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No One Deserved a Happy Ending in Akuma no Riddle

June 22, 2014
by

akumadanglethingieJust a slight exaggeration there. Ever so slight.

So this Akuma no Riddle thing is done. We got a winner. People cried. People seemed to die. Hearts were broken. Sadness and death and I was a happy camper right up until that epilogue. This was a world of assassins and shit– BAD PEOPLE doing BAD THINGS. No one was some hapless victim in this show. Everyone had their baggage and their sins and all that, and they kinda had it coming when their dreams and lives and whatnot got crushed. Some more so than others, but this ain’t no sparkles and unicorns and happily ever after territory.

Except, well, that’s exactly what we got. We got happily ever after.

Barf.

No.

Not barf.

Fucking barf.

Let’s do a rundown of these endings. We have the Acceptable endings, the Kinda Acceptable But Not Really endings, and the No Fucking Way Fuck You Not Acceptable You Should Be Eaten By Fat Lemongrab endings.

Acceptable

Koko Kaminaga

She’s on the run from her former assassin church orphanage thing, since she failed to get her get out of the assassin life free card by winning the game. I’m not sure I’m cool with her being suddenly competent and gunning down those killer nuns, but whatever. Her ending had killer nuns. A-OK with me. She probably deserves her own spin-off dealing with the world of assassination in the organized religion world. She can take on killer kung fu monks and Arabic hoodie assassins and a Golgo 13 homage who’s, like, into Scientology or whatever.

Isuke Inukai

Life just sorta goes on for her. She and her “mom” are still gonna kill peeps for money. They just don’t have the moolah to retire. Oh well. Looks like they do fairly well for themselves as it is. All this makes perfect sense. She’s fully comfortable with this lifestyle. She didn’t seem to die when she got ousted from the game. She never seemed like the sort to have a change of heart. She could have her own spin-off as well. Make it into a sitcom and call it My Two Dads Deux.

Haruki Sagae

She gets a real job to support her huge family. She takes the Japanese equivalent to the GED. She looks to be trying to get away from the killer life, which makes sense since she was the only person in the game who seemed to have any real regrets about her actions. I’d like to see her occasionally moonlight as a contract killer to make some extra spending cash for the family, all while kinda hating herself for it. They only had so much time to show each girl’s ending, so I like to imagine that’s what’s going on with her. And yeah, she’s the only character in this whole show who I ever really believed could be “redeemed,” so I’m cool with her ending.

Kinda Acceptable But Not Really

Tokaku Azuka and Haru Ichinose

OK. I can buy Haru having titanium bones, so that the final blow wasn’t fatal. That girl seems to have been rebuilt so many times I can buy her being all Wolverine and shit. They should have gone full tilt on that and gave her claws and shit. So I’m not too irked that the tragic ending didn’t totally play out. At the same time, did they really have to go full on sappy with us with that closing ceremony and the diplomas and all that? Is this girl really so dim-witted that she still wants to be friends with all of these girls who tried to kill her? That isn’t a hopeful attitude. That just fucking insane. This girl needs help. Well, they all need help, but Haru especially needs to realize that if someone tries to kill you for a reward and you survive, you might want to just cut your losses and move on with your life. Just run off with your boring little gal-pal and live your dull little existence. No spin-off for you two.

Suzu Shuto

Nothing interesting happened during her ending, which is a shame since she was my favorite. I guess she’s kinda-sorta moving on or whatever, but that’s fucking boring. Snore. At least it wasn’t offensive.

Otoya Takechi

So she’s gone from what seemed like a maximum security prison to what seems like a minimum security prison where she works in a garden? This girl is a serial killing rapist. Is this anime’s world so used to that sort of thing that serial killing rapists get to have happy fun time with people serving time for far less serious crimes? I have to seriously question this world’s views on criminal justice.

Nio Hashiri

I can buy her surviving. She has the black magic but not really but maybe it is thing going on. She’s all mysterious and shit. She gets a bye when it comes to inexplicable survival. But that’s it. That’s all we really get out of her. She’s still alive. She’s still doing her thing. She doesn’t really have the sort of cute arc like Inukai or Sagae. Another “whatever” here.

No Fucking Way Fuck You Not Acceptable You Should Be Eaten By Fat Lemongrab

Shiena Kenmochi

She gets taken out before she can do anything. It was a genuinely awesome, anticlimactic moment, and seeing her still alive ruins all of that. Lame.

Banba

Nothing happened in the series for me top buy her not needing her other personality anymore. She got konked on the head or whatever and ousted from the game. There was no major emotional revelation or whatever. It may as well be like that episode of the Flintstones where Fred got hit on the head with a bowling ball and thought he was… whatever it was he thought he was. As far as I can tell, Banba probably went through the same sort of snuff film thing as the kids from Black Lagoon. Do you really think anything happens in this series for her to totally get over that sort of thing and lose her coping mechanism? If we take all of this at face value and she’s “cured,” then it’s a fucking cop-out and sucks. Ultralame.

