Akame Ga Kill!, Vol. 1

By Takahiro and Tetsuya Tashiro. Released in Japan by Square Enix, serialization ongoing in the magazine Gangan Joker. Released in North America by Yen Press.

I frequently say to people that I don’t read depressing manga, or horror manga, or anything where the basic plot is “let’s try to find a dim light of hope in between the chapters of lovingly detailed murder and torture.” And to a certain extent this is ridiculous, given how much I love Higurashi, Umineko, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, etc. So I tend to give these series a try, to see if they’re my thing, or to see if they would appeal to their intended audience. So, regarding Akame Ga Kill!, I will admit straight up that it is not my thing. That said, if you like dark fantasy along the lines of Berserk, but with a few more strong women kicking ass, and don’t mind the constant brutal violence, this is absolutely a good title to start picking up, as it does those things very well.

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I think most manga readers by now have learned never to read the solicitation or back cover copy for any given volume, as it has a tendency to spoil, especially for first volumes. That said, I think most readers would be savvy enough to know that when our hero, already depressed at how the big city is nothing but a pack of lies, and having all his money stolen by a buxom thief, is taken in by a very beautiful and nice young princess and her also beautiful and nice young family, that SOMETHING HORRIBLE IS COMING. Particularly when said girl is not the stoic swordswoman on the cover. And sure enough the sweet young thing has not only tortured to death many young people in the name of… well, being insane, but her older sister has a taste for the research scientist from hell. And worst of all, his two best friends are the last two victims, one surviving just long enough to tell him he he has to be strong and go on.

Enter our heroes, who the main lead will end up joining. They’re a wacky band of misfits, and include the cover girl, the buxom thief (who I notice never does give his money back, and seems to essentially be Mitsune from Love Hina), and the tsundere with twintails who totally isn’t falling for him (and also drags out a ‘wheel of morality’ with all of Gangan Joker’s main series on it, including many other Yen licenses, though they haven’t picked up Corpse Party just yet). Gradually our hero shows what he’s made of and begins to impress the others despite himself, and they open up to him, telling their backstories so that we don’t need flashbacks at all.

This may seem a bit cliched and yes, it is. But it’s laid out nicely, the art is good, and you begin to like this ragtag band of assassin misfits even as you realize that this is the soft of series where you shouldn’t get too attached to anyone. That last point is likely why I won’t stay aboard, but if you like dark fantasy with a bit of an otaku bent, Akame Ga Kill! should be right up your alley. Also, fear not, Akame does in fact kill in this volume, thus proving the untranslated title correct.

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