Welcome to another anime rant! This time I’ll be covering a character study of the main male character in Mirai Nikki, Yukiteru. (Also known as Yuki or Yukki.) This article was originally combined with my Yuno Gasai character analysis, but it was too long, so I split it up. All my posts for Future Diary /Mirai Nikki are still being edited, so try to forgive the mistakes for now.
The amount of hatred people feel toward Yukki is rather astounding. That’s what I’ve gathered from reading comments and reviews online. He’s far more universally hated than Shinji from Evangelion, even though Shinji is the same age, has similar core issues, and goes through the end of the world in the same way as Yukki. I don’t hate him at all, but I acknowledge he’s a hugely flawed person. Anxious in general, Yukki also gives over-the-top reactions of terror compared to other characters, and is usually too scared to fight. What leads him to be so apprehensive and easily distressed?
Some people are simply “wired” to be more anxious than others. It could very well be a part of Yukki’s core personality. If set out to assign to Yukiteru one of the 16 personalities from Myers-Briggs Typology, I would definitely pick INFP. He is more introverted than extraverted, more intuitive than practical, more of a feeler than a thinker, and more spontaneous than deliberate. INFPs just want everyone to get along; they care intensely about others, and fall apart easily if the harmony around them is disturbed. As an INFP, it can be hard to complete necessary and obvious tasks, or any routine or unrewarding tasks.
A turbulent (or severely stressed) INFP can be hypersensitive, emotional, anxious, unmotivated, and noncommittal. Some strengths of healthily functioning INFPs are altruism, loyalty, creativity, dedication to helping others, ability to mediate conflicts well, flexibility, and an open mind. Yukki exhibits many of the turbulent traits and a few of the positive strengths, too.
Besides personality type, what else caused Yukiteru’s issues? Three possibilities are psych problems, family dysfunction, and the survival game itself. Before the contest even started, he might have had an underlying psych problem such as Panic Disorder or Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Official anxiety disorders are usually not diagnosed until the patient is eighteen or over, but that doesn’t mean that major symptoms couldn’t exist before then. Signs of Generalized Anxiety Disorder include excessive apprehension on more days than not, difficulty controlling worried thoughts, trouble concentrating or thinking straight, being easily tired, being restless, or having sleep problems.
Having Panic Disorder means you suffer from panic attacks, experiences wherein you abruptly feel terrified and can have mind blanks, heart palpitations, trouble breathing, trembling, sweating, nausea, and sometimes an unfounded fear of impending death. You may have the urge to flee, or you may be frozen in place. Panic attacks are usually short—about five minutes—but some can last up to fifteen minutes. Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorder can sometimes be treated with therapy alone, but usually, medication is also needed to balance out patient’s neurochemicals. Psych disorders are usually the fault of neurochemical imbalances in the brain.
Anytime you want to discuss Yukki being fearful, it’s necessary to note that the majority of his reactions and actions are in fact completely natural for any kid in those situations. Yukiteru is a realistically terrified character, rather than the usual unrealistic Shounen protagonists: those who constantly work on self-improvement, always conquer their fear, always stay optimistic, always want to fight, and never become traumatized.
People who grow up watching Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Yuu Yuu Hakushou, or Hunter x Hunter can’t get enough of the empowered, heroic young men in these shows. There’s nothing wrong with cheering for characters who keep growing stronger and surmount all obstacles. But that’s not a true representation of most boys in reality, and it’s not true of all Shounen protagonists, either. Yukki feels more like a real person than like a hero. Unfortunately, people in reality will let you down.
In addition to natural fear, though, Yukki has other serious issues. When it comes to sexuality, he is incredibly insecure and almost abnormal. Easily influenced, Yukiteru abandons all his morals after his parents are killed. Sometimes, he seems to improve, but he just regresses again soon after. He rarely tries or puts in the effort needed to resolve a bad situation.
