There’s a lot of crazy shit that goes on in anime and that’s part of the reason why I love it so much. Just like Western animation, it can take absurd premises and make compelling and/or entertaining stories out of them. Take today’s subject matter, which is an anime original courtesy of Studio Trigger, which was formed in 2011 by former Gainax employees. For those who don’t know, Gainax gave us the following: Neon Genesis Evangelion, FLCL, Gurren Lagann, and Panty & Stocking With Garter Belt. I plan to talk about all of these in the future. Anywho, Studio Trigger was formed and one of the first things they did was the Little Witch Academia short film, which eventually spawned a sequel and an anime series that’s currently on Netflix. They also did the subject of today’s post. This is Kill la Kill.
Ryuko Matoi is a transfer student of Honnouji Academy who’s on the search for the other half of a scissor blade that she possesses and her father’s murderer. She crosses paths with Satsuki Kiryuin, the student counsel president, the Honnouji Academy’s Elite Four, who rule the school with an iron fist, and the rest of Honnouji Academy, who all wear Goku uniforms that gives them unique powers. Things get more complicated when she puts on a kamui uniform that gives her the power needed to tear through any obstacles that get in her way. Kill la Kill contains all of the insanity that would define a good chunk of both Gainax and Trigger’s work as we’re given an out-there premise that goes completely over-the-top.
Our protagonist is Ryuko Matoi, a badass girl with an attitude ready to beat up anyone who gets in her way. Her weapon of choice is a scissor blade that can cut through Life Fibers and she wears a special uniform that she calls Senketsu. Speaking of Senketsu, it’s a sentient being made up of Life Fibers that’s powered by drinking Ryuko’s blood. I found the relationship between the two very interesting as she doesn’t know what Senketsu is and neither does it and revelations later in the series puts that relationship to the test.
Mako Mankanshoku is one of my favorites in the show. I always get a laugh out of her whenever she’s on screen. She’s so full of energy and can be sometimes oblivious to her surroundings. And this also applies to her family. They all seem dumb and crazy, but they also care for each other and Ryuko when she stays with them.
Another major character in the series is the student council president herself Satsuki Kiryuin, who’s a major adversary for Ryuko through a good chunk of the series and is the epitome of a cold-hearted bitch who does whatever she wants and rules the school like a dictator. She uses a katana that’s also capable of cutting through Life Fibers and she also has a special kamui uniform called Junketsu that’s very similar to Senketsu, but more dangerous. At her side are the Elite Four, who are leaders in the student counsel. There’s Gamagoori, who runs the disciplinary committee and is gigantic, Sanageyama, who runs the athletic clubs and is so fast that he can predict his opponents’ moves, Jakuzure, the girl of the group who runs the other clubs and claims to know Satsuki the longest out of anyone, and Inumuta, who’s in charge of information and analysis and is the tech geek of the group. All four possess Three-Star Goku uniforms, which are stronger than regular Goku uniforms and could give Ryuko a hard time. There’s also Aikuro Mikisugi, Ryuko and Mako’s homeroom teacher who’s really working for an organization called Nudist Beach, which is full of exhibitionists who oppose Satsuki’s reign. He’s been secretly aiding Ryuko, even with her discomfort. He was the one who lead her to Senketsu in the first place. There’s other characters I want to talk about, but I’ll go more into them in the next segment.
Where to even start? How about the animation? It has a more simplistic design, which might not look that great to some, but it serves a purpose as it makes the action scenes flow even better and my God, are those action scenes mind-blowing. They turned a school into a gigantic battleground. Everything moves so fast and it’s ruthless to top it all off. And the simple, cheap-looking style works for the humor, which is damn near Looney Tunes-like. Did I also mention the nudity? Because there’s a lot of nudity throughout the series, both male and female. I normally don’t have an issue with fanservice if it’s done properly and I feel that Kill la Kill did it properly. Plus, there’s so much crazy shenanigans going on around that you don’t even question the nudity. Alright, let’s talk plot twists because there is some major twists that occur. Half of the series has that “monster of the week” feel where Ryuko is smashing through every opponent that gets in her way. In episode 11, a girl named Nui Harime shows up. She seems like a cutsey girl with a squeaky voice, but in actuality, she’s a psychopath who gains joy from inflicting pain onto others. She reveals that she was responsible for the death of Ryuko’s father AND she holds the other half of the scissor blade that she’s been using. Ryuko goes into berserker rage mode and just wrecks shit.
Fast forward to episode 17 and Honnouji Academy throws a festival to celebrate the arrival of Satuski’s mother Ragyo Kiryuin (pictured above), who runs a successful clothing company. During this festival, all of the attendees are captured and set to be sacrificed to the Life Fibers. Before anyone could be sacrificed, Satsuki stabs Ragyo in the back, revealing that she’s been secretly planning a rebellion against her and the Life Fibers. It’s also revealed that Ragyo used Satuski in Life Fiber experiments along with her newborn sister, who was discarded by Ragyo. And that same newborn is revealed to be Ryuko, making her Ragyo’s daughter and Satuski’s sister.
But wait. There’s more. Ryuko and Satuski both share the same father, who created Nudist Beach and made plans to rebel against Ragyo, who wants to take over Earth using the Life Fibers. He created Senketsu and the scissor blades that Ryuko would use against Ragyo in the final battle. Had enough twists? Because these revelations turn the series into an epic by the time the big battle comes.
And that was Kill la Kill. It’s insane, hyperactive, and a ton of fun to watch. It’s well-animated, the action is thrilling, the humor lands and so do the heart-touching moments. If you can get past the nudity and fan service, watching this series is like the best amusement park ride you’ve ever gotten on and want to experience again. Trigger knocked it out of the park with this one. I highly recommend this series to everyone. It’s only 24 episodes long (plus an OVA), so depending on your schedule, you can get through the entire thing in one or two days. Next time, we look at a popular shonen series that goes beyond plus ultra.