Second Impressions Digest – Ao Haru Ride, Akame ga Kill

Ao Haru Ride - 02 -3 Ao Haru Ride - 02 -13 Akame ga Kill - 02 -6 Akame ga Kill - 02 -17

Someone really should have worked it out so Ao Haru Ride aired before Nozaki-kun, because watching it the next day is a little…

Ao Haru Ride – 02

Ao Haru Ride - 02 -1 Ao Haru Ride - 02 -2 Ao Haru Ride - 02 -4
Ao Haru Ride - 02 -5 Ao Haru Ride - 02 -6 Ao Haru Ride - 02 -7
Ao Haru Ride - 02 -8 Ao Haru Ride - 02 -9 Ao Haru Ride - 02 -10
Ao Haru Ride - 02 -11 Ao Haru Ride - 02 -12 Ao Haru Ride - 02 -14

When it comes to shoujo, I tend to like those that take themselves a little less seriously even when dealing with serious subject matter (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun comes to mind).  That doesn’t usually apply to Production I.G.’s shoujo adaptations, and Ao Haru Ride seems very much in that mold – based on the first two episodes, this plays as straight-up classic shoujo as it gets.

While my comment above the fold is mostly meant in jest, there’s a grain of truth to it too.  Watching Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun do its thing on Monday and then watching Ao Haru Ride doing many of the same things except playing it straight on Tuesday, I’m in the mindset of wanting to laugh at a wedding or funeral – I know it’s disrespectful and I don’t want to to do it, but sometimes it’s hard to resist.  It may be the influence of Nozaki-kun talking but this show just seems to take itself awfully seriously.

I’m going to give Ao Haru Ride at least one more week to try and reel me in, because I certainly don’t dislike it and there just isn’t much shoujo on TV these days.  But neither one of the leads has captured my imagination as yet, and Futaba’s drama with her classmates had a very formulaic and somewhat manufactured quality to it.  What I really need and haven’t been given yet is a compelling reason to care about what’s going on here, a spark of something distinctive or profound.  Hopefully the series will kick into another gear and deliver it in-time.

Akame ga Kill – 02

Akame ga Kill - 02 -1 Akame ga Kill - 02 -2 Akame ga Kill - 02 -3
Akame ga Kill - 02 -4 Akame ga Kill - 02 -5 Akame ga Kill - 02 -7
Akame ga Kill - 02 -8 Akame ga Kill - 02 -9 Akame ga Kill - 02 -10
Akame ga Kill - 02 -11 Akame ga Kill - 02 -12 Akame ga Kill - 02 -13
Akame ga Kill - 02 -14 Akame ga Kill - 02 -15 Akame ga Kill - 02 -17
Akame ga Kill - 02 -18 Akame ga Kill - 02 -19 Akame ga Kill - 02 -20

It would be fair to say the second episode of Akame Ga Kill appealed to me a lot less than the first did, for a number of different reasons.  In the first place it was a lot more conventional and cliched, starting with the introduction of the rest of the assassins at Night Raid.  Mine, especially (interestingly pronounced in the English possessive fashion – that’s OK, you can have her) strikes me a deal-breaker if she’s featured in any major way – and she looks to be the focus of the next episode.  In the second it simply do do as well at holding my interest – I was pretty bored by the time the last act was playing out, though the actual assassination scene with Ogre was very nicely executed (no pun intended), and the visuals in general were quite as stylish as we’ve come to expect from White Fox.

There was also a whiff of something that seemed off to me, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at the time of viewing.  It was after the fact when I realized that AgK was written by the same man (Takahiro) as Majikoi that it struck me what it was.  I think those of you that watched that series all the way through will understand what I mean, but there’s a certain worldview running through both properties that I find quite unappealing.  I have no idea if it will assert itself as strongly here as it did in Majikoi, where by the end it made that show basically unwatchable for me, but I kind of doubt I’ll be around long enough to find out.

Incidental but not coincidental to this is the matter of Bulat’s introduction, which had a distasteful and mean-spirited  odor to it.  But then, pretty much every member of Night Raid as introduced was pretty much a walking cliche, and given what happened with Majikoi as that series progressed it’a hard to feel much optimism going forward here.  I’d rather not have known about the connection, to be honest, because it certainly would have been easier to be open-minded about Akame ga Kill if I didn’t – but I can’t un-know what I know, and even without that added element I still didn’t find this episode all that appealing.  I’ll give it another week, but this one is a long shot to make the cut.



