「留守応答」 (Rusu Ōtō)
It’s another triumph for gritty, hard-headed realism in episode 7 of Mirai Nikki.
In all seriousness, this arc would seem to be pretty high on the suspension of disbelief scale but I’ll direct anyone who’s really bothered to check out the manga, where a side chapter explains a lot of the weird stuff Rei does that a five year-old shouldn’t be able to do. Perhaps it’ll end up as an extra on the Blue-ray, but I suspect it was sacrificed as a matter of necessity in fitting all the core material in.
That said, I always see a lot of manga readers rip this arc, and I’m really not sure why as I think it has a very interesting surreal quality. It’s absurd to begin with, and Asread probably plays up the absurd even more, but I think that’s a good idea. If you’re going to end a story with a five year-old boy being stabbed to death, it’s probably best not to play it straight. And let’s face it, the terrifying toddler is one of the staples of horror in every medium and every language – there’s something unsettling about the notion of killer children, and since Yukiteru and Yuno are children anyway, you need to go pretty young to make the killer child a contrast to them.
There are lots of interesting questions raised by this arc, not least of which is what sort of God would lure a five year-old child into a deadly game like this in the first place. But little Rei certainly seems up to the task, and when you consider his circumstances he did alarmingly well. With arguably the weakest diary (only updating three times a day) and going up against two comparatively grown-up diarists whose diaries complement each other, he came within a whisker of killing them both. Yuno showed her insane analytical prowess again, spotting the attack of the killer tomatoes just by their weight, but if Rei hadn’t offered her a chance to play a “game” with him, both she and Yukkii probably would have died.
Speaking of Yukiteru, he did some damage this week with something besides his darts (those too) – a hair dryer and his lips. First he saved Yuno from electrocution by overloading the circuit breaker – quick thinking indeed – and then he roused himself from his poison-induced stupor long enough to give Yuno the kiss of life when she was knocked cold by Rei’s second little electrocution trick. Yes, for Yuno a little sugar from Yukkii is the most powerful medicine there is, and damn if she didn’t stab that little tyke in cold blood. He certainly had it coming, but it says something about Yuno anyway. She has a spine of steel and zero conscience whatsoever, and that’s a terrifying combination. And did I mention she’s an insane genius, too? It’s interesting to speculate on her reaction to accidentally knocking Yukkii’s Mom out with the hammer – breaking down in tears and begging forgiveness. Was it genuine, or not?
You learn a little about Yukkii in that moment, too – he’s starting to figure out how to handle Yuno a little, reading her well enough to be able to use her own manic passion and sincerity to manipulate her, as he does here by getting her to meditate on the nature of Rei’s diary rather than immediately kill him. And as so often happens, Asread does a great job of feeding us a little food for our thoughts to snack on right before the end credits. Fourth is feeding information about Yukiteru and Yuno to Ninth, which is interesting in itself. But even more interesting is what Ninth does with the info. She takes a break from feeding chipmunks (!) in her cabin and heads to the Amano house, where she finds the First and Second diary holders unconscious and totally helpless – and saves their lives. Is this really the same girl who was blowing up middle-schoolers by the dozen in the second episode?