「マナーモード」 (Manā Mōdo)
I can think of very few fictional characters that exemplify the old adage “double-edged sword” better than Yuno Gasai. Or if you prefer, “Can’t live with ‘em – can’t live without ‘em”. In this case those old sayings are quite a bit more literal than normal – but then, there’s nothing normal about our Yuno.
This was an interesting episode for a number of reasons, some of them structural. The eyecatch was oddly placed very late in the ep, and the omake was quite a bit longer than normal. That was all in service of an episode that devoted itself almost entirely to a single manga chapter, and in fact embellished it with some new material. This isn’t the work of a director worried about pacing, so I won’t worry either for the moment – I quite enjoy the slice-of-life (again, that can possibly be taken quite a bit more literally than normal) chapters in Mirai Nikki, and though opinions about this arc are quite mixed, it was one of my favorites so I’m glad to see it given enough space to play out.
Meet Yukiteru-Mama Amano Rea (Mizuhara Kaoru) whose wacky parenting style fits right in with the over-the-top nature of Future Diary. To call her a permissive mother is an understatement – a software designer, she’s rarely home and when she finds Yuno hiding in Yukiteru’s closet, she acts more like his pimp than his mother. Having your Mom meet your girlfriend is a tough moment for any teenaged boy, but when your girlfriend is also your crazed stalker and your Mom has a library of nude photographs of your childhood, things quickly degenerate into Amano Yukiteru’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. We’ve seen this kind of comedic torture many times, but it’s artfully done here – I laughed when I read it in the manga and if anything, the anime plays up Yukkii’s discomfort even more.
Of course you could have ended the episode with “Good thing Yukkii’s mother is so nice – I won’t need my tools” and that would have been all good for me, but that day in the Amano house was full of golden Yuno moments. It all starts with the look on her face when she breaks the window to force her way inside – you really get a sense for just how outside anything resembling normal human thoughts and emotions she is – and builds from there. But there is other important stuff happening here, most specifically the introduction of Houjou Reisuke (Sanada Asami) a four (or five) year-old boy whose parents were co-workers of Rea, and died in the Sacred Eye cult apocalypse. Yukiteru’s Mom has agreed to take the boy in for a few days and he arrives, puppets in hand, and displays a talent for drawing and an immediate interest in Yuno…
My small bit of advice for new viewers is that you always have to watch and listen with Mirai Nikki, even in the seemingly slice-of-life moments. You’ll look back when this is all over and be surprised at how little wasted effort there was with this show, and mangaka Esuno Sakae doesn’t cheat very often (ironic for a show with a character named Deus ex Machina). Speaking of him, that was an interesting conversation he had with Murumuru there. And maybe the most interesting part wasn’t what it might seem at first glance. And it’s never a bad idea to keep an eye on Ninth…
I look back after six episodes and I’m just astonished at how much has happened, and that even with two slow-paced episodes mixed in things don’t seem rushed. The art of good chapter placement is vital to what makes this series work, and the credit has to go mostly to Esuno-sensei there, but Asread too for not messing it up – and knowing when to step off the gas and let it all sink in. Mirai Nikki is masterful at mixing up its pace, as well as making sure that the horrific events unfolding are leavened with enough dark humor and satire so that the whole enterprise never falls victim to despair. Some stories find their success in getting the audience to become so engrossed in the realism that they forget that it’s a story. In this case I think it’s just the opposite – it’s vital that you’re always aware that this is a grand, ridiculous farce and not real-life. To do that and still make the characters genuine enough that you’re invested in them is one of Mirai Nikki’s best achievements.