Akame ga KILL! Episode 14
by Theron Martin,
Not been a fan of Esdeath and her obsession with Tatsumi so far? Then you are probably not going to be a fan of this episode, either, as this is The Esdeath and Tatsumi Show in its most concentrated form; in fact, beyond brief scenes at the beginning and near the end and little bits in a couple of flashbacks, all of the screen time belongs to one or both of the two. This arises because while Esdeath is getting lovey-dovey with Tatsumi atop the mountain from the previous episode, they encounter the cloaked figure who has been popping up recently, who uses an Imperial Arms to teleport them to a deserted island where a couple of gigantic Danger Beasts lurk. They prove no problem for the two, for Esdeath is not the capital's most powerful warrior for nothing and Tatsumi is no slouch himself, but that still leaves their stranded predicament, and while Esdeath does seek ways off the island, she is also perfectly willing to have some alone time with Tatsumi first – much to Tatsumi's dismay, of course.
To that point the episode seems like merely an exercise in mindless, sexy humor, even including a mildly funny dating sim joke. It actually starts to turn interesting, though, when Tatsumi takes Esdeath up on her “ask me anything” offer and asks her about both her past and her Imperial Arms. A common shonen action stand-by is to have villains shaped into who they are by personal tragedy and/or mistreatment, but though Esdeath did lose both her parents in violent fashion, neither of those incidents actually seemed to define her. She is shown to be tainted by being raised with a pretty extreme “survival of the fittest” mentality, which definitely shows where she gets her attitude about the death of her subordinates from, but that is not exactly right, either. No, the most telling comments are Esdeath's own thought that living on the razor edge of survival was “fun” and an observation by her father in one of the flashbacks that something seems to be missing in her, though nothing that seemed to affect her ability to survive. Later details about what she went through in obtaining her Imperial Arms, and how she described to Tatsumi the way she subjugated the northern tribes, suggests that Esdeath wasn't shaped by events but was naturally born a little broken. That makes it abundantly clear to Tatsumi that he can no longer think of Esdeath as someone who can potentially be reformed, and so he escapes again at first opportunity with the certain knowledge that the next time he meets her, he must put all thoughts about redeeming her aside and face her as an enemy.
If viewers needed any additional proof that Esdeath was a formidable foe, these flashbacks and her conversations with Tatsumi should establish it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Even her lovesick behavior seems somewhat restrained, but more important is that she isn't crazy and doesn't act out of malice or revenge. For her, torture is a mere practicality and voices crying out for suffering and devastation are mere spirits to be dominated. That makes her not just dangerous but scary-dangerous. She is certainly a foe worthy of the combined might of Night Raid and even with the lovey-dovey stuff mixed in is still showing the potential to be one of the great anime villains. And once again, seeing Tatsumi curb his idealism and naiveté by eventually realizing that himself puts him a step above as shonen heroes go.
Akame ga KILL! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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