What Everyone Gets Wrong About Akame ga Kill: Morality of Night Raid, Pt. 1



So last month I decided to check out Akame ga Kill! after checking out the abridged parody of it.  I came in with somewhat low expectations–I remember Glass Reflection (aka Arkada) gave it a somewhat lackluster review of it around a year ago, but hey!  It seemed pretty popular so it couldn’t hurt to give it a look-see.  From the surface, it looked like a typical shonen series, but I’ve been surprised before.  It should be pretty good.

Well, it wasn’t.  Akame ga Kill was great.  Twenty-four episodes later, I found myself wanting more, more, more.  Sure, part of the enjoyment was the gory fun, but underneath all of the bloody violence was an intelligent series with something deep to say about morality and justice.  Never have I seen such a thought provoking mainstream shonen since the likes of Fullmetal Alchemist, and yes, I’m dead serious.  I wasn’t sure why Arkada, a guy I’ve come to rely on for recommending me anime, didn’t much care for it.  Surely he was the exception to the rule, right?

I was so pumped for more Akame ga Kill that I googled to see if there was any news of a second season (that may sound confusing to those of you who watched the whole thing, but more on that in another part).  Much to my surprise, there were no release dates, no speculative news articles about it–all I could find was this measly thread on MAL written by someone with a similar enthusiasm for the show.

Unfortunately, the poor guy was laughed off the Internet as people commented how ridiculous he was being.  As I came to learn, Akame ga Kill was not the beloved show that I thought it was–it was more like the show that everyone watched because of hype and ended up disappointed with.  It maintains a fairly average 7.9 score on MAL, and reviewers consistently give it average-to-above-average ratings.  To the majority of the anime fandom, Akame ga Kill was just another mainstream shonen that only casuals would find impressive.

Seeing all this negativity about this show, I began to question my opinion.  Is Akame ga Kill actually a good show, or was I not noticing something that everyone else was?  I took to the Internet to analyze what prominent reviewers had to say about the show.  Common criticisms included the show’s bizarre blend of magic and technology, the strange tonal shifts, the rushed ending, and the boring black and white morality.  Even fans of the series admit that it’s just brainless fun.  Reading all of these criticisms, I came to a surprising conclusion.

Nobody was watching the show correctly.

I understand that this is a controversial statement, on many levels.  After all, who am I, a fellow fan, to say that some one’s interpretation of a work is incorrect?  But I believe that many of the flaws that people point out about this series can be explained by closely analyzing the show’s themes and morals.  I know that I can’t make you like Akame ga Kill, but I can at least hope that you’ll understand why Akame ga Kill is the way that it is by the end.

So without further ado, here’s the first entry in the beginning of a multi-part series of posts called What Everyone Gets Wrong About Akame ga Kill!, which will analyze aspects of the show that I feel are unjustly criticized, or present a unique take on the show that I haven’t seen anyone else develop.

We’ll begin by dissolving the perception of “morality” that people seem to have about the show.  A lot of folks consider Night Raid’s fight against the Empire to be a battle of good vs. evil, or white and black morality.  Usually people point to the fact that the Empire is filled with one-note villains who are so deranged or self-centered that they lack any redeeming qualities to justify this line of thinking.  And since the members of Night Raid are only going after these villainous curs, then they must be purely good.  But I think looking at the members of Night Raid as a group to determine their morality is flawed.

It’s not as if every member of Night Raid was so appalled by the Empire and its atrocities that they gleefully signed up for Night Raid to bring it down and create a new world.  Each member is a part of Night Raid for their own, unique reasons, and they all have their own goals and aspirations.  To ascertain the morality of these characters, we have to look at their motivations and actions individually.

I’m leaving out Tatsumi and Akame because I’m going to be talking about them in the last part of this series.  I also won’t be talking about Susanoo because he’s an Imperial Arms and not a human being.  He lacks human motivations, and is thusly omitted.


The first important character to get the axe on this series, Sheele was, at first glance, a good person.  Akame called her the kindest among them, and in a way, she was.  She was the only member of Night Raid to comfort Tatsumi following the loss of his friends, acknowledging that it was hard to let go of those you loved. Sheele acted as a tender hand in an otherwise stern group (which is probably why she had to die first).

That is, until it’s killin’ time.  At that point, she’s becomes a ruthless assassin who kills her targets with surgical precision.  Sheele first discovered her ability to kill when she witnessed her friend’s ex-boyfriend strangling her to death.  Taking exception to that, Sheele killed him right then and there and didn’t feel a shred of fear or guilt at taking another life.

There was no doubt that this was a case of self-defense, but let’s examine how Sheele killed that guy–she stabbed a knife right through his neck which “killed him instantly.” In other words, she went for the killshot right away.  It’s not as if she panicked and went to slit his jugular because of an adrenaline rush,  it was clear that she had total control of the situation since she was so “calm” and could have just maimed him to the point where he’d let her go, but nope!  The first and only place her knife went was his neck.  This shows us her first and only solution to a violent situation is killing whoever started it.

