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Anime / Akudama Drive

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Akudama Drive (Japanese: アクダマドライブ, Hepburn: Akudama Doraibu) is a 2020 Japanese cyberpunk anime television series produced by Pierrot and Too Kyo Games. The series was directed by Tomohisa Taguchi and written by Kazutaka Kodaka, who aimed to create a series consisting of rebellious themed characters.

Once upon a time, war between the Kanto and Kansai regions caused the world to split apart with Kansai becoming the vassal state of Kanto. However, the power of the government and the police has begun to wane while crime of all variety has skyrocketed. The perpetrators of those crimes are known as "Akudama." As these Akudama gather together in one place, their aesthetics will clash and a ridiculously ordinary girl will be caught up in their world of crime and mayhem.

Akudama Drive provides examples of:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Courier's bike, Hacker's drones, the Executioner drones, the Shinkansen, the Kanto Supercomputer, and the mob of citizens attacking Executioner HQ are depicted with CGI. The Bunny and Shark sequences are also done in CGI with the characters animated in a Stylistic Suck cutout style.
  • Anyone Can Die: The series pulls no punches of who dies and just how many can die. By the end of the series, most of the major characters and several supporting ones are dead, along with thousands of civilians.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Courier's prosthetic hand is one of the few things that can stand up to the Executioners' electro jutte and he will take advantage of it when needed.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Swinder, Courier and the others have died, but their actions not only allowed Brother and Sister to escape, but also caused the Executioners to be overthrown by the citizens as well.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Executioners. Master and Pupil almost kill the Akudama in their two first appearances, only failing due to a mix of bad luck and priorities. Master almost kills the whole group on his own while wounded, mainly failing because he didn't immediately kill Doctor first. In Episode 7, the crew are down three members and attacked by a dozen Executioners, and kill over half of them on-screen with no big issue.
  • Cutting the Knot: In Episode 3, Brawler figures out that the pathway of electrified gates can be passed through if they get rid of the gates themselves since they're not electrified. Pulling out all of them in record time is no difficult feat for the World's Strongest Akudama.
  • Designated Parents: Unintentionally so, but the last few episodes has only Courier and Swindler being the last remaining Akudama to survive with the siblings.
  • Dwindling Party: The Akudama ranks gradually diminish throughout the Shinkansen heist. Hacker leaves the party because he'd rather take his chances in reaching Kanto, then Brawler is killed by the Executioners. Finally, the crew splits when Doctor reveals herself as a turncoat. Cutthroat, Doctor, Hoodlum, Hacker, Swindler and Courier are subsequently killed during the second half of the series.
  • Eldritch Location: Kanto turns out to be a bunch of rubble floating in a low-gravity space with no solid ground, with a quantum supercomputer in the center of it all, constantly changing shape and keeping the minds of all Kanto's inhabitants inside it.
  • EMP: Hacker's program emits one on the entire Kansai region in the Finale. While it stops the hunt for Brother and Sister, what this means for the citizens is never shown.
  • Environmental Symbolism: Swindler dies by being pinned to a debris shaped like a cross, which works as a symbolism to her sacrifice and martyrdom, leading to Kansai revolting against the Executioners and the law enforcement in general.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: Brother and Sister are the only surviving main characters, though this is due to their literal immortality more than anything.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Some frames in the opening foreshadow the deaths of the Akudama.
    • In Episode 10, a teddy bear with glasses and a pink coat is shown being trampled by random citizens. Doctor would meet her unfortunate end by being crushed under a mob of citizens.
