Akame ga Kill! – 24 (Fin)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Akame ga Kill! – 19

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Akame ga Kill! – 18

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Akame ga Kill! – 04

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AGK has been nothing if not consistent, balancing fairly equal measures of exposition, world-building, character dev and action, and keeping me thoroughly entertained. This week is no different, formally introducing us to the forty-eight Imperial Arms, six of which are wielded by Night Raid mebers, while the seventh belongs to the target-of-the-week, Zank the Executioner. Around the time the empire started to rot, Zank was made to take so many heads it became a compulsion, and he started taking heads at random, regardless of whether they were condemned to die.

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This makes Zank notable in that as crazy and murderous a demon as he has become, he was, and one point, just an ordinary overworked executioner, and not necessarily evil. Zank also refrains from rape threats, as he’s only interested in beheading people. Heck, he even thanks Akame for killing him and “silencing the voices of all the people he’s killed, a marked contrast to the previous demons’ last words of protest or contempt.

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His third-eye style sense-augmenting and illusion-creating Imperial Arm makes him the most challenging foe yet, as Tatsumi lacks the strength to defeat him alone. But then that’s why Night Raid was sent out in pairs, and Akame is his partner this week. Zank disguises himself as Sayo to lure Tatsumi away from her, but Tatsumi is able to stay alive lone enough for Akame to find him and clean up the mess.

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When Zank transforms into Akame’s dearest loved one, it backfires on him, as she kills “her” as quickly as possible because she loves her so much. Despite her age, Akame is a hardened assassin who won’t succumb to mind games. And thanks to her Imperial Arm Murasame, it only takes a scratch to kill her opponent, which begs the question: why don’t all the Imperial Arms have that ability?

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Akame’s mindset is not to overestimate the power of her sword; it is a bitch to clean, after all, but they live in a world where just one cut can kill you anyway, regardless of the weapon. Wielders of Imperial Arms are undeniably stronger than those with conventional arms, but they’re still just tools; tools that only sing for the right hands and minds. I imagine Zank’s Arm will pass to Tatsumi, but simply possessing one doesn’t make you invincible.

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