Future Diary 10

March 13, 2012

Sakae Esuno – Tokyopop – 2011 – 12 volumes

It occurred to me why I like this series so much early on in this volume. I could never put my finger on what was quite wrong with it that drew me to it so. Yes, the premise is good, and it’s been extremely well-executed, and there’s some truly scary stuff in here, principle among them is Yuno Gasai.

But no. The reason I love this manga is because there are scenes like the one at the beginning of this volume. Yuno and Yukiteru calmly discuss the fact that Yuno is, for some reason, faking her own identity while burying the bodies of people they’ve murdered without comment. And these are high school students. Yuno’s fake identity is weird enough, especially considering she seems to have endured a lot of child abuse because of it, but I like that that is paramount, and that murdering people and concealing the bodies is just so much a part of the plot that it passes without comment. At one point, Yukiteru seems slightly chagrined, but that’s it. This isn’t even part of what makes this so scary. This is just a brief flashback that happens.

And that’s why Future Diary is worth reading.

Anyway, the action scene is primary in this volume. Yuno and Yukiteru are trying to defeat 11th, of course, but there are several problems associated with this, primary among them is the fact that 11th has a Future Diary that tells him everything that they’re going to do. 8th is also not amused by the stunt that Yuno and Yukiteru are pulling, and threatens to kill Yukiteru more than once in this book. And she comes very close, too. Her last scene here was a little disappointing, because it went all sentimental. It goes against her crazy, murderous nature, and quite frankly, felt out of place in this batshit insane series. But I was never fond of her, so I didn’t think about it over-long.

Another plot point involves Aru Akise. His role in the story… uh. Changes here. This does fit in with the nature of the story, even though it breaks some of the rules and doesn’t make sense. But then again, that’s why Future Diary is such a great read. It’s really hard for me to predict what’s going to happen. And then Aru Akise happens.

I can’t spoil his role too much. But I think what’s most interesting to me at this point is the fact that Yukiteru has to “win” and “become God” by killing a whole bunch of people, including those close to him and a few innocents. This… is not something that manga characters do. Yukiteru isn’t even that heroic. He simply wants it in order to bring his dead parents back to life. That in itself isn’t strange, but the fact he’s willing to be a cold-blooded killer just seems wrong for the lead character in a manga story. The plot is sympathetic, so it’s not like Yukiteru is portrayed as evil, but that’s also part of the problem I’ve mentioned earlier. The series is trivializing all this bad stuff. It’s very good at it. It makes for an extraordinarily interesting read. The other rule that it’s breaking is the fact that Yukiteru even wants to be “God.” Typically, omnipotence like that is portrayed as a bad thing, and you would put that in the hands of the masses. Not Yukiteru. He wants to be a murderer, and he wants to be God. There’s your main character.

There are some… puzzling mysteries at the end of this volume. I thought we would be reaching a clear stretch of resolution at this point, but I should have suspected that nothing about the ending of this series would be clear, nor would the climax really and truly last for two volumes. At this point, I have no idea what choices Yukiteru will make, because the moral standards of this series is so warped. It’s an utter tragedy that this will never finish in English, because I’m at a complete loss as to how this could finish without the whole world ending, or without Yukiteru landing himself in a depressing and lonely role. Maybe the latter happens, I don’t know. What drives me crazy is that it’s apparently very significant that Yuno isn’t Yuno Gasai. How, and why?

Bah. I’ll buy the last two in Japanese. I’ll order it along with the final volume of Your & My Secret. Tokyopop, you’re still making me cry.

Future Diary 9

February 11, 2012

Sakae Esuno – Tokyopop – 2011 – 12 volumes

This volume is all about trying to figure out what kind of diary 12th has. It’s a huge mystery, though it’s obvious from fairly early on that his diary is somehow omnipotent. Aside from that, unusually, the focus shifts to Uryu. She has been a persistent minor character throughout the whole series, and I’m surprised she’s lasted as long as she has. I was even more surprised when this volume developed her character as much as it did.

12th collaborates with the matronly diary user and a supercomputer in an attempt to give every citizen in the city a future diary of some kind. Uryu tries to stop him, as does Nishijima, the cop. Nishijima has a rather shocking and very persistent confession to make to Uryu. Said confession is not really in the spirit of the series, and hilarious out-of-place during the lengthy action scene that takes up this entire volume. After trying to blow up the computer that would serve a future diary to all the citizens, Yuno and Yukiteru show up to try and help her stop 12th. Dropping Yuno into any action scene makes it way more horrifically gory than it needs to be, and things get quite ugly as both 12th and team Yuno/Yukiter/Uryu attempts to one-up each other.

