Akuma no Riddle probably has one of the least informative first episodes of the season. All we know is that our protagonist Azuma Tokaku transfers to a school with a suspiciously segregated classroom of mostly assassins to kill one of the students, the mystery of which student is to be murdered is quickly resolved because assassins can apparently detect each other by smell (and presumably also shit-eating grins), and then lesbianism blooms.
But it knows how to make up for a lack of content, and that’s by making profoundly unlikable people fun to watch for about twenty minutes of screen-time. Akuma no Riddle manages this by not caring about creating realistic personalities, in the process making the classmates contracted to kill Azuma’s target unabashed psychopaths with their own quirks and methods for trying to get close to their target. There’s a fair amount of subtlety at play, funnily enough, and that’s the last thing I would have expected.
The interactions between each other are all either overtly hostile, or sweetness masking caustic venom. Every spoken word is a probe for weakness, or a defense against probes, in an effort to establish dominance over the entire group. Azuma’s method is probably the most unique of the bunch, if comparatively boring—rather than trying to interact with other girls, she tries to remain aloof and distant. While they maneuver with each other and form makeshift alliances, she does all she can to keep herself isolated. Though skilled, she doesn’t seem particularly invested in her work, and this is reflected in how she deals with her classmates, and her target. Hers isn’t the most nuanced of personalities, but it serves as a standard by which to measure everyone else.
Despite not much going on, I find myself not only rolling with what little the show throws at me, but actively wanting to find out what it throws at me next. There’s no way that you can’t have this many people bereft of human decency in the same building and not have something fun happen. However, I hope the specifics of killing the target come to light soon. There have to be more rules in place than simply offing her, otherwise the girls’ careful maneuvering is excessive for the sake of excess, and Azuma’s inevitably developed feelings will feel more than a little contrived. Though if there’s anything that can get away with contrivance, it’s definitely Akuma no Riddle.
I can’t say that I’d call the opening episode good, given how anemic it is. But I like what I see, even if I just like it for the set-dressing and emphasis on crazies. I can only hope that there’s more of girls glaring, grinning, and throwing daggers at each other.