If you’re here for a regular shōnen adventure with a bloodless clash between two opposing forces which ends in a deathless victory for the protagonists and a happy ending…
…you’ve come to the wrong place.
Akame ga Kill! is no Elfen Lied, but the tone is far edgier than what its shonen classification suggests. It started out pretty typical to be fair, giving the impression of a fantasy adventure as Tatsumi joins the Night Raid and meets wielders of teigu. But then it quickly dissolves into implied cruelty, explicit violence and a crap load of deaths.
I’ve written plenty of dark scenes in my own fanfiction, and I can see similar elements between my work and Akame ga Kill!. I’m obviously nowhere near that sort of level, but the intent behind the violent scenes are the same. Building characters and the world they live in, establishing the darker nature of the story…it’s not always important to plot, but it’s important to the feel of the characters and the story they reside in.
Not everyone will agree with that, of course. The cruelties of the Empire and the depths of the implied torture may be too much for some, and the dismemberments, disembowelments and all sorts of deaths can be shocking to those looking for a regular shōnen manga to enjoy. The death of Bols’ wife and daughter is especially heartbreaking, especially since it’s not necessary per se. But only by killing characters known to us will there be an emotional impact that will drive home the message that the world of Akame ga Kill! is what it is.
I have a great reluctance to kill characters though, something Akame ga Kill! has no issues with. Sure, the more ‘important’ characters have survived, but the turnover of characters is pretty ridiculous. Initial character development felt rushed as each Night Raid member explained their background in awkwardly conceived conversations, but much of it didn’t matter when they died a couple of chapters later. The rest got their fair share of development as the series progressed, as did the Jaegers that survived the constant deaths.
Some characters can be hard to bond with as a result, but it really just emphasises the concept behind the story. A world where assassins with super powerful weapons are trying to destabilise a broken and corrupt empire in order to restore order is not a pleasant world. And yes, Naruto should have gone in such a direction in my opinion, even if it would have never sold as well as it has if it weren’t the crazy magic-wielding ninja world it became.
There is a fair amount of comedy in a vain attempt to balance out the dark nature of the manga, and it’s often well placed in between serious fight scenes. I particularly love the nature of Esdeath’s love for Tatsumi; the ridiculous way she fell in love with him, and the slow but steady growth of that one-sided relationship until the inevitable state it is currently in.
All in all, Akame ga Kill! is something right up my alley. I wish character turnover didn’t have to be so rapid, but that’s probably my only complaint. If only Naruto didn’t go full retard…