Review: Riddle Story of Devil: Episode 9 – “What Dwells In Your Heart? (Make-up Test)”

Riddle Story of Devil focuses on Year 10, Black Class at Myojo Academy, which is made up of 13 students: 12 assassins disguised as students and their target, Haru Ichinose. The main assassin to be focused on is Tokaku Azuma, who ends up being roommates with Haru. At the end of Episode Two, Tokaku declares that she will be Haru’s protector.

Episode Nine picks up right where Episode Eight ended. There are two main points of focus in this episode: the fight between Tokaku and Isuke and Shinya/Mahiru trying to kill Haru. Mixed in with this are flashbacks of Tokaku when she was a child.

Isuke has figured out that Tokaku is unable to kill her, and she tries to use this to her advantage. Tokaku is able to escape from her once, but Isuke catches up with her and pushes her out of a window. It looks like it’s the end for Tokaku.

Meanwhile, Haru has several close calls with Shinya/Mahiru. Haru finds various ways to slip away, but she’s not free for long because Shinya/Mahiru keeps catching up to her. The chase ends in the audio/visual room, where Shinya/Mahiru is startled by a projector coming on. Isuke appears and pushes Shinya/Mahiru out of the way. Isuke gloats that Tokaku is dead and she’s about to kill Haru when something unexpected happens…

The flashbacks about Tokaku were a nice touch, because they finally filled in some of the gaps from the various flashbacks for Tokaku that had appeared previously in the series. Also, these flashbacks play a very important role for something that happens near the end of the episode. But that event made me go, “WTF?” Basically, after Tokaku falls out of the window, we see her as some kind of naked spirit, and she interacts with the naked spirit of her dead mother. By being able to communicate with her dead mother this way, the block that kept her from being able to kill has been lifted. All I could figure out by the end was that Tokaku was having some kind of near-death experience or something.

At the end of the episode, we also get to see Nio in the shower… and it turns out she’s got various designs in red over her body. I had suspicions that there was something different about her than just having the connections with the Chairwoman, and this seems to be a clue that there’s something very different about her.

And with how this episode ended, there’s only one other assassin left in the classroom in addition to Nio. From the preview, it seems to be hinting that the other student will be making her move to assassinate Haru in the next episode. I’m curious to see how that assassination attempt will play out.

Review: Riddle Story of Devil: Episode 8 – “Which Gatekeeper Is the One Who Lies?”

Riddle Story of Devil focuses on Year 10, Black Class at Myojo Academy, which is made up of 13 students: 12 assassins disguised as students and their target, Haru Ichinose. The main assassin to be focused on is Tokaku Azuma, who ends up being roommates with Haru. At the end of Episode Two, Tokaku declares that she will be Haru’s protector.

Episode Eight puts the focus on two characters: Isuke and Shinya/Mahiru. For Isuke, we learn about her family dynamics and how they came to be. For Shinya/Mahiru, we get to see her two personalities interacting with each other.

This episode also shows the audience that Nio has direct connections with the Chairperson. In the scene where they interact with each other, the Chairperson is trying to decide who will be the next assassin to act. She also makes a reference to a “queen bee,” although it’s not made clear here what exactly she means.

A typhoon is on the way, and the teacher advises the class to go straight to the dormitory and not taking any side trips. When Haru opens up her umbrella, an advance notice falls out of it, and it has Shinya/Mahiru’s name on it. Tokaku decides that if they go straight to their room and ride it out, they should be all right. Unfortunately, when they get to the dorm, Isuke is waiting outside for them, armed with a knife. Tokaku and Isuke get into a knife fight, and Isuke manages to get a cut in on Tokaku’s arm. Tokaku manages to throw mud onto Isuke’s face, and the she and Haru flee.

After getting her wound taken care of, Tokaku tells Haru to stay in one spot; however, she sets up a blank text message for Haru to send to her if anything happens. Tokaku and Isuke get into another fight with knives. At the same time, Shinya/Mahiru arrives where Haru is and announces her intention to kill Haru…

It turns out this is another episode that broke the formula that appeared earlier in the series. For a lot of the episode, the viewer is given bait for both of these characters being the one to send the advance notice, and it’s not until the very end of the episode where the viewer finally realizes what exactly is going on. Also, this particular story is going to continue in Episode Nine, which is another thing that breaks the formula; previously, the assassination attempt started and ended in the same episode.

