The past few episodes have been quite a metamorphosis for Yuuki, mostly for the better as far as entertainment value is concerned. He’s transformed from a sniveling, spineless, dependent momma’s boy into a slightly less spineless teenage boy who happens to have issues to resolve regarding his mother’s death. Yuno’s definitely rubbed off on him, as have Seventh and Ninth in less obvious ways. There are a number of changes that went underway as his situation worsened and his sanity slowly corroded, mostly as his former life was stabbed and otherwise snatched from him before his eyes.
For most of the series, I can honestly say that I did not root for Yukiteru. He was a standard milquetoast character, not having much influence in the story or on those around him. I’ve written before about how I tend to project myself in characters taking the role of a passive observer, but something about Yuuki kept that from happening at all. Maybe it was his selfish, yet helpless behavior. Or maybe it was the way he reminded me of Shinji. I can’t pinpoint what it was, but I was vainly hoping for Yuuki to die a quick, ignoble death and have Yuno take center stage, even if the effectiveness of her diary would’ve been severely compromised.
As the series wore on and Yuno’s insanity grew with each episode though, there was definitely a change in our formerly dull as shit protagonist. All of a sudden, he was no longer relying on others to help him out. Even though his eventual entourage of friends has been kept around longer than it should’ve been, he had definitely managed to become more assertive with each consecutive victory. Not only that, but he began to turn down Yuno’s advances with growing frequency despite her unceasing attempts to get him to herself. It’s safe to say that by the time Seventh entered the picture, he had already begun the journey to filling the shoes that had been set before him. Yet, there was still some hesitation. He still cared for himself more than others, not having the drive to do anything but keep himself alive.
And then everything changed after his parents died in a rather ham-handed and likely unintentional attempt to replicate Shakespearean tragedy. All of a sudden, his psyche was shattered and his resolve to abstain from violence crushed. And now that he has a reason to live and make it through the Survival Game… well, he’s definitely grown a pair. While his personality isn’t any more complex (Less “I mustn’t run away!” and more “Grr! Yuuki smash/stab/shoot/whatever!”), the paradigm shift is certainly refreshing.
I felt that what held the series back before was Yuuki’s insistence on finding peaceful resolutions to save his own skin. It kept Yuno from fully spreading her psychotic wings, and worst of all kept the plot from going balls to the wall insane. That restriction was lifted in this episode, Yuuki perfectly following Yuno’s plan of betraying Eighth and eliminating her power. Sure, it wasn’t all that realistic (It’s doubtful that he could’ve driven like a stunt driver), but it was great seeing him actually actively trying to kill others. While it temporarily sacrificed any sort of development for this purpose, it was still nice to see.
Hell, even after opening himself up to Yuno, he proved himself independent of her. When she was revealed to not be the real Yuno in what I hope is a plot twist that actually goes somewhere, it didn’t take long for him to let go of her hand and leave her to her fate. What’s more, the way that he betrayed Eighth’s squad with so little remorse was actually kind of chilling, something that I certainly didn’t expect from him.
If it were another show, I’d be calling the sudden change from an increasingly assertive, yet still meek teenager into a cold-blooded killer inconsistent and sloppy. But Mirai Nikki is nothing if not inconsistent, if entertaining throughout, so I not only give it a pass, I welcome the chance to revel in the bloodshed and series of bonds/betrayals with other characters. Yuuki isn’t the most interesting character by a long shot (Yuno and Ninth still take the cake as far as that’s concerned), but the sudden change that he’s undergone is nothing if not interesting. He’s a far cry from the continuously useless Shu from Guilty Crown, actually managing to come across as an interesting character instead of just a whiny bitch in a trench coat. And that’s something that we can all cheer for.