It’s been a while since I have been wowed like this. Mocha-quality Kill la Kill strips down a basic yet stupid idea, over sexualizes women, showcases butt-naked men, and gets rough, rowdy and ridiculous all for the sake of boldly venturing where not many anime go. The burning question at hand: “Why do humans wear clothing?”
Hot-blooded high school girl Ryuko Matoi is in search for “the girl with the scissor blade;” the same girl who killed her father. Her clue hunt has led her to Honnouji Academy, a militaristic school structured by the “Goku uniforms,” uniquely ranked suits that grant students superpowers. As such, there is a fine line drawn between the mighty and the weak. Law and order is maintained through the school’s “Elite Four” and their supreme student council president, Satsuki Kiryuin, who rules over the domain with unquestionable judgment and absolute authority.
As the unwavering Lady Satsuki and fierce Ryuko meet face-to-face on the bloodstained battlefield that is Honnouji Academy, the threads of fate begin to unravel, and the whole school – as well as the world itself – is at risk of destruction.
Starred uniforms that give students unimaginable power? Yep, it sounds stupid. Very stupid. But through countless fights against a variety of opponents, Kill la Kill makes it work. Why they were made, how they were made, and what they actually are made of are all concepts that the anime explores thoroughly. Don’t try to wrap your head around things – Kill la Kill is NOT a “concentration-necessary” show.
Though fast-paced, the show never seemed rushed. Starting from the fateful encounter, the series gradually builds up to about the ¾ point, after which like any other 26-ish episode anime, it becomes a dramatic and serious blaze to the finish! The anime never seems convoluted in plot and serves as a great storyteller.
Ryuko Matoi is our main heroine. She will do anything to uncover the truth about the powerful Scissor Blade and to avenge her father, including “sacrificing” her body to Senketsu, one of the most powerful sailor suits in existence. While she’s hot-blooded and eager to fight aggressively, Ryuko always seems have issues with Senketsu; the two struggle to agree on matters and as a result have bonding troubles. “Losing her way” would be the proper term to explain her conundrum.
But Ryuko undergoes numerous transformations that make her easily likable and somewhat old-fashioned. Her character reminds me of the typical heroine, yet one embodying the resolve of the classic male hero, too. Because we get to see both sides to her, feminine and masculine, Ryuko becomes a relatable and rather enjoyable lead female – one of the best I’ve seen!
On the other side of the coin is Satsuki Kiryuin, the commanding figurehead and rival to Matoi. A Machiavellian leader, Lady Satsuki is calculating, observant, influential, and above all, sexy. Her iron rule comes from her infamous tagline, which I’ll put in quotes at the end of the review.
In a very similar style to Ryuko, Satsuki exemplifies the feminine and masculine qualities of the archetypical hero. While I can’t leak too much for spoiler’s sake, I can say that she carries a softer side as well. Satsuki is brilliant and inspirational – a rare beauty and one of my favorite characters in general! “HAIL SATSUKI-SAMA!!”
The supporting cast can be broken down by simple goals and stereotypes. The Elite Four consists of 3-star fighters who serve and protect their Satsuki at all costs: the guardian, the fighter, the brains, and the little girl you should probably be terrified of. “Nudist Beach,” the organization opposed to the Goku Uniforms also resembles the usual resistance team.
One other character to point out is Mako Mankanshoku, a goofy, hyperactive student at Honnouji Academy. After literally diving into Ryuko’s life, the two become best friends. Even though she is the moe girl, Mako and her wild family stand as a constant reminder to Ryuko as to what a good family is. Mako is a bit too much at times, leaping in at the last minute to save Ryuko from inescapable doom, but beyond that she is entertaining, friendly, and loving.
Animation by Trigger – hate it or love it. The style is rough, extreme, and lacking in detail. It’s a great change of pace compared to the typical class room setting, however, the obnoxious bold lines sketched all over the place occasionally take things too far. Tension, comedy, and impact are perfectly-balanced strengths, shown best through the very first 10 minutes of the show. Sometimes the animation is very expressive and does the show justice, but other times it’s indistinguishable. The best things about the animation are the communicative facial expressions and high-energy fights. Trigger clearly wasn’t scared to show anger and explosive rage, as they hit that ball out of the park!
For the OST, this is by far Hiroyuki Sawano’s best work. Superior tracks such as “Blumenkranz” are pure evil (fitting for the f*ck-tastic villain Ragyo, might I add), while Satsuki Kiryuin’s theme or Jakuzure’s anthem match their character PERFECTLY. And as much as I hate Nui Harime, even her theme gave off this bizarre feeling of creepy. I NEVER got sick of Kill la Kill’s over-the-top, epic soundtrack! 😀 (PS: 2nd OP “ambiguous” by GARNiDELiA is really awesome)
The only possible turn-off is the surplus of fanservice. Naked men from Nudist Beach and Kamui crop-tops with miniscule panties are overbearing. The director probably wanted to attract as much attention as possible, and hey it worked; thin straps covering well-endowed breasts and sword-wielding beauties? Yep, that’ll stop traffic. But also consider this: the show rebels against clothing, so doesn’t the nudity in a sense support the main message . . . ?
Kill la Kill is great because it is not afraid to show some skin and express itself boldly, however brash it seems at times. It doesn’t hold back when it comes to furiousness, fiery combat, or majestic speeches – it let’s all hell loose, and it’s fantastic. I full-heartedly recommend Kill la Kill for an awesome story, memorable protagonists, and the best rainbow-haired, purely evil antagonist IN EXISTENCE – just get past the nudity first and you’re golden! If you like action and overwhelming emotions please do yourself a favor and check it out. Its nearly mindless-fun approach to storytelling might intrigue you.
“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!” – One of the greatest leaders to live, Satsuki Kiryuin
Thanks so much for checking out my thoughts on Kill la Kill! I love this anime so much it’s crazy! IT HAS A VERY SATISFYING ENDING. If you enjoyed the review, hit that like button – I’d really appreciate it. Feel free to drop a comment below, too! Until next time, this has been
– Takuto, your host