Tatsumi is a young happy-go-lucky sword fighter from a poverty-stricken village that sets out with his friends Ieyasu and Sayo towards the Capital of the empire they live in in an effort to make money for their village. Along the way, the trio get attacked by bandits and Tatsumi gets separated from his friends. Tatsumi makes his way to the Capital where he meets a nice young girl named Aria. Aria invites Tatsumi to her home to provide him with some food and shelter. That night, Aria and her family come under attack from an organization of assassins called Night Raid. Tatsumi tries to help the family's guards fight back against Night Raid, but his efforts are in vain as they easily slaughter everyone but Aria. Tatsumi desperately tries to protect Aria, when one of the members of Night Raid, a woman named Leone that Tatsumi met earlier in the Capital, reveals the secret of Aria and her family; they are a group of sadists who take in people from the country and torture them to death. Tatsumi personally cuts Aria down himself, and is roped into joining Night Naid. Now Tatsumi is an enemy of the Capital, trying to help change it from within through necessary bloodshed. Is Akame ga Kill! a clean kill, or is it a messy execution?
Glorious Uncensored Gore
Akame ga Kill! is a rather violent series, with people often being bisected or losing limbs left and right. There are gallons of blood spilt over the course of this series, and I am glad that we get to see it uncensored. People, rightly, made a mockery of the extreme censoring of Terra Formars, but Akame ga Kill! also got a similar treatment in its airing in Japan, where some fights literally had the entire screen blacked out during parts of them. So, again, it is great we get to see the series in all its bloody goodness.
ANYONE Can Die
I know it is often a cliche with series of Akame ga Kill!'s ilk to say that "anyone can die" and yet all that usually boils down to is support characters with decent amount of screen time get ganked. Well, Akame ga Kill! is not one of those anime. Anyone and everyone is fair game when it comes to meeting their maker. This anime laughs in the face of plot armor. As such...
It Isn't "If They Die", But "When and How They Die"
Look, there is no two ways about it, if you grow to like the characters in this show, at least one of your favorites will be biting the dust. That's just how the series is. So rather than worrying about if a character is going to die, it is better to worry about when and how they are going to die. Some characters will last nearly the entire series, others will die just episodes after they are introduced. Character deaths run the full gamut from awesome, to sad, to dignified, to even downright pathetic. That's because...
One Rule to Rule Them All
Akame ga Kill! has one consistent rule; when two or more people wielding the special weapons called Imperial Arms fight each other, at least one of them will die. This makes almost every fight between Imperial Arms users exciting, because you just don't know who is going to get got during each confrontation. And the battles vary in length too. Some are long, awesome fights, while others are over before they actually began.
A Literal Cold Hearted Bitch
General Esdeath is one of the Capital's highest ranking officers in its military and is made the leader of the Jaegers, a group of Imperial Arms users loyal to the Capital who are used to hunt down Night Raid. She is also one of the biggest sadists I have ever seen in anime and has some of the most hax ice powers as well. She is ruthless and cares for very few people, as she lives by a philosophy of only the weak die. Oh, and she likes to turn her opponents into her personal little bitches. See the person she is bitch slapping with her foot up above? That guy was the charismatic heroic leader of an enemy army to the north of the Capital. She defeats his army by herself and turns him into essentially a begging dog. And despite all of this, or hell maybe even because of all of this, Esdeath is my favorite character in this entire series. She's the most compelling character of the bunch and I just can't help but like her. It doesn't hurt that she isn't even the worst person in the Capital.
The Jaegers Are More Interesting Characters Than Night Raid
Night Raid has some interesting and entertaining characters, to be sure, but many of them are also extremely bland and one note. On the other hand, the Jaegers are characters I like watching because I just love seeing them and want to learn what makes them tick. I already covered Esdeath, but other prominent examples include Bols, an extremely loving family man whose job is a member of the execution squad, often being sent to set entire villages ablaze if they are so much as rumored to be in connection with the Revolutionary Army that Night Raid is a branch of. He fully accepts that his job is horrible and that he'll be punished for it some day, but also accepts that someone needs to do the job and it is providing for his family. Then there is Seryu Ubiquitous, an absolutely insane young woman with an extremely warped sense of justice that will stop at nothing, and I mean nothing, to kill those that are the "villains" in her eyes. And then there is Wave, who is basically an exact mirror of Tatsumi, a talented but somewhat naive sword fighter from the sticks, yet he still sides with the Capital despite the horrors he bears witness to over the course of the series.
The reason this is under "Not Bad" is because Night Raid is supposed to be the good guys, they are supposed to be the characters I am rooting for, but honestly, I often found myself rooting against them, because I was just so much more invested in the Jaegers.
Tamer Than the Manga
Overall this anime is not quite as graphics as the manga. While the manga has extremely brutal details in some character deaths, the anime often replaces the gruesome viscera with just fountains of blood. They also reduce the level of rape and sexual assault from the manga. This is, in fact, a good thing, because to be quite honest, I can do without seeing young girls being raped and brutally murdered, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
Dude, Too Soon!
To say Akame ga Kill! has some tonal pacing issues is a vast understatement. There are several instances where a character would die or something traumatic would happen, and not even a couple minutes later they are throwing jokes at the viewer. And each and every time my reaction was usually somewhere in the ballpark of, "Really? You're going to try and make a joke here and now?", and unfortunately that does make these scenes feel cheapened, as if they didn't matter in the long run because they don't give us enough time to digest what just happened. Nope, we have to laugh now....
Last 1/4 Goes Off the Rails
For the most part, Akame ga Kill! is really faithful to the manga. That all changes starting with episode 19 and continues all the way through the end of the finale, though. The anime skips a full 20 chapters from the manga, then passes where the manga is currently at, and at the same time plays around with what little material from the manga they use during these last 6 episodes, switching around the details of character deaths, such as the order they happen in, where they happen, even how they happen. This really gets irksome when they shortchange two of the more prominent villains in the second half of the manga. They manage to somehow salvage it into something resembling a coherent conclusion, but the writing is just a mess, filled with plotholes, randomly conveniently placed traps by a dead character in just the right places that they would be needed at that specific time, even a vaguely defined character death. These last 6 episodes even mess with the consistency of the series because...
They Break the One Rule
During these last 6 episodes, they have two Imperial Arms users begin a fight with each other, and.....it is somehow resolved off screen with neither dying, because they both appear next episode alive and kicking and they don't even mention their clash, like ever again. That's not supposed to happen. When two Imperial Arms users willingly enter combat together, one is supposed to be a corpse. It just shows how whoever was the primary decision maker on this last group of episodes wasn't fully paying attention to the series.
In the end, Akame ga Kill! is in a bit of a weird place. I actually loved the first 19 episodes(despite a couple of the changes episode 19 made), even with people slowly getting turned away by the "cheap deaths" and the poorly done tonal pacing, but then comes the final 5 episodes and I only liked the final 2 episodes of that, and only because of the fight scenes. First and foremost, if you are a fan of the manga, and somehow haven't at least watched part of this, then stay away, you'd only get pissed off at the changes made after episode 18. If you haven't read the manga yet and like these kind of brutal action series with lots of named characters dying left and right, then this show is definitely right up your aisle. For everyone in between, I don't know really, I guess you should try it out at least? For my money, I think Akame ga Kill! was rather good for most of its run, then stumbled downhill towards its finale, where it somehow lucked into landing ass first into a passable finale.
Akame ga Kill! can be watched on the Crunchyroll and Hulu streaming services. Akame ga Kill! is based on a manga written by Takahiro and illustrated by Tetsuya Tashio and is published in Square Enix's Gangan Joker publication.