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Future Diary Part 1 Limited Edition Anime DVD Review

10 min read

Future Diary Part 1
Future Diary Part 1
Knowing the future is one thing, knowing a group of people are out to kill you is another.

What They Say:
Reality quickly unravels for antisocial Yukiteru when Deus Ex Machina calls him into a death match to determine the new god of space and time. Each mentally scarred player possesses a prophetic device tuned to his or her personality disorder, giving them control over their future… and the fate of their opponents. It’s their strongest weapon – and their greatest weakness.

Within hours of abusing his digital diary’s predictions, Yukiteru is cornered by a crazed classmate. Yuno – who is obsessively stalking him with her own psychic cell phone – is cute, sharp, and great with an ax. Still, her psychosis hides a vile secret. As a serial killer, a cult priestess, and a volatile escape artist take a stab at eliminating the teens, Yuki can cheat death under Yuno’s maniacal protection or – DEAD END.

Contains episodes 1-13.

This limited edition includes two creepy “romantic” cards featuring series characters (one to send, and one to keep)

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is pretty straightforward but nicely done as we get the original Japanese language in stereo encoded at 192kbps while the English language track is done in 5.1 at 448kbps. The series is one that has a good mix of action and dialogue to it that allows it to blend well while not standing out as a strong release in some ways. The show has a lot going on throughout it with different kinds of action happening, from chases to gun fights, explosions and more, but it’s not one that goes big with what it does. It’s all very capable and appropriate but it doesn’t stand out when it comes across. Dialogue is similar in that there’s a good mix of styles to it overall but mostly it just has a center channel kind of approach to it where it has some minor placement but not much that you’d notice based on the way it unfolds. But similar to the action, it’s done well and without problems and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2011, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Animated by Asread, we get thirteen episodes with this collection where there are seven on the first and six on the second. The show has a slightly darker and earthy tone to it at times, which is interesting since it’s mostly in a city setting for a lot of it, but it also has some brighter and more striking sequences which stand out all the more because of it. The general look of the show is good as it handles detail well, colors are mostly solid and there aren’t any significant or really noticeable areas of issue. There are a few areas where gradients are more noticeable and some of the problematic colors show more noise than I’d care for, such as the darker reds and some of the gray color areas, but mostly it’s a decent transfer with no big issues to deal with.

Packaging:
The limited edition release of this title comes with a heavy chipboard box and a single sized keepcase inside with a spacer box next to it so there’s room for the second half release to fit inside. The box itself is a dark and murky piece where it has deep reds and blacks while showing off Yuno and Yukki, where Yuno is mostly off-box because of her placement and reflection. Both of them are done in shades of purple that just adds to the murky nature and is poorly complemented by the black logo mixed into the red stripe along the right. The back cover basically reverses all of this without the red stripe and lets Yuno stand out a bit more. It’s not a terrible box, but it’s not a good one either. Inside the box we get the black and white spacer box which has a bit of artwork on side and the logo on black background on the other.
The main keepcase is pretty nic,e with some illustration artwork of the core cast that has a good intensity to it that I wish the box itself had. The colors are striking even if subdued and the line work is fantastic. The back cover is traditional with more artwork and shots from the show along with a breakdown of the premise and the extras to be had on the release. The cover is fully reversible where each side has more illustration artwork that really is strong looking and the back of it just breaks down the episodes by number and title. While the show doesn’t have any inserts included in it, there is a bonus piece in the spacer box that has two postcards where one works off of the box artwork and the other features the lead pair together, both of which have strong white backgrounds that would have made for a much better looking box design.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is kind of sparse in some ways but works decently enough for the show. The general design has a black and white split where the left third is white with the navigation angled downward which is hard to read. The rest of it is black and has the character artwork on it, such as the first volume where it has Yukki, Yuno and Sixth together. The dark background feels like too much with it all but it’s not striking in a bad way. Submenus are easy to navigate and set up, even with the text sideways, and language setup a breeze as it defaults to English with sign/song subtitles.