With the shakeup for the formula over the past three episodes, Riddle Story of Devil has started to become a little more interesting to watch. However, if I hadn’t been watching this series in order to write about it for my blog, I probably would have dropped it before reaching Episode Six due to the formulaic nature of the earlier episodes.

Review: Riddle Story of Devil: Episode 7 – “What Can You Never Outrun?”

Riddle Story of Devil focuses on Year 10, Black Class at Myojo Academy, which is made up of 13 students: 12 assassins disguised as students and their target, Haru Ichinose. The main assassin to be focused on is Tokaku Azuma, who ends up being roommates with Haru. At the end of Episode Two, Tokaku declares that she will be Haru’s protector.

In Episode Seven, Suzu Shuto takes the remaining girls in the class to a special place that has pools, trees, rocks, etc. that she’s found. Suzu asked the teacher to secure it for her, and he did. There are swimsuits available for all of the girls to use, which they change into. As Tokaku looks for one to wear, she finds an advance notice for assassination from Suzu. In addition to the notice, there’s also clues for a game. Suzu puts a collar with a bomb around Haru’s neck, and says that if it’s forcibly removed, it will explode. Tokaku and Haru have to play a game to find playing cards with the numbers for the passcode that will deactivate the bomb. The bomb has to be defused before midnight, or it will go off; also, killing Suzu will not stop the bomb from going off.

Tokaku and Haru have to take the clues they’ve been given and try to find the cards they need while the other girls lounge around and enjoy themselves. This portion of the story sees Tokaku finding cards and also coming up with possible ways to figure out from the deck that Suzu has brought what the missing cards could be.

While this is going on, their teacher is in the staff room, looking through files. Because he’s clueless about the true nature of his class, he believes that in order to prevent any more transfers from happening, he needs to make sure to care for his students in every way.  While going through the files, he finds something in Suzu’s file that surprises him.

Their teacher arrives where they are, and we learn that today is Suzu’s birthday. It’s also revealed that Suzu has the Highlander Syndrome, which is a disease that keeps her body from aging. Suzu relates a story of a man she once cared for who was a year younger than her and his birthday was the day after hers. Over time, however, he reached adulthood and left her behind. During this conversation, important clues about the passcode are revealed.

This episode was kind of interesting. On the one hand, it relied on the formula of focusing on one of the assassins and getting some backstory for them before they’re written out. However, the inclusion of the game aspect helped to make this episode feel a little less formulaic than some of the earlier episodes did.

With Suzu failing at this episode, it now only leaves six members left in the class. At this point, I suspect that Nio will be the last one to try to assassinate Haru. From the beginning, she seems to have some kind of behind-the-scenes involvement in this whole thing. Because of this, it makes sense for her to wait until after everyone else has failed.

I also have to feel kind of bad of the teacher because of his lack of understanding of the true nature of Black Class. These students keep disappearing one by one, under the guise of transferring to another school, and he thinks there’s something wrong with what he’s doing. However, I’m kind of puzzled how Chitaru and Kirigaya’s deaths were covered up in Episode Six, since they died on stage right at the end of the production of Romeo and Juliet.

From what I’ve seen, it appears there’s only six more episodes left for Riddle Story of Devil. The main question I have now is which student will attempt to assassinate Haru next, and how they’re going to try to do it.

Review: Riddle Story of Devil: Episode 6 – “Every Pretty Flower Has Its ____”

Riddle Story of Devil focuses on Year 10, Black Class at Myojo Academy, which is made up of 13 students: 12 assassins disguised as students and their target, Haru Ichinose. The main assassin to be focused on is Tokaku Azuma, who ends up being roommates with Haru. At the end of Episode Two, Tokaku declares that she will be Haru’s protector.

In Episode Six, Chitaru tells Kirigaya that her target isn’t Haru, it’s an assassin called Angel’s Trumpet. Angel’s Trumpet is the coldest of murderers who kills using poison. It turns out this assassin killed Chitaru’s mentor’s daughter, and Chitaru has sworn to take revenge.

Last minute rehearsals are taking place for their performance of Romeo and Juliet. That night, Haru can’t find her script, so she and Tokaku go to the auditorium to look for it. Backstage, Kenmochi, the director, is looking through Haru’s script. As she does this, Kirigaya attacks her with poison and kills her. Tokaku and Haru find Kirigaya, and she hands her advance notice of assassination to Haru.

When Kenmochi’s death becomes known to the other assassins, Nio tries to claim that Tokaku killed Kenmochi in order to protect Haru because Kenmochi had sent an advance notice of assassination. Chitaru overhears this.

