Akuma no Riddle: Episode 4

One little, two little, three little Indians…

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It’s time for mid-terms on Akuma no Riddle!  All the girls are studying (well, all of them except Isuke I’m sure).  Of note is that Kouko steps forward to help out Haru with a math problem.  We notice she’s carrying one of Haru’s lucky charms.

Later that night we get treated to her flashback, so clearly, she’s going to be the one who tries to kill Haru this time.

With the benefit of hindsight after Episode 6, we know that this Danganronpa plot is being pushed aside for…something.  Whatever that is is unclear, but quite frankly this has been a very weak middle section so far primarily for this reason.  The pattern is obvious and knowing that any attempt on Haru’s life is final (because of the 48 hour rule), seeing Kouko talk about how she “mustn’t fail” we know she’s going to try. And because it’s episode 4, we know she’s going to fail and leave forever.  This makes it hard to, frankly, give a fuck.  We’re seeing her backstory here, about how she was raised to be a killer and the kids made fun of her for being a bad assassin…but why do I care?

Arguably, it’s harder to sell me on this point since…well…she’s GOING TO FAIL, kind of justifying all that shit people talked about her, right?

I’m going to spoil this for you ahead of time, Kouko’s prize, should she win, is that she gets to walk away from the underworld forever. That is her dream.  Do you see the problem?  Not only is there nothing compelling me to root for her to kill Haru, to say “Yeah, you show them, you really CAN be an assassin!” the fact that, if she did fail, it would only be because she, judging by what we see, couldn’t hack it as a killer.  That…that is not inspiring.  As such, of the girls who go up against Haru, Kouko has been the weakest.  Which is a shame because there was lots of room to maneuver here, and her actual attempts on Haru’s life themselves were some of the more intricate and clever on the show.

We see the class doing their mid-terms, and a brief bit of development for Kirigaya and Chitaru, who are still holding hands, Chitaru explaining that she doesn’t want Kirigaya to get lost.  She also explains she isn’t here for Haru, but for a different reason.

Later in the study we have a very cute scene of Nio bonding with Haru.  I like to think this isn’t Nio being completely manipulative, though it very well could be, but I like to imagine it’s just her natural personality that she uses to her advantage, because frankly…she’s just so cute when she gets all buddy-comedy with Haru. What’s being shared is that in a super secret room in the library is a super secret book that if you write your name in the check out line, eternal happiness will be yours.

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Coming back to the room we see Haru again display that ability to spot danger, and call Tokaku’s attention to it like she’s helpless by spying a tripwire in the fridge for a grenade. But my favorite is that Tokaku drains Haru’s grape soda and there’s an explosive inside THAT.

And now, time for missed opportunity.  Kouko is flashing back to an assignment with her mentor, Irene.  Judging from the way she’s talking, it seems rather obvious to me that Irene kills herself here.  But Kouko thinks that her bomb went off early and that SHE killed her.  Because of this incident, the secret nun assassins (as all nuns are, but I don’t even have to tell you that, I’m sure) was nearly exposed. Now her bosses as well as her peers think poorly of her.  This, at least, reinforces the idea that Black Class is for those assassins too unstable to be maintained.

Haru wants to sneak into the library, because even though it would be a great ambush site, with an attempt coming soon it’s perfectly natural to go there.  Though Tokaku agrees, probably just because it’s impulsive and no one would PLAN that, right?  Well Kouko makes her attempt now, having booby-trapped (huehue) the secret book.

This would seem to indicate she was in cahoots with Nio, but the show never goes one way or the other with this. It’s far too convenient that Haru HAPPENED to hear about this in time to get attacked here.  What if Nio hadn’t told her right that second? Lucky break there, Kouko. Or maybe she’s worse at killing people than we thought.

Maybe that is the point though and Haru tried to give her a chance out of pity? Ooo the possibilities.

You know, beyond this being a horrible contrivance.

But once the traps fail, Kouko’s no match for Tokaku in hand to hand, so she fails. After class the next day, with Kouko’s flower adorning her desk, Haru places the secret book’s withdrawl card on her desk, having written in Kouko’s name, saying she deserved to be happy.

As I said Kouko was mostly wasted.  The really interesting angle, that of the girl who blamed herself for what was probably her mentor’s suicide, was hardly played up at all. It’s why it’s hard to be invested.  Kouko blamed herself, and thus assumed herself an awful assassin due to a misunderstanding.  That lie is what’s supposed to keep us invested. But it doesn’t work out, there just isn’t enough time in 22mins to get her developed enough that someone can give her the revelation about what really happened.  To be inspired BY that suicide, to not want to end up hating herself so much? That could be interesting.  But this…it’s just wrong, the motivations are coming from all the wrong angles.

The most interesting detail, I think, was Kouko carrying Haru’s charm.  She wasn’t holding it as a trophy, like Trying-Too-Hard-Yandere, but rather, I imagine she was planning to hold onto it because if she had succeeded, it would have been at the cost of Haru’s life, so as a way of gratitude, to forever remember the one who gave her her freedom, that seems to make the most sense to me.  I think it’s a similar reason she referred to Haru in her mark as “Ichinose Haru-sama”, a gracious way of looking at her host.  Ultimately, it IS probably true, she isn’t meant to be a killer, she’s too good a person deep down.  But there wasn’t enough time to expand that beyond her genius IQ just coming to help Haru with math. And that whole “I will be class rep” stuff from the second episode? Never even touched here.  I see what character they WANTED to portray, really I do, but it is quite divorced from the presentation on screen.

Either way, let us remember our nun-assassin in the manner we know best.

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That’ll do. That’ll do.

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