It's been said by many veteran anime watchers that anime is dying. In the old days we had our Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Wolf's Rain, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Akira, FLCL, Berserk, Fist of the North Star, and Miyazaki; we had Space Captain Harlock, Lupin the Third, Yu Yu Hakusho, and Ghost in the Shell. Even if you haven't seen these, you've likely at least heard of them and the impact that they've had on anime as a whole. Anime was an intellectual, creative medium that reflected flair and pizzazz. It wasn't just silly entertainment for kids, like many Western cartoons, and people of all ages could
enjoy it. As of late it seems that anime has been stuck in a rut of moe, harems, rom-coms with unrealistically dense male MC’s, and onii-chan/imouto obsessive garbage. Lately there's been a lack of courage to sack up, step outside of the box, and say, "Hey, let's try something new." After you peruse season after season of the same regurgitated genres you might find yourself wondering if anime has lost its way... And, to answer that question, Trigger will look down and whisper, "No."
Watching the story of Kill la Kill unfold was confusing, exhilarating, comical, lively, and goddamn refreshing. What began as a simple revenge story, with a shaky plot direction, overabundance of fan-service, and obnoxiously flashy fight scenes, ended in a surprisingly competent and satisfying fashion. Although Kill la Kill is entertaining, it is still a series that prioritizes style more than substance. This isn’t to say that the series is shallow in the slightest, but it’s often difficult to overlook the abundance of panty shots, suffocatingly tight and revealing outfits, the FLCL-esque action, and all their allure.
While there is a lot of wild enjoyment to be had in Kill la Kill, it's also easy to disregard what makes this series so brilliant. Part of the genius behind Kill la Kill is the fact that the show itself is a parody of many overused tropes in recent anime. Over-sexualized, provocative clothing and fan-service for no reason? Check. Student council is overpowered? Check. School system that emphasizes uniforms? Check. Story about revenge? Also check. Not only does the series poke fun at commonalities in anime, it also fires shots at the oppressive nature of the Japanese education system. The most astounding part about all of this is that Kill la Kill doesn't just adhere to the common tropes itself for shits and giggles; it actually takes these tropes and literally makes them its plot. Even if you don't take the stance on viewing the series as a parody, you'd probably still find the series entertaining and fun to watch on a different standard. That's ingenuity, ladies and gentlemen.
Trigger did something interesting with its characters in Kill la Kill that you don’t see in anime too often, adding to the fresh factor of the show. They took a series that banks on testosterone-based, over-the-top action and made the main characters girls. It's not often that you come across an anime with a strong female lead that can not only stand up for herself, but also against tyranny and male counter parts. Ryuuko personifies these values. There’s a struggle within our current modern-day society to fit in with social norms. It’s tough to be that black sheep individual that goes about their own business without being judged by the majority, hence why we generally follow fashion trends, region-specific social etiquette, and so forth. The growth of Ryuuko reflects this as the development of her character is steadily shown across the span of the series. Ryuuko starts off as a bland teenage girl with attitude looking for retribution against the one who killed her father. When introduced to Senketsu — a revealing sailor uniform made of life fibers — she is submitted to humility in exchange for power. It’s things like this that should make you raise an eyebrow and wonder whether or not this is reflective of the advantages and disadvantages that sexuality offers women. Maybe I’m looking too much into it, or maybe I’m right. What’s great about Kill la Kill is that there isn't a right answer. You take from it what you want.
While Ryuuko portrays big themes and intricate lessons woven into her character, it would be a crime to disregard the rest of the cast of the series. The character body of Kill la Kill is quite diverse and there are plenty of likable characters. Each character brings something to the table in terms of entertainment and, as a whole, makes sure that there’s never a dull moment. Characters that are depicted as the antagonists, such as Satsuki and the Four Devas, are likeable. Mako, who is essentially the fool, is actually funny. The way these characters fit the mold of wacky, but wacky with personality, is astounding. Characters feel like they fit into the show seamlessly and that can be hard to come by.
The art and animation is similar to the chaotic, yet extremely fun style that Gainax offered in both FLCL and TTGL. It’s hard to ignore the resemblance when Hiroyuki Imaishi and Masahiko Ohtsuka, originally from Gainax, are now a part of Studio Trigger. The action defies logic and physics, the art is stellar, the animation is fluid, the backdrops are majestic, and all of it meshes together nicely. The sound criteria of Kill la Kill is also quite exceptional itself. The OP’s and ED’s are good, the OST is great, and the voice acting is on point. There’s nothing else to ask for. With that being said, I think the biggest problem is that Trigger has with Kill la Kill is that while retaining the style, they also retained dips in the quality of the art and animation, similar to those in TTGL. There's a lot of repeated animated scenes, such as the Kamui change scene, the shot of the heel clicking the ground, and even sword swinging. It’s not horrible or extremely detrimental to enjoyment, but it is there. The animation drops for a series as chaotic as Kill la Kill is understandable, given that Studio Trigger is also very new, and so I’d take this fault with a grain of salt.
For Studio Trigger’s first original, seasonal anime series, Kill la Kill came in and went out with a bang. While it doesn't quite hit the status of masterpiece, I’ve been made a fan. I will be looking forward to whatever creativity their future works will bring.
Welcome to Kill la Kill. This is where fanservice is plot, style is substance and every episode plays out like the finale. This is anime.
From the makers of FLCL, Gurren Lagann and Panty and Stocking, Kill la Kill is the first television production series under the newly formed Studio Trigger. Its is a tale of a transfer student, Matoi Ryuuko, wielding a scissor-sword, comes to Honnouji Academy to look for her father's killer. Opposing her is the Student Council President, Kiryin Satsuki, as well as her personal guard of the Elite Four, who are developing uniforms of immense power. After an initial fight, where Ryuuko
ends up being defeated, she stumbles across a sailor uniform that gives her the power to overcome her enemies and give her the answers that she seeks.
Kill la Kill takes all the worn-out tropes and clichés of anime, amps it up to eleven and then delightfully invert them to give something exciting and fresh. While Ryuuko's tale of revenge is a tad predictable, it is the execution of the plot points that makes it stand out from its peers. Everything is exaggerated to the extreme including the school setting, characters, concepts to the absolutely epic action that happens. The show makes a point of never dwelling on a single event for too long and continually ups the ante in every single episode. There is little filler and the show is pretty subversive by playing with the viewer's expectations and then completely changing the outcome. When the action does slows down, there is a metric ton of references and homage to western culture ranging from Marvel Comics to classical music and literature. At the same time, Kill la Kill is mindful of its own Japanese heritage and folklore, drawing parallels to Oba Nobunaga, anime of old and new while not overly heavy-handed with its references by keeping it quick and tucked away in the background. Some elements of comedy are thrown in, complete with visual gags, puns and slapstick humor. However, a point of contention is the hit and miss nature of Mako's antics, which may not go well with every viewer.
On a first glance, Kill la Kill's visuals is reminiscent of cell animation at its peak during the late 1990s with its warm color palette and strong outlines. The backgrounds are drawn to the style of oil paintings and provide a epic and cinematic feel to the show instead of the drab outlines that other shows often present. In the animation department, Studio Trigger takes every possible shortcut in producing this show by utilizing extended single frames, sometimes even coming down to Inferno Cop levels. However, the style and energy placed into the visuals, more than make up for it technical shortcomings. Studio Trigger knows that this is an anime and plays around with that fact by slapping GIANT RED TEXT on everything and breaking the fourth wall constantly through changing perspectives and character proportions. Everything is presented with the force of a runaway freight train and doesn't let up until the viewer either gives in or walks away. The animation quality sometimes does take a nose dive that is too steep to ignore (Episode 4) with repetitive sequences, sloppy frames and limited motion. As well, the hilariously bad CGI in some places (I'm looking at you Episode 3), is enough to break the viewer's immersion. That being said, I applause the production team for making Kill la Kill never having a dull moment onscreen and being innovative with such a limited budget.
Much like the explosive theatrics that is plastered all over the screen, the characters are outstanding in the way they inject themselves into the show and overarching plotline. Ryuuko's tomboyish behavior, recklessness and imaginative fighting tactics solidifies her as one of the strongest female leads I've seen in recent years. At the same time, she does get embarrassed my her scandalous-looking outfit and is vulnerable due to her past of growing up as a delinquent loner, making her feel like more of a teenager being thrown into absurd situations and less than any pre-established archetypes of a typical shouen show. Her nemesis and my personal favorite, K Satsuki, is the student council president who runs Honnouji Academy like a fascist regime and literally radiates power. Although she is on par with Ryuuko's combat power, Satsuki prefers to use her various schemes and henchmen to do her dirty work and knows more than she lets on. Bolstering the two already formidable leads, the supporting characters are very memorable in their own right with the Elite Four, the eccentric Mako, the nudist stripping homeroom teacher, and various factions duking it out. Each characters adds their own brand of wackiness into an anime that doesn't holds anything back.
The soundtrack composed by Hiroyuki Sawano (of Attack on Titan and Blue Exorcist fame) is outstanding in every aspect and holds up the show when the animation decides to takes a break. By combining genres ranging from rock, electronica, vocals, jazz and bass, Sawano creates a score that is distinctive, addictive, energetic and flows perfectly with the over-the-top nature of Kill la Kill. Some standouts includes the rock-oriented 'Before my body is dry', 'Blumenkranz ', and the disturbingly haunting theme of Harime Nui. The character voices is equally as strong as the soundtrack with Ami (Code Geass's Kallen Stadtfeld and Spice and Wolf's Holo) portraying the hot-blooded and bash Ryuuko, Yuzuki Ryouka (Air's Minagi ) as the totalitarian Satsuki and the relatively new Suzaki Aya as Mako. Opposing the main leads, Paku, Romi adds an edge of as the sadistic Kiryuuin Ragyou and Tamura Yukari (Higurashi's Rika) as the batshit-crazy psycho Harime Nui. Male leads are also excellent with their respective VAs doing exceptional work on voicing Sanageyama, Gamagoori, and the fabulous Mikisugi.
Although the primary draw of Kill la Kill is the sheer ludicrousy of action that happens, there is a good amount of depth in terms of the themes nudity, clothing and sexuality. The amount of nudity and fanservice shown in Kill la Kill far exceeds any typical anime, showing off asses, breasts and glowing nipples left, right and center. In fact, Ryuuko's skimpy uniform only gets more powerful when the user shreds her shame and embraces her naked self. However, more often than not, the exaggerated use of fanservice is sometime more along the lines being a parody rather than anything sexual or pandering to the audience. While other shows uses sexiness to pour gravy over the main course of the plot and characters, the nudity is interwoven into the narrative and provides context for analysis and discussion. And this is where the beauty of Studio Trigger's masterpiece lies, where it can appeals to the causal action-oriented viewer by giving them a rollercoaster ride on afterburners while layering the show for analysis and discussion for the more savvy anime fan.
For its first production work, it feels that this is the culmination of Studio Trigger's legacy by combining the energy and randomness of FLCL, the over-the-top nature and scale of Gurren Lagann, and sexualized content of Panty and Stocking into something very unique and very deserving of all the hype that it is given.
Simplistic plot but perfect execution
Characters that you can't help but cheer for
Awesome animation for such a small budget
Can be as shallow or deep depending on what the viewer wants the show to be
Go watch and judge for yourself.
Witnessing the Kill la Kill hype train chugging along made me enter the show with negative expectations. The generic revenge plot, school setting and ridiculous designs left me folding my arms and rolling my eyes. It was and still is boldly proclaimed that Trigger is 'saving anime', whatever that means, but while Kill la Kill may be refreshing, is it really a cut above the rest? For better or worse, I could not help but feeling vindicated for holding my initial expectations. With the closing of the last episode, I felt I had just watched a slideshow rather than an engaging narrative.
It should be stated that having a show that doesn't revolve around the banality of the fantastical construct that is 'moe' is heartening. Perhaps a narrative of personal struggle, coupled with great conflict and violence is rather cliche, but it is certainly more entertaining. Ryuuko as a character is interesting in that she isn't a flower that immediately wavers in the face of adversity or isn't immediately 'put in place' by a man. Unfortunately, that is basically all she has going for her, otherwise she is just another angst ridden teenager with a chip on her shoulder. Sure, Kill la Kill is indeed a show that not only has a strong female lead, but is dominated by powerful women, however that alone does not warrant high praise. Trigger talked of 'taking risks' but it seems Ryuuko is purposely not fleshed out to be broadly appealing. Her anger, loneliness and eventual commitment to her friends is something shared with many protagonists.
The narrative as a whole leaves something to be desired. From episode 3 it was obvious that they couldn't draw out Ryuuko and Satsuki's clashing of heads for a whole 24 episodes. The show already heavily alludes to Satsuki as being more than what she projects. Given that this is a Japanese narrative, it is based on kishōtenketsu and the plot is hinged on a twist. You think with narrative structure based on plot twists, you would go for something interesting. However, Trigger in their infinite wisdom decided to go with the generic 'I am your father' twist. While it was honestly unexpected on my part, it was still wasted potential.
Besides that, there are jarring transitions between a more light-hearted action/comedy to more serious action/drama. I honestly fail to see why Trigger thought Mako and her family were absolutely indispensable for the narrative. While the show is already over the top, ramming in the crass antics of the Mankanshoku family amid conflict with wide reaching ramifications is on the level of Michael Bay's Transformers. What purpose does Mako even serve other than that of a pure plot device? She is that of a generic best friend character who's only defining trait are her long winded motivational rants. Her relationship with Ryuuko is an implied one, they are forced together in episode one with absolutely no development what so ever.
Kill la Kill relies heavily on it's stylistic elements, so good action should be among one of it's hallmarks. Despite that, the quality of the fight scenes are underwhelming, as they are dependent on speed lines and characters shouting at one another. It could be said that in Kill la Kill the characters fight first and foremost with words, fists and weapons being secondary arms. While I understand that aesthetics are a matter of subjectivity, I can't leave out my conviction that most of the designs are just plain terrible. It seems all they did was take the standard Japanese school uniform and added as many spikes and stars as humanly possible. If the transformations aren't hulking masses of arbitrary geometry, than they are merely skimpy shoe laces with bulging shoulders. All in all, I can't praise Kill la Kill to high heaven, but I can't exactly hate it either. It's OST is remarkable and really propels the show where it is lacking, even if I cannot appreciate all the tracks. That said, if this is what constitutes 'saving anime', then we are truly screwed, this should be among the average, not the exceptional.
Note: I don't agree with half the stuff I said in this review and I think my writing style is quite immature and undeveloped, but the community got a kick out of it, so I'll leave it here.
Kill la Kill has been praised as hilarious satire of action anime, but it ultimately fails to communicate to the watcher that it is satire by attempting to include profound thought amidst a spectacular display of skin and stupidity.
When I saw Ryouku Matoi arriving at Honnouji Academy with half of a scissor to discover who killed her father, I'll admit that I was excited by the premise
of this show. However, the plot for the first third of the show was repetitive and dull, and felt like 8 episodes of filler. Then, Ryouku finally made her way to battle the woman she had been seeking, lost, and the show proceeded into an arc revolving around the concept that high schools have more authority in Japan. While the dialogue is witty, the events are poorly written and crappily explained, and most of the time, one isn't even sure why the characters fight.
