Akuma no Riddle: Episode 10

Old habits die hard.

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This isn’t even my final form!

…We get that out of our system now? Good. Moving on.

This week opens with Hanabusa handing Haru a note.  Haru’s very dejected expression was excellent.  She began the series full of smiles and optimism, but the events of the previous two weeks have shaken her.  Here there is no surprise. No wide-eyed doe bewildered by the action, merely a sad acceptance, like a child going to the doctors. It will  be done, though she doesn’t like it.  This is the first time it’s felt like Haru has learned anything from her ordeal, and I appreciate it, guys. I do.

However, it is not an advance notice. Hanabusa is inviting Haru to a tea party.

Back from credits, we see an alarm going off.  Oh maaaaiiiii. Otoya returns. With a vengeance!

In the girls’ room, Haru is happy to go the tea party.  Aaaaaand we’re back to the usual.  “Maybe we can be friends!” “No we can’t. Stop being stupid Haru.”  Hell you’ve seen this conversation seven times already, I don’t need to abridge it for you.

Unfortunately for Otoya, while she did make it back to the academy, the first person she encounters is Hanabusa, who insists on making Otoya part of the festivities. And she takes her by force, blocking her scissors with her bare hands.

But when we get to the tea party, dun dun dunnnn! It’s a trap!

…The soundtrack really wants me to be surprised.  Bless you for trying.

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Hanabusa’s tea party is filled with robotic versions of the defeated members of the class. She exposits that she is a distant relative of Haru, and that she has been attacked quite often just like our doughy-eyed protagonist.  She draws her advance notice. But, being a sport, she pushes a button and the walls open up to reveal an arsenal.  At this, Hanabusa just strips her victorian-style gown off to reveal her athletic fight suit underneath.  I’ll note this covers places which were previously exposed skin.

…That is almost self-aware enough to be funny, but it still seems lazy.  Don’t we have any more camp to dig into?

So the puppet students leap at Tokaku, engaging her in hand to hand combat.

…That’ll do, show. That’ll do.

Well you know the expression, never bring a puppet to a gun fight, so Tokaku dispatches the robot dolls with little effort. A divider drops down, but Tokaku manages to ensure that she and Hanabusa are on the same side.  Hanabusa crushes the gun Tokaku is using, and beats seven kinds of shit out of her.  Because, yes, someone’s been on the Satomi Rentaro diet plan, her arms and legs are made of a black metal.

During the fight, Otoya manages to break free of her restraints, and joins Tokaku in the attack.  Again, I am finding the assassin on assassin action to be way more engaging and dynamic.

Hanabusa throws out a line about how Tokaku doesn’t realize she’s a worker bee, implying that Haru is the Queen.  She’s used the word “Queen” to describe herself, and it’s obvious by now she feels Haru was chosen, and not her. Tokaku tries to beat her, but not even the old dropping-the-chandelier trick is working.  Crap. What campy slapstick passed off as action do we have left?!

Haru still has one trap card in that bucket, though: the falling from high up card.  Yes, as we all know, gravity is a deadly murderer in any cartoon, anime or not.

I will say that this did a great job of showing that Haru is not entirely helpless.  She outwits Hanabusa several times, and drops a pack of grenades on her, and then when literally hanging by threads, kicks Hanabusa off to her death. That’s hardcore.

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We get to the crux of the issue between these two now.  Hanabusa survived the multitude of attempts on her life without help.  Well, I presume she means without help beyond her father’s vast fortune that can buy a private academy and bionic limbs. She endured her assassination attempts without a protector, though, unlike Haru.  That string of people who died for her that she mentioned in Episode 2? We get a long, complete list in the next episode about this.  But for now, Hanabusa thinks this makes her superior. She is the stronger, therefore she is the most deserving (of whatever honor Haru is being tapped for)

This is ultimately quite sad in hindsight. Hanabusa’s little puppet party here is her surrounding herself in death those who would not come under her in life as she so desired.

The flaw in Hanabusa’s logic, of course, is that a Queen is a leader. And leaders must be able to delegate.  Even the warrior kings of the middle ages were incapable of holding everything together by themselves by martial force. They needed leadership skills to do so.  Atilla, Alexander, Charlemagne, they were empires of personality even IF they were also renowned combatants. A king is not an island, and neither is the Queen.

And yet, that title imbues Haru’s position with the negative aspects as well. Divine right, and so forth.  Haru was born to be Queen. Her birth decided it. No matter how Hanabusa improves herself or achieves, she will not be able to attain that role.

Not that it was beyond possibility.  After all, as our chairwoman said, if Haru died, clearly the plans, whatever those were, needed to be adjusted.  But it was certainly the uphill struggle.

And, if we are to take Haru and Hanabusa as “nobility” of some fashion, Haru exercises her power by being social. She tries to engage those around her.  Hanabusa locked herself away in her ivory tower and didn’t seem to wield her power for the benefit of others. But we’re getting a little Platonian here, aren’t we?

Suffice to say, next episode when we get the full explanation, we’ll be having at this more.

As Haru comes back to tend to Tokaku, I enjoy the moment where she cries into Tokaku’s shoulder, saying “I did it.”  It is a measure of success, and yet she knew this wasn’t how she wanted to “win”. I genuinely wish these characters would go to darker places.  Haru’s optimism is well beyond the normal bounds of Human reason and is in outright denial. It’s nice to see her tempered with reality now and then.

Haru says she can’t tell Tokaku what the “queen bee” is when asked. But that’s next time.  Yes, it is even sillier than it sounds.

But damn if that title card isn’t the striking image.

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3 thoughts on “Akuma no Riddle: Episode 10

  1. Welp… now that we have been through all of the assassins (except for Nio, wasn’t she supposed to be a participant? The translators for the manga haven’t gotten as far as the anime but I get the impression that she is supposed to be a participant), I have to wonder about something that has been personally bothering me: why didn’t anyone just go after Tokaku alone before going after Haru? It occurred to me that the rules of the Black Class neither prohibit this nor do they put a limit on the number and length of assassination attempts on other participants. So someone who decides to off Tokaku before turning in her notice to Haru would have unlimited chances. I suppose with a few of the participants (like Hanabusa and Shinyaa) there are some psychological explanations but for the ones like Isuke? Or should we also chock this up to Haru’s Queen Bee BS?

    Anyways, just a plot hole I spotted.

    • Being (overly) generous, Isuke did make mention that the other students were rather terrified of Tokaku. She’s easier to fight when she has something to protect. But it does seem odd that only three, Isuke, Otoya, and Haruki even bothered to -try- negating her as a force. And even Haruki’s was a lazy “I’ll double book! No one will suspect a thing!”

      It could also be strategic. You’d have to be REALLY sure that you could destroy Tokaku without being grievously injured yourself, as as soon as it gets out her bodyguard is gone, every assassin will be throwing notes at her.

      Again, that’s probably being far more generous than the show deserves. It likely is that way because this is a theme park ride, not a story. It just so happens that there are good reasons not to. But some lip service to this would have been nice.

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