As much as I try not to go into series with expectations, it can be really hard to ‘turn off’ any preconceived notions. And with Danganronpa writer Norimitsu Kaiho at the helm, it was even more difficult not to have high hopes for Akudama Drive’s premiere episode. The episode follows a group of super criminals working to free another criminal named Cutthroat before he’s executed. Mixed up in all of this is an ordinary girl who just wants to get home. But as the episode unfolds we learn that their big heist isn’t all that’s going on behind the scenes.
Visually, the episode was entrancing. You can easily get lost in the details of the neo-noir city scapes, and it was particularly exciting to see familiar places like Osaka’s dotonbori reimagined. Fight scenes were dynamic and fun. There were some parts you could tell the animators really went all out. For example, in one segment the Courier is zooming through the city’s skyline using wires connected to his bike. It was just a great scene to watch. The basic premise of the show also intrigued me, and I generally enjoyed the character design. However, while the fist episode did bring a lot of interest, it fell into the same hole that most premieres do.
Rather than introducing character traits, it went the route of – ‘i am very badass’. Each character is given a ~3 minute segment to show off their skills and honestly besides flippant characteristics like ‘he likes fighting’, ‘she’s a bit crazy’, there wasn’t anything deeper to the characters. They were just superficial badasses. I know it’s hard to really build up seven characters in such a short space of time, but at least give it a better shot than this. On, perhaps a rather hypocritical note, the character who did get a bit more development was one I felt the most unsure of. The ‘ordinary girl’ seems to be built around that ‘too honest for their own good’ trope. Which I do find wears thin over time, however who knows, there might be some balance or level-headedness to her which we haven’t see yet.
Overall episode one of Akudama Drive left me with mixed feelings. I can tell theres the potential for something great there, but it seemed like episode one danced around it. I just hope future episodes dig a little deeper with their characters to match the standards the visuals have set. I am very tempted to keep up with this show over the Fall anime season, just to see if it reaches the heights I think it can. Funnily enough all the shows I want to review on my blog all come out on AnimeLab on a Friday (Sydney time) – so we might be in for jam-packed Fridays for the next few weeks.
What did you think of Akudama Drive‘s first episode? Let me know in the comments!
Want to read more? Check out the episode 2 review here!