So, I decided to conduct a review on an anime that has been pretty controversial amongst the community ever since it was released.
I’m not gonna lie. This review is probably going to be a difficult one because of my view on the show in question, Akame ga Kill!. As a precursor, I would like to say that I have not read the manga and will not be making a comparison to the original material. This review will strictly be on the show itself.
Akame ga Kill! is interesting because I wanted so desperately to think it was the best thing ever. I wanted to believe that it was creative, had a unique set of characters, and a premise I hadn't seen done before. To my dismay, Akame ga Kill! was really none of those things at all. It wasn’t bad, but it really didn’t carry as well as I thought it originally would. Funny enough, I wouldn’t call it wasted potential either.
What I think Akame ga Kill! really suffers from is a colossal case of poor execution. It tried to incorporate so many different themes and qualities that it overloaded itself and ended up failing in some respects. But before you go ahead thinking that I’m going to slap a shitty rating on this series - because it’s true that it has it’s fair share of shortcomings - temper your expectations because I enjoyed this show for at least the first half.
Let me justify my reasoning on this.
Despite being quickly judged and labeled as the edgiest show ever (it is pretty damn edgy), the initial premise of the show is engaging. The idea of a band of outcasts rebelling against a government that they view as corrupt by slaughtering everybody that they see as a problem is a plot that I feel most people can get behind. The ultimate underdog story is a fun concept. The show also has a great nose for portraying what is really at stake at most points which other shows (cough* Kill La Kill* cough) often suffer from. I applaud the show for not being afraid to kill off characters to convey the struggle between two powers, both of which are fighting for what they believe to be morally correct. It reminds me of Attack on Titan in that sense.
Similar to my last review of Hibike! Euphonium, the characters are pretty one-dimensional aside from the offhand quirk here and there, but still manage to be enjoyable and you can get behind them (at least some of them). Later on, the series also does a great job at blurring the lines of which side is truly correct in their justifications. Both sides have their own set of morals which they fight for, but the show, though initially indicating that one side is wrong and one is right, begins to illustrate how the “enemies” aren’t completely deplorable while the “heroes” aren’t without their flaws.
Speaking of flaws...
...the show is undoubtedly littered with them.
First off, I’ll re-mention the characters.
Yes. I did enjoy some of the characters - mainly Bulat, Leone, and Esdeath - and I did support the heroes in their journey for justice and retribution. But that doesn’t stop them from being one-dimensional and barely fleshed out. The character development is also almost non-existent in this series, even if some of them do get justification for their motives.
What I also really loathe about Akame ga Kill! is its inability to pick a tone and stick with it. It presents itself as a dark, gritty, action series and does stick along those planes sometimes. However, it also likes to randomly flip from incredibly serious scenes that hint at character development or scenes toying with death to super light, slapstick comedy like nothing that was just on screen actually happened or mattered. I do like comedic sequences to help alleviate the viewer from the cascades of drama that a show pours on them. Fullmetal Alchemist (both of them) are prime examples of how this can be done well. I just hate it when a show like Akame splices them intermittently among it’s serious and dramatic portions. It could have at least kept them separate, but it chose not to.
Another issue is how the series chooses to kill characters off. I initially loved how it killed off a few characters to show the reality of what was at stake. What I don’t like is when a show starts killing off characters just because it can. Unfortunately, Akame runs into this problem toward the end. It just starts killing off characters like it’s a crack addict that just can’t kick its habit. This especially annoys me when the series starts introducing new, seemingly integral characters just to slaughter them one or two episodes later. This brings me to my final main gripe.
Everybody by now should know that an ending can make or break a show. Akame ga Kill! SHOULD have had a good ending, but it didn’t. I don’t know if it was the lack of original material or what, but the ending felt so haphazardly strung together and rushed. The finale was anticlimactic to say the least and the result left me feeling like none of it really mattered. This is a damn shame seeing that the show could’ve ended with an epic, explosion extravaganza, but opted to tread a more casual and uninspired road, ending in something that seemed parched of creativity and tact.
The characters don’t really kill the show or help it out. Though they have their moments, overall, I would have to say that they end up being a weak point in the show rather than a positive asset. The biggest issue I have with them is just how unoriginal the main cast is. They all fall into such archetypal roles that it’s hard to swallow at some points.
