Optimistic, but don’t dump your bottle just yet.
Introductions are hard. And I admit concern that the biggest comparison I kept drawing while watching was to Danganronpa. A large cast in an academy school setting where the main decor will be the blood of its residents in some suspicious mystery type thing. Only nothing has a penis. That we know of. I’m not beyond waiting for that card to be played.
Ah but screw it, everything is Yandere as fuck and I will enjoy my junk food!
So Akuma no Riddle had a very standard introduction. It didn’t quite draw me in, but neither did it bore me. So far so good, if you ask me.
I tend to give adaptations like this room to wiggle. Primarily because the cast is so large, the amount of screentime is limited, and when a show is visibly trying to avoid info-dumping I will give them slack.
And everything is so adorably psychotic. That helps, too.
Besides, we had shades of a dark twisted secret. But we’ll get to that.
We open on a sort of boot camp for assassins. In it the top performer, our blue haired protagonist, Azuma Tokaku.
So just to dick with her, her instructors are transferring her to “The Black Class”. Apparently it’s some big well-to-do for underworld types. And to dick with her more, they give her info that this is a game of sorts: 1 person will be the target to kill, while the other 12 members are assassins sent to take down the target. No hints! But on arrival, Tokaku learns that she was sent here because…well…she isn’t highly thought of. And she’s given a question: “The world is filled with ___?” Tokaku…um…loses her temper?
Okay, a weakness of this right now is Tokaku’s voice. It’s SO monotone and lacks the ability to emote. There’s a difference, honest, when your voice is naturally restrained, and when you’re faking being emotionless. It’s tricky and I don’t know of a lot of voice actors who nail it. Even when she gets her death glare, there’s no hint in her voice. I don’t mind that she’s emotionless, exactly, but the visuals are not telling me the same things as my ears, so it pulls me out of the story at these bits.
Tokaku comes to homeroom and finds a red-headed girl reading the attendance list, Ichinose Haru. She seems very eager to graduate.
Tokaku is also taken aback by the arrival of her homeroom teacher. She notes that he seems normal, but she didn’t detect him at all. Yeah I’ll be stringing these things together at the end.
We’re introduced to some of the class, the slut, the clingy freak, and the yandere. I’m sure I’ll learn their names sooner or later.
It’s a mixed scene. While I appreciate the attempt to avoid info-dumping, the dialogue comes out so unnaturally that it kind of misses the point.
Haru is well done, though. She comes off more as a bubbly person who doesn’t know when to shut up. Which makes her characterization much stronger, which I guess is a bonus since the show will be mostly about her and Tokaku.
Tokaku is finding herself constantly disarmed by Haru, and she keeps having these flashbacks whenever she feels an emotion. It seems likely that there’s a history among her and Haru. But meeting the other girls outside class, they all seem to agree that Haru is the most likely candidate for the target. But there is still suspicion as she could be putting on an act, even suggesting that the charms she gave them all as a hello are secretly GPS devices.
Haru seems particularly drawn to Tokaku, hanging out with her and eating together, and while she’s the pushy one Tokaku is happy enough to humor her. Again, Haru emphasizes she really wants to get along with people and graduate.
Getting back to their room, Tokaku notices scars on Haru. They wrap around her legs, and Tokaku assumes them to be knife wounds. Haru says it was from a hospitalization. Remember this, too. The pair then go on roll call to check in on the other dorms to make sure everyone’s settled.
Besides Haru the character who makes the strongest impression is the OTHER redhead, Sagae Haruki. She has a pretty strong personality, carefree, but not above testing everyone to see where they stand. And I do find her habit of “Gomen gomen” a bit cute. Stop judging me.
Before bed, Haru makes a comment that she hopes Tokaku won’t hate her.
In a spur of the moment decision, Tokaku decides to ask Haru about the question. Picking a totally random word that isn’t in any way related to her personally, I’m sure, Haru picks “Forgiveness”. This triggers a memory and Tokaku goes to bed angry…I think. Her voice again, it just doesn’t emote well.
We then cut to a weird woman musing on how Haru will handle everyone. -This- Black Class. Uh oh.
I’m going to posit a theory here. Haru murders the other students year after year. A sort of “last chance” for assassins in training who are too unbalanced to be relied upon. Because none of these girls are normal.
Maybe she is conscious of it, or maybe there is a mind-wipe, or maybe she is just another of these girls, bred to be a killer and doesn’t assume anything different. Perhaps that is why the teacher here is secretly a ninja, to protect himself from her. Perhaps they keep telling Haru (Oh, poor Haru, you killed everyone again, guess we have to hold you back” which is why she’s so obsessed with graduating.
Not looking for spoilers, just throwing out my ideas. It is enough to keep me interested in what’s going on, I just hope the answers come out slowly and not dumped into the final two episodes…though I still have my suspicions…