Yukki’s Sexual Insecurity
In episode 3, Yuno loses her bikini top (probably purposely) in the pool. While waiting for a life guard to return the garment, Yuno is startled and instinctively hugs Yukki, who can feel her boobs against his chest. Yukiteru sinks to the bottom of the pool, looking limp and shocked. The scene is meant to be comical, and debatably, it’s there to show that Yukki was so turned on he literally couldn’t move. But his expression and body were animated in such a way to make it look like he was horrified– as if Yuno’s breasts frightened him instead of stimulating him. So, it’s possible that Yukki had no sexual reaction at all because he was too surprised and unnerved.
This will become apparent in the next example too, but Yukki’s reaction is actually pretty normal for people who grow up under-socialized or in a sexually oppressive culture. Yukiteru’s reaction is much more typical of Japanese boys compared to boys of the same age in the U.S. If you didn’t understand Yukki’s reaction, imagine for a minute that he has the sexual maturity and knowledge of a shy twelve-year-old instead of a nearly-sixteen-year-old. Suddenly, his overwhelmed response makes sense. You just need to think of Yukki as being much younger mentally than he is biologically.
(This level of immaturity and ignorance definitely isn’t true for Japanese boys in reality. However, it’s fair to say that some would respond similarly to Yukki in this situation, since in Japan, sexuality is strongly discouraged for middle-and-high-schoolers.)
Rea Amano, Yukiteru’s mother, is very happy to see Yukki together with a girl in episode 6. With Yuno staying over for a few days, Rea implicitly gives the young couple permission to have sex. Yuno is metaphorically screaming that “she wants the d.” Still, Yukiteru refuses to engage with her. It doesn’t seem like he rejects her because of some belief against premarital sex, and it doesn’t seem like he dislikes Yuno, either. So, why? Most likely, it’s because Yukki is too anxious and self-doubting. He isn’t confident in any romantic situation, and he’s nervous about expressing himself sexually.
I imagine most fifteen-year-old virgins feel nervous about sex when it’s suddenly in front of them for the first time. But the majority of these boys overcome that and enjoy some kind of sexual experience with the girl they like (or the girl who is willing.) What I just said, though, is the modern American perspective. It isn’t necessarily the same in Japan, where young students are sexually repressed. Yuno and Rea Amano are the ones being “weird” from the perspective of Japanese traditional values. In those values, young women aren’t supposed to openly desire sex or be “lustful.” And mothers in that culture are not supposed to approve of their middle school sons and daughters having sex.
It’s true that Yukiteru isn’t confident or comfortable with sexuality in the early episodes of Mirai Nikki, but that’s not any kind of anomaly. It’s a problem for many people, including young people. Thinking that Yukki is weird and abnormal for refusing sex is just a case of American prejudice. Consider also two facts. At the time of episode 6, Yukiteru suspects Yuno of killing her parents. Would you want to sleep with someone who committed parricide? The second fact is that, regardless, Yukki does finally have sex with Yuno in episode 23.
(If you were expecting a discussion of his sexual orientation, sorry. One may argue that Yukki is bisexual because he never reacted negatively to Akise’s advances, or even his kiss. However, Yukki seems to like women more. His first crush in middle school was a girl, and he falls in love with Yuno after that.)
Yukiteru and Trauma
Yukki is easily influenced by whoever he decides to trust—usually Yuno—and he abandoned his morals and partakes in a naïve plan starting in episode 19. Let’s look at why this happened. When functioning healthily, Yukiteru is an INFP; he possesses well-developed values, simultaneously being open-minded and flexible about more general things. Regardless of personality type, though, anyone might suddenly lose their emotional identity and ethics if they experienced the trauma Yukki did.
In episode 17, Kurou Amano killed his wife Rea by impulsively stabbing her as she berated him for leaving their son to die. Kurou is himself stabbed to death in episode 18, thanks to some hitmen hired by Eleventh. It happened right in front of Yukki. After Yuno helps him kill all the hitmen, Yukiteru undergoes a change. He has lost both his parents and is on the brink of despair. By episode 19, he’s still as nervous as ever, but he’s now playing the survival game to win. He’s set on victory, and willing to follow Yuno’s every word to do so. Believing he can resurrect everyone after becoming God, Yukki no longer cares about taking lives, and even kills his own friends in ep 22.
