To kill or not to kill, that is the question. In the world of Akame ga Kill, it’s more than just about killing as survival fits to those who wish to live for something to fight for. Sounds complicated? Not really. Akame ga Kill preys on a simple concept despite playing complexity on the tactical front. To put it into simple perspective, we have a prestigious and well developed Capital taking place as the major setting. While it looks industrialized and well functioned on the outside, there are dark secrets and corruption on the inside. The ones who fight this corruption consists of the main characters as an elite unit known as the Night Raid, as part of the Revolutionary Army. They don’t just kill for the sake of it but for a purpose. In this show, that purpose is to rid of corruption as a young man named Tatsumi finds out the hard way.
Based off the manga of the same name, Akame ga Kill isn’t an easy show to get used to at first. From a standard perspective, it is the author’s only work to date (besides a prequel based off the story). He experiments with a fantasy world cast in shadows by corruption and brings in characters as the actors in a seemingly dark age. While the show takes itself seriously with the dark fantasy premise and mature setting, one should also question about the overall delivery of the series. Controversially speaking, there are doubts at first. For the first half and parts of the second half, the show remains faithful to the material. Then, it decides to go with a route that I find it to be laughable for the wrong reasons. Still, let’s get started and see what Akame ga Kill has to offer…
The few episodes wastes little time to get the point across in the AkG world. Tatsumi almost becomes a scapegoat during his journey as he himself believes that Night Raid is evil. In reality, corruption takes hold where he almost ends up being a victim. The truth is realized soon enough as the young boy faces the grim reality. However, he makes his own decision to join Night Raid and rid of the corruption that holds the Capitol and perhaps the rest of the world. Essentially, that’s how it starts anyways but Tatsumi also learns more about the group of people he is allied with now that he is part of Night Raid. As such, the few episodes introduces the other members. Titular character Akame is perhaps one of the most prominent member of Night Raid as her first encounter with Tatsumi almost ends up getting the latter killed. Coming off seemingly as a cold girl with social awkwardness, she is also a skilled fighter with good intentions. The problem with Akame is that perhaps she is a bit way too focused on her motivations. Throughout the series, there’s little depth we realize about herself despite some minor flashbacks between her and a sister she used to hang around with. Her actions throughout the show also seemingly include vengeance not only against the Capitol but her own dear sister. While the reason is explained vaguely, there’s just not a lot we can appreciate about her role. Her relationship with Tatsumi is perhaps the strongest compared to the other members of Night Raid though. So in some ways, we can say that she is a character with a lot of potential but the show just doesn’t make her a well-developed character.
Other members of Night Raid falls under a lot of generic tropes. These include head boss Najenda, Leone (the older sister type), Mine (tsundere), Bulat (the older brother type), Lubbock (ongoing carefree dude), Shelee (quiet type), among others. Tatsumi himself is also saturated with generic tropes such as his heroic personality and to do the “right thing”. His motivations does have influence among other members of Night Raid as they see him as a trusting member and one who is determined to achieve his goals. Perhaps one other character in the show sees him as a bit more beyond just a warrior though. Coming from the outskirts of the Capitol is General Esdeath, a feared sadist and leader with a deadly reputation. Esdeath’s debut marks the exact expectation that viewers might have her as a leader. However, her encounter with Tatsumi might rub off in the wrong way. You could call it as an infatuation or obsession, but her personality takes a 180 degrees after realizing the power of “love”. Rather than love though, it’s more like a one-sided relationship as the world of Akame ga Kill is not pretty. If you don’t believe me, then the body count might serve as a more credible evidence. Regardless if you’re a member of Night Raid, Jeagers, Revolutionary Army, or the Capitol’s military, the show isn’t afraid to kill off characters.
Esdeath isn’t alone as an adversary of Night Raid however. Leading a group known as the “Jeagers”, she plays a role as an anti-villain. Some of the members of Jeagers have their own morals and ideologies. Still, there’s also this presence of black and white morality that is dominated throughout the series. Some characters such as Seryu (from Jeagers) kill for what they perceive as justice while others simply sees it as an order like Boris. Then, there are also misguided examples such as Wave who doesn’t realize the truth revolving around the corruption of the Capitol. Nonetheless, the series makes a point clear that it controversially creates an atmosphere of ideology clash. And often or not, these result in various consequences such as extortion, torture, and death. Make no mistake though. This show isn’t shy to craft violence from what it has set up.
