Akuma No Riddle

December 14, 2014

“What is the secret to success in life?” (Your answer here) –> I guess mine would be hard work and perseverance?

Imagine going to school with a class filled only with assassins. No, I am not talking about a school that trains assassins and your classmates are skilled killers. You are the target of the assassins! Holy cow! That’s like putting a rabbit in den of lions, right? How will you survive? This interesting premise is the reason it got me to notice Akuma no Riddle. A school has this special class with only 13 students. One of them is the target that the rest have to assassinate in this game. The winner will get whatever they want. Yes, anything. A big motivation for our assassins whom of each have their own desires. But in a twist of fate, one of the assassins develops sympathy for the said target and decides to become her protector. Life is more interesting that way. Let the game begin!

Episode 1
A harsh military training for girls. Only Tokaku Azuma passes. Her employer, Kaiba tells her she will be transferring to a new school whereby everyone other than the target are assassins. She is going to win this game and kill the target the fastest because the person who controls Black Class will be rewarded with anything she wishes. Anything. Later Tokaku is given a riddle. What is the world fulfilled with? She answers wrongly. Curse isn’t it. He calls her life a failure and throws her a choice. Kill others and live or let them live but be killed. Or will she try to have both sides live? Tokaku arrives first at Black Class and sees Haru Ichinose reciting the list of all the 13 students that are enrolled here. She is sure to graduate this time. Ataru Mizorogi is their homeroom and biology teacher and he looks like the cheery kind of guy. Ah, youth. He takes attendance (those who turned up anyway) and we get to see some of their b*tchy or creepy personality. Haru tries to be positive and has made straps for everyone to commemorate their friendship. Tokaku reports back the information she has gathered. Nio Hashiri wonders if she wants to team up seeing everybody could guess Haru is the target. Nio wanted to throw her strap away but Tokaku picks it up and keeps it. Ironically she threw away hers. Well, Isuke Inukai also throws away hers to Tokaku. Later Haru and Tokaku hang out. Haru seems to be having fun while emotionless Tokaku just observes her. They are also roommates and Tokaku destroys all the hidden cameras plaguing the room. Tokaku notices a scar on her thigh and wants to see. Haru wouldn’t so Tokaku flips up her skirt! I see white panties! Meanwhile Isuke is roommates with Haruki Sagae. Isuke tries to be dominant but Haruki plays it cool and requests for nail polisher. Because Tokaku was selected to be the dorm leader, she has to go around checking the other students as Haru joins her. They meet the tomboyish Chitaru Namatame and the loli Hitsugi Kirigaya. The pair is always together. Next is Isuke and Haruki but the latter gets a little rough throwing her Pocky sticks at Tokaku in which she dodges. Then there is Shinya Banba whose day time personality is Mahiru. It just gets weirder and weirder, huh? Later that night as they can’t sleep, Tokaku asks her about that riddle. Her answer would be forgiveness. Tokaku doesn’t think that answer would be right and thinks she isn’t the one.

Episode 2
Tokaku is surprised when Kaiba replies the riddle’s answer is correct. Of course he knows this is somebody’s answer and couldn’t possibly come from her. Shiena Kenmochi, Otoya Takechi, Suzu Shutou and Kouko Kaminaga join the class. Kouko takes over as class rep. A big relief for Tokaku? Later Nio informs everyone present that there will be an orientation tonight. It means the target is confirmed. Tokaku is in a dilemma about doing this as she doesn’t care about the reward. Haru continues to be nice to her and since Tokaku is still that robot look, Haru feels the need to smile more or everyone will be angry with her. Isuke comes over to Haru’s room for tea. Tokaku couldn’t care less and leaves. I don’t know if Isuke is lying about her parents both being guys and that she doesn’t even share a single drop of blood with them (duh!) but it is a ploy to distract her since the tea contains some drug. Tokaku learns from Haruki that Isuke is trying to get a head start by killing Haru. Suddenly she cares and rushes back. Nio notes Haru killed everyone in her family and then hints to Haruki that she has a bunch of siblings. Haruki slaps her and warns never to talk about her family. I don’t know how Isuke is planning to kill Haru but she strips her clothes to see the scars all over her body. I don’t know why she didn’t kill faster because Tokaku is back and the fight begins. Tokaku is about to kill Isuke but she hesitates, allowing her counter attack. Isuke mocks her she has not killed before and leaves. Tokaku remembers being told if she ever felt like killing someone, recall this small shrine and she won’t because somebody there is watching her. She felt it was a curse.

