What They Say:
Under the rule of a tyrannical empire, Tatsumi, a young swordsman, leaves his home to save his poverty-stricken village. He meets a girl named Akame, an assassin who was bought, brainwashed and trained to kill by the Empire. Akame is a member of the secret assassin group called Night Raid who use special weapons called Teigu. Together, Tatsumi and the members of Night Raid confront the corrupt empire.
Set in 2.0 Stereo in Japanese and a 5.1 release in English, the tracks had no real issues in terms of standard quality or regarding delays to lip flaps or transition to subtitles. The track itself is very standard music wise, with a very good Japanese dub which I didn’t need to adjust well, as for the 5.1 dub again, no adjustments required and the sounds come with great vitality (especially considering all the death in the series) – as a dub fan, some of the voices do feel a little lethargic but overall is very good (Alison Keith as Leone being my personal favourite).
Video wise, colours were fine and flashy, and no issues in terms of video to audio on a 16:9 – 1.78:1 aspect ratio though set NTSC style with top/bottom wide screen, no problems video wise with subtitles synching, no video freezing or any slack animation when pausing the show and the colours do come out very vividly and look rather good on a Blu-Ray set up – no problems found so overall very strong. The animation, in general, is pretty standard (no huge CGI effects) but it is very flowing and bloody during the battle sequences, and considering the shock value it presents, it has to be good quality so they performed that very well.
There was no packing for this test release.
The menus are pretty good – it goes with the shots from the opening and the show (the first disc is the op, the second disc is from the show) –the set up is the choices are in a square on the bottom – there isn’t a Play All so you select episode 1 and that is your Play All, so you have the episode select and languages select (one actually has dubtitles as well via English for the hearing impaired) – the second disc also has a special features tab and as always there is a popup menu as is the standard but there is no real point as all you can do is switch episodes – it does, however, capture the darkness of the show rather than the comic moments that appear throughout so not to fool the viewer when they do happen that this series is in fact quite deadly…
The extras we have for this including the standard clean opening and ending, and some trailers from other Sentai works – here there is at least some shows that are in the UK in Knights of Sidonia and Brynhildr in the Darkness, along with Parasyte ~ the maxim ~ and Black Bullet.
The unique extra is the Aka Kill Theater, which are basically one minute shorts which have reference to an episode of the show (12 in total) – all of them are done in rough animation (reminding me of the Chuuruya-san shorts in the Haruhi-chan series) whether it is Leone making bad food, breaking the fourth wall about the animation or the lack of fan service, shopping infomercials for Akame’s and Chelsea’s imperial arms, Sheele losing her glasses, Esdeath showcasing the true art that is torture, Akame Ga Kill folk lore style, Incursio as a robot, or the interviews of the Jaegers, they are shot comedy spots which are actually welcome after getting through the first half of the series.
Akame ga Kill is another series I had no knowledge of before seeing, and heard mixed things about it – it definitely seems a unique series from the little I heard, but as always you have to get into it and make your own opinion. So how does it do?
The introduction should definitely give you a strong indication – we meet our lead male character, Tatsumi, a young man heading into the capital of his country for gold and glory to send back to his poor village – and despite an early indication of his skill by killing a beast, his naivety comes into play as he is mugged by a big breasted beauty and is sleeping in the streets. A young lady named Aria seems to take pity on him and asks him to stay at her place, whilst Tatsumi is waiting to hear from his two best friends to arrive. Here, he learns from the guards about a rebel group named Night Raid who have caused numerous murders in the city – and they just appear at Aria’s mansion. This definitely seems like Tatsumi needs to save his helpers right?
Turns out into quite the twist – first the lady who mugged him is part of the team who owes him, named Leone – and her group kills a lot of the guards, and Aria’s parents. Feels like they are the villains…and then it is revealed. Aria and her parents actually tortured and killed various people just for kicks…including Tatsumi’s two friends. Without hesitation, Tatsumi kills Aria before the group does – including their ace, a raven-haired sword wielding beauty named Akame. Impressed – the group invites him to Night Raid.
