Rant: Akame ga Kill! General & Adaptational Flaws


Akame ga Kill! was never an amazing anime. It never boasted exceptional characterization or good storytelling. But I always felt it knew what its own strengths were: action and fan service. It was enough for me to label it “a casual watch” and just enjoy the ride. But all the fun came to an abrupt end because of killed expectations. The only appropriate title for the last two episodes would be: “Kill the Anticipation”.

Warning: The following contains a few spoilers from the later parts of the series that may discourage some that have not seen it.  Read on at your own discretion.

General flaws
Before I dive into what everyone is talking about (the anime taking its own route), I’d like to address the lack of basic elements that plagued this series from the start.

rantakamegakill1Characterization or rather: the lack of it. Prime examples of bad characterization in Akame ga Kill! are seen in Seryu and, recently, Shura. Both arguably being psychopaths, it was certain that their twisted views had to be forged by past events. The main problem is that we never get any tangible events that make the development of such psychotic characteristics natural. We just have to “go with it”. One could make the argument that a character could just be in a crazy state that’s not fueled by anything in particular. The issue with that in a narrative is that you lose impact. Impact they were clearly going for when both of them died. It is impossible to evoke any real sympathy when villainous behaviour isn’t backed by a story the viewers can connect with emotionally. They tried to do so. They failed.

e17akamegakill9Character deaths are also poorly executed in Akame ga Kill!. A severe lack of visible build-up and aftermath decreases the overall shock value. Unfortunately, this goes for villains and protagonists alike. Hell, a good number of villains made their entrance, were introduced to the viewers, and died. All within 1-2 episodes. It’s a bad sign when viewers don’t bother to memorize names because they instantly know there’s no point. Another problem that makes deaths in this show so lackluster is the amount of time between them; basically zero. All those points put together turn the string of character demises into an almost laughable ordeal.

rantakamegakill2World-building. Practically non-existent in this series. Simple things like actual names of locations are painfully absent. The country in which the story takes place is unnamed, and the city gets a lousy “Imperial City”. Naturally, this goes for neighboring nations and tribes as well, despite the slight implication of various political ties. Danger Beasts and vital history are mentioned every now and then, but not in a timely manner which only makes it seem like plugged-in information or a plot device. It’s frustrating because everything is there. It’s just so hard to immerse yourself in the world of Akame ga Kill! because barely anything is sufficiently expanded on.

Where it really went wrong
rantakamegakill3Now… Akame ga Kill!, despite all of the problems I highlighted, did one thing very well: adapting the manga. There were only miniscule differences which most would have overlooked… Right up until episode 19-20. The preview of episode 20 surprised manga readers, as the events seen weren’t supposed to take place until much later. The skip was confirmed in this week’s episode, much to the fans’ dismay.

As someone who was looking forward to seeing certain parts in animated form, I can’t say I’m not disappointed. However, I put my own feelings aside and went in objectively. Maybe the original ending could be good? Those hopes were crushed when White Fox didn’t even bother to cover their own tracks. A battle between 4 Imperial Arms users was set up, only for it to be skipped. All 4 of them being alive is already a huge plot hole right there. Another thing we’re supposed to accept: Esdeath lets everyone get away after a standoff with Najenda. The lack of continuity is astounding. One would expect White Fox, the studio that did Steins;Gate, to not make it obvious that content is being skipped. Episode 19 didn’t flow into episode 20 at all.

rantakamegakill4I don’t have my hopes up for the remaining of the anime series. While I understand that a lack of budget (Akame ga Kill just doesn’t sell that well) leaves an original ending as the only logical option, I feel that the pacing should have been adjusted in time so more important bits could have been animated. Without going into too much detail for spoiler reasons, anime-only fans will be missing out on some important character development and fantastic action. I’ll probably keep watching just to see what they do with it. But the weekly Akame ga Kill! impressions are over. Anime viewers who want to know how the story truly unfolds can switch to the manga, starting from chapter 35. Earlier this year, Yen Press licensed Akame ga Kill!, pinning early 2015 as the release date for the first volume in English.

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