Saturday, 1 October 2016

Anime review #5 - Akuma no Ridoru (Riddle story of Devil)

Akuma no Ridoru by Yun Kōga (aka "Riddle story of Devil")

You can't spell "assassin" without "ass" (*groan*)

Akuma no ridoru is a misnomer as there is no riddle nor devil to be found in this story. What you do get to see instead is a shitty format that should never had made it past the concept stage.

First of all, let's see how Wikipedia defines a riddle: "A riddle is a statement or question or phrase having a double or veiled meaning, put forth as a puzzle to be solved."

Well, this better than the original image I put here.. but not by a lot.
He deserves this so hard in the first game...

I sure as hell can't remember too many of the "riddles" in this anime, as they are never important to the plot even in the slightest. The first one goes like "The world is full of x." X can be literally anything, as even the main character's teacher (or whatever, he is not important either and could as well be just a voice on the phone - actually that would be an improvement!) admits. So, does this constitute a proper riddle? NO, because the "riddle" provided lacks an unambigious solution. Remember your Professor Layton games? THOSE are riddles (or puzzles, as they are called there).

So, now that we got that pathetically pointless aspect out of the way (you would expect the object mentioned in the title to actually MATTER in the story, no?), let's do the rundown.

1. Story

The storyline of Akuma no ridoru is an example of high concept. At a girls-only boarding school (high school level, I guess), thirteen girls are transferred into a class called "Crassaru Brackaru". Each girl has the mission to find the designated victim amongst their number, and kill her, in order to be granted any one imaginable wish possible (or impossible, really). Our heroine, Tokaku, decides to instead protect the helpless and slightly retarded (she speaks of herself in the third person, which I've ever only witnessed the absolutely worst and most hateful anime characters do) victim, Haru.

Hilarity ensues.

Well actually, it's more like Hillary ensues (and I don't mean travelling to the poles), as we get a lying, hateful product with zero originality that doesn't even have one trump (PUN) card in its deck. Apparently these "assassination classroom" shows are all over the place, and I am somewhat doubting that most of them are worth even one shit given. That certainly was the case for that shitty Danganronpa game, which deserves a curb-stomping review of its own.

So the monster-of-the-week schoolgirl assassin (all of them said or shown to be successful killers, and not bumbling losers (remember that fact!) gets a flashback detailing her pointless backstory, tries to kill Haru, fails miserably and disappears. Episode after episode this is all that happens. So, you might say, this could still be watchable? At least it's bound to have a lot of violence and gore in it? It's about teen assassin girls, right? It's supposed to be good, right?

Nobody dies. In this whole shitty show, not a single person dies. And to not make the viewer realise the sham of having no deaths in an assassination-themed show, it appears as though people die from time to time, only in the epilogue in the final episode they magically come back to life. And that even is true for Haru. Yeah, not only do we not get to see any cool deaths happen, we are outright CHEATED. It's a hateful betrayal of the original potential of the series (really, the first few episodes it seemed to be just fine!).

Since absolutely nothing happens other than the abovementioned (I'm not kidding!), let's move to the

2. Characters

Yeah, and I did my research. Madoka came out before this.
Hm, in which popular anime have I seen these colour schemes before... it was about witches and cats or something...

Haru Ichinose

Haru doesn't really make the cut for the role of the loveable retard, being too weak, passive and naive (and not in a good sense), having the fuck-annoying trait of talking of herself in the third person and doing absolutely nothing to make herself a more interesting person. She is indirectly responsible for the death of her entire family, which somehow didn't make her emo. She tries to make her classmates like her, despite knowing they are all only there to kill her. Later, her bumbling survival of 700 billion assassination attempts is justified by her having innate magical powers (the dreaded unnecessary-inclusion-of-supernatural-elements-syndrome strikes again!) that make her a so-called "primer" who has the ability to manipulate people, even unconsciously (in other words, she has a really high Charisma score - which is not a magical ability). Hence, of course Tokaku-SAAAAN was FORCED to protect Haru, and all her classmates had to fumble their respective attempts of disposing of the girl like incompetent fools. This is likened to a queen bee controlling her worker bees - note that that comparison is of course complete bullshit as a queen bee doesn't control shit in the hive. Bees don't work that way! A queen bee's job is to lay eggs. That's it. Didn't do their research.

Tokaku Azuma

Tokaku is a trained killer from some clan that is opposed to Haru's clan or whatever. I didn't pay attention to that aspect at all, which is a shame since clans really don't only belong in shitty shonen shit like Naruto. Oh wait, they totally do! So FUCK THEM.

