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Let’s talk Your Name (Kimi no na wa)

Your Name (img from wiki)

Your Name (img from wiki)

 

Will contain spoilers.

Intro

As of this writing Your Name is officially over 19.9b yen in Japan, over Howl’s Moving Castle, over all other Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli films except Spirited Away (ie, it’s No2 Japanese anime/film of all time) and into the all time top 5 (below Spirited Away, Titanic, Frozen and Harry Potter).

Without a doubt, this is Shinkai’s best work to date.

To get things out of the way, no it is not as thoughtful or as delicate as his previous works, however to be fair all his previous works contained major issues which prevented them from reaching mainstream. Without getting too sidetracked they are in my view

Hoshi no Koe: I won’t comment as it’s his debut work, his potential is already evident from this one.

Place promised: Not much improved character drawing in addition to a dulldrum buildup complicated by a difficult world setting.

5cm per second: Fair to say his first true hit and gave him a cult following. The 3 interlinked short story worked well for the topic and the way events are revealed, however I think it can be said Shinkai recognizes his problem in bringing a coherent story to the screen in long form and used the short story collection as a sleight of hand to mask it.

There is also a lot of plot points that are merely hinted at and required thoughts to understand. This in my view actually elevates the film and gave it incredible thoughtful depth, this cannot be said to be held by the general public.

Children Chase Lost Voices: The less said the better… Shinkai is not Miyazaki and he shouldn’t try.

Garden of Words: After the previous disaster this gave Shinkai to rediscover his roots and reestablish his footing. It’s acceptably short to allow a fairly simple plot to not be dragged out, however again there is no storytelling, no build up and no tension. The painterly character while good lacked dynamic to them (animation didn’t help either). It did have marvelous raindrops. Gorgeous, tender, sad, but not exciting (exciting doesn’t mean good, but exciting is needed for a movie to be a hit I think).

In short, Shinkai’s weakness are in telling a long story in an interesting manner, problem with drawing and giving life to characters, and poor tension throughout.

His strengths always remained and there was the potential that once he finds a way to address his shortcomings he can create something remarkable. His beautiful background work, his ability to set moods, his incredible knack for putting composing cuts and scenes that ties each scene together.

As long as those weaknesses remained his films remained well received but unpopular. His last film did just 150m after all, barely a blip and cannot compared to even other anime films.

Your Name – In the Beginning

Enter Your Name.

Actually before Your Name, one must first look at Crossroad, Shinkai’s 120 second ad for Z-Kai (remote education cram-school) which came out in 2014. It’s about a highschool girl from a seaside rural town studying to go to uni in Tokyo, and a highschool boy living in Tokyo also studying via Z-Kai as he need to work part-time in addition to school. The ad follows their journey as they study, sit exams, and finally chance into each other while looking for their names in the uni entrance results announcement boards.

Familiar? On top of that, the character designer in Z-Kai is also the same designer for Your Name, Tanaka. (Also designer for Toradora and Ano Natsu Materu)

Crossroad can be seen as the root and practice run, possibly giving Shinkai the inspiration and confidence and team to tackle his greatest challenge.

In my view Tanaka is one of the very key. His character design fit surprisingly well with Shinkai’s visual styles and solves one of Shinkai’s biggest problems in creating characters. Tanaka’s style is also very energetic, his characters are full of spirit and conveys emotions well.

Then Shinkai also brought on board the animation director Andou from Spirited Away. Together the two covers the character and animation side, leaving Shinkai to turn attention to his other weakness, plot and tension.

It’s hard to pinpoint how Shinkai managed to improve his storytelling skills to this degree. Sure, the plot is hardly innovative (especially if you’re familiar with galgames), but Shinkai really made the three arcs flow without seemingly forced, everything is properly foreshadowed yet not obvious to be predictable.

(Any critic saying the ending is predictable teenage drama, they’ve obviously not seen any previous Shinkai works)

I think what really made the plot work is Shinkai’s decision to go with a happy end. Shinkai explained that he felt after the 2011 earthquake Japan was already full of sorrow, and he felt Your Name should be something that brings joy and hope to people.

