Akuma no Riddle: Episode 6

Why for didst thou kick us in the feels?

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I know I’m late getting to this one. I’m also the latest in a long line of admitting this was the best episode so far.

The play is this week, and while there might be a lot of silly festival episodes that lean heavily on the base themes, Akuma no Riddle took it several steps further with many literary allusions that make this episode a treat.  You know, for people way more well read than me.

This week starts with Chitaru and Kirigaya, and if you remember our rule about imprinting, yeah. They’re screwed.  We see how they met, and just like that, they’re holding hands and happy to play background lesbian couple.  We see them at the Anniversary celebration, carnival games and the like. Kirigaya says she remembered that Chitaru said Haru was not her target here.  Chitaru says her target is someone known as Angel Trumpet, “angel’s trumpet” being a very toxic plant. And there is a tremor in Kirigaya’s expression.

Yes, we know how this can only end in tears.  But, in true Shakespearean fashion, it is not the story, but the way it is presented that engages us.

The girls are all having fun bonding, and Shiena continues to be awesome.

The reason this is, sadly, is because she’s prepping to drop Haru her note.  Kirigaya knocks her out with a spray of poison.

…I don’t mean to rules lawyer our completely arbitrary competition, but I feel like this is dirty pool. You mean I just have to knock out a fellow assassin and leave her where Haru can find her with an advance letter and it counts? This whole game should have been over in a week.

Kirigaya remains the badass we hoped she’d be.

Chitaru, in a very Shakespearean moment of Hillarious Sitcom Misunderstandings, assumes just by the accusation by Isuke that Tokaku dealt with Shiena, and the knowledge that Shiena was poisoned, that naturally Tokaku must be Angel Trumpet. Right. How did you get in this class again?  The best way to rationalize this is…somewhere, deep down, Chitaru already knows. But she is misdirecting blame to anyone convenient so she doesn’t have to outright confront Kirigaya.

Then again so much Shakespeare is founded on misunderstandings, that it seems like the assumption is intended to be genuine.

Chitaru and Kirigaya are getting ready for the play, and the subject of motivation comes up.  Chitaru’s master had a daughter killed by Angel Trumpet, and the reason remains unknown.  Chitaru only met her once, but it’s clear she’s doing this for loyalty to her superior.  Much like the Romeo and Juliet encounter, Chitaru throws everything she has into a quest for someone she only ever met once.

Isuke steals the show as the announcer. That is all.

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Chitaru and Kirigaya, playing Romeo and Juliet, have plenty of symbolism running throughout this.  Not just the star-crossed-lovers thing, but how one has hopes raised and crushed, how lack of understanding in their partner will ultimately lead them to their deaths. And they both die with the knowledge that for all they wished for, they played a part in the other’s demise.

Point being there’s a lot of allusion and allegory here that would take way too long to list each individual part, and yet each one is unique enough from the source material that it is engaging.

There are some antics involving the misunderstanding between Chitaru and Tokaku, but Kirigaya eventually steps in, revealing to Chitaru her true identity.

Well, it’s time for dramatic climax.  And fucking how.  Chitaru draws a dagger, intending to kill her right there on the stage.  She shuts her eyes, hesitating, and it seems like for all her dedication, she can’t actually bring herself to kill Kirigaya..

So Kirigaya takes the dagger and plunges it into her heart.

And we blinked. We missed it.  Kirigaya did not have a warm chat with Nio about her wish.

So naturally, Nio steps forward to explain what that wish was:  That Kirigaya could leave to be with Chitaru forever.

With the power of hindsight, we then understand Kirigaya’s motives here.  After all, it is not until Chitaru reveals that she is after Angel Trumpet that Kirigaya plays her card.  And she wastes absolutely no time doing it, even though, from what we gather, the assassins were all kind of standing around to watch Shiena take her shot.  And as soon as it becomes impossible to hide herself any longer, she ends the game.  Because even if she won, there’s no way she could have what she wants.

Chitaru takes a vial of poison from Kirigaya’s corpse, and drinks it.  Because while she hated Angel Trumpet, she can no longer face life without Kirigaya.

And that night, not even Haru has comforting words for us, crying herself to sleep.

This might very well end up being the show’s high water mark.  My theory? Because it broke format in several ways.  It is (as of now) the first time an assassin has done another in, the first time we killed more than the one, and the breaks in established pattern.  Kirigaya may have been the one placing the mark, but as far as the “villains” go, this was from Chitaru’s point of view.  We saw nothing of Kirigaya’s motives, past life, or even her wish.  And I am firmly of the opinion that breaking the format is what elevated this.

I don’t mean this to say, “Oh, well we need to kill everyone off at once” or anything like that. But the rest of the episodes have been so formulaic it detracts from the experience of watching.  Lots of Akuma no Riddle feels like we’re reading character synopses on wikipedia because there is no room for the story to surprise us with what comes next.  “Scene that sparks letter. Backstory scene. Wish scene. Extra backstory scene. Fight scene. Resolution”  This episode did away with that, and it was quite stellar.  I hope they manage to break the box even more in the future.

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