Akame ga Kill! (Episode 5) – Kill the Empty Dream
Tatsumi is starting his training with Sheele, but he’s having some difficulties saying goodbye to Sayo and Ieyasu. With the understanding of Imperial Arms, he’s hoping that there might be one that can bring back the dead!
What did you watch?
It’s time for more analysis of Akame ga Kill with my scrutiny focused on episode 5. So far, I’ve been really happy with the details that I’ve been able to pull out and expand on. Obviously, my goal here is to increase my own storytelling craft, but if you’ve found any of my advice and observations helpful, I’d love to know. Equally, if you want to discuss them further, put it in the comments. I do enjoy a good discussion about story structure and writer’s tools. So with all that in mind, let’s get into the episode. You can expect spoilers, but if you’d like to avoid them, I would recommend watching the episode and coming back. It’ll be interesting to see if you spotted the same things as me.
Tatsumi woke from a dream where Sayo and Ieyasu told him they were moving on as he had a new group of friends to watch over him. It troubled him, especially as he still hasn’t gotten over their deaths. He was also surprised to find Sheele asleep on the edge of his bed. She stirred and wished him good morning before informing him that she would be conducting his training for now. They began by Tatsumi learning to swim in full armour! With that completed, Tatsumi asked Sheele why she became an assassin. It was not the story I think he was expecting.
Later, Tatsumi tried out the Imperial Arms that they recovered from Headhunter Zanko, but it rejected him. Najenda gave Tatsumi a book documenting all of the arms that they knew of and told him to memorise it. He then posed the idea that there might be an Imperial Arms that could revive the dead, still hopeful of saving his friends. Bulat and Akame had to crush his dream else it might become a weakness that could be used against him. That night he visited Sayo and Ieyasu’s graves to finally say goodbye and Sheele came to comfort him.
Leone and Tatsumi went on patrol in the capital and visited her old neighbourhood. It would appear that she’s quite popular there… well, that was until a group of guys ran after them asking about their money. In the confusion, Tatsumi got lost, but luckily and Imperial Guard found him and offered to help him find his way back. She introduced herself as Seryu Ubiquitous and revealed that she had an Imperial Arms that looked like a cute dog-thing called Coro. After helping Tatsumi, she left to feed Coro, leaving Tatsumi to head back and report on his encounter.
What did you think?
This episode lacked the action that the others have delivered, but it was almost exclusively used as set up for future events. Knowing what those are, I’m pretty excited and I hope that they will work just as well for first-time viewers. It certainly raised a lot of questions. One area that I didn’t mention in the summary was the introduction of General Esdeath. She was the one that Najenda warned Tatsumi about, but she was on a mission in the North that would keep her busy for a long time… oh, she’s already defeated them, you say… oh, dear! We’ve seen a lot of fairly simple villains, and even though Esdeath was introduced in that manner, I can assure you that is not the case. Also, Seryu is a great character too and not what you might expect.
What was your favourite moment?
I oddly enjoyed the bad joke from Najenda where she called Tatsumi a lady killer and elicited no response from Lubbock and Leone, but I can’t use that as my favourite moment. No, I’m actually going to talk about Sheele’s backstory. We discover that Sheele is a bit of goofball. She’s not very good at much and often makes mistakes. No one really gave her much time except for one friend. When this friend was in danger from an ex-boyfriend, Sheele stepped in and killed him. She realised that was what she was good at. Then when this guy’s friends killed her parents and threatened to kill her, she murdered them too. She may not look it, but Sheele is a cold and calculating killer. I loved that it was a huge flip from what anyone was expecting.
What was your least favourite moment?
I was a little surprised by how forthcoming Seryu was with Tatsumi. She basically told him that she has an Imperial Arms and is hunting Night Raid. It did switch back and forth between speaking and internal monologue, so it got difficult to be sure what was said and what wasn’t. Either way, telling a random person on the street about the Imperial Arms seemed careless, especially someone who was apparently lost. It would make me assume that they were not from the capital and that would raise my suspicions if I was the guard. It also made me laugh that as she ran off to feed Coro, she said something about letting him feed on a death row inmate!
