Akame ga Kill Review

Akame ga Kill, a series that is set in a fantasy world where an evil Empire reigns over the land with an ironfist, and as with any evil Empire, there is an opposing rebel force known as The Revolutionary Army. However, the anime follows Night Raid, The Revolutionary Army's group of assassins that essentially do the dirty work of the army by assassinating key targets and fighting The Empire's elite force. Also, each member of Night Raid carries an Imperial Arms, also translated as "Teigu," which are powerful ancient weapons with various abilities.
What sets Akame ga Kill apart from most shounen action anime, a genre that is often hit and miss for me, is one simple fact: Any character can die. While Attack on Titan featured a similar draw, Akame ga Kill takes the "anyone can die" premise to another level. In Attack on Titan, the supporting cast can die without warning. On the other hand, any of the main characters of Akame ga Kill can die, because there is absolutely zero plot armor. Often times, shounen anime is notorious either not killing off characters or bringing them back to life, and and Akame ga Kill subverts this cliché. In addition to that, Akame ga Kill is a much more violent series than most anime.

The Good: Anyone can die, Esdeath is the best villain of the year, Uncensored blood and gore, Surprisingly satisfying conclusion, The Jaegers are well development, Impressive action sequences, Shocking and emotional deaths, Usually good sense of humor, Both villains and heroes received developed, Excellent animation, Complete lack of plot armor, Strong second half, 

The Bad: Weak first 8 episodes, Clichéd and poorly developed villains in the first half, General shounen clichés, Lighter tone can undermine drama at times,

Plot: 7.2/10- Akame ga Kill's plot is a relatively straightforward story of standing against tyranny, and the war setting provides an easily explained reason for the constant battles. Where Akame ga Kill falters is in the first eight-ish episodes. During those episodes, the series had its moments of entertainment, but the horribly clichéd villains, whose only motivation is that they are evil, are incredibly annoying and boring to watch. Oversized and cackling villains are the worst cliché that a shounen can have, and there a several of them. Fortunately, after those early episodes, the series introduces the villainess Esdeath, and, what is essentially the Empire's version of Night Raid, the Jaegers. Whereas the previous villains were dull and one-dimensional, Esdeath and the Jaegers are fleshed out antagonists, which make the second half significantly more involving.
Another issue is that the Akame ga Kill's tone clashes with itself at times. Even though characters die left and right, there is still a lot of typical shounen humor and fanservice. On one hand, the humor is actually rather funny, and it makes the episodes that focus more on Night Raid preparing for the next battle all the more entertaining to watch. On the other hand, if Akame ga Kill truly wished to create something truly different than the typical shounen series, it could have been more serious.
However, the mix of humor did not affect my enjoyment all that much, since I only ever expected a shounen action series.
Lastly, Akame ga Kill takes a controversial departure from the manga in the last few episodes to create an anime original ending, so that the series is not left on a cliffhanger. Typically, anime original endings are convoluted and rushed, and while it is not perfect, Akame ga Kill’s ending is one of the most satisfying anime original endings out there, at least for someone who has not read the manga. In fact, the ending actually had some excellent thematic elements that fit the series perfectly, and if I did not know the series departed from the manga, I would not have even guessed that it was a rushed conclusion.

Characterization: 8.3/10- For the main characters in Night Raid, the characterization starts out a bit weak in the early episodes with many of the characters falling into various archetypes. The characters were not bad characters by any means, in fact they were generally likable, but the writing could have been better earlier in the series. However, after the early episodes, the characters in Night Raid really started to grow on me, to the point where the various character deaths did have an effective emotional impact, with moments many that left me in shock. Among my favorite characters from Night Raid include Mine, Leone, and Akame.
On the other side, there is the Empire's version of Night Raid, the Jaegers, who are often more interesting than Night Raid, namely the best part of the series, Esdeath. 
Esdeath is the highlight of the series as far as I am concerned. She is a completely psychopathic and ruthless killer, who enjoys the thrill of battle above all else. Esdeath's backstory actually provides a good reason for her "survival of the fittest" mentality, so she is not a complete monster monster, and yet her villainy is never undermined. As in various other media, the "crazy chick" is my favorite character, and in the 2014 year in anime, there has yet to be a better villain.
As for the other Jaegers, the series adds a layer of moral ambiguity as it even makes a character, who burns down villages that oppose the Empire, a surprisingly likable, and often humorous, family-man type character. The other characters in the Jaegers all have their reasons for joining the Empire's side of the fight, some of whom are effective thematic mirror images of Night Raid. 
One aspect that may have impacted my opinion of the characters is that this is the first 24 episode anime that I watched as it aired, so I followed these characters for nearly half a year! In a way, I feel like I was on the journey with the characters throughout the course of the 24 weeks, so it made me more attached to the characters compared to how it might have if I watched the series in a week.

Action: 9.3/10- 2014 has featured several top tier action anime and none are more exciting than Akame ga Kill. Due to the fact that any character can die, every battle actually has consequences and a heightened level of suspense. Also, since each character's Imperial Arms is unique, most the battles are entertaining and unique to watch unfold. Of course, the action sequences are typical shounen action scenes with the characters using special powers and various other clichés; however, it is some of the more entertaining shounen action. 

Acting: 8.4/10- Per usual, the Japanese cast is exceptional, with Satomi Akesaka as Esdeath being the highlight.

Animation: 8.8/10- White Fox's animation features a relatively standard shounen style. However, the animation excels in the overall quality of the art style and character designs. The series' colors pop and the characters are crisply rendered, without many noticeable drops in budget.
Another strong point is that Crunchyroll aired the uncensored version of the series, so it completely avoids the frustration associated the censorship of violence. On the possible negative side, there is fanservice.

Soundtrack: 8.5/10- Taku Iwasaki's score is superb, and it features many unique tracks that set itself apart from most action series. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is not released on its own as of today.

Humor: 8.1/10- Akame ga Kill's humor is both a highlight for me, and possibly a negative for others. On its own, the humor is often funny, even if it can be clichéd. The episodes in-between the battles feature the most humor, and more often than not, the jokes and antics make me laugh.

Opening and Ending: 8.0/10- Akame ga Kill's second opening, "Konna Sekai, Shiritakunakatta," is the highlight of the openings and endings featured in the series. 

Entertainment Value: 8.4/10- After those weak early episodes, Akame ga Kill is a very entertaining shounen action anime. It has the humor, action, and generally entertaining tone that a good shounen should have.

Overall: 7.5/10- Akame ga Kill is leaving me conflicted. It is most certainly flawed, and it does not quite fully capitalize on its premise, yet, as the series continued, the characters grew on me, and since anyone can die, each battle is filled with a level of tension not found in many shounen anime. With the addition of high production values and a surprisingly satisfying conclusion, Akame ga Kill sets itself just far enough apart from the typical action series to be one of the more entertaining anime of 2014.

Closing comments: As far as action anime that are not 100+ episodes go, Akame ga Kill is one of the better ones, and if that is a genre that you are particularly interested in, definitely give it a watch.

Recommended for: Shounen fans, Action fans, Fantasy fans, 

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