Akame ga Kill! Review

This is review number four hundred and three. This anime is part of the Summer 2014 lineup, and it’s called Akame ga Kill. It’s a twenty four episode anime about a bunch of Shounen characters killing each other, and it’s f*cking awesome. Let’s read on.

Story

The anime follows Tatsumi as he tries to make it big in his nation’s capital. He soon realizes that the place is corrupt and unwelcoming. He learns this the hard way when he discovers his friends were brutally tortured in the city. After learning of this great injustice, he soon joins the assassin group Night Raid. They kill the evil people of the capital while also helping the rebel groups slowly build a revolution. Tatsumi is heading into war, and he should be prepared because a lot of people die in battles. Only those that steeled themselves can truly move forward.

Taking the Pants Off

I saw the first few episodes of this anime back in my old laptop. The flickering screen kinda added to the awful experience I had with the first few episodes, so I really didn’t want to go back and re-watch this. The first episode didn’t really catch my attention, and I frowned at its haphazard storytelling. Of course, if I bothered to watch a little more, then I would understand why this anime exists. This show is actually pretty gawd damn incredible. It’s action packed, it has amazing gore and it features a lot of death. I mean a sh*t ton of death, but it harks back to what makes Shounen anime great. Akame ga Kill is a celebration of the genre, actually. Everything that makes the genre great is nicely represented in this anime, and the show even shares the genres weakness to a tee. It embodies the Shounen genre proudly, and I just love it. I consumed the remaining episodes I haven’t seen in just three days, and I was totally engaged with the show. I followed the characters, I got excited at every showdown, and I enjoyed every death scene. At its core, Akame ga Kill is a satisfying show, because it delivers on its promise. Shounen often leads its audience on, and drag fights out unnecessarily. This show doesn’t do that, as much, and it gives us pay off one after the other. A satisfying death to an evil enemy? An epic fight to send off a character? Two mega forces clashing, and the encounter ending in just three episodes? This is Shounen at its finest, and it’s truly a practice at what makes the genre amazing.

Oh gawd, look at me gush at this anime. I seriously tried to put this off as much as I could, and I hate myself for doing that. I lumped it together with shows like Locodol and Jinsei. I don’t even know if those shows are terrible, but my gut just wanted me to stay away from these shows until I finish the rest of the Summer 2014 lineup. Gawd, my gut was wrong on this one but the anime did start off a bit bumpy. The first episode didn’t really feel that good. I was expecting a story structure and some needed exposition about the world the main character is in, but the anime just decided to kill off a bunch of people. It didn’t feel right at first, because Shounen often starts with a journey and doesn’t really pull a death scene until the story settles. Yet here is Akame ga Kill showcasing gory death scenes in the first episode. A woman was sliced in half, a girl was tortured to death, and this cute black haired beauty slit so many throats that the entire thing just looks awesome. Yeah, the death scenes and the unnecessary gore will really pull you in, but the show will still feel off going into the first few episodes. For the most part, it featured this:

And then the show transitioned to this:

I dunno. I like the cold blooded assassin premise, but I just don’t think the Shounen tropes of having them talk about boobs and having naughty hi-jinks between them feels really right. I mean, there will always be a problem with mixing a serious story with fluff or comedy, because it will mess up the tone of the show. You can’t give us a scene of a girl being tortured by having her face peeled off, and then transition to the tsundere being TSUN TSUN and DERE DERE with the main character. I mean, it just doesn’t feel right. It takes a while to get used to this uneven storytelling of the anime. It’s really just there, and the best you can do is to ignore that it kinda ruins the awesomeness of the show. There are still some cool things to focus on in the first half though, but the uneven tone does serve as a distraction.

