Akame Ga Kill Review (SPOILERS) Feb 21, 2016 17:00:44 GMT -6
Post by szuniverse on Feb 21, 2016 17:00:44 GMT -6
It's bizarre just over two years ago no one would have ever thought distributor, Sentai Filmworks, could’ve ever got one of their series on Toonami. While other companies like; Viz, Funimation, and Aniplex have all shown support for the block during its reboot Sentai remained silent. Many were wondering when they may come in and give one of the many shows they have in their possession. Then shocking everyone at Momocon 2015, the Toonami crew announced their first title from them, Akame Ga Kill! A show that was very popular of its respected season and manage to generate hype within the anime community for a while.
Not much was known past that. No one knew who was going to be in the English dub and Sentai were not going to give that away until the dub premiered August 8th, 2015. From a first glance of the dub cast for episode one only a handful of people knew who was in it. A lot of unfamiliar and familiar names were in the credits. As the weeks went on and more of the cast was revealed it became obvious that Sentai assembled quite an impressive cast. They picked some big VA’s (voice actors) like; Christine Auten, Kira Vincent-Davis and David Wald. Not only that but they even enlisted the talents of a unfamiliar voice actress like Christina Marie Kelly! It’s insane and quite refreshing to get a new talent into the industry. Sadly, for all the hype and incredible talent behind the show Akame Ga Kill! rarely delivers on what it sets out to do.
Story & Characters
Well before this gets out of hand let's start with the story. The plot line goes like this; Tatsumi leaves his village to become an imperial soldier, upon signing up he immediately gets kicked out and then tricked by a blonde-haired bimbo (who we will later know as Leone) into giving her all his money. Now destitute and with nowhere to go he resigns himself to sleep on the streets when he is suddenly taken in by a rich girl who shows him mercy. After thinking maybe his luck is changing for the better, Tatsumi finds out after a band of assassins called Night Raid shows up, that the blonde-haired girl was going to kill and torture Tatsumi! Just like his friends from the village that he had been looking for. In a fit of rage Tatsumi kills her and is then taken in by Night Raid as a new recruit. Once brought back to their headquarters Tatsumi finds out that the Capital is overrun with corruption and it is Night Raid who fights to protect the people and aim to change the Capital by starting a revolution. He then joins them so he can help with this cause.
Each member of Night Raid are equipped with a magical item known as Imperial Arms. These items grant the wielder an ability that can help them in combat. As the story unfolds it’s made pretty clear that anyone who holds it isn’t overpowered in fact sometimes the case maybe they are just a tad bit stronger from what they once were. Which is a pretty neat idea, but as the series nears the end it drops that and makes them convenient for the sake of the plot and that’s about as simple as it can get without going over too much of it.
However, in this type of series the story doesn’t matter. A lot of it is very rinse and repeat. Night Raid stands in front of a foe and they either win or lose depending upon the situation. Each episode follows a very basic bad guy of the week formula. Which is fine, it’s just that none of the villains are especially interesting.
In fact, I find a lot of them pointless to the overall tale. For example, the Prime Minister's son, Syura, he’s introduced in episode twelve and drops off the face of the Earth until episode twenty. His overall bearing on the plot meant nothing! You could’ve written him out and nothing would’ve changed! There is a slight argument that without him the further development of Esdeath’s character wouldn’t have been fully fleshed out, which is total bull! The show only set that up for the sake of fanservice and nothing more. Episode twelve could’ve been rewritten in a way that makes sense for a characters backstory being opened up, but nope! Instead oh here’s a deserted island, here’s big tits and nothing else.
Sadly, that isn’t the only issue with the plot, it’s just bland and unfocused. Tatsumi leaves his village so he can earn money to save it. That’s all well and good however, the show completely drops that plot point as soon as it comes in. It’s never addressed again and we never see if the money is helping them out or not. It’s another useless plot thread that does nothing to help with the storyline.
Also this should be addressed, but the series never explains why the characters kill in the first place? It does establish they fight to bring peace, but why kill? The backstories never fully delve deep enough on why they chose this path. In fact, some don’t make sense at all. For example, Mine’s backstory focused on how she doesn’t want to let anybody else feel alone like she did. How does that equate to I’m gonna kill people!? I can sort of understand for some like Akame and Najenda, but apparently killing one person makes Tatsumi a perfect assassin or Lubbock wanting to get with Najeda means KILL AS MANY AS POSSIBLE!
I’m fine with main characters killing others, but there has to be more than justification. A well established and fully detailed backstory would’ve been greatly appreciated. Not to mention maybe the story would’ve flowed a lot better if Night Raid were the anti-heroes. That means the motives would’ve made a lot more sense and would work in that context.
