Akudama Drive just aired the dub of their final episode yesterday and I was very quick to watch it and see how this interesting series came to an end. Akudama Drive stars an ordinary girl who is just trying to return 500 yen to someone who dropped it; however, she then tries to buy food and turns out that was all the money she had and she refused to spend it which got her in trouble with the law. As she was trying to sort things out she’s labeled a swindler and several well-known criminals, aka the Akudama, break in to break out an Akudama scheduled to be executed. All per the orders of a wealthy but unknown employer. In the process, the ordinary girl winds up accidentally getting involved in the entire mess and is now forced to participate in the rest of the requests of this unknown employer or risk death. She then goes by the name Swindler to deceive the other Akudama, who are named based on the crimes they commit, into thinking she is one of them.
First, as far as the story goes it has its complicated moments as the entire goal of the show is to fulfill the mission set out by the unknown employer. As the episodes continue you find out more and more about this mysterious employer, their motives as well as more about the world they are in. There’s a lot of really interesting twists and turns that really are not hinted at so when these details get revealed it’s quite a shock to see. These twists are enjoyable to watch and truthfully add a sense of randomness to the show as they are unpredictable and sometimes show up out of nowhere. I really did like the story but I will admit while I found these moments entertaining I wasn’t the most invested in them as I found myself more concerned with the characters themselves. For you see most of the characters had little to no interest in the world around them so most of the time these reveals served more as detours for what they were trying to do rather than major plot points of the story. For that reason, while they were super entertaining and shocking reveals I feel like the value they add is really lessened by the lack of interest the characters, for the most part, have in them.
However, the story has a bit of a side story that takes place with the Executioners (the show’s version of police) and the citizens that is much more interesting. As the Akudama continue their mission the citizens become terrified and start to take the law into their own hands, this causes the Executioners to respond with attempts to stop them now the reason I call this a side story is there’s not much interaction between this part of the story and the main characters themselves so I find it hard to call it the main story for that reason. However, this is really interesting to watch because as this side story progresses it really shows how thin the line is between right and wrong. I’m not going to go into too much detail because I’m avoiding spoilers but this battle between the citizens and Executioners explodes into a series of moments that left me in shock and awe.
This is where I will start talking about the characters themselves. For the most part they are all laser focused and single minded but that proved to be a good thing because you really got a great feel for each character’s motivations and literally what drives them to keep doing what they do. For example Brawler enjoys a good fight, cutthroat, well cuts throats and Hacker looks for an exciting hacking challenge. What makes this single minded approach to each character work is how incredibly different they are from each other. No too characters feel alike at all and for that reason they all stand out really well and become memorable parts of the show. Overall it was a lot of fun getting to know these characters and see how they interacted with each other when their motivations aligned and especially when they didn’t. I also really want to point out the acting behind these characters because it was incredible. Some really noteworthy performances Macy Ann Johnson who played Swindler and Matt Shipman who played Cutthroat. Swindler goes through a rollercoaster of emotions as her life takes a huge turn from ordinary citizen to one of the most wanted Akudama alive and each line is delivered superbly. As for Matt Shipman he really shined in episode 9 where Cutthroat acts in a way that literally sent a chill down my spine and I just love it when a character is able to do that because it’s a clear sign of how I’m invested in the character’s themselves. A couple of other noteworthy actors were Zeno Robinson who played Brawler and Kellen Goff who plays Hoodlum because their bond in the show was so much fun to watch and had a lot of charm to it.
Normally I can fit all the stuff I want to say about the characters in one paragraph but honestly, there’s so much to talk about that I really need more to get all this information out. It’s not just the main characters that garner a lot of attention but also the antagonists as well as the characters that appear for just brief moments of time. For you see as the Akudama are obeying the instructions of their employer the Executioners (police of the show) try to stop them; however, there is a lot of growth and change in these characters as time progresses. In particular, I want to note Pupil played by Jenny Yokobori as she goes from a hopeful protégé for her Master to a much darker version of her character and it shows really well in the change in tone and demeanor the character has. As for the characters that only appear briefly they all make an impression mainly as the society of the city where this takes place crumbles. Their fears, heartache, and sorry are all masterfully done and it really sells the significance of the side story that takes place in this show.
A couple of other things I want to bring up are the animation and fight scenes. The animation at times is really breathtaking. I remember a scene where Brawler is fighting one of the executioners and it’s raining. The way the rain is animated as well as their movements made this something I had to rewatch quite a few times. The fight scenes themselves are chaotic and action packed. It was like the goal was to make something happen every second of the fight. Just when it looked like there would be a bit of down time during combat another character steps in and the fight resumes with no break whatsoever. This was by far one of my favorite part of the show because this led to some of the most entertaining fight scenes I’ve ever watched.
Overall Akudama Drive is a show about very single minded characters that are all unique and entertaining to watch. As these characters unveil the mystery behind their unknown employer I did find myself not so invested in the mystery but did enjoy watching how these characters responded to everything. As these characters continued on their actions caused a conflict between citizens and the Executioners which created a side story that was incredibly entertaining to watch as this conflict intensified and really blurred the lines of good and evil with moments that really made you question the morality of virtually every character in the show. This is a show I highly recommend because between the fight scenes, the interesting character interactions and the side story that progresses the show has several things that will keep you invested till the end.