Akuma no Riddle: Episode 11

Nio ED is best ED.

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Well after ten episodes of, frankly, aimless wandering, we’re down to the wire. Plot! And there’s no excuse anymore, Akuma no Riddle, you’ve run out of monkeys. You have one card left in that barrel, so you’d better make it a straight shot.

…If metaphors ever achieve sapience I will likely be classified as a war criminal.

We’re starting out with a lecture by Sensei, about bees! Convenient as last time Hanabusa used the term “queen bee” to refer to herself and Haru. It’s some drab stuff about how their pheromones work, but for the non-amateur zoologist, it’s kind dry.  The girls aren’t even hiding their impatience with class anymore.

But the big moment…Nio reveals that all will be revealed. It is time!

Finally, some real answers.  Credit, too, to the soundtrack here.  It’s this grungy, dark build up as Nio alerts them of the chairperson’s plans, all while she’s doing her cute little “Nio signing off!” thing.  I don’t know if we’ve handled it this way, but it sticks out to me, and is quite effective.

Nio assures the pair though, no tricks, they’ve won. Tokaku seems to be distancing herself from Haru now, saying she doesn’t need constant protection anymore. She’s mulling over Hanabusa’s words.

It’s a dark night, and Nio welcomes the pair. She introduces the Chairperson! Her name is..!

1402689694489…because of course it is.

Tokaku demands she gets right down to business.  Yuri obliges.  This was Haru’s initiation.  Into what? She’s part a powerful underworld clan. See, Yuri is in need of an heir.  Haru will become the head of the clan after this, or, at least be in a sort of chamberlain position for a few years to learn the ropes. But she will become head of the clan one day.

This clan is basically the Illuminati of conspiracy theories, and Yuri isn’t shy about saying she has her fingers in finance, politics , and Nio (oh god did I put that in the script?) war.

She says that Haru is something they call a “Primer”. Good word. Not only containing “prime”, as in first, but primer itself, that which initiates action.

Yuri goes on to explain that it isn’t known exactly how, but the Primers found only in this clan’s females (and very few of those) have the ability to manipulate, lure, and entrance others into doing their bidding.

…Wut?

This is why the girls are constantly targetted.  A Darwinism meant to weed out the weakest.  We can suppose that all the girls of this extended clan of Haru’s approximate age have been killed, save herself and Hanabusa…obviously prior to Black Class.

…Again…wut?

You thought this Queen Bee thing was metaphorical? Oh, no no no, it’s LITERAL.  Yes, literal. That’s what we’re supposed to take away.  Remember in the beginning of the series how Tokaku made a fuss about Haru’s scent? Yes, Haru secretes pheromones that make people more accommodating to her desires. This isn’t a skill she was trained in, nor an affinity she has.  She was born a mutant with a special super power to make everyone bend a knee to her whims.

And here’s where the INTERNAL logic needs a whacking. I could buy that this initiation wasn’t meant to be ENTIRELY random.  Dangerous, and a test of Haru to be sure.  But I figured it was okay for them to use kid gloves because it IS her initiation.  You’re supposed to be testing her abilities, which once initiated you will then refine and train.

But Yuri insists that this was to HONE Haru’s skills as well.  And quote, “the more danger the Primer is in, the stronger her skill becomes”.

Haru says Yuri has no real proof, though.  Yuri counters that “how else did you defeat twelve assassins?”

Hey, you want to refine and train Haru’s voodoo puppet power? Here’s a couple ideas.  One, make Black Class as big as you can. Two, remove the silly advance notice. Three, remove this fucking time limit.  Tell a bunch of trained killers “Kill this girl and your wish is granted.” and let them have at her wholesale.  None of this Queensbury-Shinobi bullshit.

I want to be a nice girl not really.  I try to take you on your own terms, show. I try to be generous that you just want to be fun and not a narrative.  But at least pretend you’re playing along.  You know what? Nope.