Now you should see that there’s not much point in asking why Yukki abandoned morals and common sense, believing an obvious lie, and trusting Yuno unquestioningly. The trauma did it to him. It left him emotionally blinded and out of his right mind. For someone who had already been in the death game for a while and had gotten used to everybody dying, Yukki’s behavior starting in episode 19 is quite understandable. Yet it was also stupid and childish to continue on that mistaken path.
Yukki’s Lack of Growth
Sometimes, Yukiteru really pulls through, and makes me believe in him and root for him. Examples are running through the minefield (ep 2), giving Yuno breath so she won’t breathe in poison gas (ep 7), protecting everyone from the dogs (ep 8), shooting Kurusu despite the risk (ep 12), cooperating beautifully with Yuno to defeat the Sevenths (ep 17), going through with the betrayal of Eighth and using a gun to fight with (ep 19), resolving to save the Third World’s Yuno (ep 24), and, in episode 26, breaking out of the mini-world he’s trapped in.
What happens after each of these great moments of improvement to Yukki’s courage, quick thinking, and assertiveness? He goes right back to being his old self. He panics, make stupid mistakes, and hides behind Yuno without trying to think of a way to fight.
Regarding the Twelfth and the Sixth, Yukiteru acts cowardly and indecisive for most of episodes 4 and 5. In episode 11, he doesn’t try to do anything to stop Kurusu, and he shoots a police guard when it wasn’t necessary and made him an easier target. Allowing Yuno to take over everything in ep 15, instead of thinking of a plan with her, Yukki causes her to be seriously wounded. The clincher is episode 26, where we see that Yukiteru never recovered from losing Yuno and didn’t restore the Second World.
It can be extremely frustrating to watch a main character degenerate time and time again following any bit of advancement. But guess what? This is realistic; it’s what you’d expect from a sheltered but anxious child who is trapped in a sick survival game and traumatized by all the death. It’s also what you should be prepared to see in reality, for people in less dangerous situations. Have you ever gotten to know someone with a mental illness like major depression, social anxiety, agoraphobia, or schizophrenia? What about substance abusers struggling in recovery programs? Homeless or disabled individuals who can’t hold down a job or maintain a stable life?
There can be amazing success stories among any of the above groups of people. However, what you’re going to see more often than not is slow recovery over years, marked by long and severe episodes of regression or relapse. Remember what I said in addressing the critic complaints about Yukki’s character conclusion. Not everyone makes it. Not everyone recovers or heals. They are too grieved, traumatized, sick, or disadvantaged to ever be functional in society again. Some people die from accidents long before they solve their issues; some people die early from preventable diseases; some starve; some die from drug overdoses; and some kill themselves from despair.
Yukki is a realistic character because he keeps taking steps forward and then steps back all through Future Diary. His state at the end of the series is tragic, but very believable; he can’t ever be hopeful about or interested in life without Yuno beside him. There is an OVA (Redial) where Yukki is reunited with the Third World’s Yuno. But the happy atmosphere of the video doesn’t change the fact that Yukiteru let the Second World get wiped out, and created nothing else for 10,000 years in that world’s time. Regression and failure are dire and disappointing things about Yukki, but they are what made him feel real.
Though it’s possible to argue that Yukki did try his best, and his best wasn’t good enough, it seems like Mirai Nikki is telling us this: Yukki had a tragic ending because of his habits of not putting in enough effort and not following through to the end. As grim as that is, that concludes my character analysis of Yukiteru Amano. Thank you so much for reading today! Ja, ne!
Other Posts About Mirai Nikki/ The Future Diary
The Future Diary: Series Review
The Future Diary: Critic Complaints
The Future Diary: Thematic Analysis
Yuno Gasai Character Analysis Part 1
Yuno Gasai Character Analysis Part 2