This changes everything as it meant the overall tone can be much lighter, comedy be added, and a buildup to a climax without people throwing out the popcorn. (I’m of the opinion a built up climax that ends badly comes across as unfair/cheap shock, a bad end necessitates a gradual spiral similar to 5cm/s).

Regardless of any material effect on plots, the happy end certainly ensured it was more ‘hit’ friendly. Not many people want to watch a sad movie many times (maybe at home when they’re in the mood).

In essence, Shinkai managed to produce a work that is incredibly complete and of high quality. Decent story, good characters and comedy moments, in additional to his trade mark visuals and evocative tone. It’s good, but what made it explode is probably a combination of fortune and timing.

Release

Originally Toho the publisher’s plan was a production budget of 0.8b + ~0.8b in marketing, hoping to score 1.5~2b, maybe double that if they got lucky. It’s aimed to do decent for an anime film, not spectacular nor an anchor feature. (In comparison rival director Hosoda’s last few ones ranged from 4 to 5.8b. The popular brand animes One Piece 6.8b, Detective Conan 6.3b, so the original estimate of upward of 4b is already optimistic).

Toho chose to release the film at the last week of August, in other word last week of summer break. Traditionally anchor films are released early in Summer Break to take full advantage of the bored school kids. Since Toho didn’t expect Your Name to be big they wanted to leave the summer slot to Shin-Godzilla, but since Your Name is aimed at teens they went half-way and released it in the closing week. And why not, anime fans are known to be dedicated so releasing in the last week give a chance to give a boost to opening numbers, after that most people who wanted to see it would probably have seen it. This supposed disadvantage may have ended up helping in an ironic twist.

So the stage is set. Shinkai has his most refined work to date on hand, there were expectations that it will do good (for an anime) but quickly fade away once the initial rush.

The first weekend did better than expected, doing 930m. Hurray, this looks to be a hit so it’ll earn a lot for an anime, but it’s still an anime along with the same expectations of poor legs. Toho thus adjusts their estimates to 6b. Which at the time was ridiculed by some. Expectations remained that the hype will quickly fade.

Instead, the hype built. Social media exploded and it’s hypothesized that teens who returned to school spreaded words amongst their friends about the great anime they saw the weekend before and encouraged others to go watch it too.

The second weekend, Your Name’s take increased by 25%, to 1.16b, a total of 3.87b in just 10 days. Original expectations of up to just 4b for entire run duration was already being met and the adjusted expectations looked to be smashed by next week. (And indeed, by the end of the 3rd weekend it will have done 6.29b)

Skeptics who had doubted Your Name was no longer laughing as Japan descends into a Your Name social phenomenon. Could Your Name do 10b, the mythical wall above which is reserved for Studio Ghibli only. No other Japanese anime films had ever crossed that barrier. Many directors have certainly tried, for anyone who crossed that boundary was assured a place next to the great Miyazaki.

Already, the title of Shinkai Makoto, Post-Miyazaki was being whispered.

Toho hurried to take direction of the unexpected runaway hit, just as cinemas all over Japan scrambled to meet the tide of cinema goers. Every seat was selling out. Usually cinemas would post notice at the door writing out which timeslots for which films that day was full, for Your Name it was easy to write. A simple poster and the words “Sold out for the day”. Plus the next day too.

The film industry had been praising Shin-Godzilla (which did about 7b by this time) as the new model of revamping Japanese films, now gazed jaw-dropped while this impossible event unfolded.

Start of school was meant to be a lull period, instead the cinemas was packed even on weekdays. One cinema staff exclaimed “Busy from early to late. Look at the lines at the counter and ticket machines, it’s more despairing than seeing Godzilla make landfall”.

On Week 3 Monday and Tuesday, Your Name together did 600m. Numbers other films will gladly take for an opening weekend Your Name was pulling over two weekdays 3 weeks in.

