Akame ga Kill! – 24 (Fin)

agk241

As the big let down that was Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle demonstrated, it’s rare for a long-running series to field a finale that delivers on virtually all of its promises and potential. But Akame ga Kill! succeeded everywhere Chaika failed miserably,  pulling out all the stops for an ending worthy of the excellence that preceded it.

agk242

Akame v. Esdeath was being billed as one for the ages, and in this it did not disappoint, from the moment a surrounded Esdeath seals scores of Revolutionary troops in a jagged ice wall, forming an arena in which to tangle with the raven-haired wielder of Murasame.

agk243

The show could really take its time and do things right with this battle because it so painstakingly took care of everything else on its sizable plate, along with killing off most of the cast. Everything we’ve seen of Akame and Esdeath in combat is brought to the table here, along with a lot of new moves and counter-moves, and it’s just fantastic to see these two go at it like no one on the show has quite gone at it before. There’s the feeling that everything has naturally escalated up to this level.

agk244

When she realizes she won’t be able to defeat Esdeath without her trump card, Akame uses it, merging further with Masamune to increase her speed and power to even more ridiculous levels; a testament to just how tough a customer Esdeath is. Esdeath has basically merged with the soul of a terrifying danger beast and the two share unending bloodlust out of a desire to destroy the weak – all the week.

agk245

The deaths of ‘livestock’ mean nothing to Esdeath, but they mean everything to Akane. Masamune has remembered every life she’s taken, and while the weight of those deaths on her shoulders is considerable, it also gives her the strength she needs to fight not just on Esdeath’s level, but above it.

agk246

Esdeath will always be weaker, because she doesn’t understand and thus can’t properly utilize the weight of the death and destruction she causes. Akame works for the good guys, but she’s not necessarily a good guy herself, just a necessary evil in a world where foes like Esdeath threaten peace and won’t stop killing unless they’re killed.

agk247

A lot of Esdeath’s early confidence in the fight is knowing she can lean on her Makahadoma to freeze Akame if things get that serious. She even says it’s the second time she’s had to use it; the first being to defeat Susanoo. But she’s so confident it will work just as well against Akame, she doesn’t consider the possibility that Makahadoma is exactly what Akame wants her to do.

agk248

Esdeath doesn’t realize this until it’s too late, the Akame before her is merely an afterimage, and the real one is coming down upon her with the full force of her blade. The certainty that Esdeath would use Makahadoma proves to be her downfall.

agk249

After that, Esdeath is not only an arm short, but also mortally wounded from throat to hip, and she concedes defeat. She is not upset; by her own lifelong code, she deserves to die for being the weaker one. If anything, she’s glad it’s something else she can share with Tatsumi, whose body has been lying nearby all along. Before Akame can stop her, Esdeath embraces him and surrounds herself with ice and shatters, in just the latest in a series of gorgeous deaths.

agk2410

In their last talk, Akame tells Esdeath about how she draws strength from taking responsibility for the lives she’s taken, but she just can’t understand. And yet, Esdeath loved Tatsumi, something else she couldn’t understand, but still accepted.

agk2411

With Esdeath now diamond dust, the Empire really is done. Wave and Run aren’t going to fight for it anymore, and Minister Onest is scurrying through the palace like a rat until cornered by Leone. When he uses his Imperial Arms to destroy hers, I thought “Uh-oh…now he’s going to inject himself with something and become a ferocious beast-man.” Fortunately, I was wrong! He takes out a gun a gun! — and simply shoots her with what looks like small-caliber shot.

But Leone, born and raised in/by the slums, is a tough cookie, Imperial Arms or not, and gives Onest the death that, if I’m honest, I always wanted for him: getting his face smashed in by her bare hands. It’s gruesome, undignified, and downright icky, and underlines the fact that Night Raid are vicious killers too, but the difference being they kill for something other than themselves.

agk2412

As Leone later says her goodbyes to Akame (Onest shot her ten times in the abdomen), we also see that the ‘something’ Night Raid has fought for — a peaceful land free of the corruption and bloodshed of Onest and Esdeath — isn’t something they’ll be able to partake in. Leone ignores the calls from the townsfolk asking her to join them for a drink. Instead, she finds a dark alley to lie down in and die with a smile on her face, knowing she’ll be with the others soon. Night Raid gets a different kind of peace.

agk2413agk2414

With Esdeath and Onest gone, all that’s left is for the Rebellion to take one last life: that of the young, naive Emperor. It’s fitting and very nice of the show to give the lad as clean and dignified and honorable death by guilloutene as Onest’s was dirty and pathetic. The Emperor holds his head high until it’s lowered into the stock as the entire capital watches, while Onest died in the dark bowels of the castle, his killer the only witness to his end.

agk2415

Najenda, along with Wave and Run, take up new posts in the New Kingdom (who is actually ruling isn’t made clear yet). After all, those who remember the horrors of the war that brought them this Kingdom are well-equipped to stand and protect it from those who would threaten it again. But Akame leaves the capital, keeping the lives she’s taken on her shoulders. Her work isn’t done, and it will never be done as long as she’s alive, and there is no other course for her.

agk2416

The episode also ends with one last stirring hurrah with a booming narrator talking about everything Night Raid did…and how history will not remember any of it. They were assassins, killers, working in the shadows, doing dirty work for a clean world. They’ll have no honors or monuments or even songs or stories sung or written about them, ever…but what they did have was each other, and that was enough.

agk2417

In the post-credits epilogue, Akame continues her duty, facing those who would destroy the progress made, both burdened and fueled by the ones she killed before. She’s not with Leone, Mine, Sheele, Bulat, Chelsea, Lubbock, Kurome, and Tatsumi…yet, but one day she will be. Until then, she has work to do.