Now, the show's elaborate screaming fight scenes would be okay if it was satire, as most deem it to be, but Kill La Kill leads you to believe that it's taking itself seriously. There are dull conversations about how clothing somehow became sentient (huh?) and that it corrupts the human race (the explanation for how it corrupts humans is so shitty and half-assed i didn't bother trying to understand it.)
Ultimately, I would accept the story as satire if it didn't try to be ridiculous, non-sensical, and philosophical/intelligent all at once.
While the fighting animation of the show is fluid and exciting, the environments are undeveloped and rely upon a dull color palette. On top of that, the characters look like they are still sketches, filled with haphazard lines and only a few bright colors. It's hard to tell the difference between Ira Gamagori and the desert with two buildings(half of the show's setting) behind him.
Kill la Kill features catchy openings, closings, and a stellar fight theme in "Before my Body is Dry," but "Before my Body is Dry" is the only song that the show ever plays. The lack of variety is pretty sad.
I'm not sure whether to give Characters a "2" or a "10." Honestly, they're ridiculous and poorly developed (they remain pretty stagnant throughout all 24 episodes, except for Ryouku.) This lack of development is fine if this is satire of action anime, but KLK still attempts to make a point about malicious clothing and human shame, so the one quality that could have made ridiculous characters and lack of development for everyone but Ryouku is perfectly fine is made null by the show's ardent desire for us to take it seriously by adding in more bullshit.
Most jokes are pretty funny, and Mako Mankashouka is utterly hilarious, while Guts is pretty cool, too.
The Verdict: 5/10
As long as you don't go into Kill la Kill expecting it to have legitimate, intellectual weight and commentary, you'll find a show that is pretty funny, and Ryouku's pretty hot. It's a shame Kill la Kill couldn't decide if it wanted to be satire or serious.
Forgive me God of all Weaboos for I have sinned. I didn't enjoy Kill La Kill. Actually, it's worse than that. I fucking HATED Kill La Kill! It wasn't funny, it wasn't clever, it wasn't a "brilliant satire". The animation was decent as befits a modern series with a huge budget, but nothing else was worthy of praise, let alone the amount of sheer adoration this series gets. Many people may disagree with this assessment, but I will explain.
Firstly, I would like to clear something up that has been bothering me. My fellow Americans frequently use the word "satire" incorrectly, to the point that I
am convinced most people don't actually understand what it means anymore. There are several forms of classic satire, but the most common is probably still the Juvenalian satire created by the Roman writer Juvenal. The point of this style of satire is to write in a voice that the author actually opposes and comically highlight everything wrong with the position that the voice is supposedly arguing in favor of. A well known contemporary example would be Stephen Colbert's faux conservative character from the Colbert Report. In the next paragraph, I will show an example of what an actually "brilliant satire" looks like.
If Kill La Kill isn't what I consider a great satire then what the hell is? What does one look like? A good example of a truly brilliant and hilarious satire would be the novel Dead Souls. The novel was written to viciously mock the callous cruelty, uncaring nature, and disgusting greed of the upper class. Our "hero" is an immoral asshole who wishes to get rich using a profoundly ridiculous and darkly hilarious plan. The novel was written when slavery was still legal, and during that time period the law plainly stated that slaves counted only as property and not as people. Our hero figures out that therefore slaves could legally be purchased and sold after death because legally property doesn't suddenly cease being property. The concept of a sales catalog and people buying products without ever seeing them was brand new at the time and gives our hero a wonderful idea. He could legally buy hundreds of dead slaves for pennies and sell them (sight unseen) for about 10 dollars each to wealthy land owners who would jump at the deal of buying lots of slaves at a discount price. Our hero insinuates that his "discount slaves" are women, children, and elderly and that is why they are so cheap. He allows his buyers to fill in the details without ever explicitly saying an untruth and therefore avoiding being sued for false advertisement. His buyers believe that they have ripped off our hero, only to get hundreds of corpses dumped on their lawns. Every character including our "hero" is portrayed in an extremely negative manner and thus readers are encouraged to laugh our asses off at the slavers getting royally ripped off. The fact that the entire plan would have been completely legal at the time the novel was written only made it funnier. The author is pointing out to his readers that they lived in a society where something that ghastly and morally outrageous was legal and encouraging them to fight against slavery without ever having to explicitly say so. A true satire makes a bold stance against a position that is still popular with a large portion of society and highlights everything wrong with that position. Satires address large societal issues and try to use comedy to create real social change. A satire is NOT just a work that revels in its own stupidity in order to vaguely mock other stupid works that are universally considered to be stupid.
Ok, so if Kill la Kill isn't technically satire then what is it? A work that tries to be really stupid and absurd in order to make fun of a genre is typically called a "spoof". Although less intellectually lofty than the satire, spoofs can still be great! Good examples would be the works of Mel Brooks like Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, which are quite rightly considered 2 of the greatest movies the United States has ever produced. Sadly, Hollywood never quite understood what made Mel Brook's movies so special and started shitting out truly awful spoofs: Mafia, Ricky 1 (a spoof of rocky), Scary Movie 1-5, Date Movie, Vampires Suck, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, etc. Enter Gainax, everyone's favorite insanely overrated anime studio to copy the Americans and produce their own low quality spoofs to cash in on this trend. We get "great" works like Kill La Kill and Panty and Stocking as a result! Hooray! Where does Kill La Kill rank on the hierarchy of spoofs? Slightly above the movies of Seltzer and Friedberg, but not quite as good as The Lucas Bros Moving Company.
We all know Shonen anime has REALLY stupid cliches, objectifies women, and has head bashingly retarded plot holes. Making a show that takes all that EVERYONE already agrees sucks about anime and reveling in its own shittyness isn't very clever and isn't actually a great goal. Simply being self aware of your own stupidity doesn't make a show or movie good. Was Wild Wild West aware that having a giant spider robot and REALLY silly dialogue and action was stupid? YES! They were very aware that they were making a stupid movie that took all the cliches of summer blockbusters and turned them up to 11. Does that make Wild Wild West a clever cinematic masterpiece? NO! No it doesn't! In the same way, Kill La Kill's self awareness doesn't save it from being a piece of shit anime!
It’s not often I come across shows that I would consider an “instant classic,” a term that is often thrown out by a lot of movie critics. There have been a lot of anime classics in recent memory that has proved to be worthy of the spotlight and have garnered intense admiration from both casual and hardcore fans. However, these past couple years have shown that the ones that do get a great deal of hype and attention during its inception are looked at with mostly skepticism as to whether they deserved all of it, to begin with. Then in the year 2013, out comes
a show named Kill La Kill. A show that not only justified its hype but managed to break the mold for current trends that will make it unforgettable for years on end.
If you don’t know the history of how this project was done, it’s quite an accomplishment, to say the least, for a little studio like Trigger. Being headed by the director, Hiroyuki Imaishi, a man who previously worked for Gainax and directed the other anime classics like Gurren Lagaan and Panty & Stocking, but later left in 2011 to form Trigger with co-director Masahiko Ohtsuka. Considering how Gainax has been doing as of late, this would probably be the smartest move any director would’ve ever made. The studio had made a few production credits before Kill La Kill and had gained some exposure after making the short film Little Witch Academia. Finally, they made their first official anime series in Kill La Kill. Out of all of the debuts for anime studios, you couldn’t have asked for a stellar first impression quite like this show.
From the very opening of the first episode of Kill La Kill, we are now being shoved into a world that is chaotic and filled with disorder within the social classes of people. Not just from the actual story itself, but from the art style and animation that comes with them. Every single character is drawn with fluid clarity while at the same time very disorganized with a cartoonish aesthetic to it. These sorts of thematic set-pieces shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has seen Gurren Lagaan; at the same time, it can be argued that Kill La Kill is ten times wackier than Gurren Lagaan in terms of tone and art style. It’s these two aspects about Hiroyuki that make him one of the top anime directors living today, in how he has this massive vision for spectacle. More often than not, he does not disappoint in any of the shows he’s been at the helm of.
To describe the plot in the simplest terms, it’s quite absurd, silly, anarchistic, and ridiculous in many areas. Many might see this as a negative at face value with the advent of gratuitous fanservice being thrown out left and right, the uneven pacing, and the alienating nature of how the story is told with hardly any context. Despite all of these aspects that might sound negative at first, upon closer speculation of the show as it goes along, all of them feel really proper to Kill La Kill’s overall vision of how it portrays its story, characters, and art. All of them have the specific purpose of being the way they are, and they succeed in achieving the amount of charm and personality it incorporates with them that make them entertaining to watch and laugh at. Now, if it were animated in a traditional way like most anime shows, it wouldn’t have necessarily been bad, but it just wouldn’t accomplish nearly enough with the lack of coherency with the tone and animation.
In critiquing the actual plot itself, it’s not necessarily the most original that anime has come to expect. Your average revenge action shows that follows a linear narrative of a girl, named Ryuuko Matoi, with her sidekick, Mako Mankanshou, who she encounters early on in her revenge journey to kill the main villain of the show, Satsuki Kiryuuin. That shouldn’t suggest that Kill La Kill needed to have a complicated story, to begin with. Everything else that makes the show work is its self-awareness of how nonsensical the action scenes are and the ridiculous amount of fanservice that would put most ecchi series to shame. As I’ve described the show’s plot as anarchistic before, I meant that in the sense of how the writers feel that they shot down the cliches that have plagued the vast majority of anime today and make them of their own accord that makes them unique to Kill La Kill. They are the same cliches, but they make it fresh by how they portray it in an old-school layout with the Japanese texts that pop up, which are reminiscent of anime from the ’90s. As with Gurren Lagaan, Kill La Kill’s grand finale proves to be worth the joyous ride thanks to some well-developed cliffhangers that add some exciting plot twists.
Along with plot, the characters that sprout up in Kill La Kill are no less than unforgettable from their personalities to their future growth as real characters. Individually, I’d like to start with the main hero, Ryuuko Matoi. Her intentions are simple in layman’s terms. However, her enthusiastic rage and determination written to her archetype are stellar. It’s these two facets that make for an ingenious hero in an action shounen show with the enormous size and scope that Kill La Kill has. They make the hero engaging and attention-grabbing so we can empathize with her struggle to overcome any obstacle that gets in her way of achieving her goal, whatever the case may be. As the plot goes further, her growth is handled with great clarity and pacing. Her strength and courage become more vivid to see while she improves her well-being as a person after learning new information about who killed her father and so on.
Another character that deserves her spotlight is the lovable Mako. Probably the most eccentric out of all of the characters in Kill La Kill, although her entire family could be construed to that as well. The same way how Ryuuko is a fantastic character due to her charisma and attention-grabbing, Mako is like that but in a different angle. She’s the comic relief for the show, and thanks to the tremendous snappy animation, her comedic antics that involve jumping on people affectionately to show her love for her friends and her attempts at trying to encourage Ryuuko to stay strong are all incredibly sincere and entertaining. Most of the charm that is apparent in the show come from Mako, and it’s a great blessing that she’s given a considerable amount of screen-time, which really gives her a lot of material to show forth.
To finish off the rest of the cast, our main villain Satsuki is about as charismatic and devoted to her goal as our main heroine, which is saying a lot. She has an extremely intimidating presence to her and likewise is always an excellent sign for a villain. Due to spoilers, I won’t go further on how the other villains play out, but needless to say, they all fill out their roles just as well as Satsuki does. The male characters in the show all have the same type of charisma that made Mako great, with a similar comedic schtick that only differs slightly due to their genders. Another sidekick to Ryuuko is her own talking outfit Senketsu, whose amusing quips are pretty genuine and funny.
Fanservice has been the black sheep of anime for many people who generally can’t get into it. Some may say that there’s no such thing as an intelligent way of showcasing fanservice, but that’s far from the truth. Sure, many examples do fail in doing so, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that fanservice can’t be done positively; in which Kill La Kill may be the best example that we have. Allow me to explain. You have girls wearing very provocative clothing in this show that barely covers every part of their body that might seem like they are just portrayed as objects or characters just for the sake of sexual promiscuity. Bad fanservice like this is when girls are only represented as that and nothing else, but good fanservice is when the girls themselves control their sexuality and body that overshadows the potential scenario of becoming just an object of affection. When Ryuuko puts on the suggestive outfit, she still becomes a strong woman despite being portrayed in this lewd fashion and can become one with the gear, along with Satsuki. When you want fanservice to become intelligent, you need to realize the real strength of how girls can indeed become independent beings and still become strong characters, while pleasing the audiences’ eyes as a bonus. If you don’t even attempt in doing so, then you’ve failed to gain any merit to the fanservice.
For a while, there hasn’t been much action anime that made me feel really excited to watch the actual action, due to how the animation in most of them doesn’t really translate well with great flair and precision. Backed up with the animation of Kill La Kill, I found myself really engaged with the action in the show by how the art style of the characters and how they move really fluidly in the retro-looking animation. The way to do action right is to keep flowing with minimal interference while we listen to the characters thinking to themselves for almost a minute on how they’ll get out of a particular situation. Not a dull moment passes by with the level of creativity that is given to Kill La Kill’s animation, and the action sequences are just one of the few big reasons as to why this is the case.
With music being the main driving force of how action can be exciting. the main genre Kill La Kill focuses on is your typical guitar-driven orchestration that is influenced by many J-Rock acts as of late. The other thing that also gives the show its added camaraderie is the voice casting. Ryuuko being played by Ami Koshimizu is probably the most appropriate voice actress anybody could’ve picked. I would even argue that this is Ami’s best role that she has ever had in her career since Kallen from Code Geass. Another fantastic performance is by the up and coming star Aya Suzaki playing Mako. Her active voice fits perfectly with Mako’s presence in the show, and the amount of enthusiasm she expresses through her lines that go on for quite a while in each episode is quite astounding.
The accomplishment of Kill La Kill’s influence is something that will live on for as long as anime will continue to prosper. It’s a show that does not care what its detractors say about it because it just doesn’t have any rules or order to be found in its bones. Imaginative ideas are very hard to come by with any medium as of now, but that is to be accepted with how the economic climate is in Japan. Kill La Kill and how it was created by a young studio goes to show that these possibilities still exist and will continue to exist for however long this medium will live. Trigger studio has a lot to prove for whatever projects they’re planning to do in the future, but with this as their first main series, that possibility is but only at arms reach.
So if you've read my Attack on Titan review, you know I'm not a fan of the hype but after hearing how similar Kill La Kill was to Gurren Lagann or something like Dead Leaves, I couldn't say no. Its been a while and I felt like my elitist brain could afford to be taken down a notch for a good 24 episodes; and it was heaven. It was like rewatching that show with swords and clothes instead of mechs and flashy lights. Honestly if you were thinking about rewatching Gurren Lagann anytime soon, I'd watch this because you're watching essentially the same show with
some differences, and you'll get the ADD tooth satisfied. But that also entails the fact that Kill La Kill suffers from downfalls that TTGL did, but sometimes to a worse degree.