For the first month Your Name was pulling about 2~3b every week (by comparison Fantastic Beast did 0.8 on opening weekend and 1.7 over 5 days). Within 28 days Your Name crossed the magical 10b line. A legend is born.

It was no longer a question of whether Your Name can be a mega hit. It was a question of how far.

It’s true Shinkai’s has a cult following and is well known amongst the anime industry, he remains a no name on the wider scale and common awareness.

From an unknown director, in an original film, released during school periods. It was unprecedented, no one had any idea nor had any references to draw on. Shinkai remarked that seeing Your Name approach 10b was both exciting and terrifying as he did not think his skills had improved to such degree. The film’s own creator struggled to come up with an explanation.

The milestones were inevitably drawn out against the works of Miyazaki. The Wind Rises at 12.02, Ponyo at 15.5 seemed possible. But Mononoke at 19.3 and Howl’s Moving Castle at 19.6, were deemed to be unlikely, surely.

Your Name smashed 15b by week 8 toward middle of October.

The phenomenon continued to spread. Hida Furukawa, a mountain town which appears in the film was drawing in a crowd of pilgrims eager to visit the film’s setting locations. In the town library where the protagonist and friends conducted their researches saw 100 visitors on weekdays and up to 500 on weekends. The town hurried to put out tourism tie-up campaigns to take advantage of their new found popularity. It’s estimated that the pilgrims will bring in over 15b in tourism money, for a town of less than 25k residents.

The initial craze had faded somewhat, by which it was only doing about 1b a week instead of over 2b.

20b, a number unfathomable by everyone, is now all but inevitable.

Considerations

Apart from the previously mentioned unintended word of mouth spread by the start of school, what made Your Name the runaway hit is it struck a chord outside its intended audiences. Shinkai stated he aimed for the under 30s, and fair enough the initial audience breakdown was over 7:3 for young people. But toward November that ratio had fallen to about 5.1:4.9. The film was drawing in older people too, even people in their 50s or 60s.

There’s a few things I think which contributed to this, where Shinkai’s weakness became his strengths.

Introspective

Shinkai’s works are incredibly direct. His works are not reflective but introspective. Other films (cough Miyazaki) may tell a message via story and actions, upon looking at the characters or looking at the outcomes and consequences, the audience is brought to think about the world or themselves.

Shinkai does the opposite, his works are decidedly not about actions or story, but emotions. His imagery, music, editing, all works to draw out emotions from deep within, emotions one may not even realize one had. It’s incredibly spontaneous and organic. Then upon experiencing these emotions, one looks within oneself and discovers something about themselves.

One does not think about Shinkai’s film, one simply feels it. One does not need to think about where the story is headed as you are already in it, feeling it that very moment.

This meant once you’re sitting in that cinema chair, you’re going to feel it, whether you really understood the film or can follow it or not.

For example, to this day I still have next to no idea about what that tower in Place Promised is or why the girl fell unconscious or why they need to fly to it, but goodness do I always feel a swell of emotions watching it.

I will go as far as to say Shinkai’s works is art in its purest form, where meaning is directly conveyed without needing to be explained the finer symbolisms.

Hope after Disaster

The film echoed the fear in people after the 2011 earthquake, as Shinkai said it’s possible for people to wake up to find their homes and lives gone. The falling comet posed a threat which was very close to home and authentic, and the happy end afterward incredibly relieving.

Artistic Approach

Shinkai’s style is very different from other mainstream animes. The closest is probably KyoAni. Definitely something the general public have not seen in anime.

I call it Enhanced Reality. If Studio Ghibli is a fantasy which you can escape into, then Shinkai is all about creating something that you can believe is around you right now, real and beautifully surreal, no need to fantasize as you’re right in it.

This style is almost unique amongst animes. Those who know Shinkai have already seen it, we are impressed by his improvements. Imagine someone seeing an anime this beautiful for the first time.

It also makes an incredibly easy sell, when all it takes is retweeting a single image of the film to amaze the other person. It’s hard to take a single frame of other animes and still make a story out from it. For Shinkai’s you can easily do.