10_mag

Akame ga Kill! – 21

agk211

Note: I have not read the manga, so I have no idea how the events of this episode or the episodes to come will be adapted. It’s all totally new to me.

Tatsumi is in the hands of the enemy. He’s not just alive so that the Empire can make a example of him in a highly public execution. He’s also live bait, in the off-chance Night Raid is foolish enough to attempt a rescue. Of course, they are: Mine doesn’t care if its a trap; she’s going to save her love. Akame decides to come along, so their chances will be better. Leone also volunteers: she scouted and recruited him; he can’t be dying before her. Finally, Najenda states they can’t let a public execution tank rebel morale at this crucial juncture.

Bottom line, the ladies aren’t going to sit back and let Tatsumi get executed. They all love the shaggy-haired little bastard too much, albeit in very different ways, and no one more deeply than Mine.

agk212

Tatsumi, meanwhile, is fully prepared to die, knowing the remaining members of Night Raid got away with their lives. He doesn’t want to be saved, lest they throw those lives away. In this state, it’s understandable if he may not quite grasp just how much Esdeath is exerting every last morsel of her authority and standing in the empire…to save the life he’s willing to give away.

As the embrace they share makes clear, Esdeath’s love for him is real, and strong. So strong, she isn’t even asking him to betray his friends, only hang back and stay close to her. Part of me wanted Tatsumi to take her offer, but he can’t, and not just because he loves another, but because as beautiful and capable of kindness as Esdeath is, he can’t overlook the crimes she’s committed and continues to commit in service of an empire that’s taken everything from him.

Yet even when Tatsumi categorically refuses and pushes her away, it’s not as if she can stop loving him. She can only accept that the only course now is to kill him herself.

agk213

When Wave hears Esdeath will be killing the man she loves, he’s greatly troubled and doesn’t understand…but Kurome understands. As Esdeath hasn’t stopped loving Tatsumi, she hasn’t stopped loving her sister, which is precisely why if Akame is going to be killed, better for Kurome to kill her. Kurome’s problem is, nature may step in and kill her first, as clearly shown when she pulls dead hair from her head.

My eyes welled up quite a bit at this scene, which I’m sure was the episode’s intent. And this was just a side scene with ‘bad guys’; the only scene with these two in the episode. But this serves as a good prologue for the final Akame-Kurome fight we know is coming.

agk214

Did I mention this was a particularly beautiful episode of Akame ga Kill!? It was; it was staged and lit like a movie, an epic movie. The shot above is special. The remaining members of Night Raid, gathered in the sitting room of the late Lubbock’s home, the green upholstery suggesting he’s there to, just not in person. This is the last time this particular group of Night Raid members will ever be in the same room. Everything will change from this point on.

agk215

One of my favorite live-action films is Gladiator, in part because no story about Rome before or since quite captured the slightly weathered but still strong and seemingly invincible power, grandeur, and glory that was the Roman Empire.

The descent through wispy clouds into the Imperial capital’s arena and the theatricality of a grand final battle seems inspired by similar scenes in that film. Only this is an execution, not a rigged duel.

I must say, the little Emperor gives a rousing speech, without the use of cue cards, that pretty comprehensively demonstrates how easy it is to twist words around to make Night Raid the enemy. They are killers, after all, and they are trying to throw the Empire into chaos, though that’s so they can root out its corruption and evil.

agk216

Goosebumps gather as Esdeath draws near to the cross where Tatsumi hangs restrained. Even here, Esdeath prepares to deliver a blow that will look like it kills Tatsumi to the masses, but doesn’t actually kill him; still holding out hope Tatsumi will come to his senses so she won’t have to go through with it.

agk217

Tatsumi refuses, but before Esdeath can kill him, Mine arrives and fires a shot she has to dodge, followed by Leone, Najenda, and Susanoo on the big flying manta ray. This would be a terrific specacle to watch at the arena if the participants’ attacks didn’t cause widespread collateral damage, so the spectators flee, and we’ve got ourselves a battle some people won’t be walking away from.

agk218

Najenda and Susanoo take on Esdeath, which, duh, while the hard-hitting Leone backs up Mine in her fight with Budou. Mine is confident both her love for Tatsumi and the intense pinches Budou will put her in will make Pumpkin’s shots strong enough to defeat him.

agk219

She’s proven right, but in the process, the tiny frail Mine gets tossed around and beaten up quite a bit, and her final shot takes a lot out of her, and more to the point, she may well have known it would take too much out of her, but she had no other choice. Budou is defeated, but we can’t score one for Night Raid, now or later.

agk210

Meanwhile, Najenda’s battle with Esdeath is everything we hoped for from these two powerhouses. Najenda leans heavily on her human-type Arms while Esdeath relies on the ice demon within her. Both use their trump cards, but while Esdeath’s time freeze is a once-a-day affair, Najenda’s ability at this point in her life is one-time-only and unrecoverable. She puts much of her remaining life force into healing Susanoo, knowing she can’t defeat Esdeath but can keep her busy long enough for Tatsumi, Mine, and Leone to escape.

