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Akame ga Kill! Collection 1 Blu-ray Anime Review

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Akame ga Kill Collection 1 BD CoverWhat do you do when all you want to do is hunt for the government, only to find yourself embroiled with the most notorious rebel faction around?

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.

The Review:
The Japanese language track for this release comes in the standard 2.0, while the English dub has been given a 5.1 mix. Both tracks come through clearly with no dropout on any of the channels. For the English track, there’s some nice directionality along each channel for sound effects, and a some with dialogue, though that stays mostly centered. As a dub fan, I like getting these 5.1 mixes, and this is a good one. No real complaints.

The transfer for this release is really good. Coming in a 16:9 aspect ratio, the colors are bright when they need to be and dark when they need to be that. It’s a series that shows a lot of range in terms of setting and mood, and this transfer shows it off very well. There were no technical issues that I detected. Animation-wise, while I wouldn’t call it the most spectacular thing I’ve seen, it is certainly fine for what it is.

This collection is a pretty standard Blu-ray package. The two discs are housed in a standard sized cae. The front has an image of Akame and Tatsumi, each posing with their swords. The back has a picture of Mine with her imperial arms, some screen shots, a series summary, and the technical details. It’s a perfectly fine package, but nothing special.

The menus for this release are basically the standard BD menus. The episode list is aligned along the bottom, while the background is animated. However, in this case, it is the OP or ED (depending on the disc) that is played rather than random scenes from the series. Overall, it’s an effect that I like (certainly better than just the static screen that comes on DVDs), so I don’t have any particular complaints. The only issue I sorta have is that the cursor just inverts some of the colors used to list the episodes, so it can be hard to see. Once you know what it is doing, it’s fairly easy to see, but initially it can be a little tough.

This release has the standard clean OP/ED and Sentai trailers. Also included are some of the Japanese promotional spots, and a series called ‘AkaKill! Theater.’ AkaKill! Theater is a series of one minute-ish okame shorts (animated in different styles) starring various characters in humorous situations. These are fun and, in a nice change from the norm, these shorts have been dubbed as well, so dub fans can enjoy them without subtitles.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Akame ga Kill! first came to light for me during its initial run on Toonami in late 2015/early 2016. I watched a few episodes there, and it intrigued me enough to seek it out further. The premise itself didn’t seem particularly original, but I was interested in how they were going to go about it.

Tatsumi and his friends come from a small, impoverished town. Competent swordspeople, they leave their village to try and make money in the capital as demon hunters. However, on the way to the capital, they are separated, and Tatsumi is forced to finish the journey on his own. Upon arriving in town, he is quickly swindled out of his money by a sexy, buxom blonde woman and left broke and homeless. He is taken in as a charity case by a seemingly nice noblewoman who promises to help him find his friends, and Tatsumi feels like his luck is changing.

But that night, the house is attacked by the notorious Night Raid, a shadowy group of assassins who target the nobility and are seemingly intent on bringing down the Empire. Part of the raiding group is Leone, the same sexy, buxom blonde that swindled Tatsumi, which spurs him to attack. But he is soon led to the truth: the seemingly nice noblewoman is really a sadistic serial killer who preys on hopeless cases like Tatsumi, and in fact has already murdered the friends he is attempting to find. With nowhere else to turn, Tatsumi joins Night Raid and quickly finds himself embroiled in rebellion against the Empire he has always believed protected him.

As noted above, there’s nothing super original in the premise of Akame ga Kill!. Tatsumi is a fairly vanilla protagonist, and there’s something of a harem setup as most (though not all) of the other members of Night Raid are sexy women who all develop some kind of feelings for him. Each person in Night Raid wields a special type of weapon known as Imperial Arms, which gives them some sort of mystical power. For example, Akame’s sword, Murasame, automatically kills anybody it cuts with poison. Bulat carries Incursio, a virtually impenetrable armor that protects him from all kinds of attacks and can even make him invisble. And despite their reputation as evil assassins, they actually fight against injustice and seek to bring down Honest, the Emperor’s right hand man and the one responsible for virtually all the ills in the world.

But despite the generic setup, so far, it has been fairly fun. While Tatsumi is vanilla, he has a fun mentor/mentee relationship with Bulat, and while all the girls flirt with him, the tsundere relationship he is building with Akame has been well done. While she is incredibly violent when she needs to be, and tries to maintain a professional demeanor around the others, but it is quickly obvious that she cares for those in her group and begins to think of Tatsumi as more than just a teammate (even if she is convinced that he is deadweight for Night Raid).

The other part I’m really enjoying to this point is Tatsumi’s “relationship” with Esdeath. Esdeath is a somewhat sociopathic general in the army, and is known as the most powerful fighter around. Eventually, she is recalled from the front lines of the rebellion to take a personal hand in the hunt and destruction of Night Raid. Esdeath has no real personal knowledge of life outside the battlefield, but she does show an academic interest in the regular lives of people and she makes the executive decision that it is time she fell in love and got married. So, to find an appropriate husband, she stages a fighting tournament. Tatsumi, in order to show off his training, joins the tournament under the assumption that the prize is money and eventually wins. Instead, Esdeath takes him prisoner and (much to his chagrin) declares him her lover. It is a pretty funny setup, particularly with Esdeath’s matter-of-fact approach to their relationship and how she envisions it working based on her “romantic” studies. While he eventually escapes, it seems like it is only a matter of time before their orbits cross again, and I’m looking forward to it.

In Summary:
While I wouldn’t say that Akame ga Kill! has been terrific to this point, I’ve had a good deal of fun with it. It’s not particularly original, but it’s been competent in its unoriginality. I could see the second half going either way: it either turns the switch and becomes very intriguing or it doesn’t follow up on what it has done well and falls flat. I think either could be just as likely, but I’m curious to see where it goes, so consider the job of this collection done. Mildly recommended.

Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, AkaKill! Theatre, Japanese Promo, Clean Opening and Closing Animations

Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: A-
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: February 9, 2016
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 16:9

Review Equipment:
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony PS3 w/HDMI Connection, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System

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