Welcome to this week’s article of The Good, Bad, and What The?, where we took a good, long look at characters in movies, video games, anime, and books and put them on the judgement table to see if they are worthy to be in their respective stories. I strongly believe that well developed characters are more important than anything else in a good story, so I always judge them hard. At the end of every character’s evaluation I will give them one of four ratings: Good for those characters that are developed and deserve their place in the story, Bad for those characters that have no place being made or interacting with anyone else in the story, What The for the characters I just can’t figure out, and then the characters who are dull as dishwasher will get the rating of Sack of Potatoes. Today on the judgement table: Tokaku Azuma, the main character of the anime “Riddle Story of Devil.”
“Riddle Story of Devil” follows the two girls, Tokaku and Haru, as they try to survive a class known as Class Black. The cover is that Class Black is a class for special and exceptional students. In reality, it is a class with thirteen girls, twelve of which are assassins and the thirteenth is the girl they are all trying to kill, Haru. The class is done in a competition style where the girl who successfully kills Haru can get anyone one thing she wishes as her reward. Tokaku, however, slowly starts to get feelings for Haru and as such, vows to protect her from all of the other assassins. Haru and Tokaku fight to survive through the onslaught of enemies so that Haru can graduate Class Black.
Tokaku is a girl who has been raised since birth to be an assassin. She was born into a famous family of assassins who are considered to be some of the most dangerous warriors alive. As such, Tokaku is very cold and disconnected. She does not have much emotion or reveal anything about herself, really. Most of the assassins are quieter and less emotional than normal people. This makes sense, as they are assassins and are trained to be this way; they have to in order to be good at killing. Tokaku is even more disconnected and quiet than the other assassins. She only speaks when necessary and never really changes her facial expression. She has two faces: stone cold and her “It’s fighting time” face. For a lot of characters, this is a pretty boring attitude to have. Why would you want someone who is totally blank all the time? You don’t, really. In this case, I let Tokaku get away with it. The reasons come down to the fact that she is a girl who from birth has been trained to battle and be emotionless so that she can be ready for the kill. When being trained your whole life this way, it is very hard to break the mold of how you were raised. Tokaku being the way she is doesn’t actually really detract from her character because you know so much about her past. What it really does is make you sympathize with her because she has no choice but to be this way. As I have said before, creating a character that you feel sorry for or have emotion towards in anyway is already a god success. There is another reason that makes you feel for her that I will talk about a bit further down.
Now like I said, it is very hard to change your ways when you are raised as strictly as Tokaku was. She was disciplined and trained like a machine. This doesn’t mean that she couldn’t open up or become vulnerable given enough work. Haru manages to pull this off. Tokaku’s feelings for Haru cause her to become very out of character at some points. She says things and talks to Haru very differently in comparison to anyone else. She tells Haru about her past and opens up some really vulnerable points in herself. This happens with people all the time. When you are in a deep relationship with someone, you tell them things and open up about stuff you wouldn’t normally talk about at all. This actually gives Tokaku some relatability, even though she is a hard edged assassin. You get the feeling of ,“Aww she really does have a heart. Sometimes.” All of the characters in the show have a story behind them or stuff that they are hiding that could give you some thought. One of the characters even has gay dads. Her reason for being in Class Black is to try and get the reward and live happily with her dads. Each character has that hidden emotional side to them. Tokaku, as I said before, does have one other aspect to her that makes you kind of feel for her.
Tokaku is the only assassin of the twelve that has never killed anyone. Her aunt, who didn’t really want her to be part of the assassin world, told her to try and avoid killing. She told her to think of a holy shrine anytime she is feeling like she is about to kill. She heeds her aunt’s words and thinks of that shrine every time she is about to go for blood. This means she is constantly struggling with doing what she was made to do. It makes you feel the mental arguing she has to go through and at times, it makes her hesitate. It also shows that Tokaku actually as a rather hard time thinking for herself often. There are multiple cases showing that she is easily influenced by certain people. This also is why Haru sways her in some cases. You feeling really bad for her as you learn that her lack of emotion is used to defend herself and her sometimes weak mental state.
The verdict on Tokaku is Good. She is a character you empathize or sympathize with as well as a character who you want to delve into more. You want to understand her better and learn as much as you can. If a character leaves me that curious, then something must be done right. I found that this anime was a situation where the over arcing story wasn’t super interesting, but each individual character had me intrigued when they revealed things about themselves. This was an anime I found myself liking a lot because of the characters. My one complaint is that for a show about assassins, it wasn’t very gorey or violent at the best of times. This however is very much a subjective problem and not an objective one.