agk2111

And yes, Tatsumi gets away with his beloved Mine, scolding her for coming after him as he rushes out of the city at top speed. But Mine is not in a good way at all, and tells him to stop and put her down, not because she’s embarrassed — we’re light years away from that childishness now — but because she doesn’t have long, and she has something to say.

agk2112

And this…this just isn’t fair. After all that fighting, after she defeated Seryu and Budou, the toughest badasses anyone from Night Raid has ever taken out, after Tatsumi just manages to catch her before she falls to her death…she’s simply at the end of her never-sturdy-to-begin-with body’s rope. But there’s still time for her to tell Tatsumi she loves him and she’s glad she fell for him, and that they’re on the winning side, and always were, and then share their first and last kiss.

agk2113

In a show that’s become very good at farewell scenes, this one really knocked it out of the park, and is all the better due to its simplicity inevitability, and raw emotion. I really really wanted Tatsumi and Mine to come out of this and live a happy, loving life together, to make a family. I wanted this so much that I ignored just how ridiculously unlikely the chance of that happening really was. R.I.P. Mine.

This was the most epic, thrilling, heartbreaking episode of Akame ga Kill! yet, but we’re not done yet. Mine can no longer create the fair, peaceful world she fought for all her life, which led to her meeting and falling for Tatsumi, who wants the same thing. He, Akame, and Leone have three more episodes to make it happen.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sob in the dark.

10_mag

Akame ga Kill! – 20

agk201

After last week’s almost total victory, in which the Jaegers took a heavy loss, we knew Night Raid was due for a casualtie or two of their own in battles we knew would get tougher from here on out. The episode helpfully narrows down the choice based on who gets initial scenes of levity in which death flags fly: Lubbock and Mine were our predictions.

agk202

The intricate plan to storm the palace and kill the Minister runs into trouble almost immediately when Tatsumi and Lubbock’s rebel contacts all end up dead by the hands of Shura, Honest’s demented, woman-hating man-child of a son. Shura’s way of life is refreshingly simple: He wants to have fun, and everyone and everything in the world are his toys. Hey, he’s his father’s son!

agk203

So yeah, we’re obviously not sympathizing with Shura. As for Budou, Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Army, he’s just freakin’ HUGE, as in ‘not-human’ huge, so despite the fact he has no personal quarrel with Tatsumi and even admires his swordsmanship, there’s not much to sympathize with him, either. But that’s okay; these bad guys are meant to impede our heroes, not garner sympathy.

agk204

The two matchups work out pretty tidily, too. While Tatsumi and Budou are primarily hack-and-slash knights, Lubbock’s and Shura’s Imperial Arms employ preparation, deception, and delay. Shura has set up marks all over the city and the skies above with which to teleport using his Shambhala, which Lubbock counters by setting up his Cross Tail’s threads like rigging.

agk205 agk205a

Lubbock also fights by making it seem like he’s the underdog, when in reality, due to his cunning and Cross Tail’s versatility, he’s a tougher out than Shura. Shura catches a break when the palace informant interferes, stabbing Lubbock in the back in hopes Shura will free her parents for her service…after he already cut her neck open, mind you. Unfortunately for her, Shura already had her parents killed. Yeah, we GET IT. SHURA’S NOT A GREAT GUY.

agk206

That break allows Shura to grab his Shambhala and send Lubbock to a kind of Subspace, but Lubbock has his threads tangled around Shura, and pulls him in too. As Shura blusters and tries to escape, Lubbock throws a thread-spear into his heart and pops it, like he did with one of the Demons a couple weeks back. Hey, if it ain’t broke (and the enemy is as dumb as Shura), why fix it? Night Raid 1, Empire 0.

agk207 agk207a

When Shura dies, Lubbock is teleported back to the regular world, several hundred feet in the air. His last thoughts are of his would-be love, a particularly adorable-looking Najenda, as he falls to his death atop several well-placed spears. I have to continue to hand it to AGK for giving its characters pretty fantastic death sequences, and Lubbock was cool as a cucumber as green as his hair till the end. Night Raid 1, Empire 1.

agk208

But “Wait,” you say, “What about Tatsumi’s fight with Budou?” Well, it doesn’t go so well for Tatsumi. Budou is regarded as the only person in the empire whose strength is a legitimate match for Esdeath’s, and let’s face it: Tatsumi hasn’t faced an opponent that strong yet, so with very little fanfare, Tatsumi is taken into custody and bound in irons. Minister Honest is upset about the death of his boy…for about five seconds, then starts licking his chops at the possibilities of having Tatsumi as a captive. Empire 2, Night Raid 1.

agk209

And who’s volunteering to interrogate him before his public execution? Why, his true love, General Esdeath, fresh off another successful expedition (I like how she admits she’s better on the battlefield than in the city on guard duty; recent history bears that out). The members of Night Raid still alive and free are down to three: Najenda (with Susanoo), Leone, and Mine. Meanwhile, not counting an ailing Kurome, the Jaegers are down to Esdeath, Wave, and Run. Just four episodes left; I’m starting to get excited here!

