Yuri Anime: Riddle Story of a Devil (English) End of Season Review

June 29th, 2014

akumaRiddle Story of a Devil, the anime based on Kouga Yun’s Akuma no Riddle manga has come to an end, and I think it’s worth a follow-up review to Eric P’s first look at it.

I watched Riddle Story of a Devil streaming on the Funimation site, which is always fraught with unnecessary frustration. (And I attempted their app, which was laughably, horribly, terrible and deserves a post of its own eviscerating its design  and lack of utility.) For non-North Americans in the audience, you can watch it streaming on Crunchyroll.

We are introduced to the mysterious “Class Black” at a very elite school, and told that 12 of the 13 class members are assassins, all of whom are targeting the 13th member, an apparently ditzy girl named Haru, in return for a reward.  Unexpectedly, one of the class members, the top star no less, chooses to defend Haru rather than buy into the game.

The engagement we’re forced to have with each character – and a few exceptionally well-written scenes early on – kept me interested in the outcome. The main reason I was interested in this story was that it was created by Kouga Yun and, like her other works, it is heavily dependent on the charactersto drive us forward, rather than the plot itself. In fact, it was strongly reminiscent of old Japanese game series, in which the characters were given their own CD singles, with short stories and songs that fleshes out the character without actually impinging upon the gameplay.

The heaviest service is laid out early on while the characters’ stories are building. The service is pretty significant, with not-very-veiled hints of horrible things throughout and a fair dollop of guro, without committing to being deeply emotionally scarring. Whether it will bother or entice you  is entirely personal. I was able to watch around it. ^_^

On the positive side, Haru is not what she appears to be at the beginning and neither is Tokaku. On the negative, neither of them ever really get a chance to embrace who they really are. We’re told flat out what their stories are, but they never really gel meaningfully and Haru – who could be a powerful and cool character – ends the series with the same lack of agency with which she began it.

As for Yuri…well, yay for the anime being marketed as such, but there’s damn little actually in it. Tokaku has feels for Haru, but they are tucked well away and Haru “daisuki”s Tokaku, but that could mean – especially in the context of the story – just about anything.  There is one other couple and they also are sort of presented to us as such, without any real feeling behind it. Here’s your Yuri couple, “kay? Enjoy. The Yuri equivalent of a small scoop of ice cream in a cup, presented without cherries, sprinkles or enthusiasm. ^_^ Had this series been not marketed as Yuri, the little bit that is there would have been a nice addition. As it was, I ended up feeling like an opportunity to develop at least one, and possible as many as three relationships, were wasted.

Ultimately, Riddle was a watchable 12 episodes, but lacked the depth of storytelling I’d hoped it would have. In effect, it felt exactly like what it is; a short, action- and empty emotion-filled formulaic Kadokawa series that was fine while it lasted, but is easily forgettable when it’s gone.

Ratings:

Art – 6 Fairly boilerplate
Story – 6 There are many holes, many things left unexplained, whole characters and scenes that served no purpose, but it’s not all that bothersome.
Characters – 7 The single strength of the series, everyone is appropriately sympathetic
Service – 7
Yuri – 5 Implied more than anything

Overall – 7

The riddles are not the only things that had no meaning. ^_^ I really hoped that Haru would embrace her unique qualities and she and Tokaku would take their rightful places at the head of the established hierarchy. Still, not a bad watch. I’ll see if I can pick up the manga used and give it a try.

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14 Responses

  1. darkchibi07 says:

    “As for Yuri…well, yay for the anime being marketed as such, but there’s damn little actually in it.”

    Geez, were the writers holding back on going “full-blown” Yuri or is this what they considered to be Yuri by keeping it implied?

    • I don’t know, honestly. If this wasn’t labeled Yuri, it would have been a nice add-on, but other than Chizuru and Hitsugi there’s kind of no place for feelings. Tokaku sort of shows like, Haru says she likes Tokaku, but there’s no room for their feelings to grow, so we have to just handwave them in.

  2. Liz says:

    I wish this series had more Yuri. I enjoyed it a lot, but marketing it as Yuri when their was very little was annoying.

  3. Grisznak says:

    I really hope that manga will have different ending that the anime.

  4. AJ says:

    You said “possibly as many as three relationships” — what was the third you were thinking of? Tokaku and Haru, the two from the Romeo and Juliet play, and …?

  5. Ary says:

    I will say one thing I really liked about the series was Isuke’s adoptive parents– though I wish we’d seen more of them. I liked there being a committed gay relationship between two adults without the narrative making too big a deal about it, and they clearly loved their daughter.

  6. Grisznak says:

    By the way, it seems that none noticed this very Noir-esque part with meganekko bomber and her mentor. And it was one of my fav moments in this anime.

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