  1. a

    The mangaka, Sakisaka Io, has some really good shoujo – some that break the conventions and tackle taboos (she has a lesbian character and a cousin couple, but deals with these issues seriously). Her stuff makes me wish that more shoujo were like that. That said, I don't think Ao Haru Ride is her best work. It's not finished yet, so I can't give a final judgement but I certainly don't care as much for the characters in Ao Haru Ride as I did for Sakisaka's other characters (although even here, compared to most shoujo, characters are better developed and aren't pretty airheads, just flawed beings).

    Strobe Edge is her best IMO, but I kind of never want that made into an anime and especially not a live-action because I'd worry too much they'd mess it up. Ninako, as much as she seems like a typical shoujo heroine at first, is very, very atypical.

  2. e

    @alua: I also suspect AHR is suffering from some… bad choices in plot development and a pretty phoned in execution especially after chapter #21-22 (at least that's when I remember a few little warning signs in previous chapter started to come out full force for me… and then it got headdeskingly worse for the following… 11 chapters? I've yet to check on the latest material available in English): my bet would be on the editor pushing to inject drama to ensure a long(er) run… because really some parts are below the mangaka's previous standards – and progression – . Furthermore after a certain point some characters seem to have got a personality transplant or sidelined for drama's sake. Character consistency over plot was one of the mangaka's best qualities to me. Hmmm.
    Talking of previous yes I'm a big fan of both Strobe Edge (mama cat included) and Blue myself ;)… deceptively standard and simple little gems.
    Back to the anime… I do believe something is amiss. Even if I do too prefer SE's cast over AHR's to me there is a certain… magnetic push and pull in Kou and Futaba's dynamics that leads to a few effective gripping scenes on paper and they have this touch&smell thing going on, this week window scene supposedly being an example. But I wasn't really feeling it on screen. Pity.

    The little touches I **did** like were Tanaka-sensei CATBOY sweater (XD)… and how they're associating the neko bit to Mabuchi/Tanaka-kun as well.

  3. w

    I love Strobe Edge, and it's definitely better than AHR. (I will always love Ren than Kou.) I don't know how they'll end this AHR anime though. I wish they just did Strobe Edge. >.<

  4. e

    Aw Ren <3. The lack of OOC-ness also helped :,D.
    About SE as anime… eh I would not consider it past the realm of possibilities (it got different media adaptations already ) but I'm with alua on rather wish for no anime. Even with a stronger set of characters than AHR if you can't retail the balance of the source the result would be… underwhelming. The story it's a slow crescendo with nuanced careful buildup. I remember being really hooked by volume #3 onwards with the story highlights for me being especially in volume #5 and #10. Compressing all that in a single cour as per current shoujo anime length or stopping at an earlier 'uneventful' point? No way.

  5. i

    I hear Strobe Edge is getting a live action film, though. Sorry!

    I tried to read Ao Haru Ride, but I couldn't get into it. Perhaps Strobe Edge or Blue might suit me more? I tend to prefer shoujo that's a mixture of comedy, lightheartedness, and youthful but mature drama. Some of my favorite shoujo authors are Ikeumi Ryo (Principal), Yamakawa Aiji (Stand Up!), Akizuki Sorata (Akagami no Shirayukihime), and Kawahara Kazune (Aozora Yell, Ore Monogatari!!).

    Anyway, I can't wait until the "new generation" of shoujo is adapted to anime. I find the clean artistic style a la Yamakawa Aiji and Watanabe Kana absolutely gorgeous, and the emphasis on subtlety and slice of life (rather than dramatics and cliches) is right up my alley.

  6. w

    I like slice of life stuff too. Strobe Edge will most likely reel you in since it isn't so cliche or dramatic. You can relate with the male character more and get to care for all characters (side and not).

    I feel like they should have arranged for a live action drama for SE than just a movie. They've done it with other old manga (Hana Yori Dango, Hana Kimi), so why not recent ones like SE? >.<.

