Review: Akudama Drive – Volume 2 & 3
February 20, 2022
Akudama – Serious criminals whose estimated sentences range from several hundred years to the death penalty. The mysterious mission, in which a black cat formed seven of these criminals into one unit, is far from over! While the prelude in the first volume was exciting, KSM Anime released the second volume of Akudama Drive in August 2021 and the final third volume in October 2021. Now it's time to learn the truth of Kanto and Kansai and the true intentions of the government. Patrick Snir
ATTENTION: Any statements in this review only reflect the personal opinion of the author and not (!) those of ITweakIT and its partners.
Akudama – A gang of criminals
The world has changed fundamentally: A long time ago, a huge war raged in Japan between the states of Kanto and Kansai, which led to the division of the world. Since then, Kansei has become the vassal state of Kantos and has continued to develop independently. High-level criminals who terrorize Kansai and have long been pursued by the law enforcement branch are called akudama. The metropolis of Kansai in particular is teeming with lawbreakers who keep people on their toes. So far, it was considered impossible that those criminals would ever combine into one unit. However, with the "Transporter", "Bone Crusher", "Hacker", "Killer" and the "Frau Doctor", several Akudamas are pursuing a mysterious task, in which a high reward awaits them.
A little boy and a little girl then turn out to be masterminds, who, as siblings in great need, are dependent on the help of the Akudamas. Therefore, the Akudamas are given a new mission: if they take the two to a secret place in Kansai, the promised amount of money will be doubled. However, the "hacker" decides to leave the group after removing the explosive collar. The "civilian", who now also involuntarily belongs to an S-Class Akudama as "The Fraudster", then asks him to take good care of himself, because the "hacker" is threatened with elimination through the disinfection zone on the return journey to Kanto.
City of Lost Children
While the Akudama are now pursuing their new mission, there is still danger from the Execution Department, which is trying with all their might to stop these highly criminal perpetrators. The disgrace does not want to put up with the command and is now pulling out all the stops. The same goes for the master and his apprentice, who fought on the front lines and are now wounded and suspended in the infirmary. The master doesn't want to just let it sit and in the meantime decides to do his duty despite his wounds. He manages to catch up with the Akudamas without his student and fights daringly against them to avenge the last defeat.
Meanwhile, the horrifying origins of both siblings come to light when it turns out they both want to flee to the moon. When the fronts within the group harden, there is a betrayal from within the ranks, which ultimately has serious consequences…
image and animation
Akudama Drive is an original anime directed by Tomohisa Taguchi at Studio Pierrot (known for Tokyo Ghoul , Naruto and Bleach , among others). The idea for the anime came from Danganronpa creator Kazutaka Kodaka. The twelve episodes were broadcast from October to December 2020, while the prime video channel animated simulcast Akudama Drive . KSM Anime licensed the TV series for German-speaking countries and is releasing it in three volumes on DVD and Blu-ray.
The powerful and atmospheric image comes into its own again in the following episodes, where the look with dynamic and strong colors offers an excellent ambience. The nightlife setting fits the cyberpunk genre, while the play of light in the futuristic and civilized metropolis of Kansai is a real feast for the eyes. The team has succeeded in creating a harmonious interplay of image and effects that make the anime look valuable.
The classic character design continues to fit well into the sci-fi neon style of the anime series, although it is sometimes too "good" compared to the setting. In addition, these stand out very much, which can probably be attributed to the CGI, which is by no means overpowering and annoying, but still takes a certain amount of time to get used to.
The influences of the Danganronpa maker are particularly reflected in the animation, which shows no weaknesses in the popular action and fight scenes, is constant across all episodes and is adorned with grandiose visual effects.
German translation and music
KSM Anime commissioned the KÖLNSYNCHRON studio with the German implementation, with Lars Waltl directing the dialogue. Waltl also wrote the dialogue book together with Daniel Käser. With a total of 16 speaking roles, a decent German cast was brought together that defied the original Japanese soundtrack.
In addition to the already familiar voices, most of the new characters can also shine with a great cast. Of course, this includes Derya Flechtner, who sets the “brother” to music, and Amira Leisner as “sister”. Lara Wurmer particularly stood out as a "civilian" or "cheater", respectively, who performed the character development excellently and was able to convey the emotions to the viewer well. All the other speakers were also convincing in terms of their work, although Uwe Thomsen ("Bone Crusher") didn't make a breakthrough for me. On the whole, however, it can be said that the German voice output is in no way inferior to the Japanese original and is on the same level.
The plot is accompanied by harmonious soundtracks that are well mixed and unobtrusive. In keeping with the anime, we get a rousing, rocking song at the opening, but with rather less visually impressive elements. We get the exact opposite in the ending with a quiet finish and mostly still images.
What a final, what a shutdown! In the final two volumes of Akudama Drive , we learn the terrible truth and intentions of the states of Kanto and Kansai. The plot develops in the twelve episodes into an exciting and action-packed entertainment in which brutality is not a foreign word. With all its high points, the plot also has to deal with gaps. Because there is no trace of deepening and further background knowledge, which could have given the story a little more liveliness. In addition, the turning points or plot twists are partly predictable, but ensure a certain upswing. On the other hand, I find the conglomerate of different characters with different characteristics that cannot be torn apart in that combination to be original.
Visually, Studio Pierrot's anime series features massive visuals with stunning animations in dystopian cyberpunk neon and drenched in blood. I also find the picture direction excellent, which is excellent, from small details such as creative scene transitions to large, bold action scenes and the atmospheric use of colors. The German synchronization deserves praise and can surpass all expectations at a high level.
I never expected Akudama Drive to bring me so much joy. At the time I didn't want to start the series because I feared disappointment. Basically, the plot, which only offers a lot at the beginning and towards the end, is a bit rotten to be honest. But all other components help the anime to provide unpredictable entertainment, which can definitely count as one of the best series of 2020.
Garish and gory – these are the adjectives that best describe Akudama Drive , which has everything you need for spectacular entertainment… even if the plot stumbles at times.
Images: ©Pierrot,TooKyoGames/Akudama Drive Production Committee