by Patrick Toworfe
I’m not sure if anime action has just become more mild as of late or I just haven’t watched very violent anime in a while. Either way, I was kind of shocked by how violent Akame ga KILL! was in its first episode; an anime that, on the surface, seems very harmless. That said, it was a worthwhile stylistic choice to set it apart from the hundreds of shonen anime that we’ve already seen.
The story starts off with the protagonist Tatsumi slaying a massive beast, indicative of a much different kind of anime, such as the classic ‘Demon King and Hero’ type storylines. Things immediately turn goofy when Tatsumi shows no modesty for taking down the monster and instead brags about it with a silly face. As it turns out, he’s on his way to the ‘Capital’ to prove his strength as a fighter for hire and earn money for his village. This happy-go-lucky tone extends all the way to him being swindled by a blonde beauty in a pub and even to his encounter with a young rich girl. You’d be lead at this point into the false sense of security that this is just another fun fantasy that’s all about laughs. How wrong you’d be.
The whole time throughout the first episode, you can’t help but shake the feeling that something is off. Several characters drop hints that the Capital isn’t all that it seems and that Tatsumi is just a naive country boy. While things happen to be going well for him since meeting the rich girl, who luckily takes him into her home after he loses his money to the blonde beauty, things take a sharp dark turn. The first murder is nothing short of eye opening and it happens so suddenly that you’re not sure if the character was even justified in doing it. It’s at this point where you’re introduced to ‘Night Raid’, a group of assassins who are wanted across the Captial for crimes that aren’t completely made clear. Tatsumi suddenly finds himself locked in a struggle that he is very unsure of, and briefly faces off against the namesake of the anime: Akame.
Towards the latter half of the anime, the characterization becomes one of its more dynamic traits. Of course, it’s easy to lump all of the characters into archetypes, including Tatsumi and Akame especially, but one character in particular starts saying things that needs to be heard to be believed. It’s been a while since what a fictional character has said actually disgusted me and it truly showed how the Captial’s dark secret is nothing to smile about. After a shocking revelation and a decision that changed Tatsumi’s circumstance forever, he ends up being roped into joining Night Raid, to aid them in their efforts to fight against the Capital. The goofiness comes back again towards the end, somewhat alleviating the seriousness of the previous events.
Overall, Akame ga KILL wasn’t what I expected. Staples of a big budget anime such as animation quality and a solid soundtrack were certainly present, but it was the level of violence and characterization of the villains that really surprised me. Wherever this anime is going, it’s certainly going to be more than what we’ve come to expect from our typical shonen anime, especially ones where everything goes well and nobody seems to die. I look forward to seeing more of Tasumi’s endeavors with Night Raid.
Akame ga KILL is available to watch now on Crunchyroll.com: http://www.crunchyroll.com/akame-ga-kill/videos
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