The first half of the show has a lot of awesome fights. The show really took its time to establish the characters, the premise and the world, but it did give us a lot of great scenes. The show follows Tatsumi joining Night Raid, an assassin rebellion group, and they’re tasked with just killing a bunch of people. The show mostly followed their exploits while also peppering the character introductions and the world building. We are introduced to the rest of Night Raid, while we also see them kill a lot of people. They really just go balls out with it. A character introduced in the episode will be killed there as well, and I have qualms with it, but I also just love the f*ck out of it. There was one scene where the guy in the armor didn’t just slice his enemy but he hacked them till they’re powder. Good gawd, overkill, right? But it’s so gawd damn awesome. We still get the annoying Shounen character tropes, like the tsundere and the kuudere and the clumsy girl, but all of the problem just goes out the window when they start killing people. Nothing matters more than just killing a bunch of people in the episode. I think the anime mostly got to a good footing when we reached the sixth episode, where we realize death can occur on Night Raids’ side as well. Suddenly, the show kinda makes a lot of sense to me.

A lot of people have a problem with this show, because it does look iffy from the get go. I hear complains about the moral aspect of the show, like how bad people are presented as psychopaths, and there’s also something about the show trying to act deep and philosophical but ends up botching the concept. I honestly don’t see it. This anime is dumb, and it’s just fast paced action. I don’t really think it’s trying to preach anything, and I don’t really think it’s trying to be political or anything else. This anime is just dumb Shounen. Bad guys are meant to be over exaggerated psychopaths. I mean, have you seen bad guys in Shounen anime? Sensui from Yu Yu Hakusho tried to purge the world because he saw a video tape of mankind being evil. It’s just a nice jumping off point for the action and awesome killing. It’s nothing more than a gimmick, and the whole story about “protecting people from a corrupt government” is just classic Shounen stupid storytelling. That’s why the anime mixes serious stuff with light hearted fluff with cliché Shounen characters. It’s not meant to be taken seriously from the start. It’s just a stereotypical framework for the juicy bits of the show, which is the killings and the action. This is made a lot clearer in the sixth episode, when one of members of Night Raid dies. The show has a flimsy premise and story, but it’s loaded with emotion. It has stakes, it tries to make you care for the characters, and the show will happily kill them off. Why? Just because. They fight in an epic showdown, and the audience is treated to just insane fast paced action. Who will die? One from the good guys or one from the bad guys? You’ll never know until the show decides to betray your expectations one more time.

That’s really the beauty of this anime. It defies expectations. While it’s rooted on dumb Shounen clichés, I can understand why some people would overthink the premise. The show does come off as a serious fight for freedom against a corrupt system, and the anime didn’t try to live up to its own hype. It did setup moral high grounds and fancy ideals, but it ruins it by really simplifying the characters. I mean, Lelouch had clear goals and a well-defined character. Why didn’t Akame ga Kill try to achieve the same thing? The first few episodes of the anime really promised a lot, and there are themes and juicy ideas to munch on, but none of that matter. This show is just a showcase of great Shounen things. Incredible action, goals of revenge and fighting for what they know is right, and epic encounters done right. I know some people won’t really like this anime, and the first five episodes really setup the rest of the show in a mediocre way. I can tell you though that the true beauty of the show peaks at around the sixth episode and beyond. The actual show starts there, and the story structure stabilizes from that point on.

This show has four chapters. The show is basically divided into four major stories, and I call them chapters. The first chapter covers the first eight episodes of the anime. It mostly establishes Tatsumi’s role while also introducing us to the anime. The Night Raid missions are often just kill missions, but the stakes get heavier as each mission progresses. The main point of this chapter is introducing us to the relics, which are special weapons people use to kill each other. The relics choose their owner, and the enemies moving forward will sport their own relics in the battles. The first chapter introduces us to the deadly capabilities of the relics of Night Raid. As the stakes get higher though and the danger of being killed becomes a factor, the show transitions to the next chapter.

The second chapter introduces us Esdeath, a scary mother*cker who was simply born to kill people. I love this character, because she gets scary each time we meet her. She lacks a conscience, she hates the weak and she enjoys battles. She even rejoiced when the rebellion erupted, because she gets to kill a mountain of weak people for fun. This woman is insane, and the show will weave her into the story. The action kinda stabilizes for the second chapter, because it just introduces Esdeath’s special squad to eliminate Night Raid. While we still see the poor non-relic people get decimated by the overpowered relic users, the show is also setting up the inevitable showdown between The Jaegers and Night Raid. As established before as well, the characters can be killed off in this anime. So an epic showdown between the two groups is promised to have both groups suffering casualties until no one is left standing on the opposing side.