The story climaxes during the production of Romeo and Juliet. Truths are revealed, and the ending of the play ends up being more tragic than what was originally written in the script.

First off, I have to say that this episode ended up breaking the formula that had developed in previous episodes. Instead of only one assassin being killed by the end of the episode, a total of three are killed. I’m not surprised that the two additional assassins who died in this episode ended up dying together, because they ended up being shown as a pair.

Unfortunately, the only one of the three assassins to get any real backstory in this episode is Chitaru. Kenmochi ended up dying without ever getting any real backstory given for her, so her death ended up not being a major deal.

With how tragic the story of the two other assassins that are killed is, the backdrop of Romeo and Juliet worked perfectly.

While I did like that the formula was shaken up a little for Episode Six, I suspect we’ll be returning to the formula of developing one of the assassins, who ends up being written out at the end of the episode.

I’ve invested this much time in Riddle Story of Devil already, I’ll keep on going with it in order to see how it will ultimately come to an end.

Review: Riddle Story of Devil: Episode 5 – “How Do You Get a Bird Out of Its Cage…”

Riddle Story of Devil focuses on Year 10, Black Class at Myojo Academy, which is made up of 13 students: 12 assassins disguised as students and their target, Haru Ichinose. The main assassin to be focused on is Tokaku Azuma, who ends up being roommates with Haru. At the end of Episode Two, Tokaku declares that she will be Haru’s protector.

Episode Five sees Black Class being told they’re going to be putting on a production of Romeo and Juliet for the Myojo Private School Anniversary Festival. While the class is working on getting ready for the play, Haruki is getting ready to try to assassinate Haru.

This episode also reveals to the audience that Haruki comes from a big family, and that the money she makes from assassinations helps to pay for things for her family.

Haruki talks with Tokaku, and tells her that they should work at giving Haru her freedom. Haruki tells Tokaku to meet her at that spot later that night. At the same time, she sends a message to Haru saying to meet in the auditorium that night. When Haru gets there, Haruki comes from out of the shadows and tries to strangle her. Fortunately, Tokaku is able to come to her rescue…

Not only did this episode provide some backstory for Haruki, it also provided some backstory for Tokaku through a flashback and her explaining her family to Nio and Haru. After hearing this, I’m sure that Tokaku’s family would not be pleased to hear that she’s protecting Haru instead of going after her.

And once again, we finally get some backstory for one of the other characters that ends up being written out of the show at the end of the episode. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this format is a little on the frustrating side for me, because I’ll finally get to know one of the other characters and then they disappear. With this format, it becomes hard to truly care about most of the characters because you don’t know much about them until it’s their turn to try to assassinate Haru. And at that point, it’s just not worth it. The only characters I truly care about now are Tokaku and Haru.

At this point, the main thing keeping me interested in the series is discovering who will be the next person to try to assassinate Haru and how they’re going to try to do it.

Review: Riddle Story of Devil: Episode 4 – “What Comes Suddenly and Never Leaves?”

Riddle Story of Devil focuses on Year 10, Black Class at Myojo Academy, which is made up of 13 students: 12 assassins disguised as students and their target, Haru Ichinose. The main assassin to be focused on is Tokaku Azuma, who ends up being roommates with Haru. At the end of Episode Two, Tokaku declares that she will be Haru’s protector.

Episode Four sees Black Class having a testing period. While everyone is working on trying to pass their tests, Kouko is plotting her assassination of Haru.

During this episode, we get to see some flashbacks of Kouko when she was younger. She was learning to be an assassin, and we see her with an older student that she idolized. Unfortunately, Kouko was great at making diagrams, but not very good at pulling off assassinations. We see her on an assassination mission with the older student she idolized; unfortunately, Kouko didn’t install a bomb on a car correctly and killed her partner instead of the target. Because of this, Kouko decides that failure is not an option.

Meanwhile, Nio tells Haru and Tokaku about a forbidden book that’s in a hidden room in the library that should never be opened; however, if you write your name on the check-out card of the book, it’ll bring you happiness. Tokaku doesn’t believe it, but Haru does. Kouko overhears this and uses this to her advantage, when she later hears Haru tell Tokaku that she wants to find the hidden room after a failed assassination attempt.

When Tokaku and Haru find the hidden room in the library and enter, a bomb goes off; fortunately, Tokaku is able to protect Haru. When Kouko tries to shoot Haru with a gun, Tokaku protects her again. Tokaku chases after Kouko, and the two have a knife fight.

