Rating: 2.5/5 – A Difficult Take on Some Common Manga Themes
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow.
The concept behind Akuma no Riddle seems pretty solid: Azuma Tokaku, an assassin, transfers into Class Black and Myojo Private School, an elite all-girls boarding academy. Her goal? Assassinate student Haru Ichinose. The problem? The other eleven girls in the class are also assassins, and are also out to kill Haru. At some point Tokaku has a moment of clarity and decides to protect Haru from these other killers. Who will be left standing in the end?
Now that sounds like a pretty decent story, right? Unfortunately, Akuma no Riddle fails in the execution of that story by taking a lot for granted from the reader. Characters are introduced spur-of-the-moment with little to no fanfare and almost zero explanation other than “They exist”. Tokaku’s relationship with her overseer is confrontational, but never explained, and while it’s implied Haru did something to warrant everyone wanting to kill her – Haru herself knows she’s the target, for one thing, and says as much – we don’t know much beyond she did something and people died from it.
Now all of this can be easily dismissed with a simple wave of the “Building a Mystery” wand…i.e. these stories take time to truly develop. The problem is that a bone needs to be thrown to the reader early on or there’s little investment in wanting to see that development. Characters are either stereotypical, boring, or just plain annoying. For example, Haru’s constant referring to herself as “Haru” got particularly grating the more she spoke. A few sentences in and *I* wanted to assassinate her.
Akuma no Riddle does a decent job of setting up the assassination concept, but with such a large cast and relatively poor character development in this first volume, there’s little to recommend here. You might be better served seeking out the anime version, hopefully it does a better job of pacing and character development than the manga does in this first volume.
Reviewed by: Al Sparrow
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