Akame ga KILL! ZeroTitle: Akame ga KILL! Zero
Genre: Action
Publisher: Square Enix (JP), Yen Press (US)
Story: Takahiro
Kei Toru
Serialized in: Big GanGan
Translation: Christine Dashiell
Original Release Date: December 20, 2016
Review copy provided by Yen Press.

The back blurb advertises this fourth volume of Akame ga KILL! Zero as “the hottest and hardest yet,” and the volume opens up with Tsukushi’s chest still exposed.

So good news for you boob fans!

The biggest issue with Akame ga KILL! Zero is that it feels like Akame ga KILL! Lite. This volume doesn’t really do much to shake that moniker. Fight, lose team members, bond with the survivors. Rinse and repeat. (Well, that and all the “got-to-prove-Zero-is-edgier” fanservice.)

Akame’s group has been trying to raid the pyramids to save Kurome’s team. While a few members are lost, any emotion is lost when the survivors form a new team. That’s Zero‘s biggest weakness: I don’t feel connected to these characters, and yet they’ve been together longer than Night Raid. Even Akame and Kurome’s reunion falls flat because it lacks the dramatic element of two sisters on opposite sides of a conflict.

I think another thing that prevents me from fully enjoying Akame ga KILL! Zero is that it is being released too soon. At the end of this volume, author Takahiro plugs the thirteenth volume of Akame ga KILL! and points out some similarities and shout-outs. Well, as of this writing, Yen Press’ release of the ninth volume is still a month away. That means a lot of references to Akame ga KILL! are just going over my head. I might be able to appreciate Akame ga KILL! Zero more when Yen Press has finished releasing the main series, but for now, it’s just not resonating with me.

It’s too bad, as I really like the Gravekeepers. (The old woman in the previous volume as well.) The Gravekeepers each have the ability to transform themselves into various animals, and I like seeing some old-fashioned beatdowns instead of relying on magical tools. Unfortunately, a lot of them fall to their overconfidence rather than being outskilled by the Empire’s warriors. Again, disappointing.

It’s always hard to see the same characters drawn by a different artist. Since I am used to Tashiro’s version of Akame, I keep thinking she looks too moe-fied here. Disregarding that, I usually don’t like when a manga that focuses so much on death to not have a lot of shading or screentones; it looks too bright. However, I think the abundance of white works in Zero‘s favor. Akame and her friends believe they’re the heroes, that they’re doing the right thing. The sexual scenes are not as prevalent and explicit as in the previous volume, so the fanservice is (fortunately in my opinion) limited to the opening shots of a bound Tsukushi. The action scenes can still be a bit confusing, often relying on the readers’ imaginations of “a lot of quick strikes” instead of showing how the fighters got into range or where they’re landing the blows.

All in all, Akame ga KILL! Zero continues to be an potentially-good manga that will continue to live in its sibling series’ shadow. Perhaps it will be more enjoyable once Akame ga KILL! is further along, I enjoyed the battles and the sisters’ reunion, but I think the next volume where the two teams join forces may be more interesting. But, hey, no tentacle grope-fests this time around, so… that’s an improvement I guess. On it’s own: 2/5; compared to the previous volume: 4/5.