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I am demarcating this moment.  This review series is no longer about right, wrong, love, or hate. It is now about revenge.

Manipulating one weak-willed person is not a great test.  It IS a test, I’ll grant you that, and Haru absolutely passed (to quote a better Magog than I, “do I not destroy my enemy by making him my friend?”).  But too much is left up to chance here. What if these assassins blew? Hey, whaddya know, some of them did.  What if Tokaku was unnaturally weak-willed? Or just vulnerable to someone’s optimism.

Tokaku is also REALLY fucking quick to settle into this idea. She doesn’t speak up at all that it was her skills that kept Haru alive, not some power.  For all she knows they set this up because Tokaku was the most likely to help Haru by her psychological profile.  After all, being Haru’s fucking ROOMMATE makes this pretty open and shut, doesn’t it? I mean, had she just went and been an assassin.

Ah fuck it let’s get on with it.

Yuri mentions all the people who have died protecting Haru from assassins.  Neighbors, family,loved ones, hospital workers, the orphanage she grew up at…

And then a montage of the Black Class scrolls by.  Haru panics.  And, okay okay, let’s be generous, is Haru really considering herself a monster that she went into this secretly knowing that the other students would have to die so she could be given a free life?

Fuck no. She’s running out screaming because she’s sooooo not special and totally humble and just the nicest person you’ll ever meet.  Fred Rogers got sick of Haru’s company because she was too upbeat, that is the awesome thing we are supposed to take away from this.

Because when we get back to the room, that’s all she talks about.  How special she isn’t.  No moral crisis, so our faith is misplaced in this instance.

The only thing that makes her twitch is that Tokaku is pissed that she might have been manipulated here.  Tokaku is now faced with her own riddle without an answer.  Why did she want to protect Haru?

Haru has gone to tell Yuri “fuck you and your clan”, but first, Yuri wants Haru to see something. Nio takes her to the graveyard.  It’s more a memorial. Every person who ever died in service of the clan is remembered here. Nio gets personal for a moment, sharing that she had nothing until Yuri took her virginity (damn twice in one post? Down, ship, down) in. She says the clan’s power saves some souls.

So for all counting that’s one life improved, and about four dozen ended in Haru’s experience. I’m sure this will change her mind completely.

But before she can leave, Tokaku arrives.  We can tell something is seriously wrong, because she’s emoting. She says that no matter what, queen bee powers or no, Haru DID show Tokaku what it was like to protect something, to have something she cared for, and what it was like to live with principles rather than for the job.  And that is precious to her.

As a thank you, she draws her advance notice.

This is probably the best finale to an episode we have had.  Not only a cliffhanger but damn invigorating.

My thought…Tokaku is testing the queen bee power.  If Haru is as powerful as Yuri says, she should be able to stop her.  And if Tokaku can come to the deathblow, it means her feelings for Haru were genuine.

Except…

Like I said in Episode 9, unless you ACTUALLY kill Haru, Tokaku, how do you know it isn’t a subconscious drive of the mind control? What if this sixth sense or whatever knows you would never kill it, so doesn’t lash out? How do you know this isn’t so much of a lemon test? From Haru’s end this would be like “Okay everyone you’re allowed to take a clean shot at me, startinnnnnng….now! Welp, five seconds passed, and I’m not dead! I’M IMMORTAL!”

Maybe there’s more to this plan than the blatantly obvious. Maybe she’s trying to lure Nio out of hiding, we did see her Advance Notice lying on the podium during the meeting with Yuri.

But do YOU honestly think this show will try to be brainy?

 

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One thought on “Akuma no Riddle: Episode 11

  1. “But do YOU honestly think this show will try to be brainy?”

    Well, what do you know: the show did try to be that brainy. TRY is the operative word here and while it seemed clever at first, it quickly threw it all away.

    My personal theory? Haru actually did die in episode 12 and the entire latter-half of the episode is basically her dying dream.

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