Manga: Akuma no Riddle

A class to die for.Note 

Myojo Academy is a distinguished integrated campus equipped with a curriculum that ranges from elementary to college and strong connections to a large number of influential people. Despite its reputation, however, few in the public know about Myojo's Class Black, a secret, thirteen-student high school class that accepts enrollment at irregular intervals, formed for purposes aside from education. Namely, a game where twelve killers disguised as students compete to be the first to assassinate a target within the class.

Tokaku Azuma, one of Academy 17's elite assassins, is chosen by her instructor, Kaiba, to participate in Class Black upon the request of Myojo Academy's Board Chairman. When she arrives, she meets the target, Haru Ichinose, who has the appearance and disposition of a regular high school girl, but it quickly becomes apparent that Haru is just as far from normal as anyone else in the class when Tokaku learns that she's lived her whole life as a target for assassination. In the process, Tokaku decides to go against the original plan and become Haru's sole protector against the remaining eleven killers of Class Black.

Akuma no Riddle (meaning Devil's Riddle, but officially translated as Riddle Story of Devil) is a manga series written by Yun Koga and illustrated by Sunao Minakata. It received an animated adaptation produced by Diomedea on April 3, 2014 as part of the Spring 2014 Anime season.


Akuma no Riddle contains examples of:

  • A-Team Firing
    • When Otoya is charging at her, Tokaku somehow manages to repeatedly shoot the exact same area where Otoya's blades were crossed, causing her to accidentally deflect the bullets.
    • Kouko misses every single shot when she fires her gun at Tokaku. In the manga she also manages to completely miss Haru at point blank range with grenades. That's a special kind of incompetent right there.
    • Isuke misses when she fires at Tokaku, although the first one does graze her cheek.
    • Sumireko's machine gun arm never once hits Tokaku, even at times when it should have been easy to hit her.
    • Nio doesn't hit Tokaku once with her gun. She does however destroy her katana with one of her shots.
  • Air Vent Escape: Tokaku uses this to escape from being locked in the basement in episode 3.
  • All Part of the Show: "Did Tybalt just bridal carry Mercutio into the audience and run off with Romeo? Wow! Black Class's interpretation of Romeo and Juliet is amazing!"
    • "Wow! It's almost as if they died for real!"
  • Alone Among the Couples: Nio is forever alone.
  • And Then What?: Haru brings this up to Tokaku in Episode 8. Tokaku has not quite thought about her future when everything is settled.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Kaiba is fond of sending Tokaku these, as part of his testing her.
  • Artificial Limbs: All of Sumireko's limbs are prosthetic.
  • As You Know: How Nio explains the rules of Class Black's Deadly Game.
  • Ax-Crazy: A few of the assassins to varying degrees, though Otoya stands out the most.
  • Beach Episode: Episode 7 takes place in the academy's gigantic swimming pool facility. It's also where Suzu's Deadly Game is held.
    • The Blu-ray/DVD Bonus Episode takes place on an actual beach. Or more specifically, on a deserted island.
  • Beta Couple: Chitaru and Hitsugi to Tokaku and Haru. More apparent in the manga where they have more scenes together.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: This applies to several of the assassins, who range from Affably Evil to straight-up Bitches In Sheeps Clothing.
  • Bland-Name Product: In the anime, pocky disguises itself as "rocky". Shiena also owns a Hexus (Nexus) tablet.
  • Bookcase Passage: One of the academy's seven wonders is a secret library section hidden behind one of these.
  • Book Ends: Before entering Class Black, Kaiba asks Tokaku what she wants more than anything else, to which Tokaku answers, "Nothing." After Class Black has ended, Meichi asks Tokaku the same question so that her reward can be granted. Tokaku answers by dropping to her knees in tears and saying that what she wants can't be granted anymore.
  • Bomb Disposal: Tokaku disabled the obvious bomb Kouko left in the fridge, as well as the not so obvious one in the grape soda.
  • Bury Your Gays: An odd example since it's a manga about lesbian assassins trying to kill one another, but the two characters with most Ship Tease, outside of the main couple, are Chitaru and Hitsugi, and they are the first characters to actually die on screen. Bonus points for being a huge Romeo and Juliet Shout-Out as well. They survive in the anime's ending.
  • Call Back: Episode 9 is this to episode 2. Just like before, it focuses on Isuke's assassination attempt and brings Tokaku's "curse" into focus. Even the short shot of Isuke's face in yellow light from episode 2 is brought back, except this time, it's on Tokaku. The relevant development here is that Tokaku gets over her curse. The episode is even called "What Dwells in Your Heart? (Make-up Exam)".