Tokaku wakes up to find Haru by her side. How is she still awake after the drug? As explained, her body is resistant to drugs and was half awake the entire time. She wonders why Tokaku saved her as she knows everyone in Black Class is trying to kill her. Is this some sort of strategy? She will prove she will graduate from here. She narrates about her past that her existence was considered troublesome. Her entire family died just to keep her alive therefore her life doesn’t belong to just herself but everyone who protected it. Especially her mom who is always in her heart. This is her last trial and will do whatever it takes not to lose and survive. She was not born to die but to live. Nio initiates the secret meeting. She is the judge-cum-referee of Black Class. She goes over some of the rules. Haru is the target and the fastest one who kills her wins and will grant her whatever wish. People who aren’t part of Black Class must not be involved such as Mizorogi. Those who fail to assassinate or violate the rules will immediately drop out. Everyone is given some card vote in which they can’t cancel. To assassinate Haru, they must give her an advanced warning and failure to kill her within 48 hours after that is considered a failure. Teaming up with someone is also okay. Tokaku is last to arrive. Nio hands her the card but she shreds it. She will become Haru’s protector and won’t let anyone lay a hand on her. She finally answers Haru’s question why she saved her. Because she is siding with her.

Episode 3
Nio calls the big boss to confirm and she allows this exception. Takechi accidentally smashes Shiena’s glasses instead of the ringing alarm clock. Shiena had spares but they’re all missing. Looks like she’ll need to go get new ones. Takechi is going to make her first move. Finally the last student Sumireko Hanabusa attends Black Class but why bring her classy big desk? Rich girls… Haru sees the advanced warning and becomes uneasy although she acts like nothing when Tokaku asks. Nobody pays attention to Mizorogi’s class in the greenhouse. Takechi seems prefer chatting with Haru and they’re getting closer by the minute. Because coincidentally Takechi shares the same likes with her and their birthday is just a day apart. Or could this be just some psychological trick to get her guard down because you tend to feel closer with people who have a lot in common. Tokaku warns Haru of this but she believes all Takechi wants is to be her friend. Naïve? She remains positive that everyone becomes her friend, they all can graduate together and nobody has to die. Nio asks Takechi about the reward she wants. Serial killing insurance. Huh? She wants to kill without having to worry about the consequences. It is like having immunity when she kills and the police can’t do anything about it. Kill in peace? I guess Tokaku hasn’t got a clue. She thinks Haru hasn’t got an advanced warning and should be fine. Feeling something amiss, she goes to search Haru’s bag and then sees the notice. Oh sh*t.

So when Takechi talks to Haru alone in the park, she lies about Shiena being the killer and that she broke her glasses so she couldn’t see. That should keep her safe. She also wants to protect her. How does stuffing the bouquet of flowers into her face constitute to protecting her? It doesn’t. Then Tokaku fell for the oldest trick in the book when Takechi tells her where Haru’s whereabouts is but gets locked in the room. There’s the air vent to climb through. Meanwhile the other girls taking a bath discuss about Takechi. It seems everyone but Shutou doesn’t know about Takechi’s true identity. She is a serial killer who kills others to get her sexual pleasure. Shiena is starting to quiver because her roommate is a serial killer. Tokaku drops down from the air vent looking for Shiena but she mentions it was Takechi who sent the notice. There is plenty of time, the reason Takechi is taking her time to kill Haru. She is going to enjoy torturing her and cuts her scar lines. Let’s start with the thigh. Tokaku calls to interrupt so Takechi lets her hear Haru’s screams. Haru realizes they are in the greenhouse thanks to the bird’s chip in the background. But Haru is no pushover. She kicks Takechi away and frees herself. Tokaku and crazy Takechi battle it out. The former is going to win but Haru knocks her out. Tokaku bandages her thigh as Haru thanks her. When Takechi wakes up, Nio is by her side and announces she has lost since 48 hours have passed. Takechi pleads for another chance. She doesn’t care about the reward but just wants to kill the b*tch. No can’t do. Rules are rules. In that case, Takechi is going to kill her. However she saw something that scares the sh*t out of her. Next day, Mizorogi sadly announces Takechi’s sudden transfer out of this class on short notice.

Episode 4
Haru runs into trouble studying for the midterm exams. Kouko helps her out and Haru is happy to see her having the strap. Haru sees Chitaru and Hitsugi and wonders why they are always holding hands. So that Hitsugi won’t get lost. Chitaru adds she is not aiming for Haru and is here for a different reason. Nio tells Haru and Tokaku about the seven mysteries of this school. One of them includes a secret room in the library that contains a forbidden book that if you write your name on its card, your happiness is guaranteed. Interested? When they return to their room, Haru sees the advanced notice. Tokaku diffuses a bomb set in the fridge and a hidden one in a bottle. Looks like Kouko’s plan isn’t going too well. As she takes a shower, she remembers hailing from an orphanage that is actually an international assassin training organization. Because Kouko was clumsy, the rest don’t think she is fit for this job. Even her instructor, Irena doesn’t think so. One day while she is in a mission fixing a bomb underneath her car, Irena talks to her about death not being the end of life but the completion of life. Minutes later, the bomb went off earlier then it should and Irena was killed. Kouko was reprimanded for her failure for it almost exposed their organization. She pleaded for another chance but there won’t be another next time. Maybe she is not cut out to be an assassin after all. That is why this time she must not fail. As Haru still wants to look for the forbidden book, they sneak into the library to find the hidden room. Thanks to Tokaku having smelling a different scent, they find the secret room and search for the book. Haru sees that strap and in her curiosity tries to pull it. Tokaku was fast enough to shield her from the bomb. She sees Kouko trying to shoot them but missed. Tokaku goes after her and Kouko is clumsy dropping her guns or loading her gun. She doesn’t look like she could handle the knife well too. Kouko mentions her wish is to quit being an assassin. Tokaku finds it ironic because she is going to kill someone and wash her hands off it. Kouko breaks down after she is defeated and laments she is no good after all. Next day when Mizorogi hands back all their test papers, seems Haru is the class’ top scorer! Actually Kouko is the top scorer with near perfect marks. It is just too bad as she has transferred out. Haru writes Kouko’s name on the card hoping she would be happy.

