There’s a point at the end of a series, the final episode receding into memory, when you wonder why you kept watching it. Akame ga Kill is exactly that series. It is staunchly, even startlingly mediocre in just about every regard, but because it hovers just above that baseline of entertainment - not offensively dumb enough to abandon but not good enough to sing its praises - here I find myself twenty four episodes later.
There wasn’t the remotest of hints that it was ever going to be better than average. From the off the story of Tatsumi, a swordsman from the boonies whose compatriots are killed and he falls in with the band of assassins, Night Raid, is about as nuts and bolts as it comes. Chief amongst the group though is Leone with a ferocious blonde mane and a fiery attitude. No wait, maybe it’s Sheele the demure, bespectacled scissors wielder. Or perhaps Bulat…
The first thing that will probably strike you about Tokyo Ghoul is the opening. It’s a visually stunning minute and half that blends together vast, impossible skyscapes with cracked glass and twisted reflections of the main cast. It establishes this as a series about duality, about masks and, most of all, about the nature of monsters.
That opening is attached to the second episode and had I baulked at the first episodes’ unrelenting viciousness, I would have missed out on what turned out to be a supremely rich and entertaining series. It definitely isn’t my usual fare. Primarily because of that misanthropic sadism that is more or less the entirety of the opening episodes, reminding me far too keenly of clunkers like Elfen Lied or Brynhildr in the Darkness. Make no mistake though, this isn’t just self-indulgent gruesome violence, it has a purpose that goes miles beyond trying to make the series edgy and “adult”.