As you probably have seen from everyone slapping their lips together on the internet Kill La Kill is all about style over substance and teases you with some plot every now and again. But for the meat and potatoes of the positive of the show; it's all about the action and the wonderfully flashy animation, and you really can't say much more about it. The other big perk of the show is the humor. It goes from being obnoxious and slapstick (in the vein of Looney Toons, seriously)to incredibly clever self aware jokes about what they're doing, what someone didn't need to repeat, or how bizarre Nudisto Beachu is is. And the show is so packed with attitude that you'll hear most of the characters shoot off a clever bout of screamed sarcasm most of the time. Dialogue and action are really the show's strongest points.
Now the characters themselves, while static and formulaic, are pretty great and are reminders of why I like shows like this so much. Ryuko is awesome to watch (and not because action requires her to be half naked), and the feeling I got from watching her struggle was similar to sitting down and listening to a favorite metal album at full volume after someone said something pants-on-head stupid at work. Lady Satsuki makes for a phenomenal villain (until the villain switch up I won't spoil that is) and plays well on the Yin to Ryuko's Yang of being a ruthless leader. The rest of the characters however might bring a gag (Mako) or a cool series of action sequences (the Elite Four) to the stage, but other than that they make the show work for the sake of being crazy and fun, but aren't in or are themselves very interesting. The villains and the powers of the characters is where the show started to slump a bit, as Kill La Kill is one of the shows that suffers from Egg of the King Syndrome (see my Black Butler review and Berserk review when it comes out). When you find out certain characters just don't die, the weight of feeling the tension of their struggle disappears. And even after such death defying experiences I was sad to find that few characters really learned anything, especially after switching alliances from one side to the other. They just kinda change sides and now they're friends. Those who have watched at least halfway through the show know what I'm talking about. The other issue with them is it's difficult to see their relevance to the world they occupy. If they're in school, why are they going? It seems unlikely that so many of the students would go there and teachers teach there to become part of a larger plan. So characters are good but not great, and I dare you to look me in the eye and tell me Mikisugi isn't Kamina.
The downside of Kill La Kill is obviously where I have to get analytic otherwise writing reviews wouldn't be fun. It does have a plot, it's just that it's as not serious and nonsensical as TTGL's was and unfortunately was desperate to be taken seriously. The issue with Kill La Kill's plot is that not only is it the painfully predictable save the world from aliens that look weird story we've all seen a thousand times regardless on if you like anime or not. Another issue is that the plot is a royal little tease. It begins by referencing, and I kid you not, George Orwell's 1984, and at first I thought it would become a giant metaphor for facism with flashy action like what Fooly Cooly had created with puberty. However because the story will do 180 degree spin-kicks of introducing new plot elements and characters throughout paired with the fact that the story was predictable and corny had gotten my hopes down for a giant, deeper metaphor. It tries to go deep by making references and talking about mega-corporations using clothing to take over the world, but the end result of everything ending in a big sword-and-boob flinging match doused that flame pretty quick. As for the 180 degree turns...said sharp turns in the story such as introducing new villains or unveiling true intentions aren't really plot twists as much as they are frustrating. I spent time watching characters fight and win just to get a completely different story out of it.
So you liked TTGL you'll like Kill La Kill. Kill La Kill I thought had better music too that only added to the attitude and the bigness of the show, and while the trade off of having better music and action, it still doesn't beat Gurren Lagann in quality, world-building, story and character building. It's fun to watch but doesn't live up to the hype.
Sometimes a show doesn't need to have the most coherent plot or a cast of sensible and realistic characters to succeed in entertaining its audience. These shows appeal to our emotions and excel at utilizing momentum and suspense to keep us watching and demanding more. While Kill La Kill doesn't bring us anything revolutionary or extraordinary in terms of plot development or character design, the manner in which Trigger presents and delivers the show in a way where you can't help but give it your full attention as you watch an episode. Through a mix of over-the-top fan service, exaggerated confrontations and battle scenes, ridiculous
and nonsensical humor, all under an equally insane and, for lack of a better word, creative premise and plot, Kill La Kill brings us a show that, at the very least, will keep you entertained and amused throughout the series.
Enter Matoi Ryuuko, our fresh, fierce-looking transfer student at Honnouji Academy, where Kiryuuin Satsuki's word is law and your star rank represents your position in society. A girl on a mission to find her father's murderer, with only half of a giant red scissor blade as her clue, Ryuuko stops at nothing to seek the truth, even if it means toppling the very foundation of the Academy itself. She's not alone, however; the ever-energetic and friendly Mankanshoku Mako and her family serve as Ryuuko's beacon of support and source of the occasional pile of delicious croquettes. By fighting her way to the top of the Honnouji hierarchy with her trusted Kamui Senketsu, yet another memento of her late father, she may get the answers to her questions, and maybe, just maybe, something much more than that.
Ryuuko's character development throughout the show was nothing stellar, yet at the same time I found myself becoming angry at the reckless situations she throws herself into, smiling silly at her goofy relationship with Mako, and cheering madly for her as she defeats numerous powerful adversaries. While the whole "there's this girl who has enormous potential but is initially weak, yet later through the support of her friends and the ones that believe in her makes her a force to be reckoned with" concept is fairly cheesy, cliche, and overused, Kill La Kill makes the best of a bad situation and uses it to their advantage. Whether it's Ryuuko challenging Satsuki in a battle in which she clearly would be outclassed yet comes out even due to the support of Mako or the strength of her resolve, or it's Ryuuko getting full of herself with her newfound strength, getting overconfident, then falling to an enemy she underestimates; while scenarios like these are extremely cliche, the unique flair and style Kill La Kill adds to these situations makes it captivating and entertaining to watch.
A heavily debated topic that Kill La Kill often sparks is over the concept of fan service. While your standard anime fan service will offer things such as, but not limited to, beach scenes with an irregular average guy to incredibly cute or beautiful girl ratio, a skirt flipped by the wind much to the chagrin of the embarrassed yet pretty young school girl etc etc, Kill La Kill's so called "fan service" is delivered in the form of heavily revealing battle outfits and consistent nudity with minimal censorship through light or objects. However, unlike most fan service scenes where the actual concept in question is brought to the viewers attention, Kill La Kill does a good job avoiding that. While there are parts where people ogle at Ryuuko's transformed state in Senketsu, or the Elite Four squabbling amongst themselves and telling each other to go put on some clothing, the show very well could have removed it completely and for the most part the foundation of the show would not have changed. For those who like it, all the more power to you. For those who despise it, looking past it or ignoring it will not diminish the impact the show has.
Fitting for a show like Kill La Kill, the art and sound complement the show tremendously. The artwork seems like it was drawn with vigor and the use of sharp lines and sketch marks makes battle scenes come to life. The soundtrack, in typical action anime fashion, does a very good job in matching the scene the episode is depicting. From tension-filled and ominous scenes accompanied by dark and sinister music to action-packed and flashy battle scenes with sharp and vivid background sounds, Kill La Kill does an excellent job piecing together a well coordinated story and soundboard.
Kill La Kill excels in drawing its audience in with larger than life battles, ridiculous yet clever nicknames for various special moves, secret operations, and over-the-top clothing, and fairly unpredictable plot twists and turns that evoke a wide range of emotions ranging from disappointment to shock and awe. It's a show that will be hit or miss for a majority of viewers, but one thing is for sure; it's difficult to be bored or not entertained while watching Kill La Kill.
When deciding whether an anime is good or not I always critique it based on a certain criteria, with well written story & characters being absolutely essential to qualify. But every now and then there's an anime title that comes along where conventional methods of critiquing become obsolete. These shows often focus on certain aspects that make them unique in their own right and doesn't follow conventional standards. May it be a mindless blockbuster style 'shoot em up' like Black Lagoon, an intense psychological roller coaster like Kaiji or a 'rule of cool' cultural mash-up like Samurai Champloo. These shows all have
certain aspects that make them stand out from the crowd and have garnered a following from fans because of it.
Then there are shows that take it to another extreme.. Shows that are powered by NONSENSICAL, STUPID, OVER THE TOP, FUCKIN INSANITY like FLCL, Gurren Lagann and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt........but somehow, despite being illogical screwball nonsense, they actually manage to work. Now enter the next anime to take that mantle, Kill La Kill. An anime so ludicrous, so left field, so stupid that you can't help but have a smile plastered on your face from beginning to end.
While there is a story to be found in KLK, it's safe to say many won't be watching it for a well written narrative. In fact the story is rather ridiculous, going from a simple revenge tale to global domination conspiracy where clothes are extraterrestrial lifeforms who developed human evolution. YES you heard me right, Charles Darwin theory of natural selection was a lie, it was clothes all along.
The first half follows our protagonist Ryuuko Matoi as she climb the school hierarchy one step at a time defeating each opponent in order to find out the truth about her father's killer. This is done in a beat em up style, almost similar to a arcade fighting game. This lead to alot of high octane encounter that will capture the attentiveness of even the most jaded audience.
The 2nd half is where they up the ante however with a conflict that spans beyond the initial one set to something on a global scale. Complete with a global domination plot and a megalomaniac. It's absurd but in a good way.
Now this is where this anime truly shines. Kill La Kill is a powerhouse of animated freedom. As superficial as judging something on how it looks is, there's no other way to express what this series stands for. It doesn't constrict itself to a set standard but rather switch to many different styles of animation. You can go from a mixture of watercolor brush stroked artsyle mixed with traditional techniques to a bunch of cardboard cutouts dancing across the screen without a moments notice. As left field as this sounds, it's this very off the wall cheap yet brilliant animation style that makes everything from the giant "in your face" letters to the vibrant colored madness to work. This is what elevates KLK from being more than just being another action romp. The visual extravaganza will keep you hooked! Either that or give you a seizure.
Now where the show becomes repulsive at times is the fanservice but if you've come into a ecchi anime and expect people dressed like nuns then slap yourself right now for being an idiot.
The soundtrack is as lively as the anime it corresponds. With bombastic pop pieces to orchestric rock and everything in-between, this wide range of scores does a good job of keeping up with the show's energetic pace. Both the sub and dub performances were also handled with care. Standouts being Carrie Keranen english voice acting for Satsuki Kiryuuin, in which she captured the iron clad personality flawlessly. Also both sub and dub performances for Mako Mankanshoku, which captured her bubbly off the wall attitude. Both OP and ED weren't anything worth listening to on a stand alone listen, since the pop rock songs can be heard in almost every other anime series but they still compliment the show to the very least.
With an anime as lively as this one a cast of equal caliber of insanity is needed to match it. Take every character archetype and amplify it to ungodly proportions and you'll have your characters in a nutshell.
The Elite Four are all over exaggerated stereotypes, Ragyou is a sadistic bitch and the rest follow suite in being over the top.
Ryuuko Matoi is a rather refreshing female lead in a medium that treats its female characters as either a "damsel in distress" or just another harem girl to conquer. She is very head strong and loyal to her friends.
But it doesn't stop there, KLK have yet another strong willed female in Satsuki Kiryuuin. These two play off as the whole "two sides of the same coin" gig but it never impedes upon the show's enjoyment. And last but not least, Mako Mankanshoku who provides comedic relief. You'd either love her goofy antics or find her annoying but there's no denying her role in the series, representing what KLK is all about.
Like I said before conventional critiquing doesn't really work for anime like this. Kill La Kill is something you have to personally experience to understand, its not something you can get a grasp of from word of mouth. That being said I got what I expected out of it and that was a fun ride and also a reminder of what makes anime, well.. "anime".
The fanbase of this show have been proclaiming that "this saved anime" . while I don't believe that to be true, I can to the very least say that it's certainly a welcome addiction to the mix. Breathing new life into a medium that has grown stale. If you're tired of the dime a dozen school rom-coms, moe blobs and cardboard cutout MCs then this will certainly do the trick.
"Ask not the sparrow how the eagle soars!” – Satsuki Kiryuin
Kill La Kill - My 40th review, and a very special one for me.
Does it need an introduction? As one of the most hyped, popular, and polarizing anime of 2013 (2013 was a big year for anime) it’s likely that most everyone knows it by reputation, if not having seen it outright.
Artwork and Animation: 10
Kill La Kill is unique. That’s not to say that it’s slightly dissimilar from what immediately marks the art style of anime as a whole, no- it’s one of a kind. It’s obvious that Trigger was under a budget
constraint, being that this was their first major animation project as a new studio, AND an independent, original product. Hiroyuki Imaishi’s signature style is the definitive way of describing KLK’s visual aspects. His flair for scope and scale come together with great character designs and slightly rough, but mercurially animation. The new studio Trigger has set the standard for speed, quick cuts, and stretching the boundaries of what can be done with animation. The generally over the top style of Imaishi is incredible to behold here. No other anime has been able to look like and do what Kill La Kill has with a similar budget and time- it’s a work of art purely out of talent.
Sound and Voice Acting: 10
Edge: Japanese audio
I’m typically not a proponent of sub or dub with any consistency. However, I will consistently defend that this show is immensely enjoyable to hear in EITHER language. My first and second viewings were in the original Japanese, which I immediately fell in love with. The incredibly dynamic performances are given by not only the main cast, but by even EVERYONE in the supporting cast!
The Japanese cast is a group of superstars. An all veteran, amazing group of talent with a credit list as long as the Empire State building, this group has done it all. Ami Koshimizu and Ryouka Yuzuki head up the cast as Ryuko and Satsuki respectively. Aya Suzuki as the cocaine addicted hype woman Mako Mankanshoku couldn’t have been a better fit. Toshihiko Seki, longtime VA, as Senketsu brought feeling and dynamics to an animate piece of clothing. Who can say that they made a Sailor Uniform feel more human than the casts of entire other shows put together? Finally, one of my favorites, Yukari Tamura, does some of her best work as the dual personalities of Nui Harime. The amount of work, feeling, and emotion put into these performances is absolutely immense. They sold the comedy, they played it straight to great effect, and they were able to wring out a heretofore inconceivable amount of hype and awesomeness in the vein of Gurren Lagann. The gold standard of how effective voice acting can be.
Where were you the first time you heard “Ambiguous”? One of the most immediately recognizable and memorable parts of Kill La Kill is the music. When “Before My Body Is Dry” played the first time, it was destined to be a hit. Endless AMVs, mashups, English versions, covers, and basically any other form of remix have been done to it, and every song in the series- and for good reason: they’re fantastic. Fantastic use of insert songs, namely different versions of Mika Kobayashi’s "Before My Body Is Dry", high strung orchestral compositions, hard rock riffs, Heavenly choruses, and two of the most endlessly catchy openings in all of anime, one from Eir Aoi, "Sirius", and one from GARNiDELiA, the aforementioned "Ambiguous". I bought the soundtrack, and it’s absolutely worth it.
Kill La Kill is again unique in that it can be viewed multiple times and have extremely varied ideas, themes, and metaphor/allegory pulled from it, depending on how it was seen. One can watch it purely at face value, and thoroughly enjoy the absolute insanity going on screen at any given time. It’s got giant robots, it’s got explosions, satire, parody, and it’s got two hopped up, superpowered, scantily clad teenage girls going at it with swords ripping shit up! If that’s all this show was, maybe the criticisms of it being mere male power fantasy and exploitative, titillating ecchi garbage would be valid. However, unlike Michael Bay’s Transformers, there actually is more than meets the eye here.