Episode 5
Mizorogi is fired up for his class to do Romeo and Juliet for the cultural festival. Chitaru and Hitsugi are casted as the main characters and Shiena is on fire being the director. Or is she? When Haru and Tokaku are in the bath, Haruki comes in and sees Haru’s body scars. She mocks her how does it feel to have people die for her and how could she carry on living with a smile. Haru plays it cool and she will continue to smile. In that case if Tokaku dies, she’ll continue to smile, right? Later Tokaku gets mad for Haru for not being mad. What…? Nio reveals to Haru that there were 2 killer clans that ruled this country in darkness. The Azuma of the East and Kuzunoha of the West were always at each other’s throats. Tokaku interrupts and reminds Haru if she wants to know something, ask her directly. So this is briefly her family structure. Her mom died shortly after her birth and was looked after by grandma. She never knew her dad and has no other encumbrances. Haruki talks to Tokaku that Haru could have been in the other class. In fact none of them wanted to be here. Such is fate. She wants to free Haru tonight so if she is interested, come meet her here. Isuke sees a picture of Haruki’s orphanage family and realizes this is her reason. She gives her ‘advice’ that all those unnecessary stuffs should be rid off and everyone should be killed. That’s how she lived her life. Haruki ignores her. Haru goes to the hall as Tokaku wanted to talk to her. Unfortunately this is a setup by Haruki. She gives Haru her advance notice and then strangles her with her wire! So much about the warning being in advance. Luckily Tokaku didn’t trust Haruki and jumps into the scene to save Haru. Yeah. After all that has happened, you think she should be by her side 24/7. Tokaku and Haruki slug it out but the former is superior. Now that it boils down to this, there is only one choice left for Haruki for freedom. She pulls a string that collapses the entire truss on the ceiling. Seems prior to this, she has made a deal with Nio that if she dies, her family will get the reward. Thanks to the gaps, Tokaku and Haru lives. Though the truss crushed Haruki, she is still alive and no fatal injuries. She admits her loss and Haru even gives her advice that being alive means she has been forgiven that she is here. Either way, Haruki believes she needs to try her best. And so this means Haruki is transferred out but Mizorogi is one stressed guy. The hall is in a mess… Tokaku wonders if Haru could still continue to forgive even if the entire world wishes death on her. She will. As long as they reflect on their actions, she will forgive them every time.

Episode 6
Chitaru tells Hitsugi that her goal is to look for some poison killer called Angel Trumpet. Hitsugi wants to help her. The night before the play, Haru is frantically looking for her script. With Tokaku they go to the stage to search for it. Little do they know it is in the hands of Shiena as she slips her advanced warning. However Hitsugi won’t allow that and shoots her with her poison needles. Haru and Tokaku see this. Although they are saved from Shiena’s warning, Hitsugi hands over hers. Although Shiena is alive, she is hospitalized and is very sick as she got infected by the poison. Safe to say, she is out of the running. Chitaru thinks Tokaku did her in. Tokaku warns Haru that she shouldn’t eat anything today since Hitsugi is a poison master. Hitsugi asks Chitaru why she wants to find Angel Trumpet. Seems her teacher’s daughter was killed by her and it is ironic that she is chasing a killer whom she has never seen her face. As the play starts, Tokaku realizes all the sword props are laced with poison. Chitaru thinks Haru is Angel Trumpet and Hitsugi dealt with Shiena for her sake. Then she goes to confront Tokaku and seeing the poisoned swords, she is now convinced Haru is Angel Trumpet. I don’t know why the heck they need to go on stage to begin their confrontation but everyone thinks this is part of the play. Tokaku puts Haru in Mizorogi’s care before the girls settle their sword fight outside. Chitaru doesn’t believe Tokaku’s words that Hitsugi is the culprit. But when the perpetrator herself comes to admit it, so now do you believe? Therefore she has no reason to fight Tokaku. Her plan is to have Haru die on stage just like how her character dies in the play. So they’re going back to the play? Yeah. Chitaru is now in a dilemma. The closest person to her is the real enemy. Can she fulfil her mission? In the final scene, Chitaru still hesitates to stab Hitsugi with the dagger. Hitsugi is okay for her being killed and helps push her hand into her heart. Nio informs that Hitsugi’s wish is to leave this place with her after everything was over. She was her most desired one. Chitaru felt bad that she never understood Hitsugi at all. She drinks the poison and dies by her side. And the crowd thinks this touching scene was so damn emotional and good.