After that incident, Sheele never saw her friend again; probably because the incident told her unnamed friend how empty Sheele was inside.  With nowhere else to turn, she became a freelance assassin. Now to be fair, she did claim that she chose that career path because she wanted to help “clean up the trash,” but let’s not forget: she lived in the capital, which, as we see in the series, is filled with the worst kinds of people, and that goes double for anyone who’s rich enough to hire an assassin.  Who knows how long she was working for rich nobles who wanted to take people out to maintain their political power?  This tells us that Sheele didn’t really care who she worked for, just so long as she guaranteed the safety of anyone she deemed a friend.   She was never on some great moral crusade.  Night Raid was just another gig to her–she would have just as likely joined the Jaegers with no complaints.

So while she makes a great friend, she really doesn’t care about making the world a better place for everybody.


Unlike Sheele, Bulat clearly does possess a strong sense of justice and is much harder to call immoral.  His backstory, as far as we know, is that he was an officer in the Imperial Army, until his general, Liver, was arrested for refusing to accept a bribe, and that Bulat was later arrested at the same time for a crime he didn’t commit.  He managed to get away, and presumably ended up joining Night Raid after being disgusted with the same Empire that put his dear General behind bars.  We know nothing of his childhood, why he joined the military in the first place, or anything.  All we get is a vague sense of his military background.

However, during the flashback in episode 7, Liver says an important line to Bulat: “sorry that you had me as your superior.”  Thinking on it, this is sort of an odd apology.  Why is he saying sorry?  Certainly not because he knew that Bulat would be arrested as well–that didn’t happen until his trial.  After all, it’s clear that the Empire didn’t punish everyone under Liver’s command–that would be far too excessive, even by their standards.  No, I believe that Liver is apologizing directly to Bulat because of the profound impact that he had on him.  After all, as far as we can see, Bulat was the only one who visited the general following his arrest.  He was also, ostensibly, the only one of the general’s inferiors to be framed for a crime.  Bulat was likely the General’s right hand man, or at least, his biggest supporter.  The two were likely very close.

After the trial, however, their paths diverged.  Bulat managed to flee from Imperial custody while Liver, unable to escape, was locked in a cell.  This allowed Liver to be swayed by Esdeath into joining her ranks, offering him a full pardon.  To Liver, it was like being visited by a guardian angel, giving him power over the spineless politicians that he so resented.  In contrast, Bulat was free from Imperial influence.  He had plenty of time to mourn Liver, join Night Raid, forge new bonds with his companions, and move on.  By the time Bulat meets the General again, he’s already been committed to Night Raid, with Liver already committed to Esdeath.

But what if Bulat did get captured?  What would happen to him?   What if Esdeath approached him as well as Liver to join her army?  Well, he’d most likely side with his beloved commanding officer, and would wind up working for Esdeath.  Think about it.  Bulat looked up to General Liver, and had a similar moral code.  We have no reason to believe that his morality wouldn’t allow him to do so–in fact, we KNOW that for a fact.  Look back at the flashback in episode 7.  Bulat was specifically angry at the Empire for ascertaining the general’s value based on how willing he’d be to take bribes, rather than merit.  And why does Esdeath let Liver back in the ranks?  Because of merit!  Bulat would have every reason to accept Esdeath’s offer if he had been captured on that fateful day.

But what about that “Hero of the People” line that Bulat spouts at Liver?  Well, he likely only considers himself that because he’s joined Night Raid.  I don’t think he’s always considered himself a hero of the people.  Remember, he fought in a war on the capital’s side.  And if there’s one thing this show likes to emphasize, it’s that people have every reason to hate the capital, and that Bulat was likely putting down a rebellion that had legitimate reasons for uprising.  It’s likely that he didn’t care about “the people” back then.

Bulat’s morality only goes as far as Liver’s–and as we see, it’s not as ironclad as we like to think.


Chelsea is a bit of an oddball Night Raider.  Although she’s just as experienced as any other member of Night Raid, she maintains the belief that she’s a warrior of justice, rather than a merciless killer.

On the surface, this makes sense–her backstory makes her out to be one of the most moral members of Night Raid.  She was a great student who ended up working under a morally bankrupt viceroy.  So one day, she found an Imperial Arms stored in the castle, and used it to kill him and join an organization dedicated to bringing down people like him.

