Tatsumi is a naïve country boy, trained by a former captain of the Capital’s army in the ways of the sword, who has come to the Capital to find fame and fortune to save his village from starvation at the hands of overtaxation. Idealistic and eager to prove himself, he slays a giant monster that is attacking a wagon travelling on the main road… upon revealing his intentions, a cloud falls upon the guard of the wagon’s face and they attempt to warn Tatsumi, but their warnings fall on deaf ears…
Off to a Good Start
I just wanted to spend some time acknowledging something that is so often not done well: the opening episode. You’d think, with how important first impressions are, that shows would put more emphasis on ensuring a good start… but so few shows do and many shows end up suffering because of this. Akame ga Kill is not one of these. I would, in fact, argue that Akame ga Kill’s opening episode is one of the most effective anime introductions I’ve ever seen. Possibly even the most effective.
It provides you with a good context for what the show will be, it gives you an understanding of the primary characters, the political situation, the themes of the show… and it does it without ever being obvious about it. You come to understand just how rotten the Capital really is, both in the big ways and the small ways, you get to understand the reason for Night Raid – the assassin group trying to undermine and eventually overthrow the Capital – and you’ll begin to see things start to be put in place for the rest of the show. It really sets the stage very well, and it’s something I’d love to see more often.
Akame ga Kill is not following this year’s trend of ‘good shows with bad pacing’. They keep things interesting by making episodes serve multiple uses. Every episode progresses the overall story while also establishing characters and giving a deeper understanding of the dynamics within both Night Raid and the Capital. Sure the show does the standard ‘each episode establishes a character’ thing we’re all used to… but these episodes aren’t just throwaway. There is so much information in each episode, so much foreshadowing and development that it surprises me the episodes don’t seem overloaded. But, as I mentioned regarding the first episode, it just does so many things right in terms of the way the episodes are structured. Time isn’t wasted, but nothing is ever taken to excess… well…
Except the violence.
Gratuitous is the best descriptor for the show’s action. It’s gory, it’s violent, it’s exciting and it’s brutal. It doesn’t hold back, in fact it feels a lot like Attack on Titan except it doesn’t take itself so seriously. For example, there’s a character who has her minion bite off parts of her body in order to reveal various weapons she’s been artificially ‘enhanced’ with. For the most part, the really weird stuff happens to the bad guys. Night Raid’s special weapons are far more tame. A special suit that makes you powerful and lets you go invisible, a sword that kills anyone whose flesh it contacts, a belt that lets you tap into your inner beast, a shapeshifting item, a gun whose power depends on how desperate its wielder is…. they’re all fairly tame.
That doesn’t mean the battles are, though. When you clash these fairly tame weapons against some of the more absurd weapons Akame ga Kill’s creators could dream up… you get thrilling excitement, and suspense. Akame ga Kill is not afraid to kill off its protagonists. Try to avoid becoming too attached to people, because you never know who is going to die. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to avoid becoming attached to most of the characters… because, honestly, I’d have to say that most of the characters are not all that well written.
A Good Bad Guy
The show features a very large cast – on both Night Raid and the opposition – and sadly, in this case, size truly does matter. For it is the size of its cast that prohibits it from really developing many of the characters. It tries, it just doesn’t often succeed. A few characters turn out well… including the two protagonists: Tatsumi and the titular Akame. But aside from them, only a few characters really have time to shine, and oddly enough a few of them are among the series villains. Most notably General Esdeath.
Esdeath is easily one of the best ‘villains’ I’ve seen in a show in a long time. She’s a deep character, who is working for evil but isn’t exactly evil herself. She just has the unwavering belief in the concept of survival of the fittest. If someone is defeated, it is because they deserved to be… but at the same time, she has a strange desire to understand and feel love. Watching her try to come to terms with love produces several of the show’s highlights.
Akame ga Kill is one of the most well done action anime I’ve seen lately. Its strong primary cast overcomes a weak secondary cast and interactions with intriguing villains make the show never lack for interesting moments. Additionally, its action doesn’t disappoint… featuring not only intense excitement but more importantly constant suspense since you really are never sure exactly what is going to happen. It’s a great, and kind of disturbing, feeling… and it’s why I keep going back to Akame ga Kill.
Just as a final note… while the show’s soundtrack is not up to the par of some of this season’s amazing musical powerhouses, it certainly isn’t bad.