  • Car Bomb: When she was younger Kouko set one of these to kill a target...unfortunately it went off early and killed her teacher instead.
  • Captain Oblivious: Mizorogi is utterly blind to the fact that the vast majority of his students are assassins.
    • He doesn't even realise that Chitaru and Hitsugi both died on stage.
    • He does start to think something is up, but beleives it's to do with his teaching rather than his students trying to kill each other. He's easily re-assured by the Chairwoman in the anime. In the manga, Nio straight up tells him to mind his own business and keep doing his job.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: In the class's first visit to the academy's botanical garden, Mizorogi teaches them about bullfinches after he hears one, mentioning that its chirp sounds like a whistle. Later, Tokaku hears the bullfinch through her phone while trying to talk to Haru who is being tortured by Otoya and figures out where she is.
  • Chekhov's Gun: That cemetery in the basement that Nio mentions in the first episode? It's a big memorial for everyone in Haru's clan who died protecting the clan members.
  • The Clan
    • The Ichinose family is a very large, powerful clan of which Haru is a member of. She is constantly targeted for assassination because of this.
    • The Azuma family is a clan of assassins, to which Tokaku is the heiress.
    • The Kuzunoha family is the opposite to the Azuma family, who adopt people from all over instead of going just by blood lineage. Nio is a member of this family.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The Anime is only 13 episodes, and so in order to get the whole story a good chunk of the assassins interactions with one another got rushed or was cut entirely in order to focus more on the action.
  • Cry into Chest: When Haru registers that Tokau is alive, she bursts into tears and hugs her around the chest, completely forgetting about her promise to never cry.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: A good number of the assassins. See the Characters page for details.
  • Deadly Game
    • Class Black is an assassination competition. Several hired killers compete with one another to see who can kill the target first while following specific rules:
      • Assassination must be announced first via special notice, and then carried out within forty-eight hours. Failure means expulsion.
      • No one outside the class can be involved in these attempts, including their homeroom teacher Mizorogi. Breaking this rule also means expulsion.
      • The victor gets whatever they want as a prize.
    • In episode 7, Suzu sets up one of her own with Riddle Me This as her plan to take down Haru. The other assassins (except Isuke) even see this as a nice change of pace.
  • Declaration of Protection: Tokaku does this in front of the rest of the assassins after tearing up her assassination notice.
    • "Dare nimo sawarasenai!"
  • Demolitions Expert: Kouko...relatively speaking.
  • The Door Slams You
    • In episode 1, Haruki reports in for roll call by slamming the door into Haru's face.
    • Haru slams a down in Shinya's face in episode 9.
  • Dual Boss: Isuke and Shinya in the anime.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Haru's eyes when she thinks that Tokaku is dead.
  • Easily Forgiven: Haru is practically a saint with how forgiving she is. She evens answers Kaiba's first riddle with it: "The world is filled with forgiveness."
  • Elaborate University High: Myojo Academy. While just how big it is remains a mystery, it is a rich and powerful private school that provides all school levels, from elementary to university, and it has numerous connections to famous people and politicians.
  • Everybody Lives: In the anime, all of the killed characters survive, even the ones that apparently die onscreen from seemingly fatal wounds. Explanation is not given for any except for Haru's death.
  • Evil Gloating: One of the main reasons why Haru and Tokaku are still alive.
    • If Otoya hadn't have called Tokaku to gloat, the latter never would have heard the bullfinch in the background, which helped her put together where she was.
    • If Shinya had just bashed the supply closet door in instead of knocking then Haru wouldn't have known she was on the other side.
    • If Isuke hadn't have taken her time to cut up Haru then she could have killed her before Tokaku could have gotten there. Somewhat justified as Isuke had pushed Tokaku out of a window, so she can be somewhat forgiven for assuming she'd killed her.
    • If Sumireko wasn't so obsessed with proving she was the best then she could have easily killed Haru what with her prosthetic robot limbs and all.
      • Nio decided to spend her supposed last moments taunting Tokaku about seemingly killing Haru. What a piece of trash-suu.
  • Evolving Credits: The ending credits change for each episode, featuring an Image Song for the character prominent in the episode and a unique animation sequence. Hitsugi and Chitaru get a dual Image Song and ED instead of separate ones, and Shiena does not get either an Image Song or unique ED.
  • Exotic Eye Designs: The series has two normal eye designs: small pupils with fully-colored irises, and large pupils with only the lower half of the iris colored. Sometimes characters with the latter design temporarily gain the former when they get serious or surprised, but Shinya, Otoya, and Shiena (manga only) gain a variation of the first kind that has two or three segmented rings around the pupil.
