Akame ga Kill! – 03 Review
That’s a really stupid superpower to have… This gun has the worst imaginable timing to show its full potential.
Maybe I start blogging another series instead of this one. It’s not a great series after all, more than that, it’s somewhat generic. Sure, there’s enough blood in each episode to fill a swimming-pool but it’s not like beneath all that violence there’s actual dark shit going on. It’s all just the pretentious ticks of a series unable to commit to showing evil that’s worthy of all that gore. Also, Mine’s a tsundere, so… I don’t know… maybe use characters that aren’t stereotypical anime-teenager-characters, if you want to create a truly dark show…?
Evil foreigners have found the hideout of Night Raid… somehow. So they all need to die a painful death because that’s what righteousness is all about.
But that’s just the bloody prelude to the meaningful story of Mine and Tatsumi. Tatsumi’s an idiot. An honest idiot, though… and he has a talent to slice up people which is a good thing to have as a good guy, in the Capital, at least, the place where shit usually flows downhill from the top. And so in order to prove to the corrupt, evil rich and powerful people of the Capital that shit flows both ways, Tatsumi begins his training with Mine.
Except Mine is a girl, a tsundere to be specific. And naturally she doesn’t take Tatsumi serious at all. More than that, rather than training him, she’s taking him on a shopping-trip… you know, this thing girls have always done since the dawn of mankind (I imagine). So, this being a medieval setting doesn’t stop Tatsumi and Mine from having some light-hearted fun where Mine can act absurdly and Tatsumi can play the straight guy.
But then there’s another random, seemingly purpose-less assassination Night Raid needs to deal with. Yet again, there’s some naughty old man who needs to die for the self-righteous gratification of Night Raid. It’s a splendid display of Vigilante-justice, as in that evil guys die and the good guys did the killing. It almost sounds like murder except it’s evil people who die. That makes it okay.
Also, Tatsumi proves to be helpful to Mine who’s head over heels for that guy… although she doesn’t show it. She’s a tsundere after all.
It’s always inspiring to see the good guys’ power being shown off by a rain of blood, right?
Evil is an onion, meaning it got layers. No one is outright evil. Except, of course, if you’re a villain. Then you should just go ahead and do whatever shit is necessary to create a plot for the heroes. You wanna fuck a pig and infect it with your lycanthropy? Fine, whatever! A plot doesn’t come into existence by itself, you know. Whatever keeps the show going, just do it. Just fucking do it!
It’s so simple! At least, that’s what most series wants to make you believe when they talk about the battle between good and evil. And sure, it actually IS easy to believe. Some shitty knight saves some pretty dipshit-girl who also has a big dowry but there’s some meanie-villain keeping the knight away from the hard-earned pussy and the hedonistic amounts of money. Sure, that sort of thing makes you believe in good and evil, that it’s all a clean, clear-cut affair. But imagine just someone mentioning ‘rape’ in the course of the plot and all hell breaks loose! Because these stories aren’t made to deal with the complexities of true evil, there’s no sensible solution ready to address such a topic.
In many ways, Akame ga Kill! doesn’t know how to deal with its evil elements either. ‘He’s a rich, sadistic asshole.’ – ‘Fine, let’s kill him.’: That’s the sense of justice AND evil present in this show. Evil is some asshole being an asshole and justice is sending him to hell. Does the evil guy deserve it? I don’t know, he does evil stuff, so… yeah, maybe…? I’m not sure, redemption is an option in this series’ universe where the good guys talk a lot about how fucked up they are whenever someone mentions their responsibility of being heroes.
Evil is mostly done by crazy people. If you don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty of the subject, just make the villain crazy and it all makes sense. After all, evil doesn’t make sense. Laws don’t exist to punish evil people, they exist for everyone’s benefit. How one should behave never leads to someone becoming evil and if someone grows up with these lessons – how could he be evil? Well, that’s where all the dark grim stuff comes from: Evil is doing bad shit you can get away with. That’s the thing that defines evil: That you can get away with it. Something that isn’t necessarily good and right to do but you’re allowed to do it. In a society with laws and it’s a society that had laws for a long time, that’s what evil looks like. Anything else evil is done by a crazy person obviously. So the question normally should be “What kind of law allows evil you can get away with and what can one do about it?”. THAT is where the heroes of the story come into play!
But there’s another way to go with evil and that’s the Lovecraftian route. That’s where it becomes horror because it’s an evil you’re just trying to survive. You don’t fight it, you don’t destroy it and you don’t understand it. It’s just the fear of being faced with something that wants to hurt you and it’s this single-mindedness that makes this kind of evil appealing. It goes back to this craziness where you explain evil by simply making it irrational and the horror-genre is mostly about portraying the conclusion to that. With Lovecraft it even gets an alien note as it’s not just an unstoppable serial-killer, it’s something deeply inhuman that can’t be comprehended by the human mind. Well, no matter how deranged this evil gets, it’s less about heroes saving the day but people simply trying to survive the confrontation with ultimate evil.
I needed to say all this because Akame ga Kill apparently doesn’t understand what evil means. Akame ga Kill is blunt and loud, it’s trumpeting its thematic discussions from the rooftops! I bet there’s some badass pariah-coyote being paid somewhere to howl the opening-song of this series, so that even the last idiot gets it. This series wants to be fucking edgy! There’s blood, there’s violence, there’s ‘justice’ and there’s a perverse sense of evil. It’s simply perverted how this series revels in its evilness. The series always just puts it there for the audience to watch like it’s some curious-looking piece of meat you can stare it and jack off to. There’s no appreciation for subtlety, context or ambiguity when this series wants to describe what evil people are doing.
Not that portraying ‘evil’ is the series actual main-concern. Above all, it’s a generic battle-shounen-series. Yep, you’ve seen Bleach, Naruto and One Piece and you’ll get the drift of where this series’ plot is going. It’s all about a bunch of people with special powers that all are different and uselessly specific. In this case, it’s the Imperial Relics that provide all the bullshit-talk you can expect in a typical shounen-series. There’s a smart way to deal with this stuff and that’s not to talk about it. The moment a character flaunts the specifics of his or her special technique, you’re witnessing the dumbest kind of exposition imaginable. It’s SO unnecessary to explain this sort of shit when you might as well just show it. And if it’s SO convoluted that you need to waste time explaining it? Well, then fuck this shit! How about not using this kind of moronic framework for your battle-scenes in the first place?!
Even a series that is all about gore and violence understands that fanservice should be an integral part of EVERY anime. There’s no need for these scenes to make sense, they just have to be crammed into the plot to… I guess, be there or something.
The problem this series faces is that it’s basically far less ambitious than its crass violence would make you believe. Well, or you could say, it uses crass, evil behavior in a gratuitous and exploitative way in the hope that the audience will be entertained by the mere display of such things. But in the end, what one has to accept when watching this series is that it’s a rather average battle-shounen-series. Though, the part where this series falls apart is its attempts to NOT be Naruto or Bleach. So, it’s at least trying to sort-of build-up its own style and atmosphere.
So, what does the third episode actually accomplish? It basically serves as an introduction for Mine as a character and it introduces the concept of Imperial Relics. Then it closes off with a perfunctory assassination and a few action-scenes. While on the surface does all the necessary things of creating a relationship between Mine being a tsundere and Tatsumi being an eager, honest and virtuous John Doe. The script for their scenes isn’t great but it serves its unambitious purpose. What’s really hurting these scenes is the direction. Not only is the script somewhat average, the direction is simply bland in this episode. At the end, there’s a confrontation between some random martial artist and Mine with her sniper-rifle and she’s clearly cornered by this guy. So Tatsumi attacks but instead of actually trying to hurt the evil guy, he just holds him in place for Mine to shoot him. Between Tatstumi executing that plan and telling Mine to shoot the guy and Mine realizing what Tatsumi’s plan is… WAY too much time goes by to resolve all this. The scene becomes boringly cheesy at that point as it unnecessarily stops just to clubber the audience with the (sort-of) drama-resolving undertones of this scene.
And that’s another problem: This scene tries to sell Mine and Tastumi as an odd couple who really don’t like each other. But all their arguments are lighthearted punchlines to a scene and so there’s no serious reason for them to not like each other. Their antagonistic attitude towards each other is the result of comedic scenes – not dramatic ones. And so when the end of the episode rolls around to show off some sort of understanding between them it simply doesn’t work.
At this point, I have given up the hope for this series to do anything interesting with its crass violence, so what’s left is a somewhat average shounen-series. Actually, it could still get better when it actually cashes in on all the worldbuilding it has done. Making the revolution-army more relevant and making the assassinations a more structured procedure certainly could still push the series into a more interesting direction, even if it doesn’t know how to handle its villains and its brutality.