Episode 7
Shutou brings the girls to an indoor pool within the school grounds. As they choose their swimsuits, Tokaku sees the advanced warning and Shutou immediately puts a choker on Haru’s neck. It contains a bomb that will blow her head off if tampered. Since Shutou isn’t physically strong, she is going to play a game. They need to find 4 cards with numbers on it as the password to unlock the bomb. They have until midnight or else Haru’s head will explode. Oh, they have only 3 tries too. The clues are written in the notice. So as the duo go around finding the cards, the other girls play watermelon smashing. This has Tokaku noting it similar to the clue and smashing it reveals a 7 of diamonds (how the heck did she put in the watermelon so perfectly?). Because the rest note that they could figure out the other numbers, Tokaku also figured it out and takes Shutou’s deck of cards. The missing numbers correspond to the numbers, right? All 7s are missing. But when she keys in, it is wrong. Shutou says that is just a dummy. Back to square one. Mizorogi who is bent on not letting more girls transfer out stumbles upon something on Shutou. Tokaku finds a joker (worth as zero) in the flood lights. Then with the next clue, she finds the ace of spade in the same deck of cards. Cleverly hidden.

The last one is in the water but then Mizorogi comes by to give Shutou a surprise birthday call! Nio notes if Shutou is successful, she can get her reward as a birthday present. What is her wish? To age normally and die. Wait a minute. Okay, so she wants to grow old but isn’t it okay to die young? The way she puts it sounds like she is an immortal. Maybe she is… Because here is her story. Her body suffers from an illness that doesn’t age. Long ago she had someone precious to her. She was a year younger and their birthday is only a day apart. She would age a year before he’d catch up. Because she doesn’t age, he grew older, became an adult and fell in love with another woman. Heartbroken Shutou was left behind. Midnight is drawing near and Tokaku is looking into anything water. I can’t believe she missed this blind spot of the water slide. When she gets in, she gets locked in a cage. At the end of the ride, the cage sinks to the bottom. While running out of air and at the bottom of the floor, she can only pick the card or the key to free herself. (I can’t believe she didn’t look at the floor of this section). Tokaku is willing to sacrifice herself but Haru dives down to give her some air. Masked as a yuri kiss?! She then uses the key to free her. Now they have to guess the last number. 7, 0, 4 and what number… And what combination too? Isuke keys in her lucky number and got it wrong! One chance left. Tokaku then realizes since today is Shutou’s birthday, 14th July so the code must be 0714. However Haru stops her. She believes the last digit is not 4 but 5 because it is the birthday of her beloved. It works! The bomb comes off and Haru hugs Tokaku. Shutou admits she has lost and leaves. Nio asks her age but she doesn’t remember.

Episode 8
Isuke calls her ‘papa’ who is busy killing people. He feels lonely and hopes she would come back. Sure. With lots of souvenirs too. Nio talks to the chairwoman, Yuri Meichi who is enjoying every bit that has happened. It reminded her of her own days in Black Class in which she took only 6 days to complete. Tokaku and Haru chance upon Shinya in the bath so the latter talks about Mahiru locking up herself this whole time and doesn’t know how to live a normal life. From the way she says it, Tokaku could guess she is the next one. Shinya and Mahiru are like having some sort of ‘discussion’. Mahiru is indecisive about some relic that she is close to getting her hands on so Shinya won’t let her wait anymore. Since a storm is coming, Nio tries to persuade Haru to do kimodameshi but Tokaku won’t allow it so Nio hints something about Tokaku’s past that may resemble closely to some cursed occult. As the duo leave, the wind brings in an advanced notice from Mahiru. Tokaku takes Haru and run but Isuke attacks them. Tokaku got a little injured as she reminds her not sending an advanced letter is against the rules. Isuke is sure Haru already got it. Tokaku throws mud in her face to make their escape. She realizes the note was from Isuke since there are no rules stating about putting your name on it. Isuke remembers Esuke killed her real parents because they tried to kill her he adopted her and in exchange for taking care of her, he wants her to assist and succeed him in his assassin job. Tokaku locks Haru in a science lab and tells her to stay put before rushing off to settle things with Isuke. The dangerous women meet again and another knife battle takes place. Isuke is not afraid of her and knows her moves. Because she knows she hesitates and stops when she is about to kill. Everyone else is on their guard just because she carries the Azuma name but imagine if they knew about this, it would have changed everything. Haru is sitting nicely in the lab when suddenly a few knocks are heard on the door. Can’t get through? Smash it with a hammer! Yeah. Here is Shinya with her advanced notice. She’s crazy. Let’s get this party started! Isuke points out Shinya is a bit early and that look on Tokaku’s face that she made the biggest mistake of leaving Haru alone. I knew this would come. I mean, how could she even think of leaving Haru alone? Couldn’t she just stay and guard Haru by her side?

