「着信拒否」 (Chakushin Kyohi)
Tons of interesting stuff this week, but first things first – who would have thought it was actually the good Yuno we’ve been watching until this week?
On balance I think this is a very compact, lean episode of Mirai Nikki. This conclusion to the arc fit perfectly into the 22 minute format, and this was an instance where the lack of omake was probably a good idea. Everything progressed in a clear and logical way, and the buildup to the conclusion was excellent. As I mentioned last week this was really a sort of transitional arc for the series, because rather than being mostly self contained as the first four were, this arc is as much about the future as it is about the present. As such it was vital that it be adapted in a clear and concise way, and I think it was. And let’s be honest – there just aren’t as many dog-stabbings in anime as there used to be.
Gotten out of the way quickly was confirmation of what seemed obvious last week – the diary owner in silhouette was indeed Hinata’s father Tsukishima Karyuudo. He’s certainly a bit of a nutjob, a rich eccentric who walked out on his wife and daughter to devote all his time to his obsession with dogs. His “Breeder Diary” gives him the ability to see what his dogs see, and to give them orders as if they were human soldiers (really, it’s better not to ask). We don’t get a lot of exposition but my sense is that Tenth has more or less given up on the game by the time he joins the cast, and the gambit involving Hinata and Akise was pretty much a Hail Mary pass – and one based on a faulty assumption at that.
And faulty it was – Akise is no diary holder, but he plays one on TV. Yuno recognizes a sneak when she sees one and spots this almost immediately, though the others are fooled, and Akise manages to string the ruse along using only his wits and his balls of steel. The grin never leaves his face as he goads Hinata into a game of chance and beats her – and Yuki’s diary – using only his brain and (eventually) a little help from Yuno. It’s clear from the start that diary holder or no, Akise is someone to be reckoned with. He manages to escape Yuno’s knife attack easily, and stays one step ahead of her strategically as well. What’s really fascinating is watching Yuno’s feral face as she tries to make sense of this boy who fits nowhere in her world view – she recognizes him as dangerously clever, but also as someone who seems to want to protect Yuki – which she’s obviously deeply conflicted about.
Indeed, as remarkable as it sounds, we really find out here that we’ve only been seeing half of Yuno’s yandere insanity. It’s no longer just a question of protecting Yuki at all costs,it’s a matter of utter paranoia about any girl he comes into contact with and an urgent need to prevent him from having any friends – not because she needs to protect him, but because she doesn’t want anyone else to have him. Just when you thought Yuno had maxed out her stalker points she proves they go up to eleven, but even as she goes full-on “nice boat” we see another example of something we briefly witnessed a couple episodes back – Yukiteru is slowly figuring out that he has some power over Yuno, too. He’s learning that he can use her very obsession about him to his own advantage, and he ups the ante by telling her she’s his girlfriend – going all-in the yandere pot in exchange for her acknowledgement of the others as his friends.
Fundamentally, then, we have Yukiteru struggling to avoid being pulled into the madness of Deus’ game and Yuno’s obsessiveness and Yuno allowing herself to be tamed, just a little, in exchange for something she wants (that July 28 “Good End”). There’s no doubt that Yuki is fully aware of what he’s getting himself into, but in a sense he’s taking one for the team – using his professed love as a wedge to extract Yuno’s protection of his friends. Because of Yuki’s actions all the kids seem to walk away from this conflict with their lives, though Mao is stabbed by Yuno when she makes at attempt to destroy Yuki’s diary. Akise is obviously a wild card, and we still don’t know why he’s involved himself in this diary business at all – only that he feels “far more than friendship” for Yukiteru. And then there’s poor Tenth, who seems resigned that his last ditch effort to do right by his daughter has failed and leaves us with a last kind lie for her benefit and one final warning – “Be especially wary of those who act nice…”
Before I go, a quick note: I’ve just posted my Winter 2012 Season Preview and Poll over at LiA. Please stop by and check it out if you have a few minutes.