9_mag

Akame ga Kill! – 19

agk190

Before the big assault on Borick in Kyoroch, Najenda has Susanoo prepare all of Night Raid’s favorite dishes. In addition to being super-colorful and mouth-watering, it demonstrates one of AGK’s strengths: no matter what’s ahead, it doesn’t skimp on cute little family moments like this, keeping things from getting too stiff.

agk191

It also doesn’t skimp on richly-detailed city shots. I want to live there. And because Najenda knows a frontal assault against Esdeath and the Jaegers would be folly, she spreads her remaining assassins around in pairs, forcing Esdeath to do the same while not knowing which pair is going after Borick, whose death will signal the Revolutionary Army to begin moving.

agl192

This splitting-up results in a host of excellent matchups, the best being Tatsumi and Mine, who have really gelled in the last few weeks since losing Chelsea, and despite their childish bickering they do their part in Najenda’s plan, luring Suzuka (the last remaining Rakshasa demon) and Seryu.

agk1996

Let’s get Tatsumi’s fight with Suzuka out of the way first, not because it wasn’t a good fight, but because it wasn’t the Main Event here. Despite being a little slip of a thing, Suzuka is hard as nails and pretty quick, to boot. But like the other demons, she’s just not quite up to snuff against a Night Raid member, and writes checks she can’t cash. Tatsumi corners her in a temple where she thinks she’ll have the advantage, but then he uses Incursio to tear the whole damn building down, smashing her with rubble.

Night Raid 1, Empire 0.

agk193

On to what everyone came to see: Mine v. Seryu Ubiquitous II. This fight had huge emotional significance for both parties: Mine doesn’t want any other kids growing up the way she had to, and Seryu wants to purge all evil (as she sees it) from the empire. More personally, Mine wants revenge for the deaths of Sheele and later Chelsea, and Seryu for Ogre and Dr. Stylish. These two ladies do not like each other.

agk194

Seryu, armed with both Coro and Ten Kings, brings the pain early with a furiously elaborate bombardment, but Mine’s Pumpkin is able to neutralize such ridiculous attacks easily by reason of them putting Mine in such a bind. Even when Coro coughs up an ICBM, one shot from Pumpkin blows it up.

ag1997

Mine gets into even more trouble when Seryu ditches the weapons and simply beats the shit out of her with her fists. Both sides basically take a timeout to catch their breath, and Mine uses this time to remind herself she can’t die here until she’s created a fair, truly just world for all. She gets up, dusts herself off, and destroys Coro with Pumpkin as he’s lunging at her. With Mine’s weapon powered by her emotions, the unhinged, overpowered Seryu was her ideal opponent.

agk1998

Speaking of unhinged, when Seryu knows her time is up, she switches on what seems to be a small nuclear bomb hidden in her body to take an exhausted Mine out. She’s saved from the apocalyptic blast by Tatsumi at the last nanosecond. Like her Pumpkin, Tatsumi came through for her right when she needed him most.

Night Raid 2, Empire 0.

agk199
agk199a

For that, Mine drops the tsundere act (at least temporarily) and thanks Tatsumi with a heart-melting moonlit smile. She later tells him she needs to talk to him when the battles are over and the Empire is overthrown. Obviously, she wants to confess to him, and makes him promise he’ll survive until then. Yes, folks, that’s another Death Flag in a show peppered with them, but I won’t let that kill my dream of a happy ending for these two, after both have lost so much and fought so hard. Especially when Tatsumi and Esdeath are probably over as a couple.

agk1995

Meanwhile, back in Kyoroch, Susanoo and Leone infiltrate the lobby and take out Kurome’s last corpse puppets, leaving her vulnerable. Enter Wave, ever the least evil of the Jaegers, just trying to protect his injured little sis. Susanoo doesn’t blow him away this time, but what neither he nor Kurome fail to understand is that Night Raid isn’t looking to destroy them, just divert and delay them.

agk1910

That’s because the pair who ends up finding Borick and taking him out is that of Akame and Lubbock. Night Raid 3, Empire 0. Esdeath, never particularly concerned with Borick’s safety, let him out of her sight. We also finally get a present-day chat between Esdeath and Najenda, with the latter all but admitting she was outmaneuvered, thanks to all of Night Raid’s tricks, feints, and sneaking around. This was not a good day for Esdeath or the Empire. But even though Night Raid achieved its main objective, things are only going to get tougher from now on.

9_mag

Akame ga Kill! – 18

agk181

This was another episode full of bloody, bruising, hard-hitting battles…just not involving the people we expected. When arriving at Kyoroch, where the religious organization Minister Honest is trying to take over is headquartered, Night Raid doesn’t encounter the Jaegers, but an entirely new group of assassins called the Four Koukenji Rakshasa Demons (FKRD). By the end of the episode, three of the four are dead.

agk182

That might make it seem like their introductions were somewhat over-hyped and ultimately pointless, almost like filler, but for the execution of the battles themselves was fun enough to justify their short appearance. Also, something tells me the fourth is stronger than the others. Speaking of storng, Kurome somehow survived and forced herself back into action, worried she’ll be “discarded” if she’s unable to fight. Wave looks after her like a worried big bro, and I have to say, as evil as I know her to be, Kurome gets some pity points from me this week; she’s in rough shape.

agk183

Kurome’s sister, on the other hand, has no problem stylishly dealing with the contortionist Rakshasa Demon called Ibara, who’s all talk at the end of the day. Akame defeats him by letting him take her Masamune blade, which reacts unfavorably to him, giving her an opening to break his neck with her legs then slice off all his limbs. Night Raid 1, FKRD 0.

