After finishing up Talentless Nana (which I still need to write a review for) I was browsing Funimation and stumbled on a fall series that I somehow missed. A massive technical utopia full of beautiful lights, a dark underbelly, and just the right amount of violence to boot. A world where picking up a simple coin could upend one’s life, taking them on a wild ride where they would meet criminals, cops, and a plethora of personalities in-between. Coming straight out of Kodaka, Kazutaka brain and animated by Studio Pierrot I’m talking about the one and only, Akudama Drive.
Following the most adorable Ordinary Person. A simple girl who on her way home from work runs into a tall lingering figure at a ramen stand. Realizing he dropped a 500 yen coin, she kindly picks it up for him though he rejects it in full, stating that dropped money brings bad luck. Before getting on his bike and riding off.
Frustrated and hell-bent on giving the coin back, a spiral of events occurs putting this Ordinary Person in an extraordinary spot. In the middle of the most ruthless and intelligent Akudama, the most wanted criminals in all of Kansai.
Being face with death and seeming no other option, this Ordinary Person drops the name, taking up the title of Swindler, claiming to be one of the best at the game and on equal footing with the elite team that was assembled in front of her. Cutthroat, a serial killer. Courier, the man who dropped the coin but will deliver whatever no matter what. Hacker, a, well, hacker. Doctor, a healer who only wants to control who lives and dies. A Brawler who is all bulk and no brains, and a Hoodlum who accidentally got caught up in this whole mess like Swindler.
What follows is an off the wall ride that questions the laws of society, the control of a government, and what it means to be a criminal. An interesting take of a normal girl that broke the taboo of picking up dropped money, turned into a criminal, one that eventually even draws blood from other humans. Add a dash of no honor among thieves, and police department that is unsure where the moral line is in law, it is a show that allows you just to sit back and enjoy the ride.
One thing I loved about this show was the art, what actually caught my eye was simply Swindler (Ordinary Person) her design is super cute, a mix of cybertronic and neon accessories matched with her pink and black hair was on point. Paired with the first couple of episodes her good-hearted personality but hell-bent conviction of her perceived notion of what was right really held the group of ragtag criminals together.
It is also important to note the animation and sound, the show is beautiful in every sense of the word only drawing one critic for me. Censorship, there are several really gore-filled events within the show and normally I’m fine with that. But as it goes some shows try to keep the more graphic parts under wraps. Now there are many ways to do that but Akudama Drive had to go the most annoying way, giant black boxes. Rather it’s a minor beheading or a mass of bodies shifting some scenes half the screen will be just a black box, really taking the atmosphere and feeling of the show out of the shot. Granted the flip side of that coin, some of the scenes were quite graphic, and honestly, I am fine with not seeing them.
All and all I ended up loving Akudama Drive, I thought the world, the characters, and even the ending was fitting, finely crafted, and heartfelt. It is a completed series that is only an anime and it left me with a fulfilling feeling, regretting not a second that was used to watch it. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this show was my favorite of 2020 or even of the Fall season (we had TONIKAWA after all) but it did surprise the hell out of me and I think it should be enjoyed and talked about a lot more than it has been.
Overall, 7/10 (high seven, like 7.8)
As always, thanks for the read!