Akame ga Kill! – 02

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Tatsumi’s two friends are dead, and he has no other prospects or better ways to make money for his village, so when he learns what Night Raid truly is—a group of elite covert operatives attached to the country’s growing revolutionary army, literally rooting out the evil in the capital in preparation for a future coup—he decides to enter “the life of carnage.”

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Night Raid is a very colorful collection of characters, literally and figuratively, and while some are cordial or even friendly, the fact is, he’s the newbie. If he doesn’t prove himself, he can’t hope to earn their respect, trust, or approval, let alone friendship. The eye-patched boss accepts his enlistment and assigns the titular Akame to train him.

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Akame is a young lady of few words, all of them precise and to-the-point. She also has a penchant for hunting huge ferocious beasts and eating them. Because she tried to kill him so readily, twice, Tatsumi doesn’t quite trust or even like her; she just doesn’t show enough of a hand for him to even get a proper read off her.

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In its first two episodes AGK has had a knack for employing deception in its storytelling that is gradually training us the viewers not to take anything at face value. It’s how assassins must live. Last week’s Evil Samaritans were one example of that; this week we get two: Akame’s initially cold demeanor, and Tatsumi’s strategy for defeating his first target, a crooked cop named Ogre.

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I think I speak for most in saying most excessive infodumping is tiresome drudgery, especially if one’s mind is filled with pointless information, but I didn’t have any problem with how it was apportioned here. Not only do we get a sense of the bigger picture, in which Night Raid plays a crucial role. They also have no illusions about being “assassins of justice” (Tatsumi’s words, met by a burst of laughter by some members); they’re murderers, who could lose their own lives at any second.

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But it makes perfect sense for Tatsumi to want to join, and more importantly, to be up to the task of killing Ogre. Practically speaking, he’s trained for this kind of stuff his whole life. Emotionally speaking, he, Ieyasu and Sayo vowed that they’d die together, fighting for the good of their village. Only Ieyasu and Sayo went before him. Some in Tatsumi’s position may not mind dying sooner rather than later, that he may join them.

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But then who would help the village? Tatsumi isn’t ready to go yet, and before he’s willing and able to contribute to a cause that promotes a better world than the one he entered, with people with diverse pasts all similarly scarred by the evil that stil infects that world. After defeating Ogre (emphatically and with quite a bit of panache, I might add), Akame is almost immediately warmer and kinder to him. The next member he’ll shadow, Mine, however, is a nut he may never crack.

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Stray Observations:

  • Tatsumi is a bit too shocked that Bulat is gay, but then again Tatsumi is a backwoods yokel, so I’ll forgive him this. Don’t make me regret it, show!
  • It’s pretty clear this weeks two targets were also “demons in human form.” I like how their over-the-top monologues defending their evilness are accompanied by severely-drawn close-ups that make them even less human.
  • This episode also had a painterly “coup-de-grace shot” with 3D blood similar to last week’s. Good to have a consistent visual language.
  • The client paying Night Raid to kill likely sold her body several times to earn the gold. Leone, usually flippant about everything, isn’t so about this. These are dark times…they call for dark heroes.
  • Mine looks like she’s going to be a handful…both for Tatsumi and for me.
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Sabagebu! – 01

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Sonokawa Momoka transfers to a new school and, through an absurd sequence of events, is roped into her new school’s most popular girl’s clique… which runs the Airsoft enthusiast / survival game club. However, Momoka is no pushover and quickly distinguishes herself as ruthless and most lethal, to the approval of all.

Sabagebu! is a knowing comedy about how absurd silly high school comedies have gotten. It’s narrated, which Momoka can hear; it has a anthropomorphic duck character, for no reason, and each of the 5 girls is as ridiculous (yet archetypal) as can be.

Sabagebu! also pokes fun at recent ‘serious’ dramas about girls with over active imaginations who love Airsoft, by presenting each shoot out as if it were real, blood spatter included.

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But what makes Sabagebu! enjoyable isn’t just the cast’s 8th grade syndrome, nor is it that the show knows not to take itself or its genre’s conventions seriously, nor is it just how happy each girl is to run around with guns and occasionally break the 4th wall. No, what sold me on Sabagebu! was Momoka herself (voiced by Ohashi Ayaka).

When was the last time I saw a show where the lead girl seemed meek and sucks up a ton of embarrassing abuse, only to reveal that, when the chips are down, she herself lives for revenge? Not just blow-up mad freak out revenge, mind you! We’re talking cathartic, make those who harassed you all episode swallow their own medicine with a look of pure ecstasy on your own face while dishing it out kind of revenge. In short, Momoka has as much fun as everyone else, as crazily as everyone else, and broke my expectation in the process!

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