Shinkai himself makes a good story

Shinkai is a maverick. He’s not just talented, his background is beyond incredible. Having worked at game company initially he decided to give up and created Hoshi no Koe entirely by himself at the age of 29. Instead of joining animation studios he continued essentially on his own. He is both artistic and well read, yet have worked on several galgames. He is both an outsider (to animation) and yet very much an insider (as otaku).

An unknown who loved anime so much he struggled for 14 years, making a pittance each time, yet overnight became the most famous director in Japan behind only Miyazaki.

It’s a good underdog story, about someone striving against the odds and achieving his dreams. Makes for great entertainment to tell at tables.

Your Name is quintessentially Japanese

Juxtaposing Tokyo and rural Japan, it connects both Japan’s past, present and future. Unlike Miyazaki who loathes modern world, Shinkai embraces it. Tokyo has never looked so magical, the cityscape never so bright, so full of wonders. It connects directly to the audience, makes them rediscover the city they live in. At the same time the beautiful rural landscapes reminds those who came from outside Tokyo of their hometowns.

The importance of traditional Shinto rituals and crafts in kumihimo (braided cords), is placed right along the glitter of Tokyo’s finest cakes and desserts. It celebrates all of Japan, in all its forms.

It’s a matter of national pride

For the longest time Japanese animation has suffered against western animations. A common perception is that only Miyazaki can put out something of the same level, yet here is a new talent whose film is exceeding all hopes over the Disney animations, not only that but also breaking box office overseas. The media cannot help but cheer it on.

What this means for anime

Without a doubt Your Name has rewritten the landscape for Japanese films but especially the anime industry.

Target Audience

I sometimes think of anime as the following sub-groups.

Intellectual – The Studio Ghibli, where works are seen as art and elevated above others.

For all ages – The Conan, the Precure, the Doraemon, the Dragon Ball. Anime that runs in primetime and is aimed at all ages, is known and accepted by all.

Jumpsters – People who is mostly into the Shonen manga/animes. Naruto, One Piece, Bleach. This is mostly what people refer to when they say someone is into anime, as it’s the one where people are aware of but not necessarily into.

Traditionalists – The ones into Gundam and EVA and quite likely laments the state of the rest of anime.

The late nighters otaku – People who watch the late night animes and is into collecting all kind of figurines and other (cough) merchandise. The big spenders and passionate. Sometimes things here makes the break into the Shonen (like SAO).

The artoku 雅宅 – Art + otaku. Which I will say Shinkai falls into. Or the light novelists (before the medium got swamped by harem and pantsu hell). While anime and manga are often seen as an easy or shallow medium for people looking for quick entertainment. The introverted nature of the culture means there’s a misunderstood and understated portion of people who are actually quite cultured, and simply loves anime alongside other interests for various reasons.

While people often think of otakudom on a linear scale leading into a dark bottomless pit, it’s probably closer to a circle. Like this

 

***************** -> Jumpsters   ->

********For All Ages*********Late Night Otaku

******** -> ********************* ->

Average Public ***************Artoku

********<-  ***************** <-

  *************Intellectual

As anime industry struggles to regain mainstream audiences companies have targeted the Shonen and Otaku crowd as they have the highest spend, however even that is being overdrawn and the expensive merchandises are no longer selling as well.

So either they double down (shrinking), or they shun the otakus and aim somewhere between Shonen and All Ages in the hope of gaining more mainstream audiences (but mainstream audiences doesn’t pay as much as otaku, it’s still a rich pie to give up).

Shinkai instead reached from the other direction with his very artsy and melancholy works, creating something which spans a much broader spectrum. Somewhere between Otaku, Artoku, Intellectual.

I think Your Name will make anime studios much more open to experimentation, strive to put out more refined works and not aim at the otaku or for-all-ages.

Animation Approach

There has always been a debate about whether anime should be hand drawn or digitally drawn.

