This show is both easy to enjoy and rip to shreds. It has no difficulty in following what’s going on yet at the same time doesn’t do enough for some. Let’s go into detail as we take a look at Akuma no Riddle.
Alternate Title: Riddle Story of Devil
Genres: Action, drama.
Themes: Assassins, school, yuri
Number of episodes: 12 + 1 OVA
Plot Summary: At the private girls’ boarding school, Myōjō Academy, thirteen girls are transferred into the academy’s “10th Year Class Black”. Of these thirteen students, twelve are assassins from various backgrounds who are all tasked with assassinating the remaining student, a girl named Haru Ichinose. If they succeed, they will be granted any wish they desire, but if they fail, they are expelled from the class. One of the assassins, Tokaku Azuma, develops feelings for Haru and defects to her side, resolving to protect her from the other assassins.
Plot progression is quite simple in this one. There are 11 assassins for TokaHaru to fight in 12 episodes with a 13th one later on. I honestly did not know how else they could divide the screen time for all these ladies in such short notice. I also do not know what decisions go into creative when deciding how many episodes a anime adaptation of something can get. Obviously if it had been 20+ there would have been a lot more time to deliver more in-depth explanations on motivations and snuggle time between roommates. Despite that what we got covered enough ground covered for most of the ladies. However some of them did get the short end of the stick, thankfully not many.
Back to the plot’s pacing. The show has a very formulaic progression process which can be seen as both good and bad. However this kind of concept is nothing new. See, AnR is one of many anime, movies and video games to follow the “one (or two in this case) vs many generals” narrative. Some examples I know of include Seven Koopalings, Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Kill Bill, Trigun’s second half, Kill La Kill’s 1st half, No More Heroes and Organization XIII from Kingdom Hearts to name a few. They all have a similar pace in progression.
- 1: Meet the heroes and foes.
- 2: Get to know both sides little by little as the story progresses.
- 3: Sometimes the generals get flashbacks or a bio explaining their motivations but usually it is not fully explored in one outing. Some don’t even get explored at all.
- 4: With each fallen general the hero’s past or motivation begins to unfold further and further. The closer he/she gets to the last general, the clearer the hero’s reason for being becomes until it is made fully clear.
- 5: Face the mastermind.
- 6: Some sort of conclusion.
Now whether the plot is well presented is a matter of preference. I mentioned some examples earlier, mainly because these complaints were often brought up by detractors:
- 1: Not enough exploration for some of the assassins and their motivations.
- 2: Not enough on-screen snuggle time between all the roommates.
- 3: Sometimes the pacing felt rushed or cut for time.
- 4: Character interactions felt unbelievable. This last one is the most subjective of the four but I felt it needed to be mentioned just in case.
- 5: I don’t even want to dig deeper by explaining the plot holes the plot has. I’ll try to name a few for kicks.
-Why does it have to be a one by one order?
-Why can’t some of the assassins cheat by taking out the competition before going for the gold themselves? (This one is sort of addressed)
-How do the janitors clean up the debris from previous battles in less than 24 hours?
-Are these assassins’ exoskeletons made of adamantium?
I’m being generous here. A pro cynic could have a field day poking holes into this water balloon. Then again these are the ones I vaguely heard about during my skirmish into fanbases.
I am personally not proud of this red text part. It feels wrong. A more in-depth explanation is given in the link below the review.
Simply put what I expected from this show was cute and sexy killers beating the crap out of each other while occasionally snuggling with one another. For the most part I got exactly that.
Unless it’s the late 70’s and early 80’s no anime featuring a mainly female cast is complete without glorious raging otaku boner material and AnR does not disappoint. Granted it is not exaggerated for comedic purposes, meaning “it ain’t Gainaxed” like Sakura Trick was…which I suppose would delight some.
Next up are the boss fights. There aren’t any minions for Tokaku to beat up so it’s mostly her against one of the assassins. The fights are violent but not gory. Like any sports ppv event not all the fights are of high quality or great length but the ones that go out of their way to deliver do it in a big way. Oh yes.
The soundtrack is as bizarre as some of the ladies are. I am referring to the casual moments. The serious moments and fight scenes have great tunes. As for the OP and EDs, I’d definitely have no problem listening to these tunes while driving around the island. Great stuff.
Character interactions do their thing. Each assassin (and Haru) are all diverse and have their likable and freaky traits, motivations, fighting styles etc. Unless the viewer is a lemon it should not be difficult picking favorites. 13 to choose from.
And now for what is obviously the main reason the yuri nation was hyped for this one in their own way, the yuri. Ummmmm…it’s definitely there…but it is…subdued. Sakura Trick this is not. Slightly higher than El Cazador de la Bruja. Let’s leave it at that. I will say though that while subdued the most important part was how effective the yuri was as a whole and I can confidently say it succeeded in moving the yuri nation in many ways at the very least. Tokaku and Haru’s relationship grows at a steady pace and doesn’t escape believability as far as “love at first sight” is concerned. I’m no love expert so I can’t vouch for this statement’s reliability. As for the other pairings, I’d rather have viewers see for themselves especially a certain big-small combo.
Overall Akuma no Riddle is a fun, yet flawed show but its flaws are nowhere near game breaking. It is not revolutionary and it won’t win any academy awards but it will at least guarantee a fun ride that any yuri nation member can enjoy.
PS: I wrote a followup to this review explaining the error of my ways. I will leave this review up as a reminder of my mistake.