Episode 9
When Tokaku was born, she was named so by grandma as it means impossible. Because those who see her will fear her and think it will be impossible to best her. But Tokaku’s mom didn’t want her to become an assassin and entrusted her to her sister, Mako who told Tokaku about looking at that shrine so she won’t be able to kill. Isuke mentions about the deal with Shinya. The latter gets to play around with Haru all she wants while she takes out Tokaku. She thinks that trying to protect Haru is just a ploy to hide that she can’t kill. So if she kills her, she’ll be like the best, right? After all that close quarter combat, Tokaku uses her hidden taser in her shoes to stun and weaken her and make her way to Haru. She doesn’t find her in the lab and is worried. Isuke is back up and fights her again. Then she pushes Tokaku out the window. Can anybody survive that fall? Well… Meanwhile Haru isn’t going to be a damsel in distress. She does a good job avoiding Shinya’s hammering (literally), throws her handphone in her head for distraction, blasts the fire extinguisher in her face and while she is hiding in the toilet and Shinya come knocking down doors, Haru slams it in her face when she reaches her cubicle. Then in the auditorium, Shinya thought she had her cornered when the projector light flashes into her face. This bring backs traumatic memories (something about her being in child porn and imprisonment) and this sends her into vegetative state. Haru is relived Tokaku saved her but it’s not. It’s Isuke. You know what this means. Tokaku’s dead. At least that is what Isuke tells her after she disposes off Shinya.

More Tokaku flashback as we see Mako trying to take Tokaku and run. She regretted hesitating and should have done so earlier. However grandma stood in their way and killed Mako. In her dying breath, she tells Tokaku that she and her sister will always be watching her from that place. Tokaku sees a vision of Mako. She realizes she has always been the one calling and protecting her. Since she has someone to protect now, she’ll be fine. She promises to go there once she has time. It feels like Tokaku has been freed. See? She didn’t die from that fall after all. Haru is in shock believing Tokaku is dead but Isuke won’t get to kill her since a knife suddenly pierces her hand. Couldn’t believe Tokaku is still alive, could you? Tokaku has changed. The look in her eyes feels like she is now able to kill without hesitation. She could even dodge bullets! Easily taking her down, Tokaku won’t kill her but knocks her out. Haru gets emotional since it is a big relief that she is still alive. Tokaku now believes it is not a curse. She always thought bearing the thought of the murder is not a joke. The weight of it can’t be endured. She was wrong. She was being protected all this time and thanks to Haru, she finally noticed it. Hanabusa leaves her flowers for her defeated girls and commends them for their bravery.

Episode 10
Mizorogi must be so depressed that he makes his class a self study session. He goes to see the Yuri and blames himself for not being an effective teacher. On the contrary, she praises him for being the perfect teacher. He’s so happy… So gullible… Now that there is 1 left, Tokaku is on her guard. But Hanabusa isn’t going to give her advance warning and gives Haru an invitation to her tea party. Meanwhile Takechi has escaped her facility and is going to get her revenge on Haru. She is already in the school grounds but bumps into Hanabusa. She is going to kill her too but Hanabusa stops her scissors and crushes it with her bare hands! She will invite her to the tea party as well. Haru and Tokaku arrive at the rooftop. The entire place has been remodelled with that elegant and posh feel since Hanabusa’s family bought it. To their surprise, the other girls except Nio are there too. Actually they are Marionettes. Takechi is the only other real guest but she is in a strait jacket. Haru wants to know what Hanabusa’s wish is and could help grant it. Hanabusa reveals that her family is the same as hers. She has also been targeted many times and just like Haru, she survived. She believes she is the strongest and will defeat her and let everyone know that. That is her wish. The place is filled with weapons so take your pick. The marionettes start attacking and Tokaku is busy shooting them down while Hanabusa activates a bulletproof glass so she could fight Haru unhindered. However Tokaku whips Hanabusa and drags her to her side in time. Looks like she’ll have to take care of her first. Hanabusa reveals her true body. Her limbs are robotic and this makes her strong and able to fit any weapon as her arms. Takechi manages to free herself and joins in on the action but is still no match. When Nio comes in, Takechi starts sweating in her pants when this monster tells her to go home and not interfere. Hanabusa questions Tokaku’s perseverance to fight. It is because she will protect Haru even if it costs her life. Hanabusa notes that she is not aware that Haru is the queen bee. Eventually Tokaku gets pinned down by a chandelier. To prevent her from being killed, Haru takes a bazooka and blows a hole in the wall to escape. Hanabusa won’t let her escape and goes after her. She gets tricked into that elevator bomb ruse but she manages to climb back up. Now she is mad. Cornering Haru at the rooftop, she shoots her strings but gets entangled in the rail. Haru throws her down and dives along. Then she keeps stomping on her head so her mechanical hand will come loose and it’s free fall all the way. Seriously. It was that loose? Oh, she lost. Haru goes back to free Tokaku as the latter asks about the queen bee thing. Haru apologizes and will tell her when the time is right.

