Kill the really good anime series.
What’s the Story?
Tatsumi is a bright and idealistic young man, he heads out to the Capital so that he can make a living, and save his struggling village from poverty. His naive ideals are soon shattered though, when he discovers that the Capital is overflowing with corruption. He joins Night Raid, a group of assassins, who make it their mission to punish the wicked, and who one day hope to lead a revolution that will free the Capital, and the kingdom, of this darkness forever. Unfortunately the path towards this goal is not easy, and much blood shall be spilled along the way.
Just to start, I’d like to say I really enjoyed this series, but there is one aspect of it that I think will turn some people off, and that’s the body count. Seriously, the amount of people that die in this series is astronomical. If you’re not prepared to watch characters that you care about die on a near regular basis, I’d probably suggest trying a different anime. Normally I myself don’t like an overabundance of killing in what I watch, especially when its main characters that are getting the chop, but Akame ga Kill has found some kind of magic formula. With a lot of series like that, eventually characters dying becomes just another plot twist, you become numb to a character’s pain, and there’s always the argument of, if you know they’re just going to die, why should you bother investing in the first place? Akame ga Kill somehow manages to get around that and keep you invested. Most of the deaths are genuinely sad, as the characters have a last heartfelt moment before they pass on (I have no shame in attempting that this show has had me in tears on a couple of occasions).
I think what keeps it interesting, is the fact that people never die as you expect them to. There is always a twist, or things won’t go the way you expect. You’re constantly on the edge of your seat trying to guess who, how or even if someone’s going to die this time. You get especially nervous when a character starts discussing their back story, but by the halfway point of the series, most of the characters have so many death flags on them that any one of them could die at any moment.
It helps that the characters are all really fun too. They’re not exactly deep, but they all have distinct personalities and they’re extremely likeable. They all have just enough of a back story, and enough different shades to their personality for you to invest in them quickly and easily. The thing I like most about them though, is that the characters (outside of Tatsumi at the start) are under no illusions. They are not heroes. They are simply bad people killing worse people. I like that, because a lesser series would have passed these characters off as the pure and noble heroes for us all to cheer for, but instead it admits that this is a very morally grey area.
But the series doesn’t just let us invest in the heroes, it lets us get to know our villains too, and even feel sad when they die. The villains aren’t exactly deep either, but it’s shown that they can just be as goofy as our heroes, and in some cases just as caring. Most of them are twisted psychopaths, but likeable twisted psychopaths.
There are only two characters that I feel get the short end of the stick. There’s Run who hardly ever has any focus or development. His back story is pretty much thrown in during the second to last episode just to get it out there. I know why that is though, it’s because the arc that dealt with his story was cut from the anime so that they could hit their ending within 24 episodes. And yes, the anime has an original ending. It manages to stick pretty close to the manga throughout its run, just having to rearrange a few things, and the actual ending (though not the greatest) feels like a natural and logical conclusion for the most part. It fits with what came before, and I’ve seen far worse original endings. (Besides I tend to prefer having an actual ending, than being forced to go read the manga to find out what happens next.)
The other character that gets left out of the picture too often is an odd one. It’s our title character Akame. I don’t know if other people feel the same, but I had trouble investing in Akame. She’s a perfectly fine character, and I do like her, I just don’t feel for her like I do all the other characters. Maybe it’s that her back story, though a sad one, is only ever told to us. I never felt her carrying the weight of her previous life (not until towards the end of the series anyway). Or maybe it’s that when I first saw her I was expecting this stone cold badass, and instead I got this badass who’s warm and goofy, and likes to eat a lot of meat. The show never felt that interested in her either, giving a lot more focus to all of the other characters. Honestly I felt a lot more sympathy for Akame’s sister.
Something this series excels at is mixing its goofy shonen antics with the darker subject matter. You’d think it would be really jarring, and although it is shocking, it all feels apart of the same world and show. It never takes you out of the moment. I also have to praise this series for its fight scenes. The animation is generally of a really good quality, but it hits another level once the fighting starts. You can’t help but cheer and gasp as the fights get bigger and wilder. This is all backed by a fantastic soundtrack, and once certain tracks start, you know stuff is going to hit the fan, and it never disappoints in that regard.
Not exactly deep or thought-provoking, but a consistently fun ride, filled with likeable characters and some fight sequences that are worthy of legend. The darker aspects of the show, and the final body count, may be off-putting for some though.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.