At the end, all the diary owners are still standing, though some are not exactly whole. I won’t lie, I’m only writing this up so that I can move on to volume ten. The fact that the conclusion to this series will never be released in English is horrible, and again, I lament the death of Tokyopop. I’m going to read volume ten, and hope that some sort of groundwork will be laid for an ending that will last for two volumes. Then I’m going to have to buy the last two volumes in Japanese, because I will need to know how this ends. This series is so crazy, I doubt it has a happy ending. And, in fact, it probably doesn’t, since the main character’s wish is to bring his dead parents back to life, and that will never happen. All the same, I NEED TO KNOW.

Future Diary 8

January 11, 2012

Sakae Esuno – Tokyopop – 2010 – 11 volumes

Every volume of this series is more demented than the last in ways that I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around. In this volume, we continue to find out just how crazy Yuno really is, and that her crazy is spreading to Yukiteru, who resolves to win the game in order to gain the power to bring his dead mother back to life.

Because I’ve only been reading this series sporadically, I didn’t realize that there was still one diary user that had yet to be revealed. As of this volume, all the members of the game are rounded up and get some face time, presumably as run-up to the final round, where Yukiteru gets serious. There are still… three diary users up against Yukuteru and Yuno. One is an element of chaos, one is an enormous caricature (which is hilarious, because… WHY), and the other is a very powerful man. The latter half of the volume is an extended fight where Yukiteru attempts to take as many of them out as possible.

There’s some more story about Yukiteru’s father, as well. Yukiteru knows all about what’s going on with his father now, but seems to care about his mother more. I can’t figure out why all this family drama is necessary, given the plot of the series is that Yukiteru is being forced to murder complete strangers and has a psycho devoted girlfriend to help him with the task. But it does serve as good motivation for the end here, and it makes me wonder if the point that came up between him and Yuno will really be a problem, since he could, in theory… uh, negate that.

There’s another nonsensical plot point with Yuno towards the end of the book, as well. I’m not entirely sure why that should matter, or why anyone would care. But it serves as the cliffhanger to the next volume. Ohhh… kay. The first chapter deals with what really happened between Yuno and her parents. It’s… about what you’d expect. Does it explain or excuse her behavior? Not really, but it tries, and it’s better than nothing.

I’m hoping I can finish this series up fast. I’ll have to order the last volume in Japanese. I was half-hoping for a license rescue from Yen Press… they reached out and got Alice in the Country of Hearts, which was similarly only one volume from completion, and Future Diary seems like it’d be right up their alley, a dark series that would definitely appeal to teens. But alas. I’m going to assume the worst since it’s been almost a whole year with no word.

Future Diary 7

September 25, 2011

Sakae Esuno – Tokyopop – 2010 – 11 volumes

I almost don’t really want to catch myself up on this, because it’s really terrible that it stops one volume from the end. It’s quite good, and it’s a little annoying that the plot, the characters playing a game to determine who gains control over the universe, is going to be unresolved by one volume.

But it’s good enough that it’s worth reading all the fights that lead up to that conclusion. It’s really, really good, in fact. A perfect combination of mystery, action, and horror. I still can’t get over just how thoroughly creepy, evil, and crazy Yuno is. She’s the perfect character to carry the day in a series like this. And I love that Yukiteru is forced to trust her, lest he be killed. She may be a murderer, but she’d never kill him.

This volume is all about the sevens. I don’t want to spoil the surprise of what kind of diary they have, so I can’t talk too much about the actual fight. It’s interesting, however, because it’s a lot like the situation Yukiteru and Yuno have going. Except better, because the sevens trust each other, where Yukiteru can never really trust Yuno. The fact that the plot seems to be moving in that direction saddens me a little, and I wonder if it will really go through with it.

Also in this volume, we meet Yukiteru’s father. His story is also too good to spoil, but let’s just say… hm. It’s interesting who’s word can be trusted in this case. Also, Yukiteru’s father is really… he fits. He just fits in this disturbing, messed-up series, and I also liked the way the volume ended, re: Yukiteru’s parents.

This is good stuff, and it will probably be these volumes that I’ll polish off next from Tokyopop. But again. It’s a real shame I can’t finish this series.

Future Diary 6

November 12, 2010

Sakae Esuno – Tokyopop – 2010 – 11+ volumes

I like leaving this series for a long time, then coming back. It’s always a slap in the face just how intense and creepy it really is.