Episode 11
A lesson about bees. How tragic. Can’t blame Mizorogi for feeling depressed despite putting a brave face to trudge on. There are only 3 students left in Black Class. Nio then announces there will be an orientation for the truth behind Black Class tonight and those interested should come. Since there is nobody left to kill Haru, Tokaku doesn’t hang around her as often. Haru and Tokaku head for the orientation. Nio introduces Yuri to them. She begins by explaining about a certain trial when people reach certain age to be acknowledged as part of society. The Black Class was not created to kill Haru. Instead it was for determining if Haru can survive against 12 assassins and has what it takes to shoulder the future of the clan. There are many families and branches in this world that can trace their blood back to one clan. All of them are in control and influence of everything in this world. A Primer is a person born with special charismatic ability in the clan and is able to charm and control people unconsciously to their heart’s content. The more in danger those people are, the more the Primer manifests its finest. That is why lives of the women of the clan are constantly targeted from birth. She congratulates Haru’s fine Primer power but whether or not she does it intentionally she doesn’t know. That is why they thought she had controlled Tokaku to become her protector. Haru denies this and just wanted this trial to end and live normally. How would she explain surviving up to this point and all those who died for her? The fact she survived means she is special. Haru won’t hear of this anymore and leaves. Yuri acknowledges Tokaku as the victor and will grant her wish. She can take her time.

Back at the room, Haru talks to Tokaku that she believes she doesn’t have such power as her family is at the bottom of the clan. But Tokaku is suspicious. Could it be that she unconsciously made Tokaku her bodyguard? Therefore there was no need to control everyone else as she already controlled her to protect her. Still denying that? Then show proof. None? I guess that’s it. Tokaku then talks to Kaiba. He doesn’t give her any answers. In fact he tells her all the riddles he gave her had no correct answer. If there is, it can only be inside of her. So be sure to dig and think deep. So she thinks hard and doesn’t even know why she decided to protect Haru. There is no proof. Could it be another answerless riddle? Haru wants Nio to let her see Yuri. She doesn’t want to acknowledge that she is part of the clan. Yuri wonders if all those dead people will agree to it. She has Nio bring Haru to a graveyard. It has no bodies or bones but only names of those who died. Originally this place was a graveyard and the school was subsequently built. That’s because the laughter of school children will never stop and this somewhat appeases the soul of the dead. Nio reveals that she was born with some special power and no relatives. Yuri saved her. She wants Haru to remember that people may sometimes be saved by the power of the clan. Haru looks around and finds the grave of her family. Suddenly Tokaku comes in. With a sword. She has been thinking a lot. Up to now she felt like an ordered doll merely to manage the trial. She never realized that till she met her and the reason she lived through till today. Haru taught her everything and that is why she is grateful and happy they met. That’s why she has no choice but to do this. She shows her advance notice. That’s some serious gratitude.

Episode 12
Haru can’t believe over this betrayal. Well, believe it. She doesn’t wish for this to happen but Tokaku is serious. Here’s a warning slice. The next one will kill her if not for a gunshot interrupting. Hey… Another Tokaku?! She brings Haru and run while explaining that Tokaku is actually Nio in disguise. As she once said about the Azuma and Kuzunoha clans, while Azuma specialize in combat and assassination techniques, the Kuzunoha clan are more towards mystic arts like hypnotism. Nio is from this clan. Once Black Class ends, she’ll betray it and kill Haru. Haru doesn’t know if her subconscious made Tokaku protect her. Even so, Tokaku has obtained something irreplaceable in her heart. Those feelings has guided her here is everything to her. Nio catches up and attack. Oh no. Two Tokakus. How can I tell which is the real one? Well, from the imposter’s rational, she wants to kill Haru for her sake. Something like it’s the Primer’s fault. I don’t know. I’m confused. Does she wants to prove something about her Primer effects and Haru’s true wish is to kill? The imposter loses but won’t give up in killing Haru. Tokaku stabs her. And then… Haru picks up the knife and charges straight for Tokaku. She’s thankful about this and that and loves her, blah, blah, blah… That’s why she won’t die. Maybe she has to eat her words since Tokaku stabs her! She considers their family the same. Once Haru is gone, Tokaku puts up an emotional look more than all the emotions she has combined in this entire series. Oh wait. Did she ever? Nio laments her ruined plan of killing Haru in her looks because she thought it would be fun. In the end, they’re just the same. They’re only competent in killing. Yuri congratulates Tokaku for being the true winner of Black Class and will grant her any reward. Perhaps she is too stunned to speak. Maybe another time when she is ready. Tokaku indeed does have a wish but is sad it won’t come true anymore.

It seems Haru is alive and is the only sole survivor of Black Class! Mizorogi hands her the graduation certificate. The others also have their certificates and Haru will personally deliver to them if she meets them again. Nio is also alive and is seen talking to Yuri. They discuss that Haru is alive thanks to the titanium ribs she has. The knife missed her heart by inches. We are also given a short glimpse of the other girls from Black Class. All of them live. Yes, all of them are still alive. Hanabusa is back in her mansion thinking of taking up cooking. Shutou pays her last respects to her beloved one at the grave. Kouko makes a daring move by running away from her orphanage and kills all the nuns in pursue of her. Now she looks so badass. Haruki is working at a construction site while Takechi is on her best behaviour picking weeds in her detention facility. Wow. It’s like she turned over a new leaf and becoming a good girl. Isuke is sunbathing at the beach with Esuke and is pouting because this entire beach could have been theirs. Kirigaya sits by Chitaru’s side at the hospital. Shiena is a hacker and Mahiru is admiring the city view and assures Shinya she’ll be fine on her own. Lastly, Haru goes to meet up with Tokaku who is waiting for her at the school gates. Kaiba finally seems impressed with whatever answer Tokaku replied to his riddle.