Who was your favourite character?
And that, ironically, is why I think Seryu was my favourite character… all right, maybe not my favourite, but she was the most interesting, especially as it’s too soon to talk about Esdeath. One of the things that really stuck with me the first time watching and reading this series was how interesting the villains were. Take Seryu for example. She seemed like a kind and caring person who was willing to help a lost citizen find their way. Her appearance certainly didn’t paint her as a villain and even her Imperial Arms, Coro looked like a cute creature. But then, she kept giving tiny hints that not everything was as it seemed, especially with the feeding Coro death row inmates statement. What I really liked was how subtle they were and how they just flowed into her dialogue naturally. It did enough for me to do a doubletake and left me questioning what I heard.
Who was your least favourite character?
I can’t stand the child emperor. I hate how he’s constantly making these grand declarations and then publicly turning to the minister to ask if he did it right. It does show us that the Minister is clearly the one in control, but I wouldn’t have thought he would want everyone else to see that. Although, maybe he does. He is certainly very assured of himself and is not afraid to use his power any way he sees fit. I thought it was interesting that he was upset about Night Raid killing Headhunter Zanko which makes me think that he was letting him run around the capital causing chaos. A fairly shrewd move from someone trying to rule through fear. Still, the child emperor is just an annoying sidekick, but I suppose he is necessary.
What have you learnt?
After the last episode, I spoke about setting expectations and how in doing so you can lessen the impact and even create anticipation for information or situations. Well, now I’m going to tell you to subvert expectations. Hang on! Isn’t this the opposite of what we learnt yesterday? Well, not really. What I’m talking about here is setting up something that will make the reader expect one thing and then change it to give them something unexpected. In this episode, there were three nice examples of this.
The first was with Sheele’s backstory. We’ve met Sheele. She seems like a nice, sweet girl, but she’s a bit clumsy and not that good at things. She’s also a complete psychopath and will kill without hesitation. Didn’t see that coming, even knowing that she’s an assassin. Later we met Seryu, another sweet girl and she even had a cute pet, but she did enough to make you question what you saw. The third example involves Esdeath, but I’m not going to talk about that this week as I don’t want to spoil the coming episodes. This approach generally plays on appearances and then flips the character. It’s like someone that looks like a monster actually being a nice person or vice-versa. You can have a lot of fun with this method.
Other reviews in the series
- Season One
- 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!
- Volume 1
- Volume 2
- Volume 3
- Volume 4
- Volume 5
- Volume 6
- Volume 7
- Volume 8
- Volume 9
- Volume 10
- Volume 11
- Volume 12
- Volume 13
- Volume 14
- Volume 15
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I didn’t know much about subverting expectations and how to use that to the story’s advantage. Sheele’s backstory does put her in a different light and influenced how I thought of her.
Seryu seemed nice on the surface but there is more lurking underneath that changed how I saw her later on.
I wonder if that is where part of the joy from the story comes as mysteries unravel themselves and expectations are either met or subverted. A question I have is, how do you balance expectations and subverting expectations? And is it story dependent? How important is it to manage expectations?
I think the trick is definitely in when to play with the two elements. It seems to work best when the reader/viewer has become comfortable with the statusquo. Just when they think they have it all worked out they start to expect certain things, that’s when you pull the rug out from under them.
It’s kind of like a rollercoaster. If it was just up and down, up and down, up and down, it would get pretty boring. That’s why they make you think you’re going to drop, but you don’t. Then, just when you start to relax, you drop.
Akame ga Kill does a great job of catching you out because they’ve set you up to think one way. None of it should be a complete surprise, however, which is good because then you get that after the reveal moment where it is obvious. Sheele is an assassin after all and Seryu gave plenty of clues when she was talking to Coro.
I think there’s a lot more to this series that everyone just dying and one note villains.