Deep within the heart of the Life Fiber that makes up Kill La Kill is an intensely smart, metaphor and allegory heavy narrative that hearkens back into several important events in the history of Feudal Japan. There’s also a ton of name symbolism, references and allegory for mythology, and gods of many religions, World War 2, commentary on the oppressive Japanese school and work culture, and an immediately obvious metaphor for the struggles of puberty and the ubiquitous coming of age tale. Ogres are like onions. They have ‘layers.’ Kill La Kill is like an onion. It has ‘layers.’
To start things off; the Honnouji Incident. In 1582, Oda Nobunaga had nearly subjugated and consolidated all of Japan, save the Kansai region, which consists of Kobe, Kyoto, and Osaka. He was overthrown in Kyoto by his general Akechi Mitsuhide and forced to commit suicide. Ragyo’s plot to consolidate not only Japan, but also the world with the Life Fiber’s power, and subsequent overthrowing are immediate similarities.
Not necessarily by one event, but the Fashion/Fascism theme is present throughout the story in the form of Honnouji Academy, and then overshadowed by Revocs and Ragyo herself. In both somewhat of a reference to Japan in WW2, and likening the Japanese educational system to that of a fascist dictatorship, Kill La Kill takes on a social commentary facet that is rather intriguing. With the overall theme of rebellion, finding oneself and one’s place in society, these subjects mesh together quite well.
To give a bit of perspective; postwar Japan was not a pretty place. To help raise themselves out of the prior political system and stigma of the Emperor, the system was completely revamped into a more democratic one. Along with that came educational reform, which contributed greatly to their rapid economic recovery. Education became compulsory, for both boys and girls, and literacy rates skyrocketed to record highs. With educational increases so great, so too came with them the pressure to perform and correct what were perceived failures of the past. Coupled with the high pressure work culture, the school and educational environment followed suit- upholding and reinforcing the culturally revered values of hard work, loyalty, and determination to reap a high benefit in both status and monetarily- the idea of success. The school culture is much the same: mind your business, do what you’re supposed to do, don’t stick out, and be a good student.
As Kill La Kill relates to this: the idea that individuality, the sticking out, being your own person in the midst of the sea of little cogs that make the machine work is not only an acceptable thing, but necessary for growth. The uniformity and repeated character design of the no-star students is evident of this- and they appear eerily as a well-trained army at several points. They’re small, insignificant, and easily replaceable, like little cogs. Ryuko is very obviously a Scissor blade shaped wrench being slung into the midst of this. Satsuki and the Elite Four are the “fascist” ruling party of the school, keeping everyone in line, keeping the machine that is the “conquering” educational system churning out perfect little cookie cutter shaped students in the mold of “perfection”. “Fear is freedom! Subjugation is liberation! Contradiction is truth! Those are the facts of this world! And you will all surrender to them, you pigs in human clothing!”
Finishing tying up the puberty and finding oneself themes- Ryuko’s individuality and bucking of the trend are struggles that every teen faces: the pressure to fit in, to be a perfect, molded student, and the desire to be something more- a person of your own choosing. As the story progresses, so too does this theme work its way not only into the other students, but the plot itself, on a more macro scale.
It’s easy to dismiss Kill La Kill as being “yet another shonen ‘more power’ show”, or nonsensical childish entertainment- but again, this is the genius of Kill La Kill. It CAN be those things, if you want it to be. Kill La Kill is easy to watch as a shallow action series, no problem. The “fanservice” and hypersexualization are typically the first points detractors will bring up. Let it suffice to say that if that’s the only negative about this show, then you missed the joke. Many anime in recent days have taken to pandering to the least common denominator entertainment viewers. Most people call this ecchi and fanservice. Kill La Kill lampshades this by taking it to the absolute extreme, calling attention to it, and not only moving on from it, but actually turning it into a plot point! Part of the whole idea expressed in the individualism is that of the clothing that we wear. The threads that bind- if you will. Kill La Kill brings a brilliant undertone of satire to the table in moments like these, lampooning things from the nudity and sexualization that are so prevalent now to other things, including entire genres and categorizations of anime.
But as I’ve laid out above, and other themes I’ve not discussed, it’s what’s under the surface that makes this a true diamond in the collective crust of anime as a whole.
Ryuko Matoi is the quintessential school delinquent. Kicked out of several high schools prior to her arrival at Honnouji Academy due to violent altercations and a penchant for trouble, Ryuko is searching for her father’s murderer. Wielding her half of a giant pair of magical scissors and clad in every stereotype of ecchi, shonen, superpower, and male fantasy, she’s a walking subversion of magical girl, and essentially every trope of the aforementioned genres. Ryuko personifies willpower, determination, and the ability to win against all odds- similarly to her shonen counterparts- but with a twist. She’s plainly aware of what she’s doing.
The typical shonen plot revolves around some young kid who gains a superpower and uses it to fight against whatever indignities they find themselves confronted with, with a smattering of chibi humor, goofy situations, and thinly veiled attempts at heavy handed morality lessons about the nature of responsibility or whatever.
Ryuko throws all this out the window. New powers? Cool, let’s do it. Aren’t you at all bothered by this immense amount of death and destruction you’ve wrought against the populace in your quest to uncover the truth about your father? Nope, not really.
Ryuko represents the unsureness and unknown world of breaking out of the teen shell, but while still being a child. This is symbolized in her relationship with Senketsu and the Mankanshoku Family. She begins as anyone- with an idea of a goal, but no real means of achieving it, until she comes into a means that allow her to transform into her full potential: the Kamui. In order for her to be able to fight for what she wants, she has to grow, both as a person, and in strength. As explained in the show, the reason Senketsu is unable to fully support her and uses her blood to such a degree, is that she hasn’t opened up to him, or embraced the fear and shame of having all ya stuff out there on display for the sake of being empowered. It’s about fear of the unknown, stepping outside your boundaries, and coming face to face with what you have to deal with to get along in this world. As seen in episode 12, Ryuko isn’t some infallible shonen character; consumed by her rage- a symbol for the teen angst and hormone imbalances that cause such instability- she loses control- and sight of what it is that was her ultimate goal: was it vengeance against the murderer of her father, or her fight against injustice for herself?
Many use this point of the Kamui turning Ryuko and Satsuki into scintillating displays of fanservice to dismiss any possibility of character growth, but this is simply not the case. In fact, the Kamui transformations are yet another subversion of magical girl and ecchi/fanservice tropes that are so common now. Ryuko is very self-aware, and to a point, embarrassed about how the transformation renders her outfit into a stripperific costume- it’s lampshaded, and moved on from. The nudity and oversexualization are never the point of the story as they would be in a lesser show- but are worked into this ever revolving, multifaceted work of art.
Satsuki herself is an allegory straight out of history: being both the aforementioned conqueror Oda Nobunaga and the usurper Akechi Mitsuhide. The relationship between Ragyo and Satsuki, who has conquered all the schools in Japan except those three of the Kansai region, is very reminiscent of this historical event. Satsuki, alongside Ryuko, goes on a personal journey as well- one of the struggles of the expectations of your elders, parents, and of society upon the displaced, out of element teen. Satsuki’s fight is not one of vengeance for a lost loved one, but one of finding herself, and her place in the world outside of the demands of her mother.
In episode 25, Satsuki gets some of the best characterization I’d seen in the show, a shame that it was so late coming. When she’s defeated her enemies, quelled all the issues in front of her, and finished her fight- which is all that she’s known -what else is there for her beyond that? When the intense struggle against your entire being is all the history you’ve ever had, what happens when the conflict finally ends? What are you then, when your only definition has been fighting and struggling? The story of Satsuki putting down the sword is really touching, and gives her a more humane side, and full circle of character that was very enjoyable to see play out after the fierceness and strife that she was up until that point.
The Elite Four are representative of the four heavenly kings of Buddhist Mythology and the mystical apes: Do, See, Hear, and Speak No Evil. The Buddhist heavenly kings are: Tamon-ten, he who hears all; Zojo-ten, he who causes growth; Jikoku-ten, he who upholds the realm; and Komoku-ten, he who sees all.
Gamagoori, as chairman of the disciplinary committee would obviously be Do No Evil, and Jikoku-ten, who ‘upholds’ the discipline.
Sanageyama is blind, but sees all.
Jakuzure is the princess of sound, which makes Hear No Evil and Zojo-ten make sense here, where she continually gets larger and more powerful Symphony Regalia.
Inumuta represents Speak No Evil, and Tamon-ten, due to his intelligence network and powers.
As a product: it’s a complete entertainment package. It’s riotously funny, it’s off the wall, left field crazy. Like FLCL before it, this is sort of an amalgam of a myriad of things that are enjoyable and what make anime fun: over the top battles, drama, a touch of politics, mystery and intrigue, fun characters, and one statement I don’t throw out much, but applies here: “Only Japan.” That’s really the best way to describe it; it’s so wild and out there that it could have only come from one place.
Furthermore, the puns and wordplay jokes that are signature to well written Japanese humor coupled with Imaishi’s penchant for lowdown, dirty jokes play out hilariously in this. Due to the fact that the title of the show itself, and a significant portion of the plot are also based wholly off of puns in the Japanese language, it makes it that much sweeter. To extrapolate: Kill La Kill is obviously English. Duh, you moron.
Kiru ra Kiru would be the romaji- the kanji on which the pronunciation of Kiru comes from has the triple meaning (or readings) of “to cut”, “to kill”, or “to wear”- the central plot points. Fashion and Fascism are English loanwords, which are both alliterative, and again, play a major role here. Perhaps the most interesting, and that tie up the ends of the Oda Nobunaga/Japan unification (along with the end of this review) and the plot are the words “conquest” and “uniform”. Seifuku is the romaji, which comes from kanji that can be read as either conquest or uniform.
There’s not much left to be said about this series than what I’ve already laid out. An in depth analysis of themes, symbols, and deeper meaning is what I felt was the only appropriate way to amalgamate the subject matter and do justice to this incredible series. This was the review I never thought I would be able to write. There were so many things I loved about Kill La Kill that it may be impossible to list them- but I’ve done my due diligence to try and set into words the vast complex of topics that set this show apart from any other I’ve seen, and potentially any other in existence. It’s my favorite, after all.
tl;dr (Yeah, I see you, you review skipping pig in human clothing)
+ Intricately woven plot replete with metaphor, allegory, and symbolism; alternately viewable as a shallow action series- up to you.
+ Dynamic, over the top, intense Voice Acting by great veterans and noobs alike
+ Absolutely hilarious
+ Great action scenes, set pieces, and a very unique art style.
+/- Perceived fanservice may be offputting, but it’s part of the parody!
+/- Very Imaishi- fast, crude jokes, everything you expect from his productions
Absolutely. Kill La Kill is a complete, consummate package of entertainment. Inspirational, brilliant, funny, thought provoking, and endlessly entertaining: the experience that makes anime as a medium worth it for the sheer infinity of possibilities.
Whether or not you possess the capacity to stomach over-the-top dialogues, scenes and atmosphere in a show is a decisive factor when it comes to what you’d ultimately feel about Kill la Kill when you watch it. It is a really fun show for those that can stomach OTT stuff. On the other hand, it is a cringe-worthy ride for those that can’t. The first episode starts off with our protagonist, Ryuko Matoi, challenging the Student Council president Kiryuin Satsuki holding a giant blade that is apparently one half of what makes a huge pair of scissors. That, my friend, in itself is enough to
give you an idea as to how ridiculous this show is. If ridiculous isn’t your cup of tea then you ought to stay away from this series. Oh, and then there’s the fact that almost every single episode consists of scantily clad girls fighting it out with each other. If you can’t stand some skin, please walk away from this series. Because you will see a lot of skin. Both female and male fanservice is present in this show in spades.
Kill la Kill is brought to you by studio Trigger. The people who brought us Little Witch Academia and Inferno Cop. And these are the same guys who worked on TTGL. With a good number of people who put this on their watch list being aware of it being made by those that made TTGL, they’re obviously bound to have a few expectations. The over-the-top atmosphere and the similar art styles the shows share don’t help, either. But, ultimately, they’re different shows. And thus should be judged differently. That’s enough about TTGL, though. Let’s get on to the categories I’ll cover in this review -
This review will be divided into the following sections:
1. Art & Animation
----Art & Animation----
This show’s art style is a far cry from the typical art style most anime these days possess. It is much more cartoon-ish in nature in comparison. But that doesn’t mean it is a negative point against the show at all. In fact, the show plays it to its strength by using the potential of a cartoon-ish art style to its fullest – the highly exaggerated scenes, as a result, prove to be far more effective than they’d be under normal circumstances. As a result, the art style is definitely something that fits the show to a ‘t’ and compliments its OTT nature greatly. It is a definite 9/10.
The same, however, cannot be said for the animation. Kill la Kill was made under a tight budget and, as such, there have been plenty of instances in the show where the creators had to cut corners. They try to minimize animation during the non-action scenes and generally put all the budget into the action scenes. As a result, there’s an immense amount of variation in the animation quality throughout the series. There are fights like the ones in episode 3 that look brilliant and are very fluid and well choreographed. And then there are scenes where you’d feel like you’re looking at a bunch of slides with a few moving parts. The show DOES, however, deserve a pat on the back to actually try and use its limited budget to its fullest – a lot of times they use limited frames in comedy scenes to hilarious effect. In fact, there’s a character in this show whose movements almost always comprise of ridiculous paper-like movements that consist of minimal movement in terms of frames. It doesn’t look fluid in the least but it somehow fits. You’d understand if you see it for yourself.
That said, since the show doesn’t actually possess terrific animation throughout, I’ll have to lower its score in this category a bit. It gets a 6.5/10 for its animation.
I don’t really need to speak much when it comes to its sountrack. I’m personally a big fan and I think its OST was downright amazing. Character themes fit and the background OST is almost never off the mark. A definite 10/10 on this front.
They’re all fairly good with a decent amount of backstory – a sufficient amount which is JUST right. The characters that stand out are definitely Ryuko, Satsuki and Mako. Former two are the main characters of the series and rivals. They’re always at each other’s throats – as if fated to be enemies. These two receive the most screen-time. Ryuko, the MC, faces problems like identity crisis and goes berserk a few times. The story is ~apparently~ supposed to be a coming-of-age story so a teenage girl having a lot of mood-swings and being very impulsive in nature probably doesn’t seem out-of-character. But she can be annoying to some due to it anyway. I personally found it really annoying when she had an outburst in episode 19. Mostly because she has had similar outbursts not too long ago. But I digress.
Mako, on the other hand, is more of a comedic side-kick than a main character. She is eccentric and hyperactive. Her gags can be hit or miss for people depending on their perspective. Personally found her and her antics highly enjoyable and a breath of fresh air when compared to contemporary sidekicks. There are two more that I would love to talk about but I shall not because they’re integral to the plot and disclosing information about them could be considered a spoiler. Anyway, as far as character development is concerned, it is present, yes. But not *too* much of it. The only character in the series that gets proper development in this series is Ryuko’s rival, Kiryuin Satsuki. Ryuko, on the other hand, pales in comparison.