One thing I love about this anime is how it just features incredible fight scenes. When the anime does feature a Jaeger vs. Night Raid encounter, the fight is just insane. A lot of people die, some many cool showdowns are established, and it also presented group encounters. This anime is so good at pacing battles that six members from one side can fight at the same time without breaking the pace of the fight. Everyone gets a shot in, and the enemy would be strong enough to justify a giant pile-on to happen. A relic vs. relic fight is great, but a relic vs relic and relic and relic and relic and relic is even better. As the stakes get higher, the fights become more complex. Special moves often don’t have effect anymore. Sometimes, you just need to attack at the same time to bring down an opponent and the show features this in an amazing manner. It’s even better in the manga, because the latter fights often have drawn out encounters with a super boss. This is actually one of the anime’s noticeable flaws. The show starts to feel a bit rushed.

This isn’t a big surprise though. Shounen anime always gets rushed for a number of reasons. For Akame ga Kill, the fights actually got insanely complex in the manga so they decided to cut some of them out. When Night Raid fought the government’s Commander-in-Chief, the anime featured a showdown between him and a character. In the manga, four people were charging at him while Night Raid was also trying to fend off Esdeath. Yeah, it was a giant melee. A character fighting Esdeath would abruptly jump over to save someone about to be killed by the Commander-in-Chief. In order to properly focus on the behemoth general, one character actually had to stall Esdeath and try not to get killed by her. It’s a complicated fight scene with so many bodies moving around and stuff. The anime tried to feature the awesomeness of the manga, but it was just too much. It wasn’t just the fight scenes though.

Certain story arcs are also cut out to make the anime shorter. Every Jaeger member had an elaborate background, but some of them were glossed over. In the manga, Run, the handsome angel winged smart ass, actually had a little subplot where he tried to kill a pedophile clown for killing his beloved students. He even brought Kurome with her, and it exploded in the two of them fighting the clown and his comrades. He even died and became one of Kurome’s undead puppets. This was obviously cut out in the anime due to episode constraints. Does it affect the overall experience of the anime? Yeah, because Run had a bigger impact in the manga than the anime. I mean, holy sh*t, when you deviate so much as to not kill some destined to die in the original source, you will undoubtedly ruin the story. Of course, this is what I’m talking about when it comes to the show owning up to the genres strength and weaknesses. Shounen kinda rushes at the end, a lot. To be surprised it happened in Akame ga Kill can only mean you invested so much in the manga, or you don’t really watch a lot of Shounen. I’m still saddened by Yu Yu Hakusho’s last arc. There were so many good subplots ruined by the rushed pacing.

Despite the gigantic deviation from the story though, the anime is still good on its own. It still features amazing fight scenes, incredible deaths and the stakes get heavier as the show progresses. In the third chapter, Night Raid had to infiltrate a cult and kill someone from the inside. This chapter felt the most rushed, because nothing really settled and you can tell things are being glossed over. Tatsumi and another character actually became a couple in the manga, but the anime just turned it into a puppy dog romance. The sudden spark of the revolution feels a bit rushed, and the big subplot about the prime minister’s son is also incredibly shortened in the anime. He had a good long arc in the manga (the Wild Hunt arc), so it’s disheartening to see him reduced to just an episode or two in the anime. The show still tried to own it though. They still captured what makes the rushed subplots good while also trying to race to the ending. Sure, if you read the manga, the anime will start to hurt, but it’s still really good in its own right. The anime’s pacing is still really interesting, and the build up to the final episode is still amazing. I was always in awe at the many things that happened in the third arc, but it soon mega exploded as we reach the final chapter.