The next few episodes seem to take a standard routine – some comedy, some action, and character introductions. The leader Najenda is a tough military type but seems nicer than she appears, Bulat is the big guy who takes Natsumi under his wing, Lubbock, the slightly perverted guy who appears to be comic relief but is skilled with his wires, Mine, the one member who seems to not accept him but is a crack shot, and Akame herself who at first scares him, but she is surprisingly nice in her own way as she clearly has seen enough death around her and doesn’t want it to happen to this new recruit. The initial episodes definitely feel like episode of the day, or in this case, murder of the day. Night Raid are in fact the good guys, and are assassins who are trying to get rid of a corrupt government, lead by a child ruler who is basically a figurehead and being manipulated by its prime minister. Tatsumi at first seems to not comprehend his training methods (cooking, fishing, etc) but gradually grows into it. We learn of the other members as well and what is known as their Imperial Arms – weapons of mythical creation that the team members bar Tatsumi have – whether it is Akame’s cursed sword that can poison enemies when struck, Balut’s armour that gives him incredible strength and the ability to turn invisible, Sheele’s all cutting scissors, Lubbock’s spider web style wire, and Mine’s gun which gets more powerful the more danger she is in. Things are mentioned like when two Imperial Arms users fight, one of them has to die, which is a hint of things to come. Various officials or other Arms users are slain by Night Raid, with some character development for various members when Tatsumi trains with them – Mine is standoffish but warms up to him, Balut and Tatsumi have a brotherly bond, and Sheele is more motherly to him.
And then things change. Episode 6 is what I call ‘Attack On Titan’ syndrome – which basically the anyone can die mentality. Unlike AoT though, it happens to two of the main leads rather than characters that you know for an episode – it actually starts innocently but we are introduced to a girl named Seryu, a clumsy lass who seems to be a police officer, but also owns an Imperial Arm – and her mentor Captain Ogre was killed by Tatsumi. Not knowing who he is yet (several of Night Raid have wanted posters but Tatsumi doesn’t yet) it seems like they will clash.
So the next episode when Seryu meets some of the members and snaps leads into a shocking death of one of the leads. It is here that there are whispers that a legendary general who is super powerful has been ordered back to deal with Night Raid. Her name is Esdeath and she agrees…but with a weird request – she wants to look for love. As this is quite comical it clashes with the death of a lead, as the group try to get along with life as normal, and seeing the reactions of Tatsumi and how Akame truly feels shows it is always going to be there, (which adds worse when in episode 9 another member is killed) – Esdeath brings in a group of fighters, including Balut’s former general Liver and whilst the three are actually killed quick, there is surprisingly story involving Balut and Liver which has respect, revenge and honour in which was quite classy and had the sad finale.
What this leads to is Esdeath bringing in a new team to take out Night Raid – which includes Akame’s sister Kurome (alluded to in one of the villain of the day episodes as a person Akame wishes to see again – most likely expressing regret of how they separated) and some interesting new characters – known as the Jaegers Esdeath organises a tournament to see if she can find anyone else of any skill – and Tatsumi who isn’t known as a member of Night Raid, and thanks to his improving skills he wins the tournament but Esdeath slowly falls for him, as he fits her perfect criteria. This is quite a mood swing because Esdeath, who is a master of torture, getting completely infatuated, is both weird and hilarious. Of course, she has no idea about relationships and is totally domineering, and pretty much captures Tatsumi – as Night Raid wonder what to do…
Tatsumi tries to use it to his advantage to try and convince Esdeath to turn against the Empire, but she is steadfast and wants to change Tatsumi – however thanks to some use of his newly acquired Arms (not revealing due to spoilers) and knowing who Kurome is, he manages to escape (with some hilarious scenes with one of the other members of Esdeath, the nice guy of the group in Wave) however another member of the group Dr. Stylish has been tracking Tatsumi and doing his own thing – which needs him to discovering Night Raid.
The last two episodes involve the introduction of two new members of the team replacing the deceased members and a battle against Stylish and his soldiers who he has experimented on – with one of them having an old Arms by one of their teammates and rage in her blood, Raid defeated them and the new members, Chelsea and Susanoo are introduced – Susanoo, a human Arms who is a good trainer (and chef ^^) with Chelsea as a tease and the ability of transformation, but it is clear despite her attitude she is very caring and doesn’t want to see death anymore than Akame does. It ends with some more mysterious murders in some ruins with a new character introduced right at the end, setting up the second half of the series…
This is a strange one. The first episode immediately does a bait and switch with the whole kind stranger thing and the warning of the assassins causing bad – when it was, in fact, the other way round and Night Raid are king of assassins for justice – ironic considering when the character of Seryu is introduced, she is obsessed with justice and does seem to think the empire are the good guys, despite the people clearly saying otherwise. Tatsumi throughout the initial few episodes has to learn to accept killing another human being, but as the first episode proves, he always has it in him, just to be in the right mindset. The contrast with Akame who seems to be this cold-hearted killer but is in fact surprisingly emotional in her own way makes her a rather endearing character – she is the most badass of the group in terms of skill (Balut is for intimidation but he’s such a nice guy as well it makes it hard to take him seriously until he’s beating you down in the ground) and with the introduction of her sister, you know there is going to be clashes in the future and you want to learn about her back-story.
