In Akame ga Kill the audience forced into a world that is on the verge of change. With civil war on the horizon the viewership watches on as sides are drawn into a story comprising the rebel faction’s assassination squad, better known as Night Raid. They aren’t heroes but they are killers meant to perform jobs in a time of need then disappear from the history of the nation to be reborn. Opposing the rebel faction is a General of terrifying strength, Esdeath, who does everything in her power to preserve the current order and serves the Empire without doubt or hesitation. Esdeath counters the moves of Night Raid to varying degrees of success, though she is on the path of destruction. Ultimately Esdeath is killed in the final gasping moments of the empire well deserving of death. The question remains that if Esdeath had been on the side of Night Raid could she have been redeemable? Could she have been an ally of good despite having her tendencies towards evil? I wonder what good Esdeath could have done if she had been on the side of Night Raid.
There are plenty of Night Raid members who were former officers in the empire. Even Akame herself was once part of the empire’s assassination squads. The mistakes that several of the Night Raid members had to live with drove them to seek change in a world that they viewed as corrupt and evil. That hatred of their own mistakes caused them ultimately to change themselves and do something to seek redemption for their own actions. Even if there wasn’t much emotionally left of some of the Night Raid members, scarred and changed by the powers that be in the Empire, they fought for the people so they could grow up in a world free from tyranny and fear. Night Raid knew how to stand up when it really counted, even if they wouldn’t be thanked by the new world they created through sin and blood. Esdeath, on the other hand, relished in the slaughter of anyone she was authorized to kill. She was fundamentally of a different character.
The true tragedy for Esdeath was the fact that she was truly a charismatic character and had so much potential for either good or evil. She had the ability to lead and guide troops in combat. She knew how to care for her subordinates around her when it counted. All around she was a leadership ace. Her one Achilles heel was her over concern for Tatsumi, a man she idolized and wanted as a lover. What was fascinating was her ability to see the value of Tatsumi, but she couldn’t see the value of those she considered to be her enemies. And while she eventually learns that Tatsumi is an enemy she is actually shocked by that revelation, with Esdeath wishing that it wasn’t so. She gives him the chance to join her but that isn’t something that Tatsumi can do. While Esdeath tries to love Tatsumi, he cannot reciprocate knowing she is a vessel for the Empire and the evil within it. If she had been a member of Night Raid, then perhaps she could have put her skills to good use despite her natural tendencies towards evil.
Had Esdeath’s perception of the world been different she could have been spared her fate to be slain in the civil war. The primal belief that the strong rule the weak, and that the strong were allowed to do whatever they wanted played a huge factor in her decision making. As well as her vision being more aligned with the Empire’s, her loyalty to the empire was unquestionable. She would serve the strongest and no other. If the strongest was no longer around, she would serve herself. Perhaps there isn’t a scenario in which Esdeath could realistically work with Night Raid, considering that her true wish was to hunt or be hunted. She wanted to be the strongest, accepting no limitations or substitutes.
Like Tatsumi, I find myself wishing that perhaps Esdeath could have been convinced to join Night Raid. She would have been an invaluable asset to the cause. It’s unfortunate that she couldn’t be convinced by Tatsumi, but it really comes as no surprise. When it came down between choosing love or power, Esdeath chose power. She wouldn’t give up her status, she wouldn’t give up her authority, and she couldn’t be persuaded to see the other side the evil she had personally caused. She had no remorse for those she had slaughtered and gave it no second thought. The killing of the battlefield was a given for Esdeath and she was determined to be the best killer. While perhaps charismatic and having other great qualities that made her a leader, the main issue with Esdeath was not her abilities. The main problem with Esdeath was her perspective and mentality of the world that was completely incompatible with Night Raid, and what Night Raid stood to accomplish. Esdeath had the potential for change, but chose not to follow Tatsumi. Esdeath made for a wonderful villain and was a true enjoyment to watch. Did you also find her interesting?