WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Akudama Drive Episode 3, "MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE," now streaming on Funimation.
Episode 3 has established Akudama Drive as a series that offers more than its premise bills -- but still lacks any substantial depth as its core group jumps into their first big job aboard a train. The Shinkansen heist -- in a luxurious location that reveals the region's wealth disparity -- initially starts off without a hitch, with the Akudama group easily sneaking into the station before splitting up into two groups. But they quickly run into an issue: the barriers prevent a coordinated button press that needs to be done simultaneously.
Each of them attempts solutions that are less than graceful, with Cutthroat throwing knives to reach the button while Brawler simply tears the power source out of the ground. It's a close call, but thanks to some quick thinking from Swindler (the name most commonly used to refer to the main character) and some accidental heroics from Hoodlum, they get past this obstacle unscathed.
The only remaining hurdle after this is getting on board the train itself. While the plan initially goes smoothly, Cutthroat unintentionally pulls the trigger too early, leading to some drastic improvisation. Hacker planned to enter by hiding in the cargo but was unable to hack the system to change the expected wait. This creates another defining moment for Swindler, wherein she volunteers to go in his place, which allows everyone else to board by the episode's end.
Exploration of characters is still incredibly lacking in Akudama Drive, although tidbits brought up in this episode did address the two most bland cast members, Hacker and Courier; although these were hardly developments and only consisted of one or two lines from each of them. Hacker expresses discontent at the poverty of the Kansai region and expresses his true motivation is to one day live in Kanto. Courier gives much less insight and simply utters a one-liner about him deeming his job the place he belongs. While it's understandable that hints of emotion or deep conversations would be out of character for him, it still gives off the impression of wasted potential when other more energetic cast members rarely press the issue.
This latest episode of Akudama Drive won't win over any skeptics but does give viewers some reasons to keep watching. Its action sequences are acceptable but never teeter over into the realm of spectacular, and while its characters are entertaining, none of them are particularly original, with several falling into rather overtreated tropes. However, its merits as a series are not entirely absent; it remains far from the worst anime in recent memory.
A second encounter with the Executioners, as well as the potential of their commanding officer getting involved, should make for an entertaining obstacle for the group. The only concern lies in the short length of the series, which at just 12 episodes, may not allow for enough time to truly flesh out the concepts it introduces.