Watching Akame ga Kill was a very interesting experience for me. I remember catching a few episodes of the English dub when it premiered on Toonami a few years ago, and it seemed pretty cool. So when I went to my first A-Fest in 2016, I decided to start collecting the manga.
At the time of this writing, I own all of what has been released in English for both the original Akame ga Kill, and the prequel spin-off known as Akame ga Kill Zero. As such, this is my first time watching an anime where I was already familiar with the manga’s storyline.
At its core, Akame ga Kill is a story about death and corruption. Our protagonist is a plucky young boy named Tatsumi, and he is joined by his two childhood friends on a journey from their quaint little village to the capital city, a place full of opportunities. Things quickly turn for the worst however, as the brutal death of his friends is used to teach Tatsumi the harsh realities of the world.
Tatsumi is eventually recruited by a group known as Night Raid, a gang of assassins who operate in the shadows to change the corrupt empire. In order to carry out their missions, most of Night Raid is equipped with powerful weapons called Imperial Arms, or Teigu.
Teigu were forged in ancient times of war, and are extremely diverse in appearance and abilities. Night Raid member Akame wields the katana Murasame, a blade that can kill with only a single scratch, while Bulat, and later Tatsumi, can call upon the armor of a dragon named Incursio.
Other Teigu manifest as an emotionally charged firearm, a deadly binding thread, and even a visor that can read minds and conjure illusions. Teigu are really cool in concept, but they leave a bit to be desired in terms of execution. Due to a combination of Teigu diversity, and lack of balance on the writer’s end, Akame ga Kill’s power scale is all over the place.
Some Teigu are rather simple (Murasame, Lubba’s Cross Tail threads), while there are others that allow the user to heal from having limbs severed, and even raise the dead to do their bidding. Having such a plethora of unique fighters is at times, a good thing, but it left me feel a little confused at the staggering difference between weapons.
General Esdeath is at the heart of the power scale issue, as she is so absurdly overpowered that most fights involving her are a joke. To be fair, I think her being as strong as she is was done to establish just how intimidating the task of overthrowing the empire truly is (not to mention the fact that she is essentially half Danger Beast), but this was something that stuck out to me about her.
Akame ga Kill also somewhat suffers from the Naruto problem of having ninja that don’t adhere to our traditional idea of ninja (which for me is, admittedly, based heavily on Western stereotypes). The only genuine assassins in the show are Akame, Lubba, Chelsea and occasionally the wielder of Incursio. Aside from them, no one else’s Teigu are really suited for assassination tactics, meaning missions that don’t specifically target weaker foes usually result in all out brawls.
Akame ga Kill’s biggest problem is that it often feels rushed. The manga was still running when the anime premiered, so a few changes had to be made here and there. The first half of Akame ga Kill’s 24 episodes are pretty accurate to the manga, and have a nice, consistent pace. But the latter half show’s that 12 episodes was not enough to cover the story that was trying to be told.
Everything moves way too fast. Certain story beats were either omitted or heavily altered, death scenes are rushed and not given room to breath, and worst of all, a handful of characters are criminally underdeveloped.
The minister’s son, one of the main antagonists in the manga, is only in about two episodes, and Esdeath’s group of Jaegers are given so little screen time that they may as well not even be there, the major exceptions being Kurome and Bols. This is especially disappointing as a manga reader, as Wave became my favorite character because of his great story arc.
My biggest issue with Akame ga Kill, both the manga and anime, is its name. I know this is extremely petty, but it has always bothered me that the show is named after Akame. Don’t get me wrong, I think she is a great character, but Tatsumi is the one the story centers on.
In addition, Akame isn’t any more or less important than the rest of the cast, which made it really confusing for me when the anime’s openings and endings billed her relationship with Kurome as the emotional crux of the story.
In spite of the negative critiques I’ve given thus far, I don’t think Akame ga Kill is a bad show. With the exception of the statement about the show being rushed, most of my other complaints were just me nitpicking. In all honestly, I just think the show is pretty average, but almost painfully so.
I love the cast, but I’ve seen much better. Some of the fights have a cool action shot here and there, but they are mostly just passable. Are you seeing a pattern here? Akame ga Kill is a fairly standard experience, overall. The best things about the show are the music (special mention to the second opening song, Liar Mask), and the animation, which, is sharp, fluid and brimming with color. The show is also genuinely funny when it wants to be.
Akame ga Kill was a fun watch for me, mostly because I’m willing to accept its flaws in order to enjoy what was presented. It has some interesting ideas, but it never develops them in a way to make the show truly stand out. Fans of the manga will probably find the show enjoyable, especially if you’re someone like me who actually prefers when the anime adaptation isn’t just a carbon copy, but I’d be hard pressed to recommend it to somebody who wasn’t already interested.
Oh yeah, as is customary for me to say at this point, Mine is best girl. Though she just barely beats out Chelsea.