Another thing that Akame Ga Kill! fails at is character deaths. Throughout the series a main character will die just to make it feel like there’s more at stake. However, there’s never a good grasp of understanding the character. For instance in episode five we learn more about Sheele, one of the members of Night Raid. While it does establish her past it never feels like the series glosses over it so it’s hard to feel anything when you don’t know or understand the character well enough.
When the character is killed off in the next episode the show expects the audience to care about this death. That would be fine if it was left vague enough, but the series feels the need to be all melodramatic and show more of the characters time with Night Raid just to drive that feels train even harder. Yeah it tries way too hard, which is sad this could’ve been an interesting story mechanic, but it means about as much as Fire Emblems Awakening and Fates Casual mode. By the way, this happens with almost every member from both sides. The show does drop it later but by the time that happens it’s pointless. These characters mean little and the show doesn’t seem to care enough to be very detailed about them to begin with.
Well with the storyline being what it is let’s talk about the characters. If people consider Fairy Tail the cookie cutter of Shonen characters then Akame Ga Kill! is the frozen food you get at your local dollar store, cheap, will more than likely be shit, but works on a tight budget. It’s amazing how one note each of the characters are and how little impact they leave. For Night Raid we have; the yandere (Sheele), the tsundere (Mine), the silent one with a complicated past (Akame), the half animal human (Leone), the generic leader who wants a better future (Najenda), the cocky one (Chelsea), the overobssesive trait (Sussano), the pervert (Lubbock), and the dweeb main characters who gets all the chicks (Tatsumi).
On the Jaegers side we have Cold Melons with nothing else going for her (Esdeath), the crazy girl with her mangy killer mutt (Seryu and Koro), Tatsumi clone (Wave), the family man with a checkered past (Bols), random blonde guy who serves little purpose (Run), the little sister character (Kurome), and discount Leeron (Dr.Stylish). The pattern has been very obvious but none of the characters are that unique or good or interesting. If all of these characters were meant to make fun of stereotypical tropes in shonen anime to parody them (something like Kill La Kill does), then maybe the outcome would’ve been something smart. Instead we get this rogues gallery of forgetful characters that never grow. For example, Esdeath as a character stays the same.
She has a hot spot for Tatsumi, but her main goal is to kill Night Raid and make sure evil is purged. However, as the story progresses even when learning more about her past she doesn’t change. She never changes sides to help Night Raid with the cause even though she’s completely aware of the situation at hand. Even when they capture Tatsumi and try executing him! Also when the Emperor unleashes the ultimate Imperial Arms and Tatsumi dies defeating the thing, does she switch? Nope! Her point is to be the ultimate baddy for the sake of having a main antagonist.
Honestly speaking, a lot of these characters are so generic that remembering some are a complete chore. For example, people like Run and Lubbock are pointless since they are rarely in the show. Lubbock does have more lines, but his purpose in the show is very minute. Same goes for Run. Omitting these characters wouldn’t change much in the overall story. So it begs the question, what purpose do they serve? To a degree I can understand with Lubbock, he’s just another male to relate a bit to Tatsumi, but isn’t that what Wave’s there for?
Animation & Art
Well now that story and characters are done let's bring up the technical aspects of the show. The animation and art are both beautiful. This is probably one of the best animated shonen series since Blue Exorcist or even Hunter X Hunter. The studio behind it, White Fox, has worked on other series such as Steins;Gate, Jormungand, and the Super Sonico anime series. While personally I haven’t seen any of these shows, the animation in Akame is damn impressive and really shows off what White Fox can do!
The action scenes have a lot of build up to them and the fights White Fox churns out are really impressive. White Fox takes full advantage that the characters have these magical weapons, Imperial Arms, to showcase some pretty spectacular visual effects. Even when not a lot is going on there’s still a high quality and detail to it that they manage to maintain as a standard throughout the production. Of course in the background of later episodes are still images of landscapes and people, that is to be expected, but past that it’s great.
The art is also wonderful having a nice blend of colors. The show could’ve stuck with a brown/muddy palette, but instead everything has a lot of bright tones and a ton of contrast to it. Which for a tale like Akame (even though it doesn’t matter), does have a lot of dark themes underlying which bounces off very nicely with the palette. The character designs are also really cool to look at even if they don’t fit the world they live in.
Each character looks unique from one another and manages to stand out, helped even more so by the color palette mentioned earlier. The only character design that's a personal gripe is Esdeath and Tatsumi’s design. They just don’t look any different from any other generic “insert main protagonist/antagonist name here,” it’s rather boring. Still, they don’t look awful but a better design would’ve been neat to see.