Sumireko Hanabusa

Again, do we really buy into the idea that a killer cyborg raised to kill peeps is gonna give it all up to be a chef? Maybe a cannibal chef, or a chef who likes to cook some fancy dinner and have her victims sample it before being executed by her murder machine hands. That I’d buy. No way I’m buying her having a complete change of heart. That’s just fucking forced.

Romeo and Juliet

Why do you go through the trouble of creating a Romeo and Juliet analogy only to have them both survive and still be together after said survival? Juliet killed Romeo’s mentor’s daughter. Is Romeo gonna completely ignore that and be totally cool with being with said murderer? And to make things worse, how the hell did these girls survive? Juliet got a knife through the heart and has no excuses like Nio and Haru. Romeo drank an entire vial of the poison that supposedly kills someone with a small injection. They’re alive? No, man. No. That makes no fucking sense.

This is where the ending totally lost me.This is where the happy ending was so forced that it seems like the creator simply wanted to avoid any sort of ambiguity or sadness or whatever. It really kinda reeks of desperation on the part of whoever made this decision– they absolutely had to have no ambiguity about this being a happy ending. It’s on par with the likes of Minority Report as far as asinine cop-outs go.

Most of these endings were dull at most, but the Romeo and Juliet ending alone is gonna keep this series from hitting my Top 50. If they had the guts to admit that not all of these characters are capable of living happily ever after, it’d be way up there. With the Disneyfication of this world of assassins, it’s yet another anime where I like a lot of things going on, but the end product just ain’t all that.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2014 12:03 AM

    I can understand why anyone would be disappointed in the finale after expecting or thinking that the girls would die each week. To me, the anime had a number of themes and elements that suggested that they lived each week but wanted to present their failures as unknown outcomes. Haru’s constant emphasis on living/surviving/graduating early on and the theme of forgiveness at the start of the game were two that swayed my opinion. That and I can’t think of many anime have considerable fanservice AND kill female cast members. Usually, the two are mutually exclusive. So for me, I kinda expected there to be a happy ending heading into the finale and was fine with the ending and the series as a whole.

    Do you think you would’ve enjoyed the series better if you came into the finale expecting the girls to live? Or rather, what could the series have improved upon without changing the outcome of the series (with all the girls alive)?

    • Landon permalink*
      June 23, 2014 1:17 AM

      For one, if you don’t want characters to die, then don’t kill them. The Romeo and Juliet characters played out their respective roles. One got stabbed in the heart and the other drank a whole lot of poison. There was no real context there for them to survive that, especially since it was Romeo and Juliet. If they aren’t gonna die, why play out that parallel? I don’t see anything that makes that particular scenario work the way it did outside of “the writer wanted them to survive.” It’s just shoddy storytelling there.

      I knew most of them lived, because the series showed us that most of them made it out alive at the end of their respective episodes. But then it turned around and went out of its way to show those who did appear to die hadn’t AND gave everyone a very tidy, happy ending when said tidiness really doesn’t make a lick of sense. The only thing that really justifies this ending is Haru’s desire for things to end happily, and that just doesn’t jive. It wasn’t a theme so much as one character repeating her desire for things to work out over and over out of desperation.

      Basically, the context of the series doesn’t support its outcome. The only support for it is some metatextual expectations based on the fact that it’s anime with a bunch of female leads. That doesn’t jive with me either.

      • Manga Reader permalink
        October 8, 2014 11:07 AM

        Did you read the manga? … There was a fake and a real knife. And Chitaru killed Kirigaya with the REAL one.

        • October 8, 2014 11:49 PM

          Woulda approved this comment sooner, but wanted Landon to do it, since it’s directed at him. Alas, he’s a BUM! A lazy BUM!

        • Landon permalink*
          October 9, 2014 1:52 PM

          If reading the manga is a prerequisite for watching and understanding the anime, then the anime is that much worse.

  2. JovianDreamer permalink
    June 23, 2014 2:28 AM

    I was hoping the other girls had become sacrifices for Haru in some black magic ritual where she turns into a demon witch who controls the world with her Queen bee powers. Queen Bee Bitch Goddess. And Tokaku would have to kill her to save the world or something. I also wanted to see her kiss Haru after knifing her, but that’s just me. If this were the 80’s or 90’s, that’s totally what would have happened.

    • felix permalink
      June 25, 2014 11:33 AM

      The other way around. Haru is the queen bee so everyone in class is influenced sub-conciously to obey her order which is to live. If it is her aim to have the whole class happy together and that is what they will do.

      • June 26, 2014 9:50 AM

        I like that they’re essentially forced into living “good lives” in accordance to Haru’s own perspective, even if it’s not what they would truly want. Pretty dark ending. That would definitely be a better ending than what we got, but what I wrote with her being transformed into an eldritch abomination thingy is way more 80’s OVA-like and therefore way more COOL. The idea of turning a high school girl into a Lovecraftian monster through black magic ritual just feels like it belongs in an anime. So does having said Lovecraftian teenage girl make out with her former friend after being stabbed to death by her, but, again, that’s just sick, sad little me.

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