Tokaku Azuma has just transferred to the elite Myoujou Academy, a private girls' boarding school. But there's a catch: she, along with 11 of her fellow students in Class Black, is an assassin taking part in the challenge to kill their sweet-natured classmate, Haru Ichinose. Whoever succeeds will be granted their deepest desire, no matter the difficulty or cost. However, each assassin only gets one chance; if they fail to kill her, they will be expelled.
Despite the extraordinary reward, Tokaku decides to take a different course of action. Though Haru is her target, the young assassin soon finds herself drawn to the very girl she is supposed to kill. With the entire class out for Haru, Tokaku refuses to let her friend die, vowing to protect her from a growing bloodlust.
Akuma no Riddle is based on Yun Kouga and Sunao Minakata's manga series of the same title. Despite premiering while the manga was in the middle of publication, the anime adapts the full story of the manga, with a few additions and alterations.
#01: "Paradox (パラドクス)" by Ayaka Suwa as Tokaku Azuma (ep 1) #02: "Kinou, Kyou, Ashita (昨日、今日、明日)" by Hisako Kanemoto as Haru Ichinose (ep 2) #03: "Concentration" by Manami Numakura as Otoya Takechi (ep 3) #04: "Across The Fate" by Haruka Yoshimura as Kouko Kaminaga (ep 4) #05: "Doutte koto nai Sympathy (どうってことないsympathy)" by Fumiko Uchimura as Haruki Sagae (ep 5) #06: "Poison Me" by Sachika Misawa as Chitaru Namatame & Mami Uchida as Hitsugi Kirigaya (ep 6) #07: "Suzukaze (すずかぜ)" by Chika Anzai as Suzu Shutou (ep 7) #08: "Mayonaka no Toubou (真夜中の逃亡)" by Ootsuba Yuka as Banba Mahiru (ep 8) #09: "Tenshi No Smile♥ (天使のスマイル♥)" by Azumi Asakura as Isuke Inukai (ep 9) #10: "Inochi no Karakuri (イノチノカラクリ)" by Miho Arakawa as Sumireko Hanabusa (ep 10)
#11: "Survival" by Yoshino Nanjou as Nio Hashiri (ep 11) #12: "QUEEN" by 10 Nen Kuro Gumi (ep 12)
With an interesting premise that is dark and alluring, this show looked very promising. The thing with some anime adaptations is that it’s hard to pull off while the source material is still on-going. Studios and Staff that take on this type of project are now tasked with a challenging job of getting the execution right. Akuma no Riddle is sadly held back from the poor execution on many of the aspects, ideas and story elements it presented that prevents the show from being great.
Adapted from Yun Kouga's manga, Akuma no Riddle follows the path of Tokaku Azuma, a seasoned assassin who transfers to a
private boarding school in Myoujou Academy to attend Class Black. It consists of 13 students, 12 being assassins and 1 being the target in Haru Ichinose, a bright and cheerful girl who aims to become friends with her peers. Unknowing to her, things soon take a turn for the worst. The purpose of this Class is more of a test or game for the assassins, they have to find out who is the target among them and then assassinate her within the rules that have been established. The ruling is that the target must be informed that she is going to be targeted and killed and that it must happen within 48 hours after issuing the notice. Failing to follow the ruling or the completion of the assassination within the time frame has one expelled from Class Black. If successful, one is granted any wish of their desire.
Tokaku concludes that Haru is the target after thoroughly examining her peers and has her sights on her. She finds out that Haru will become her roommate and after spending the time to getting to know her more, she becomes drawn to her to the point where she defects to her side and becomes her protector as they both strive to graduate Class Black. This is how the story begins and I found this rather interesting. I like the whole idea of this survival concept but as the story progresses, it felt that it was following an episodic format where an episode is dedicated to each one of the girls trying to kill Haru. While we get some flashbacks about their past and how they came to Class Black, it leaves every character besides Tokaku and Haru one episode for development. This led to shallow characters, rushed conclusions and a drowned out overarching story which for the most part makes Akuma no Riddle fail to make anything meaningful.