All in all, this series consists of a highly female-oriented cast. The males are present, yeah, but it is the women who possess boobs of steel, strength and ambition to do things their way.
It gets a 7/10 in this category.
A pretty simple set-up. And a very entertaining story. There were a few ups and downs between episodes 7 and 15 but the series has managed to be highly entertaining for the most part. Do not go into it expecting it to be a deep story and you’ll probably have a lot of fun. It starts off with a monster of the week format, goes on with it for a few episodes, and then shifts gears. It is only after episode 12 that some revelations come to light and we come to know more about the big shots. And not before episode 15 does the series start having some serious plot progression. Before episode 15 the series did possess a very chaotic pacing as far as events-per-episode are concerned but the rate of overall plot progression was very slow. Which led some fans to say “You haven’t TRULY seen Kill la Kill if you haven’t seen past episode 15 yet”. And I’m inclined to agree with them to a degree. The series does pick up quite a bit after that. Don’t expect a shit-ton of character development or earth-shattering revelations , though. It is all pretty predictable. What make the things that take place in these episodes so damn effective is the execution – Trigger does an amazing job at showing off predictable events in an unpredictable fashion. They’re masters when it comes to it and it makes the recent episodes look really, really good when compared to the episodes that precede them. It ends on a satisfying note, too. Slightly disappointing if you are expecting things to escalate to infinity and beyond but, like I said, its end is definitely not something you’d consider a bad end. It wraps up things nicely. Of course, there are a few loose ends and things that you’d consider plot-holes but they’re mostly minor for the most part and story was never its strength anyway. I’ll conclude by saying that it turns out VERY different from how it starts off. You probably won’t believe the first and last episodes are parts of the same show if they didn’t share characters.
Overall, it gets a 6.5/10 for the story.
I think this is definitely a series worth checking out. Do not expect it to be anything – just judge it for what it is rather than for what it could’ve been or what you wanted it to be. A series with a good art style and creative yet dramatic cuts, amazing soundtrack, a fun cast and just over-the-top action. Definitely check it out if you’re into action anime. Or if you are just looking for an over-the-top series that isn’t afraid of doing things that are considered very far-fetched or out-of-the-box.
Final rating – 7/10. The rating takes enjoyment into account as well. Although I personally have it listed as a 9/10 on my list because I’m highly biased when it comes to this show. I did try to keep my personal bias away from this review, though. And I hope I was successful in that regard – please provide feedback and let me know whether or not that was the case. Both helpful and unhelpful votes are appreciated as long as you guys let me know the +ves and –ves of this review to me on my profile. Thank you for reading and I hope I was helpful.
Kill La Kill is the first original work from Trigger, a studio founded by a couple former Gainax employees. It ran from October of last year to March of this year. Its head writer was Nakashima Kazuki, who was also one of the series writers for Gurren Lagann. So, how did Trigger's initial foray into an original series go?
Our tale opens with the militant Honnouji Academy getting a new transfer student. Enter our protagonist, Matoi Ryuuko. She's traveled across the country looking for leads about her father's killer. The trail has led to Honnouji, where the student counsel President, Satsuki, rules with an iron
fist and students' positions in her hierarchy determine where they can live and what kinds of jobs their families can hold. Ryuuko demands answers from Satsuki only to be beaten by one of her minions who's using a magic uniform that grants him superhuman powers. Yes, the premise really involves magical clothing.
Ryuuko slinks back to her father's burnt lab, falling through a trap door. Inside she finds a magic sailor uniform that talks to her and grants her super powers but needs her blood to activate. Ryuuko decides to put an end to Satsuki's ambitions and force her to tell the truth about her father's death. But the secret of Honnouji Academy goes far deeper than she realises.
The plot of this story is pretty weak and largely just serves to transport Ryuuko from one over the top action or comedic sequence to the next. The plot twists come out of nowhere with nothing foreshadowing them whatsoever, but a lot of them are really predictable in spite of that simply because they're really cliché. The attempts at comedy fall short as well, usually being based on either the idea that nudity is funny or rambling that borders on incoherent.
The only characters who even gravitate towards two dimensions are Satsuki and Ryuuko, the rest are firmly rooted one-dimensional archetypes. Whether it's the friend, the loyal minion, the bloke who loves to fight or something else entirely. The only thing that really sets them apart from the usual archetype is that they're more over the top. Kill La Kill subscribes to the notion that subtlety and depth are unnecessary. It just tries to exaggerate the casts' archetypal qualities to make them the most extreme versions it possibly can.
The art in this looks pretty bad. The characters look like blank-faced action figures with proportions out of a bad 90s comic. The action sequences are frequently difficult to follow with an over-emphasis on flashy effects and special attacks that just strain your eyes more often than not.
The outfits are really fan-servicey as well, but I'm pretty certain the designs are being used in an attempt at comedy. Both because the art style does not lend itself to actual fan-service and because the anime draws attention to how ridiculous the outfits are on several occasions. The problem is the execution. Everything is ridiculously exaggerated in this anime so the over the top fan-service doesn't come across as tonally different from anything else, be it serious or not. Furthermore, while a joke at the expense of how ridiculous fan-service can be could work in a short piece or when used sparingly in a longer work, the series is decently long with twenty four episodes, all of which keep the same ridiculous outfits. If they wanted them to serve as a parody, they really should have replaced them with something actually practical instead of coming up with a contrived excuse for why they couldn't.
The voice acting is awful. Like the art, story and characters, it's ridiculously exaggerated. The actors usually sound like they're reading off of their scripts as quickly as they can with little to no range of emotion. The actors who get it the worst are Suzaki Aya, Shintani Mayumi and Hiyama Nobuyuki. It doesn't help that Hiyama is the only one of those three I've heard in roles that required actual acting skill. That being said, the series also has Seki Toshihiko, Yuzuki Ryoka, Koshimizu Ami and Tamura Yukari all of whom are very good, but you wouldn't know that with their performances in this. So, it is very likely a fault with the direction. The music is kind of generic action fare.
The ho-yay factor is a 4/10. Things get pretty homo-erotic between Mako and Ryuuko. Satsuki and Nonon are also implied to be more than friends. Nui is openly into other girls, even getting a kiss scene at one point. Then you have Ragyou, who gropes her own daughter in several different scenes. To be fair to Kill La Kill, these scenes are supposed to be creepy and are played up as such.
Still, this is the fourth anime I've seen in a row that's had incestuous content to some degree. What's next, a boy having a crush on a clone of his mum? Would any series really be that stupid?
Kill La Kill is a mindless, over the top, action series. This “over the top” aesthetic does give the series something different from the usual mindless action schlock, but I'm not sure if that's to its benefit. It's not even over the top in an enjoyable way like Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. It's just mind-numbingly stupid in terms of plot, characters, art and acting but at least it's relatively harmless. If you're a fan of that kind of exaggerated comedy, you might enjoy it. If you aren't, there's really nothing that this series can offer you. My final rating is going to be a 3/10. Next week, I'll look at Neon Genesis Evangelion.
When everything is said and done, anime only has one purpose: to entertain. If it fails to do so, it is deemed exactly so, and those who strive to create such entertainment shy away from the subject as a result. On the contrary, if a single anime is deemed so entertaining by the masses that they are willing to rip each other to pieces in order to get a glimpse of what more could be done with the series, those who strive to create such entertainment might feel pressured into doing so out of obligation and greed, rather than for the intended purpose. While this
continues to happen, the quality of certain series only continue to skyrocket with each sequel. If there were any series that were to come out within the last couple years that I feel deserves to be left untouched, it would be Kill la Kill, studio Trigger's very first anime blockbuster.
Kill la Kill is the creation of director Hiroyuki Imaishi, who is most known for directing titles such as Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and Panty Stocking and Garterbelt. What becomes common knowledge while watching Imaishi's works is that he has a tendency to overexaggerate. Fight scenes, overall animation and design, fan service, and story telling are a few notable examples of subjects that Imaishi toys with in every creation. This trend isn't broken in Kill la Kill, as the very beginning sequence shows. No context, no background checks, just a quick overview of what the viewer comes to witness and the story begins. While intimidating, this type of story telling can benefit the viewer by baiting them into feeling more immersed in the story, as if they were actually there, as ignorant as the youthful characters within the series. The only information given at the beginning of the series is that Honnouji Academy, a school grounds of epic proportions, is being run by a terrorizing force in Satsuki Kiryuuin. The only thing in her way is Ryuuko Matoi, a strong, developing individual who suddenly appears in Honnouji Academy to search for her father's murderer.
The story of Kill la Kill grows as with its progression, ultimately becoming more substantial than anyone starting the series could ever imagine. The other thing that comes with this type of plot is the magnitude of unrealistic situations. No matter the event, Kill la Kill ultimately can't escape some of the shounen cliches that it means to spoof, leaving them in a state of laughing at their own misery. However, what the series does so well all throughout is hold its ground; no matter what happens, the characters, the plot, the animation, all will make it through to the end, by any means possible. What Kill la Kill accomplishes with this is what was meant to be accomplished in Imaishi's other series: entertaining the viewer through sheer spectacle. Despite the plot's flaws and unrealistic qualms, the story is entertaining to view from every standpoint, even from the stingiest of mindsets.
Those who inhabit such a sporadic plot are sure to be colorful, right? To varying degree, the series does well in creating characters who match the overall tone. Ryuuko Matoi is the main heroine of the series, and that role is never relinquished, even in times of hardship. Her growth as a character is only slightly embellished, while her overall progression of strength may seem strange to some. Mako Mankanshoku, Ryuuko's friend and the show's main source of comedy, is the epitome of what kind of character can evolve from the rapid-paced animation of Kill la Kill. Very rarely is she shown in a normal state of balance, always bouncing off of walls and displaying unrealistic feats of human biology. She's legitimately funny, which is always nice to see from a longer-running series. Satsuki Kiryuuin as a villain is about as grand a performance as any series could ever hope to accomplish. She sticks to her beliefs and crushes those who oppose her, even those who were at one point accepting of her rule. Her cold demeanor makes her somewhat disheartening as an overall character, but, along with Ryuuko, Satsuki becomes just as three-dimensional as any valid character. The side characters serve their roles well, but almost never stray out of it, almost as if the very thought would kill them instantly. With a series like this, it wouldn't surprise me. Regardless, every character feels genuinely important to the plot of the series.
What fully deserves a round of applause from every person within an Earth-sized radius of the North Pole is the animation. It's rare to see so much effort put into the fluidity of the animation. The fight scenes are flashy and well drawn. The characters' designs are interesting, along with every outfit they choose to wear. The only thing I could care to point out is that when compared to high-quality works of this time period, Kill la Kill seems almost old-fashioned, but that might be a point in of itself. Most, if not all, entertainment derived from this show can be traced back to how fluid and smooth on the eyes the art style is. If one were allowed to mention one key point about Kill la Kill as a whole, animation might be a common choice.
One other thing about Kill la Kill's art style is the amount of fan service present within each episode. While, admittedly, the first few episodes almost relied on it, the connection to the characters and the focus on the plot almost makes one forget that they're basically fighting naked. The outfits worn by each character are so stylishly designed, I'd even suggest that what isn't shown of the female body is almost more alluring than what is. A distraction from the distraction, if you will. Using fan service from one taste to combat fan service from another taste. Kill la Kill is just as much a battle of where to pay attention as it is a battle against characters.
A series as entertaining as Kill la Kill is bound to give pressure to its creators to create something just as amazing, if not better, than what they can handle. They could always try to appease their appetite with an appetizer, such as an elongated OVA or a few movies, but to recreate the magic that Kill la Kill left within an audience will be a difficult task to accomplish, if they decide to continue the series. Whatever they choose to do, Kill la Kill is enough to leave any fan either clamoring for more or feeling satisfied with a creatively diverse story. Despite some issues with realism, every question that arose with Trigger's first official tv series, whether it be its ability to entertain or its animation skills, were checked off with every passing episode, and met with a solid following.
Kill la Kill is not a stupid show. I want to draw this line now. A stupid show is one that blatantly contradicts its established settings or fails to draw verisimilitude by continually destroying its own lack of believability within the world it created. From the very first episode, the world of Kill la Kill remained intact and it never strained my disbelief. This show is silly, not stupid. It revels in its ridiculousness because, as this show blatantly states multiple times, that is the world they live in. It is ridiculous, absurd, and every synonym in between. The premise of the universe is, after
all, based on a pun. Well, two puns.
Since Kill la Kill’s world is surrounded around the concept of clothing and what they fundamentally mean, whether it is their show of power or submission, the writers at Trigger elevate that. Fashion, in Japanese, is spelt exactly like fascist, which is an ongoing motif and trait in many of the characters. While the term Seifuku, means both uniform and conquest. Which is also an important theme within the universe in Kill la Kill. With this in mind, every revelation, however absurd and over-the-top, still remains believable within the rules and structure of the world, therefore maintaining the verisimilitude created in the first episode. Put simply, it is ridiculous and silly, but not stupid.
Even throughout the show as characters grow and spawn new tools of destruction seemingly at whim, the ideas and themes persist. One may argue that nonsensical elevation is inherently stupid, as it strains the viewers preconceived notions of what is relatable, while I believe that the world within a show or film can be as ludicrous as the creators want, as long as the characters remain grounded, however insane their outward appearance may be. Characters, after all, make the setting, not vice versa. Characters are the most important element to long-form storytelling and are single-handedly responsible for most viewer’s connection to the story being told. Kill la Kill is at its best when it is exploring its characters motivations, revelations, and ideals through outlandish set pieces and outrageous dialogue. This elevates this seemingly simple story of revenge to something special.
The first, and probably most standout element of the show is its immediate hook. The idea that this world runs of clothes and how this simple concept progressively becomes elevated by clashing ideals. This universe, created by the staff at Trigger is intrinsically indulgent due to its focus on scantily clad girls fighting in massive arenas. It further elevates its indulgence by making it so everyone is scantily clad. Equal opportunity fan service. The simple idea is that it is humanity, as in, the body you are born with, is worth fighting over the restrictive, controlling nature of clothing, as it hides who you are. This base theme that permeates throughout Kill la Kill is the driving force of its indulgence.
Understanding this, you begin to comprehend the rules that you will be seeing sprout throughout the series. The elements being foreshadowed from earlier episodes coming to fruition later on in this show is a staple, which overjoyed me because a lot of anime I’ve seen seems to lack the concept of foreshadowing. The idea of sex and body positivity encompasses Kill la Kill and I couldn’t be happier. All of a sudden, the potentially over-indulgent shots of our heroines toned figure becomes something to cheer on, rather than roll your eyes at.
This idea is something I touched on while discussing Prison School. Sex shouldn’t be demonized. Showing the beauty of the human body is a positive and should remain so. However, sacrificing characters, story, and believability for some marketing based on a bunch of colorful waifu-bait girls? Now that is where my problem with a lot of anime comes in. It isn’t that the buzzword “fanservice” is something I hate; it is the exploitative nature of it that is over-utilized and simply doesn’t belong in many of the areas which is encompasses.