Who’s Next?
Hey wait a minute. So that’s it? What the heck is this happy ending? Okay, maybe I am to be blamed for expecting something dark because for the entire series, everything was just having that dark feel and therefore I wasn’t putting any expectations on some bright happy ending. Because I really thought that some of them had died for good and what do you know? They’re not! Bummer. And when you think about this show having cute high school girls as assassins suddenly to have somewhat a blissful life in the end, it just feels WTF and doesn’t match. So there are a handful of things that I don’t get really. Did Black Class achieve its goal to make Haru the next head of clan? From the way things ended, Haru is happier being normal friends with Tokaku. And what was Tokaku’s wish? I am guessing to bring Haru back or have a normal life. Well, it does seem granted in that case. And if all the assassins survived, then it could be the first time that the graveyard will not engrave somebody’s name who have died for Haru in this trial, right? If only the previous trials were like that.

Remember this old song you used to sing in kindergarten? One little, two, little, three little Indians… Ten little Indian boys. Uh huh. That is how I feel about this entire anime. You get the feeling that one by one the assassins will be picked off because if Haru and Tokaku gets killed, then it is game over. Hardly anything exciting, right? So the ‘exciting’ part for me was to guess which girl will go next. I have to be quick and do it at the start of the anime because it doesn’t take too long before she gives her advance notice and let the drama-cum-game begins. And when it is over, I’ll begin to ponder, who’s next?

One of the biggest problems of this show is that there is lack of depth within the characters especially the assassins. Although the mid-intermission has a few notes of additional information and background about the assassin in focus, it does little to help understand them better. Because just like I said, they’re playing Ten Little Indians and after they have been picked off, you won’t really here of them again and the last episode showing them is just to give us a sense of closure. Even during their episode in focus, their background and story behind them doesn’t feel deep. A bit superficial and is brought to like just because they are the ‘star’ in that episode. More like out of convenience to drag on the story. It hardly impacts anything because at the end of the day, they lose and it doesn’t matter. She goes out, another one comes in. Rinse and repeat till none are left. The assassin who suffers most and greatly from this is Shiena. She doesn’t even get a chance to shine and she is out. You don’t really know much about her (till the last episode of course but then again, does it really matter?) and she became a sacrificial lamb as part of the series to stay fresh. Because having an assassin out per episode feels boring. So for that episode, we have 3 assassins going out! Wow. So if I do add up my maths right, they’ll end the series with almost the same number of survivors.

At most times Haru seems like the damsel in distress and relying on Tokaku to protect her. My guess that her helplessness stems from her deep desire to not fight and kill. Because when she is cornered as seen with her case with Shinya, she can be quite innovative letting her survival instincts kick in. So it’s like she only resorts to this as a last measure. However I think even without Tokaku’s help, Haru would have survived all the assassination attempts. The scars all over her body is a hint that indicates she has undergone some sort of hideous surgery and experiment or each scar serves as a reminder that she survived some sort of attack. Another big hint was in the initial episode whereby Isuke tried to poison her and that failed attempt has her note her body is resistant to poison and drugs. That should give us a big hint that she isn’t easily killed. We might not have guessed the titanium rib cage but there is a feeling she won’t die that easily. She’s a survivor after all. Otherwise she would have been long been disposed of.

As for Tokaku, for a big part of the series she is like having this dilemma and thinking about stuffs and protecting Haru despite she has this monotonous look on her face that would indicate to us normal people that her facial muscle must have been broken. Her past and her clan as well as the rival clan prove interesting but too bad and like I have said, this series suffers a lot in developing the characters and fleshing them out. So we’ve been given the big teaser of some shrine that Tokaku can’t kill because of this mindset that Mako ‘programmed’ her. And once the shackles go off, she got this killer looks but still, she hasn’t made her first killing because everyone in the end still lives, right? And then when she finally shows her emotions, it was like as though she has finally accepted her friendship with Haru or something like that. In that sense, would she be called a failure? What will the clan think of her?

I don’t know why everyone doesn’t consider Nio as part of the assassin because they see her as the judge. Even Haru and Tokaku don’t really see her as a threat. Can’t she hold both positions? I mean, then it would have been redundant to announce that there are 12 assassins and a target, right? Do your maths right. If Nio was really only an observer, they would have clearly state 11 assassins, a target and a judge. And with Tokaku’s defection, make that 10 assassins, a bodyguard, a target and a judge. I suppose everybody’s assumption of this is to make us forget that Nio is an assassin so as to have this surprise final episode. And here I was pondering why Black Class is already over when Nio hasn’t even made her move yet and could it be that she is really a judge? Then this surprise of her disguising as Tokaku to kill Haru. Although I didn’t guess it was her in that disguise, but I wasn’t surprised either when it was supposed to be her. I mean, who is left, right? Yeah. Who’s next?

