When Akame Ga Kill begins viewers are introduced to a plucky swordfighter named Tatsumi. The young blade master, who is able to topple colossal beasts with the aid of his steel weapon, is on a pilgrimage to the big city in search of employment. Tatsumi seeks coinage to help alleviate his village’s financial hardships, but sadly for him finding a job isn’t easy (I guess the recession’s effects can be felt even in animated fantasy worlds.) In episode one poor Tatsumi is left out of pocket after a buxom blonde swindles him out of his savings. To make matters worse his hopes of enlisting in the army are promptly rejected. Oddly enough, recruitment officers dislike applicants who demand that they should commence their armed forces career at the rank of captain. Go figure.
Akame Ga Kill is an anime based on Takahiro’s ongoing manga. The series chronicles the adventures of Tatsumi who, after the events transcribed above, is forced to band together with a group of assassins named Night Raid. Presumably, if you can’t make enough scratch to save your village, you might as well join the rebels who are plotting to dethrone the corrupt officials responsible for taxing your homeland into poverty. Although Night Raid is outnumbered in terms of manpower they pose a threat to the land’s immoral government, as they possess an arsenal of Imperial Arms. These mystical weapons confer their wielders with all manner of powers. The Spectator headpiece for example can read minds whilst the Phantasmagoria cosmetic kit could make someone like Steve Buscemi look beautiful, given that it can alter a person’s appearance.
Night Raid’s ranks consist of seven colourful characters. Najenda is the silver haired leader who sports a prosthetic arm. The titular Akame, who is awfully possessive about her food, carries a poisonous Katana that can slay any assailant with one swipe. Mine is a twin-tailed sharpshooter whose firearm deals damage proportional to the peril its owner is facing. Leone, who conned Tatsumi out of his cash in episode one, is able to transform into a beefy cat girl. Sheele is a clumsy bespectacled beauty that wields giant scissors, which can slice through anything (even the annoying plastic packaging ink cartridges are encased in.) Lubbock is a womanizer capable of manipulating enchanted threads and last, but not least, is the armour-clad homosexual known as Bulat. I’m sure gay guys find his combo of muscular torso and an Elvis hairdo to be irresistible.
My rating for Akame Ga Kill (Collection One) is three and a half stars. I almost dropped the series due to its mediocre start, but thankfully things got steadily better as the story advanced. Part of the improvement can be attributed to Night Raid tackling mightier foes, in the later instalments, which resulted in some exhilarating (and rather visceral) action sequences. My interest in the show was also fuelled by morbid curiosity. Who will perish next? Much like Game of Thrones, Akame Ga Kill’s cast is not protected by plot armour. Villains and heroes can meet their demise at any moment; so don’t get too attached to anyone. If a minor character begins to recount their tragic origins do beware – fishing for audience sympathy is normally an indicator that the death flag is about to be hoisted.
Perhaps Akame Ga Kill’s biggest failing is how it careens between comedy and tragedy. Using levity to make a sombre plot more palatable isn’t a bad thing per say, but Akame Ga Kill’s writers don’t seem to know when it is appropriate to deliver a gag. Tatsumi engaging in slapstick can really kill the mood, when you consider that the preceding scene had him tearfully lamenting the passing of his friends. Hopefully the script will improve in that regard come collection two. From what I have heard the second half of Akame Ga Kill diverges from its source material, resulting in a definitive finale. I’m all for avoiding an unresolved cliffhanger, but let us hope that the anime original content doesn’t signal a dip in quality. No one wants another example of Incognito replacing Nazi vampires or the Gate of Alchemy leading to Germany, when the comic book alternative was so much cooler.