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Future Diary Volume 1

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Future Diary Volume 1 by Sakae Esuno from TokyoPop

Future Diary Volume 1

© Sakae Esuno 2006

The Bottom Line

Yukiteru is an antisocial high school student who'd rather sit on the sidelines observing people than actually connect with them. That is, until his obsession with texting to his cell phone diary puts him in the middle of high-stakes game of cosmic and deadly proportions.

Future Diary mixes the suspense and creepiness of Higurashi: When They Cry and the time traveling sci-fi of The Girl Who Leapt Thru Time with the cosmic headtrips and cutie-pie fanservice of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. It's a manga mix that otaku-in-the-know will enjoy, but its manic violence might perplex a few mainstream readers.

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Pros

  • Weaves a page-turning, compelling sci-fi story that mixes creepiness with cuteness
  • Action-packed plot that leaves readers guessing until the final pages
  • A surprising, unconventional mix of sci-fi, fantasy, suspense and crime drama

Cons

  • With stalkers, serial killers and sociopaths, there's a lot of mental illness on display here
  • Is there any good reason why the bomb-crazy terrorist must wear a frilly Gothic Lolita dress?
  • Relatively generic, albeit otaku-pleasing artwork that offers nothing new to the medium
  • It's a little annoying that the katakana sound effects aren't translated into English

Description

Guide Review - Future Diary Volume 1

Yukiteru looks normal enough, but even his classmates know that there's something not quite right with this quiet teen. Yukiteru lacks the social skills to interact with his peers, so he spends his time observing and recording events in his cell phone diary. His only friends seem to be imaginary ones -- namely Deus Ex Machina, an omnipotent god who is the "King of Time and Space" and Deus' mini-messenger, Muru Muru.

But even Yukiteru's imaginary companions see little point in his digital diary. When he explains to Muru Muru that "I write down everything I see." Muru Muru retorts, "What's the point? That's totally random."

Yukiteru's cell phone obsession soon leads to an unexpected twist. Deus turns Yukiteru's phone into a real-time ticker that reveals the events of the future, and then introduces him to 10 other players with "future diaries" who will be competing against him in a high-stakes game of tag. The winner of this cosmic game of kill-or-be-killed will be named as the next King of Time and Space.

If you're familiar with trends in anime, many of the themes and characters in Future Diary will feel familiar. The neurotic teen hero. The overly-affectionate/borderline-stalker love interest. The fiendish psychopath. The omnipotent god with the comic-relief sidekick. What makes Future Diary compelling is how it mashes up cute and creepy, fantasy and real-life, violence and romance into a fast-paced sci-fi story for teens.

There are moments when readers must suspend disbelief as Esuno inserts plot points that pander to otaku fetishes, like having the terrorist bomber dressed in a frilly Gothic Lolita dress. But if you can overlook these lapses of logic and have the stomach for some manic violence, Future Diary Volume 1 has the ingredients to please fans who love Haruhi Suzumiya's cosmic mind-trips and Higurashi's cute but creepy suspense.

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