Kill la Kill subverts this entire notion by making the entire world it is set in like this. Nudity is not just a theme, but an ideal that all our protagonists end up believing in. Not nudity in the sexual light, but nudity in the human light. Being naked drifts away from being crude and over-indulgent to being the norm in this show, and I believe that this was exactly the point. It was a clever way to still market these attractive characters while still forging a new kind of story that I have yet been seen in anime.
Meta-narrative is nothing new, but the general focus in anime on it has been criticism of these elements while still undoubtedly doing them. Trigger doesn’t criticize as much as it indulges in, and does incredibly well. By creating a world focused solely on battling clothes, they draft the schematics for applicability in the skin they want to desperately show and market. This is genius. I’ve never seen a show that wears its base notions its sleeve. I shouldn’t even say that. I’ve never seen a show that fully embraces what it is in world, characters, and themes, so much so that feels like I’m watching a show that is naked. In the end, that is the point.
[Characters within a Naked World]
As I said in my introduction, the characters are this show's strongest parts, and Kill la Kill has no end to strong elements. Following our unusual protagonist, Ryuuko Matoi, who dawns one-half a scissor blade crafted by her mysterious father. She finds her way to Honnouji Academy, which is ruled by student body president Satsuki Kiryuuin. She proceeds to meet all sorts of wonderful characters, such as the elite four student body council, as well as her best friend Mako Mankonshoku. She is also forms a bond with the one other item crafted by her father, the life-fiber suit, Senketsu. We are then swept away on a journey to discovering who her father was, why she lost him, and who she is.
Then this show surprised me. Rounding out the shows first arc, which lead into the mid-show finale, I realized that I have never quite been invested in a Shounen action anime before. I never connected with the characters and I never cared for the overly-righteous moralizing that they all seem to love. However, rounding out this first arc I actually felt the urge to press on and watch episode after episode, fully invested in what is happening. Not because the story being told was something astounding, but because the characters surrounding this story are, in my opinion, the best anime characters I’ve ever seen. That is as simply as I can put it without spoiling too much. There was something hard to pinpoint which made them so likeable, endearing, but more importantly, thematically and dramatically engaging. It is that I began realizing that the antagonists this show was focusing on weren’t really as antagonistic as I initially expected.
This kind of moral grey, without completely converting characters into the moralistic attitude of the protagonist, is what is genuinely lacking in so many action anime that I’ve seen. Perhaps I’ve been stricken with bad luck and hopefully more shows are like this, but so many anime seems to revel in black and white morals that they instantly become too easy to “get”, and completely unrealistic in terms of characterization.
In Kill la Kill, the base antagonists within the shows first half haven’t done anything that is completely antagonistic. Specifically, Satsuki who is my favorite character in the show, becomes so tragic and understandable without actually expositing why. So, when the narrative elements become clear, you feel like this show succeeded in portraying the inner-emotion behind her without spelling them out for you. I’ll say this again; I have never seen an anime do something like this. Satsuki and her eyebrows are the most captivating part of the show and what ultimately make the final battle being fought palatable to me.
The conflict becomes one of ideals in the first half, which leads to a true threat being endlessly more imposing. It manifests itself with Ragyou Kiryuuin, Satsuki’s mother, who is, in my opinion, one of the most effective villains I’ve ever seen in anime as well. This is simply because the pains she’s caused is towards characters I’m affectionate towards, rather than characters I’m forced to feel affectionate towards. That is an important distinction to draw. I started caring about these characters before the show exposited why I should, and that is perhaps the show's strongest moment. Ragyou does things that are brutally difficult to watch simply because they are done to characters I like. This has never actually happened to me before in action anime and it constantly left my jaw dropped after these later episodes finished. The feeling of empathy and ultimate catharsis was much bigger than I could ever anticipate from a show like this, which made it more memorable. Ragyou’s parallels to real world fascism relate back to the base thematic elements of Kill la Kill, as well. I remember one scene which explained Satsuki’s disdain towards a previously established element and eventual lashing out, filled me with emotion and anger. This felt so refreshing to me, as I’ve never had those feelings while watching a shounen action anime.
During the second half of episodes, there are plenty of thematic reversals which feel ultimately earned due to how much pathos ends up being felt towards many of these characters, specifically Satsuki. Trigger did a standout job with the characters. Even a lot of the secondary’s had enough quirks to them to make them likeable enough to care about, simply through the situations, both comedic and serious, they went through to bond with one another. Another character that could’ve easily fallen into the “too random and annoying to be useful” category of eccentric anime girls is Mako, who ends up actually providing more to this show than I initially expected. I ended up really enjoying her presence and levity. The ability to mix brutal seriousness with relieving gags is what makes Kill la Kill standout. I cannot give enough praise to this element of the show.
This show doesn’t have a large budget. In fact, I’d say that it operates on a budget, but more importantly, a time frame that is significantly smaller than it needs. However, that doesn’t prevent it from being visually pleasing and creating magnificent set-pieces. I want to make it clear, it doesn’t matter what kind of budget you are working on as much as it matters how much talent and effort the animators put into what they are working on. Budget, as it is, only affects the ability to hire people, not the actual quality of the work being produced. Time is the essence to creating something beautiful.
What Kill la Kill does is utilize its integrally bizarre world for comedy. This show tries, and mostly succeeds, at being funny. Not just because it crafts funny characters, such as Mako, but because it indulges in its theme so much that it just becomes funny to watch. This is shown through presentation, which is great. The lack of time and budget can still craft elegant scenes, but also, more commonly, crudely animated humorous scenes. Instead of hiding it, much like everything else, Trigger embraces this aspect and with it, and creates some of the most memorable scenes and sequences I’ve ever seen in anime. Whether it is the way a certain character gets thrown off the edge, or the jolt-y and convincing demonstration of Mako’s ideals, to the random bouts of beautifully animated frame-by-frame moments which stick out like sore thumbs, but also fit perfectly in rhythm with the entire show. No television anime usually operates on a huge budget or on a huge time-frame, but Kill la Kill uses its restraints like a trampoline.
This is further exemplified by the stylistic elements. The over-abundance of still-frame poses as letters fly on screen signifying a new ability or character introduction to the capacity to convey a character's position within the story simply through their movement, or lack thereof. Kill la Kill plays with scale a lot, which is really fascinating to look at. Characters have various different heights they can manifest in simply through their position of power. The show is often very detailed in what it shows in the background, as well. There are so many funny details being shoved into the back of the show that I believe it will warrant a great re-watch. These details show just how much Trigger cared about what they are creating. This is a passion project through-and-through. Much like the themes in the show, this ability to embrace the flaws makes them positives, which is a wholly unique approach I can’t help but praise.
The music is yet another standout element to Kill la Kill. This show may have the best OST I’ve heard in anime so far. While both intro and credits songs aren’t all too interesting, in my opinion, where this show more than makes up for this is in the wonderful backing tracks that are played throughout the show. Specifically, Nui Harime, a character introduced later in the show has a spectacularly eerie and bad-ass theme song that exemplifies her character perfectly. Ragyou also has, what I want to call the best theme song out of any character I’ve ever heard in anime. Her song, Blumenkranz, is a Japanese sung German track that not only draws further parallels to fascism, but also sounds epic and suitably vocal to the kind of sadistic character she is.
Other audio elements are naturally impressive as well. The crisp whizzing of bullets, or whatever the show uses as bullets, whether it is needles or money, to the thundering explosions are all well-mixed and never quiet enough to be un-impactful. The show also utilizes a lot of sound effects, mostly for comedy, which thankfully are about as over-the-top as the show itself. Much like in something like Avatar:The last Airbender, the sound effects went from annoying to endearing just as my enjoyment of the characters increased.
[The Eventual Mistakes]
While this show is overall amazing, that doesn’t exempt it from various issues that spring up. Thankfully, none of them are too major, however, they are worth mentioning. One of the biggest issues with having an OP and ED that aren’t too great, in my opinion, is that they can create some tonal whiplash. Especially the second ED is especially strange, as it is when the shows stakes become increased, the ED is strangely light-hearted and poppy. The cliff-hanger endings aren’t backed up well by the eventual ED coming in which, as I said, creates a sort of whiplash that shifts the portrayed emotions too quickly.
There are also a few scenes where the show ventures into self-aware territory that don’t feel earned. A few moments where they call out the monologuing that is done in many anime without actually subverting the scene. It is that “having the cake and eating it too” aspect that annoys me in a lot of meta-dialogue in many different anime that I’ve seen. There isn’t any subversion happening.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the ending few episodes play out a lot like both many shounen anime, and like Gurren Lagann, another show that studio Trigger worked on. While I found myself enjoying Kill la Kill more overall, the striking similarities sometimes felt inadvertent, which created an odd sense of treading water. While the investment in these characters made these final episodes palatable and competent, even if the cinematic nature of it wasn’t overly interesting to me. Once again, the characters elevated what is being shown.
Clothes versus humanity. A strange topic to be sure. Kill la Kill mixes self-aware dialogue with overt indulgence with its genres clichés. This show has a lot of smart themes hidden within its silly dialogue and sillier set pieces that will, without a doubt, go unnoticed by many of its audience there for the action or comedy. Kill la Kill’s ability to keep some if its more narratively intriguing characters not morally obvious is the show’s most interesting part. The viewers gradual understanding of the shows initial antagonist is crucial to developing your own sense of sympathy and connection with the characters.
There are plenty of narrative hints and, honestly, surprisingly subtle storytelling to be seen. Another, less obvious theme being the removal of purity, portrayed by sexual deviance and overt hedonism. A viewer wouldn’t find this meaning unless they are searching for it, which makes the eventual realization that it is being portrayed all the more rewarding. Conceptually, a lot of the shounen I’ve seen now feel tepid compared to Kill la Kill. This show’s superb character design and characterization keeps everyone you meet instantly memorable. Even our protagonist, Ryuuko, is often shown as someone that isn’t necessarily meant to be agreed with. Not in the usual context, too, which is often just naivety. While her arc isn’t as interesting as her rival, Satsuki’s, it most definitely does enough to put her up there with some of the more engaging leads within Shounen anime. Her relationship with Senketsu and Mako is great, as well.
Kill la Kill may be seen as overly farcical, absurd, and too fast-paced for many, however, the positives of this series put it in the pantheon of some of the best anime I’ve seen. Its ability to be thematically poignant while still delivering high-octane action that is completely in-line with what you’d usually see in shounen action, even if it is stylistically superior in just about every way, is what leads me to believe that Kill la Kill is the perfect example of what shounen can be. It has what many similar anime don’t have. Characters which are endlessly more interesting due to their dramatic depth and ability to not moralize just about everything being shown. Kill la Kill harbors self-awareness not just in the humor, but in the entire concept.
The idea that something must be sexualized to be marketable is this show's greatest indulgence. However, it still manages to comment on the concept as well. In one specific moment, Ragyou observes how the hardest demographic to dominate is the teen one, referring to how she is proceeding to take over the world with clothes. The lack of clothes attracts the teenagers. Maybe the show is playing the villain here. Maybe it is the hedonistic force that it criticizes, as well as promotes the idea of body positivity and sex. It draws a distinct line between what is human and what is clothes, clothes being the idea of something made. Something used by humans to control. The lack of clothes used to attract. Whatever meaning you can siphon from this is your own, but just the fact that it is there is impressive to me. In an industry where light meta-jokes are the norm and the inability to fully criticize something without doing it yourself is rampant. Kill la Kill dons another kind of appearance. One of embracing the indulgence and creating something new in an industry full of old, worn, and ragged ideas.
Kill la Kill is the most ridiculously absurd, incredibly shallow, quickly paced, and unconstitutionally brainless show that I've ever had the pleasure of watching. The show works, and it works well. Almost every episode has a hype quotient far beyond anything I've ever seen. The reason it's such a great show is because you watch an episode and are constantly fed nonstop craziness, and its just barrels of fun to watch. Let's break it down.
Alright, so normally I wouldn't give a story like this an 8. There's a lot of plotholes, there's a lot to be desired, and the
story is very typical. At the same time, it's fast-paced nonstop action, mixed in with an absolutely absurd plot with plenty of twists in turns. It helps not to look into it too much. The show is a lot of fun and action, it's got moments of drama and seriousness, and looking into it too much just makes it less fun for you. If you're planning on getting technical about it and bringing the story in for review by critics, you're not going to have a good time. If you're going to watch the show and scream "FUCK YEAH" when something awesome happens and let your cynicism melt away, the drama will be intense and the storyline epic, it's really up to you.
The art is one of the best parts. The backgrounds are beautiful, the characters have nice designs, and the whole show is basically about clothes, and the designs of the outfits were also well done. The art is a little risque at times, but in terms of pure quality, the animation varies from humorously bad to scary good. The fight scenes are outstanding and deserve all the praise they get.
If you don't like the soundtrack, I'm afraid you may have lost your way. The soundtrack of the show is incredible, the song choices are impeccable, and the music always adds to the crazy levels of hype and excitement that each episode brings. The soundtrack is truly one of the crowning features of the show, with plenty of songs that are amazing outside of the show.
I loved every character (well, loved in a 'they were a good character' way), all the main ones were well-written, though at times a little cliche, but there wasn't really a character that didn't pull their weight. The interactions between them are fun to watch, their motivations and values are clear, and they act consistently for the most part. There's clear development, and they all bring something new to the table. The villains are intimidating, the heroes were endearing and had depth and unique personalities, and the supporting characters were also fun to watch and were given their own personalities.
Kill la Kill is a show that was meant to be enjoyed. It wasn't designed to make you ponder life, or to make you cry or feel emotions, or to make some sort of political statement, or even to provide a storyline that was intriguing enough to warrant coming back each week. It's pure, unadulterated fun, and at the end of the episode I never failed to want more. It's like candy, light, tasty, enjoyable and leaves you wanting more. There's a reason that the hype train for this show never stops, and it's because the hype never ends, it just gets more intense.
I don't normally award tens, but I'm making an exception. I thoroughly enjoyed each and every second of Kill la kill. It was crazy, it shoved fan-service into my face, and exaggerated fights as far as possible. In the end, I just wish there was more. The characters were all wonderful, and even a sailor uniform becomes lovable. All in all, Kill la Kill is something you watch when you want to have fun and get excited, and it succeeded so well in doing that that it deserves a ten. I make a point to grade shows based on what they were aiming for or what their purpose or goal is, and Kill la Kill was perfect in that regard. It has truly saved anime.
Why can't stories be fun anymore? Why must a majority of shows and books be washed with dark themes and tones? Now I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy some darker stories. Hell, some of my favorites, in and out of anime, are rather dark themselves. But what makes those stories good in the first place is the high quality of writing that brought out the potential of the darker themes and tones. After all, the dark stories that lack actual writing talent almost always turn out abysmal. Likewise, it seems that the majority of the stories we get nowadays that attempt to
be fun are riddled with groan-worthy jokes, the same repeated plot in different form, and the attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator, the tits and ass crowd. But it's not like this is new. For years, it's been like this. Yet, every now and then, we get a truly fun show that towers over the rest. When School Days plagued us with it's hate-filled contrivance, we had Baccano to combat it. When Air Gear tortured us with an onslaught of ecchi and stupidity, we had Ouran High School Host Club to show them how it's really done. So, when shows like Diabolik Lovers and the return of Valvrave the Liberator were upon us, and Samurai Flamenco failed us, who would step up to the plate to show what it truly meant to have fun? It's time, for Kill la Kill.
