a betting man, I don’t think we’re headed for an anime original ending. In that likely event that thesis is correct, it’s going to be interesting to see how the anime plays while adapting manga material at a much more leisurely pace than it has for a very long time.
As for the episode itself, well needless to say, an awful lot happened and not much of it was easy to watch. Strong opinions will be formed about the behavior of Yuno, Akise and especially Yukiteru here – and many guesses about just what Akise was trying to tell Yuki there at the end. What seems obvious is that the story Yuki was getting from Akise and Hinata was materially different from the one he was getting from Yuno, to the point where they seem to be mutually exclusive. Can the dead be brought back, or not? If you ask me, the reaction I had to Yukiteru’s behavior when I saw this material for the first time was, “they finally broke him”. It didn’t really seem like Yuki to me, pulling the trigger on that gun pointed at Hinata. How many times can one kid have the ground shifted under him, and another version of the truth called a lie, before he snaps completely?
In a sense, it almost feels as if the last several episodes have amounted to a giant game of chicken between Yuno and Akise, with Yukiteru as the prize. Akise’s love for Yuki was real enough to convince God himself that it expressed his free will, despite being a created being (aren’t all beings created by God, if you stipulate to this mythology?) And that kiss was certainly real enough, as Yuno’s reaction will attest. It was a strategic kiss, but that doesn’t mean Akise didn’t enjoy it – and it did serve the purpose intended in infuriating Yuno. But playing chicken with a yandere, well – it should be self-evident. In the end, Akise blinked first, and bound Yuno’s wounds rather than letting her die. Never let it be suggested that Yuno Gasai is hesitant to take whatever steps necessary to achieve the goal.
Eighth’s role in all this was fundamentally different from the others, in that she never really became an active participant herself, instead existing as a strategic piece in the hands of other players. Her death scene has always felt anti-climactic to me, almost incidental to events in the episode – dispatched casually by Yuno as Yukiteru barely bats an eye, and her only request was for Yuki to remember her true purpose and act to honor it. So then, we’re left with Yuno and Yuki, much as it seemed would be the case all along. And Murumuru, of course, in the event anyone needs any omakes made. And all of them in a world that seems to be under a good deal of structural stress, under the shadow of a ticking clock…