This is one odd fish series, and not just because it is estrogen heavy, but how we embrace that girl assassins are cute and charming….right up until they kill you dead
Welcome to Myojo Academy, one of those massive educational edifices, where you can attend here from pre-school to high school graduation. “Riddle Story of Devil” (“Akuma no Riddle”) looks at the infamous Black Class, where thirteen girls are enrolled in it. Twelve of them are assassins; the 13th is the intended victim, Ichinose Haru (second from left, for a quick reference). Certain protocols have to be adhered to in regards to the job, but, if any one of them succeeds, they will be granted any wish they desire. However, if they fail, they are expelled from the class. One of the assassins, Azuma Tokaku (far left), develops feelings for Haru and defects to her side, resolving to protect her from the other assassins.
Now, if you are going to be an assassin, it helps not to have morals or scruples or regrets and these ladies are the most amoralistic bunch of psychotic killers to ever populate a classroom. Ahh, but don’t think that Haru is all sunshine and light, either. As the series progresses, we learn all of their dark secrets and it makes one wonder if any of them deserve to live. And here is where the oddity comes in: do they actually die?
When a lady fails in her task, she is expelled, but some of them appear to have died during the attempt. All we tell the teacher is that the ‘transferred out’, which is true in a sense, but the teacher is worried that his skills are not up to snuff and not that his charges got snuffed.
Although similar in structure to “Future Diary” or “Eden of the East” or “My HiMe”, a ‘last-man standing’ theme, it certainly goes its own path. Yes, there are one-on-one battles and a couple of two vs two set-up, but part of the concern is that you know that Azuma and Haru are going to see this to the end. No, that is not a giveaway or a spoiler; if you couldn’t see it by episode two, maybe you don’t watch enough anime.
The big trick is that Azuma will not kill anyone. Now, that is pretty hard for an assassin, to take care of your target but not kill them…which kind of defeats the purpose of being an assassin, but in this case, if she can just prevent the assassination (there is a time limit on the assignment), then she scores the victory and the defeated must withdraw. This doesn’t stop her from messing you up, but there will be no bullet in your brain.
Although all of these ladies are nuttier than Dick’s hatband around a fruitcake, Bamba Mahiru wins this prize. During the day, she is sunshine and light. You might go shopping with her, or a festive day at the park. But when night comes down, she becomes Bamba Shinya, and will cut you in half a heartbeat. So, if you can outlast her until dawn….
As the story went from chapter to chapter, we see victory after victory, but when we get to the end of the story, it turns weird just to turn weird and you are confronted with a caliber of assassin that you did not expect to see (can’t reveal; plot device). Well, since we knew how this was going to turn out, there are no surprises. Except the ending ending. Let’s just call it ‘everyone is now happy’ and leave it at that.
The assassination attempts are what drives this show and that is pulled off with mostly adept handling (the Shakespeare episode got a bit creaky). You also need to watch the end credits, as it relates to the show and not just one of those recaps of the show while you’re watching the credits. More of a personality profile. Still, a lot got telegraphed way too early, so, although you did not know the manner in which it would turn out, you knew how it would turn out, and that was a drag point for me.
Oh, and Kaiba, one of the heads of the school, is one of those character who are annoying to the nth degree, as he asks Tokaku these riddles that, in theory, have no real answer, but are germane to what Tokaku needs to know to help her with her dilemma. It’s just he comes off as a know-it-all and you would like it if he got trampled by ravenous students trying to score on some melon bread at the lunch bar. This is another show where the post-credit ending is important, but it’s with Kaiba, so it was a hard sell for me.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (With this many girls, they should be pretty)
Plot 8 (Good use of old standard)
Pacing 8 (Especially during the assassinations)
Effectiveness 6 (Too much sent too soon)
Conclusion 8 (It reaches an end, but the epilog feels forced)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 8 (Mostly a good show)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Here’s your advance warning.