Akame ga Kill and Deaths in Anime
Note: This post contains massive spoilers for Akame ga Kill. Please be aware of this before reading on.
Deaths in anime has always been a tricky thing. Having them can definitely be surprising, yet, getting the audience’s sympathy with the character is dependent on a lot of factors-timing, character development prior death, execution and so on. In the end, doing death scenes in the anime is simply just… tricky.
Akame ga Kill is an action/fantasy anime way back from Summer, and the beginning episodes and the colorful visuals can be a bit of a false impression as the anime featured something predominantly which I haven’t seen for awhile – deaths. Aforementioned, doing deaths in anime is tricky but when done right, they can really trigger the viewer’s sympathy as well, making them feel just as sad as the other characters watching their comrade die before their eyes. For me, death is a major thing and the narrative needs to show it. Triggering sadness is one thing, how the death effect the other characters is also something which definitely needs to be taken notice of. When done right, it is a great way to increase tension and to paints the anime in a different shade. The way Akame ga Kill handle deaths however seem slightly careless.
Additionally, death to me is a “shocking factor”. Exposing them once or twice for surprise is great, but do it too many times will just start to lose it’s impact. This is one of my major gripes in how Akame ga Kill execute these death scenes. The first time Sheele died, I felt sad, depressed and astonished all at the same time. While there were already deaths before this, those deaths were from either nameless characters or just minor characters in general. Actual deaths from the main cast wasn’t something I had seen for awhile, and the nature of the anime suddenly really grasped my interest. After her deaths, you can see just how it effects the rest of the cast; the depressions, anger, etc… And as this was the first main death of Akame ga Kill, the impact was huge, and it effects not just the characters but to us viewers too-throwing us in an emotional turmoil.
Then, the second death happened. The impact of the deaths had already been degraded slightly by now but it’s still there. One problem here was that the death intervals was too short, but at the very least, it served it purpose. It developed Tatsumi’s character further and he gained a power. However, this is where I believe the deaths were beginning to be handled poorly. After his deaths, it is only passing mention from the rest of the characters, and this can pretty much be applied to other future deaths too. What’s the most problematic thing here is that by the third death, it had become too predictable. At this point, the impact of deaths had been lost-Night Raid members dying had become a “pattern”, and it’s difficult to feel shock nor sympathy when you already know they will die.
(The following paragraph contains spoilers for Naruto, One Piece and Gurenn Lagann.)
Other than that, there is one other element which makes Akame ga Kill disadvantageous as far as handling deaths go-it is only 24 episodes. In order for the viewers to actually feel depressed and sympathize with the deaths, there need to be an ample character development or even backstories for said characters prior to his or her death. Who in their right mind would kill off their own characters right after developing them, right? But this is actually the most important key element to instill depression and sympathy among the viewers. There is a reason why most anime deaths (from ones I had watched at least) are usually from lengthier anime; Ace from One Piece, Jiraiya from Naruto are some notable examples I can think of, and also examples of deaths done right. Even Gurenn Lagann had a great, emotional death scene as well despite being in a similar situation as Akame ga Kill having only 20+ episodes, which is because they only had one character dying. From all these anime, they had greater focus and impact, since they had more time and planning. They had enough leeway to develop their character prior death and even halt developments for the other characters in an internal turmoil; in order to reinforce the sense of dread. This is not a luxury Akame ga Kill possesses however, and, it’s downfall. Maybe if Akame ga Kill were to work with one or two deaths, perhaps that might had worked, but we are talking about killing off 8 characters in a 24-episodes show, and that’s even excluding major characters from the antagonist’s side-things were bound to rush at some point. Maybe in the end, the key to good deaths is establishing stockholm syndrome with the viewers, and it is something I personally feel Akame ga Kill wouldn’t be able to manage.
If you had watched Akame ga Kill, what do you think of how it handles deaths?
This post is pretty dark, so here’s a little fanservice from Mine to lighten things up.