Killing, torturing, and more.
Akame ga Kill! Episode 1 Review.
“Kill the temptation.”
Death, tragedy, blood, pain, misery, despair, corruption… these are some of the things you’ll see through these twenty-four episodes. The question is, how well will it do those things? Will it be dark for the sake of being dark? Will it just kill characters off for shock value and not much else? Will there be even any moral conflict? Well, after reading up to the latest chapters of the manga, I’ll give a few of my thoughts.
Akame ga Kill! Episode 1 Impressions
This episode adapts the whole first chapter of the manga, which is around 80 pages, very faithfully. Manga readers like me probably couldn’t be more happy, right? Well, not exactly. I’m still having difficulty putting my finger on it, but there’s just something unsatisfying about this episode. Though, the first chapter of the manga is really not that impressive in the first place. The part where the little girl, Aria, goes all sadistic in this episode is done in the exact same way as it is done in the manga. Her posture and expression is exactly the same. However, even though it works well in the manga because it’s a single picture, it doesn’t really work out as well in anime format since we’re looking at those single frames with slight adjustments for those 20 seconds.¬†The sound effects (not the voice acting) during this scene also doesn’t help. No, seriously. Watch this part again and listen to the sound effects. There’s this high pitch whirring sound and when it switches to Sayo it makes this impact sound which doesn’t quite fit.¬†With how this scene is executed, I wouldn’t blame anyone who thinks that it’s more silly than dreadful. This may sound like I’m just nit-picking unnecessarily, but these things are not so insignificant to the overall experience especially when it comes to moments like this. It makes me a bit worried for what will happen later on because lackluster execution for the more despairing parts can ruin this anime.
Some people also seem to be getting the wrong idea. You’re not supposed to feel absolutely terrible for Sayo. You’re not supposed to be shocked at the revelation that the family is sadistic. Sayo was barely developed, and the “twist,” if you can even call it that, is not a surprise at all. The point of this episode is not emotional impact. It’s to let the audience understand that this society in which they live in is really screwed up. This episode is used to build up the dark tone of the show more than anything else. Think of it like an introduction to this corrupt society. On that note, let’s discuss the manga. (Obviously, I will not spoil anything.)¬†When it comes to darker shows like this, it worries me that all it’ll use is a lot of death and bad people to convey such a tone. The show would then become more black and white than it would be the case in real world, which is a valid complaint some people could have towards what happens in this episode. The question is, does the manga continue to do this to portray how atrocious this society is? Yes and no. There are definitely some moments in the manga, such as when you learn a bit more of some people’s pasts, that make you feel the unfairness and brutality of the world.¬†However, one of the biggest problems I have with the manga is¬†how it portrays most of the targets of Night Raid to be “bad” and only bad. I understand that those¬†are people whose hearts were¬†blackened by the power that they possess, but surely they are, or at least they were not completely evil. The manga never delves into why they ended up¬†the way they did. It barely¬†touches upon how society, the people around them, and so on affected them in negative ways that made them into people Akame and the others have to now kill. We only see the end result of them being evil, and not their transformation to become evil.
So then, I must ask, what is the point of portraying this? If this title is trying to tackle themes surrounding corruption, greed, righteousness, and so on, it will hardly be enough to have the targets be such shallow characters. When it only addresses the results instead of the means through which these targets turn malicious, these themes cannot be developed thoroughly. That’s not to say that all of the antagonists are like this. Later on, I’ll discuss this and a dilemma about those antagonists. Saying anything else would be spoiling things. Even then, the ways in which Akame ga Kill tackles the darker themes are by no means profound and sophisticated. There is far more depth in the¬†ideas it tries to expand upon than what this title will portray, so keep that in mind. After all, it’s¬†a shounen manga/anime’s attempt at delving into these subject matter. Don’t expect too much from it in terms of depth. It is, however, still entertaining and some of the characters can be quite endearing. (Although that brings up the trouble of being attached to characters when the author is prone to killing people off which I’ll address later down the line.) Just¬†please, please, do not think that this anime will be fantastic because of the hype. You will almost certainly be disappointed. There are notable moments that are well done, but overall it’s fairly average. There will be a lot of subjects I can critique in the future such as shock value, the aforementioned dilemma, delivery of backstory, darker subject matter, and plenty of other things, so I’ll be happy to discuss¬†them when the opportunities arise.¬†Until then, enjoy the killing.