Manga Review: Future Diary Volume One

Future Diary Volume 1 is a manga with the story and art by Sakae Esuno. Tokyopop had the North American distribution rights to this series; however, now that Tokyopop has gone out of business, this manga series is currently unlicensed in North America. This manga volume was published in 2009. This English adaptation, which is presented as an “unflipped” release, was adapted by Clint Bickham; the translation was done by Yuya Otake. Future Diary is rated “OT” for Older Teen for ages 16 and up.

Future Diary Volume 1
Written by: Sakae Esuno
Publisher: Kadokawa Shoten
English Publisher: Tokyopop
Release Date: May 12, 2009

Yukiteru Amano is a second year high school student who has trouble making friends. He sees himself as simply a bystander, and records the things he sees in his cell phone diary. He begins to imagine a friend named Deus Ex Machina, who turns out to be the Lord of Time and Space. Deus gives Yukiteru a new ability: his diary will now record events that will happen in the near future. Yukiteru also finds out that he is now forced to participate in a game with eleven other contestants to determine Deus’ successor; the winner is whoever is left standing after the other contestants are killed. He quickly learns that another contestant in the game is a girl in his class named Yuno Gasai. It turns out that she has a crush on Yukiteru, and has been keeping a cell phone diary of what he’s been doing. In the game, her diary records what Yukiteru will do in ten minute intervals. The two of them team up together in order to try to get past a couple of the other contestants. In the process, a police detective who is also in the game teams up in an alliance with Yukiteru and Yuno to try to bring an end to the game.

While Future Diary has an interesting premise, it does have a couple of “fatal flaws.” First, it’s not entirely clear when the game actually begins. In the story, it appears that the game begins when Deus gives Yukiteru’s diary the ability to record future events. However, in a piece included at the end, it’s stated that a couple of the other players had started using their enhanced diaries for the game before Yukiteru became a player. The second issue deals with how the future entries are being made. It comes across in the manga that the future messages are being inputed by the characters in the future. However, after the game starts, we never see any of the players add anything to their diaries; they are only seen looking at the entries from the future. With these issues, it makes it hard for the reader to use their “willing suspension of disbelief” when reading this manga. Personally, I’m not terribly interested to follow this manga series any further than this.

When it comes to the art in the volume, there is definitely a “dark” feel to many of the panels. In some instances, this is due to the fact that a scene is taking place at night. However, there are other scenes where it’s clearly daytime in the story, but the panels still look “dark.” My guess is that Esuno did this intentionally as an effect to emphasize the darker nature of the story. When it comes to the character design, the characters have a rather “stereotypical” manga look to them; there’s very little in the way of originality in this aspect.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of this manga volume that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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