What a selfless soldier, right?  Except for one thing–we know that she’s two-faced.  When she meets her viceroy for the first time, she acts like a doting, unsuspecting student, until she reveals her thoughts to the audience.  She’s motivated to rise up in the ranks and become a powerful figure in the Empire.  This changes things–she isn’t some innocent soul who believed the system was pure: she was just going to act like a loyal subordinate until she becomes as powerful as the viceroy.  Her initial goal is to secure her own power and influence, first and foremost.  She’s not out to make the world a better place–she’s purely self-interested, and will act like a model subordinate to get to the top. She probably would have done just that if she didn’t have an obviously psychotic boss–in fact, she was so good at bullshitting that she tells Tatsumi that “deception is [her] specialty” in episode 12.

I believe, however, that she is too good at deception, because she was successfully able to fool herself with her own lie: that she’s fighting for justice. I don’t even have to infer this, since we see firsthand how delusional she can be.  Recall the flashback scene in episode 17, in which she looms over the viceroy’s corpse after killing him with a needle.  Some one shouts “the viceroy has been killed,” while people around her are screaming.  It’s a little difficult to tell if people are rejoicing or are terrified of the smirking murderer, but I’m inclined to believe the latter.  Why? Well, the screaming is only audible for a couple seconds before we get a close-up on Chelsea’s face as she thinks to herself, “everyone is relieved… they’re happy.”  When she says this line, the screaming gets muted, as if she’s shutting out the outside world. This indicates that she’s not naive as Tatsumi points out, but rather in denial about the morality of her work.

In fact, I believe that she imagined this incident to go completely different. You can tell by what Chelsea was doing immediately after she made her attack.  She doesn’t hide, is totally undisguised, in broad daylight, with witnesses nearby and a murder weapon in hand.  Although she certainly possessed the capabilities to disguise herself and hide (in fact, thats LITERALLY WHAT HER IMPERIAL ARMS WAS DESIGNED FOR), she didn’t.  This tells me that she thought she’d be able to get away with offing the viceroy because he was an objectively evil man. It’s like she was saying, “look at me, everyone!  I got the bad guy!   Praise me!”  Considering the fact that in every scene she appears in, she acts like a total hotshot who’s either out to impress people or act like she’s the smartest/most talented person in the room, Chelsea believing that that she’d be able to get away with murder seems pretty in line with her line of thinking.  But in reality, she was no different from the viceroy, who killed people because he thought he had the right to.

Okay, so she’s delusional, but does that maker her evil?  Well, yes–she certainly is capable of understanding the truth (as she does in her final moments) but chooses to live a lie because her ego demands it.  That’s a dangerous mentality for a professional killer to have, especially one who’s as accomplished as Chelsea (who apparently has a kill count that rivals Akame’s).  She’s nothing short of a hypocrite, too–after she attempts to kill Kurome, she declares that her fate was befitting of that of a killer.  That’s right–she feels fine with killing Kurome because Kurome is a murderer.  In that regard, she’s no better than Seryu Ubiquitous.  If she’s able to lie to herself like that, she could rationalize killing anybody!  She doesn’t care about justice, or anything like that–she only cares about being perceived as a hero, for the sake of maintaining or her own ego.  If she lived to create a new world, she’d likely end up as a self-important individual that the capital was already full of for the majority of the series.


Game shows on YouTube?

With all this talk about YouTube becoming more popular, or even taking over, mainstream TV, it makes you wonder about future of television.  Some say that TV will continue to entertain viewers for a long while now.  Others proclaim that we’ll be throwing away our flatscreens within the next decade. Regardless of which side of your fence you’re on, the Internet is still in its youth.  It has a long way to go before it ends up replacing every aspect of televised media.

For example, what about game shows?  Has the Internet produced any meaningful answers to the likes of Jeopardy! or Who Wants to be a Millionaire?  It may seem like a weird question, but many game shows are quite popular, and are able to easily rake in millions of viewers every night.  But they are doubtlessly expensive to produce–on top of the costs of maintaining a studio and equipment day after day, you need to have money left over for cash prizes–0therwise, you’d never have any guests!  But it’ll be a long time before any corporation, let alone YouTube, will be able to acquire the funding to produce a proper game show.

Or will it?  Despite obvious budget constraints, several YouTubers have produced game shows for your enjoyment.


The Game Station Trivia Show

For those who don’t know or don’t remember, The Game Station was a YouTube channel that later turned into the Polaris network.  It featured a news show, a podcast, among other shows, many of which have since moved to Polaris’ channel.  One show that found itself on the cutting room floor, however, was the Trivia Show, which is a shame too, because it was fairly entertaining.

The Trivia Show actually had two incarnations.  The first one–which lasted nine episodes–brought on guests (who were always well-known YouTubers) to compete in a Jeopardy!-style game.  Naturally, all of the questions were about video games, what with it being hosted on The Game Station.  After the pivotal first round, players had compete with a mysterious, hooded man in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, who had to last as long as they could against him while answering more trivia questions.

