「家族プラン」 (Kazoku Puran)
Don’t get too comfortable, because just when you figure you have Mirai Nikki figured out, the game changes.
This episode is proof for me that a director doesn’t have to make a word-for-word adaptation of a manga for it to be a good adaptation – or a faithful one. Manga is not anime, and the same structures that work well with one don’t always work with the other. This episode was an unusual mix of some material that’s not in the original manga at all, and some slightly tweaked but essentially spot-on (and important) manga material. It was also a nice combination of exposition, introduction and teasing that did a fine job of creating a mood substantially different from any of the prior episodes.
For starters, I’m astounded at how good the section with Ninth was, given that it’s from the Mirai Nikki Mosaic spinoff manga and thus wasn’t present in this part of the original story. It was a feast for Minene fans – and who isn’t a Minene fan – as she continues to prove one of the hardest characters to figure out. After a brief look at her still holed up Unabomber-style in her cabin making bombs – and calling Fourth a “slave driver” for making her do it – we flash back to April and “only the third time” she’d used her diary. And it appears that she let overconfidence get the better of her, using her escape diary in an attempt to ambush Third (bet you thought we were done with him) but not realizing that he was prepared for her assault with a heavy dose of body armor. While attempting to retreat she’s arrested by Sakurami City police detective Nishijima Masumi (Ishii Makoto – Shinichiro from “True Tears” and a voice we haven’t heard often enough) who seems rather smitten with her and proves a considerate captor as he tries to engineer their escape together.
Hosoda-sensei makes an interesting choice here in the way he depicts the switch to a surrealistic fantasy mode as the meeting and escape is seen through the eyes of Murumuru – highly skewed eyes, as she’s trying to predict human courtship behavior through the tropes of shoujo manga. There’s some interesting cross-cutting between the “real” world, Murumuru’s fantasy and a conversation between she and Ninth, with Deus listening in. It’s a bold and unusual thing to do, putting in extra material and severely unorthodox at that, but I think it works. Nothing too much is given away, but all this provides an insight into Minene’s rather fragile psyche (she’s rather, dare I say it, moe during this sequence) and a good introduction to Nishijima, who I felt entered the scene rather abruptly in the manga.
After the eyecatch, we change gears completely to some pure canon material focused on Yuno and Yuki – unseen up till now apart from a brief scene of Yuno digging a hole to open the episode. Yukiteru is excited, thinking Akise has
asked him out invited him to a movie, but when Yuno shows up instead, her diary bearing a message from Akise about a “trial wedding ceremony” event being held that day, it’s clear he’s been set up by Akise. In some ways this sequence is similar to the amusement park scenes, but with a major difference – those took place before Yuki had looked in “that” room. And that’s made all the difference, as we find out by sharing Yuki’s reflections over the next few minutes of the episode. He wants to tell Yuno that his confession of the prior episode was all a lie, but he hesitates – first, because he sees how happy Yuno is at this fairy-tale pretend wedding stuff. Second (and much more interestingly) her finds himself somewhat seduced at the notion of actually falling for Yuno. She’s devoted to him, she’s fiercely protective, and she looks beautiful in a wedding dress. But there’s that room, and Yuki can’t undo what happened that day when he opened the door.
There are some interesting elements to the sequence at the wedding event, not least of which is that the guide is a woman named Kurusu Naomi who says her husband is a police detective. Mostly, it’s some of the most low-key and least ironic material in the series so far, as Yuno throws herself into the fantasy and Yuki begins the enjoy playing the “husband” to this lovely girl. But when they return to Yuno’s house (she asleep on his back) we discover the meaning behind Akise’s plan – he wanted them both out of the house so he could snoop around. And much to Yukiteru’s shock, what Akise found behind that door wasn’t corpses, but a room whose exterior wall is gone, exposing it to the central courtyard, and a giant hole so deep he can’t see the bottom. Yuno has no memory of having dug it, and when Yuki confronts her about what he’s seen in the room, she quite convincingly claims not to have any memory of that either. Finally, we briefly move to a conference room at the police station – where Fourth is announcing to his team (Nishijima included) that Yukiteru and Yuno are to be arrested immediately for the murder of Karyuudo Tsukishima.
What this episode manages to do above all, for me, is effectively create atmosphere. It’s relaxed by Mirai Nikki standards and even wistful during the wedding event, but also quite intense at the same time. it also does a fine job undermining our confidence that we know the cast as well as we thought we did – all of the holdovers are seen in a somewhat different light after the events of the episode. And once again, while the animation isn’t lavish on the whole, it manages to convey a real sense of style – interesting and distinctive and effective at creating an unsettling mood throughout. Asread has retained a lot of staff from Production I.G. to help with the visual side of things here, and it’s really paying dividends as they’re getting maximum value out of the budget.