agk184

Unfortunately, Akame’s battle was watched closely by the angel-winged Run, who merely smiles, gloats, and flies off. Run is the only Jaeger whose battle skills we’ve yet to see, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we do. I’m interested to see who’ll be facing him, and whether anything will come of earlier scenes which seemed to suggest he’s not 100% loyal to Esdeath.

agk185

Akame is awesome as usual, but this week we also got to see Lubbock and his extremely versatile threat arms in action, which makes it only the second or third time he’s done anything. Because we’ve lost a few Night Raiders already, and episodes sometimes strive for good guy/bad guy casualty balance, the stakes were higher than usual, as this could have also been Lubbock’s last fight. Mez and Sten look like tough customers, after all, and two is always better than one, right?

agk186

Well, yeah, but not if Sten rushes after a retreating Lubbock on his own, rushing right into Lubbock’s thread spear, whose threads find his heart and pop it like a balloon. Mez ends up all alone, and takes Lubbock’s thrown daggers as a desperate last resort. Of course, Lubbock is all about playing possum, the weakling, and the casanova; the daggers are connected to threads, and when he pulls them back they go into the cute but unfortunately evil Mez’s back. Night Raid 3, FKRD 0. One demon to go.

agk187

Meanwhile, Tatsumi and Mine are paired up for the first time in a while, to seek out the cult founder the empire is trying to replace. Akame and Lubbocks battles diverted the FKRD from them, and they’re free to taste the local ice cream and bicker like an old married couple about who’s more shallow. This may seem silly — and it is — but when keeping in mind Tatsumi just lost another comrade in Chelsea, humorous distractions are welcome. The founder arrives in the middle of their lovers’ quarrel, and determines the two should just confess to each other already.

agk188

And yes, in case you were wondering, the guy trying to replace the cult’s founder is, like SUPER religious and stuff. Here he is about to engage in a highly sacred and spiritual ritual with a new recruit. Why on earth would you possibly want to assassinate a charmer like this?

7_mag

Akame ga Kill! – 17

agk171

This week we say farewell to the Empire’s most lovable town-burner, Bols. He blew up his Imperial Arms last week, so we knew even if he survived that, he wouldn’t be long for this world. But aside from all the atrocities he committed for the Empire, he remained a decent human being to the end. He knew what he was doing was bad, and would pay for it one day.

agk172

This was that day, as Chelsea disguises herself as an injured little girl and exploits Bol’s big heart, stabbing him in the back with a needle as they hug. As dumb-looking a character as he was, I’ll always prefer guilty villains like Bols to mindlessly evil/sadistic ones. The Jaegers are composed of both types, and yet it’s funny how they can still all sit at a table and enjoy a meal together just like Bizarro Night Raid.

agk173a

One of the Jaeger’s psychopaths, meanwhile, is Kurome, but we learn there’s a damn good reason for that: she and her sister were victims of a deplorable crime. With only two corpse puppets left, she makes a tactical retreat in the present, and remembers when she and Akame were first snatched up and thrown into a beast-ridden forest gauntlet with more than 100 other children.

agk173

Kurome only survives because Akame…and vice-versa, but then the sisters are cruelly separated. Kurome’s master experiments with drugs to boost her attributes, while presumably Akame’s master didn’t. No doubt the sisters drew further apart, to the point that when Akame finally defected, Kurome was fully indoctrinated, believing her sister wasn’t just betraying the Empire, but her as well.

agk174

While armless and exhausted, Leone lives to fight another day, as does Akame, Mine, and Tatsumi. Najenda and Susanoo are also fine, as is Lubbock, who informs the others what the only unaccounted Night Raid member, Chelsea, is up to: she’s going after Kurome.

agk175

Chelsea is able to convince Kurome she is Bols, having learned his personality through Tatsumi’s exposure to the Jaegers. She’s also able to stick Kurome with a needle, just as she did with Bols. Kurome goes pale and collapses. Everything seems to have gone swimmingly for Chelsea, who works to rid the world of depravity…

agk176

…Which is ironic, because had she used a less elegant, more depraved means of killing Kurome — like beheading her or destroying her heart — she would have actually succeeded in killing her. Kurome, who deals with animating the dead all the time, survives the needle. She herself is extremely weak, but she still has Natala and the gunner lady puppets, who chase Chelsea down, destroy her Gaia Foundation, slice off her fingers and arm, and shoot her in the back.

agk177

All those times Chelsea warned herself of going soft, and she turns out to be right. She screws up royally, and unlike Leone, doesn’t get a second chance, which is annoying, because Chelsea was frankly a far more compelling character developed in a fraction of the time Leone’s been around. And for the record, both Bols and Chelsea get equally somber, contemplative death scenes, despite being on opposite sides of the conflict.

agk178

In a final insult, Natala beheads Chelsea, who lost because she didn’t do the same to Kurome, and her head is stuck on top of a spike in the Capital, which is how Tatsumi finds out she’s dead. He’s lost beloved comrades before, but that doesn’t make him any more prepared for that horrible sight. So Bols and Chelsea are the first casualties of the war between Night Raid and Jaegers, with Leone and Kurome narrowly escaping demise. So…who’s next?

