Art: Kei Toru
Translation: Christine Dashiell
What They Say
Kurome and her team set out in search of the king’s grave but end up captured by the grave keepers! Akame’s team heads out to rescue her–will the two sisters finally be reunited?!
This third volume is the hottest and hardest yet of “Akame ga KILL! Zero,” the prequel series to the hit dark fantasy “Akame ga KILL!”
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
This time around we actually start with the cast grieving over their loss from last time, and it’s… okay. Like, it’s certainly hard to get too much out of the scene due to the limited character development thus far, but there’s also some merit to the way it shows each character dealing with it in their own way. And then it ruins that good will immediately by ending on some fanservice of Akame, which is just so impossibly tone-deaf it’s not even funny, considering the situation. Anyway, with that all out of the way, we learn that the mission is to go to a land called Putra, defeat some mysterious gravekeepers, and recover some treasures from a tomb. And to add some stakes to the proceedings, it turns out that Kurome’s team was already on the mission, and sent out an SOS.
We then get our true introduction to the arc, as we see Kurome and her crew fighting one of the gravekeepers. As it turns out, they have the power to become part animals, which I guess is at least something to give them a little flavor. And to Kurome’s credit, she actually does take out her first opponent… only for more to show up and capture her team. We then get what’s probably waaaaaay too much talking for the simple setup, and then finally some action when Guy sneaks in and ends up beating some big beast, while Akame and Green are tasked with capturing some of their enemies for intel. But yeah, both of those battles are really half-baked and uninteresting, on top of the usual issues fights in this series run into, so there’s not much to say there.
And because of course we do, we then switch back to Kurome’s group in time to see them get treated in a super rapey manner by a squid man with his tentacles. I have to say that it’s especially “great” that Kurome’s teammate is so underdeveloped character-wise that this means that at this point she essentially exists so we can have giant breasts to ogle as she’s horrifyingly molested. Really a classy move on the part of the book there. Also, it feels kind of counterintuitive for a prequel that will inevitably end with Akame changing sides by design to go out of its way to make the opponents so thoroughly reprehensible. Like, this seems like the perfect chance to start planting the seeds of doubt, as this could be such an easily sketchy job from the setup. But instead, we just have to make sure the main characters are on the side of justice for some reason, kind of wasting the storytelling potential.
Anyway, the rest of the book proceeds about as you’d expect, with each character having their expected fights, with a side of inappropriately placed fanservice to go with it. And at the end, our heroes end up against the leader, an Anubis (er, sorry, “Nubis”) man who disgustingly wants to impregnate these underaged girls to have an heir. Will our heroes be able to make it out of this frankly gross situation without further losses, or will their group continue to dwindle?
As with last time, the book does indeed continue to take some minor steps forward, but it’s still not anywhere near enough to be truly worth reading. For example, the fights are admittedly just a tad more clearly displayed, even if it’s still not where it should be. And we do get some more minor development for the characters… but it’s all interrupted by out of place, completely tone-deaf fanservice. To be fair, the series has had some poorly placed and thought out fanservice from the start, but it truly seems to have hit a new low here. Like, it’s displayed in such a way as to make the villains seem absolutely despicable through their actions, but it’s also somehow trying to use the same scenes to titillate the readers, which just feels incredibly gross. I suppose if horrifying rape is your fetish then maybe this is for you, but for the rest of us it just comes across as truly disgusting. And as a result, in the end you’re left with a book where the highs are quite low, and the lows are enough to make you feel ashamed and repulsed for reading the thing in the first place. As such, I’d once more recommend giving the book and the series a hard pass, especially since it now seems abundantly clear that it has no intention of changing its ways and becoming something more worthwhile.
Content Grade: C
Art Grade: C
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: September 27th, 2016