Even in a dark fantasy world such as AkG, there are also time to squeeze in comedy. Perhaps I imply this as underhanded but the show actually pushes that more than you might expect. Comedy is represented sometimes as generic while other times just misplaced or rather awkwardly timed. The quick precision shift between comedy and graphic violence sometimes also seems unreal to believe. In other words, one needs to be aware of the way the show is adapted when venturing into its execution. Fortunately, the series manages to rebound against this with serious elements of mature content to stay true with its premise. While the story seems quick paced at the times, Akame ga Kill also creatively build up certain points throughout the story and effectively manage it on most parts. As a reader of the manga, it pleases me to realize that they didn’t forget the most important parts. It’s obviously evident that there is enough material to simultaneously turn its source material into animated form and as such, I give praise to White Fox for doing just that. And when it comes to violence, this show is like a middle finger to recent series that are obstructed by censorship. (ex. Terra Formars, Tokyo Ghoul)
While world building isn’t a strong content of the series, the mechanics and origins is insightful. It is explained in a way that viewers should not be confused. The instance falls quickly with powerful weapons known as Teigu (in English, referred to as Imperial Arms). They are the most widely feared tools that are featured throughout the series with a variety of uses. These include but not limited to invisibility, one-shot kills, animal instinct, sharpshooting, ice manipulation, shape-shifting, pyrokinesis, and among others. The origins behind some of these Teigu are also explored. And with that, you can expect spectacular action when characters puts them to use. Well-coordinated movements, strategies, and jaw-breaking cinematic are a key to this success. Thankfully, Akame ga Kill does that in a profound way. As each Teigu is also different, the show also makes good usage of their strengths and weaknesses so you can expect some exciting duels in full throttle.
As I said before, the show had a decent start with what it has done with the adaptation. But this isn’t the main concern of the series in regards to fitting with characters’ roles. It’s the way the story is adapted later on when for some reason, the series derides from the manga. Instead, it crafts filler and makes up its story as it goes. Some of them not only have episode transitions that doesn’t make sense but also ones that are seemingly too rushed. And like I said before, the show isn’t shy to kill off its character cast. However, all is abrupt and devoid of development. There’s little feeling that you’ll feel with some of the characters killed off later on (especially beyond episode 20). It’s almost like an insult for the fans hoping to see a faithful adaptation when it decides to make up its own little story.
When it comes to visual quality, White Fox is able to actually get some parts done right. They are able to take this show’s animation quality to a level of what it should be – graphic and straightforward. It remains brutally honest with what it tries to accomplish such as severed limps, beheading, and torture. In short, the show isn’t a fairy tale fantasy but rather make its point as a dark world of malevolence. Action is directed with strength in its movements while the world setting is credible with the backgrounds. Dangerous creatures known as the “Danger Beasts” are present throughout the show as well that are carefully crafted to show their animalistic brutality. On the other hand, character designs can be an oddball. Certain characters such as Akame wear outfits that doesn’t make them look like who they should be. Tatsumi’s design is also blend as the main protagonist while other characters are exaggerated by their manga counterparts such as Esdeath. And the show isn’t shy with fan service either so be prepared for some eye candy goggles.
While not a powerhouse, soundtrack does play an efficient role. In particular, action scenes are supplemented by the OST with the intense pacing of the fighting. Emotional scenarios also exist so expect some solemn tunes to play out its purpose. However, character voice mannerisms can be a bite to the heart. Again, I have to emphasize that Tatsumi is one of the most generic characters known to mankind. His voice shifts between mature and childish in what can seem like a split second time-frame. This inadequate balance is a pain to deal with as such with some with other characters albeit with less focus. In essence, the show has moderate voice mannerisms when it comes to its cast. However, I do give praise to the VA for Akame, Sora Amamiya. She is able to play roles as soft spoken characters such as Kaori (One Week Friends) and Elizabeth (Nanatsu no Taizai) but is also able to portray Akame in this series; a cold spoken assassin. Did I also mention that she sings the OP song for the first half? Speaking of which, the theme songs conveys this show accurately with contrasting moods between the opening and ending.
To cap this off, it’s easy to say that Akame ga Kill is a show that might not be suitable for everyone. I don’t say this on a graphic content perspective but rather with the whole premise and what it tries to do. In fact, the premise is solid and stays true to itself throughout the show. It’s just that the direction has some crude markings when it comes to timing and balance. The way it derails from the manga adaptation makes it look like a joke. Generic characters are also something to aware of especially in the case of our dull main protagonist Tatsumi. His relationship with other characters only shines when it revolves around the main story. On the other hand, mechanics and concepts of the show deserves praise. While nothing stands out as original, the show is clever with the world setting, themes, and artificial weapons/tools. The show also does justice with the buildup and cliffhangers it creates to anticipate what’s to happen next for the majority of the first half. However at the end of the day, this show is one of those sick series where it kills itself.