Extras:
The extras for this release are pretty good and English language fans make out well as we get a couple of new episode commentaries for the series. These continue to be fun for fans since they bring in the cast and production team to talk about it, their experiences on it and some of the silly things that go on in the show itself. We get a fun little omake/bonus episode as well which is short and to the point with its fun and the usual array of good TV spots from the Japanese release and the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series by Sakae Esuno, Future Diary is a twenty-six episode series animated by Asread that gives us more fun with cell phones. FUNimation originally simulcast the series but it was one that I didn’t end up watching, so my experience with the show is pretty much first time here as all I’ve seen are a few clips. The use of cell phones as story devices isn’t new and it is something that can be done well, which Future Diary certainly does, even if it goes above and beyond the realistic for obvious reasons. Over the first half of the series, we have a lot going on here and while it can get to be a bit much as it progresses, it certainly keeps moving and that’s a big plus for the show.

The series revolves around the lead characters of Yukiteru, aka Yukki, and Yuno, two middle school students who get caught up in something big and dangerous. It’s a little roundabout at the start, but the general premise is that Yukki is drawn into a game of sorts where he’s given a specialized phone that allows him to read into the future where the notes he would take in that time are visible to him in the here and now. This allows him to do a lot of advanced things when it comes to school and avoiding trouble and getting into good things, but it also draws some notice to him as well. The phone and its properties come from a being known only as Deus ex Machina where he’s able to see and ordain all futures. He’s intent on moving on from this position and has given twelve different styled devices to twelve different people and set them to going up against each other and the last one standing will take over for Deus. The downside is that losing means that you’re dead, and that can happen when others trap you into a Dead End on your phone or your phone is destroyed.

Initially for Yukki, before things really get into it in a big way and he understands the gravity of the situation, he does the future notes thing for fun and just tries to build up his life. When it’s revealed after the trial and learning period that he’s actually going to be fighting for his life against the others, he becomes a much weaker character filled with uncertainty. What makes some of this understandable is that because of the way everything starts when the battle begins, he’s called out as a favorite early on because he had already eliminated one of the twelve, mostly accidentally, and that has made him a target for everyone else. What helps save him to some degree from everything is that one of the other twelve, Yuno, has a love diary and she’s latched onto him as her true love and intends to save and protect him from everything. But there’s a sneaking suspicion that it’s all to work with him until the end when it’s just the two of them and they’re facing off against each other.

Future Diary plays well with these basic ideas and starts to thrown the various players at Yukki and Yuno fairly quickly. The first one that really becomes a problem, Sixth, ends up being a problem across most of this set of episodes as he diary describes the best escape routes from any situation. She doesn’t always escape unscathed, which makes her more unbalanced in her own way, but it makes it the kind of plot device that lets her get out in creative ways that don’t always make the best sense but look good. Another one that shows up early on is the Fourth, Kurusu, who is a police detective and is intent on taking down the entire operation in general and opts to work with both Yukki and Yuno in order feed them information and use them as bait in a way as well. Kurusu isn’t a constant, but he makes some welcome appearances and his arc in general in the set is one of the more interesting pieces since he’s one of the few adults running around in the middle of all of this.

Most of this half of the series is all about the introduction of characters and concepts and seeing how various diary owners work their particular skills and gimmicks that each has. Once the game is afoot, it mostly has Yukki on the run, trying to figure out what Yuno is really up to and relying on her to some degree. Which works well for the most part, but we do see that she’s extremely dangerous in ways that should make anyone worry, even if it does help in the long run. She’s the most active one when events start to move in bad ways, which has Yuki often just following her lead or being shoved into a position of safety. He does stand up for himself from time to time, but Yuno is focused on keeping him alive and safe, and that drives the narrative a lot when trying to figure out how to deal with whatever the most current attack is.

In Summary:
The first half of Future Diary is a pretty decent show that has some good ideas and kind of interesting execution as it progresses. I like the characters in general, though again we have a male lead that’s stymied by an even lightly aggressive woman, never mind one that’s really clear about what she wants. Perhaps it’s comforting for some men to see others cower when a woman indicates she’s going to get physical with him. The series opens in a kind of awkward way and the whole Deus aspect is exactly what’s in the name to create the setting, but once it gets moving it’s pretty much full of action and forward motion, making for a fairly engaging story that keeps you wondering where it will go next. Though Yukki makes me cringe in some ways as he plays the typical male lead a little too well, the pairing with Yuno works well and you really want to know more of what she’s up to and to see what curves are ahead.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Select Episode Commentaries, Textless Opening and Ending, Trailers, Bonus “Omake” Short.

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: September 17th, 2013
MSRP: $64.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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