Our story begins in the future of, what appears to be, an alternative world to ours. In this world, Nazi Germany won the war, or at least it's implied, and Fascism reins supreme. In Japan, there lies Honnouji Academy, ruled by it's iron-fisted student council president, Satsuki Kiryuin. At Honnouji, the students are divided by rank, in the form of stars, and your social class reflects the amount of stars you have. Not only that, but the higher ranked students are given specialized uniforms, known as Goku uniforms, that enhance their own physical abilities, with the highest ranked students having the most powerful uniforms. One day, this organized society has a wrench thrown in it's works when a girl wielding a scissor blade, named Ryuko Matoi, enrolls in Honnouji, looking for answers involving her fathers murder. As she spends more time at Honnouji, her path crosses with Satsuki Kiryuin, she partners up with a living sailor uniform named Senketsu, and finds a friend in the schools nut job, Mako Mankanshoku. But as she goes deeper into the conspiracies, she's forced to confront the one thing she's been searching for this whole time. The truth.
As you can tell by the description, one thing you can't call Kill la Kill is unoriginal. What you can call it weird, crazy, over the top, eccentric, and silly among other things. But one thing that I rarely hear anyone call Kill la Kill, is smart. In fact, many people often describe it as mindless or stupid. I find this kind of sad considering that Kill la Kill is, in fact, smarter than many people will give it credit for. Kill la Kill is, in fact an allegory. For those who don't know, an allegory is an extended metaphor with hidden meaning, conveyed through characters and symbols. For reference, some other examples of allegories in anime are Wolf's Rain and Revolutionary Girl Utena. Kill la Kill often provides scenes, actions, and symbols that are meant to represent different forms of control, fascism being the obvious one, but others including indoctrination, traditionalist bigotry, and plutocracy, and these are shown to paint a picture of the conformist dictatorship that the world, or at least Japan, has submitted to. I'm actually surprised that many will write this off, considering that the symbolism and metaphor in Kill la Kill is some of the most blatant that i've ever come across.
Yes, Kill la Kill is smart and clever, but it's in no way deep or complex, and you don't have to work all that much to find meaning in it. But that's not really a bad thing, because the show is still meaningful in just how sincere it is in its endeavors. The ideas are simple and the writing is straightforward, but it's all done incredibly well. But it's not exactly necessary for you to notice these touches, because the show is so fun that you can enjoy it regardless. Yes the action, which can be best described as visual insanity, the humor, which is downright silly in the best way, and the ideas, which you should already be able to tell are strange and creative, is just so enjoyable that it's hard to not end an episode, particularly the later episodes, feeling starry-eyed and wanting more. Sadly this isn't true from start to finish. The show gets off to a rather weak start, with plenty of info dumping and cliches tossed left and right in the first episode. But it continues to improve with each episode, until the epic climax that made my jaw hurt from the giant grin I was wearing the entire time.
Kill la Kill is brought to us by the good people at studio Trigger, the new anime studio that was founded by former Gainax employees, and it also serves as their first televised series. Before I can actually talk about the animation quality of the show though, I have to talk about the director. The director, and co-founder of Trigger, Hiroyuki Imaishi was best known for his directorial works on Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt, and the massive success known as Tengan Toppa Gurren Lagann. His style often consists of grand scale settings, over the top action scenes, and just plain insanity that borders on nonsensical, and I have to say, I think Kill la Kill probably accomplished his style better than any of his other past shows.
The animation is top notch when it needs to be, but often needs to cut corners. However it's hard to take points off for this when they cut corners in all the right places, to the point where the untrained eye might not even notice the drop in quality to begin with. When the animation does decide to shine though, it's truly a visual marvel, making for some top notch actions scenes. There's plenty of detail put into this show too. It might take a little while to notice it, but there is always something going on on-screen, whether it be simple visual gags, or just little subtle touches that make a scene just a bit more prominent. You can tell there was a lot of time and care put into the visuals of this show.
But of course, anyone's who's watched Kill la Kill, or even just knows a little about it, knows that you can't talk about the visuals without bringing up the f-word. Fanservice. Yes, Kill la Kill has scantily clad girls in it, sometimes even fully naked women in it. However, I don't see this as a flaw. Putting aside for a second that the fanservice is actually a plot point and connects to the shows themes both symbolically and metaphorically, I'm being completely serious, there are still two reasons why I will defend it. First, one look at the character designs should tell you, this fanservice is meant to look silly not sexy. The character designs are very cartoonish, with hardly any detail put into their, well, assets, and there is no attempt to make them look like wank bait. Second, even if you don't agree with my first point, I should point out that Kill la Kill has an equal amount of manservice. Yes for every half naked girl, there is a fully naked guy showing off his buff body. So, at the very least, you can't accuse the show of only trying to appeal to a certain audience. The only fanservice scenes I have issue with are the ones between Satsuki and her mother Ragyo. I understand that it's supposed to represent Ragyo showing dominance through sexuality, which is certainly nothing new, and that they were intended to be creepy, which actually works in a way. But there was no need to have 4 entire scenes of Ragyo molesting her daughter. Even so, that's just four scenes compared to 24 entire episodes. Kill la Kill, while not dazzling or progressive in it's visuals, still proves itself to be a visual marvel in it's own way.
“DON'T LOSE YOUR WAAAYYYYY!!”- Before My Body Is Dry
Every good anime needs a good OST to deliver in the context of the show it's accompanying. So for Kill la Kill's soundtrack to be good, we'd need it to be over-the-top, insane, somewhat cheesy, diverse, loud, and unforgettable. Luckily Hiroyuki Sawano, the show's composer, does not fail to deliver. There's a certain charm to the shows soundtrack that only grows on you further and further as they smartly place the most blood-pumping and spine-chilling songs at the most excessive parts of the show's action scenes and the most thrilling parts of the shows turns. From the stupidly awesome Til My Body Is Dry, to the subdued I Want To Know, and of course the fan favorite, the soft yet chilling German aria, Blumencranz. It's no surprise that the OST has even seen stateside success with Aniplex's release of it.
As for the voice acting, there is no dub as of this review, though there will certainly be one at a later date, so there isn't too much to say. As for the quality of the Japanese track, it's excessive, it's hammy, and it's impressionable. In other words, it fits the show perfectly. I admit, and I've said this before in the past, it's a bit hard for a non-japanese speaker like me to fully judge a japanese performance, but it's clear that the seiyu of the show were able to deliver a passionate performance.
“Not making sense is kind of our thing”- Ryuko Matoi
I've said before in the past that, at times, simplicity can work better than complexity. Sometimes, all a character needs is to be well-defined and engaging. In that sense, Kill la Kill passes with flying colors. Most, if not all, of the shows characters start off as the haggard old archetypes we've seen a million times before. Ryuko is the hotheaded rebel, Satsuki is the prideful ice queen, Mako is the out of this world best friend/comic relief, Senketsu is a blood-sucking sailor uniform........okay maybe not all of the characters are haggard old archetypes. But what sets them apart from their archetypes, is that every character in this show has purpose, both to the story and to themselves. Each is written with unique motivations, goals, and flaws that make the cast far more fleshed out then I thought was possible when I started the show.
This is only furthered by the show's theme of individuality. Yes, as a primarily teenage cast living in a conformist dictatorship, each of them are bound to, at some point, question who they really are, what they want in life, and how they live their lives. Every character, either before or during the events of the show, goes through this journey that ends up defining them and their role. It's this that turns Ryuko from the hotheaded rebel to someone who craves a sense of identity, Mako from a comic relief to an emotional anchor, Senketsu, who I remind you is a blood-sucking sailor uniform, to one of the most lovable characters of the show and Satsuki goes from a prideful ice queen to spoiler spoiler and more spoilers. Even outside of the main cast we have memorable characters like the muscle bound, yet surprisingly moe, Ira Gamagoori, the theatrical and attention-grabbing Aikurou Mikisugi, and then there's Nui Harime. Oh Nui, you cutesy, detestable, little troll you. Her words are like nails on a chalkboard, her presence is like a shadow looming over a playground, and by the end of the series you will want her to die a slow painful death. My god, did I enjoy having her around. Yes, all that I just said is true, but she just has such charm to her, you can't help but love to hate her, maybe even just love her period for just how much deadly fun she is.
Overall, there's just a certain charm that comes with all of these crazy, strange, nonsensical, and wholly loveable characters coming together to create one giant family of awesome, while simultaneously saving the world. The characters of Kill la Kill, don't have much depth, except for perhaps Ryuko and Satsuki, but they don't necessarily need it. They're familiar, yet distinctive, likeable, and unforgettable, and sometimes that's all a show needs to have a great cast.
Enjoyment/Overall (10/10) (9/10)
You know, if you told me after I watched the first episode of Kill la Kill that it would end up being one of my favorite shows, I would have to think that you knew next to nothing about what I enjoy in anime. But lo and behold, I am writing an extremely positive review of the show and declaring it one of my new favorites. There's been a little joke ever since Kill la Kill was announced, even before it aired, that Kill la Kill was “saving anime” made mostly by people who wanted to mock the idea of over-hyping shows, and yet ironically only ended up hyping it even more. Do I agree with this idea, no. Anime doesn't need saving, despite my jesting in the opening paragraph, and hype is something that shouldn't be considered when judging any type of work because what's important is what's right in front of you. So what do you get from Kill la Kill? One of the most fun anime i've seen in a while that manages to be well-written and full of heart. I can't, with good conscience, give it a perfect score, but that does not stop me from adoring it as much as I do. It's a show that may not be for everyone, but I highly recommend checking it out nonetheless. Anyways that's all for now. Til next time.
I have a LOT of admiration for this show. Given, I see some issues with it, but I also see some great aspects as well. Please, if I begin gushing, feel free to slap me.
The story's alright. It's Gurren Lagann with clothes. Start of with one villain, who just wants to oppress. Overcome villain. Find new villain who wants to completely enslave humanity. Explosions ensue. The premise is pretty goofy, but hey, sometimes it's nice to appreciate the goofy. One issue I do have is the obsession with fanservice in this show. It's
starts off well enough, a symbol of putting aside personal shame for the sake of achieving goals, but after about episode 3 or 4, it just seems to be fanservice for fanservice's sake.
The art here is all over the place. Sometimes, we get over the top fight scenes, with swords clashing hundreds of times a second, explosions everywhere, and people falling from the sky. Other times, we get a still character moving across a still background. It's quite jarring actually, but if you can get past it, this show can be eye candy.
The voice acting, both sub and dub, are done quite well. I personally prefer sub, as Satsuki just sounds all the more intimidating, but preferences. The music is a LOAD of fun, from fitting character themes, to Blumenkranz, to Before My Body is Dry.
WE HAVE TO BEEEEEEEEEEEE AS OOOOOOOOOOONE
Thank you. All in all, this show's just fun to listen to, and I can advise looking up the soundtrack. You'll have fun. I promise.
The characters MAKE this show. Well, and one other aspect, but I'll cover that in the next section. Ryuko and Satsuki are brilliant, and Satsuki even graces my favorite characters list. Ryuko is strong-willed, hot-headed, and rather foolish. However, she sticks to her guns, if not her morals. She never gives up throughout the series, and because of her stubbornness, she ends up growing quite a bit as a character. She's not perfect by any means, but she's fun. Satsuki however... The woman is intimidating, domineering, stoic, inspirational, COMPLETELY goal-oriented, and forever a joy on the screen. Plus, girl got good eyebrow game.
The other characters are okay. Not bad, but maybe not amazing. Mako was quite funny at times. Ragyou was a character you just LOVED to hate. The Elite Four pinged off of each other well. Senketsu was actually one of my least favorite characters. He's not BAD, but he never stood out to me too much.
It's not a ten because of the aforementioned fanservice. However, I'd like to posit that Kill la Kill is a BRILLIANT satire. It starts off simply making fun of the magical girl genre. Eh. Then, it makes fun of the anime high school setting (get it? because the school LITERALLY determines the living conditions of these people : high school is life) But that's not the true brilliance. Over the top explanations of attacks, to the point where I sometimes felt that the characters were staring at the camera, those cheeky jerks. Mikisugi is a parody of Sosuke Aizen (he pulls off his glasses, and his personality and hair drastically change). Ragyou is a parody/homage to Gendo (have you seen her office). Isshin Matoi is a parody of dead anime fathers (seriously, how he treated her was terrible. Why would she fight to avenge him? Because the plot demands it, Kasigah!) And then there's the compilation episode. My gosh. This... this is the greatest moment in anime history. I won't spoil it too much, but this is an episode that you must watch. I believe it's episode 18 or so, though I don't remember. Seriously, stop reading this. Go watch the compilation episode and come back. I'll wait.
This show is a barrel of fun. If you can't stand fanservice, I can't recommend it, but if you think you can handle it, please watch this show. It's not the "Savior of Anime" that so many believed, but boy does it have high points.
Kill la Kill is one of those shows that my friends adore the shit out of that I'm incapable of getting on with. How could this be, though? I'm a huge fan of Gurren Lagann and Kill la Kill was made by the same blokes who created the former and for what it's worth, the show really does retain the same sort of fun atmosphere Gurren Lagann had. Unfortunately, that sort of fun atmosphere isn't enough to actually make me like this show. Whereas Gurren Lagann had me cheering on all the senseless stupidity that was going on, Kill la Kill didn't really have me
cheering on much of anything. In fact, Kill la Kill got pretty grating after a short while and it's basically what soured my overall impressions of Trigger as a studio and given their track record as of late, I don't think I'll ever get on with them.
All of my gripes with Kill la Kill boil down to three simple problems:
1) It's functionally identical to Gurren Lagann
This was basically what turned me off of Kill la Kill for the most part. I understand that the bulk of the staff working on Kill la Kill were the ones that made Gurren Lagann, but that's no excuse to rehash the same type of over-the-top stupidity from one show into another. Really, was it such a monumental effort on the part of the production studio to come up with something original? Whenever I watch an episode of Kill la Kill, I can't help but feel like I'm wasting my time watching this show because Gurren Lagann does exactly what Kill la Kill does and does it significantly better. Why is this? Well for starters, it's not shoving shitty self-parody down my throat half the time. That actually brings me to the next gripe:
2) The self-aware humour was EXTREMELY grating
I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to despise self-aware shows mostly because of the fact that it seems like any show that came out within the last few years basically point out all of their problems without doing anything funny with what they bring up. In other words, all they're doing is saying "Hey, look at this thing we did! It's so stupid, right? Laugh, damn you!" Whenever Kill la Kill makes a self-aware joke, it takes me out of my bubble and reminds me that what I'm watching is stupid and I could be watching something better. You see, the biggest reason as to why I enjoy shows like Code Geass and Gurren Lagann boil down to the fact that everything is so hyperbolic and ridiculously cool to the point where I'm too wrapped up in my own enjoyment of the programme to realise what I'm watching is stupid. Whenever Kill la Kill comes close to making me forget that what I'm watching is stupid, there has to be a goddamn self-aware joke thrown in because they did this stupid thing and they want me to know that they're aware they did this stupid thing and that I should laugh because it's so stupid.
