My 10th Manga Review: Akuma no Riddle
Genres: Action, Anime, Assassin, Drama, School Life, Tomboy, Violence, Yuri
Length: 47 chapters + a prologue, completed
By: Kouga Yun & Minakata Sunao
Check out OG Man’s Anime review of this Manga HERE
Story: At a boarding girls’ high school where every student is an assassin, they target only one life – “Ichinose Haru”. Similarly, “Azuma Tokaku” is an assassin who transferred schools to target her, however she gradually became attracted to “Haru” and decided to protect her. Extreme school life START!
The Anime adaption for this Manga was completely faithful, meaning practically nothing is different in either medium. Which is a shame really, I picked up this Manga as I thought since it finished in late 2016 and the Anime aired in mid-2014, there’d be additional story. Nope. So this is basically an anime review. I can’t find any information supporting this but I theorise that the dates showing when the Manga finished is actually when it was translated and but on the internet, not when it was released in Japan. But don’t take my word for it.
I loved the Anime so I also love the Manga. The story is deep and engaging and the characters are very interesting. The setup is, a group of 12 assassins are hired to kill 1, Ichinose Haru, each assassin with their own motivation and goals. Towards the end the reader can tell that there is a deeper meaning to this program than to kill that 1 target. I’d argue this situation is not very unique, I mean come on, assassins and school! But the story does make it work and the experience or watching/reading it is fantastic nonetheless.
Hope you don’t mind but the characters and Yuri is what I am really interested in discussing. As mentioned, there are 12 assassins each their own goals. They also have their own personality which makes each of them likeable/lovable for me. If you want to know more about the Manga it self, check out OG-Man’s review of it up above.
I will now ‘describe’ each in character in pairs that I ship, trust me, there is a reason to my madness:
(Left to Right:) Haru X Tokaku
Obviously the main characters of the story. Tokaku is the stereotypical cool and monotone character whom gradually softens up to her queen, Haru. She willingly decides to protect Haru as she is unlike any other she has seen. Haru is also a stereotype of the ‘girl who wants to save and make every happy’ section of the list of character clichés. The overly-optimistic one. Personally these characters are kind of meh to me. I definitely felt attached to them as them as they had the most character development and backstory but I believe their stereotypes resulted in me not feeling too attached.
(Left to Right:) Sumireiko X Mahiru/Shinya
I like to believe that these are Yuri characters. Sumireiko is hard to characterise. She is calm, cool and patient but eagerly wishes to display her dominance when the time comes. That’s her goal, to be the dominant assassin. She takes a liking to Shinya/Mahiru due to her craziness and starts caring for her like a girlfriend. Mahiru on the other hand is a shy and timid girl who was tortured and helpless. She committed murder to break free which awakened her ‘second form’ whom she calls Shinya. In darkness she transforms into Shinya whose personality contradicts that of Mahiru’s. She goal is to get a holy relic for some reason. I so wish they would become canon at the end. My third favourite couple/ship. Both ladies in this ship also look visually good.
To be honest, all the characters have their unique personal and visual charm. Some I view to have greater charm as I’ll mention.
(Left to Right:) Haruki X Isuke
Surprisingly they did become a Yuri couple at the end of the Manga. Iskue is the that character that speaks in a sarcastically soft tone. She gets agitated easily but looks out for her mother and father. She wants the best and only the best for them and will get it regardless. Haruki also looks out for her family and wishes to be able to feed them well everyday as they are a huge one. She deals with what she gets and is relatively kind despite being an assassin.
(Left to Right:) Shiena X Otoya
These two characters left early so there is little to talk about them. Otoya is a serial killer who sole motivation is to be able to kill whoever and whenever without consequences. She can only achieve (sexual) pleasure apparently only from killing. Shiena is part of an organisation of assassins whom used to be bullied and now kill the bullies. She remains focused and is loyal and protective of her group and wishes them to not be harmed. This is my most favourite couple/ship both by personality and visually. Both ladies visually look the best in this entire Manga in my opinion. I’m heartbroken that they didn’t become an actual couple by the end like the mentioned Isuke and Karuki.
