Now that’s what I call a time skip…
I’m just going to address the elephant in the room straight ahead – yes, they changed the ending. Except they didn’t, really. But they did. Manga readers will know what I mean.
Anime-only viewers – did you understand that ending? Did it make sense? Here at the end of all things, I thought it would finally be safe to spoil away – but no, Asread and Hosoda-sensei have foiled me yet again and put me in what amounts to a unique position as a blogger – unique in my history as one, anyway. I really don’t want to spoil this for you if you haven’t read the manga but I think some context is necessary here. Simply put – the ending is mostly faithful – to a point. But there’s a section of the last chapter – an epilogue – that for whatever reason, Asread elected not to animate. So why not just blab the details to you, now that the series is over? Well, first of all you might want to go ahead and read that, and why should I ruin that experience for you? But there’s also that funny little message at the end of the anime – “Next Project!!” An announcement is rumored to be coming during the 7/29 (the date is obviously not coincidental) “Mirai Nikki Live World” event.
So here’s how I see it. Go ahead and read the final chapter if you want to, and while I’d love you to read the whole manga and appreciate the differences, you can feel safe in assuming that things are materially quite faithful right up until the epilogue. But then again, this new project is very likely an anime sequel of some sort as the live-action is old news at this point. It could be a movie, or “Mirai Nikki Mosac”, or “Paradox” (basically MN with Akise as the protagonist) – but the changes Asread made could very easily be interpreted as being executed for the purposes of setting up an anime-original sequel. So if you’d rather be unspoiled under the assumption that could happen, you might want to avoid the manga ending. As is, I’m going to talk about the anime ending only.
The hilarious part is that Asread took what was already a highly controversial manga ending (which I liked, BTW) and made it even more controversial with the change – so you have an ending sure to split both manga readers and anime-original viewers, for different reasons. I’m going to talk about what I liked first, and there was a lot of it. The main thing is for me, the episode emotionally connected even more than the manga’s version did – from Yuno’s heartbreak at seeing her Third World self untainted by the darkness that was consuming her, to Yukiteru’s conflict at finally having the happy life he’d dreamed of with his parents, but knowing in his true heart that it was all a lie, and the quiet innocence of the Third Yuno, it was all very effective. Terrific work by the voice cast here, especially Murata Tomosa as Yuno and Togashi Misuzu as Yukiteru.
Perhaps my favorite part of the finale was the way Hosoda took one of the best parts of the last manga volume and worked it into the finale, only better. Esuno-sensei used the last volume (the intercut between the “ending” and the epilogue, as it happens) to thank the members of his support team individually, a very classy move. Asread gave us a really powerful montage of all the diary holders in the Third World, and singled out the seiyuu as they did so. Really stylish and well-done, and a very nice coda for all those characters. And really, the Third World represents a triumph of the butterfly effect and the power of love. We see the impact small changes have on the future magnifying like waves as they travel across the surface of time (much to Murumuru #1’s chagrin) but we also see what Yukiteru was able to accomplish as a result of his love for Yuno. The romantic in me prefers to think that Yuki was finally able to see the true Yuno – effectively the Third Yuno – trapped inside the warped shell of insanity and hatred that her experiences had built around her.
There’s a lot of Evangelion in Yuki’s ending, no question, the same sort of musing on the nature of reality and the bubble of unreality we construct around ourselves to try and be happy. Ultimately Yukiteru gave up his happiness and was willing to give up his life itself to make a place for Yuno – despite being inured to killing he couldn’t bring himself to kill her, and asked her to kill him so she could return to the Second World as God and restore order. He was also prepared to accept this fate as punishment for what he’d allowed Yuno to lead him to do, but selflessness being the theme here, Yuno – perhaps moved by the sight of herself before she and her parents became the hateful people they would become in her world – instead decided to sacrifice herself. Obviously the whole drama here, built around Yuki trying to scream out Yuno’s name, was much more impactful in anime form, and Asread did a really nice job with this scene. The music and animation was dramatic, but not so much so as to overwhelm the drama inherent in the moment itself.
One question you have to ask yourself is, would Yuno have done what it appeared she was going to do when Fourth fired that gun – and Murumuru #2 (now you know what the Band-aid was all about) stopped time, and the bullet? I think Esuno-sensei intentionally left that vague – my own feeling is that Yuno, while not unmoved by what she was seeing, had already given up all hope for redemption for herself and would have killed the three of them. It was only Yukkii’s arrival that inspired her to what she saw as a redemptive act. It could just as easily be argued that she knew Fourth would shoot her before she could kill her Third World family, and simply wanted to die – ultimately, we’ll never know.
And even more ultimately, we’re left with a few certainties. Murumuru #1 is now (fittingly) a strap for Yuno #3’s cell phone – a phone on which she’s decided to keep a diary. And it seems that while Yuno gave her life for Yukiteru, in the end she cursed him to the worse fate of the doomed pair, for now he’s existed for 10,000 years as a lonely God, forever 14, with only “his” Murumuru for company. She likes her Master, but she’s bored having read the same manga thousands of times already. Yukiteru ex Machina is too sad to be bored – if he can’t create a world with his Yuno in it, he feels no need to use his powers beyond what’s necessary to keep this World functioning. Perhaps this is the fate of all Gods, a lonely existence removed from contact with those whose existence depends on them. And so we leave them,Yukiteru and Murumuru, where it’s always July 28, alone with a manga and a forever unchanging cell phone diary. Or is it…