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 (with a subtitle track for the hearing impaired), 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 whilst the Japanese is superb – there are some very intense moments throughout where the background noise, music and vocals all come together in a perfect atmosphere so one to enjoy.
Set on a standard 16:9 – 1.78:1 ratio over 2 discs which is the standard for most UK releases, video wise, colours were fine and flashy (at times colourful, others quite dark), and no issues in terms of video to audio 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 ending and the show (the first disc has clips, the second disc is from the ending with that gorgeous Kurome/Akame yin-yang symbolism) –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 incredibly well especially with the tab on the demonic red that Akame eventually has to use…
The extras are all on the second disc, and most are standard fare with the clean opening and ending, a Japanese promo video and trailers for some of Sentai’s releases (only one however has been UK bound) with Parasyte The Maxim, Chiaka: The Coffin Princess, When They Cry and The Fruit of Grisaia.
The one unique extra is the Akakill! Theatre making a welcome return which are 12 short episodes (1-3 minutes in length) which take a break from the gore and horror and feature mostly comical situations usually based on the episode they aired in – so the episode when Esdeath and Tatsumi are stuck together? Turns into a visual novel which is rigged in Esdeath’s favour. Need to check out a new base? Fire Tatsumi out of it airplane style. Bit characters involved? Tough – Lubbock has wares to sale and Mine then gets to troll him. Night Raid’s biggest crisis? Najeda scared of bugs. It is basically a comedy B-roll which is for the 10 episodes…but then surprisingly despite the same style drawings and a little comedy, the last two are actually surprisingly sad and tender – it reveals major spoilers so I won’t say but yeah, those two catch you of guard especially for poor Akame in the episode 11 one…
Akame Ga Kill raised the stakes in the previous arc with the introduction of Night Raid, their villains in the Jaegars, and the fact that already characters from both sides have died – falling into the ‘anyone can die’ category. And by the end of this series, that trope is way into effect with some obvious…and some legit surprising. The show definitely has the shock factor…if it wasn’t for the fact that a lot of the time it is obvious who is going to die, and when the surprises do happen, they really feel either surprising…or a bit of a letdown. This is a shame because the characters are interesting but the development outside of a few was getting there, but is immediately cut short.
The one character that is easily the most interesting is Esdeath. The leader of the Jaegers is cruel, sadistic…yet if her warriors follow her the respect and care is there. She is a psychotic sadist…yet is totally in love with Tatsumi. This gives Tatsumi a slight hope that if they meet again can try and join Night Raid – and that is what happens as the two meet during a Night Raid mission of killing some advanced Danger Beasts with Esdeath also doing the same thing – they randomly meet as Esdeath still doesn’t know Tatsumi is with Night Raid. This then leads to the mysterious figure at the end of the last arc revealing himself named Syura (who we later discover is the son of Minister Honest) who is causing the activities of these new Danger Beasts. His Imperial Arm allows him to teleport himself or others and he transports the two to an island with a giant Danger Beast and the two work together to kill it. They kind of bond and tell stories as Tatsumi tries again to see if Esdeath can be recruited to his side…unfortunately from her past, she reveals pretty much her mentality of the weak shall fall, even taking this view to her father. With this as they escape, Tatsumi realises he cannot convince her and managing to use his invisibility he escapes her as the line is drawn and they are definite enemies, though Esdeath clearly is still in love with him…
You do get a lot of characterisation with the Jaegars as some are clearly not bad and have joined the Empire to help it from the inside (Wave and Run), some have done really bad things but are still likeable for different reasons (Bols and Akame) and the others have clear issues but sometimes a tinge of kindness is there (Serya and Esdeath) – this is where you clearly see on both sides that someone is probably going to die if the development focuses on them – the first true battle of Night Raid vs. The Jaegers hits as they go after a fake religious movement and using Najenda’s strategies they manage to separate the Jaegers as Bols and Kurome have to face off with Akame and Kurome in particular having their obvious issues with Mine (who really gets the good development this arc), Tatsumi and Leone – Bols having a wife and daughter to protect and knowing karma is coming for him yet he must fight means he was actually a sympathetic character despite his atrocities – means you know he is in trouble, which leads to Chelsea killing him.
Unfortunately, this leads to the initial problem as Chelsea, who was a new character was just getting into the characterization and starting to warm to the group, she later goes after Kurome disguised as Bols, and manages to poison her – unfortunately Kurome doesn’t die, and Chelsea gets one of the most gruesome deaths in the show. It does feel like we hardly knew her especially as in the same episode we get some good back-story between Akame and Kurome, and the fact the two dearly still love each other but what happened means Kurome can’t forgive Akame for her abandonment in her mentality. So some discrepancy with the characterization…
One that does seem to slowly work is Mine – quite the hot headed character, but this is the arc where she shines a lot – not just to avenge her friend against Serya, but the slowly developing relationship between her and Tatsumi. Lubbock as well gets some decent development as you learn about his crush on the boss, and how he came out of Night Raid.
