I remember a time in anime where death was anything but concrete, specifically in battle shounen. One could die, but just as easily be brought back to life through, say, magic or star-plated spheres. However, in recent memory, anime fans have shifted that notion in the opposite direction. They had hungered for a more serious, more damning approach to the shounen genre. One where the characters’ status within the anime meant nothing for their security in battle. Most of all, when and if they were to fall, they would stay fallen. Luckily, anime fans got what they had hoped for… with Shingeki no Kyojin.
The anime industry took note of Shingeki no Kyojin’s wild success and started scouting for successors. They took one look at Akame ga Kill and were sold immediately. Look at all the dead people! Haley Joel Osment is going to have trouble keeping calm with all of these dead people! This is Akame ga Kill’s key point: people die, and stay dead, forever. That’s all that’s necessary to keep the hungry viewers satisfied, right?
While Akame ga Kill can keep its promise of gruesome deaths, deranged characters, and a constant stream of the aforementioned subjects, that’s only the one shounen cliche they decided not to add. What’s important to pay attention to is the amount of sacrifice with this anime. No, not the sacrifice of any certain character for the good of the plot, as this anime wants the viewer to believe, but the sacrifice of essential concepts put forth to creating a well thought out story. What this title lacks in revivals is made up of many, many other shounen cliches. These characters can die, yes, but are they difficult to kill? It depends on the situation.
Characters are placed into this series to die. Every character is at risk, so the viewer expects this throughout the entirety of the anime. This could cause as a sort of distraction to some, such as seeing evidence of character development as a means to get the viewer’s sympathy. It also leaves out a lot of that character development for characters that may fall prey to the anime’s selling point too quickly. To make up for this, they put out an episode entirely dedicated to exploring said character’s past. But as stated above, this seems rushed and a means to wring out sympathy from the viewers.
Speaking of rushed, there are segments to this anime that seem all too rushed. Arcs within the anime that feel like filler only constrict the amount of time this anime has to work with to actually advance the plot to the point where it feels as if it all happened within an hour. And this anime doesn’t seem convinced that viewers will continue to watch the series without more murder, so they spend time trying to build up the characters only to kill them off by episode’s end. This, once again, only limits the amount of time the anime has to actually smoothly advance the plot, even with twenty-four episodes.
Taking a hard look at the characters in this series, one has to wonder whether they really feel like characters. With the emphasis on death and sacrifice, are the characters meant to be cared for, or seen as a plot device? It feels almost like a game of Survivior, where the viewer only roots for one or two particular characters to root and care for, hoping they can win the competition based on likability and/or skill. And with a surplus of characters, specifically when the Jaegers (Shingeki no Kyojin tribute?) are introduced later on, how many are really going to leave a mark on the viewer?
Regardless of all the different perspectives, I felt as though the characters only added to the overall cliche feel of Akame ga Kill. Characters, if not for their typical dark, depressing backstories, only had a key characteristic that the anime played with, while instilling comedy through means of having them act the opposite of what one would expect from their appearance. The main hero personality, the quiet caretaker, the manly homosexual (that’s new), the tsundere, the flirt, the pervert, the one no audience member remembers, and the leader. Each of these range among the chart of cliche personalities, but most of them are unbearable to those familiar with the genre. To the extent of their likability depends on the viewer, but is more likely to smell like that of a rotting horse to most.
Like that of most shounen heavyweights, Akame ga Kill’s artstyle is dark and has edges that could cut steel. Not to say their bodies are merely made of trapezoids, but the amount of almost frightening imagery is enough to make many horror fans giggle in delight. This is part of what this anime stands for, of course. To make this anime as enthralling as possible, a lot of key details needed to be put into battles and weapons, and they certainly delivered. Fights were flashy and fast, almost to the point of headaches, but ibuprofen exists, so it doesn’t matter; just watch the pretty colors. Characters were distinct and noticeable, no matter how unimportant they seemed. Well, other than background characters, but again, who cares? Just watch the pretty colors. The overall dark nature of the show at least helps its case as a mature battle shounen. If Akame ga Kill were graded on art style alone, it would be rated with high votes.
Viewing Akame ga Kill could be a worthwhile experience for many, granted the viewer has the right mindset. Akame ga Kill had scenes where it genuinely felt like everything within it had a purpose, but it drowns out its supply of time with too much filler and a giant second half influx of characters. The one biggest problem I had with this anime was its emphasis on death and the sacrifices one makes to make the world a better place. I can see the emphasis of death, but there needs to be more emphasis on why the viewer should care about the world they’re trying to save. Everything on the surface is bad because it can be. What else is there to the world other than being black and white?