Akudama Drive is 2020 original Japanese Cyberpunk anime series of 12 episodes produced by Pierrot and Too Kyo games.
The anime takes place on futuristic city of Kansai metropolis, which glows bright in the dark and seems like an ideal place, advanced with technology at first glance but deep in the shadows of dark alleys there are criminals termed Akudamas.
The anime begins with a girl who picks up a coin dropped by a stranger and attempts to return it to him but he refuses to take it back saying “dropped money’s bad luck”. Meanwhile other elite Akudamas receive a mysterious message with a task of freeing an infamous Akudama, Cutthroat before getting executed for a huge pay. The girl gets mixed up in all this ruckus and has to keep with the act of being an Akudama, Swindler.
The anime then goes on from there with all those Akudamas working as a team to finish another job for a huge pay with a bomb in their neck as their shackles.
You may not find the story that much interesting to invest on in some of the first episodes but Akudama Drive will still hook you up with amazing animation and the background sceneries of that futuristic world which contributes a lot in the world building of this cyberpunk world. All of this will make you interested and invested in this world. In recent years, Studio Pierrot has been disappointing the fans with poor animation for greatly hyped episodes especially the fights. And I personally have been avoiding Studio Pierrot’s anime because of this same reason but with Akudama Drive, Studio Pierrot really showed what they are capable of and what they can do if they’re serious. The cyberpunk world that Pierrot build for this anime is truly amazing while also not changing some parts of this futuristic world and keeping it original to give us a feeling of a real place and not a fictional world.
I feel that, we might be witnessing the revival of Cyberpunk genre with the recent hype of Cyberpunk 2077 and the announcement of anime Cyberpunk: Edgerunners and appearance of other cyberpunk media here and there in the corner. If the revival did take place, Akudama Drive will also be one of the important anime to make it happen in this medium with the great aspects of this series to be one.
About the music, Music was great which was able to pact great impacts for great scenes and also played huge part on hyping the fights as well. It also helps in setting up the characters, their activity and their trait. The soundtracks are majorly Techno-rap which goes extremely well with this show.
Characters of Akudama Drive are really interesting, entertaining and well build. Everyone is infamous criminal except the Swindler so engaging with all of these characters throughout the series is quite engrossing along with other characters for opposing the Akudama, the Executioners who are the ones that can actually face the Akudamas head on. Characters receive as much development as they require and they show their true personalities of who they really are and cause huge turn in the characters from what they appeared to be but the show manages not to get ruined as there will be some good development leading to that. And the show gets to the next level when that happens. Remember? When I said the show gets really good after some episodes? Characters are true to their original self and do not betray who they really are. At first glance characters may seem very simple but more you put some thoughts into them they carry more and more depth. There were many subliminal entities on why the characters were acting like they do, why they are like this and of course with the way they die.
Like Swindler was actually interesting audience surrogate character. She was lying to everyone about her true identity in order not to get killed and that actually worked. So she actually was a Swindler from the beginning. Even though, thinking that her lies in the beginning were really stupid and someone needs to be dumb to believe them but later on she really did use that skills of her to fool even an entire city in order to fight for their advantage or even change the nature of objects (dropped coin). Or was she fooling everyone including the audience? I really don’t know. This character was really used in a great way in this show that audience could no longer differentiate between some of her truths or lies or was she changing the facts with her lies. I have no clue.
Did you realize that I didn’t use names of the characters at all? Because none of the characters actually have one. The whole story is said without revealing their real names or not even having a necessity to do that at all. Which is actually pretty impressive and unique. Rather than their names they are given a certain code names based on their roles like Courier, Swindler, Doctor, Cutthroat, Brawler etc. and they are true to it. Even though Swindler was thought to be a fake one but she was technically a Swindler since she inherited the name as a lie to save her life. Even her lying to save her life was a role of being a Swindler. And that’s how this anime actually tells you the whole story without revealing any name of the characters. And the story progression is really good as well, successfully executing stuffs at a perfect time, uncovering mysteries on why they’re being made to work together and everything beyond that, the good development of the characters and the world got the build that it required.
Along with the Cyberpunk feels the metaphor and symbolism of the series is really something to be impressed with. The show doesn’t miss to place these when it can see a space to fill them. And they are placed in a really good way. The holy object of worship, the Shinkansen train in a world that seems to have got the pinnacle of technological advancement, the existence of superstition, “dropped money’s bad luck” and the girl to actually get dragged into this because of that coin, these kind of small things but with certain depth will catch your attention as well.
(People praying to Shinkansen)
The show may have stood on its cyberpunk world and the great animations and background to beautifully portray that but along the way it builds many things after which the show doesn’t stand on that aspect only but many other things. While certain gaps are always filled by rabbit and shark, some mascots Kansai. And the presentation of all these are greatly done with great direction and choreography.
The anime may give vibes of anime like Psycho Pass or Danganronpa (for the characters design “mainly the Swindler”, I felt that, but is it only me?) but still feels very original with a fantastic ending. I would personally watch the whole series just for the ending because it’s just worth it. Where many Titans have fallen but Akudama Drive greatly delivers it and gave me an anime which ended in an outstanding way.