  7. r

    I agree some moments in the manga just didn't translate well to the screen–both the flashback and the moment when Kou hid her felt much more compelling in manga form. The anime feels a bit clunky.

  8. j

    yeah…akame ga kill lacks any sort of subtlety. I feel like it really caters to the "I can watch violent stuff now" middle/high schoolers and I'm not sure I really care for it that much. The humor is very derivative and the story so far is moving at a really unnatural pace. I will admit I like the fighting scenes though, however short they are.

  9. H

    "I feel like it really caters to the "I can watch violent stuff now" middle/high schoolers"
    Yeah, I said something like this last week.

    I love how episode opens with him paying respects to his dead friends, and then b00b gag!

    This episode did seem less bi-polar but yes still quite stock. The action scenes aren't even that amazing for a show of this type. I mean shaky stills? c'mon…

  10. w

    I'm having a hard time remembering what made me like Akame ga kill to read quite a few chapters. I forgot what I read though lol. I stopped reading with no reason really. Anyway, I think I'm getting tired of shounen ecchi-ish anime these days. I sort of wish there would be another D. Gray-man season instead.

    As to Ao haru ride, I remember that the manga was reeeeally slow. That and its beginning is more slice-of-life sort than romance. Well it encompasses the whole in a way. It's also more drama than comedy I guess. I waited a month for a new chapter before, and it was torture. I think it's best to let all the eps air before you watch each ep. There's just not enough tension yet in these parts. >.<

  11. N

    See AKG as a darker and edgier version of Mushibugyou. There are cliches but it's still very good. Actually he is in a situation similar to Jinbei where he must learn to know personally his allies.

  12. k

    I promised elianthos80 that I'd be back for episode 2 of Ao haru ride, but… I'm afraid I can't say anything nice about this one – I can't even say that I like all voice acting anymore, because the excessively cutesy voice Kayano Ai is using as the "new" girl is incredibly annoying and feels out of place. And the unfortunate implications are even more unfortunate this time.

    (And again, I'm getting really annoyed that people think this is what "shoujo manga" in general is like. :/ )

  13. e

    @kuromitsu: thanks for coming back in any case. If it's any consolation I have my own set of criticism about the manga source and this week the anime was a step down already for me.
    About your last sentence… regardless of our differing opinion on this series I can share the sentiment – I've been and still are a mod in a manga/anime forum in my country and well…. some prejudices and condescending attitutudes are hard to break even among supposedly 'experienced' readers and watchers. Especially when it comes to shoujo manga and anime. There's a whole range of stories and genres – and art styles – in this demographic (I'm more of a historical/action/psychological titles fan myself with 7 Seeds, Kaze Hikaru and Ooku being my current favourites for instance. Thank goodness Viz is publishing the last two at least ) . To read and discuss what's supposedly 'shoujo' for a lot of people both online and IRL is sometimes funny, often sad. There are times when you can only headdesk and move on – .
    About the 'annoyed' bit… Enzo's blog at least does not feel like a bad place for different kinds of shoujo. The problem is more in the quantity and quality of shoujo titles are to be translated into anime anymore (and then there's the daptation quality in itself ) imho… high school romances tend to be animated over any other shoujo genre nowadays hence that's what is available to currently relevant anime blogging/watching/commenting.
    As much as I would love for Enzo and the RC folks to blog about some vintage titles and/or some more recent shoujo works (I think the aforementioned Ooku and 7 Seeds could suit his tastes just to name two) for the benefit of the masses XD it's not my call to make. A lot of old non-high school-romance shoujo anime scarce availability in English does not help either…

  14. D

    Ha, glad I'm not the only person having the Nozaki/Ao Haru problem. Last week, I watched the Ao Haru premiere *immediately* after watching Nozaki-kun and I couldn't get my brain out of Parody Mode. This week there was a day between the two episodes and I liked Ao Haru a lot better. Next week I'll have to wait two days and see if it improves my Ao Haru Enjoyability Index. For science!

  15. It's not AHR's fault, of course, but I suppose it's a compliment to Nozaki-kun's satire. I think a buffer zone of a couple of days is just about the only way to go.

  16. S

    I was disappointed in Akame ga Kill as well. It's looking like a shallow villian of the week anime. On the good side, it showed it's true colors early on unlike SAO.

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