THE FUTURE DIARY is a show where characters' diaries write themselves and predict the future. In response, I kept a diary of my thoughts and feelings while watching the show, late at night. Be forewarned, though, because the results weren't pretty...
11:29 PM – This is... dark. In both the literal and figurative sense. It begins with an apparent suicide. I should make sure to say that this show contains heavy subject matter, just to be safe.
11:31 PM – Opening theme in the first episode? You don't necessarily see that too often nowadays. Starting with an eyeball crying blood? That's a bit goth - - wait did that knife just bleed? No, that's silly; it just rusted away over time. But those dolls are definitely full of blood. As is that ball? Oh gosh are those people made of blood!? OK the pile of skulls seals it: this show is going to be a serious, possibly grimdark story. I am now psychologically prepared.
11:39 PM - Yuki Amano has resigned himself to not participating in life, and merely to observe it. He meticulously logs everything he perceives in his cellphone diary, to the point of weirding out his classmates. He also doesn't notice the serial murders taking place around his school.
11:42 PM - Yuki's only friends are ones he made up, so he hides himself in a fantasy world inhabited by Deus Ex Machina and his assistant Murmur. Deus is animated with cel shaded computer graphics at a low frame rate, in contrast to the more traditional animation style of the show, making him disconcertingly other-wordly. Murmur seems to be a two-foot tall demon child and the mascot of the show. Ah well, shows need mascots.
11:45 PM - Yuki wakes up to find that Deus has given him a gift: his diary for that day has been completely filled out for him, including answers to a pop quiz. Yuki, being a detached slacker, thinks this is the best thing ever and nothing bad can come of it.
11:47 PM - Deus explains that Yuki and his diary are one, and if anything happens to it Yuki will die. Yuki reads his diary and discovers he's going to be murdered, and there's nothing past an ominous entry that simply reads "DEAD END". He's approached by the beautiful and bright Yuno Gasai, who reveals she knows about his Dead End.
11:50 PM - Yuno corners Yuki in an elevator. She gets real close to him and then... makes out with his face. Yuno has apparently been stalking him for ages and has a Future Diary of her own, but hers follows everything Yuki does. Yuki's stalker is also his best hope at staying alive.
11:52 PM - The killer is their homeroom teacher, as he is the only other person to talk in the show and had long hair (lending further proof toward Roger Ebert's Law of Economy of Characters). He has a phone diary also, and Yuki dispatches him when he breaks it.
11:54 PM - There are 12 people who hold Future Diaries, and each one functions differently. They must now kill each other, and the last one standing will inherit Deus' throne as Lord of Space and Time. It seems only the Diary Holders have any form of free agency in the world. Their actions and only their actions can alter what's in each others' Diaries.
11:58 PM - I'm struck by the stark contrast between Yuki and Light Yagami from the conceptually similar DEATH NOTE. Light is a Holmesian ubermensch, his forethought and analysis allowing him to go blow for blow with the best minds of his time. Yuki, on the other hand, barely qualifies as an everyman since he's so withdrawn. It's as if they wanted to cast Shinji Ikari as Light, but he was unavailable due to his movie schedule. It will be interesting to see how Yuki adapts to the scenario and, more importantly, to Yuno.
12:04 AM - This maid is another Future Diary holder. She rigged Yuki's school to explode because she's a terrorist. Is this really the same show I was watching on episode ago?
12:09 AM - This show is going to have a lot of shots of people looking at their phones, isn't it.
12:12 AM - The police chief is also a diary holder? I suppose the problem with having 12 of them is that they're going to make up a large part of the cast. He's interested in preventing needless deaths in this tournament and protects Yuki. I'm glad not everyone is out to kill Yuki as that would make for some repetitive, shonen-showdown stuff.
12:16 AM - Except now, because there are bombs everywhere, the chief instantly caters to the maid's demands and points his gun at Yuki.
12:18 AM - Yuno goes psycho, sacrificing everyone in the school by setting off motion detector bombs to get to the maid and bash her with a fire extinguisher. Now that the tables have turned, the chief switches sides again!? This character is totally untrustworthy and I bet Yuno will never work with him.
12:20 AM - Did the maid really just shoot missiles out from under her skirt then escape on a motorcycle? This show is silly.