The sound design in this show is also pretty good. The soundtrack from a first listen from the episodes alone are pretty forgettable. However, upon relistening to it it’s not bad but it’s not iPhone worthy, but it is pretty solid. Personal favorites would be “Le Chant de Roma,” “Kinpaku,” and “Yami O Kuri.” “Le Chant” mainly because the vibe and tone of the piece gives it a very distinct style. From the haunting vocals that could emanate a possible threat lurking in the shadows, to the instrumentals that give a very japanese edge to it. “Kinpaku[‘s]” melody sounds very much like a battle is about to commence and this song is the lead up to it! Finally, “Yami O Kuri” for it is very intense tone, it sounds like something out of a Metal Gear Solid game, yet it works. From a listener's standpoint, one can interpret that a gigantic threat is approaching and the danger level is at a critical!
Honestly the only tracks I could care less about are “Adramelech,” “Incursio,” and “I’ve Got To Go Home.” “Adramelech” mainly for the EDGE factor, it sounds just forgettable. The fact Sentai uses it twice for the cut opening they made just sound silly and is just stupid to listen to. “Incursio” for the same reason why Tatsumi isn’t a good protagonist, it’s very bland and generic. I could put this theme over other fight scenes and it would fit well with that show. Same for “I’ve Got to Go Home” it sounds like any typical death scene music not much more to say on that.
Now onto the voice acting. Sentai Filmworks has a large reputation with the anime community about not being up to snuff with their dubs. A lot of these dubs are blasted by critics and polarized by fans but they rarely ever hit a mark with the consumer compared to other dubbing companies like Funimation and Bang Zoom. So in a lot of cases, one of their dubs airing on TV was a big deal! More than likely meaning that they put a lot of effort into making it good. Well did they? No; at least in terms of other dubs that came out that year.
For a Sentai Studios dub, it’s decent, and certainly shows that the company is learning from past mistakes, but sadly it isn’t good or great. Which is disappointing from the amount of talent on board like I mentioned before; Kira Vincent Davis as Seryu, Allison Keith as Leone, David Wald as Bulat, John Swasey as Bols. These are only a handful of talented actors that were brought in to voice these characters. Hell Sentai went out of their way to get a newbie into voice acting and it’s just sad to know that the dub collapses on itself from episode one to the very end.
Is it the worst dub ever? No, but it certainly reeks of sounding like something that came out in the early 2000’s. Mispronunciation of a character's name Shell instead of Sheele. Painfully stilted line reads, mainly whenever it comes from the Emperor, but sometimes Tatsumi has an awful read. Not to mention the misdirection, sometimes one of the actors will sound emotionless or barely show any to begin with.
It’s incredibly apparent with Mine, Akame, and Tatsumi. Akame does make some sense to a degree, but sometimes she does come off weak with baring every raw emotion. For example, after Sheele’s death Akame and Tatsumi are talking in Night Raid’s base kitchen. She explains to him that she’s seen others die around her and hiding it is the only way she can move on. In this scene I just can’t buy any of the emotion the actress gave into that read, it came off very deadpan. The other that should be addressed is; whenever Tatsumi and Mine try to do any other emotions it comes off very forced and unnatural. Like when Mine has to act angry, I don’t feel like Christina Marie Kelly comes off as such, she just sounds like it and nothing else. So it’s extremely hard to buy into it. Same with Tatsumi whenever he tries being upset, it sounds like it and nothing else. I can tell the actors had fun in the booth, but it’s hard to reap the benefits of them having fun when the final product sounds like what it is.
At the end of it all Akame Ga Kill! is one thing...bad. It’s a show that lacks a lot of the basic principles of writing. When writing a story the main focus should be on developing the world and characters and not to focus on the main plot. Yes the main plot point is the anchor that holds everything together but it should be the goal the main characters reach that should be the focus, and while the last few episodes do have a determined goal, a large chunk of the show is very meaningless. What’s the point of having the Jaegers fight Night Raid if by the end if Wave and Run help them?
What’s the purpose of this character dying or how is their death relevant in future episodes? These are major plot points that are glossed over and are thus huge flaws with the show. On top of that a very mediocre sounding dub that while could’ve been worse, it could’ve been better. Yes the animation, art, and OST are all good, great even, but that doesn’t make the entire package good. In a lot of cases the best way to watch something like Akame Ga Kill! is by muting it and playing the OST in the background or skipping to the action heavy scenes.
Those are only a short reason of why this isn't worth your time. Personally, after watching it all the way through once it’s not something I’m willing to watch again unless I want to poke fun of all the flaws with it. It’s not a series anyone should pay what Sentai Filmworks is asking for. This is a series that getting at a five dollar bargain bin is the best price for it. Once again it’s sad to see a series with a lot of potential fall flat on it’s face.