However, it doesn't make me laugh because it tells me that Trigger is doing is stupid, they KNOW what they're doing is stupid, but they're still doing it anyway. This isn't to say that self-aware humour is inherently bad, because it's something that's actually pretty funny if the guys making the show know how to make a self-aware joke funny. If you want a good idea of something that does the whole self-aware shtick properly, just watch an episode of Ouran HSHC, Dave the Barbarian, Sheep in the Big City, Ed Edd n Eddy, Chowder, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, or one of the classic Looney Tunes shorts (like Duck Amuck). Studios like Trigger irritate the shit out of me because they're ruining self-aware comedy just because they're too lazy to actually come up with a funny joke. Well, I guess the self-aware humour isn't as big a thorn in my side as all the fan service.
3) The fan service got downright nauseating for me
Say what you will about Gurren Lagann and how they handled Yoko, but the fan service in Gurren Lagann was tame enough to the point where I could look past it and focus more on the story at hand. Unfortunately, the story at hand in Kill la Kill is all about the fan service. Before you say anything, Kill la Kill is NOT a parody of fan service and if it actually was a parody, it's even worse than it was before. The lacklustre comedy and the fact that it's a cheap imitation of Gurren Lagann make it mediocre on its own. If this were actually meant to be a parody or a satire of fan service in anime, that brings this show down even more.
This show does nothing to subvert expectations and instead opts to use fan service like Ikkitousen or Queen's Blade does. THANKFULLY, Kill la Kill is nowhere near as obscene as the former two but it does get rather close at times. I get it, Ryuko and Satsuki are hot. There is NO need to shove their half-naked bodies and damn-near exposed breasts down my throat for 75% of every episode. As much as I like my daily dose of animated girls exposing their skin, there's a limit to how much I can enjoy before it stops being enticing and ends up becoming repulsive.
Now with all of that in mind, there is one question that has must be answered: did Kill la Kill truly save anime? No, it's more of the same pandering shlock that's been polluting anime at large for the last several years in a different coat of paint. You know, Trigger could've gone ahead and created something that was actually worthwhile like the anime equivalent of a show like Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, or Adventure Time: you know, shows that appeal to all ages and are fun to watch whilst also tackling darker and deeper themes. Unfortunately, they decided to rehash the same shit that they did before (whilst working under a different studio) and judging by their current offerings now like Inferno Cop and Ninja Slayer, it's obvious that pathetic comedies are the only thing they're capable of making. Say what you will about Gainax, but at least they've got more variety to their roster.
Anyway, that's all for now. Feedback is always welcome and with that, I'm out. Peace :)
Kill La Kill: it made my head hurt, but not because it's terrible, rather because it's one heck of a ride. It likes to be over the top and it will show. I decided to watch it because there was a big hype around it and saying goes that it was a very interesting show. So I watched it, thus my review:
I'd split it in two parts: the plot which you can kind of tell from the premise and the second part which...is not so foreseeable.
The first part consists of Ryuuko searching for her father's murderer and the secrets around it. For that, she needs
to get to Satsuki and that also means defeating other people in Ryuuko's way. The plot shows progress as she has to fight the Four Devas in hope she can get her hands on Satsuki. And at the end, she does get what she wanted but not in the way she imagined it.
And suddenly, second half of the plot begins and we come from mere revenge and unraveling her father's death to saving the world. The second half feels a bit detached from the initial premise and at first I was really startled by it but I thought I'd go along and see where the plot takes me. 2nd half makes some sense but it's undermined by some issues.
All in all, I'd say that the first half is far better than the second half. Not only because of the plot but for other reasons which come reviewing the other aspects.
The art style is really something. You will quickly realize how over the top Kill La Kill really is just by the art style alone. Sometimes like an 90's anime, sometimes very modern but it never feels chaotic or stressful for the eyes. It's very pleasant and I'm happy to say that it's indeed as unique and well executed as I've heard from the hype surrounding Kill La Kill.
With that in mind, I'll talk about the fanservice.
If you dislike fanservice quickly, this show will be hard for you. It is very heavy on it. It also has plot reasons but nevertheless it comes out as fanservice most of the time. Ryuuko's finishing attack tears the clothes of her opponents completely. The transformations (and the result of them) are also fanservice and other things too, but the most comes from these two things.
At times I was forgetting that the girls fight in fanservice-y outfits but at times, it was unaviodable because of the camera angles and other things. For what it is, the fanservice does look good and it shows how flexible the art direction of the show can be. Sometimes however, it distracted me and that isn't that beneficial.
That some aspects of the show are a double-edged sword is pretty common. And the fan service is one point of it. But otherwise, the style is great.
I like the songs during action scenes, they are good. A small variation most of the time but it was good. Opening and Ending Songs are nothing special to me, I can't comment that much about it. Not my type of music, I guess.
The voices are mostly good, I just get annoyed by Nonon and Nui at times. Nonon just a few times but Nui's voice is something I don't like to hear.
Ryuuko is kind of a typical character, just in female. However, I like her gutsy character and that she doesn't flinch at the slightest sight of danger. Strong-willed characters like her are really likable in my opinion. Concerning development a bit lacking but nevertheless a good character.
Mako and her family...oh boy, that's a tough bunch of characters to write about. It's hit-or-miss. And it that case, they missed me after a 1/4 of the series. The antics of them aren't bad but they become stale quickly. Especially Ryuuko's "friend" or depending on how you see it, tag-along Mako.
She isn't only a comic relief but also a Deus Ex Machina at times. Considering that these happen because of her climax- and atmosphere-breaking comical behavior, she became a really annoying character in my eyes. Her character does progress a bit but her comical relief parts just come at such bad times that it spoilt my mood several times during action scenes. And this happens often enough.
Her personality is missing me too. She's played as an airhead, often missing the point or serious atmosphere around her and it can be funny, but it can also be annoying. For me, it tended toward the latter. The rest of the family is pretty one-note.
There's also Ryuuko's homeroom teacher who will become relevant for the plot but I found him annoying after a few episodes because his jokes become stale too. Also hit-and-miss.
Satsuki is the antagonist and as she's the Student Council President, different but kinda the same like Ryuuko: she's also strong-willed, has an iron fist when it comes to showing her resolve, has a cold exterior and so on: you can see why Ryuuko wants to fight her so badly.
But inside, she's also caring for her other companions in the Student Council, you'll see that coming as the plot progresses. I liked her the most.
The Four Devas (Satsuki's companions in the Student Council) also have personalities. Sometimes they behave very one-note or stereotypical but the over-the-topness of the series makes them still shine. The conversations among themselves were also interesting in my opinion but they were sparse at times.
These are the characters you will most often see and to avoid spoilers, I cannot reveal more characters.
The plot of Kill La Kill has some twists here and there. One was foreshadowed and while it was predictable to me, I really liked it as the plot progress was pushing me to disbelieve in a certain possible plot twist. However, the plot twists so often that it ties itself a knot and a few plotholes and missing background on certain characters, especially in the second half.
There's a sensible amount of plot twists I can stomach. And then there is the amount that leaves you in disbelief. Not because a twist is awesome, more because it makes you think: "WHAT?! WHY?!". Unfortunately, Kill La Kill goes for the latter. They weren't needed in that amount and the plot would be more enjoyable if it wouldn't want to twist itself so much.
As mentioned before, the fanservice is relevant to the plot. And there I'm not sure whether I should take seriously what Kill La Kill is going for or not. Even more with the comedic moments (like Mako's mood-breaking antics). Some are well-placed, others not and it can confuse people that the show cannot focus entirely on what it wants to be or where it wants to go.
And the second half also dampened my enjoyment with unnessecary fanservice where I thought multiple times: "That's some bad touch there". The first half was tamer with it and I liked it, even if fanservice was a bit plenty at times.
But the art style, over-the-top antics and general mood combined with the action scenes are really refreshing. At times, it can make you forget the grief you have with annoying characters or gratitious fanservice.
Kill La Kill isn't bad. It does some things right and other things not. You can feel that the series is style over substance and it shows. The style is great, the substance mediocre.
Ryuuko (and her cloth Senketsu that I like but isn't that outstanding) and Satsuki are totally fine by me. The Four Devas also, Nonon a little less but still fine.
For Mako and her family, Ryuuko's homeroom teacher and many other characters you'll encounter, especially on the evil side...hit-or-miss. For me, they were a miss.
If you like Mako and her family enough, you can add +1 to the overall score. If you like Mr. Homeroom Teacher, +0.5.
Even with such a low rating on enjoyment, it's definitely worth a watch since Kill La Kill is indeed a heck of a ride and experience gained.
This is Kill la Kill. This is the anime where hype is the definition of anime itself, where fanservice creates action and where music circulates the blood (pun alert) in your body into a powered-up mechanism of sprawling adrenaline.
Being created by the makers of the highly acclaimed and recognized Gurren Lagann and FLCL, Kill la Kill is brought by the newly formed Studio Trigger. Kill la Kill tells the tale of Ryuuko Matoi, a vagrant school girl wayfaring from location to location who's raison d’être is to search for clues behind the mysterious truth of her father’s death. Wielding a scissor-sword, Matoi arrives to
Honnouji Academi to look for her father’s assassinator. However, this is where the journey truly begins as standing in her way is the Student Council President, also known as Kiryin Satsuki as well as her personal four divas, or more commonly referred to as the Elite Four of the academy. Along the journey, Ryuuko finds beneath her house, Senketsu, a Kamui which is an outfit in which the host is provided with near god-like abilities in exchange for their blood. This power gives her the opportunity to overcome her enemies, hindrances in her journey for finding the answers she wants.
When watching Kill la Kill, it is vital that the audience understands the fact that the laws of physics, common sense and logic does not apply in this show. This show de facto requires you to turn off your thinking caps and your brain itself, because if you decide to decipher and analyze this show intrinsically, you will find countless amounts of flaws and problems. Hell, you can even say that Kill la Kill has its own laws of physics and definition of common sense. Despite having a predictable plot at the start, the execution is what makes Kill la Kill stand out alongside Gurren Lagann. Every episode contributes to the overall plot and there is little to no filler, even so if there is filler, it would not really be considered filler as in Kill la Kill, they develop intricate relationships between our characters and grow bonds of brotherhood, kinship, fraternity and solidarity. Exaggeration is brought out to the utmost extremes and this is where the hyped-up and epic action derive from.
In the early stages, Kill la Kill’s visuals may seem a tad deterring and lacking from the average modern eye-candy anime viewer. It utilizes a range of colours and a firmly toned set of strong outlines to refurnish the fact that logic does not exist within the anime, thus brings out an art style similar to the chaotic. Studio Trigger manages to take short turns and exploit the animation aspect to the degree where some scenes are extended with single frames longer than usual. Giant red text is presented here and there to furthermore add to the epic explosive action and over-the-top, unconstitutional and unorthodox setting and ambiance of the show itself.
Having the main characters being females, Matoi is depicted as the archetype of fortitude, the paradigm of grandness and the epitome of any strong women. Not only does she stand for herself, but after enduring suffering, adversity and defeat for countless amounts of times, the word ‘giving up’ doesn’t seem to be in her dictionary. You can even say that Studio Trigger is trying to promote equality right now and right here if you look deeply, rather than shallowly. Members of the main cast are diverse and each have their own unique backstories told, for the Elite Four, throughout the first cour of the series, the tale of how they met Satsuki is told as well as why they deeply respect and honour Satsuki as the President. Comedy is also embedded into the characters, such as Mako, arguably the comic relief as well as utilizing comedy within the Elite Four to ultimately make them likable. Satsuki, playing the role of the villain is portrayed as the paradigm of badassness and being fierce as she is, she is the reason for the continued development and bringing of Matoi’s perseverance and indomitability of the human spirit. With underlying and hidden ulterior motives, Satsuki utilizes Matoi to the full extent and eventually develops Matoi as a character. There is also a depiction of the theme of family within Kill la Kill and is heavily emphasized on. Spending time with Mako and her family ultimately develops Matoi as a person as well and allows her to experience what she does not have, a family. Likewise, Mako besides being a comedy aspect in the show is also another reason for Matoi’s growth. As time passes, their time spent together acts as ingredients of amalgamation into developing Matoi’s personality as she shows care towards the family and even fights for their sake, especially during the episode where they were captivated by material interests and money. Another prime character would be Senketsu, her sailor uniform. He acts as voice of conscience and reason whenever Matoi goes overboard or is emotionally hurt, he provides advice when he can.
The music? ITS EPIC.ITS GOOD. AND ITS AMAZING. This might even be an understatement at this point. The music is abundant and has a diverse range of tracks used throughout the 24 episodes. Composed by Hiroyuki Sawano who also composed music for well-recognized shows including Attack on Titan, Guilty Crown and Blue Exorcist, the soundtrack is outstanding and simply makes the show even grand than it already is. Sawano produces music of excellence that is addictive and energetic in order to get the audiences’ body moving and blood pumping. Kill la Kill also used euphonious, emotional and sympathetic music such as ‘I Want To Know’ during emotion provoking scenes. Joyous scenes also utilize music such as ‘Light Your Heart Up’ at the most appropriate times. Now to the action scenes, one of the most memorable soundtracks used would of course include the popular ‘Before My Body Is Dry’ or more well known for its tagline “DON’T LOSE YOUR WAYYYY”. This track is used throughout the course of the 24 episodes predominantly during action scenes when Matoi does something especially badass and where ‘epic’ is the only word you can bring your mouth to say. Ironically enough, she loses her way invariably but this is what develops her as a character. This track is arguably used a bit too repetitively some say, but I personally opine that it’s what makes action scenes have its own essence. Another action based track used would include ‘Suck Your Blood’ which fits especially well during adrenaline packed action scenes. In addition, ‘Sanbika’ sang by Aoi Eir, is another addictive and energetic track that would get you on the edge of your seat. Both openings, ‘Sirius’ by Aoi Eir and ‘Ambiguous’ by GARNIDELIA prepares you with eagerness and anticipation for what you are going to experience in the subsequent episode, it can be best described as a catalyst to amaze and make the episode shine even more. Both endings are also used decently as closures for the episodes more notably during the final 2 episodes as a calm remedy for the audience to recuperate from all the sheer action taken place. Other memorable tacks include Satuski’s dictator-like badass theme as well as Nui Harime’s theme.
By this time you would probably be wondering why ‘Blumenkranz’ isn’t mentioned yet. Well, it deserves its own little paragraph you see. ‘Blumenkranz’ is used throughout the series as a villain theme and has been one of the best villain themes I have ever heard. It adds on to the entertainment value of the series and is definitely one of the most memorable tracks of KLK.
In short, every episode brings out anticipation pumping and circulating your ‘blood’ (pun alert) to its zenith. Kill la Kill definitely excels at the enjoyment aspect and every episode plays out to its pinnacle and despite the simple plot, the execution is brought out perfectly. The characters are likable and all have their own inherent worth and value while the animation despite being seemingly poor with a low budget, is utilized amazingly. The sheer epic-ness of the anime alone is enough of a reason to rewatch the show any day, any time and even anywhere.
So what are you doing? Go watch Kill la Kill now and get your body movin!