Akame ga KILL! Volume 9 provides both the camaraderie and dramatic action that makes this series so well-liked.

Akame ga KILL! Volume 9Title: Akame ga Kill! (Akame ga Kiru!)
Genre: Action
Publisher: Square Enix (JP), Yen Press (US)
Story: Takahiro
Artist: Tetsuya Tashiro
Serialized in: Gangan Joker
Translation: Christine Dashiell
Original Release Date: January 24, 2017
Review copy provided by Yen Press.

Esdeath is on the cover, and boy does she shine. Well, maybe “shine” isn’t the right word. More like she breaks the characters and even the laws of physics.

Night Raid prepares to assassinate Esdeath’s latest charge, and they all know this is going to be a hard, difficult battle. The volume starts out the group mentally preparing for the fight. Najenda tells Tatsumi her backstory, Mine spends a little time with Tatsumi, and Akame enjoys Susanoo’s cooking. Considering how many characters have died in this series, all this before the battle stuff doesn’t feel like a drag. A lot of these types of sequences are pretty dull because, duh, they’re the heroes; they can’t die! But with Akame ga KILL!, for the characters’ sake, I found myself hoping the fight with Esdeath wouldn’t come too soon.

And when the fight begins, boy does it begin. Night Raid’s plan is thrown off-track right from the start. That’s hardly good considering Akame, Mine, and Lubbock were attempting an aerial assault. Meanwhile, Tatsumi’s team learn the hard way that Esdeath is an overpowered Superboss. The manga has had a habit of building up a character right before killing them off, and so I had a pretty good inclination as to who wasn’t going to make it back. It’s not quite as obvious as some of the other fallen Night Raid members, but I wish Akame ga KILL! made more use of the shock factor found in the early volumes. Esdeath’s new power also seems a bit cheap (if not practically a deus ex machina), but I did enjoy seeing a villain almost lackadasically announce a new ability. It’s a nice change from an antagonist suddenly throwing a temper tantrum before unleashing a hidden power they thought they’d never use.

Akame ga KILL! Volume 9 ends just as the big clash wraps up. It clocks it at a whopping 224 pages. So not only do you get a lot of content, but you get a lot of good content. Even if you forsee how the battle will end, the author sets up a couple of further machinations and revelations. Perhaps least surprising is Esdeath’s starting to figure out who is in the invisible armor, and I can’t wait to see the eventual confrontation between the two.

If there’s a downside to this volume, it’s that the titular character is treated as almost an afterthought, as just another Night Raid member. She eats meat and swings a sword around; that’s it. Strangely enough, though, I didn’t really miss her. Najenda’s revenge, Esdeath’s single-minded determination, Mine’s feelings… there was just a whole lot more interesting storylines happening right now. Considering I do like Akame as a character, that’s a testament to how much I enjoyed this volume.

The art also seems quite sharp here, but I also could mentally be comparing it to the visuals in Akame ga KILL! Zero, which are far below Tashiro’s level. If anything, Esdeath’s face seems a little more masculine this time around. But I guess this also could accentuate the difference between her battle-ready self and the innocent maiden that comes out around Tatsumi.

A lot of times when a series starts heading toward the finale, readers are tempted just to hold off and pick up the last volume or two. In this case, don’t. Akame ga KILL! Volume 9 provides both camaraderie and dramatic action that makes this series so well-liked. Don’t miss it.