This is where I felt Akuma no Riddle was lacking and it’s how the show handles its characters. I wish there was more exploration with our main protagonists though we get to see their true self behind the façade they put on and also learn important details of their past. For the rest of the characters, due to time constraints of only 12 episodes, it was a tough ask to get more from them or to care for them. This is a big flaw, given the setup of the show is extremely character driven and with the ‘assassination of the week’ approach it gives limited ways for development, which in this case comes from a flashback, what they want for their reward or how they failed the assassination. One episode for development is simply not enough to feel invested.
One of the things to appreciate about Akuma no Riddle is its distinctive look and style. The world is well designed, the art style and colour palette used helped create a dark and eerie atmosphere which increased the intensity of the assassinations. The character designs were very well done and each character's look suited their personalities. Diomedea studio did ok with the animation, it was consistent despite drops in quality occasionally. Majority of the action scenes were very fluid and choreographed very well. An interesting choice the show implemented was the custom Ending that each episode got dedicated to each character of the series. I found that very creative and it added more content—showing a little summary about their story.
The score is mainly fast-paced and dark atmospheric tracks to keep you engaged in the assassinations but no particular track was inherently memorable. Immediately I found myself hooked to the Opening song, "Soushou Innocence" by Maaya Uchida. It really sets the mood and tone for the series while also fitting the themes. As mentioned before, I was pleased by the custom Endings and to go along with the different animation used in each one was also different songs. This is what made the Endings so refreshing and another plus factor in the creativity category. I had no issues regarding the voice acting, each of the voices used fitted the design and personality of the character. They deserve praise for showcasing the characters true killer instinct perfectly both in and outside of the assassinations.
When the series began, I noticed it had a "Yuri" tag but that was later switched with ‘Shoujo-ai’. Call me blind if I missed anything but there was no Yuri, sure there were hints with Tokaku and Haru's relationship but nothing serious or anything that would turn viewers off who may not like Yuri. The concept of survival game is nothing new but it did attempt to give it a bit more flair, something I can appreciate. The rating I had for it before the last two episodes was a bit higher but I had to bring it down because I felt the ending was anticlimactic and was disappointed on the route it chose. Despite its flaws Akuma no Riddle can still be an enjoyable thriller for those who like episodic series with lots of action, it has its moments and I felt that I may have enjoyed it a bit more if I didn’t go into the show with high expectations.
Upon the understanding that a film, book or television show will feature assassins as its fundamental aspect, it’s likely that the immediate set of expectations we receive from this falls along the imagery of thrill, excitement and aesthetics. Akuma no Riddle is very much a show that exhibits these types of expectations. It sets the stage for a high-school battle royale well enough by introducing 12 female assassins, each with their own desires, and one target, a girl striving to survive the oncoming ordeal. The assassins and target must all participate in Myoujou Academy’s elusive Black Class, where they’ll assume the guise of high-school students,
and whoever is able to successfully kill the target may have their any wish granted. However, due to a twist of events, one assassin successfully defects to the target’s side, vowing to protect her at all costs. It is quite an exciting premise and definitely promises those characteristic expectations of assassins. Unfortunately, Akuma no Riddle falls short on delivery of said expectations and is ultimately a weak series. That is not to say that it fails solely because of its lack of deliverance. Rather, the series’ shortcomings can be directly attributed to a much greater, fundamental flaw located right at its very core. That and one particular misfire that brings down all hopes of the show had of being redeemed.