  • Great Offscreen War: The war between Kanto and Kansai sounded incredibly important and was a plot point that a lot of viewers wanted to be elaborated on. Unfortunately, it is only ever briefly mentioned a few times and left the way it is.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: One of the core themes of the series is the analysis between the law abiding Executioners and the chaotic Akudama and how similar they are to each other. Swindler even admits that she doesn't know what it means to be a good person anymore after becoming acquainted with Akudama and seeing how horrible the Executioners can be. Even Doctor in Episode 10, who's been re-declared as a civilian at this point, wonders what it'd be like if an Executioner was branded an Akudama when she holds the life of Pupil's new partner hostage and Pupil threatens to kill her for it.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: The second half of the series focus heavily on the exact nature of the Executioners and their willingness to practice Police Brutality to maintain public order. Given the current state of the world where civilians are protesting and risking their lives against corrupt government systems, the anime brings to mind how one should be critical of the practices of authority figures and whether they truly intend to protect the common folk or have more selfish intentions.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Hacker's invasion of Kanto's quantum supercomputer is basically a mix of surfing and a shoot 'em up game in a virtual environment.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Almost all of the episodes take its title from a movie.
  • Left Hanging: Due the series' lax behavior toward worldbuilding and rather downbeat ending, there are a lot of major plot elements left unresolved by the end:
    • The Kanto supercomputer is still very much active, with its goal of archiving people and objects for reasons unknown still happening. And it's not even certain if it'll simply stop at Kanto now that there's no one to actually stop it.
    • Brother and Sister's immunity is not very well-defined. Yes, they are Immune to Bullets, being sliced up and impalement, but it's not made clear if that's all they can survive from, or if they still remain affected by more natural causes of death like diseases. Likewise, why the government chose them for the hunt of immortality remains undiscussed.
    • How Japan or the rest of the world reacted to both Kansai and Kanto's bouts of war, or if the Executioner system is bound to just those two regions is never touched upon in any light.
    • Kansai's fate at the end of the series is up in the air, as are the fates of everyone outside of the police HQ after Courier destroys the tower. The Director's Cut alleviates this somewhat as Boss, Pupil, Junior, the little girl who led the mob to Executor HQ and some of the mob itself are shown to have survived, with most others either dead or still up in the air.
  • Longer-Than-Life Sentence: Akudama can receive sentences of hundreds of years. Which, as shown with Cutthroat in the first episode, just means they get the death penalty when they are arrested.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Kanto also functions as this. Any incoming citizens are brainwashed by the region's supercomputer into reliving their fondest memories making it easier to assimilate them.
  • Mood Whiplash: The series occasionally follows up particularly dramatic or tense scenes with the darkly comedic Bunny and Shark sequences.
  • Nameless Narrative: The characters don't have names and are only referred to by descriptions that reference their jobs or crimes. Each Akudama, including the protagonist, is only known by a codename. This is also true with the Execution Division, being referred to only by their rank, and Bunny and Shark, who go by only what species they are. Any other character who speaks just goes nameless outside a generic credit for the role.
  • Plot Device: The "500 yen coin that changes fates", as Swindler dubs it. Her single action of picking it up with the intent to return it to Courier resulted in her getting involved with the Akudama and eventually wanting to save Brother and Sister, permanently taking away any semblance of a normal life she would ever have had. The link of this coin between Swindler and Courier allowed Hacker to single them out and prevent their Brain Uploading in Kanto, and in the climax Swindler forcibly uses it as her last "payment" for Courier to deliver the siblings to safety, emphasizing that the single coin changing her life completely for better or for worse makes it far more valuable than anything else in the world. In the finale, he hands it off to the siblings as a form of Good Luck Charm as he bids them farewell.
  • Police Are Useless: Executioners are easily killed by the Akudama in nearly every encounter. Only Master comes close to actually killing any of them. The actual police prove to be even less useful when Swindler starts up a mob so she, Sister and Courier can enter the HQ. Not only do they get killed by Cutthroat when he encounters them, but they have zero clue as to how to handle the actual mob who are killing various Akudama and want to bust into the HQ themselves for the reward money due to them being regular civilians in fear. When they finally do something about the mob in Episode 10, it's Boss forcing the New Police Chief to declare the rioters as Akudama and kill them rather than deal with them any further, which he does under protest. As a result, he is shown in a state of distress in the aftermath. When the mob comes after the Executioners again, instead of granting them the privilege to kill the mob, he kills himself when Boss orders the death penalty.