Shinkai embraces computer (he did work at a game company…). Actually I question if he can even draw with a pen, he is terrible at drawing as seen from the characters in Hoshi no Koe. Your Name’s triumph pretty much guarantees the scales now tip even more toward digital if not already before.

Otaku Acceptance

This is more a personal hope than probably reality. For the longest time if you love anime you’re directly labelled as weird and twisted. Can’t entirely blame that perception given the amount of lewd content flying around in late night anime.

Given Shinkai’s background, perhaps people will begin to look at anime with a little more understanding, that anime isn’t all shallow silly harems.

Let’s talk Shinsekai Yori 新世界より

Let’s talk Shinsekai Yori (From the New World) [新世界より]

 

Been meaning to write about this, and hopefully with near 2 years in between I can look back without being influenced by the emotional rush of the moment.

 

If I were forced to rank animes in a list it’d be very near the top, perhaps amongst my favourite top 5. It’s certainly amongst the first few I recall when I think about animes (though that’s partly because it’s still relatively new).

 

It is undeniably unique, both in art, theme and directions. The artstyle is reminiscent of a ink painting, flat with few highlights even for animes, this unique style makes it hard to be grouped with any other animes or any preconceived notion of its setting or genre. Actually it is quite hard to put any labels on Shinsekai, while it would be sci-fi in other mediums (as its original book is), inside the wider world of anime where some amount of mystic and special powers is practically a given, this is hardly a distinguishing feature.

 

Usually by the end of an anime’s first episode I have a good idea of what kind of show it is. School drama, shounen hero, slice of life, comedy, mecha, harem…etc, usually all this is fairly laid out in the first episode, both in terms of world setting, art style and OP/ED. Shinsekai has none of these (doesn’t even have an OP, just ED), which both works for and against its favour.

 

The good thing is I have no idea what to expect, the bad thing is I also have no idea what to expect and don’t know whether to keep watching or not. Not giving hints of what to expect is great in a book or movie where time required is short and small and you’re probably already invested in finding out what the story is when you bought it. Giving no hints of expectations is not so good when you’re competing against all the other animes in the season and asking for investment of attention for the next 3 months (or in Shinksekai’s case, 6 month). If it weren’t for liking the artstyle and stubborn dose of curiosity, Shinsekai would have been dropped within the first 2 episodes (when animes either makes my cut or gets dropped).

 

As it is, Shinsekai was relegated to be “watched on the side” anime, something to be played on the second monitor as background while I’m doing stuff on the web.

 

It was not till maybe the 9th or 10th episode (almost an entire season over) when the second story arc begins to play out does it fully grab my attention and I go back to rewatch the previous episodes. Shinsekai’s incredible scope and world building presents a huge problem where most of the 1st arc is just foundation building. That is a huge ask in anime, to ask the viewer to invest a good part of 8 episodes just to get to the real story. The way it chose to start the early episodes with a sort of prologue, telling the story of some earlier era that seemingly did not have relevance to the current timeline certainly did not help, especially when these prologues will prove to be of utmost importance later down the track.

 

The early section is Shinsekai’s biggest fault. Once past that the seeds planted from the very first moments begins to bear fruit, threads intertwine and forms the most stunning displays, even some you weren’t aware to have been woven into the fabric. Aspects of world setting once seemed irrelevant and mentioned as after thoughts, becomes cornerstones upon which towers are built. Small mentions by various characters that did not quite fit becomes clear when the full implications of their words are revealed. Things that felt wrong and gnawed at you from the deepest recess of thoughts comes to the surface. From climax to climax, the story unfolds at a pace that leaves me holding my breath, almost suffocating in its intensity.

 

The forbolding disappearance of Maria, scenes of the two girl’s long friendship and bond, sung in the voice actress HanaKana’s saccatrine voice, was one of the most haunting and heart breaking moments for me. It was innocent, sad, and most of all resigned, a calm acceptance of the cruelty of it all. It was only several weeks later did I gather the strength to pick Shinsekai back up.

