Akame ga Kill! – 01

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HMMM…Well, now, that was certainly something. A quick check of MAL indicates this puppy currently stands at 8.27, which is high. Almost as high as Hannah’s top pick, Zankyou no Terror, and certainly higher than anything else I’ve watched so far this Summer. MAL ratings can be as dubious as seemingly kind aristocrats in the Imperial Capital, but in this case, they did not mislead, and now I have some catching up to do.

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Don’t get me wrong: there’s a lot here I’ve seen before. In fact, the lands of AGK could easily be a continent over from the lands of Hitsugi no Chaika, which I must admit I’m kind of missing right now, so this really scratches that itch. Like Chaika, it starts strong, as the protagonist Tatsumi—also seemingly plucked from an RPG—brings down a monster that’s actually pretty cool and fearsome-looking (the horse isn’t quite drawn right, but I’m splitting horse hairs).

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Tatsumi comes from a remote mountain village, seeking fame and fortune in the capital with which to help said village, presently suffering from overtaxation. His first interaction with a (busty) citizen of the capital results in him losing all his money, but the kindly young Lady Aria spots him sleeping outside and invites him to her palace, where he is offered every hospitality by Aria and her equally lovely-seeming family.

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Considering all the foreboding things we’ve heard about the capital “rotting with corruption” and “demons in human form”, they do seem to clash with those descriptions. When Aria’s mother is walking down the hall and is suddenly sliced into several pieces by an assassin in a stylish flash of blood, I honestly felt pretty bad for her. Man, was I a bloody idiot!

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The show made an interesting, and I thought clever, choice to portray the week’s villains as the good guys, while Night Raid, the group of assassins who attack them, look like the villains. We see things as Tatsumi sees things, and he’s ready to die to protect his benefactor Aria…until the contents of her family’s creepy-looking storeroom are revealed to him, which…Oh Dear GOD.

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Turns out they’re a ghastly family sadists disguised as Good Samaritans, luring in country folk new to the city and having their way with them. Among their victims are Tatsumi’s own childhood friends and companions, Sayo and Ieyasu. When the jig is up, Aria merely lets off a vicious rant defending her actions, but before the members of Night Raid can kill her, Tatsumi does it for them, without a moment of hesitation.

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Leone, the busty woman who swindled him, is a member of Night Raid, and the one with by far the most screen time and lines among them. Recognizing Tatsumi’s courage, skill, and above all luck (every RPG hero needs it!), she recruits him into their group on the spot. “What’s up with this turn of events?!” exclaims Tatsumi, a babe in Leone’s arms as she soars through the night. I don’t know, m’boy, but it’s a lot of fun so far!

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Stray Observations:

  • There’s blood and gore aplenty here, but without that annoying “half the screen is just black or white or blurred out” censoring that plagues Tokyo Ghoul.
  • There’s a right job lot of characters to keep track of, but Night Raid is thankfully just seven members, including Tatsumi. The show also doesn’t try to squeeze all their stories into this episode; we only get glimpses.
  • There’s a great sense of ruthless, competence about the Night Raid crew. They slash, smash, and shoot hard. And as it turns out, their cause was quite righteous!
  • Was not expecting Tatsumi’s friends to both end up dead. Will they continue to yell at him in his thoughts? I’d be okay with that.
  • It’s never overtly mentioned that Aria and her ilk were those demons wearing human skins, but…well, they really were.
  • The episode is suffused with a great soundtrack as well, with some nice mood-setting non-western influences.
  • My thanks to reader Randophilus for recommending this! I might have to drop DRAMAtical Murder for this…
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Sankarea – 00

Seven months prior to the events of Episode 01, Furuya travels to Tohoku with his father, Mero, and Ranko to help an uncle donate his large book collection. Dan’ichiro just happens to choose the same village as the setting for his latest photo shoot with Rea. A drunken Aria takes her frustrations out on Rea, leading Rea to consider “disappearing.” While sifting through books, Furuya finds an old photo of his deceased mother, and the wind blows it to a hole in the floor where he finds the occult recipe book. When he gets separated from Mero and Ranko, he happens upon the very hot spring where Rea is bathing, leading to their meeting for the first time.

Yes, Rea and Furuya met before he saw her yelling into a well at an abandoned hotel – though it was so brief (and stressful to both), perhaps it was struck from their memories. It matters not; from that point onward they were fated to meet again. After all, this is where Furuya found a book containing just the thing that would help Rea escape her life and become reborn as someone else. It is a book we know his gramps knows about (or knew about before he got senile), and for all we know, whatever happened to his and Mero’s mom may have involved the same dark powers he employed to bring Babu and Rea back.

As extra episodes go, this is a good meaty one, painting a picture of the horrible life Rea lived that led her to start screaming into wells in the first place. Her dad is a freak and she knows what he’s doing isn’t right, but is too frightened and cowed to fight him. She’s respectful to her “mother” Aria, but gets only contempt and disgust from her. Divorcing Dan’ichiro, while a good and sensible idea in theory, would mean giving up on all the wealth and power she worked so hard for, so she sticks around, drowning her sorrows. More than anything, this episode perfectly illustrates how much better off Rea is with Furuya and his family than she was with her fucked up parents…even if she had to die to be free.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)


Car Cameos:
Furuya’s family piles into an original Mini Cooper. A flash BMW 6-Series follows them through the tollbooth.

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Tied up in a dark room, Furuya is approached by Aria, Dan’ichiro’s wife and Rea’s stepmother. She tells him the story of how she became a trusted member of the Sanka family’s household staff, but like the other maids, could not seduce Dan’ichiro, who ended up marrying a sickly 15-year-old who attended a charity fencing event at his house. She died giving birth to Rea, and Dan went into a spiral of despair, nearly starving himself. Aria nursed him back to health and Dan married her, but only so Rea could have a mother. Meanwhile, Rea races to her former home to rescue Furuya.

With Furuya firmly in Dan’ichiro’s clutches, we truly didn’t know what would happen. His judgement upon Furuya was ultimately delayed this week, but not without good reason: this episode was all about Aria, Dan’ichiro’s bitter, drunk, tanned wife, and how she came to be there in the first place. Furuya mostly sits there and listens, which is fine with us; she told quite a stirring and sad story. We learn why she is the way she is, and gain a lot more sympathy and pity for her. What it boils down to is, all she ever wanted from him was Dan’ichiro’s love, but he only had love for Rea, the gift his beloved teenage wife gave him before passing away. For Rea’s whole childhood – fifteen years – Aria has been on the sidelines. Her scheme to possess Dan’ichiro’s heart backfired, and badly.

It’s a pretty heartrending moment when the butler shows Aria why she shouldn’t hold out hope Dan’ichiro will ever give her the time of day: he’s utterly obsessed with Rea, and not in a healthy, fatherly way. Aria’s disgust and despair turned to bitterness and hopelessnes. She gave up, and now mills around the mansion with a flask in her garterbelt, aimless and useless. And while Dan’ichiro can claim child porn among his crimes, we can’t help but feel a degree of pity for him too, considering who quite possibly was the love of his life, snatched away before hertime. We’re not sure if losing Rea to Furuya even caused him to snap – he had snapped long ago, and was always touched in the head. The point is, he and Aria aren’t evil villains, just deeply flawed human beings. But as Furuya says to a maid, that doesn’t give them the right to kidnap him.


Rating: 8 (Great)