In a land ruled by a corrupt government and saturated by despicable evil, there stands one light in the sea of darkness, the fearsome and powerful Night Raid!
Akame Ga Kill is a 24 episode action-packed blood bath animated by Studio White Fox in 2014. The series (based on the manga of the same name) follows a young man called Tatsumi who, after a wide range of unfortunate events, finds himself becoming part of the city’s most notorious mercenary group called Night Raid. He now fights for the safety of The Capital’s people and the abdication of the ruler, all while trying to collect powerful weapons known as Imperial Arms.
Akame sets its story structure out neatly from the start. Each episode involves the gang working to destroy the government’s power in The Capital by killing its officials, or at least builds up toward that happening. At first it appears that the show is going to stick to an episodic format with each week allocated to another villain to defeat and the possibility of gaining an Imperial Arm. Then Episode 6 rolls around and the show completely changes what it’s doing in the hope of telling a full-blown story. And while there’s nothing wrong with what story it tries to tell, it ultimately falls flat due to one key problem: the characters are so bland.
The show attempts to appeal to every character fetish in the book, having an anime stereotype as each character’s defining personality. There’s the aggressive tsundere, the light-hearted pervert, the flirtatious girl with ungodly large breasts, the dim-witted shy girl, and the list goes on. And while all of these caricatures can have their annoying moments, they fail to compare to the utterly infuriating main protagonist Tatsumi. Tatsumi at first appears to be the bland, happy-go-lucky, protagonist that allows viewers to insert themselves into their shoes. This type of protagonist has been done decently in the past (such as in Accel World) so there was a chance that he could make a passable lead. But then when the show decides to actually give him a personality, he seems all over the place. The show crams little bits and bobs of other characters’ personalities into Tatsumi, and yes, I get that this is meant to show that they make an impression on him, but it doesn’t change the fact that he contradicts himself and goes against his character far too many times.
Not having a main character that you can connect to or root for makes caring about the cast a lot more difficult, and makes the multiple attempts at comedy painful and mostly awkward. Struggling to like the majority of the cast means that many of the countless deaths in the show feel less like life- shattering events and more of a relief, as we don’t have to hear that person randomly give us their backstory at inappropriate times.
If anything should be praised in the show, it’s the final episode (Don’t worry there are no spoilers). While Akame Ga Kill makes many attempts to have intense or engaging combats, it only succeeds a handful of times, but most prominently during the final moments of the series. The final confrontation is by far one of the most entertaining and well choreographed battle sequences of the year. It encapsulates everything the show was trying to do from the outset and does it masterfully. If only the entire show could have been this good, maybe things would have been different.
A man can dream.
In short, Akame Ga Kill is a series with large amounts of potential that fails to really go anywhere or develop its characters. But that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom. If you turn off your brain off and go in knowing you just want a mindlessly good time, you’ll find it, especially in the over-the-top combat. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re a shonen fan looking for a blood-filled fantasy adventure, you’ll find some fun in Akame Ga Kill.