 

Shinsekai’s brilliance lies in how its world, told through Saki’s eyes, all comes to intersect in ways that were cleverly foreshadowed, in ways that were not immediately obvious but plain as day after the fact. It’s one of the best example of show not tell. Even today I’m still finding new interpretation of events based on various hints shown. While sometimes I fault other works for being obtusely vague for the sake of creating a facade of depth, that Shinsekai allows this level of ambiguity is something to be appreciated, that things are told through Saki’s point of view means there are events that we do not bear witness to but can only fathom with imagination, horrible events that dares us to explore and put together in order to make the pieces fit. It almost forces you to face the terrible themes and messages, even if subconsciously the mind screams to escape such dreadful thoughts.

 

Shinsekai questions morality, of good and evil, the concept of us and them, the question of necessity and sacrifices, of individuals and society. It’s not a pretty story, there are few moments I’m not gasping with shallow breaths. Different from Urobuchi’s works where tragedy of circumstances are forced upon the characters, where protagonists end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, or are forced to witness terrible acts and have things dear to them taken away, Shinsekai is simply a tragic telling of society. Where many other tragedies have you feel for the characters, for the unfairness of their misfortune, of the cruelty of fate, Shinsekai’s tragedies are just is.

 

There’s no unfairness to speak of, no wrongs being committed and no injustices to correct. There’s no moment of redemption, no cartharsis, there’s never a moment where you can cheer for the main characters. Even when they finally win the weight of it is too heavy to bear. There are few moments of hope and even fewer of joy. Almost, a reflection of the real world, and perhaps that is what makes the whole show so chilling.

 

There are no villains, no bad guys, if it weren’t for Saki being the main character there wouldn’t even be sides. Just different actors acting the best they can given the positions they are in. Some stories are about characters drowning in despair. Shinsekai is about drowning you.

 

It’s an SA- show, marred by its initial pacing, even though I do not know how the world building could be presented better.

 

Thoughts on anime: Mirai Nikki (Future Diary)

Or, It’s literally Deus Ex Machima.

 

Having just binged Mirai Nikki over the last fortnight, I come away somewhat mixed feelings about it.

It’s a good show, no doubt, and a special one at that. Billed as the yandere show, spawning its own pixiv memes and following the good tradition that pink hair is always black on the inside. It certainly lives up to its reputation, even if I come away feeling a little bait-and-switched at the end (in a good way).

It has a protagonist I hate even more than Shinji (EVA), which is no small feat by itself, but thankfully this story isn’t about Yuki, much like Angel Beats isn’t about Otonashi. Instead they serve as a narrator for the true main character, Yuno and Kanade respectively. At what first seem like a one dimensional character with only yandere as her only trait, Yuno’s emotional range and motive quickly expands and begins to resonate.

It was pretty clear very early on there’s some kind of twisted timeline or rebirth scenario, what I couldn’t quite be sure is which one. I’d leaned on a rebirth ghost scenario for the most part and there’s certainly some elements of truth of that in the end. I choose to ignore any plot holes caused by this as  I consider them acceptable trade-off in creating a jumping off points for the story’s theme. Basically, I ignore paradoxes or manipulated timeline holes as long as they’re not stupid and deliver their purpose, much as I did for Steins:Gate.

Mirai Nikki cannot be viewed other than as the sum of its whole. Of course, that’s how most show should be viewed, however in this case Mirai Nikki can be compared to Shinsekai Yori in that it absolutely cannot be judged in disparate elements or plots, while for say SAO you can quite strongly make the case of looking at it based on each virtual world arc or A Certain Magical Index/Scientific Railgun judged on its current antagonist. Mirai Nikki is one continuous running story with a singular pay off just like Shinsekai. How desirable it is to have a long journey to get to the goal will be up to each’s taste, I certainly feel Mirai Nikki did the journey in a much more entertaining way, but in doing so sacrificed the end impact, conversely Shinsekai had a stupidly dull start in world building but had the ultimate payoff.

I cannot fault Mirai Nikki for choosing this route, I came really close to giving up on Shinsekai on multiple occasions and never felt the same while watching Mirai Nikki.