The particular assassin that defects to the target’s (Haru Ichinose) side, is Azuma Tokaku, the central character of Akuma no Riddle. We are affixed to her presence from the show’s very beginning and quickly learn that she is stoic, reserved and not the most determined assassin out of the bunch. Her reason for defection is not initially made clear by the series though this is not a hindrance but a gateway for speculation that Tokaku has become subtlety attracted to Haru. Tokaku is very much the protagonist of the series though, due to her newfound predicament, she finds Haru, the series deuteragonist, in her company more often than not. Haru is a surprisingly cheery and optimistic girl for a girl of her position, and her grand desire is to achieve friendship with the assassins and graduate from the Black Class, not as enemies but as friends. It seems to be a vain goal but, we learn that through Haru’s past experiences, she has been shaped to think like this. The main characters don’t have the strongest or most convincing characterization they could but, it is done well enough to make them interesting to follow. What’s more interesting than their individual characteristics is their relationship. Tokaku and Haru share an inevitable bond that grows stronger with each assassination attempt, which is a pleasure to watch. It is probably one of the the series’ greatest strength. It’s not long before the series sets us free to discover the other 11 assassins and their motives. The quality of their characterization varies, but Akuma no Riddle sets out to define each and every assassin to their distinct character. However, the success of this greatly hindered by the great limitation of the series; its very own formula.
Harkening back to the rules of the Black Class, assassins must hand in an advance notice to Haru in order for their assassination to be considered valid. From there, they must successfully execute their assassination within a 48-hour limit. Failure upon doing so means expulsion from the Black Class. In retrospect this is where the series limits itself. This is not an apparent limitation but it’s how Akuma no Riddle handles this rule that causes the series to become restricted. From the start of the assassination game, the series decides to formally focus on usually one assassin and their assassination attempt per episode. This type of formula of focusing on a different character each episode is a familiar one, so it’s all up to the execution to make sure that it’s a effective episode with strong characterization and memorable moments. Akuma no Riddle fails to deliver here. With the confliction of the show’s premise (Tokaku protecting Haru from her assassination), the 48-hour time limit and only one assassination attempt per assassin, it’s obvious that there can be only one outcome. For the sake of the show to continue, it should be no surprise that Haru and Tokaku are able to prevail over their opponents, resulting in the opposing assassin being disqualified, never to be seen at Black Class again. This type of formula can get tired fast and yet, Akuma no Riddle decides to let it dictate nearly the entire series. It gets old seeing the same thing twice, nevertheless the 8th time as well. By deciding to have this formula, the series allows itself to become entrapped in a web of predictability. It doesn’t matter what happens to the protagonists in each episode because you know what the outcome will be. Surprise is effectively killed, despite the series’ best attempts to shake it up now and then. It is a breathe of fresh air when the series does this but the problem is that the formula is still there when it really shouldn’t be. It’s probably the most roundabout & counterintuitive way to execute the series’ premise.
Predictability is not the formula’s sole crime however. A very important and much focused on aspect of this series is affected as well; characterization. Each episode has a focus character and the show wastes no time in its attempts to characterize them and flesh them out. However, with solely one episode to work on a character (who probably didn’t get a lot of spotlight because prior episodes focused on different characters) Akuma no Riddle’s attempts at characterization are ineffective and insubstantial. There’s just not enough time to develop these assassin-of-the-week characters who won’t be seen again and any attempts that are made are just shallow. Usually a good option for this one-episode-character trope is to have these characters leave an imprint on the main characters and have them develop instead. However, Akuma no Riddle has no desire to do this. It solely attempts to develop these side-characters who will ultimately have no significant outcome on the story. It is entirely futile and the series doesn’t do a particularly good job at making us care for these characters anymore than we did before, no matter how tragic or reverent the character is. It’s thanks to this formula of strictly focusing on side characters that the series forgets to focus on the more interesting aspects of the series, like Tokaku and Haru’s relationship. If Akuma no Riddle had focused more on their relationship, we generally would have gotten character development that mattered and watching it would’ve been more rewarding.
