Shortly before the battle between Akame and Zank the Executioner ends, Zank suddenly ask Akame “How do you deal with the voices? … You know, the one’s you hear when it’s quiet. The voices of everyone you’ve killed, moaning from the depths of Hell. They still hate me. Everyday they tell me to hurry up and join them.” A chilling narrative, to which Akame interrupts with “I don’t hear them. I’ve never heard any voices like that.” This provides an interesting contrast between Akame and Zank, although there are various, even conflicting implications from this particular exchange.
Zank was originally an actual executioner, simply lopping off the heads of whoever got the death penalty from the Empire. We can probably assume that Zank was just a relatively normal guy, just doing a job that somebody had to do. But killing others, especially through a method as direct and personal as chopping their heads off, is pretty traumatizing. So it only makes sense that the guy would lose it after having to kill way more people much more frequently, and because the Prime Minister is a corrupt asshole, that likely involved executing people he didn’t even believe deserved to die. Notice how they show a crying woman in the flashback of one of his executions. Zank hears these voices because he regrets all the killing he’s done, and he only continues to kill because his insanity has lead him down a very twisted and horrific way of coping with his trauma. Zank is a tragic villain, basically.
But what does this all say about Akame, when she doesn’t hear any voices? Having been trained to be a master assassin since she was a kid, and other moments of hinting such as when Tatsumi asks himself “I wonder how much bloodshed Akame has endured until now.”, it’s clear Akame has quite a lot of blood on her hands. But what separates her from Zank?
Perhaps it’s because she works for the “good guys” of the Revolutionary Army and only kills those she deems bad, but remember she started out as a high-ranking soldier working for the Empire, so we know she’s also slain plenty of people who deserved otherwise. Yet she doesn’t hear voices. She’s not overcome with guilt like Zank is—or at least, not apparently so. Perhaps she’s just moved on and has a much higher mental resilience than Zank, and the “good” she does for the Revolutionary Army is enough to qualm her guilt. Or perhaps she does feel guilty, but simply hasn’t gone insane over it like Zank did. Or could it be that the show is trying to put her on a higher moral ground than Zank for this? She doesn’t hear voices not because of anything to do with guilt, but because she’s stronger than Zank.
I’m not trying to give any definite answers for what Akame ga Kill! is trying to convey here, since like I said there’s various implication you can derive from just that one exchange. These are just some things to think about in relation to the overall themes of Akame ga Kill!.
• You know, even if it’s at night when everyone is supposed to be asleep, murdering someone right in the middle of a street is just bound to get you identified and persecuted by the authorities. Sure, in bad neighborhoods with terrible crime rates shootings and stabbings in such locations aren’t unheard of. But that’d be instances where the perpetrator does their deed quickly and makes a run for it before anyone can see him; or better yet, jump into a vehicle to get away, or even better, do a drive-by shooting. Not some big guy with weird hair literally screaming in joy as he commits his crime.
• I like how they’re at least being subtle with the “oh no this guy is gay!” jokes towards Bulat. There’s nothing necessarily homoerotic about one ripped dude hold another, sweatier dude’s arm up while they do some strength training. It’s not until Akame shows up and Tatsumi hastily sidesteps away from Bulat that there’s any of joke about Bulat being gay—which of course, you’d only pick up on with knowledge of previous scenes with Bulat. Subtle or not though, I do still wish they would stop making jokes about Bulat being gay. Not because it’s “problematic” or anything, but it just cheapens Bulat’s character. Why include a gay character if you’re just going to use his sexuality for humor? Not that you need a reason to include a gay character, but it’s certainly a bad reason when it’s just for humor.
• Huh, the government officials of the flashback from a thousand years are wearing the exact same, WWII-style military clothes as what we saw in the present time empire. I guess the world of Akame ga Kill! is just so anachronistic to the point where there’s no real difference between the setting now and how it’s depicted a thousand years in the past, for better or worse.
• Txplanation of the origin of the Imperial Relics is a little interesting, such as that they get their powers from high-level Danger Beasts. Most of what we get from this exposition dump isn’t all that insightful though. We already know the majority of what’s said about each character’s Relic, and this has to be one of the most redundant explanation of a weapon out there: “Every time a relic has been wielded with an intent to kill, someone has wound up dead. Which means if two Relic-wielders should fight one another, one is guaranteed to die.” Wow, I didn’t know trying to kill someone would mean they’d die, or two people fighting to the death means one of them has to end up dying! Way to go captain obvious.
• The dumbest Imperial Relic so far would probably be the scissors with a panda logo on it. Literally every season from the past year and a half has had at least one show with scissors as a weapon, all ranging from masterpieces like Kill la Kill to atrocities like Dog & Scissors.
• Honestly, I’d probably be able to take Zank more seriously if he didn’t have that dumb as hell trapezoid smile.
• For a silly shounen battle, this week’s fight scene was much funner to watch. I liked the obstacle of Tatsumi fighting a foe who could essentially read his mind, and the backflip that Akame did hundred feet in the air when she appeared on screen was cool to look at. You know, as a silly shounen battle. I’m starting to see how this could be a fun popcorn show for some.