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Akame ga Kill is an okay series. Its nothing spectacular admittedly, but its perfectly serviceable. With the Anyone Can Die nature of the series, not a lot of characters get much in the way of development or depth, the only real ones to do so being the ones who stick around longest. While The Empire is Obviously Evil and the whole setting reads like a Crapsack World, Night Raid and the Jaegers are enjoyable enough in the Gray and Grey Morality that you can overlook it somewhat. With some exceptions. The art style is pleasing to the eyes, the fights don't go on for too long, and its easy to find a favorite amidst the Loads and Loads of Characters. So long as you don't get overly attached since again, Anyone Can Die.
That being said, one really needs to partake in the MST3K Mantra while watching, otherwise the series can be hard to stomach. The world building is abysmal. None of the characters sans one have last names. The main setting is just called "The Empire". The Imperial Arms have the most bare-bone of information on them. A lot of the characters are underdeveloped. Some of the decisions the characters make will have you wondering about them, namely the more moral members of the Jaegers still working under an Obviously Evil government. Some moments are clearly meant for shock value while others can just disgust you. And the implications behind the ending can lead to the conclusion its an Esoteric Happy Ending.
Its an okay show however if you do partake in the mantra. You don't have to entirely turn off your brain to enjoy it, but you'll probably want to reduce usage to 50 percent if you want to enjoy it.
I like smart TV shows. I like some dumb ones too, provided they're actually enjoyable and not just flinging their stupidity in your face. But if there's one thing I absolutely can't stand, it's a dumb show that thinks it's smart. And that's the problem with Akame Ga Kill.
The show—and the manga it was based on, from what I've read of it— talks a big game about being morally ambiguous and "mature", but it all falls flat after watching just a few episodes. Most of the characters are cardboard cutouts with no personality beyond the stereotypes they represent, and the few who aren't get killed off to quickly for us to care. The villains are of the bland "evil for the hell of it" variety, and with the exception of Esdeath they lack any sort of charisma to make up for it.
To make matters worse, the setting is poorly established, with generic names like "The Empire" and "The Capital" being thrown about. Video game terminology gets used a lot even though the show isn't based on a video game, and the characters dress as though they all came from different shows. It's especially jarring when one character wears headphones, despite nothing more advanced than a steamship being seen elsewhere in the setting.
We're told that there are ancient, powerful weapons called Teigu, but we never get much in the way of a backstory on these, which would have been fascinating. Nor do we hear much about the larger world in which this Empire exists, or how it became so corrupt in the first place. The whole series is little more than an un-ironic exercise in the most overused anime and RPG cliches, with nothing to set it apart from other works that did the same things earlier—and better.
Akame Ga Kill is one of the worst-written shonen manga of all time.
I'm not kidding, and let me explain why I think this way.
See these Designated Evil and Narm tropes on the YMMV page ? (I added the latter one, by the way.) They encapsulate absolutely everything that is wrong with Akame Ga Kill.
The manga is a festival of cruel, gratuitous violence (both in the physical, mental and sexual sense of the word), very predictable character deaths for the sole sake of shock value, shallow and clichéd characters fined-tuned to maximize the gratuitous violence, and a world so crapsack that even the writers of Warhammer 40K would find it a little over-the-top.
And you know what ? I could be fine with it all. I can appreciate a violent, exploitative story once in a while, one of these stomach-churners that nonetheless make for a mesmerizing read. I don't find the crapsackness of the world repulsive in on itself (hell, one of my favorite mangas is Berserk), and the character designs, clichéd as they can be, look cool enough. The fights and powers are rather cool as well (in the manga, that is.), which is really the least you can ask of a Shonen series.
But Akame Ga Kill isn't satisfied with just being that kind of series. Because Akame Ga Kill manages to be pretentious.
It had to try and establish Grey and Grey Morality, thus taking any reader thinking about it for more than five seconds for a complete idiot. It had to try to have its shock value-filled cake and eat it too. Even if her design is cool, Esdeath is such an invincible Villain Sue that it makes her appearances boring. Even the "good" members of the Jaegers are working under such patently evil assholes with precisely zero wish for reform that it makes you wonder if they are supposed to be delusional (special mention to Wave, whose only reason for siding with the Jaegers instead of Night Raid is becaue he got saved by someone once.). Anti-Villains can work, and work quite well indeed, but I lose my sympathy for them when they serve complete psychos instead of more reasonable employers.
In a few words: if you want to read Akame Ga Kill, turn off your brain completely. Just stare at the violence on the pages - but if you're like me and tend to feel pissed off when media tries to pass itself as something much smarter than it actually is, go read Berserk.
Akame ga Kill is the very definition of your average shounen action series. Intense combat, lots of blood and gore, and very dark themes to add fuel to every conflict, Akame ga Kill's sole purpose to set up and carry out some really cool action packed fights, and of that it does well, though creative motives generally takes a back seat as a result. The show does try to delve into deeper narratives such as the Cycle of Revenge and He Who Fights Monsters but it's all just a vehicle to more action.
The story is very straightforward, constantly reinforcing Night Raid is good, the Empire is horrible, and morality is firmly black and white. It's a simple formula that keeps what's important and most well-done (the fights) in focus. As for the characters, the heroes' team is rather bland and predictable, with all the fundamental personalities being covered, like Big Brother Mentor, the Tsundere, the Chivalrous Pervert, the Nice Girl, etc. The villainous Jaegers were much the same, full of your staple Anti-Villain tropes. Some of them were interesting and sympathetic enough to at least garner some investment, but few left any truly lasting impressions. If I could rename this series, it would be Anyone Can Die the Anime, as the biggest draw is seeing when and how each of the colorful cast will bite it.
All in all, Akame is your very typical shounen series, but the intense fights and constant threat of Anyone Can Die at least makes for some good dumb fun if nothing else. I highly recommend the manga over the anime. The manga's ending was still in process when the anime aired and things play out a lot differently. The manga art is also a lot more engaging I feel, and the anime doesn't quite do the fights justice.
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