8_mag

Akame ga Kill! – 16

agk1601

As Night Raid and the Jaegers clash in various new combinations, AGK returns to what it does best, big, bold, bombastic yet stylish battles. There is a ton going on this week, with only Lubbock and Wave sitting out the action, and sides made even more complex by Kurome’s “collection” of corpse puppets, all formidable warriors she’d assassinated in the past, including her own childhood friend Natala.

agk1602

Thus sub-group of one-shot baddies, both humanoid and bestial, is as diverse and colorful in both appearance and skills as Night Raid and Jaegers themselves, and are the initial barrier keeping Night Raid from taking on Kurome directly. Some get more backstory and screentime than others, but the bottom line is, most of them are tough enough to hang around for most of the episode.

agk1603

Frankly, there are so many different combinations of face-offs in the simultaneous battles that it would be a major pain to list them all out, but suffice it to say the episode stays fresh because of the sheer variety of combat going on, and the numerous times a Night Raid member will shift from one target to another one that’s a better fit. They all strive to match their unique Imperial Arm power to the weakness of the opponent in a particular time and place.

agk1604

The urgency and seriousness of these battles is helped by the fact we’ve lost Night Raiders in the past, and everything from limbs to garment integrity is lost at various points in the action. But everyone gets to shine, striking and dodging, landing what they intend to be coups-de-grace, only to find their opponent slipped away for found another edge…or if one of their allies interrupts.

agk1605

One of the funnier battle “cross-overs” coming when Najenda, disgusted her former trainer and general is still moving around despite the fact she beheaded him, goes in to Overdrive and launches him into the air. The body hits the beam of the Destoghoul just as it’s blasting Susanoo’s arm off (though unlike Leones, it reappears instantly, since he’s, well, an Arm.) It’s a small but funny gesture that conveys the sense that All Of This Is Going On At Once.

agk1606

Another instance of clever use of character ability, personality and timeliness under certain conditions, Chelsea, who is hidden most of the time, uses her makeup kit to take the form of a tribal elder one of the puppets won’t attack, opening him up for a fatal needle to the brain. She took the risk to protect Tatsumi, whom she’s developed feelings for.

agk1607

But after one foe is downed, it isn’t long before another has to be dealt with. Susanoo brought the PAIN thanks to Najenda unlocking his secret “Madman” power, a life-threatening option, but the only way to quickly dispatch the Destoghoul.

agk1608

After she defeats her gun-toting opponent, Mine is ambused by a giant toad and swallowed, to burn up in its stomach acid, but as Kurome gloats, Mine blows enough holes in the thing to escape before the acid does too much. Mine then makes the very unreasonable, but very Mine demand for Tatsumi to somehow help her without looking at her.

agk1609

Yes, I liked that even in these tough battles, there’s still the occasional exchange of wry banter or joking around that we’ve come to expect of AGK, though there’s less of it than usual, and even in this it throws a curveball, as in the moments Leone lets her guard down watching Najenda fight, she loses her frikkin’ left arm to an opportunistic, ruthless Kurome. Keep your eyes on a swivel, guys!

agk1610

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how long Bols manages to stick with Akame and later Akame and Leone. He even calmly asks Akame why she became a rebel, and doesn’t argue with her right to feel the way she does…it just doesn’t change the fact his job is to incinerate her. But when his corpse puppet guard goes down, it’s two-on-one, and his Imperial Arm is severely damaged by Leone biting it, he tosses up his turbine backpack and Detonates The Entire Episode. Talk about ending things with a boom! Keep it up with this AGK. You’re in your wheelhouse.

8_mag

11 Pink-Haired Anime Characters of October

pinkk

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Is it mere coincidence that so many characters appearing in anime this month have pink (or pinkish) hair?

Well, actually yes…yes it is a coincidence.

But who cares! Let’s go down the rolls of eleven Fall 2014 characters who sport the somewhat unnatural but very visible hue atop their heads, in alphabetical order:

amira

1. Amira

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis • CV: Shimizu Ai

There are really two Amiras: the innocent, curious young woman (with pink hair) riding horses, imbibing and dancing for the first time…and the bad-ass demon warrior whom even hardened knights can only tickle with their magic. Her hair is also very very pale pink…though I wouldn’t call it strawberry blonde.

t7_11

2. Asami Lilith

Trinity Seven • CV: Hara Yumi

Lilith is a teacher at the Magic Academy, and introduces the protagonist Arata to the magic world. A bit of a prude, it’s nevertheless clear she likes Arata, as most of the other girls in the show do. I guess her hair is more rose than pink, but I’ll allow it.

ersha

3. Ersha

Cross Ange • CV: Koshimizu Ami

Also spelled “Elsha” in some places, We haven’t seen much of Ersha yet, but among the older First Troop pilots, she seems to be the nicest and friendliest, and doesn’t have any particular beef with Anget. Of course, who knows, she may tear Ange’s kidney out and eat it next week…the show could go that way. In any case, Ami is one of our favorite seiyus.

ino212

4. Kanzaki Tomoyo

InoBato • CV: Yamazaki Haruka

While she’s tended towards the common “I like the protagonist but will NEVER EVER admit it!” pattern so far, Tomoyo is still one of our favorite pinkhairs because of her playful, knowing chemistry with Jurai. Also, she can stop, slow, or speed up time. Sure, her hair is more crimson than pink, but according to Wikipedia, pink is really just a pale crimson!

