AnimuMango Divergence: Akame ga Kill
I fell behind on Akame ga Kill for a number of episodes because I had read a bunch of the manga and kind of knew what was going to happen, since the show has been in lockstep with the comics all of the way. Then I started seeing some social mentions and other such appearing, with suggestions that the manga link diverges to form an anime-only story. Interested in where this goes, I sought to catch up. Post-catch-up, I have to say, I am rather disappointed.
Oh, and spoilers. Get your shit together before reading.
I won’t bother summing up what you’ve seen or read up until now, because it’s pretty much the same on both sides. The divergence starts with the end of volume nine and episode nineteen. After the events of Path of Peace, volume ten starts with a new arc surrounding the minster’s son, Shura, who forms a new organization called Wild Hunt. Similar to the Jaegars, Wild Hunt serves the empire, but due to Shura and his team’s narcissism and criminal ties, they end up being more of a secret police and free-for-all group who kills whomever they please.
The Wild Hunt arc was massively under-represented in the anime, and this would be where my first gripe would be with the anime. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not stating here that I am against anime-only adaptations. I am fine with writers going their own way after they run out of the already-written material, but it’s gotta make sense. With only a few episodes left until the end of the season, it seems like it would have made more sense to end the show alongside the final chapters of volume nine, and position yourself for another season on the new arc. They did not spend nearly as much time as they could have with the Path of Peace part’s battle, which lasted for a couple chapters longer than the show. But what they did instead, was condense ten chapters of manga into a few episodes, and then retell all of the events and battles. To cap that off, they went ahead with the final boss battle with the Emperor’s ultimate teigu, a giant mecha that levels the city flat. Major changes include:
- Wild Hunt and The Jaegars.
- Shura and Lubba’s battle.
- Tatsumi and Mine’s relationship.
- Mine’s death.
- Akame versus Kurome.
Wild Hunt and The Jaegars is what I consider to be the most significant loss here. Not only do they play a role in Bols story, they play a role in Run’s story the most. He mentions in the show how he is a teacher, and that people killed his students. I am guessing the show didn’t want to deal with a pedophile clown and the fact Run dies and turns into Yasafusa’s puppet for Kurome to control, which is fair enough, but all of that plays into his character, his whole Suzaku-style backstory. Wild Hunt, and Shura, also plays a role in Lubba’s death, and Shura still dies by Lubba’s hand, but is killed by Izou instead.
The condensed anime version sort of discards Shura as soon as he appears, since he didn’t play a large role early on, only releasing some Stylish beasts and teleporting Tatsumi and Esdeath. His main role was in volume ten, leading Wild Hunt, and showing how sadistic he and by proxy the minister are. Instead, he is just sort of discarded without really so much as a thought, even by his own father. Thankfully they captured that moment perfectly.
Tatsumi and Mine’s relationship was always tsundere at best, but after the events of Seryu’s death, and the “red string of fate”, Tatsumi and Mine become a thing. The manga spends a little more time on this than the anime, though not by much. I wouldn’t call it a key development other than it helps to strengthen Mine’s character a little more. But the anime goes and puts her against Budou, where she wins, but not before Pumpkin pretty much falls apart and she dies from her injuries.
Trouble is, even though Mine is certainly present with everyone else to battle Esdeath to rescue Tatsumi, the last chapter sees Budou step into the scene, but we haven’t seen the result of that fight. Now, the writers may be giving us advance knowledge of what’s to come in the manga, but it could just be that they assume that she takes him on, wins, but dies anyway. If any number of characters are going to actually remain alive, Mine should really be one of them. But since this series ignores any convention for who lives and dies, it’s possible she will end up dead anyway in the end. But since the relationship with the two is implied in the anime, that final scene with her didn’t really do much for me had it been in the manga first. I kinda like Mine, so it’d be nice if the manga goes a different direction.
Akame versus Kurome is sort of the penultimate fight you expected to happen in the series since learning of Kurome. Given Akame is sort of the title-bearing character, it makes sense that she was going to be alive for at least as long as it took to face off against Kurome. The manga hasn’t addressed this fight yet, so the anime’s spin on it, like above, either is a preview of what is to happen in the manga, or their interpretation of the fight. I don’t really have too much of a problem with this, but I did feel like Kurome’s character had an opportunity to be redeemed, rather than wasted. I’m also surprised Akame didn’t start dual-welding both swords after, though the temptation to re-animate her after death might’ve been there if she had, and might’ve been an interesting twist. Certainly, the manga will have to address the fact Run is one of Yasafusa’s prisoners when she faces off against Kurome.
As a whole show, Akame ga Kill has high points and low points. I did genuinely enjoy the fights and the overall conflict between The Empire and Night Raid, but the show’s heavy-handed use of character death robbed it of moments where some characters, especially the most vocal, like Bulat and Seryu, were wiped out before they could have done more. On the other hand, given their need to introduce stacks of new characters, picking them off at a rapid pace meant you didn’t need to really keep track of anyone. It made the series all about Tatsumi and Akame, mostly, which is fine, but Tatsumi was easily the worst in the first half of the series, stuck to his past and generally being a whiny bitch about things. He opened up a little more with Esdeath, but the most upon inheriting Bulat’s teigu and actually being a real force on the team. It made episode 23 actually pretty decent to watch, with him and Wave teaming up to take down the Emperor’s teigu.
But as far as anime and manga divergences go, I am a bit disappointed. Volume ten was too condensed by the show, stripping out most of the good story elements that set up the final confrontations, and given how lockstep the show went with the manga, it tells me that either they know the manga is going to end with the eleventh’s volume and they wouldn’t have enough material for another season, or facing the uncertainty of the manga’s future, decided to pull the trigger on a ham-fisted ending that was resolved as quickly as it was introduced.
I guess we’ll have to see how they both play out before I can draw final conclusions. Until then, we’ll just remember Mine, the second-best girl to Esdeath.