I remember very distinctly that the last volume had a happy ending for Yukiteru and Yuno. But knowing Yuno, I knew that wasn’t going anyplace pleasant. Chaining Yukiteru up on the top floor of an abandoned hotel with a couple of skulls and wandering around killing people in her underwear sounds about right. I’m well aware just how psychotic she is, but it always amazes me when she crosses yet another line. It also helps that she is extraordinarily useful to Yukiteru and others in this “contest,” and that she is 100% devoted to Yukiteru no matter what, which makes her seem slightly less crazy. The way she phrases it, it always sounds pretty sweet and innocent. But, you know… captive love is never true.

Yukiteru making an enemy out of Yuno is not a good idea, since she knows where he is and what he’s doing at all times thanks to the power of her diary. He can’t run, and he can’t hide. The way she innocently sticks her head in a couple times here, plus the fact everyone, including Yukiteru, is scared stiff, is just amazing. What a wonderful character. This is definitely one of the most genuinely scary manga I’ve read, and she’s a big part of the reason why.

We are introduced to a couple more diary owners at this point. 8th’s diary is a little unfair, but this is neutralized by 8th herself, who is far from unfair or terrifying. She’s… a bit of a caricature. I can’t wait until she takes an active part in the story. We also get to see 7th at the very end of the volume, but I’m not sure what 7th’s power is yet.

The first half of the book concerns Yukiteru’s friends getting worried about him and attempting a rescue from Yuno. The second half involves said friends trying to protect themselves from 8th’s agents, who are after the whole lot. Another big part of the plot here is that “trainee diary” owners enter the picture. They have diary powers too, but aren’t really part of the contest and pose a real threat from both sides. Unfortunately, neither 7th nor 8th creates the truly terrifying situations of some of the other diary owners, so most of the terror in this volume comes from Yuno. Since she’s mopped the floor with even the ugliest of the old diary owners, she’s plenty enough to keep things interesting.

Not being a frequent user or lover of the cellphone, I think it’s interesting that all the “diaries” in this story are cellphone-based, and that cellphones are so ubiquitous that this isn’t even worth mentioning. The downside to technology, that cellphones break easy, is one of the achilles’ heels of the users, but other than that, it seems they are invincible in their power to predict the future via their specialized diary. But another technological blind spot, that cellphones need to get reception to work, is covered in this volume as well. Unfortunately, not much is made of it, and apparently it’s not a problem for everybody. Still, it’s interesting that it came up.

I’ve got two more volumes of this, and I’m pretty excited to see how the story unfolds. Though, I suspect, at this late stage of the game, diary owners won’t be dropping like flies anymore in order to lengthen the series.

Also, I’m willing to bet that the series will come down to Yukiteru killing Yuno in order to win the contest. They will be the last two standing and she will be crazy. It will be like a mercy killing for Yukiteru.

Future Diary 5

May 21, 2010

Sakae Esuno – Tokyopop – 2010 – 11+ volumes

I reviewed this for the weekly Manga Minis column over at the Manga Recon, so check it out over there.

Once again, Future Diary is incredibly awesome.  I can’t get over how much I like it.  I love these smaller-profile titles Tokyopop has picked up recently.  This and Alice in the Country of Hearts really took me by surprise.

Future Diary 4

May 10, 2010

Sakae Esuno – Tokyopop – 2009 – 11+ volumes

Wow.  I completely forgot how good this series was.  Easily my favorite of Tokyopop’s current series.  I’m glad I fell a little bit behind, because I’ve got one more volume of this on hand to read.

The contest continues, and the plot sticks to the formula of introducing a diary holder and putting the characters in a situation where they have to figure out what the gimmick is.  Except this time, the gimmick makes itself perfectly clear, and Yukiteru has to talk his way out of the situation.  There are a couple new and hopefully recurring characters introduced too, my favorite being Akise, a kind of twisted detective who likes playing the odds.  The slow unveiling of his part in the story was the best thing here, and it proves that this series still has a number of tricks up its sleeve.

Actually, the contest and the diaries were downplayed a little here in favor of personal motives.  Yukiteru is lonely and wants friends, and winds up in an unpleasant situation because of it.  The antagonist here is being manipulated by someone close to them, and Akise… well, he probably has his own deal, too.  Hopefully we’ll learn more about him in the next volume.  There’s always Yuno, too, who is almost literally psychotic and a very creepy stalker.  Her disturbing behavior from last volume isn’t really spoken of, but she continues to be this ominous black cloud simultaneously hanging over and protecting Yukiteru.  She is also absolutely ruthless in every way here, too, and makes the story a lot more interesting to read.

Awesome, awesome stuff.  More on this later.