Despite the assassinations, there are good elements of comedy as well – Leone, for example, is pretty much the fun loving character, and her initial introduction to Tatsumi of course sets up the story which is definitely funny, Balut is also very amusing though it does feel off though that his humour seems to derive from the fact the character is openly gay, so that did feel a bit unnecessary – fortunately, the brother-bond between him and Tatsumi is a great one – Mine as well is pretty amusing – she is the classic tsundere character, seems to hate Tatsumi but is growing warm of him throughout, and Sheele is a clumsy glasses wearing girl who is useless at most things…except killing. Seeing her hugging Tatsumi very mother-like when it is clear he sees her as a person is very heart-warming.
Then episode 6 happens and the dynamic changes. There are still comic moments, but then not just one, but by episode 9 two of the main leads have died (and the show in the short time has done well to get most of the main cast a decent amount of backstory/development) – and then whilst the show wasn’t shy of blood, it goes into full on blood and gore – whilst trying to add the humour factor despite this. This is mostly due to the new villains, the Jaegers, and their unique personalities make it hard to see them as the villains. Wave, for example, seems to be mocked for being a naïve country boy, and Bols the Balut of the group, is actually very shy and seems to only do this as a job, having a wife and children to feed. Kurome whilst seemingly ready for vengeance against her sister – half her scenes are her being overwhelmingly protective of her snacks, and Esdeath – this total badass of a general with the best skills in torture, able to defeat rebel armies by herself…is totally in love with Tatsumi yet doesn’t understand the nature of what being in a relationship is. Whilst amusing, it does feel a bit out of touch with the moments beforehand (Seryu is also amusing but keeping in mind this is the same girl who goes into psycho moments when she encounters Night Raid – her mentality was bad after Ogre’s death, god knows what will happen now Stylish is dead)…
I do like the series – it has interesting characters, the whole anyone can die mentality does feel a lot more worrisome for the protagonists (the fact they were easily replaced is a bit off putting to try and like these new characters – Chelsea at least seems to have some back-story and hopefully she can adapt to being a good character), but when these scenes happen tied in with the comedy (especially after a moment when Akame actually is in tears as she has been holding in her sorrow for the deaths of her comrades, and the moment with Tatsumi is genuinely heart wrenching), it doesn’t fit half the time. Sometimes they are needed, but despite the reputation of all these villains that come across, a lot are killed quickly (Liver and Stylish being good examples) so at the moment it is hard to see that threat bar Esdeath’s dominating persona. This almost certainly changes with 12 episodes to go, but as of now, it does seem a bit off.
There is plenty to enjoy, though – Tatsumi is actually fairly likeable as a typical male shounen antagonist – he does have to learn and grow and his interactions with the other cast are fun as well as learning, as well as the struggle he has of killing, and when his comrades are killed. Esdeath has the capability of being the true threat considering the real big bads are very generic – the blood and gore factor combined with the comedy can be off-putting, but at least you know that anyone can die and the fear of who is next is there for the next arc – hopefully be more development with the remaining Jaegers and with the new members of Night Raid, but for now, it’s heading in the way of a good series, just needs to know what type of good series it wants to be.
Akame Ga Kill is one part gore fest, one part character development, and one part comedy where you are not sure if it should be in. The leads play off well and whilst it starts as assassination of the day, it changes dynamic once some of the main cast are killed and the Jaegers are introduced. Unfortunately, it does feel that they are there for the anyone can die mentality, it just depends on how quickly. Despite this, there is definitely intrigue for the second half, the introduction of Akame’s sister, and the mysterious new villain at the end combined with Tatsumi learning to use his new arms, and the interesting dynamic between him and Esdeath. There is plenty to get ready for – just hope it decides what type of series it becomes before then.
Japanese Language, English Language, Promos, Cleaning Opening/Ending, Aka Kill Theater
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: March 7th, 2016
Running Time: 300 minutes
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.