Akuma no Riddle Episode 1 [First Impressions]

Vantage’s First Impression

There are thirteen members of Myoujou Academy’s “Black Class”, and all but one of them are assassins, out to kill their classmate – a supposedly normal girl named Ichinose Haru. It’s not a particularly unique premise, especially if Danganronpa immediately springs to mind – but this pilot episode did turn out to be rather interesting!

Pic024As you’d expect from a classroom full of assassins, we’ve got a whole range of personalities in Akuma no Riddle – some are clearly saner than others, but the vast majority of them are just oozing with negative emotions be it bloodlust or cynicism. They all have different objectives, and they’d all probably answer the dice bastard’s question differently – but you can be sure that none of them are about to say anything positive about the world. Haru just sticks out like a sore thumb within that nasty atmosphere – all the assassins there could probably tell she was the target as soon as she opened her mouth. The fact that her wish is to graduate implies that she herself also knows, which makes it all the more surprising that she can still be so positive and earnest about her situation. She’s like a ray of sunshine in the midst of all these dark and edgy girls! It was pretty cruel that everyone else (or at least, Nio) thought that Haru’s phone straps were a type of GPS or bug, especially as she probably made it with genuinely benign intentions – something that none of the others can even begin to claim they have.

Pic019Except maybe Tokaku, who seems more empty than evil right now. Although she’s skilled, she’s not giving off a sense of purpose at all – chances are, she only became an assassin after what happened with her mother when she was young. It’s easy to tell that Haru later becomes her purpose, and I look forward to the accompanying yuri scenes very much :D While it may be a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, Tokaku hasn’t thrown away the phone strap Haru gave her, which does show that she isn’t entirely heartless. And she hasn’t outright rejected Haru either, instead tolerating her alongside this sense of disbelief that she can still be so genki even though she could be killed at any moment. Actually, that’s another thing – apart from the scary split personality girl (the one with a scar down her face) and Nio, who looks like she’s about to make a move or two,  none of them have actually done anything yet! At most, they’re all assessing each other. Of course, it’s true that we know absolutely nothing about why Haru’s a target, nor the background of any of the assassins, but it’s a bit weird that no-one’s in a hurry to kill her. Least of all Tokaku, who can literally slit her throat whenever she wants. Someone’s done something in the past, though, as those knife wounds indicate – that sure as hell wasn’t an accident.

On the whole, I liked this. The fact that this will have yuri is definitely a twist, and it’s one that I’m hopefully going to enjoy alongside the action, shockers and inevitable deaths. As this is (presumably) a show primarily about killing and murder, the yuri won’t be make or break, but as it’s what attracted me to this show to begin with I do hope it delivers. I’m unsure about blogging this, as is the case with WIXOSS, but I’m more likely to blog this than that. For now, I’ll give it three episodes!

Possibility of Watching: High
Possibility of Blogging: Moderately High

Omoikane’s First Impression

Well this was a rather interesting episode for what was known to many people as the “yuri’ show of the season(there is supposedly another yuri or shoujo ai but that one doesn’t get a lot of attention). And admittedly, I came to watch Akuma no Riddle to satisfy some of the emptiness I felt after watching Sakura Trick. Sakura Trick was, at the end of the day, quite forgettable. The yuri relationships in Sakura Trick had left me rather unfulfilled seeing how most of the show was essentially fluff and relied on saccharinely cute moments in favor of character development. Seeing how Akuma no Riddle turned out, I feel rather optimistic that it will take the time to develop its characters and flesh out the relationship between our main girls, Azuma Tokaku and Ichinose Haru.

Speaking of Haru, we are first introduced to her as someone who typifies the highly skilled assassin, possessing all the necessary attributes such as insanely fast reflexes and adept close combat abilities. The process shown to weed out the most competent one in what seems to be a boot camp for assassins in training was of course brutal and merciless. Proving herself to be the best among all applicants at the training camp, Tokaku is directed to transfer into the “black class” of Venus Academy where her objective is to assassinate one of the girls in the class. The catch is that every other member of the class aside from the target is also an assassin so Haru must complete her assassination before anyone else. And it is this fact that it no longer becomes just an objective but somewhat of a game for Tokaku’s ‘boss’ who is clearly deranged for finding the whole thing rather humorous .He also enjoys sending cryptic messages just for the hell of it. Personally, he comes off as being less ominous and more cringe worthy in ridiculousness. But regardless, Tokaku doesn’t feel anything regarding the act of killing. To her, it’s just like brushing one’s teeth or making the bed. She is so used to it, that it is just a job which she must complete efficiently without bothering with any sort of emotions.