  • Explosive Leash:Suzu's assassination attempt.
  • Expy
    • Between Otoya's long black hair, spider motif, Psycho Lesbian tendencies, and being a serial rapist and killer, she's the spitting image of Hirasaka Hatsune.
    • Red hair, tomboy personality, a love of pocky, and a devotion to her family. Doesn't Haruki remind you of a certain magical girl?
  • Eye Catch: Featuring art of the same character featured in the ending, and some extra information about parts of the setting or other characters.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: Episode 10 has Tokaku shoot a chandelier down to make it fall on an assassin. Said assassin takes no damage and gets right back up to throw it back at Tokaku.
  • Fan Disservice: Haru gets stripped down to her underwear and Bound and Gagged in episode 3, prior to being tortured by Otoya.
  • Flower Motifs
    • Each student has a flower associated with them, and said flowers are placed on their desk when they are expelled.
  • Foreshadowing: The manga and anime give out many hints with regards to later assassins, such as Nio always wearing full-body outfits, Suzu keeping her body fit and healthy, and Mahiru covering her face during photo shoots.
    • One of the organizations an assassin belongs to, Datura, is named after a flower.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Haru talks about herself to Tokaku near the end of episode 2, a shot of bees shows up for a second, referring to her queen bee ability.
  • Funny Background Event: While the play is going on, two girls in the audience are very emotionally vested in the performance.
  • Furo Scene: Happens almost once an episode.
  • Go for the Eye: In a rather uncomfortable scene, Otoya nearly stabs Tokaku in the eye. She would have succeeded, if not for Haru's timely rescue.
  • Graceful Loser: Suzu accepts defeat rather easily, despite having more than a day left, simply because she said she'd give up if they disarmed the bomb around Haru's neck.
  • Guns Are Worthless: The only damage a gun does for the majority of the series is give someone a small scratch on the cheek. Subverted when Kouko kills a couple of nuns in episode 12 with well aimed shots. She seems to have improved her aim a little.
  • Hero-Tracking Failure: Sumireko shoots her machine gun at Tokaku as Tokaku comes out of cover...and somehow completely misses her as she runs to grab a gun off the wall despite the minuscule margin of error.
  • High-Tech Hexagons: Seen everywhere in the school, in students' devices, and the anime's opening and endings. The hexagons themselves resemble a beehive pattern.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Haru incapacitates Otoya using the same toxic flower the latter used to capture her.
  • Holding Hands: Chitaru and Hitsugi almost always do this.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The length Hitsugi is willing to go in order to help Chitaru bring down Angel's Trumpet is considerable, since Hitsugi is Angel's Trumpet.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode's title is a riddle that Kaiba sends Tokaku within the episode, and is somehow vaguely related to the plot of the episode.
  • Idiot Hair: Nio has a very large, distinct ahoge. Mr. Mizorogi has a smaller one.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The Datura organization, where Angel's Trumpet comes from, specializes in assassination using the poisonous Datura flower.
    • Haruki shows remarkable skill in pocky throwing.
  • Instant Sedation: Isuke drugs Haru who is out like a light seconds later. She then wakes up shortly after. Justified as Haru has been the victim of many assassination attempts and has built up a slight immunity to drugs because of this.
  • Kill Steal
    • Isuke to Shinya.
    • Nio to Tokaku.
    • Subverted as none of them succeed.
  • Kiss of Life: Haru to Tokaku in episode 7. It left quite the impression on Tokaku, who is shown thinking about it with a blush on her face at the end of the episode.
    • Underwater Kiss: Tokaku was drowning at the time, so Haru kissed her to give her oxygen.
  • Lens Flare: A lot of it, as per the norm of anime nowadays, but one notable use of this is in episode 1, while Haru is reading through the class list.
  • Lighter and Softer: Episode 13, included in the Blu-ray/DVD release, is far lighter than the series proper, and heavy on comedy and Fanservice. Justified, since it takes place after the ending and Haru is no longer a target.
  • Living with the Villain: The setting is a boarding school.
  • Love Triangle: The manga presents one in the form of Hitsugi/Chitaru/Shiena. It's very short-lived.
  • Machine Monotone: Sumireko's robots comment on the tea and cake like this.
  • Made of Iron: During the series, Tokaku has been hit by an explosion, pushed out of a window, kicked across a room by a cyborg, and been crushed by a chandelier thrown at her by said cyborg. And yet, despite it all, she's able to walk and even run perfectly well almost immediately after.
  • Marionette Motion: The robot replicas of the assassins at Sumireko's tea party.
  • Masquerade: Class Black is a rumor to most of the student body and a regular class to their teacher.