This episode illustrates a problem I mentioned in my writeup for Episode Three. Episode Four did a great job developing Kouko as a character and I became more interested in her character. Unfortunately, as I predicted, Kouko didn’t accomplish the assassination before the deadline, so she was written out of the show.

However, I do wonder how Kouko was able to set up the bomb in the hidden room in the library, though, especially in the short amount of time there seemed to be from the time the two girls decided to try to find it and when they got there.

In addition to getting characters written out just as you get to know them, another weakness of this show is the fact that when a character is trying to assassinate Haru, you already know that they have to fail due to the fact that we know Haru can’t be killed and the fact that if Haru were to be assassinated now, the series would come to an end.

I’ll keep watching Riddle Story of Devil to see how this series will ultimately play out.

Review: Riddle Story of Devil: Episode 3 – “What’s Red, But Isn’t Red?”

Riddle Story of Devil focuses on Year 10, Black Class at Myojo Academy, which is made up of 13 students: 12 assassins disguised as students and their target, Haru Ichinose. The main assassin to be focused on is Tokaku Azuma, who ends up being roommates with Haru.

At the end of Episode Two, Tokaku declares that she will be Haru’s protector. Nio makes a phone call to see if this is within the rules, and she’s told that Tokaku is given permission to do this.

From here, we see that Otoya Takechi is putting together her advance notice to Haru for her impending assassination attempt. As part of this, she breaks and hides all of her roommate’s pairs of glasses. At the same time, Takechi is trying to get close to Haru by pretending to become friends with her.

When they finally have a day that all of the students are in Class Black, the instructor takes them to a botanical garden on campus. During their time in the garden, Tokaku notices that Haru and Takechi are communicating with each other with their tablets and is trying to follow their discussion. Later, when Tokaku tells Haru that she doesn’t believe that Takechi is being honest about what she’s saying, Haru naively believes that she can become friends with all the other students and that no one has to die.

The next day, Takechi gets Haru alone and starts talking with her. She knocks Haru unconscious with flowers that contain a powerful neurotoxin. It’s up to Tokaku to try to find Haru and save her from Takechi.

In the writeup for the previous episode, I had commented on the sheer amount of characters being thrown out into the series in such a short amount of time. The series is set up where if an assassin fails, they are transferred out of Black Class. In this week’s episode, I finally learned the name of another character, only to have this character disappear at the end of the episode. Well, that’s frustrating. Then again, this character was around for so little of the series, so I hadn’t developed any kind of attachment to her.

Maybe it’s just me, but I had a hard time entirely believing how naïve Haru was being when it came to Takechi. It was made clear in Episode Two that Haru already knew that she was surrounded by assassins. Perhaps having Tokaku protecting her may have given her false hope, but I still have a hard time believing that Haru’s actions were ringing true.

At this point, I have to say that while Riddle Story of Devil isn’t a bad show, it’s not one of favorites of Spring 2014, either. I’ll keep on going with it, but it’s just not grabbing me as much as I’d hoped.

Review: Riddle Story of Devil: Episode 2 – “What Dwells In Your Heart?”

Riddle Story of Devil focuses on Year 10, Black Class at Myojo Academy, which is made up of 13 students: 12 assassins disguised as students and their target, Haru Ichinose. The main assassin to be focused on is Tokaku Azuma, who ends up being roommates with Haru.

At the beginning of the episode, almost all of the remaining students are introduced: Shiena Kenmochi, Otoya Takechi, Suzu Shuto, and Kouko Kaminaga. Kouko declares that as of today she’ll be the class rep, and Tokaku tells her that she can also be the dormitory rep. At one point, after Haru and Tokaku are out of the room, Nio announces that at midnight, there will be a secret orientation meeting in Classroom 1908 in the tower attached to the school building that will explain the mission.

Isuke decides that she wants to get a jump start on the mission, and sets up a tea party in Haru and Tokaku’s dorm room. Tokaku decides not to stay, and it ends up just being Haru and Isuke. Isuke has poisoned the tea, and it appears that Haru is either unconscious or dead.

Meanwhile, Tokaku runs into Isuke’s roommate and fills Tokaku in on Isuke’s plan. When Tokaku returns to the dorm room, she finds Isuke hovering over Haru’s partially unclothed body. They can see there are various scars on her body. Tokaku and Isuke get into a fight, and just when it seems that Tokaku has the upper hand when she points a knife at Isuke, she has a flashback that keeps her from killing Isuke. Apparently, when Tokaku was little, she was told that if she thinks of killing someone, she needs to remember a particular shrine in order to stop herself. In the fight, Isuke gets the upper hand, kicking and punching Tokaku until she’s unconscious.

