Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: Long ago, a war broke out in Japan that pitted the Kantou region against the Kansai region and divided the country. And slowly the police and government began losing control of Kansai to criminals known as Akudama.
Review: As long as I’ve been a fan of anime I still don’t consider myself an expert, but what I do know is they tend to fall into two categories for this otaku. There are anime where the story, the world and the characters are not only well crafted, but it’s also easily understood (Attack on Titan is a great example of this). Then there are the ones where you connect with the characters, you enjoy their energy, look and general badassery but their world and the plot itself can be a bit of a mess or overly complicated (Neon Genesis Evangelion hurt my tiny brain). Akudama Drive falls into the latter category for me, but that didn’t stop it from being highly engaging.
Years ago, I watched another anime called Basilisk. Long story short, it was like Romeo and Juliet with superpowered samurai and ninjas. But I’ve always remembered it clearly because it was the first anime I had seen where characters that I thoroughly connected with didn’t make it to the end of the story. Not only was I completely shocked by this (again, I had never seen an anime where the main characters were being killed off left and right) but I felt emotionally gut-punched by it, which brings me back to Akudama Drive.
A group of highly dangerous folks, all experts in their given fields, the criminals known as Akudama are the ones with the highest bounties on their heads and, if caught, the longest jail sentences. We’re talking 900 years people! And with none of them being immortal you can guess this is basically a life sentence for anyone caught. In most cases though they are hunted by a private security group called The Executioners who work for a shadow organisation, who in turn seemed to be working for “people” from a place called Kantou which may or may not be a utopia of sorts. And it just gets more complicated from there.
The good news though is the Akudama are a crazy bunch and definitely the strength of this show. You don’t have to focus much on the mechanisms of this world because it’s their mission and the way it affects each and every one of them that makes Akudama Drive such an entertaining ride. I won’t spoil things for any viewers who haven’t seen it but broad strokes is they are hired to do one job (break a very dangerous Akudama called Cutthroat out of prison before he’s executed), which turns into a much bigger mission that has life-altering stakes not just for them, but for their entire world. At the heart of this story is a young woman who never committed a crime in her life but is unwittingly caught up in it all and gets branded Akudama herself. And like Basilisk you may find yourself getting attached to these eccentric beings, only to have to watch them die along the way. It’s redemption for some, justice for others and none of them will walk away from the chaos unaffected.
With great visuals, brightly coloured set pieces and highly energetic fight sequences, not to mention the emotional impacts these characters bring to the screen, Akudama Drive is worth the ride. The overarching story about the two nations Kantou and Kansai is a bit convoluted and frankly feels unnecessary, but thankfully it doesn’t stop or slow down the action-packed mayhem of Akudama Drive.
Score 7 out of 10
So have you seen Akudama Drive? What did you think of it? And you can check out more great anime content below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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