  • Mercy Kill: Haruki wants to kill Haru to free her from her burden of being under constant threat. This might just be to try and justify killing Haru to herself, however.
  • Mirror Match: The last episode has two Tokakus fighting each other; one of them is Nio masquerading as Tokaku to test the limits of Haru's queen bee ability.
  • Mood Lighting
    • The fight between Tokaku and Otoya is shot with intense purple light. It diffuses as soon as Haru intervenes.
    • The fight between Tokaku and Haruki: at first, the lighting is dark blue because the fight's in the dark, but when Tokaku gains the upper hand, it turns bright red.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: In the manga, Hitsugi poisons Shiena after she finds out that Shiena is also in love with Chitaru. Whether or not she aimed to actually kill her is unclear, but Shiena is removed from the game nonetheless.
  • Mysterious Employer: The Academy Board Chairwoman, the founder and sponsor of Class Black, who directs the class through Nio. The chairwoman's identity and purpose are revealed in episode 11.
  • Mythical Motifs: The Kuzunoha clan is named after the same character in Japanese folklore.
  • Neck Snap: Subverted with Isuke, as Tokaku just knocks her out.
  • New Transfer Student: Everyone in Class Black, except for Nio.
  • The Nose Knows: All assassins have a particular, unpleasant scent about them, according to Tokaku. It's the fact that Haru smells different from them that first hints that she's the target.
    • Some, if not all, of the assassins have the same sense of smell that Tokaku has, since Nio deduces that Tokaku's not the target this way. In the manga, Nio's scent makes Haruki more distrustful of her than the others.
  • Not Growing Up Sucks: Suzu had to watch everyone she knew grow old and die while she stayed the same age. She also had to watch as her boyfriend got married to someone else and started a family. Her motivation to kill Haru is so that she can grow old and die like a normal person.
  • Not So Stoic: Tokaku after she thinks she killed Haru. Although there had been moments when she dropped her stoicism beforehand, this time she full on weeps. Twice
  • Oblivious Younger Sibling: Haruki's many younger siblings are unaware that their older sister kills people to provide for them.
  • Off Model: The animators tended to forget Nio's stockings. This wouldn't be a big deal if not for the fact that she wears them to hide the massive tattoos running down her legs.
  • Older Than They Look: Suzu.
  • Out-of-Clothes Experience: Tokaku and the spirit of her dead mother, after Isuke pushes Tokaku off a building. This is where she regains the ability to kill.
  • Overtook the Manga: The anime caught up with the manga around episode 5. Unlike other examples of this, though, the anime is based on the manga's original drafts, meaning it still follows the manga's plot despite the manga chapters not even being out yet. The manga, however, features several scenes between characters that the anime doesn't have, has more fleshed-out characters, and is more forward with the characters' sexualities and orientations. Some scenes in the anime have been changed around, though the anime also features scenes (such as Kouko's backstory) that the anime doesn't have or doesn't elaborate on. As such, it's best to experience both to get the full story.
  • Parental Neglect: A very severe case with Isuke, who was so badly neglected by her parents that she almost died. Luckily for her, Eisuke was there to save her. Unfortunately, he was too late to save her brother.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Haru and Tokaku, sort of. Haru's eyes are pink, and she's definitely the more girly one. Tokaku's colour scheme is very blue and she's a bit of a tomboy.
  • Psycho Lesbian: The vast majority of the characters, but especially Takechi... My God Takechi...
  • Rack Focus: The anime uses this extensively, sometimes shifting the focus over three different objects in a row.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Haru and Tokaku
    • Chitaru and Hitsugi also, if you can count Hitsugi's hair as blue
  • Resignations Not Accepted: Clover Home, Kouko's organization, accepts death as the only form of resignation. This is the reason Kouko needed to use her wish to try to quit.
  • Riddle Me This
    • Kaiba regularly sends Tokaku riddles through her phone. He seems to use them to gather some kind of information about Tokaku's development, and claims that Tokaku might be punished if she doesn't answer them.
    • Suzu's assassination attempt is built upon several riddles.
  • Removing the Rival: Poor Shiena.
  • Ring Ring Crunch: A variant in episode 3. When Otoya is woken up by an alarm clock, she brings her fist up to silence it... only to thoroughly crush Shiena's glasses instead. This was an intentional move and a crucial part of her assassination plan.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: The relationship between Hitsugi and Chitaru. Episode 6, and their dual Image Song, calls into question if it really was this or full-on love. The manga confirms it on Hitsugi's side, but Chitaru's is ambiguous.
