Future Diary: Not a Very Good Show

Future Diary: Not a Very Good Show

By Aidan Higgins, Editor

Once in a blue moon, the cruel, heartless television gods who reign down from the heavens above find themselves overcome with compassion and bless their earthly subjects with a television show that is flawless in every sense of the word. When the gods opt to act with such magnanimity, every element of the show they send down is perfectly crafted: the soundtrack is moving and emotional, the plot is gripping, the characters are complex and captivating, yet relatable, and every scene is filmed or drawn with such rich aesthetic appeal that even most stone-cold hearts are sent aflutter as if they were doves that swallowed helium, Red Bull, and antidepressant cocktails. Having completed all twenty-six episodes of Future Diary, a critically denounced 2011 anime adaptation of a psychological thriller, in a little over two months, I am here to explain why Future Diary is not one of those “godsend show” by any means. Quite frankly, Future Diary is probably a show that accidentally leaked out from the television gods’ heavenly dumpster: it is poorly written, childish, perverted, and deeply flawed in countless other ways. At the show’s nadir, I found that I had lost much of my will to live and had to use every ounce of willpower I still possessed to prevent myself from gouging my eyes out. Nonetheless, I ultimately powered through to finish what I started, and at the conclusion of the final episode, I find that it has left a strong-enough impression in my mind to motivate me to write an article delving into its complex, often terrible, yet sometimes brilliant storyline.

I will first discuss how Future Diary fails, for, when it does – and it most certainly does – it does so in the most miserable, self-destructive fashion imaginable. The show’s chief flaw is its tendency of interpolating perfunctory attempts at humor in between some of its more serious and adrenaline-inducing moments. The harm in cramming comedy, especially weak and unconvincing comedy, into a psychological thriller is that it cripples the plot progression by dissipating all the momentum that had been built up over prior episodes, leaving the writers with the onerous task of building it all up again to keep viewers engaged. Among Future Diary’s other primary flaws are that it often feels slow-paced and directionless (qualities that are tantamount to death sentences for excitement-driven storylines whose success depend on how much of the viewers’ adrenaline they can build up) and that the main character is an insufferable, childish bellyacher who undergoes minimal development throughout the series. I also feel responsible to mention what is considered one of the show’s heaviest blemishes by many viewers: an arguably unnecessary amount of time is spent building up the relationship dynamic between the protagonist and the anti-heroine, which nearly every viewer, myself included, felt was pointless, unenjoyable, and cringe-inducing. I am willing to overlook this on the basis that it proves relevant in the final episodes, but many others are not as lenient as I.

While it may not leave many mouths singing its high accolades, Future Diary should not simply be dismissed as another horrible show. Despite its habit of threading immature “comedic” scenes into its storyline, it tackles surprisingly mature topics, such as coping with undesired realities, the formation and consequences of different worldviews, the loss of innocence and morality, free will, and human potential for evil. It also addresses the difficult truths that following our guts does not necessarily lead to the achievement of our goals, that following our goals does not necessarily lead to happiness, and that perhaps it is better to just give ourselves up to the violent, unpredictable tide of life’s expectations than to drown ourselves while trying to achieve our dreams, which is a sweet refresher from the done-to-death “hard work and passion will triumph” motif. Future Diary also has an incredible soundtrack jam-packed with the kind of fast-paced, aggressive, in-your-face music that makes your blood boil and your heart race, but in a good way, and as a series that addresses the nature of time, it manages to finish the entire story without being trapped by any of the major plot-holes that have plagued time-travel entertainment since the beginning of time, pun intended. Perhaps the strongest element of Future Diary and arguably what has prevented it from crashing and burning due to its many shortcomings is the story’s anti-heroine, who often serves as a pawn to keep the story alive and interesting. Though she initially comes off as a one-dimensional, bog-standard psychopath character and can be irritating since she speaks like she swallowed too many sleeping pills, she soon evolves into a mystery box that holds the key to every secret the show keeps but is too unpredictable for any other sole character to effectively act as a check against her justified desire to keep the truth a private matter. For many viewers, this same unpredictability is what maintains their interest throughout all twenty-six episodes, as the process of constantly feeling like you might finally discover the truth that the show has been teasing, only to have that hope ripped away from you when the key to that truth acts contrary to your expectations, can be quite suspenseful, and the process of delving into a complex character’s personality, watching him or her develop, and beginning to understand his or her actions can be a very enjoyable experience.

Perhaps I am looking at Future Diary through the lens of an optimist and am overemphasizing its strong points, as my review is significantly more positive than many of those I found on the internet. It is possible that I have become soft in my old age and that I have forgotten the magnitude of my suffering at the hands of the show’s poorly developed plot; but, assuming I still deserve my reputation as the hardest, most heartless man east of the Mississippi, I still espouse the opinion that Future Diary is a series with some brilliant highs sprinkled in between many more humiliating lows. Future Diary will captivate you in the first few minutes by introducing intriguing concepts, make you question what you were intrigued by for nearly all the minutes that follow, but occasionally remind you of the high quality it is capable of. These bright moments are far too sparse to outshine the rest of the show’s overwhelming dullness, however, so if at the conclusion of this article you find yourself excited about the possibility of adding a new title to your list of quarantine entertainment options, I must crush your dreams and tell you that I do not recommend watching Future Diary. It is not a good show: it is childish, immature, slow-paced, and often poorly written. One could make a strong argument that Future Diary is not even mediocre. However, those select individuals who can bear watching hours of directionless and unenjoyable content will find that, in between the painful exposition and slow-moving storyline, Future Diary occasionally sparkles like the jewel it could have been.