With surprise taken out and weak characterization in abundance, surely Akuma no Riddle should be able to soar with exciting, thrilling and aesthetic action. After all, the formula is not strict enough that it needs the action to subscribe to it. As I said earlier, Akuma no Riddle is not able to completely deliver upon these expectations. Assassinations are not as clever or exciting as one would expect. Most assassinations don’t have much effort put into them, they lack effectiveness and creativity, almost as if the assassins aren’t really trying to seriously kill Haru. Though this is unconvincingly addressed by the series later on, it doesn’t make it any more engaging. There’s a point where the series understandably breaks free from its formula, and surprisingly enough, it is almost able to redeem itself. The final three episodes are able to deliver thrilling revelations, truly exciting action and well-built momentum for an engaging, albeit confusing, finale. However, it is what directly follows the finale that permanently sinks Akuma no Riddle. An epilogue that is meant to give closure to the series, while also attempting to please the viewer ends up becoming a complete misfire. It’s confounding in its own right, but as a direct cause of being an immediate follow-up to the climax, it becomes incredibly jarring and backwards. The finale sets up a definite ending, one that is understandable, and a good one for the series. The epilogue completely rewrites this climax, undermining it as well as everything else the series had built up prior. The bizzarity of this epilogue is outstanding that it’s almost surreal and its disparity with the rest of the series is too apparent.
Akuma no Riddle had all the pieces, but assembly led to mistakes that ultimately brought down the series. It is still has its enjoyable aspects however. Animation, while not incredibly impressive overall, conveys the fight scenes and action quite well and is without compromise. OST accompanies scenes well, and while nothing stands out, it fits into the background nicely. Character design does stand out thankfully and each assassin has a memorably distinct design, setting them apart from the rest. The OP ‘Soushou Innocence’ is notable in delivering a fittingly moody & energetic tune filled an aesthetic visual experience. Regarding the EDs, Akuma no Riddle generously gives nearly every assassin their own song which can serve as further characterization as to who they are. For example, the 8th ED ‘Mayonaka no Toubou’ is able to effectively exude the melancholic delusion of a character through its lyrics, tune and visuals. The art for these EDs are in good quality as well, matching the characters nicely and further indirectly characterizing them. It’s a shame that the series was not able to deliver the same level of characterization with such conviction.
Even with Akuma no Riddle becoming a slave to its own formula, it can still be enjoyed. Tokaku and Haru’s relationship is pleasant to see (when it is actually focused on), the action is decent, reaching an all time high near the end, and some of the characters can still be entertaining (notably the ones given more prominence than others). However, its formula is its greatest enemy, bringing down the deliverance of expectations, characterization as well as the effectiveness of its story. Along with a questionable epilogue, Akuma no Riddle is weakened and restricted from crafting the exciting, thrilling and aesthetic battle royale it wanted to be.
Anime Review No.8
Akuma no Riddle an anime about 12 girl assassins enrolled in a prestigious private high school where they are gathered there for one reason and that is to kill the daughter of a very powerful and influential clan in japan. The plot is already not promising for it’s kind of one sided. Oh come on? 1 vs 12 and they are assassins for crying out loud! But the story have a twist one of the assassins named Tokaku Azuma decided to protect her for unknown reason giving the targeted girl named “ Haru Ichinose” a chance to survive. This anime is something you
can expect to be good because it’s like the same with Mirai Nikki in terms of two partners helping each other to win the battle royal in a yuri type of way but entirely after finishing this show you will be disappointed for you can’t understand what is going on about the show?
“Warning this review may contain spoilers but if you want to be save by not wasting your time to badly written animated show please here me out”.
There are so many elements and events that make the plot badly written to the point you can’t understand the show anymore. It’s not your fault if you can’t understand the show. It’s the plot’s fault for not giving proper explanation on what’s going on. I list down below the major plot holes they carelessly didn’t give a damn for the viewers to better understand the flow of the plot.
1st is that the Tournament rule mechanics is not properly explained. Even though they did explain the rules for just a “few seconds” you can’t understand what are the penalties and other alternatives that rule can offer. They just let the action do the explaining in which in the end just make the viewers and also me so confuse in what the heck is happening to the show. We don’t know what happen to the girl if she failed to assassinate the girl and another thing is that does the rules even fair to begin with? The girls are randomly selected to kill haru but do the girls have the right to interfere just to give them the chance to kill haru in case the present challenger failed? The problem of the rules is it doesn’t give a clear explanation how it works which make the battle royal pointless.