Tokaku's character would have been a-ok. She is shown to be a hard worker and cold professional, not actually evil but willing to do the necessary, likeable enough to be the main character. Tokaku certainly had potential. She is in a situation of dependence on her teacher, which unfortunately never is further developed. When she falls for Haru, the viewer might expect a sexy lesbian romance story to develop... but is painfully disappointed, as absolutely nothing of that sort happens after a promising beginning! Of course, if this had been a heterosexual relationship, the epilogue would have Haru carrying her child in her arms nevertheless, because having children without even sharing a single on-screen kiss beforehand is a standard trope for shitty manga/anime!

Other characters

Well, there was the one who had two daddies. Point? None. There was the tall masculine one (reminded me of Jun Inoue from Saki) with her midget child-like love interest ("Koromo, not Kodomo!"), which of course was not played out. One psychopathic girl was a shameless ripoff of Genocider Syo (Genocide Jack/Jill) from Danganronpa, right down to the very specific detail of licking her preferred murder weapons, pairs of scissors. One had a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde thing going on, one was immortal and wanted to die (LOL), etc. Nothing out of the ordinary here, people! Oh, yes, one thing! They're all girls, so that... doesn't change anything either.

3. In the end

In the end, after the writer has run out of assassins/filler material, Tokaku tries to KILL Haru, who is only her only friend in the entire world! Only the girl is magically saved by having (get this!) a TITANIUM RIB (LOLOL) from some other attempt on her life (remember, Haru is supposed to be primer who can control people. Yet, everybody and their dogs always want to wipe her out! Something doesn't quite add up here, people!) Hence Tokaku has proven to still have free will strong enough to beat Haru's primer ability. The point was...? There was no point! Tokaku's job always had been extremely easy, due to the fact the less strong-willed girls couldn't kill Haru anyway. Stabbing Haru was the easiest thing in the world since Haru was passive, naive and unwilling to fight back. So Tokaku did the only thing she could do - certainly not a feat worth of a twelve-episode anime!

Now if Tokaku had actually succeeded in killing Haru, we would at least had a little drama. Haru was Tokaku's only true friend she ever had, and by killing Haru she would have been granted any wish imaginable, any but the thing she actually most desired, namely being with Haru! Leave it to a hack writer to miss even this oh-so-obvious opportunity to make this shlock at least a little more tolerable!


A little fanservice can go a long way. Just sayin.
You wish...
Also, since Tokaku fails to kill Haru, she doesn't get a wish. But in an early episode it had been said by Nio (the student being the contact to the organzisers of Class Black) that there would be eleven assassins, one defender and one target this year. So if Tokaku had just kept her wits together (or do what any REAL assassin does - namely make sure the target is actually dead ("security shot"), she would've been granted the wish. Feels bad, man.

Haru's wish - to leave her clan - does absolutely nothing. She's still a primer and would automatically attract a new group of people by this show's logic. How do you leave a clan in the first place? Also, weren't all her relatives dead anyway?! Keeping Haru alive seems to me like a really bad creative decision...


4. Themes

So, does this have any deeper meaning? Let's see.

Riddle story of devil promotes friendship. But so does almost every other anime ever made. Hmmm.

Family ties are important, since you are stuck in clan-like structures that determine your entire existence. But on the other hand, family ties are completely irrelevant because your family is inevitably wiped out by assassins which scars you for life. So that is not a well-developed theme either, eh...?!

Killing is bad - so in this show killers only try to kill the target... is that related to the intended message of the show? I don't know anymore, man. I reckon the theme of this show is to not waste your life watching shitty anime (yeah, like that is gonna happen... *sigh*)

5. Opinion

One more thing I need to mention was the final moment of the intro, where naked Tokaku (after a shot where she grins a bloody grin, blood dripping from her knife - as if she had just eliminated the last rival assassin), hugging naked Haru, stares directly at the viewer, as if to ward off additional danger to her prize. That was a nice, well designed moment.

Oh, and the turning point was the assassination attempt in the natatorium (word of the day), where the convoluted and utterly unbelievable trap catching Tokaku instantly punted this show into the fantasy genre even before magical charisma powers turned Haru into a witch retroactively. That was when I gave up on this show.

It definitely wasn't the worst thing I ever seen, but I really can't recommend this show as it delivers nothing new, wholly fails to impress in any regard, almost reaches Bokura no-level on the predictability scale, has no riddles or devils anywhere to make it interesting, brings back dead people to stay PG and DARES not to even toss us the lesbian romance we all hope and crave for as it's the only way to feel emotion... ahem... yeah. Moving on...

(maybe next time. spoiler? maybe)

PS: and why did it take eight fucking months for me to write a new anime review?! eeeeeehhhmmmm. MOVING ON

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