To bring to topic back to the character of Yuno. She’s twisted, fragile, unhinged, possessive… basically everything a yandere is. I must admit I’m partial to yanderes, perhaps because I myself have some obsessive streaks, and initially that’s all I expected out of the show, some good fashioned bloody stabbing and hacking by a girl gone mad. What makes Mirai Nikki special is how gradually the reason behind Yuno’s insanity is laid out and gives a compelling foundation to her character far beyond what would otherwise be ‘cause yandere in some other show.

Abused by her adopted family, she finally snaps at some point and prisons them in the cage they used to keep her in, accidentally starving them to death. This by itself would be good, but not amazing, if not for the contrast with the 3rd world Yuno, where we glimpse at Yuno’s innocent mind before she descended into madness. As a sweet young Yuno professes her love for her parents and belief that her mother is just a little ill and that one day they’d be a happy family, I cannot help but feel for Yuno and imagine the terrifying horror as she goes over the edge to find she had killed her parents, then having to transfer that hope and dependence onto Yuki, then in a twisted fate find she cannot revive him and make everything whole, betraying their promise and her salvation at the same time.

I would like to believe Yuno isn’t quite as mad in the 1st world. Who while unhinged by her parent’s death still had hope in Yuki and that there’s a happy end for her, who is still a sweet girl that saw the world with light and had a heart that cared for those around her, who still had friends and joy and happiness, and shed a tear for the first opponent she had to kill. Whatever she had been, that was all gone by the 2nd world. She had lost everything, and knew with no uncertainty that she and the world was destined for destruction, and what little bittersweet she was allowed was the few months she could still spend with the one she loves till the end.

What endgame Yuno had in mind when she started 2nd world is not certain, I don’t think even she herself knows outside of the vague notion of  possibly killing Yuki and restarting again. Throughout various points she certainly seemed sincere that she was willing to let Yuki kill her, if nothing else but to free her from the prison she must now be realizing she has trapped herself in.

It explains her lack of care for other’s lives, which initially appeared she’s just selfish (which she still is, but at least now is quite rational in a tragic way) and dispassionate, in light of her knowledge that everything was going to end and everyone was going to die, it makes sense that she would sacrifice all to stay with Yuki, since her frame of “meaning” was no longer grounded in this world. She had no hope left. She’s like a more broken version of Homura (Madoka) who unlike Homura, had no means or chance of escaping (however false they are in reality). Indeed I wonder what Homura would have done had she not had hope of defeating Walpurgis Night, would she also be content to just repeat the cycle to be with Madoka? Madoka: Rebellion (which should or should not be considered cannon depends on which fan you ask) certainly hints that this is not beyond Homura. A side note, the Rebellion BD box contains a special first recording of Homura’s lines and the end she takes on a very yandere voice.

Overall there’s little to fault on Mirai Nikki (arguably some nudity and perversion, I consider them just setting the tone to unsettle viewers). The diary mechanic and their owners at times did not feel very well executed or utilized, however at the end I felt this was secondary given Mirai Nikki is really only a game show superficially.

While not mind shattering I do think Mirai Nikki excelled and punched above the common yandere trope and cast a new light on the stereotype. Yuno’s character is highly complex and interesting, more than sufficient to overcome Yuki’s annoyance (which is not something I can say for EVA’s other characters for Shinji). Yes, I’d say that I quite like Yuno. And yes, I’m aware that doesn’t bode well for myself or my health.

It’s also worth mentioning the excellent ED songs which gave fitting insights into Yuno’s state of mind, drawn into her depraved insanity with her chilling anguish and clinging perverted love.

It was hard to decide on a rating for Mirai Nikki. I think probably a S*A-2 (two minus). It didn’t have quite as deep or as meaningful a story as some others in the A rank, its premise and execution puts it generally above other B rankers. Overall I think I would still puts it in the must watch category. The Special is for Yuno’s portrayal that makes it one of the more memorable anime for me.