  • Rule of Seven: Tokaku's first password attempt to diffuse the bomb strapped on Haru is 7777 and the other two have 7 on them; all of these happen in episode 7. To make things interesting, said episode stars Suzu, student no. 7 on the role, whose birthday is 7/14, and is 7th expelled.
  • Running Sequence: The fourth ending mainly features the focus character walking briskly to the beat of the song.
  • Runs with Scissors: Otoya charges at Tokaku with a giant pair of scissors.
  • Sadistic Choice: One of Suzu's riddles: "One in the water, in exchange for something valuable." The "something valuable" is a choice between the card containing the last clue that must be destroyed in order to escape the trap or Tokaku drowning underwater and losing her life, and thus dooming Haru by extension.
  • Scenery Censor: Lots of it, what with all the bath scenes, but the most creative one is in episode 6, which has a leaf cover Chitaru's behind. A sliding drop of water allows the leaf to bend just as Chitaru settles in the bath.
  • School Play: For Myojo's Anniversary Festival, Class Black puts on Romeo and Juliet, with Chitaru as Romeo, Hitsugi as Juliet, and Shiena directing. The anime version of the play has a twist in that the characters playing Romeo and Juliet actually die for real in front of the audience, while masking it as part of the act; the manga has a similar twist where Chitaru kills Hitsugi.
  • Secret Keeper: Haru portrays herself as innocent and oblivious, despite being privy to the truth behind the purpose of the Black Class.
  • The Seven Mysteries: Myojo Academy has seven wonders, but only three of them are mentioned, and only one of those three are actually investigated.
  • Shear Menace: Otoya's weapon of choice when cutting up cute girls to death to feel sexual pleasure. They come in two sizes; regular and fucking massive.
  • Shout-Out: Episode 7 has a couple of shout outs to Batman: The first combination to a code that Tokaku tries is 7777 (in Japanese, nana nana nana nana), and one of the cards used for the clue is a Joker.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Chitaru and Hitsugi throughout the OVA.
  • Sinister Surveillance: The entire academy and Class Black is constantly monitored by the chairwoman Meichi (and sometimes Nio, through a tablet-like device) through several hidden cameras.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Isuke serves drugged tea to Haru at one point. It doesn't work, thanks to all the surgeries Haru has been through.
  • Smashing Watermelons: Nio suggests doing this in episode 7, and Sumireko asks if they can use whatever weapons they want (being assassins), bringing out a sub-machine gun. Tokaku ends up slicing open the watermelon to find the first card they need for Suzu's game.
  • Stealth Pun: The term "black" here has multiple meanings in Japanese and regular slang, ranging from "elite" (see "black belt") to "illegal activity" (see "black company").
  • Super Strength
    • Haru once kicked Otoya so hard that she was thrown into the air and sent back a few feet.
    • Tokaku did the same to Haruki.
    • Sumierko's Artificial Limbs grant her this
  • Time Bomb: Suzu straps one of these around Haru's neck.
  • Together in Death: Chitaru and Hitsugi in the anime.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Haruki is hardly ever seen without a stick of "Rocky" in her mouth.
    • Tokaku seems to survive solely on curry. Many Tokaku/Curry jokes have been made by the fandom.
    • There are a surprising number of ships for Nio. Nio/Tokaku, Nio/Haru, Nio/Yuri, Nio/Isuke. But the fan favorite seems to be Nio/Melonbread.
  • Twelve-Episode Anime: With some of the interactions between the characters removed, they were able to squeeze the story into 12 episodes well enough. There's also an OVA.
  • Twenty Minutes In The Future: The story seems to be several years into the future. Myojo Academy has advanced technology such as touchscreen bulletin boards and tablets that can be linked to surveillance cameras. The fact that Haru's year of birth is labeled as 20XX supports this.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Three characters (Hitsugi, Haru, and Nio) are "fatally" stabbed in the heart and chest regions, but fully recover with no signs of lasting damage; Chitaru recovers perfectly fine after drinking a whole vial of poison; and Sumireko somehow fully recovers from falling down a 90-floor building. Out of all of them, only Haru's case provides any semblance of explanation: titanium in her ribs.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Shiena is taken out before she even gets a chance to do her attempt. Hell, in the anime she's out before we even learn anything about her.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 6. It breaks the assassin-of-the-day pattern of the previous episodes by eliminating three assassins at once, and presents the first instance of Character Death in the series by killing off the two assassins that were put in focus, while making parallels to Romeo and Juliet to emphasize the circumstances. By the end of it all, even Tokaku and Haru were shaken. Unfortunately, the ending mitigates the shock of the death scenes somewhat by reviving the killed without explanation.
  • Year X: Haru's birthday is shown be to January 1st, 20XX.