Kaiba’s role feels like a big mystery. He throws Tokaku a lot of riddles that she couldn’t answer. Then it might be that he is just trolling since the riddles don’t really have an answer. Probably like he hinted, he wanted her to think for herself and that this world doesn’t have answers that are clear cut, black and white. She determines the answers herself. Mizorogi feels like the most redundant character ever. Even putting a nameless teacher or even a faceless one, I don’t think it would change the series very much. His minimal role feels so minimal and the most ‘significant’ one was that cameo to remind about Shutou’s birthday and thus giving the pair some sort of hint. That’s about it and so much for this guy. And so his role overall has become somewhat a side comic relief because he is just too cheery and passionate in teaching this special class. Because he should have suspected something amiss when the class only has 13 girls and one by one they keep transferring away. So what if he falls into depression? Not like he could do anything about it. That’s why I say his role feels somewhat redundant. It’s a good thing Haru is left. One is better than none. I wonder if he would go insane and quit teaching altogether if Black Class had zero students.

The action part feels okay and some were thrilling enough but overall it just does sufficient for an anime about girls trying to kill their target. Of course they had to lay down certain rules since it would be a bad idea if all the assassins have the same idea and decide to go first. It is not impossible as seen in Isuke and Shinya’s case. If everybody shows their advance notice at the same time, it will be the biggest brawl and messy blood fest and it will end before you even know it. So that is why some of the assassins that do not have high fighting capabilities instead use mind games and puzzle, which actually brings a refreshing pace to the series. There are many ways to go about killing your target. So it sometimes feel funny to see one go first while the rest wait and watch like as though they’re taking turns, which is exactly it. And once more it gives rise to “Who’s next?”.

The yuri part feels fleeting. Except for that underwater pool scene where Haru and Tokaku kissed, other scenes won’t even have you think this would amount to yuri despite the both of them hang out together most of the time. Not even that final episode whereby Haru charged towards Tokaku to kill her and I thought they seemingly kissed (because Haru confessed she loved her after thinking back all the ‘good times’ she was being protected with). I guess not. At that angle it certainly looked like it. Thus their relationship feels more like the protector and the protected like as we are told. Because it would be odd to see something yuri happening between them while knowing there are other girls trying to kill Haru. Yeah. Such yuri romance would feel out of place. Even Chitaru and Kirigaya had more of a yuri feel than them despite they make lesser appearance.

The art and drawing seems a little gritty and dark. While the girls may look like cuties whom normal guys won’t even think that they are skilled assassins beneath that cute looks, certain angles and moments you can see their scary and crazy assassin face. Some of the scenes may not be palatable especially with Haru’s hideous scars all over her body, it makes it feel like she is some sort of Frankenstein model put together. So I doubt you want to see her in the skin or in her undies in a handful of fanservice scenes. Diomedea produces this series and it is rare for them to make such dark animes as mostly they produce moe and cute animes like Shinryaku! Ika Musume, Asatortte No Omocha, Kodomo No Jikan, Nogizaka Haruka No Himitsu, Nagasarete Airantou and Chocotto Sister. Perhaps the exception is Bokurano but I didn’t see that anime.

The opening theme is Soushou Innocence by Maaya Uchida. It is the kind of hard rock music that gets you into the pace of this anime. Although personally this kind of music isn’t my type. As there are unique assassins in the class, there are also different ending themes for each episode, each mirroring the personality of the assassin in focus of that episode. Although they are all rock based, some of them rock harder than others (the ending themes of Tokaku, Takechi, Haruki and Hanabusa in particular). Isuke’s ending theme feels like it has a bit of techno in it while Kirigaya and Chitaru’s ending theme is the only duet. Haru’s theme is the only that feels calming and a bit like anime pop although it is still slow rock. The only assassin who doesn’t get her own ending theme is Shiena. Yeah, so poor that girl since she got kicked out before she even got started that the producers probably thought she didn’t deserve to have her own ending theme. That’s because the song for the last episode has all of them singing in it! One big girl group? Like having AKB48, assassin version. Yeah, I guess this is the only song where Shiena gets to sing and be part of. So don’t be sad, we haven’t forgotten about you entirely. Unfortunately none of the songs stick in my head because they only appear for one episode. I know I can go hear it again but you know, if it was that good I would have.

Overall, this series falls short in what matters most. Despite having a wide range of characters, each with a big potential for their own story, the pace of the story killed it off (pun intended). Even if they double the number of episodes and extend it for another season, it may not do a good job too because you will have the typical one episode expanded for flashback and another episode for the fight. That will be boring and draggy for a series considered to be fast paced. And having a dozen episodes itself has already made it suffer from this issue. That’s why it is in a catch-22 situation. So if you’re not in for the story, just stay for the action and see what different girls can do. Because I know having a class full of assassin girls is not my kind of harem. Would I be willing to die for them? Heck, don’t want to be living the yandere route 12 times over! That is what you call femme fatale.

P/S: “What is the secret to success in life?” (Your answer here) –> Keep it a secret from others!

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