What’s it about ?
Twelve people receive on their cellphone an electronic diary of future events affecting them. (They can of course change events, causing everyone to get updates.) The goal of the game is to kill all the others (destroying their phone also works). Good luck !
Adapted from a manga ; there was a short OVA several months back that was basically a trailer testing the waters.
Yukiteru Amano, our loner misanthropic protagonist. Quite baffled and creeped out by the whole thing, obviously. He’s got a random talent for throwing darts (and always carries some), which of course comes handy before the episode even ends. He’s player “First”.
Deus Ex Machina, the Norio Wakamoto-voiced game-master. Yukiteru used to think of his as a figment of his imagination, an imaginary friend to talk with when he’s lonely, but there’s clearly something else at work here. He’s accompanied by a tiny sidekick, Murumuru, who does the hands-on stuff such as delivering the phone diaries. Whether either of them are “real” remains a mystery so far.
Yuno Gasai, the “Second” player, who happens to be an honor student in Yukiteru’s class. On the one hand, he’s lucky to have her to watch his back. On the other hand, her attachment to him is quite creeping indeed (he’s not far from the truth when he calls her a stalker). Either the diaries don’t all work the same, or she’s been able to hack hers a bit, because it shows events of Yukiteru’s life instead of hers.
“Third” (I’m not sure we’re given a name), a serial-killer who’s been on a rampage in a neighborhood. Him getting a diary is mostly unrelated to his killings (aside from the players all being sociopaths to some degree). He targets Yukiteru, who manages to destroy his phone (and thus kill him) with Yuno’s help.
Deus Ex Machina assembles a call conference between all the players at the end of the episode to explain the rules (er, shouldn’t he have done that a bit earlier), and so we get a quick glimpse at the 9 other players… although their appearances are scrambled and he takes care to only address them by codenames. (Yukiteru clearly recognizes Yuno, though ; the scrambling doesn’t look very efficient if you already know the player.) DEM names “First” as the lead competitor (what with having already killed Third), which is a nasty way of painting a target on his back.
Perfectly okay. I quite like the CG design for Deus Ex Machina and the “imaginary world”, which both look properly otherworldly.
What did I think of it ?
Um. The storytelling is a bit choppy, but there’s a decent plot hook here. The premise obviously makes no sense whatsoever, but the series is self-aware enough to overcome this. (I especially like the post-ED scene that shows how Murumuru gave Third his diary ; it’s hilarious and has impeccable comedic timing.) It’s certainly got atmosphere, and I’m intrigued by how much of a sociopath Yuno is. If the show manages not to fall into a routine of each player attacking our protagonists in a row, and finds clever ways to abuse the diaries, it could be quite fun.