What They Say:
When he set off for the Capital, all Tatsumi wanted was a way to make money. Instead, he finds himself rescued from a fate worse than death by a group of assassins known as Night Raid and thrust into the middle of a bloody revolution. On the one side: Prime Minister Honest, his secret police, elite squad of assassins, and the armies of the Empire. On the other: Night Raid and a handful of rebels desperate to overthrow the brutal regime of Honest’s puppet emperor.
Leveling the playing field: the Imperial Arms, a legendary set of unstoppable weapons created in the distant past. But to use an Imperial Arm is practically a death sentence, for only a select few can even survive using them… and when two Arms go against each other, only the user of one is likely to survive in Akame ga Kill!
Contains episodes 1-12.
As you’d expect from a standard DVD release, Akame Ga Kill Collection 1 comes to you in standard, Dolby Digital presentation with both English and Japanese language tracks. Content remains equalized throughout the entire collection and does not cut or drop any tracks at any moment whatsoever. Apart from actual specifications, Akame Ga Kill’s soundtrack is honestly kind of disappointing. The lack of a varied soundtrack (Or even background music in general) at some points creates a minor detachment between the viewer and the series, ultimately resulting in a slightly tainted viewing experience that could easily be remedied by the addition of a song or two to fight scenes.
As is the standard for DVD home releases, Akame Ga Kill comes to you with a definition of 480i and a 16×9 (Anamorphic) aspect ratio. Considering that this is standard definition, colors are diluted and the series seems slightly foggy throughout the entire collection. The fact that Akame Ga Kill’s animation wasn’t of high quality to begin with only subtracts from the overall visual appeal even more. That being said, character designs were diverse and well thought-out, even if each of the characters were visual hyperboles of commonplace anime tropes.
Collection 1 of Akame Ga Kill is an example of one of those DVD released where the rear section is surprisingly more appealing than the front cover (And no, I’m not just saying that because best-girl is on the back). The front portion of the case for this DVD displays Akame and Tatsumi, both equipped with angry faces, holding their swords out with blood splatters scattered around them. The back portion contains Mine doing the same exact thing, but surrounded by walls of text and hooks from the series meant to entrap readers. There are several thumbnails (As expected) displaying screen grabs from throughout the collection and a brief list of series credits at the bottom.
There is nothing special to report in terms of the DVD menu. On each disc, we get Sentai’s typical, ‘Here is the main character next to a list of episodes’ as well as language options and special features. The menu loops the series’ opening song and beckons you to make a selection before you get tired of hearing it.
Luckily for us, this collection of Akame Ga Kill contains more special features than just textless opening/endings and trailers. In addition to the original Japanese promos included on the disc(s), we also receive ‘AkaKill! Theater’, a series of comedic, chibi-esque shorts that provide a nice little breather for when things get a little too heavy in the series itself. The even more surprising thing about the inclusion of these shorts is that they’re dubbed over in English — an exciting feat for fans of the dub cast and a step forward for special features in general.
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Akame Ga Kill gained a lot of recognition early on due its brave (And also relatively confused) pilot episode following the premature journey of our adventurer protagonist, Tatsumi. As he treks away from his hometown in an effort to make a new living for himself and essentially just join the army, he winds up losing all of the money he ventured out with and is taken in by a family of wealthy aristocrats. This family, seeming incredibly congenial and just overall awesome, has a well-concealed secret, however. Long story short, they basically tortured and murdered two of Tatsumi’s friends from his hometown just a day or two before his arrival. In the midst of this unspeakably gory revelation, Tatsumi winds up falling in with a group of assassins called “Night Raid” during their nocturnal assassination mission of the noble family Tatsumi has holed up with.
From this point on, Akame Ga Kill becomes not only a story of Tatsumi’s journey, but Night Raid’s as a whole. Each character has their own unique personality and backstory and, in a strange way, they’re all personifications of various anime tropes. You’ve got the walking pompadour, the bodacious drunken blonde, and even the quiet girl with the giant pair of scissors. Okay, so that one isn’t exactly a trope yet, but it will be. Regardless, each character shines in their own individual way and each one represents a basic color.
Night Raid’s entire reason for existence is to restore order to the government. That being said, it’s no surprise when we discover that each of them is a wanted criminal. We find out early on that the world of Akame Ga Kill is nothing short of completely corrupt. We also find out that the apparent reason for this entire predicament is that the ruler of the nation is like ten years old. What’s even worse is that he’s nothing more than a puppet of his uncle’s, willing to enact every little thing that’s whispered into his ear from his seat on the throne. Of course, these two aren’t the only obstacles Night Raid faces. The government has an entire army dedicated to preserving the rulers of the nation and ensuring the country remains militaristic as long as the emperor lives. The leader of this army is the extremely beautiful, yet extremely violent (And even that is an understatement) Commander Esdeath.
Esdeath is actually the biggest threat out of anyone in the entire empire when it really comes down to it. She is the only force capable of repelling Night Raid from literally just swooping in and assassinating the emperor. Not only is she remarkable in terms of defense, she’s an extremely fanatical hunter and has dedicated herself entirely to destroying Night Raid’s assassins. That is until she meets Tatsumi.
Esdeath kind of…falls in love with Tatsumi when she first meets him. In fact, she becomes so infatuated with our protagonist that she literally abducts him and keeps him as a sort of pet. While Tatsumi is entrapped by this sadomasochistic commander, Esdeath begins forming her own anti-Night Raid knows as the Jaegers. This is where things start to get interesting.
Up until this point, we have followed Night Raid in earnest, believing that their outlook and position in the ongoing war is the only correct one. But when we’re introduced to the Jaegers, the fine line between right and wrong begins to blur. Each member of the Jaegers is nearly synonymous with a Night Raid assassin. And with that laid out, it becomes harder to determine what side we’re on, ultimately painting the simplistic picture of what war truly is — a battle between two differing opinions. If opinions can never be wrong, how are we supposed to choose what side of the war we’re on? It’s an excellent take on conflict and is an exceptionally surprising statement from director Tomoki Kobayashi (Sola/Hundred) and the original manga staff’s Tetsuya Tashiro and Takahiro.
While Akame Ga Kill boasts an entrancing story and a character roster that everyone can grow to love, it still presents many problems. The amount of tonal shifts in this series makes it nearly impossible to lay down the foundation of how we should feel as viewers. At the same time, this is something many introductory-level anime fans grow to love. That being said, I’d label Akame Ga Kill as an essential watch for newcomers to the world of anime. The story is able to progress (Albeit a little too quickly at points) while still maintaining sufficiently allotted time for action. Even though the series isn’t exactly one of the most well-made anime in recent years, it’s definitely still fun — and isn’t that the reason we all watch this stuff in the first place?
Features: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio, Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Audio, English/SDH subtitles, clean opening/ending songs, Sentai Filmworks trailers, AkaKill! Theater (English Dubbed)
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B-
Video Grade: C+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: C
Extras Grade: A-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: February 9th, 2016
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen