Akame ga Kill! (Episode 4) – Kill the Imperial Arms User

Akame ga Kill Title

A serial killer has been plaguing the capital for some time now. He kills by decapitation and the number of victims is unknown. Night Raid jumps into action believing it to be the infamous Headhunter Zanko!

What did you watch?

It looks like we’re heading straight into another mission with Night Raid in Akame ga Kill episode 4. I’m actually really enjoying the series and the analysis of the episodes so far. It’s been interesting to really consider what elements of the writing craft can be pulled out and examined. I’m not sure if you noticed, but I’m also revisiting the manga and lining it up with the anime. That meant that I posted my review of volume one recently as it covers the material in episodes 1 to 3. I also look at some of the differences between them. For the earlier volumes, they’re fairly similar, but the anime was released before the manga series finished and things get very different as it progresses. Anyhow, back to the episode in question. As usual, there will be spoilers.

Akame ga Kill Episode 4 Headhunter Zanko Killing Spree

What happened?

With Headhunter Zanko roaming the streets of the capital at night, randomly killing whoever he finds, Night Raid has made it their mission to stop him. Sure, it’s the capital’s problem, but it’s the average people that are being hurt and not the corrupt and powerful upper class. It’s revealed that Zanko used to be an executioner at a prison and spent his days beheading the inmates at the request of the Minister. There were so many that he slowly lost his mind and then all he lived for was to behead people. To make things worse, he has an Imperial Arms and that means a conflict between the two users can only end in one way.

Tatsumi being from the country and unaware of most things asks the question we’ve all been dying to hear. What is an Imperial Arms? Well, thousands of years ago an Emperor sought to protect his country by creating powerful weapons using the rarest materials and the most powerful danger beasts. He successfully created forty-eight weapons and used them to control his country. But then a civil war ended the peace and many of the weapons were lost. All of the Night Raid members except Tatsumi have an Imperial Arms. One thing that Najenda makes clear is that every time two Imperial Arms users have clashed, one has died. There is no scenario where both live.

Akame ga Kill Episode 4 Akame versus Headhunter Zanko

What did you think?

This episode has some insane action and there is also a wealth of useful information. So as you may imagine, I loved it. We finally got a better description of the Imperial Arms and a little rundown on the ones the group uses. It’s great that there is such a variety to them and this episode shows that even more with Zanko’s Imperial Arms. There was also some nice moments between Tatsumi and the rest of Night Raid. I particularly enjoy the way Bulat messes with Tatsumi at every possible opportunity. For a series that is so dark, there is a good amount of comedy and while some of it is more deadpan, it really works for me.

Akame ga Kill Episode 4 Tatsumi and Bulat Training

What was your favourite moment?

It has to be the fight between Zanko and Tatsumi. Having to fight against someone that can read your every move is always going to be tough, but that’s what Tatsumi is up against. He discovers that Zanko’s Imperial Arms is an eye that allows him to read people’s minds, see what they’re about to do, create illusions, and even see through things (ahem, Akame’s clothing). This was the first time we’ve seen Tatsumi really fail so it was definitely an interesting moment and it’s nice to see that it’s not all going to be easy for him. Of course, being up against an Imperial Arms user puts him at a disadvantage, but that’s the sort of danger he will be facing going forward.

Akame ga Kill Episode 4 Tatsumi versus Headhunter Zanko

What was your least favourite moment?

This episode was a little heavy on the exposition, but they do use Tatsumi as a focal point for that which makes sense. He’s new and doesn’t really know too much about the world outside of his village. This gives the team the chance to explain things to the viewers through Tatsumi. Sure, it would be nice to see the explanations in action, but that would be difficult for stuff that happened a thousand years ago. Of course, we get to see these through a flashback of sorts in the anime so it’s less intrusive than someone just reeling off a bunch of facts. It also helps that it’s already been teased, so it’s things we actively want to know which will make us less likely to complain about the way we’re told.

Akame ga Kill Episode 4 Emperor Creating Imperial Arms

Who was your favourite character?

Was Zanko another one-note villain? I’m not so sure and that’s why I enjoyed his addition to the series. I loved how they showed Zanko’s insanity and how that made him talk nonstop to block out the voices of his victims. They definitely played the pantomime villain with his grinning and wide eyes, but he was legitimately crazy from the things that the Minister had made him do. Then with the Imperial Arms he used, he could hear what others were thinking and see things that no one else could. That is bound to weigh on his mind too, taking his already unstable persona to new heights of lunacy. He showed us just how sinister the Minister is and also how dangerous the Imperial Arms are. I think that was done really well.

Akame ga Kill Episode 4 Tatsumi Attacks

Who was your least favourite character?

This episode was very heavily focused around Tatsumi, Akame, and Zanko. The rest of Night Raid were there but didn’t really feature enough to be considered. Even then, they’re all fairly interesting and have their own little moments to remind you who they are. I like the way that’s handled too. So, to cut a long story short, I didn’t have a least favourite character in this episode.

Akame ga Kill Episode 4 Headhunter Zanko

What have you learnt?

There are a couple of things I think I’ll talk about this episode and both are involved with setting reader expectations. We saw it with the Imperial Arms where we’ve been teased about them for the first three episodes. In episode one, it was fairly subtle with Akame’s blade and the poisonous curse. We even caught glimpses of the others in action too, but Murasame was the most obvious. Then, through the next two episodes, we saw a little more. By the fourth episode, we really want to know what they are and so when we’re told it feels like a huge win, regardless of how it was achieved. It’s a very different approach to having a prologue with some random flashback to a time with no context that I’ve seen in some of the more recent shows.

The other part of this that I wanted to mention was the way that even if the other characters aren’t involved they are doing things to reinforce their character and their actions. We may not know much about them, but we’re building up some expectations of them. It will make them seem that much more familiar when we do get the chance and, as it did with the Imperial Arms, we’ll be more likely to accept the information.

Akame ga Kill Episode 4 Akame

Other reviews in the series

2 Comments

  1. I loved the fight between Tatsumi and Zanko here, it’s actually one of the most memorable fights for me in the anime, which is pretty amazing considering how early on it happens. I feel like the early episodes just had such a strong impact that made the fights seem more tense almost, which is probably why I remember this one as well as I do.

    • I think the earlier fights were smaller and more intense. They were a little more realistic too with one hit usually being pretty serious. It’s a far cry from shounen anime where everyone should be dead, but they continue fighting for five episodes.

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