The last chapter is the last four episodes of the anime, and it focuses on one final assassination. It’s the big one, and the inevitable final confrontation is soon to transpire as well. I love this last chapter, because it just featured all the great things about the anime. It steadily escalated its insanity, and the final showdown between the Jaegers and Night Raid is just fantastic. It carried so many emotions, and it was an appropriate blow off after long episodes of clashing and clenching their fist as they wait the day they can avenge their fallen allies. The final confrontation with Esdeath is incredible as well. Ok, it was a bit stupid but it was a Dues Ex Machina answer to a character basically made up of Dues Ex Machina. The show nicely wrapped up in twenty four episodes, and I really consider that a good thing. Sure, it could’ve been better but I really just enjoyed the hell out of this anime long before I realized how much it deviated from the original source. It still captured the spirit of the original source even though it did short cut its way to an ending.

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The anime has a lot of characters from both Night Raid and Jaeger, and even more from the government side. I’m not sure if any actual rebellion member played a story in the manga, but the anime is already overcrowded. Between the main stays and the one off characters, there are a lot to enjoy here. I don’t want to describe each character in detail, so just enjoy them when you watch the show. There are some interesting ones I’d like to single out though. The first would have to be Jaeger’s insane member, Seryuu Ubiquitous. I understand Esdeath’s character, because she reminds me of a very wonderful female version of Luca Blight. She even had a cool “die pigs” line in the anime, and I got chills from that. Seryuu is just fantastically insane though. She believes her brand of justice is absolute, and she kills anyone she thinks is evil. She doesn’t just slash their throat though. Seryuu is a wonderful image of “overkill” because she feeds her victims to her pet. Ohmygawd, I am f*cking scared of her, and I love characters that can draw such a reaction from me. To be completely unsettled and creeped out by her is just definite proof of how insane this girl is. She even allowed herself to be experimented on just so she can serve her justice more potently, and her transformation from a psychopath to an even bigger psychopath is just fantastic. If there was one character I both love and dread seeing, it would be this girl and her f*cking dog. Honestly, the dog scares me more but that’s just me.

Wave is another character that I really like, but he was a victim of the anime’s shortcutting. He clearly had a bigger role in the show, but the anime shortened it. I enjoyed this character though, because he’s like the true neutral character of the show. Tatsumi is more chaos neutral than anything else, and Wave is actually more of a good guy. He tried to be tough when he realized the government he was fighting for is awful, and he really cared for the other members of Jaeger. In a sense, he was the human component of the story, and the anime clearly needed him. We needed someone with a level head to actually point out how f*cked up things are, and we needed someone to truly internalize the hell the rest of the people are living in. The manga actually had a Wild Hunt arc, where Wave was front and center. The anime cut this out, but Wave mostly experienced sh*t as he discovers Bols’ family murdered by Wild Hunt. He soon starts to act out from Jaeger, and he slowly experienced hell once more when Run returned as an undead puppet. This caused him to cling onto the last Jaeger member and actually save Kurome from death. As he successfully holds onto the one good thing in his life, saving Kurome, he soon joins Tatsumi for the final battle in an epic redemption wrap up for an incredible subplot…..that the anime never presented. Go read the manga guys. I didn’t even read the speech bubbles. I just skimmed the panels and they’re awesome.

White Fox’s anime version is actually a very close adaptation of the original source. While the story deviated, the spirit of the original source is intact. Some things are honestly better in the anime, and the show is so good that it convinced me to read (skim, tbh) the manga. The anime captured the author’s energy, and this is White Fox at their best. This is a near close adaptation of the original source, and White Fox just understands how to properly tell the story. I’m just glad to know Steins Gate wasn’t a fluke, because I doubt we’ll ever see a precise adaptation like that one. Akame ga Kill is close though, and I want more of this. White Fox should just focus on making amazing adaptations like this one. Tomoki Kobayashi did a great job directing this anime. He honestly captured the pace of the manga, and he brought it to life. I know it’s hard to do, because I’ve seen the simplest manga turn into sh*t at the hands of the wrong director. Tomoki’s directing is so great that he met the challenge of the author. He understands his vision, and he even lifts actual panels and brings them to life. This guy directed Seiren, and I hated that show. I hope to gawd he does more great works like this one. Seiren is a 2017 anime though, so that’s worrying. My fingers are crossed though.

