Dec 24, 2015
tsudecimo (All reviews)
[Spoiler free review with TL:DR at the bottom]

[Note: Keep in mind, that like any other review, most of this is opinion based. There is no need to hurt over it, just my honest thoughts, and it's not all negative]

Late to the party but better late than never.

I'm one of those people that hold the notion, that just because something is different, that doesn't necessarily translate to better. For something to be unique it has to be different with a positive quality. And what makes and breaks something, is always the execution of 'different'. This is unfortunately not the case with Kill la Kill.

Right off the bat in the first episode, you will be overwhelmed with Kill la Kill's style. If there is one thing that all can agree on, is that the series has it's own style for better or worse. If you watched the famous Gurren Lagan, you will get accustomed quickly to the larger than life approach of Kill la Kill, as some of the staff that worked in TTGL, worked in Kill la Kill. Most notably Imaishi Hiroyuki, the director.

In the following episode I started to like it, as the first episode shocked my expectations more than anything and I wasn't able to digest it well. The story is simple and straight forward. It''s about Matoi Ryuuko, searching for answers for her father's killer, which lead her to Honnouji Academy, the rest you can read in the synopsis so no point in repeating here. The main issue with this storyline is that it's stretched thin for the next 12 or so episodes, with little hints dropped here and there where the show brings it up again. That means for the most part, Ryuuko just spends her time trying to take down, Satsuki. And in order for her to get to Satsuki, she has to go through some henchmen and henchwoman, fodder basically. And I'm really not a fan of monster of the week format.

After that, she faces the elite four. Where in each fight, Ryuuko asspull some power and conjure an ability of Senketsu when she is beaten badly and about to lose. Which might not be a big deal, since the show doesn't take itself all too seriously at this point. But it does make the fights boring and predictable. Since Ryuuko's fight with Satsuki's at episode 3, there really hasn't been any interesting or great fights for those 12 or so episodes. Be it in excitement, intensity, choreography, or animation. If the show somehow was able to keep that quality constant, I would have sung praises for it action wise, which is a big portion of it.

The story main problems are it's simplicity, predictability and it's constant switch from something that want to be taken seriously or something that is just nonsensical that you should take with a grain of salt and lack of skepticism. And I suppose that reflects on the show as whole as KLK can't decide by the second half if it wants to be taken seriously, it's a tad confusing. Almost like an identity crisis brought fourth by it's B-movie level plot twists and red herrings and sometimes campy plot points. The predictability here without spoiling is when you know something is going to happen and it's very obvious, but the show reveals the moments like it's something shocking that you wouldn't see coming. It just leads to a very predictable conclusion. Another example, is in the plot twists. The best thing about plot twists, at least for me, is the unpredictability of it. The sense of knowing something is going to happen due to nicely placed subtle foreshadowing, yet not completely being able to predict what's gonna happen and how it happened so it can satisfy you when it occur in a mind blowing tasteful manner that generates excitement and sometimes make you search in your mind for previous/old possible hints. That wasn't the case for the plot twists here. There is no sense of careful planing and foreshadowing.

The characters. Might seem peculiar to start this with Mako, who is a comic relief character for the most part and Ryuuko's best friend. But believe it or not, she takes up a huge amount of screen time despite her almost nonexistent role on the plot and the bigger picture, her real relevance is Ryuuko. As she influences her and is essential to the small amount of development Ryuuko got. For those who adore Mako, don't get me wrong I liked her and all in the beginning. She was an odd ball, even considering the show she is in, and was enjoyable to watch. But she keeps interrupting fights and conflicts like no tomorrow. It kills the mood being setup and It's just frustrating sometimes, instead of giving focus to the important characters in said conflict, we get to see Mako waste a couple of minutes every damn time. This is generally an issue that isn't exclusive to Mako but the general tone of the show, and how it switches between serious and comedic within a finger snap that I will get to later.

Ryuuko. To be frank, I wanted to like her but I couldn't, she hindered a lot of my enjoyment with the series. Especially in the latter half. She basically has the persona of a meathead shounen protagonist. Her lines and dialogue are trite. It's hard to root for her, when you can't connect with her, she feels bratty more than anything. She doesn't seem to learn from her mistakes. I believe she went through the same stage of development twice. No charm, no distinctive personality. There is just nothing in particular that I liked about her or something that stood out. And she comes off even worse when compared to the antagonist of the first half, and the deuteragonist of the show Satsuki.

