Tatsumi’s village has been crippled by increasing taxes. Together with his two friends, they set off to the capital to join the army and send money home to save the village. Well, that was the plan anyhow!
What did you watch?
There are several series that really resonate with me and I believe reflect the style of writing I’m trying to create. Therefore, I have decided that to spend a bit of time focusing on these shows and examining on a deeper level than I have been for seasonal shows. The first series I’m going to focus on is Akame ga Kill. It is one of the few series where I read the manga first, well most of it. I read the first fourteen volumes and then was left waiting for the fifteenth and final volume to release. While I waited, I watched the entire anime in two days. Anyhow, let’s look at episode 1 of Akame ga Kill. There will be spoilers.
Tatsumi arrived at the capital alone. On the way, he had been split up from his two friends when bandits attacked. He wasn’t worried as both were skilled fighters and he was sure he would see them again soon. Once in the city, Tatsumi tried to sign up for the army but was told he would have to start as a private. Feeling his skills were far greater than that, he refused and sought another way to climb the ranks. Seeing his troubles, a friendly girl with big bouncy… hair offered to help him out. She just needed some money to make it happen. Tatsumi willingly handed over all his money and waited for her to return. She did not!
Forced to sleep on the streets, Tatsumi settled in for the night, but out of nowhere a carriage stopped beside him and a girl offered him a place to stay for the night. Sceptical, Tatsumi reluctantly accepted and found himself with a warm meal and a warm bed to sleep in. The next day, he assisted the girl with her shopping and then settled in for the night with the father of the house offering to set him up with a high ranking military official. That night, it all went to hell when Night Raid, a notorious band of assassins showed up and attacked the family. Tatsumi watched in horror as they were murdered one by one. Then he saw the girl running for cover and ran to help.
What did you think?
I absolutely loved this episode. It’s a great way to start the series. We’re introduced to Tatsumi and shown his view of the world. Then it gets distorted when he is robbed, but the big flip was at the end when he discovered that the family that was helping him were the real monsters. I loved how utterly dark and violent this series opener was without falling down the gore for gore’s sake route. Everything felt necessary and it helped to paint the capital as the dark and dirty hellhole that it is, full of corruption and people trying to grab whatever power they can.
What was your favourite moment?
It has to be when Tatsumi realises the truth. He’s trying to defend the girl, even going head to head with Akame even after she told him he wasn’t a target. If nothing else that showed his character and that he will not back down, no matter the odds if he believes he’s in the right. Leone intervened, feeling guilty about robbing him earlier, and kicks open the door to the outer building. Tatsumi stares in disbelief at the body of his friend hanging from the rafters like a piece of meat. Then, his other friend calls to him through bloody coughs and tells him the truth of what has happened. Even after that, Tatsumi stops Akame from killing the girl. Seconds later, he bursts forward and kills her himself. No hesitation, we already know that Tatsumi will act when he is in the right. That combined with the girl revealing her true-self made for an incredible opening episode.
What was your least favourite moment?
On the shopping trip, I can’t help but feel the guard taking Tatsumi aside to tell him about the threat of the minister and the levels of corruption was a little too much exposition and kind of unnatural. I’m grateful for the information, but I don’t think it was delivered in the smoothest of ways. Maybe the guard was trying to warn Tatsumi about the family, although it was incredibly subtle if that was the case. Either way, it was a little clunky.
Who was your favourite character?
I love Leone, she was the reason I picked up the manga in the first place, but I definitely feel that Tatsumi was the best character in this episode. We learnt a lot about him and while it may be that he killed the girl that had been torturing the people she brought it in a rage, I still feel like he was in control and believed he was doing the right thing. He could have let Akame do it, but he felt like the responsibility was his. He avenged Sayo and Ieyasu, but that will never bring them back. His actions caught the attention of Leone and made her want to bring him back to Night Raid with them.
Who was your least favourite character?
It’s always easiest to like the villains the least and to be honest, that’s what you want, isn’t it? Well, not always and this series will show us exactly why and how later on, but for now, the girl that took Tatsumi in was quite clearly a deranged lunatic! She tortured and killed Sayo because she had nice hair. Then, when she was finally confronted about it by Tatsumi, she turned into a ranting psychopath. She was quite clearly an obvious villain, but at this stage of the series, that is what you want. Her family personified the evil and corruption in the capital and showed Tatsumi the truth. Job done!
What have you learnt?
My big lesson from this episode is the throwaway one-note villain. We all know exactly what I’m referring to. They may be grinning like a Cheshire cat or twirling the ends of their moustache, either way, they are pretty obvious, but they have a use. As long as you don’t make all of your villains like this, you’ll be fine. A throwaway villain is great at expanding another character. Straight away we know that they are bad and need to be defeated. There’s no messing around with character and motives, these villains are just evil. It’s great to give characters depth and motivation, but at the same time if you start thinking about what everyone wants then this story is not going to get anywhere fast. Use these one-note characters to enhance the primary characters without the need to overthink it, especially if they’re not going to be in the story for very long.
Other reviews in the series
- Episode 1 – Kill the Darkness
- Episode 2 – Kill the Authority
- Episode 3 – Kill Your Cares
- Episode 4 – Kill the Imperial Arms User
- Episode 5 – Kill the Empty Dream
- Episode 6 – Kill the Absolute Justice
- Episode 7 – Kill the Three Beasts – Part One
- Episode 8 – Kill the Three Beasts – Part Two
- Episode 9 – Kill the Lust for Combat
- Episode 10 – Kill the Seduction
- Episode 11 – Kill the Mad Scientist
- Episode 12 – Kill the New Recruits
- Episode 13 – Kill the Hindrance
- Episode 14 – Kill the Giant Dangerous Beast
- Episode 15 – Kill the Religion
- Episode 16 – Kill the Dolls
- Episode 17 – Kill the Curse
- Episode 18 – Kill the Demons
- Episode 19 – Kill the Fate
- Episode 20 – Kill the Pandemonium
- Episode 21 – Kill the Despair
- Episode 22 – Kill the Little Sister
- Episode 23 – Kill the Emperor
- Episode 24 – Akame ga Kill!