Fair Warning: This is not a spoiler free review! This show is far too difficult to review without spoilers, so go watch it and come back if you don’t want me to ruin the plot for you!
After the last Sentai review, this show was a welcome reprieve. After seeing the Twitter posts by Sentai Filmworks (when it was on Toonami), I was stoked to watch this anime. After 24 episodes I can honestly say that the hype was fairly justified in my opinion. I can certainly see where critics of the show have their complaints, but these really didn’t bother me as much as I thought they would. However, I am jumping ahead of myself. Without further ado, please enjoy my review of…
Studio: White Fox
Director: Tomoki Kobayashi
Aired: 7/7/14 – 12/15/14
Episode Count: 24
Languages: Japanese with English subtitles, English
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Streaming: Crunchyroll, On Sale HERE
Price(s): SE DVD’s $34.49, SE Blu-Rays $42.26/$40.29, CE Blu-Rays $74.79
Akame Ga Kill came out shortly before I found my way to (legit) streaming sites, and at the time I was only watching maybe a show or two a season. That being said this was a show that I had not seen, and I was pretty excited to watch it for the first time. I would have been happier had people not semi-spoiled it for me by calling it the “Game of Thrones of Anime”, but when you’re out there on social media some spoilers are to be expected I suppose. Even with the small spoilers I found myself really enjoying this show, though that may be due to the fact that I had just finished an incredibly cutesy show.
The story takes place in a fantasy setting, wherein a vast empire has controlled a large stretch of land for a thousand years. The current Emperor is a child, who receives council from Minister Honest. Can you see where this is going? Sit tight kids. The outlying villages and tribes are constantly bled for money and resources by the capital, and any dissent is harshly put down by the military. It is in this world that we meet Tatsumi, a young man from an outlying village who seeks to make it big in the capital to save his village from hardship…
That’s where episode one, and the spoilers begin. In his first trip to the capital Tatsumi is rejected from the military, and has all his money stolen from him. However, he finds solace in the kindness of a rich young woman and her family who take him in. On his first night in the rich family’s home the entire family is attacked by assassins, and Tatsumi fights to keep the daughter alive. That is until the assassins (known as Night Raid) reveal to him that this family are sadistic torturers of the peasantry, who have killed his childhood friends. Tatsumi kills the rich girl, and is recruited into Night Raid to help bring down the tyrannical government.
The story from this point turns into a hodgepodge of action and thriller, with hints of shounen and ecchi anime thrown in. The enterprising Night Raid pulls jobs to both help the people, and fill their coffers in a murderous rendition of Robin Hood. They do this by using their advanced weaponry known as imperial arms, which are super weapons that were created by the first Emperor. Early into the show we are introduced to the Game of Thrones aspect to the show, as members of Night Raid begin to die. Characters drop their backstory often, and after episode 6 you begin to wonder if backstory is a precursor to death. Just about the only person you can ever be sure isn’t going to die is Akame, but that’s only because her name is in the title. Even then…
Despite losing members Night Raid becomes a royal pain in the Empire’s collective ass, so a team is formed to deal with them called the Jaegers. The captain of this team is one of the strongest generals in the Imperial Army, Esdeath an eccentrically murderous and (ahem) well toned woman. She brings together a motley crew of the empire’s most capable imperial arms users, including Akame’s own sister Kurome to bring down Night Raid. While the Jaegers and Night Raid dance around and occasionally come into contact with one another, the resistance builds up it’s strength to overthrow the Empire.
The whole story comes to a head when the resistance army finally attacks the capital. During the final battle Night Raid invades the capital to kill the evil Minister, and usher in a new age. Spurred on by the Minister, the Emperor uses his Imperial Arm which is a giant mech. Through team work the remnants of Night Raid and the Jaegers are able to subdue the Emperor and save the people, but Tatsumi dies in the confrontation.
The final episode shows the last battle between the the Empire and the Resistance, as Akame and Esdeath fight for the fate of the world. After a (very) well animated fight, Esdeath is bested and resigns herself to die with her beloved Tatsumi. The minister is killed by Leone (who recruited Tatsumi into Night Raid), but she is killed in return. In the end the boss of Night Raid (Najenda) and Akame are the only survivors of Night Raid. Najenda works to create peace in the new world, while Akame decides to become a wanderer.
