The first half of Akame ga Kill! introduced us to Tatsumi, a young warrior who travelled to the nation’s capital to earn money for his impoverished country village. Upon his arrival he soon discovered that the city was rife with brutal oppression and hopeless corruption, and ended up joining Night Raid, a group of assassins who are part of a growing army of revolutionaries. Now, the forces of sadistic dominatrix Esdeath are closing in on the group, and it becomes ever more apparent just how much more blood will be shed before it’s all over.
Two things primarily drive Akame ga Kill!: intense violence and uncertainty, the latter from it being made clear not long into the series that its core group were in genuine danger of being killed. Having main characters who can and do die sets the series apart form other action-orientated series such as Naruto, Dragon Ball Z or Bleach, where the ultimate safety of protagonists is all but assured. However, when the frequent fights begin, the comparative prominence of either character’s place in the story often allows for predicting their outcome, while it’s still often the case that characters who are soon to die choose that time to deliver the most significant aspects of their backstory in an attempt to garner more sympathy over their deaths than their development has thusfar allowed for.
The endless variation in the Imperial Arms, weapons of immense power wielded by both heroes and villains, mean that no two battles are ever alike, and the uncompromising brutality of the fighting keeps each passing moment of it exciting. That each weapon also possesses a hidden ability that can redouble its destructive capability results in a myriad of ways each combat scene can play out.
The distracting tonal dissonance of the first half – bloody violence followed minutes (sometimes moments) later by knockabout comedy – has been tempered somewhat (although sadly not entirely), and the unnecessary fanservice from the female characters’ varying levels of flirtatious attitudes towards Tatsumi has been largely dispensed with as he begins a fledgling relationship.
As the story accelerates towards its conclusion and featured characters on either side of the conflict continue to fall with alarming regularity, the welcome feeling of genuine uncertainty intensifies as it becomes increasingly difficult to tell who, if anyone, will make it out alive. Additionally, the series also plays with and subverts a number of anime’s conventions, adding to the ambiguity over where the story will ultimately go and exactly how it will get there.
While the final revolutionary blowout doesn’t have the same intensity as, say, the multi-episode climax of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, it’s nevertheless a satisfying conclusion that stays true to the vision of the series, and is overall a huge improvement on its disappointing first half.
AKAME GA KILL! COLLECTION 2 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: TOMOKI KOBAYASHI / SCREENPLAY: MAKOTO UEZU, TOUKO MACHIDA, KOUJIROU NAKAMURA / STARRING: COREY HARTZOG, MOLLY SEARCY, ALLISON KEITH, SHELLEY CALENE-BLACK, CHRISTINE AUTEN, CHRISTINA KELLY, TYLER GALINDO / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW