アカメが斬る！ 第1話 「闇を斬る」
Akame ga Kill! #01. 「Kill the Darkness」
Source Material: Manga series by Takahiro (タカヒロ)
Studio(s): White Fox
Director(s): Kobayashi Tomoki (小林 智樹)
Series Composition: Uezu Makoto (上江洲 誠)
Character Design: Nakamura Kazuhisa (中村 和久)
Music: Iwasaki Taku (岩崎 琢)
Akame ga Kill! is a Japanese manga series written by Takahiro and illustrated by Tashiro Tetsuya published in Square Enix‘s Gangan Joker imprint since 2010. The series has an ongoing spin-off manga entitled Akame ga Kill! Zero that covers the backstory of the titular character Akame and is also notably the second work in a project series entitled the Takahiro IV Project that is done in collaboration with Japanese game development studio MinatoSoft.
Tatsumi is a young warrior from a poverty-stricken village in the outskirts of the country who has been trained alongside his two childhood friends, Sayo and Ieyasu, to save the village by becoming a strong fighter, traveling to the nation’s resplendent Capital, enlisting as an army official, and seizing the riches of the occupation’s wages. At the beginning of the trio’s journey, Tatsumi was separated from Sayo and Ieyasu , but the three vowed to rendezvous at the final destination of the Capital itself. When Tatsumi finally arrives at the Capital, he is rejected from the army because of the amount of applications at the time and because of his point-blank insistence that he be enlisted as at high-ranking official from the get-go. Tatsumi’s bad luck continues when a busty female figure takes advantage of his situation and cons him out of all the money that he had earned from defeating Danger Beasts on the way to the Capital. After having Tatsumi treat her to a meal and alcohol, she departs with the sack filled with the rest of his gold coins, telling him that she will return after getting him hired as a soldier through her connections with military officials. Tatsumi doesn’t realize his folly in trusting her until nightfall; and now with no money, he settles for sleeping outside for the night. The daughter of a wealthy family, Aria, notices Tatsumi on the street during her evening carriage-ride and invites him to stay at her family’s home. After being fed, Tatsumi joyfully tells Aria and her parents about Sayo and Ieyasu and his journey thus far before the household retires to bed for the night. The next day, he accompanies Aria to the shopping district with her guards, one of which who tells Tatsumi about Night Raid, a group of skilled assassins that targets the rich noble-folk of the Capital. That very night, Tatsumi wakes up because of a murderous intent that he senses outside the mansion. The assassins of Night Raid arrive at the province and assassinate Aria’s parents along with all the guards; but one of them, Akame, is interrupted by Tatsumi before she can finish off Aria. In a one-sided battle, it is obvious that Tatsumi stands no chance against Akame, but his life is saved when one of the other members of Night Raid, Leone, turns out to be the woman who conned him out of all his money the day before. Instead of deciding to kill Tatsumi on the spot along with Aria, Leone smashes down the facade of the nearby warehouse to reveal to Tatsumi the corruption of the Capital’s elite. Before them, inside the warehouse, is a facility full of mutilated corpses, and one surviving prisoner, Tatsumi’s friend Ieyasu. Their other friend, Sayo, is also present, deceased and hanging in the air from chains with lacerations all across her body. In a fit of lunacy, Aria admits her family’s crime, in which they had showed false hospitality towards Ieyasu and Sayo, drugged their drinks, and imprisoned them in the torturing facility. She also states the simple reason of being jealous of Sayo’s soft and straight hair as the justification for her actions. Without a hint of hesitation, Tatsumi slices Aria with his own sword, killing her. An irrevocably diseased and injured Ieyasu dies at the scene; but before Tatsumi can mourn the deaths of his closest two friends, Leone carries him off with her and the rest of the Night Raid members cheerfully insisting that he join their forces.
Akame ga Kill! certainly has the welcome of a conventional shounen series, what with its hopeful male protagonist and his almost Thesean introduction to greater civilization by way of the countryside path, in which we get to see one instance of his numerous heroic feats (“On the way here, I collected some rewards for slaying Danger Beasts.” Hey, as long as it was at least six, you’ve got Theseus and his triumph over bandits beat, Tatsumi.). But with that being said, it would be wrong to overlook this show as another run-of-the-mill story about big swords, big boobs, and big plot twists, despite the fact that all three of these elements do make up a good presence in this premiere. Akame ga Kill! is not without its innovations to the shounen mold, in fact, starting the show with no prior knowledge of the series, it was hard for me to default this animated adaptation as one based upon a shounen manga series, just because it had the makings of what has perhaps become just as trendy a medium of written work these days: the light novel series. The premise of putting the presumably soon-to-be lead female character Akame at even standing with this first episode’s lime-lit male protagonist, Tatsumi, is an arrangement that definitely weighs more heavily on that light novel side of story-telling (but seriously, it really is still hard to deduce which one of them exactly is the main main character of the story here). Furthermore, as Tatsumi has effectively been recruited into the assassination organization known as Night Raid to do his part in cleaning the Capital city of its aristocratic filth, the series expands its narrative route much more in the vein of works such as the Toaru series (similarly being largely based in the setting of Academy cIty) than works such as Naruto and One Piece, which are highlighted by their strictly increasing scale of both narrative-unraveling and world-building. Alongside this hybrid conception is the somewhat unique air that presides within Akame ga Kill!‘s story-telling, wherein unbridled bloodshed and melodrama is, while perhaps not perfectly balanced, boldly juxtaposed with quick-to-the-punch comic relief and other emotive displays of character eccentricities. When it comes down to it, this can either be a good thing or bad thing; for me, it turns out to be a negative reception much more so than a positive one. Events such as the recruitment of Tatsumi into Night Raid is a fine way to quickly advance the plot and ensure the episode hits that note of new beginnings before broadcast’s end, but it is also outlandish and a great deal of damaging towards Tatsumi’s character when he can’t properly grieve the death of the two who were presumably his only friends in life. (From a particularly critical perspective towards virtue, who the hell would just leave the corpse of a girl who was tortured to death still hanging from chains like that? Especially when she’s an osananajimi, yo!) And again, it’s a montage of appalled, anguished, and sadistic expressions in the melodramatic scene right beforehand that makes us question the validity of such actions. At the end of the day, or rather, the end of the week, or maybe the beginning of the week, or even the middle of the week… Whenever this show airs, Akame ga Kill! is bound to be a perfect pleasure watch for some viewers solely because it is a competently entertaining blend of action, drama, and lively characters. Judging from this premiere itself, studio White Fox is going to do a swell production with the rest of show (after a handful of adaptations with rather modest production values, the studio seems to have really attained a style of visual presentation that flaunts not only a varied art style but also just clean and sleek illustration); and while I do have my respective qualms about how the show executes certain aspects of direction, it’s got an undeniable and overall robust appeal.