Another thing is that Haru background story is unclear why the black classes wanted to kill her. Being in an influential family is not enough for an explanation.
The logic of the show is screwed. Why do haru even push herself to study in a school where she already knows that all her classmates will attempt to kill her?
Being friends with the people who will try to kill you is very stupid mindset even in the most common sense.
The show present flashbacks to characters at first it was understandable but as the story move’s forward I cannot even understands each of the story.
The story is trying to make the characters feel dramatic or I call it the “FEELS” factor which is useless for the characters have no depth. You cannot make character depth in a few seconds of a flashback which is another weak factor for the plot.
The plot is so train wreck you cannot take it seriously for the action makes no sense.
Lastly the biggest plot hole is that haru manage to survive just because the characters who have the 100% chance of killing her and win the game goes full retard in at the last second and always give Tokaku the “prince charming figure” the chance to save the damsel of distress from its assailants. Obvious plot armor.
The characters have no originality if you watched a lot of anime with typical stereotype of personalities it is not hard to identify. Major weaknesses of the characters by the ff.
If you are going to kill someone never give a second thought that’s not assassin like. The moment I always see this scene the more I discover this girls are not really mature assassins but immature children going on crazy because of puberty.
The logic of Tokaku being allied with haru is senseless. They just met for a few hours, talk about each other’s pass and exchange some dialogues and boom what we got Tokaku changing of heart out of the blue’s thought the so called manipulation ability of haru explained in the last episode make’s sense but still it's confusing if you need to endure 11 more episodes.
The action’s and logical reasoning of the characters is so predictable in the point you’re annoyed.
Pretentious dialogues. My issues of this show for what they say is different on what they act.
Characters songs are pointless if you don’t like the characters.
I will give an average score for the good action scenes, knife slicing, explosions and girl punches.
I just enjoyed the small scale action and nothing more.
This anime is not about assassin being mature but it’s just show killing people is “Immature”. Immature violence and nothing really happens in the story. Nobody dies and everybody lives happily ever after like the story just makes a reason for the girls to kill and hurt each other in the first place.
The concept of the survival game and battle royal is very mainstream today and is favored also by many people, a lot of anime that uses this concept with the objective of achieving huge profits that make anime these days feels more commercial. One of those anime is Riddle Story of Devil or commonly called Akuma no Riddle, a show that comes from Diomedea studio (known for the anime Squid Girl). The story is illustrated in Myojou Academy, a boarding school for women. The school has a special class named Black Class, containing 12 assassin who has a mission to kill 'the target' which
is in the same class as well.
One of the weaknesses of this anime is the supporting element of the story that almost didn't run at all, the concept of battle royal that usually thrill and exciting can not be felt. Also, the anime is not paying attention the importance of an originality of a masterpiece, the story didn't have an identity. Furthermore, Akuma no Riddle has a plot that is very common, the plot is not well organized and feels very easily predictable from the beginning, the ending looks very forced. There are plot holes that still empty until the end of the story. Exacerbated by many unexpected fan service appear everywhere like rain. These factors above really makes Akuma no Riddle very weak in the story section.
The animation possessed adequate existing standards, as well as the character design. But it doesn't fit with the story feeling, figure portrayed an assassin less on character design.
Even so, there is no problem in that their actions show. In terms of sound and music, Akuma no Riddle quite above average. The opening song very lively, the ending songs is quite interesting because each episode has their own ending songs. While the voice actor does their job adequately.
Deepening the characters in this story concept is difficult, let alone this show consists just 12 episodes, very difficult to make an interesting character in that short periodic of time. This happens on Akuma no Riddle, the anime impose to tell all of the character's past. But do not notice how shallow the development of the character they make, which creates a backfire to the plot. The main character also has a very weak motive and irrational reason in helping the target.
Akuma no Riddle may have a lot of shortcomings in terms of story and character, but it didn't make this show very ugly until you want to dispose of this radioactive far away, maybe recommended for people who are looking for action and fight rather than a story.
Finally, you like it or did not it depends on you.