If there is one saving grace in terms of writing for this series, in my opinion, it has to be Satsuki. She is just head and shoulders above any character in the series. Strong resolve, mentally strong, awesome and engaging dialogue and better development. By the end of it, you might not recognize her. She had a good buildup and foreshadowing for future revelation (only actual good foreshadowing in the show was on her) and she is not just a perfect ojou sama. She is shown to be weak and vulnerable a few times. Her personality feels believable. She had a lot of great speeches, a compelling ideology, a charismatic leader with strong will and a powerful presence in the show and a good basis of conflicts with the main antagonist and the protagonist. She had a good back story, and a good explanation for her motives. She was properly fleshed out. Only if the other characters followed suit. As the rest are just character stereotypes, one track characters, that get boring and dry quickly.

The humor. It's a big part of the show, and it needs to be talked about. It started as something creative, something actually funny. But it just continued to become more of the same till the end. Repetitive. For example, the use of nudity in general and the comedic scene of Aikurou's striping was funny, creative and unique the first time they did it. But they kept doing it over and over and yes you guessed it right over again. The problem here is that it's not needed since what he says during it, is usually not important and just common sense, it takes a portion of the episode away. Mako hallelujah thing while not as repetitive and unfunny, it's also isn't used well sometimes because it's kills the tension and gets in between important scenes. Like I explained earlier, the show just doesn't know how to jiggle between seriousness and comedy, it doesn't know how to transition well into comedy, without ruining and undermining a serious scene. It was the bad use of comedy, that made me start to dislike the show near the end.

The animation and art. This is a bit of tricky aspect. While the actual quality of animation and budget is below average. The studio uses that to it's advantage, by making comedy out of slideshow animation, and 2 frames movement. I don't know whether to praise it, or not. But I think while I can give props, to smart usage of budget, it's still doesn't always work right in the end. The art, here is where the series shine, it's very good, stylish, and works well with the atmosphere and the personality the show wants to take for itself. Beautiful colors, some cool designs, and overall very solid. The music. The OST, was amazing, it had some tracks, that stood out, and made you pumped. But unfortunately, the placement of it, wasn't so amazing. Some were really overused, instead of expanding on the whole track.

I think what really got to me, and made go suddenly from liking the show, to disliking it was the pacing, and it having too many episodes for it's own good. It just dawned to me, while I was watching one of the episodes in the second half, that the show lost it's charm and how everything is just dull, lifeless and repetitive beyond belief. It just killed my enjoyment. Most of the characters being one/two dimensional and having bad dialogue that I feel like I've been hearing it for an eternity. Everything felt so boring. It felt like I have already seen the same conversation between the characters a thousand times over, the same dull humor. The repetitiveness and the predictability. The anime lost it's fun factor for me, because nothing and new and creative in it.

This could have been avoided with better pacing. 13 episodes might have made this a very solid show, alas we got plenty of episodes that contributed nothing to the very simple plot that was already stretched thin to begin with or to the characterizations of the characters. Episodes that contributed very little and episodes that felt like a straight up filler. Where the humor and the charm of the show were all used up and dried. Of course, that might not be the studio's fault, since who knows what led to this decision but having 2 cour, instead of one just hurt the show tremendously. Because if a show drives on 'fun', it can't be too long without offering a new experience or it will become boring fast, which is what I feel the case was with Kill la Kill. And this is one of the reasons why TTGL just triumphs it, the actual content of TTGL were well fit for 27, while KLK weren't for 24 episodes. And TTGL, provided a new experience with the next half, and actually made the viewers take it seriously, despite how crazy and over the top it still was, while KLK failed at that, and couldn't decide whether it wanted to be taken seriously or not, with such a weak plot and conclusion.

So in the end I think KLK was an ambitious, and hyped project, that didn't live up to it's spiritual predecessor. That could have been a lot better if it was one cour. A lot of decent ideas, but ultimately poor execution. Overall I think it's mediocre, but since I really like Satuski, that warrants an extra point, because she is a genuinely good character, not just comparatively but on her own.

TL:DR. KLK is a very style over substance type of series, do not expect much from the plot, but expect a lot of action. It's recommend if you are looking for the same taste of shows like TTGL, but in keep in mind unlike TTGL, Kill la Kill, has more issues in pacing, implementing humor and story. KLK really never reaches the scale of an epic, that TTGL did. KLK also incorporates ecchi in a way that it's relevant to the plot and characters, so if you are one of those who are allergic to seeing naked bodies of both gender, constantly, this is might not be your cup of tea.