12:22 AM - Yuki, no, don't be this stupid. Don't forge an alliance with a man who was willing to kill you in a game where everyone will try to kill you. He says he doesn't want to become god (which anyone with brains would say), but doesn't he also want to live? Yuno, you're supposed to be the smart one—how are you also ok with this? This show is clearly much sillier than the pilot lead me to believe. I will adjust my expectations accordingly.
12:25 AM - How can the third episode be the fan service episode? And yet, here we are in a water park, supposedly to "lure out" the terrorist maid by being out in public. Not only is this a poor excuse to get Yuno is a bathing suit, it puts the entire park at risk.
12:32 AM - It occurs to me that this is the third episode and consequently the third major change in tone. THE FUTURE DIARY has no idea what tone it's going for and is schizophrenic and stupid as a result. I will adjust my expectations accordingly.
12:34 AM - Yuno finally has Yuki exactly where she wants him: her a rundown yet palatial home. Conveniently, her parents are out of town and a storm has knocked out the power. Yuki checks his Diary to see where the bathroom is. This is the most creative use of his Diary to date.
12:37 AM - Yuki stops at a door that isn't mentioned in his diary, wondering if opening it will alter the future. The answer is yes, Yuki. That's exactly how your power works, you dumbass.
12:41 AM - It occurs to me that Yuki's Diary has the ability to predict the next 90 days, yet has never bothered to read more than a few hours ahead at a time. Despite having (barely) survived what he has, he refuses to accept the situation he's in.
12:45 AM - The next day Yuki doesn't tell the chief that Yuno has a room in her house full of decaying bodies which caused him to run home screaming. He can't tell the chief this because Yuno deftly prevented him from talking about that night by implying the had sex. The idea of telling the chief what he saw anyway never occurs to Yuki.
12:46 AM - The chief's Diary tells him all reported crimes. This is a convenient excuse to move the plot, since it tells him the terrorist maid has been imprisoned by a local cult.
12:49 AM - I suppose it's too much to ask that the cultist in charge of the terrorist maid keep all her clothes on while he tortures her for information. Her tormenter is another Diary Holder, who dresses as a demented superhero.
12:56 AM - The cult is led by a nearly blind girl who has yet another Future Diary, which records everything her cultists will tell her throughout the day. At least it's a scroll and not another damn cell phone.
12:58 AM - The cultists are suddenly and inexplicably zombies. This is show is asinine. I will adjust my expectations accordingly.
1:06 AM - It occurs to me that Yuno is the protagonist of the show, not Yuki. Yuno makes decisions that affect the plot, while Yuki seems incapable of grasping what's going on. Instead of watching Yuki evolve to meet threats, we will instead see Yuki do something psychotic like hack people apart with an axe.
DEAD END WARNING
1:14 AM - It makes sense that the cult leader would have something dark happen to her; she does lead a cult after all. Her parents set up cult to help her with her poor eyesight. Parents die unexpectantly and violently, leaving her in charge. Cult leader is ritualistically gang raped by her cult. I fight with myself not to cause property damage to my apartment.
1:52 AM - I finally calmed down enough to continue the show, in spite of the image framed on my television of a young girl's lap streaming with semen. I hate you, THE FUTURE DIARY, for showing me this image. While you want me to believe you've plumbed the darkness of human nature to give me these shocks, the only impact you deliver is due to your juvenile approach to these repulsive acts.
2:10 AM - Yuki, Yuno, the chief and the cult leader run to escape the zombies and are confronted by the superhero, who apparently has hypnosis powers which made the zombies. He does a sentai intro dance and attacks them with dopplegangers. After showing a rape scene not ten minutes ago, you now have the gaul to try to make me laugh.
2:17 AM - The superhero, the most visually interesting and creepy human character in the show, gets a chump death because he bull rushes the psycho with an axe.
2:19 AM - She manipulated all of these characters so that her cultists could kill them for her. She wants to win the game because she is evil; she is evil because she was ritualistically gang raped. We are done, FUTURE DIARY.
THE FUTURE DIARY has severe tone issues, its characters are idiotic, and it doesn't respect its audience. If you want to be offended - - or perhaps want to see just how off-concept a show can go - - maybe you should watch it. Otherwise, stay far away.
Matt Murphy is a freelance nerd who has contributed to many nerd websites. You can reach him by going to where the light meets the shadow, by sending out zeta-brainwaves or by following him on Twitter @Murphix