So you know these two are toast. Same thing with Serya who is probably the least sympathetic in terms of her psychotic and overzealous nature for justice – we get to see her nice side playing with some kids to remind people that outside of battle she can be a nice girl (people tend to forget her nice moments with Tatsumi when she was introduced – of course that changed quickly but…) – the show does try and bring in new villains to help out but despite some brief development, they are killed quickly (a fun one when one of the villains actually flirts with Lubbock and the two actually have some chemistry…yet Lubbock has to kill her much to his disappointment ^^) This is also the case with Syura (who I’ve learned is way worse in the manga – Run even alludes that his role in the manga is different to the anime so maybe tempted to check out the manga now) who after being introduced and screwing around with Esdeath and Tatsumi, is then killed by Lubbock (who dies in the same battle) – it is very inconsistent with its characters and mostly obvious when ones are going to die.
I say MOSTLY obvious because the last few episodes are genuinely surprising. First, Tatsumi is captured by the Jaegars and Esdeath finally finds out that he is part of Night Raid. She actually wants him to join her and when he refuses her, she requests to be the one that kills him despite clearly not wanting to. The rest of Night Raid go to rescue him which again, gives a clash – the person who captured Tatsumi (Budo) was seen to be as powerful as Esdeath, but after his introduction is killed by Mine in the next episode. However, Mine is mortally wounded in battle and the nice little romance that was budding between Tatsumi and Mine is literally ended with their first kiss – whilst it wasn’t the longest developing relationship, Mine’s character from classic tsundere to intelligent yet vengeful young lady was one of the better ones, and is a genuinely sad moment. The other character as well Su, the supposed weapon of Najenda also grew more human throughout the series and sacrifices himself to protect Najenda against Esdeath. This will eventually lead to the final battle between the Emperor and his own Imperial Arms (which was not really eluded to till the end) and Honest with the remaining members of Night Raid.
In between that though, the last real clash is between Akame and Kurome. Kurome really is dying because of Chelsea’s poison and this is her last hurrah, actually enjoying some moments with her sister, whilst Tatsumi stops Wave from stopping her (Wave clearly in love with Kurome) and it is the second genuinely sad moment when Akame mourns for Kurome – with the final battle at hand, it leads to the surprising death of Tatsumi…
…yes, the lead male actually dies. In fact, by the end of the series, only 2 of each side are alive. It leads to a final fight between Akame and Esdeath, one of the most tacked on deaths in Leone as it just felt so rushed, and back-story for Run as he gets a few nice moments after being in the background for most of the Jaegars. It ends optimistically as the final battle is quite animated, with Wave teaming with Tatsumi to face off against the Emperor, and Akame throwing her limiter away to face Esdeath who is clearly in no state of mind after Tatsumi’s death, the final clashes are well done and reminds you how good the action is in this series amidst all the blood and gore.
As you can probably tell from this, the main problem is a combination of a lack of consistency, the obvious deaths and the idea of just killing for the sake of killing. Attack On Titan seemed to have a similar problem and you’d think that Akame Ga Kill actually doing it with main characters is more surprising and also more interesting. Sadly, what AoT does do is bring their main characters with constant threat and the development considering the amount of characters are in that show, is far superior. I was surprised about some of the deaths by the end of the show but this was a clear case of adaption change from the manga so it was a unique ending, and definitely felt very rushed.
Akame herself, for example, is in the name of the title and until her battles with Kurome, she is very much in the background – whilst her fights with Kurome and Esdeath remind you of what she truly is capable of, the focus is very much off her for a lot, whether it is focusing on Mine and Tatsumi’s relationship, or whichever villain is going to die, it feels like a bait and switch series. Tatsumi as well whilst improving as a character in terms of strength and smarts, he almost has a touch of death with all the cast as he indirectly has a hand in almost all the deaths – combined that whilst likeable he isn’t that interesting as a character compared to many of his teammates (though his interactions with Esdeath and Mine at least give him some good stuff) – Lubbock I feel actually got a lot more here as his comic relief role is put to rest for the most part and he does remind you what a badass he can be, but again his fate was sealed when he did get some development. Chelsea, Bols, Kurome all suffered from the same effect – even Serya to a very minor respect.
It doesn’t help when the main villains are much more unlikable compared to Wave, Run and even Esdeath who at least is very enjoyable to watch and entertaining, and quite the badass. Honest and the kid Emperor are puppet master and puppet, and Honest just gets worse and worse – and whilst he does die, the fact he managed to do a very rushed death of Leone (especially strange as did the show forget she has regenerative powers or did he shoot her too much? Again, not well explained) – Syura seems to have been set up as a major player, but dies way too quickly for you to care how evil he was – same with the 4 characters who whilst named and set to be a threat to Night Raid are all defeated in 2 episodes.
The visual spectacle is still great, and whilst deaths sometimes feel just tacked on for shock value, it does give you the feel of what is world is about. Betrayal, bloodlust, revenge, honour, love…all these things are explored in Akame Ga Kill and does make the show entertaining to watch. It just is so predictable and not as well explored as you hoped that the show, whilst decent overall, feels a tad disappointing in the long run.
So a manga marathon might be on then…
Akame Ga Kill continues its anyone can die mindset and by the end of the series, it is very nearly ‘everyone can die’. Because of this, a lot of the characterisation is subdued, and the ones that does get some inevitably die a short time later. This can be seen a mile coming and the clichéd natured sometimes overlooked the blood and gore shock value the show puts on. A lot of generally good moment combined with the rare surprise definitely makes it watchable, but this feels like a case of what it could have been, and not what it should have been.
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Akakill Theatre!, Clean Opening/Ending, Japanese Promo
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: September 26th, 2016
Running Time: 272 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.