If I’m honest, before watching Akudama Drive, I didn’t have the best opinion of Studio Pierrot.
I only knew of them through watching their adaptation of Tokyo Ghoul, which, if you’ve seen my review of each season, you’ll know I thought was atrociously adapted in the last few seasons.
However, now having watched Akudama Drive based off recommendations, I can say that I need to give this studio more credit because, while they have made mistakes in the past, as seen with Tokyo Ghoul, they can make truly fantastic work.
Akudama Drive is one such anime, with its fast-paced, energetic action and great cast of characters.
Directed by Tomohisa Taguchi, Akudama Drive is set in a Cyberpunk Japan where the Kansai Region has been taken over by the Kantō region, and high ranking criminals, known as Akudamas, are hunted by Executioners.
Our main character is an Ordinary Person (Tomoyo Kurosawa) who, due to a set of extreme situations, has to become the Swindler and join a powerful group of Akudama, who are then hired to rob the deified Shinkansen.
Although, some backstory was sorely needed for many of these Akudama, I came to like, or love to hate in some instances, all of them.
There’s the always business focused Courier (Yūichirō Umehara), the fighting obsessed Brawler (Shunsuke Takeuchi), the big-talk, suck up Hoodlum (Sabaru Kimaru), the power hungry Doctor (Megumi Ogata), the psychopathic Cutthroat (Takahiro Sakurai), and the technologically genius Hacker (Shun Horie).
Out of all of these Akudama, I would say that my favourites of the bunch are Swindler, Courier, and Hoodlum.
Swinder and Hoodlum were both characters with fantastic character development that really made me care for them and their arcs.
Courier was more of an interesting case because I was mainly indifferent to him for most of the anime, until the last three or four episodes really got me on board with his character.
It’s not just the Akudama that are great characters, though, because the Executioners are also a lot of fun, with Master (Akio Ōtsuka) and Pupil (Yumiri Hanamori) being standouts.
However, this is where my one big criticism of the show comes into play.
All of the Akudama are given fantastic endings to their character arcs, however, many of the Executioners get no ending at all.
It honestly feels like they had something big planned for some of their characters but it got cut for time in the final episode.
Now, it was recently revealed that five minutes of cut footage from the final episode would appear in the Blu-ray so hopefully this footage is the missing conclusion to many of the Executioner’s arcs.
It would also be nice if a lot of the gore could be uncensored in the Blu-ray because the censorship did get a bit distracting, especially in Episode Nine.
Although, this censorship thankfully didn’t stop the action from being adrenaline pumping with a lot of hype moments, helped by excellent animation, especially in the first few episodes and the last one.
The score also helped these scenes, with it being fun to listen to.
This also extends to the OP and ED, with the OP, STEAL! by SPARK!!SOUND!!SHOW!!, being an absolute banger that I have listened to for days on end on Spotify.
Overall, Akudama Drive is a fantastic anime that mixes cyberpunk with anime incredibly well.
Some characters may be missing conclusions to their arcs but, if this is fixed in the Blu-ray, then this could be an all time great anime.