Rating: 4/5 – It’s Exactly What You Expect…Except When It Isn’t
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow.
Full disclosure time: I’d planned on giving this book a pass. Yet another young boy goes to the big city to develop his fighting technique and ends up grouped with an eccentric rag-tag bunch of freedom fighters to overthrow a great evil. Yawn. Been there, done that, already forgot about the anime version I watched. We’ve all seen this type of story before, right?
Or have we? What if the boy in question didn’t need to develop his fighting technique, but was already pretty much kicking butt and taking down names at the very beginning of the tale? What if the big city he was hoping to help protect as a soldier-mercenary actually was the great evil he had to overcome? And what if that rag-tag bunch of eccentrics weren’t noble fighters but a band of assassins who are working to help overthrow it?
Sometimes the best stories are the ones we enter expecting one thing and leave after having received something completely different. That’s Akame ga Kill in a nutshell. Yes, the tropes are there, particularly in the group of assassins young Tatsumi joins called the Night Raid. You’ve got your enigmatic gloomy girl who may end up as the love interest. You have your pretty princess with an axe to grind against society. You have – of course – the girl with questionable choice in attire. These characters are not new to this type of story, but their individual stories give them a unique stake in the game. You’ve seen them before, but you haven’t seen them quite like this. And that’s what’s going to bring you back for the second volume.
That same concept – you’ve seen it before but not like this – could also be said of artist Tetsuya Tashiro’s style. Flip through the book in the bookstore, and you’re like to think it’s like the majority of books on the shelf. Take the time to actually read it, and study what’s going on in those panels, and you’ll find some amazing craftsmanship on display. Tashiro’s ability to leap from the cartoonish to a more grim and hyper-detailed realistic style shouldn’t be understated in this review, or under-appreciated by those of you who choose to read it.
Akame ga Kill! is just like every other book of its type on the shelf…except when it isn’t. The ability to weave a tale like this with so many common elements – but to make them feel fresh and new, like I’m encountering them for the first time – gives this book, and hopefully future volumes in the series, a freshness that reminds me why I love this genre so much. I hope writer Takahiro can continue to keep me off my usually solid footing and not lose whatever magic volume one had. I know I’m sticking around for volume two to find out.
Reviewed by: Al Sparrow
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