It’s so oddly fitting that someone died on a cross considering the episode came out right before Christmas. And I know what they were doing and what Swindler did but maybe it was a little too on the nose? But wow, I actually wasn’t expecting an emotional ending like this and what I had guessed was shot down. So how was this ending?
It was kind of a mixed bag for me. The animation and visuals were beautiful, there was some neat imagery and symbolism they were doing this time, and the emotions this time felt more heartfelt this time around compared to last week’s episode. Courier finally let his emotions interfere with his work, and while it cost him his life, he didn’t seem to have any regrets in the end as he died with a smile on his face. The same can be said about Swindler, as she smiled until the end helping save those two children. She also officially proclaimed herself as an Akudama and we got her cool intro card like the others had. I love how the visuals showcased the different phases of her short Akudama life. It really goes to show how much she changed throughout the whole show from being an ordinary girl to someone who risked her life and took it upon herself to defend herself, and when she realized her life had completely changed, had to embrace it. Swindler had some weird or annoying moments sometimes, but I did like her. The circumstances of her death, however, was strange?
I understand that she sacrificed herself to save the children, died on a cross, like Jesus and all that blah blah blah. But…was Hacker actually still alive during all this or did everything that happened this episode just happen coincidentally? That’s probably the main problem, or at least one of the main problems, from this episode. Did Swindler know she was being broadcasted and used that opportunity to make it seem like the Executioners were murdering normal citizens in order to incite another riot? I mean, that’s basically what happened but how did she know she was being broadcasted back in Kansai? Hacker’s little robot symbol thing was found in the Bunny and Shark program and he also was behind the citywide blackout. Again, was he alive or did he have that planned in advance? But if he did, how did he know that Swindler was going to make herself a martyr unless she told him beforehand? But she couldn’t because he had gone to save the children in the supercomputer and supposedly died immediately after that??? SO THIS WAS ALL COINCIDENCE?
I would accept this nonsense in the first half of the show back when things were wacky and didn’t make sense on purpose. But hitting the halfway point of the show, it took a different turn and the story became a lot more serious and things had to start making sense and almost everything that happened this episode just didn’t.
And I’m a little 50/50 on open endings, where I usually prefer a concrete ending so I can feel a bit of satisfaction and I definitely wanted that this time. Apparently the children finally found their freedom, though we don’t know for sure. The cherry blossom petals points to either A.) A beautiful place teeming with life, or B.) The show is taking the symbolic route and is using the cherry blossoms to simply signify that the children are starting anew with their new lives, and their fate is still ambiguous. When it comes to the kids I actually don’t mind the open ending as much, and the last sequence of them walking through the tunnel as we saw the past destinations the characters visited was very beautiful with the slow-mo and music. I suppose I would like to know that they found a peaceful home, just so I know Swindler and Courier’s deaths weren’t in vain but I suppose that wasn’t the point. The bigger picture was saving these two young children from a corrupt and evil government that would put them through hell (and had already put Brother through so much hell).
But I’m not a fan of the open ending for everything else. What was the fate of both Kanto and Kansai, and whatever happened to the Executioners? The whole city was literally on fire and the people were attacking the Executioners, the police chief shot himself, and Boss is on her own to deal with the problem. We didn’t get anything more and so we’re left wondering just what the heck even happened with all of that. It felt rushed and maybe a bit pointless too, and I think I can say that a bit for the show.
In the end, I’m not entirely sure what Akudama Drive wanted to be and I think that’s my biggest question for this. It seemed to have a bit of an identity crisis halfway through as there was an obvious tonal shift. It started off as a balls to the wall wacky action anime with loud and silly characters, doing missions together and causing mayhem. It then suddenly turned serious where it became wanting to take the children to their destination and then giving them their freedom from the clutches of the government. Akudama Drive was trying to do so many different things in such a short amount of time that it became a bit clunky in the end. I do like what it was trying to do, and I do like the two tones it had (the first half vs the second half), but I think it just needed to pick just one tone and stick with that until the end. Unfortunately it didn’t and it got a little strange. And because it was trying to do too many things with the short amount of episodes we got, it had to sacrifice other things such as the mystery of the war and literally everything about Kanto and Kansai, as well as getting a deeper look into the characters besides Swindler and (sort of) Courier.
The rest of the cast had a lot of personality, but unfortunately almost all of them were pretty one note. Some of them had their moments, like with Doctor, but we didn’t spend much time with her to really understand her and see why she became the way she did. Characters like Brawler were one note but he still was charming and entertaining, whereas Cutthroat wasn’t. It’s really disappointing because Kodaka usually creates really fun and interesting characters and we definitely had a cast of that but we didn’t get the opportunity to really get to know them fully. Speaking of, let’s just give Hacker a giant F because he was given the least screentime and characterization, that’s probably the biggest disappointment.
I think if Akudama Drive had gotten a two cour, the show would have been way more satisfying. It still could have done what it wanted to, but if it had more time I think it really could have been successful. And while I say all this, I still enjoyed Akudama Drive. Yes it has its hiccups, but it was still really entertaining until the end. I love the setting, again I love the characters, the animation and style was gorgeous and fun. Studio Pierrot really went all out for this show, which is great because their shows usually…don’t look all that great. But this show was such a pleasure to look at, and the OP was so catchy and had fantastic visuals. And for an original anime this had a pretty good base and I always appreciate an original.
If the anime hadn’t faltered in the last few episodes, my score would have been higher so I’ll have to settle with a solid 7/10. It was lots of fun and had a great concept and lots of style, but had issues along the way. But in the end I still was entertained and enjoyed it, and there were some really fantastic moments as well. Sadly it was bogged down by a few things, but I still would recommend it to people to give it a shot. Of course a sequel won’t happen but I’m going to keep an eye out for a game of Akudama Drive to come out because I just have an inkling it will…and I’ll play it.