momo

5. Kawaganare Momo

Ai Tenchi Muyo! • CV: Touyama Nao

Momo is voiced by Touyama Nao, wears flip-flops instead of loafers or uwabaki, and duh, has pink hair. She also definitely wears panties. But seven episodes in, there are more questions than answers about her, like what she really is and where she comes from. But of all the girls Tenchi comes across, she’s the least hostile by far.

dai17

6. Kodachi Nagi

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai • CV: Tanezaki Atsumi

Another rosehead like Lilith whom we’re still including. We’ve only seen a little bit of her, but one thing we already like about her is the fact she’s voiced by Tanezaki Atsumi, who also voiced Lisa in Zankyou no Terror. She also seems to be orchestrating the creation of Kakei Kyoutarou’s harem.

komine

7. Komine Sachi

Grisaia no Kajitsu • CV: Shimizu Ai

Sachi is almost always in a maid outfit, because friends say she looks good in it. She is also extremely eager to please and dedicated to satisfying demands. In other words, a “good girl.”

akame37

8. Mine

Akame ga Kill! • CV: Tamura Yukari

Mine’s story is pretty simple: she and her people had everything taken away from the empire, she has a big gun that become more powerful the bigger the pinch she’s in, she likes Tatsumi but would never let on, and she has very pink hair and clothes.

gung22

9. Noredo Nug

Gundam: G no Reconguista • CV: Kotobuki Minako

Unlike a couple other pinkhairs on this list, Noredo isn’t really interested in hiding the fact that she likes her man Bellri. But it doesn’t look like Bell likes her quite the same way, a point underscored when he seems suddenly smitten with new girl Aida, who has coral hair. “Noredo Nug” is also such a bad name it’s good.

miyu

10. Serizawa Miyu

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai • CV: Satou Rina

School radio host and friend (or past friend?) of Misono Senri. She has a cotton candy thing going on with her hair.

lisbeth

11. Shinozaki “Lisbeth” Rika

Sword Art Online II • CV: Takagaki Ayahi

We probably shouldn’t count Rika for a couple reasons: she’s little more than a cameo in SAO II, and she only has pink hair when she’s “Lisbeth” in ALO. Still, here she is.


That’s all for now. Expect more lists of characters with similar traits in the near to distant future!

Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 05

atm61

Momo, Touri, Hana and Hachiko arrive to rescue Tenchi from the science club. As Hachiko battles Kinojou, Momo frees Tenchi, who saves her from falling rocks as the caves start to collapse. Everyone makes it back to the surface safe and sound.

atm62

That’s more like it: a short, sweet, daring, action-packed rescue mission, made possible by the tracking device in Tenchi’s Gentleman’s Area, presumably put their by Touri. Momo and the StuCo prevail, ending up with Tenchi, who shows he can be heroic in a pinch, but we’re sure the tug-of-war (with him as the rope) has only just begun. Oh, and the dress code at this school is appallingly loose!

6_ses

Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 04

atm4

Having escaped from the Student Council, Tenchi falls through a trap door to a massive underground mining operation spearheaded by the Council’s apparent rivals. When their bodyguard finds him, they strip search him, suspecting he’s a council spy.

…And the pattern continues. Tenchi ends up flailing around an all-girls high school in nothing but his boxers, and when he finally finds a private space to change, he gets captured by another club and ends up tied up and naked again.

And again, while things very much look like Tenchi is about to get sexually abused, we don’t actually witness anything, so it’s left up to our imaginations. Maybe they don’t actually do anything. Maybe he gets away. But I’m certain of one thing: he’ll be in this situation again down the road.

5_ses

 

Akame ga Kill! – 15

agk151

Akame ga Kill! really wants you to understand that the Ultimate Battle between Night Raid and the Jaegars and between the Rebellion and the Empire, is about to begin. Both characters and the narrator mention it at least half a dozen times. They should have also said something along the lines of “these battles are definitely on the way, but bear with us a little while we lay out all the details and get people into their proper positions for said battles.” Or something.

agk152

So yeah, this episode is yet more setup. By the end of it, Najenda, Akame, Tatsumi and Leone are engaged with Kurome and Bols, with Susanoo having smacked Wave off the battlefield entirely. It doesn’t seem like either party is going to back down or retreat; this is it. We just don’t get to see any actual fighting quite yet.

agk153
“Wait…WHY are we in bikinis, again?”

We do get a somewhat meandering Rube Goldberg-like plan for overthrowing the Capital and Empire; one that depends on a lot of moving parts which could spell disaster if any of them failed. It starts with a popular religious group starting an insurrection within the empires borders, followed by invasions from without by the Revolutionary Army and its allied tribes.

agk154
“Are the crepes good, people? Good!”

They’re depending on the zealots being enough of a threat to warrant a sizable movement of Imperial forces in the direction the Revolutionary wants, as well as the cooperation of disillusioned castellans on the route to the Capital to honor their word to yield their castles to the rebels. If everything goes according to plan, the capital will be theirs, its corrupt leaders dispatched, and all with a minimum of bloodshed.

agk155

But c’mon now, not everything is going to go according to plan. Neither the rebel army nor Night Raid can do anything without dealing with Esdeath and the Jaegers first (Najenda also name-drops Commander-in-Chief Budou). The episode serves as a means to take stock in each Night Raid member or Jaeger’s specific reasons and motivations for fighting, with Seryu’s probably being the most morally upside-down (though that’s not surprising considering the mentors she’s had).

agk156

On the other end of the spectrum is Wave, who isn’t even listed as a target, but he has his own reasons for fighting on the side he’s on. Regardless of whether you’re an otherwise nice guy like him or Bols, or a complete evil psycho like Kurome, they must all be defeated by Night Raid if the rebellion is to have a chance.