In terms of anime storylines this one was pretty damn good. I agree that the case can be made that it became predictable, and that the end was somewhat rushed due to the constraints with the manga. However, I think White Fox did an excellent job with what they had to work with. It was nice to see a manga adaptation anime end, and not simply be a hype gauge for manga volume sales (cough Attack on Titan cough). Akame Ga Kill kept me on my toes, and even subverted my expectations from time to time (I did not expect Leone to be in the last episode). While it’s not the best story I’ve ever seen, it was good for what it was.
There are a ton of characters in this show, and the rule of thumb is, “If you think they’re going to die, they probably are.” That being said that mentality still didn’t keep me from falling in love with some of them. I know a lot of them are cliche as hell, but their antics and their love for their comrades (even the Jaegers) was endearing to me. Some characters I absolutely hated, but even then I understood that making the audience hate them was their purpose in the show. The only lost potential I noticed in the show was the rushed endings that led to some pretty abrupt deaths.
Akame herself wasn’t my favorite characters at the start of the show, but by the end I was a big fan of hers. She transitions from nearly emotionless killer to faithful comrade in arms pretty smoothly, and her emotional scenes were gut wrenching as well. I honestly wouldn’t mind a spin-off manga/anime where we get to see the wandering Akame solve the problems of the new nation vis-à-vis Ruroni Kenshin.
On the other side of the protagonist coin, Tatsumi seemed to be a generic shounen character to me at first. His dialogue was very much centered on things like justice and strength, but as the series progressed we saw a bit of a change in him. He matured as an assassin, not even letting the tragedy of Mine’s death affect him. I was glad to see the progression, and honestly shocked that he died. Not as shocked as I was in the way Leone died (she was my favorite), but socked none the less. Yes most of the character development in the show came rushed, but for what they had to work with White Fox did a decent job in character development.
Visuals and Music
The animation of Akame Ga Kill isn’t the flashiest, but it does stay consistently above average in most cases. Due to the vastness of culture in the empire the character designs and backgrounds are incredibly varied, with few characters looking alike. The monsters in the show are similarly interestingly animated, though most monsters are simply fodder for the characters in the show to show how impressive they are. The fighting animations are great for the most part, with few dips in quality. The final battle between Esdeath and Akame was particularly fun to watch.
Musically this anime delivered a decent soundtrack. The background delivers perfectly thematic music for the situation that pulls you into the scene. Both openings did well to pump me up for the coming episodes, and both endings reflected the melancholy I felt at the end of most episodes. The sound effects weren’t groundbreaking, but they got the job done. If you haven’t seen it yet, be prepared for the sound of stabbing and blood spraying to become commonplace.
While I don’t think this show was terribly revolutionary (see what I did there), I do think that it does a fantastic job as an action anime. There are rudimentary issues with the predictability of some aspects of the show, and the pacing left the end a tad rushed. However, the story is solid in that it builds an interesting world and (unlike many anime of it’s kind) it actually has a decent ending. At the end of the day I can only ask myself the simple question, “Did I truly enjoy this anime, and do I think others will as well?” The answer, dear reader, is yes. I certainly did enjoy this anime, and I hope you do as well.
TL;DR: Akame Ga Kill is an action anime full of extremely fun-to-watch combat scenes. The animation and soundtrack pull you in, and the characters are sure to win you over… for as long as they’re alive. If you haven’t seen it I recommend you do so before it gets spoiled for you. Assuming you’re in the recommended audience age range, you should go watch it now!
Recommended Audience: 17 +. This show is full of blood, gore, swearing, and sexual themes. If you’re younger you’ll need parents permission etc, etc. Assuming you are of age then this show will appeal to you if you enjoy somewhat simple action anime with lots of blood. There’s also copious amounts of fan-service for those (like me) who enjoy it. Cheers!
Akame Ga Kill hacks and slashes through 24 episodes, only to take damage from a pea shooter at the end for 4/5 HP!