Tatsumi is your stereotypical, cookie-cutter main protagonist. The only thing that even vaguely sets him apart from the rest is the fact that he knows that he is weaker than everybody else and attempts to increase his strength throughout the show. Aside from that, he’s about as bland as you can imagine.
Akame is your other lead protagonist and is your typical stoic, down-to-business character with a softer side that is occasionally revealed to convey that she’s not just a blank face with a sword. Other than the main two characters, there is the main crew of rebels that aid our main protagonists along the way, all of which fall into cut-and-paste archetypes:
There’s Mine, the tsundere; Leone, the cock-tease; Bulat, the lovable teddy bear (the fact that he’s gay is the only real twist); Lubbock, the pervert; Sheele, the caring, soft-spoken glasses girl; and Najenda, the rough-and-tumble leader of them all.
All of these characters are likable in their own, stereotypical ways and come complete with a short list of backstories to explain why they’re rebelling in the first place. The only other character of mention that is initially introduced is the sadistic antagonist, Esdeath. She’s the token psycho-bitch and basically wants any reason to slaughter people. There is a gigantic laundry list of other characters that pop up throughout the series, but none really deserve mention for this review seeing as none of them ever obtain any sort of development. Not to anybody’s surprise, neither does the main cast.
Yes, each of them receive a backstory that places them where they are and justifies their motivations for wanting to crush the government in question. However, none of them develop to any noticeable extent. Their personalities remain static and their values never once budge from their initial opinion.
Not gonna lie, this series looked pretty damn good. This was not a real surprise seeing it was produced by Whitefox, the same studio behind the likes of Jormungand and Steins;Gate. The color palate had a huge variety and the art was bright and jubilant in nature which I thought was a great juxtaposition to the dark and gritty hues used during the battles. The choreography in this series was also brilliant and I loved how the final blow of a battle was usually animated in a more artistic fashion.
With the exception of Gurren Lagann, none of his other works really impressed me…until Akame ga Kill! waltzed on in. To be blunt, this soundtrack is stellar. His use of chants along with unique instruments like the pan flute, bagpipes, English horn, and mandolin was spot on. The tracks in this series really bolster the gravity of the more desolate moments while also being intense and in-your-face when the mood calls for it. I would also like to make a quick note that both openings were pretty damn good and sure as hell got me pumped for watching each episode.
Akame ga Kill! is one of those series that everybody either loves to death or hates with a passion. There, for the most part, is no middle ground with this show. I am one of the few people that can say they mostly enjoyed watching it and that it was engaging enough to keep their attention.
The characters were endearing enough to keep me interested and the plot did well enough to make me want to know what was coming next dispite both aspects being completely shallow. The high production value was also on full display in this series with its damn good and relatively unique animation along with a fucking awesome soundtrack.
I would also like to highlight that it also has quite a few flaws and most of them are glaringly obvious. The characters are bland as hell and I would’ve loved to see any semblance of development in them, especially Tatsumi. The show also abandoned the whole concept of a constant tone and flip-flopped between edgy/serious and slapstick comedy. It wouldn’t have nearly as much of a problem with this if they kept it separate (see Angel Beats!). Naiively, they decided to string both tones together within the same scene, which I found ridiculously off-putting. The show also sported one of the bigger cop-outs for an ending, shoehorning together one of the most non-creative and anticlimactic conclusions to an action series that I’ve ever seen. Not only that, but the rushed ending also lead to an epilogue that seemingly didn’t accomplish anything.
Lastly, the show has a bad addiction to killing off characters for no real reason other than that it could. I mean, 75% of the character deaths didn’t really amount to any sort of significance aside from forced tension.
Nevertheless, even with all this going against the show, I wouldn’t necessarily say it was bad. I personally had a fun time watching it, even if I was questioning why I stuck with it in the end. The thing with Akame is that it can be an extremely entertaining series if you’re willing to not be overly critical about it. However, if you are one to pick apart the nuances within a series and go on manhunts for all of the plot holes, you will get nothing out of this series but a lot of anger and self-analysis on why you began watching it. Once again, this series is completely up to personal taste. If you want a darker, dumb action series with a lot of well-choreographed action and blood, this is a great series for you. But if you’re looking for anything deeper than that, I don’t think it’s really worth your time.
Watch or Don't Watch?: Don't Watch
I will never understand why I enjoyed this series, because objectively, it sucks.