(Left to Right:) Suzu X Kouko
Both are serious characters with not much to talk about. Suzu is plagued by a disease that prevents her from ageing, due to this her love (a man) married someone else and passed away. She keeps memories of him close to heart. She wants to kill Haru to be able to die normally. Kouko is a part of some organisation of assassins who also seem to be saints. She accidently kills her teacher whom she admired dearly and was shunned and hated by her organisation. She wishes to be useful to anyone. Probably the ship I support the least as one character is clearly Het.
(Left to Right:) Chitaru X Hitsugi
The third cannon couple of the Manga. They fall in love swiftly but acknowledge this can’t last as Chitaru eventually discovers that Hitsugi is the killer of her precious Sensei. Chitaru is adored by most and why not? She’s cool, kind, helpful, sympathetic. In fact, she is not in the program to kill Haru but to locate her sensei’s killer which she then finds to be Hitsugi. Hitsugi seemingly had no goals except to remain by Chitaru’s side, even if it means to be killed by her so she can get her revenge. Fortunately they do get a happy ending.
(Left to Right:) Chariwoman Meichi Yuri X Nio
The ship that gets the least attention. We know precious little about the chairwoman expect for the fact that she’s behind the entire program. She wants a new queen to lead her organisation forward therefore created this program. Her acquaintance, Nio. Nio is the suspicious and misleading final antagonist of the story. She knows more than she seems to and has that lovely fierce grin about her whenever an assassin informs her of their wish. She is my most favourite in terms of personality and one of my most favourite in terms of visuals. Just like the Otoya and Shiena ship, both ladies in this ship look visually pleasing and I’m torn they didn’t become a canon couple by the end. This is my second favourite ship.
Why are all three of my favourite ships non-canon couples? This annoys me.
Yuri: The Yuri in this Manga is very different in my opinion. The romance is different from its typical depiction (kissing, holding hands etc) and is instead the less focused type of romance. This is a protection type of romance if you understand what I mean. Tokaku vows to protect Haru firstly because she’s different but later because of love. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely the normal-type romance in this Manga such as the case with the main couple, Chitaru and Hitsugi, and a little bit of Sumireiko and Mahiru/Shinya. But this love romance is little in my opinion and the main romance in this protective one I mentioned. I hope what I’m saying is making sense.
While this type of romance is fine, not every romance story has to necessarily feature love, I hoped that the love romance would be more prominent. Another gripe I have is that certain characters did not get a lot of development which ultimately means that their ship could not thrive. Like the Otoya X Shiena ship, Otoya is the first assassin to lose and leave therefore their ship can now not develop. This is made even worse since one of the authors of this Manga (Minakata Sunao) created a few small doujinshi for some of these exact ships listed above including one for Otoya X Shiena. Clearly this means that one of the authors supports these ships, right? So why aren’t they give deeper character development and romance development or at least turned into canon pairings at the end like the Isuke and Haruki ship? I’m aware one author is responsible for story and one for art, but this seriously infuriates me.
So, to conclude:
Forgettable? No. Fantastic Anime/Manga. Cliché in some parts but amazing regardless.
Recommendation? Yes. It feels wonderful being back in the world of ‘Akuma no Riddle’ but keep in mind nothing is different in the Anime to Manga. If you’re not interested in the Manga but seen the Anime, you’re missing nothing but definitely at least watch/read the Anime/Manga.
Story: 8/10, Characters: 9/10, Overall enjoyment: 9/10, Yuri Goodness: 6/10
Yuri score is low because my three favourite ships did not get the closure I wanted.
Overall Score: 32/40
Thank you for reading and apologies for the long absence! Also apologies if the review feels rushed. It surprisingly took time to make.