Sight and Sound

Tetsuya Tashiro’s artwork is incredible. Again, I skimmed the damn thing and I enjoyed the hell out of it. He has a way with flowing a panel that you can just read one panel, and you can enjoy it by itself. He also takes advantage of full page panels capturing the epic scope of the story. His pacing is so dynamic that it really feels like an anime moving on its own. The complex poses are consistent, the details are never compromised and the panel just screams awesome. He uses action lines and heavy inking to illustrate the tone of the story, and I love the way he heavily inks the foreboding lines of the characters. He never shy away from wide shots and he tells so much with just the faces. A panel would start with the characters clashing, but the following panels are just their expressive faces delivering the lines to give importance to their showdown. It’s amazing. This complex storytelling gets more insane when you realize latter battles are four on one or six on one, and the art work never lets up. Every character with their unique detail would interact with other characters, and it just combines into one hell of an experience. Tetsuya understands the art of manga panels, and he really utilizes every trick and style to tell a story. I’m just going to flash some of his awesome panels below, because talent like his deserves to be appreciated and celebrated.

As for the design, the characters are all amazing. The body proportions are incredible, and I love how Tetsuya would put them into complex poses without compromising the character design. In fact, the epic scale of the manga is highlighted by how much Tetsuya sticks to his consistent panels. No character design looks bad, and the fights would always keep the characters in mind above all else. The design fits the classic Shounen tropes the characters have, but it doesn’t really emphasize them alone. The facial expression and the way Tetsuya would twist some of them also defines a character. Some designs are simple though, but it nicely makes them standout. The anime nicely captured the author’s intention with the characters as well. In fact, the one off characters actually makes an impact because of how they look in battle. Despite some of them dying in the same episode, their well-conceived look leaves an impression. I do think a lot of the relic users have some good design in the show, because even relic users that end up being victim to other users have good design to them. I still remember the girl that the shota killed, by peeling her face, and it’s mostly thanks to her design. The character design also captures the world building of the show. Some characters have heavy clothes on, emphasizing their origin, while others have less on being from a hotter region. The designs are actually so complex that even the monsters are nicely presented. They look like generic beasts, but some still have an amazing menacing look that makes them standout. This is actually another Shounen element that I like about the show, because the genre boasts memorable characters. This twenty four episode anime also boasts a lot of them.

The animation is incredible. If you read the manga, then you’d be amazed at how well paced the anime is. The manga literally comes to life, and it’s amazing. The director never rushes the battles, because he knows this is the big reason why the manga is amazing. He even tried to capture some of manga panels in a creative way by featuring stills in some fights. I personally love the tilted camera angles showing off the confrontation between characters. It doesn’t just happen before a fight though. These tilted shots also end some of the battles, and I really love how White Fox captured that detail of the manga. The panels are actually moving in an organic way as well, and the anime tried to match that. The facial expressions are also top notch, and even the fluff moments are nicely animated. Of course, the anime also featured the gore in a nice fashion. It isn’t quite as brutal as the manga, because the original source is a sadistic person’s dream come true, but the panels featuring the kills are still nicely presented. The anime even captured the moment of the kill, because not all of them are brutal murders. Some are abrupt, sad and shocking so the anime captured the emotion of the moment as well. While the show does shorten the story, I still immensely respect how much effort they put into the animation. I’ve seen other studios skimp out on the awesome fights that the manga presented (like Arata Kangatari or Tokyo ESP), so the ones that does respect the original source gets immense love from me.