  • Power Levels: The series has its own variation: Each Akudama has an "estimated sentence" based on their crimes. Most members of the main cast have three digits on their estimated sentences. Hoodlum, being a petty criminal, has a normal sentence (as in, he was properly arrested before the start of the plot) of four years while Swindler has a completely clean record.
  • Propaganda Machine: There are televised cartoon segments featuring Bunny and Shark, who discuss the history of the Kanto and Kansai feud and the concepts pertaining to Kanto society.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The main "protagonists" consist of various, high level criminals of different backgrounds and talents mixed with one ordinary girl as the main lead.
  • Scene Transition: The series does a once, sometimes twice, an episode bit where the background art for the next scene slams into place.
  • Ship Sinking: Episode 9 seems to have sunk Swindler x Cutthroat. This is on account of Cutthroat admitting that he doesn't harbor any sentimental feelings for the girl and tries desperately to kill her to satisfy his twisted desires. The episode ends with Swindler stabbing him with a laser blade, disgusted with his behavior.
  • Ship Tease: There are a lot of official art and merchandise that depicts Swindler and Courier together side by side despite there being little to no romance in the series itself. They end up getting some moments in due to them being the last remaining Akudama in the few final episodes.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Spoiler Opening: If one watches the opening closely, it shows a series of blink-and-you-miss-it shots Foreshadowing the Akudama's death scenes.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: In the finale, the theme song kicks into full gear as Courier, Brother, and Sister destroy the Police HQ and escape.
  • Theme Naming: As aforementioned, almost all of the episodes are named after a popular action/thriller movie from American media.
  • Uncertain Doom: In Episode 12, the last time we see Boss, Pupil, and the Executioners who took out Swindler is shortly before Courier destroyed the Police HQ, causing massive damage to the surrounding area and leaving the fates of them, the other Executioners and the mob of angry civilians, including the little girl who first came to them, unknown. The Director's Cut reveals that Boss, Pupil, Junior, the little girl and a few of the citizens survived with the fate of the other Executioners never shown.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode 7, full stop. The two children the group was sent to protect are revealed to be experiments in human immortality; Doctor is revealed to have been working with the Executioners; and the Moon, the one place Brother has wanted to go this whole time, is revealed to have been destroyed by unknown means during the war.
    • Episode 10. In order to quell the riots, Boss has all of the protesters registered as Akudama and slaughters them. Meanwhile, Doctor reveals that she set up Brawler's death by improperly stitching his wounds. Hoodlum is enraged and slashes her throat open. However, he dies when Doctor returns the favor. She then gets trampled to death by a crowd rushing to get inside the Shinkansen.
    • Episode 11. Kanto was destroyed during the war and its citizens began uploading themselves into a supercomputer, both the Decontamination Zone and Bunny and Shark serving as covers for the truth, and are planning to use the bodies of both Brother and Sister to upload the collective data of the city into them. Hacker also returns, having suffered the same fate, and pulls a Heroic Sacrifice while rescuing the kids with Swindler. It ends with Pupil overseeing the complete destruction of the Shinkansen when it returns to Kansai.
    • Episode 12. Both Swindler and Courier die trying to save the children, and the little girl who got tossed aside in the previous episode leads a revolt against all the Executioners, all thanks to a video Swindler recorded as she died.


Video Example(s):


Brawler Steals a Blimp

Brawler gets impatient waiting for a blimp bus, so he literally jumps towards one, smashes his face through the window, and throws the pilot out...but realizes he doesn't know how to pilot it himself. Hacker helps out, and Brawler somehow believes he himself figured it out. Nobody is impressed, but Hoodlum doesn't care.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / DumbMuscle

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