The show then progresses in a standard way for these types of anime with the introduction of the members of the black class and the homeroom teacher, who seems rather ignorant of the whole thing (it might be a ruse too). There is one girl, Haru Ichinose, who stands out however. Haru seems to be genuinely interested in going to class and trying to make friends with her classmates. Here is a cheerful and innocent girl in the midst of a sea of yanderes who make no attempt to hide their savage bloodlust and murderous intent. Indeed attendant no.2, Inukai Isuke, is so outright yandere, one has to be quite thick to not perceive her true nature. But it’s passed off as a joke in class and her death threat went quite over the sensei’s head. Moving on from there, there is a sort of melancholic tone to Haru’s smile that hints at a darker past. Some confrontations between Tokaku and the other assassins occur in the subsequent parts of the episode but the main thing to note is that Tokaku values the cellphone strap Haru gave her and the rest of the class for reasons unfathomable to herself. In a scene, Hashiri, one of the girls in the “black class”, throws the strap out the window only to have Haru reach her arm out the window to catch it. Despite the potential threat of the strap(perhaps serving as a GPS device), there was maybe a part deep down within Haru that valued the friendship from this strange and optimistic girl. We also find out Tokaku and Haru are roommates and Haru begins to tag along with Tokaku wherever she goes. Strangely enough, Tokaku doesn’t seem to mind Haru’s company. They move into their rooms and while Haru is settling down on the bed, Tokaku conducts a thorough inspection of the room, cleaning out any hidden cams there might be. Truly Tokaku is never at peace and her instincts are always at full alert.

The most interesting part of the episode was perhaps Tokaku’s discovery of the scars on Haru’s legs which Haru laughs off. That in conjunction with the Haru’s line to herself ‘”Tokaku san, don’t hate me even when you’ll learn about the real me” , her answer to Tokaku riddle, “This world is fulfilled by ___” as being forgiveness and the flashback we got of what seems to be Tokaku and her mother who was clearly killed all points to one thing. I’m quite certain that beneath Haru’s cheerful exterior is a girl who has once been an assassin and may or may not be an assassin now. It’s quite possible that Haru is living with guilt for the sins of her past and that she was the one who had killed Tokaku’s mother. Tokaku herself doesn’t want to believe this and repeatedly mutters to herself she’s not the one but something certainly tells me otherwise. It would be too straightforward in terms of the plot to make Haru the generic genki innocent girl.Quite a dark reveal if this is the case and I just wonder how that will affect what will surely be an imminent yuri pairing of Haru and Tokaku. The episode ends off with the assassins of the “black class” making their moves. Despite the technical qualities of this anime being fairly average, the first episode of Akuma no Riddle was quite entertaining. It’s nothing special but the mystery of Haru’s past makes me inclined to continue watching. In fact, I would wager from I have seen that the premise is enjoyable enough even if this show did away with the yuri aspects. But the yuri theme simply make Akuma no Riddle more compelling and I am interested to see how the yuri plays out given the grimdark feel of this series.
Possibility of Watching: High
Possibility of Blogging: Moderate

Stay tuned for Midnight’s impressions!

Vantage

I love cute things.

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6 Responses

  1. Wanderer says:

    When put in that class, Haru seems to nice to be real. Someone elsewhere came up with a theory that Haru herself also has a hidden mission: she might have to kill all 12 of her classmates in order to “graduate.” That would be a pretty vicious twist, to have Tokaku fight off everyone to save Haru, only to have Haru kill Tokaku herself at the end…

    Yeah, let’s go with that not being the case. Still, I’m expecting there to be some sort of twist in here, and just learning more about their backgrounds isn’t going to count. Something has to not be what it seems.

    • Vantage says:

      Oh god, that would be too cruel ;A;

      The thing is, I really want to believe in Haru and her happiness, as unrealistic as that may sound. Despite those ominous scars, she’s the one thing that’s not dark and edgy in an otherwise dark and edgy show… yet.

      • omoikane says:

        If Haru wan’t secretly a trained assassin herself, she will get wiped pretty quickly. I don’t think the story will even get to the point where Tokaku decides to abandon her mission to protect Haru before Haru gets the axe by any of the members of the “black class”.

        • Wanderer says:

          Don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions. One doesn’t necessarily have to be a trained assassin to have picked up some skills that would help allow one to survive trained assassins.

          • omoikane says:

            Well it’s speculation of course. But saying one can evade a trained assassin from having just “picked up” a few skills seems to be a very questionable possibility. It simply isn’t realistic without hardcore training unless anime. Some of these girls are trained professionals and while Haru herself doesn’t have to be a trained assassin, to avoid death, she has to be on par with these girls(some of them probably practiced the act of assassination their whole lives).And literally, it’s an all against one war. It’s not even a fair fight. It would require god like reflexes,perception and alertness to avoid death.

            • Wanderer says:

              I suspect if we keep watching that we’ll find the rules the assassins have to play by are a bit more complex than just “everyone pile on the innocent girl.” Let’s watch a bit and see how this turns out.

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