Two episodes of the Trivia Show, however, didn’t follow this format–instead, they were “Interactive” episodes, where the viewer was the one to answer the question.  Players would answer multiple-choice questions and chose your answers via annotations that either took you to the next question or a death screen.  The death screens were sort of a reward in and of themselves, since they treated the viewer to a death scene from a video game or movie.

After the ninth episode of the Trivia Show, though, all of the episodes became “Interactive episodes.”  Each episode had a different host and centered around a particular video game or franchise.  In this second incarnation of the show, players could select easy, medium and hard difficulties.

Although the Trivia Show died with the Game Station, everything they’ve put up is still available on YouTube.  Go, before they take annotations down, and they become unplayable!



Marc Apsolon, a now inactive YouTuber, was fairly well-known for making videos containing allegedly authentic ghost footage.  It must have been strange for his subscribers when they saw a trivia show pop up in their feed.

I’m not sure what Apsolon is like in his other videos, but to call him a ham here is an absolute understatement.  He tries to be very energetic and peppy, but can come off as a bit overbearing.

Despite that, the show itself is actually pretty okay.  Much like the TGS Trivia Show I mentioned, Wiz-Fiz-Quiz is interactive and the questions are multiple choice.  The only difference is that the last answer is always a jokey one, making it a little easier.

The first episode was YouTube themed, while the second one was all about St. Patrick’s Day.  I did pretty well on the first one, but did so godawful on the second one that I gave up partway through.

I do have to give the guy credit–as he advertised, this was  (as far as I could tell) the first time anyone tried anything like this.  It probably took a lot of effort, and he risked alienating some of his subscribers.  Go check it out if you want to see some YouTube history.


SciShow’s Quiz Show

Unimaginative name aside, this is probably the best game show that YouTube has to offer.  Host Michael Atanda asks science-related questions to two contestants (one of whom is always Hank Green for some reason) and whoever gets the most correct answers wins the game.  I know, not a very original concept, but there’s a few things that make it stand out from the other game shows we’ve seen on this list.

First is the feel of the show.  The Quiz Show has such a refreshingly casual atmosphere.  You can tell that the hosts and the contestants are all just friends who are just there to have a good time.  Compare this with nearly any other game show–or any reality show, for that matter–where the goal is to see the contestants sweat and panic to the point where they make frustratingly stupid decisions sometimes.  It’s clear that SciShow isn’t trying to sensationalize anything for views–it’s merely trying to educate its viewers.

After revealing whether the contestant was right or not about a question, the show explains the answer to the audience.  For example, in one episode, one of the questions was “All sharks need to keep swimming on order to breathe: True or false?”  After the contestant answered, there was a cutaway to the host in a green room, explaining that many sharks can apparently breathe by opening and closing their mouths while they sleep.  The Quiz Show is filled with little factoids like that, which makes it a pretty enriching experience.

As far as I can tell, the show is on hiatus since they haven’t uploaded since October 2015.  Here’s hoping they make a comeback in the near future!


The Strike-Out Game Show!

Considering all of these other entries on the list, it’s important to mention that not all game shows have to be trivia based.  Sure, you have shows like Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Jeopardy!, but there are also games that require the contestants to perform challenges, like Fear Factor or Ninja Warrior.

Although The Strike-Out Game Show! doesn’t make its contestants perform any grueling physical tasks, it’s an interesting show nonetheless. It features contestants having to complete various Minecraft challenges.  One player is eliminated every episode until only one remains.

Admittedly, I’ve never played Minecraft a day in my life, so I can’t say for sure how impressive or awe-inspiring these challenges are, but it’s got a lot going for it.  Due to the fact that it’s inexpensive to produce since it’s filmed in cyberspace rather than on location, the show can be consistently updated.  In fact, the series has been going pretty strong for around, and is now in its sixth season, effectively making it one of the longest running game shows in YouTube history.

The only bad thing I have to say about it is that the none of the contestants get their own time in the spotlight.  We don’t get to see what kind of people the contestants are are behind the scenes, making it hard for me to get invested and root for some one.  Still, it’s a neat show that could prove interesting to Minecraft fans.  You can check it out here.


The Experts Game Show

The Experts Game Show was a weekly series that featured people who were extremely knowledgeable about a TV show or subject matter.  All of the questions were tailor-made for the contestants in mind, which was pretty cool.  It was filmed on location in Las Vegas, and featured average Joes and Janes as contestants.

Not much else to say about this one.  It was alright, but it’s only interesting if the viewer is knowledgable about one of the subjects in question (which is probably why the episode with Game of Thrones trivia is among the most popular).

The show lasted for 34 episodes, then mysteriously vanished.  It was just gone.  There was no news of the show’s cancellation on any of the social media pages or anything… production just ceased.  It was probably just because the show wasn’t doing as well as anticipated and couldn’t cover the costs of production.   Despite that, the channel is still around, and you can still see all of the episodes here on YouTube.