7_mag

Akame ga Kill! – 07

agk71

After Sheele’s death, pretty much everyone in Night Raid is miserable except for Akame, calm and composed as ever. Scratch that: Akame’s a wreck too, as evidenced by her sudden outburst when Tatsumi compliments her strength. Years of experience being around death hasn’t hardened or numbed her from the pain; it’s only made that pain easier to hide behind a mask.

agk72

Tatsumi is used to seeing that mask on Akame no matter what the situation, so it’s understandable he’d be ignorant of the storm that brewed beneath it. Still, he remembers how worried she was about him after his first mission, so he knows Akame is capable of compassion and empathy. Now that he knows she also harbors as much (if not more) pain as he does, he punches himself in the face to “change gears.”

agk73

Sheele may be dead, but there’s no time to mourn her: General Esdeath is in the capital, and she’s ordered her “Three Beasts” to assassinate the Minister’s political opponents and frame Night Raid. She’s killing two birds with one stone: eliminating those who’d stand against Honest, and forcing Night Raid into a confrontation on her terms.

agk74

Najenda sends Leone to watch Esdeath, and Leone can barely hold back the urge to attack her, despite knowing It’s A Trap!. Esdeath is an odd duck this week, as AGK decides to humanize her a bit, as she asks the Emperor to find her a suitor, then enjoys some ice cream at the market. So yeah, she is human, but still clearly a psychopath.

agk75

While she doesn’t do anything particularly crazy, her power is expressed in the brutality and sadism of her Three Beasts: the little portrait of the loving father-daughter duo that becomes their latest victim does a decent job making us care about them for the short period of time they’re around. Then one of the beasts, Nyau, flays the daughter. Not folk you wanna mess with.

agk76

Akame and Lubbock and Tatsumi and Bulat are dispatched to guard next two likely victims of the Beasts. The latter two end up clashing with them aboard the politician’s massive luxury liner in a pretty nice set piece. Daidara comes at Tatsumi hard with his dual boomeranging axes, but once Bulat is suited up, he halves Daidara, leaving Nyau and Liver.

agk77

The thing is, Liver is Bulat’s beloved former general, who was discharged and arrested after refusing to accept the Minister’s bribes. Bulat’s was discharged and arrested along with him, but stole Incursio and escaped. Will Bulat continue to mind his surroundings, as he’s so fond of reminding Tatsumi? Or will this seeming betrayal cause a misstep?

8_mag

Akame ga Kill! – 06

agk61

While AGK painted super-bleak pasts for all of the members of Night Raid (the most recent bleak past being Tatsumi’s), but their present had typically been painted with an optimistic, jaunty brush, as they defeated target after despicable target with righteous ease.

Not this time.

agk62

Just when Tatsumi was finding solace in the warm kindness of Sheele, she is the first curmember to bite the dust, indicating the show is fully invested in the idea that members of Night Raid can indeed die any day, at any moment, something Tatsumi didn’t understand the full weight of. Bumping off a major character only a quarter into its run was a bold move by a show has never been afraid to be bold, even to the point of ludicrousness.

agk63

The episode is pretty sneaky about it going down, too, starting out with Just Any Other Mission as Tatsumi and Leone sneak into a drug-addled brothel, kill its operators with their usual baroque flourish, and free the women. Leone even licks Tatsumi’s ear! When they wonder whether Mine and Sheele had as easy a time as they did, we cut to that pair, having just completed their mission as well.

agk64

Then the episode did something I didn’t expect: it never goes back to Tatsumi or Leone, but sticks with Mine and Sheele for the rest of the episode, because now is the time Seryu has chosen to emerge from her hiding spot and take out one of the wanted Night Raid members; specifically, Sheele. Her reasons are simple: they’re criminals, she’s justice, they killed her dad and dad figure.

agk65

Let’s get this out of the way: Seryu’s Imperial Arm Coro is ridiculously overpowered, capable of doing…whatever it is Coro (and the show) wants or needs it to do. Still, it wasn’t invincible; if they could find its core they could destroy it; and it would deactivate if Seryu herself was killed. But Mine simply doesn’t find the core in time, and Sheele’s fatal mistake is treating Seryu like normal human being.

agk66

A normal human being whose arms were lopped off would probably be willing to yield, but Seryu was hiding guns in her arms, and even her mouth. This is frankly quite disturbing, and a little random, but there it is. This is an battle where Night Raid comes close but ultimately comes up a little short, and they were always only an inch or a second away from being killed.

agk67

We didn’t get a lot of time with Sheele, but this has always been an exceedingly efficient—if never particularly deep or nuanced—show, and we cared enough about Sheele to feel bad when she was killed. The montage that closed the curtain on her life was another example of doing a lot with a little bit of time and material.

agk68

So…Night Raid can lose sometimes, and they can die. The group of assassins looks particularly vulnerable and shell-shocked when Mine arrives outside HQ with the grim news. With Seryu arm-less but still alive and full of bile and Esdeath arriving in the capital, more of them are likely to die still. Whatever happens, Tatsumi’s honeymoon is officially over.

9_mag