The anime has two OP. The first OP is “Skyreach” by Sora Amamiya. The song is pretty decent, and the loud rock arrangement does get you pumped for the show. Sora’s voice is pretty so-so though, and it doesn’t really standout that much. The song itself doesn’t stand out as much too. The lyrics is about fighting and abandoning your worries, and it’s a decent song. I just think it could’ve been better. The OP sequence does nicely capture the spirit of the anime though. It features all the characters and a slight introduction of their relics. The sequence also singles out Akame and Tatsumi while also nicely hinting at some of the characters death. The various shots of the characters looking out to the horizon are a nice touch. It encapsulates the emotions you’ll have for the characters, and I give points for that. The second OP is “LIAR MASK” by Rika Mayama. This is a better song, mainly because of its wonderful opening lyrics. It also builds to a decent chorus, but I just don’t feel anything from Rika’s singing. I don’t know, I just think she doesn’t really put much emotion to the lyrics, and that’s fine. The OP sequence, once again, is much better. It hypes the Jaeger vs Night Raid showdown, and it builds into an awesome fight between the two. The closing shot of Akame wounded but smiling is a bit too much though, but I still love it.

The anime has two ED as well. The first ED is “Konna Sekai, Shiritakunakatta.” by Miku Sawai. This is a lovely song about love showing someone’s weakness, and it does nicely fit the show. It’s a slow ballad about being in love despite having strong feelings, and it nicely captures how vulnerable the characters are. Miku also has a wonderful voice. It’s powerful, and it defines the song and its emotionality. The ED sequence are just the female characters looking all sad and sh*t. For a cool down moment for the show, I think it does its purpose well. The second ED is “Tsuki Akari” by Sora Amamiya. This is another wonderful song, and I actually like Sora in this one. She still kinda sings flat for my taste, but the song is powerful on its own. It’s about a broken individual continuing on because of his own conviction and strength. I love the lyrics, and it just nicely captures the emotion of the series. The ED sequence nicely pairs with the song as well, as it features Akame and Kurome side by side on a field of flowers. Kinda like innocence lost in the middle of mayhem. I love it. I also love the opening visuals of the two lying in water with rose petals beside them. It’s a very powerful visual, and I just love how it looks.

Overall Score

9/10 “The action is intense, fast paced and wonderfully told. It does commit the sin of most anime adaptations, but the show still greatly respected and admired its original source.”

This anime isn’t perfect, and I know some people hate it. I mostly disregard the story though or the moral themes it halfheartedly presents. I love this anime just for the sheer dumb fun it presents. It gives us amazing fights, satisfying deaths and awesome confrontations just for the hell of it. It’s Shounen at its most simplest and enjoyable, and I love the show for that. It starts out bumpy, but the anime experience is amazing once you start getting into it. The show does feature the strengths and weaknesses of its genre, but it’s a testament to just how amazing the show is. I recommend it.

13 thoughts on “Akame ga Kill! Review

  1. You really had me with eth Sensui statement. Btw, will you ever watch Revolutionary Girl Utena now that there is 20 year manga sequel.

  2. I have many disagreements with this but there’s nothing wrong if you actually enjoyed it.
    In fact, I’m glad you managed to find so much enjoyment from this show.

  3. ” Esdeath, a scary mother*cker who was simply born to kill people.” That succinct description though.

    Nice to know that you read the manga too and also know about the deviations. Glad to hear you enjoyed the show~

    • thank you for the comment.
      i honestly skimmed it, and just tried to understand the parts the anime left out. if the show had more episodes, i’m sure the wild hunt arc would’ve properly been presented.

  4. Good to hear you enjoyed this. So did I – it was simply a hella lot of gory fun, even if most of the humor fell flat. Very accurate description of Maurice.

    • i’m honestly surprised at how many negative reviews I see of it, but i guess it just didn’t click with others. and yeah, the humor is awful. i do agree with that, especially the first few episodes where initial impressions eventually sticks with the series.

  5. I liked this series for the action, but the cycle of regularly killing characters for the sake of drama got old after a while. Sounds like I should read the manga given how much stuff you mention had to be removed due to the limited episode count.

    • The drama doesnt feel that forced tbh but i can see it being an issue for others. I just like how people can actually die on this seriea unlike most shounen. XD

Thoughts~

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