When Tokaku awakens, she finds Haru hovering over her. The two girls have a conversation, where it’s revealed that Haru is unable to be killed because a spell has been placed on her; it turns out she’s part of a large clan, and people have been trying to kill her for a long time because they have a problem with her existence. It turns out Haru is also aware of being in a class surrounded by assassins who want to kill her. Just as Tokaku is going to explain why she saved Haru, there’s a knock on the door. It’s Kouko with an invitation to the special meeting for Tokaku. Tokaku crumples up the invite, but goes to the meeting to declare that she’s going to protect Haru instead of trying to assassinate her.

Well, then… there were some things in this episode that I didn’t expect. First, I hadn’t expected to learn that Haru can’t be killed. Second, I hadn’t expected Haru to say that she’s known the truth about Black Class all along. Third, I hadn’t seen the idea of Tokaku becoming Haru’s protector coming this early on in the series. These revelations do add a new layer to the series, although there’s a part of me that’s a little disappointed that Haru is already aware of what’s going on. For me, part of the charm of this show was the fact that Haru didn’t seem to know about being thrown in a classroom full of assassins. Oh well. I’ll get used to these changes, and I’m hoping to see some kind of payoff later in the series because of these major game changers.

But now that Tokaku has changed sides, I suspect that she’ll become just as much of a target as Haru. To the assassins, they’d probably think that getting Tokaku out of the way will make it easier to go after Haru. So it’s likely that not only will Tokaku need to protect Haru, she’ll also need to protect herself.

My major issue with this series, though, is the fact that so many characters are being thrown out there at once that I’m having a hard time keeping names straight. By the end of this episode, I know Tokaku, Haru, Nio, Kouko, and Isuke. I’ve blanked on all of the other characters’ names. Hopefully I’ll get to know the other characters better later as the series continues.

Now that the story is starting to get going, I’m curious to see what’s going to happen next.

Review: Riddle Story of Devil: Episode 1 – “The World is Full of ___”

Riddle Story of Devil is an anime based on a manga by Yun Koga. The series is produced by Diomedea and is directed by Keizo Kusakawa. As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American streaming rights for Riddle Story of Devil.

Tokaku Azuma transfers into Myojo Academy as a member of Year 10, Class Black. There’s a total of 13 students; 12 of them are assassins disguised as students, and their target is Haru Ichinose, the 13th student in the class.

Before joining her new class, Tokaku is sent an email with a riddle: “The world is full of ___” Tokaku doesn’t get the answer right.

On the first day of class, only five of the students are there: Tokaku, Haru, Isuke, Nio, and Student No. 12 (who says she won’t introduce herself until after the sun sets.). Haru gives everyone cell phone straps that she’s made. At the time, Tokaku thinks she doesn’t want it. Later, when Nio tries throwing hers out of a window, Tokaku saves it. Isuke then also throws hers at Tokaku and says that she doesn’t want it.

It turns out that Tokaku and Haru are roommates in the dorm. And since Tokaku is Student No. 1 in the class, she has been given the task of taking roll call. In addition to the characters we already met, we meet some of the other classmates who weren’t in class that morning: Haruki, Chitaru, and Hitsugi.

That night, Tokaku shows the riddle to Haru. She says that she doesn’t know the answer, but if she were allowed to decide the answer, she would say “forgiveness.”

After meeting these characters, quite a few of the assassins are on the freaky side, with the worst being Student No. 12. When she introduces herself,        she says she is Mahiru during the day and Shinya Banba at night. As a viewer, I could also see through the way characters acted that they’re already plotting and thinking about how to backstab the others in order to get the target first.

Haru herself is interesting. She always refers to herself in the third person, has unusual scars on her legs, and is later seen saying to herself, “Miss Tokaku, please don’t hate Haru even once you get to know Haru.” So it seems to me there’s more to Haru than meets the eye.

Episode 1 is very heavy in the exposition, so there’s not a lot of action that takes place. However, when you make it through the episode, you’re rewarded with some of the characters becoming more established and also developing a true interest in these developed characters. I’m very curious now to see how Riddle Story of Devil will continue, and whether or not the promise I see for the series manifests itself as it continues.