As 2014 comes to a close, so must this season’s anime. Of everything I’ve followed this year, I felt this was one of my favorites. Akame Ga Kill is an excellent action anime that isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty. The original manga created by Takahiro and animation was handled by relative new comer White Fox (Steins;Gate , The Devil is Part Timer). The series is an excellent combination of action, humor and drama. But what makes it so good? No need to lurk in the shadows to find out!
Let the bodies hit the floor
The world of Akame Ga Kill is bloody, corrupt, and full of injustices (and would not have it any other way!). The series takes place in a world with a massive empire that has been in existence for 1000 years. And like any empire that’s been in power for so long, it has rotted to its very core. Starvation, low wages, high taxation, and no protection from crime are all but rampant within the kingdom. The rich tax the poor, engorge themselves in the finest foods, and commit unspeakable atrocities. Enter Tatsumi…. A young, eager man with a self-honed set of blade skills and a willingness to make things right. What starts as a quest to make money for his poor village becomes a journey to change the world itself. Within the first episode, Tatsumi loses his closest friends with whom he started his original journey, only to find new comrades. An assassin group, set to bring forth rebellion, Night Raid. His initial encounter with them almost gets him killed but in the end, he ends up joining this rather unique bunch.
Each member armed with an incredible weapon or tool known as an Imperial Arms. The abilities range from being able to kill your opponent in a single stroke, using unbreakable set of wires, or even to transform your body. Tatsumi is unsure of himself and his new allies, especially since he himself does not possess amazing gear. But his willingness for both revenge and bring change guides him through travesty. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot from beginning to end. There is not really a lull, a huge credit to the pacing of a 24 episode anime. Things escalate at the right time and it does not rush too quickly in or take too long to get to the point. It also helps that the cast on both sides of the conflict are great.
While Tatsumi is kind of a general “I’ve suffered enough, I will survive” type, he is very likeable. His suffering is motivation, but never so heavy that he can only mope. His allies, the members of Night Raid are also very likeable as well. They do not unfortunately escape the common tropes of anime. The tropes are, however only used as loose skeletons to establish character types. The cast does a great job of distinguishing themselves through actions and not being one note. Even the opposition is not totally black and white, plenty of gray to explore. The large majority of the cast gets a decent amount of back story. Only one or two characters are truly black and white, a couple of the villains who are rotten to the core: pure evil. As much as I can praise the cast, I must warn you of one thing now. THIS SHOW HAS A HIGH FATALITY RATE. If you’ve ever watched Attack on Titan, you understand where I’m coming from. I was sad to see some characters go….And I cheered when others went. I must give credit to the creator, even if I wanted them to die at least I could appreciate their design and combat style.
Killer Sounds and Visuals
White Fox only has a small handful of projects under their belt yet, I have seen nothing but quality work thus far. Akame Ga Kill is only their 9th production and their skills are immediately apparent. The animation quality is just shy of pristine throughout the show. The only time it seems to let up is when less detail is required. The show maintains a good balance of color without being harsh on the eyes, and the motion is fluid and matches the context of the situation. This is backed by an excellent soundtrack and sound production. The show’s score was composed by long time composer Taku Iwasaki (Tengen Toppa Gurren Laggan, Soul Eater, Jojos Bizzare Adventure:Battle Tendecy). The sound track ranges from calm piano pieces, orchestrated dramatic tunes, to tracks infused with a strong guitar when the action really picks up. Each track hits just the right notes at the right time. The sound effects match perfectly. Nothing sounds out of place or recycled. The sound was both crisp and well thought out. I also found both openings (“Sky Reach” by Sora Amimiya and “Liar Mask” by Rika Mayama) and both endings (“Konna Sekai, Shiritakunakatta” by Miku Sawai, and “Tsuki Akari” also by Sora Amimiya) to be enjoyable, they match the tone of the show quite well. I would also be fooling myself if I didn’t give credit to the voice work in this show. Every character is cast very well, if not perfectly for quite a few cast members. I feel that there was a good amount of passion in all departments of this production. The show is not quite perfect however.
Not a flawless victory
There were a few minor things I noticed here that breaks immersion to some extent. Firstly, I want to point out that one of the characters, Seryu, uses an expression that is just dumb. It’s supposed to show obsession for her belief of justice. Considering how well rounded everything else is expressed it’s kind of a disappointment.Also, combat dialogue was a little off. The shows writing is generally very good but during combat, the same lines are often heard, albeit with VERY minor tweaks. It feels like listening to a game of Dynasty Warriors, where the lines are repeated ad nauseum. Unfortunately, the ending also suffers a bit. It has a sense of resolution, but not quite the weight of the content leading to it. A tad disappointing. Lastly, I feel that only needing “a good first impression” of an Imperial Arm is kind of a lame indicator of if you can use one or not. It just doesn’t seem right considering the immense power some of them hold. That last one is kind of a nit-pick but hey, it does deserve some mention right?