On principle, I love a good redemption story. Certainly there’s an element of it drawn from my Christian perspective and testimony, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say most people, conscious of their own ability to possess flaws and shortcomings, enjoy watching characters overcome themselves. It’s something that reaches deep into the core of us. We want to know there is always a second chance.
Throughout my life, I have seen many real people and fictional characters alike who, having seen the error in their ways, atoned or demonstrated self-sacrifice in spite of the person they once were. But there is one group of characters who create a moral quandary in my heart which I’ve never struggled with before. This group is powerful team of villains from the manga, Akame Ga Kill!: the notorious Wild Hunt.
Now, I’ve never watched the anime for this series, but, as I understand it, only the leader of Wild Hunt ever makes an appearance, and that is just a brief introduction. The leader, Syura (Shura), as well as all of the members of his unit, play a much bigger and more dastardly role in the architecture of the manga than the anime dares to confront.
Akame Ga Kill! is never light on graphic content. From the beginning, it lets you know to expect some pretty horrible stuff. Torture and violence is commonplace. Psychopathy is basically worshipped in the twisted empire which rules the land. The lead general of the empire is a sadist of horrifyingly creative proportions. But despite all of this, Wild Hunt ups the ante on exactly how demented the warriors of aforementioned empire can be.
I will be watering down the details for the sake of this article, but for effect I must at least lightly explain some of their crimes so you may understand the magnitude of their depravity, and why I was so conflicted about their redemption. Note: not all of the following things are visually conveyed, but many are, so do not approach this series without great caution. It is not for the feint of heart.
In the litany of horrors possessed by Wild Hunt, we have Syura himself, a violently unstable, hyper-entitled man who treats women like objects for his morbid, sexual gratification. Syura also indulges in gut-twisting torture of one of the main protagonists, and rapes one girl to death on the page.
Cosmina, the girl dressed like a Playboy bunny, participates in a mass raping of hostages taken by Wild Hunt, and shows several other instances of being oppressively perverted, giving no discrimination for gender.
Similarly, Enshin (on the far left) is a violent misogynist who also participates in said mass rape.
The little girl, Dorothea, is a little less sexually horrifying, but does try to violate one of the main characters after drinking his blood. Dorothea is also responsible for scientifically morphing humans into monsters for her own amusement and satisfaction and is known to arbitrarily slaughter people out of boredom.
Izou (the samurai in the back) is probably the most respectable, having no sexual perversion, but a pathological need to kill as many people as possible, honoring those with stronger wills to live over others.
Lastly you have the clown, Champ, who is a serial killer/pedophile. Champ is fully aware of his disturbing obsession with raping and butchering children, and justifies it as a good deed by claiming that he made them “angels.”
I promise, that is the watered down version. These are very bad people. You get many more details in the manga for each of these events.
Wild Hunt’s actions are considered so obscene that the other antagonistic group of the series, the Jaegers (who to this point have set the bar for moral depravity), take a brief reprise from fighting the protagonists to try and eliminate this group of monsters. Even the bad guys are disturbed by the behaviors of Wild Hunt.
Okay, now back to the topic. Redemption. Ephesians 1:7 reads “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” Certainly, and I believe this with all of my heart, given proper time and attention, anybody can be redeemed. Even among the Jaegers, there is a character named Wave who, at the time of Wild Hunt’s movements through the narrative, is in the process of his own absolution. Perhaps it is because we have Wave’s own moral progress for comparison that we try to hold onto hope that Wild Hunt might eventually see similar change and atonement.
But here we approach the dilemma. This is a fighting manga, with superpowers and all of that jazz. Wild Hunt, among the rest of the cast up to this point, is chock-full of profoundly powerful characters. Too powerful to detain. There are only the options of either letting them run free to do as they wish, or to kill them outright, if that is even possible.
Do you see the problem? I think everyone deserves a chance at redemption, but in the case of Wild Hunt, can we afford them that chance? Of course, I’ve read and watched other stories which could have produced this same crossroads, but none of them actually had until I read Akame Ga Kill!. Short of a God-sent miracle, I couldn’t think of a way to resolve this problem, and I still haven’t. It’s hypothetical, of course, since no human being exists in our world who can’t be detained. If that were available in this situation, we’d have the options of exposure to prolonged prayer and therapy, which might make the difference. But we don’t. We either kill the problem, or risk letting the problem perpetuate and cause countless more casualties. How I see it, Wild Hunt, as children of God, deserve an opportunity to make up for their horrible crimes, but they are so powerful, dangerous, and morally decayed that, pragmatically, they cannot be allowed to have that opportunity. Attempts at communication would be shot down by their united narcissism, and they’d continue to exact their terrors upon innocent people until the day they died.
This conclusion bothers me, because what I want clashes with what I know to be wise. I did not enter this article with an answer, but simply to detail something that has been bothering me for years. Perhaps I’m even looking to others for an answer. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there’s another option. Unfortunately, I haven’t found it.
I feel sorry for these characters, in a way. They must die, which somehow doesn’t seem fair. That is the closest to the light of redemption they will see. They have been placed in a scenario where grace is not allowed. There’s only death.
And that is a miserable conclusion, even for fictional characters.
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