Some odd translation choices and slow story development hinder the latest volume of Akame ga Kill.

Akame ga KILL! Volume 8 Title: Akame ga KILL!
Genre: Action, adventure
Publisher: Square Enix (JP), Yen Press (US)
Story: Takahiro
Artist:
Tetsuya Tashiro
Serialized in: Gangan Joker
Translation: Christine Dashiell
Original Release Date: October 25, 2016
Review copy provided by Yen Press

Akame ga Kill! Volume 8 starts off a bit rocky, as Tatsumi remembers his fallen comrades in a series of short four page stories. These would be really touching and a melancholy way to finish off a volume (and a better use of page space than Joker Roulette), but they don’t work so well at the beginning of the volume. Then Akame ga KILL! becomes Kurome ga KILL! again as we see the Jaegers’ Wave worrying about Kurome. After the lonely death of another Night Raid member, this is a slow way to start this volume.

The battles start about a third of the way through, but the manga doesn’t really pick up the pace until halfway through. The Jaegers and Night Raid face off as they rendezvous with the religious cult, and the ministers’ elite force are introduced. Akame, Lubbock, and Mine get most of the attention this time around, with each battle more interesting than the last. Mine’s face-off with the justice-obsessed Seryu is no doubt the highlight of the volume. Mine has been waiting to take on Sheele’s killer, and Mine has an extra reason to use Pumpkin on Seryu: Chelsea. Plus she faces the most severe odds. (Any RPG player knows gunners aren’t designed to be efficient in close combat.)

But even before their fated battle, the two girls each have scenes with two members of their respective teams: Esdeath and Tatsumi. Esdeath tries to get Seryu to relax, and Tatsumi and Mine have one of their usual squabbles. The outcome of the battle makes these interactions come full circle, and I wish this long-hyped encounter had lasted a little longer. While it’s neat to see Lubbock go all-out, Akame’s battle is just doesn’t have much impact. It’s like Takahiro didn’t make it an instant-kill just to show how powerful her opponent is, but she still dispatches him rather quickly. Mine is also a much more emotional character compared to Akame, so I was hooked by her fervent drive to live as I wondered if she will survive.

I am impressed at how much Tashiro’s art has improved. Seryu in particular looks much better than in her initial appearance. Before, Tashiro constantly drew warped, barely-human expressions to show how warped the enemies were on the inside. Now Tashiro can show characters like Seryu with crazed expressions to remind readers that despite how insane or obsessed the members of the Empire are, they’re still human. The Seryu on the cover is definitely not the sort of Seryu I would have expected long ago.

Akame ga KILL! has always been full of surprises, but the one aspect of this volume that really took me aback had nothing to do with the story or even the art; it was the translation. Suddenly, after eight volumes, honorifics are included. I know “Su-san” had popped up in the last volume, but I assumed it was kept because it doubled as a shortened form of “Susanoo”. This volume, however, is full of “Akame-chans” and “Najenda-sans”. I’m sure people will have mixed reactions to this news because a) honorifics weren’t included from the start and b) Japanese is obviously not the primary language in Tatsumi’s world. In addition, Akame’s catchphrase here is “I’ll bury you!”, which has been used on and off in various volumes. I do prefer this short phrase instead of the original “I will lay them to rest.” The same translator has been working on the series since the beginning, so I don’t know if all this indicates a shift in the adaptation or what.

All in all, I’m kind of on the fence with this volume. It’s good, but I think it just falls short of being good good because of how the story drags until Lubbock’s fight and, more importantly, Mine’s.