Story Review and Impressions
|Ryuuko challenges Satsuki during their very first encounter.|
Anything made by Gainax is sure to be out-of-the-ordinary, I already knew that before I even sat down to allow the first episode to finish its buffer and start. I was surprised about how quickly this anime managed to ramp up, within the first 3 minutes you aleady have someone falling from the roof, “Goku Uniforms” which grants its bearer with enhanced human ability, and someone who stole said unifom thrown from one wall to the other (which is the whole school’s length apart) to another by tentacle-like whips, stripped naked, and the Goku Uniform retrieved, INSANE! The first episode goes on to introduce a few of the main characters, most noteworthy among them are Matoi Ryuuko and her living school uniform, Senketsu, along with Kiryuuin Satsuki and the “Elite 4” (Also known as the 4 Devas). The first episode was a very good episode, we learned of our protagonist and her goal, the mysterious power of certain clothing (Goku Uniforms and Ryuuko’s Kamui), and even the path she was going to have to take in order to see her destination…one of the best launch episodes to a series in quite some time.
First and foremost I want to make a point about something very important about this particular series; The thing about Kill la Kill is that the craziness we observed within the first episode is present throughout the entire series, however, I do feel as though it got less and less ridiculous because you recognize it as a normal occurrance, not to mention things are taken way more seriously later on down the road. If you are someone who does not favor over-the-top situations within your anime, then this will not be the one for you. Contrary to some people’s opinion, I believe that it works more for than the anime than against it, especially the scale at which things escalate to later on down the road.
Kill la Kill seems simple enough, a girl discovers a would-be lead to answers behind her murdered father. She fights in order to gain what she seeks while overthrowing a dictatorship which seems unfair due surpreme narcissism. However, it turns out to be a more intricate plot with more at stake than just Ryuuko’s revenge (and it also teaches a good lesson about revenge and how poisonous it is to let hatred consume you) or Satsuki’s ambition. It begins to weave a story on a universal scale within its 24 episode run that calls into question how you look at everyone from the beginning to the end, you will often change your perception of people which aids to how the plot deepens. The plot becomes increasingly deep, dealing with trust, sense of self, greed, ambition, and various other elements. I feel like it is all focused towards a singular goal, as even though the series redirects itself towards the “Truth” after its first season, it is discovered that we were only witnessing pieces rather than the big picture.
As far as this plot goes, I think it is along the lines of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann in the sense that it has a deeper meaning than what it might openly display and I feel that many may miss this because it is implied through suttle undertones as to what they are referring to. For me at least, I feel that the message they are trying to send is, “You wear clothing, not the other way around. Clothes should not determine who you are at a person, nor should we separate ourselves into social rankings based on what we wear. In the end, if we are so obsessed with what we have on, we forget that what is underneath is most important. In the end, we become slaves to fabric, pigs in human clothing”. This is confirmed by how things go with the series and the ending only confirms that. It is even confirmed through an episode which shows how greed and power comes from how people who wear particular clothing are labeled: Students receive uniforms based on their class and how well they perform, with “No Stars” leaving torn down urban areas known as “Slums”, and higher ranked students who have beween one and three stars living in more suburban locals.
On the other hand, this series has a pretty big downside in that it is often VERY predictable in what will happen next, and that is never good for a plot which tries to fill the user with a sense of suspense and uncertainty. Mannerisms and focus that they give to characters during key times, even the angle of a particular scene or a music change can give away something that will happen next (or is most likely to happen in a few episodes or so). This is countered by it normally being done in a way that is extreme, stunning you even if you knew it was going to happen already…but you more-than-likely you will be surprised at how it is done. Also, I feel that the main antagonist truly has nothing to gain from their success, this makes me wonder why someone would do this…regardless if it was their duty or not. Normally when someone is trying to achieve a certain goal they have some personal motive tied to it, be it for them or other people, this antagonist was simply doing something because they were told to do it…nothing more-or-less and that is very hard to believe as well as uninspiring. Despite these glaring weakness I feel that they account for it in sheer originality in the storytelling.
While it is true that I feel that the main premesis of Kill la Kill is performed in an over-the-top manner, I personally believe that adds to the charm and that it is good regardless of its flaws since the good to me outweights the bad. I feel that its message is astounding and eye-opening, even if I feel that this anime is not for everyone because of some of the content, I still feel the plot is noteworthy to checkout. Furthermore, ending itself was also one of the very best I have seen in an anime in a VERY long time, it tugged on the heart strings and felt “Complete”, as the ending was acceptible and the vast majority of plot holes were filled (except we did not to get to see the blossoming of a potential confession that could have started a whirlwind romance).
Character Impressions and Development
|Honnouji Academy’s Elite 4 (Left-to-Right). Inumuta Hoka, Gamagoori Ira, Jakuzure Nonon, and Sanageyama Uzu.|
Surprisingly, this anime has some very good character designs, everyone looks rather cool and has a very good appearance that syncs well with the personalities that they were given. And while I do not really care for every single character that they invented (not a big fan of Inumuta or Mako’s brother, for example), I did not particularly hate any character either, so everyone was enjoyable to a capacity. While strong bonds were formed and most relationships felt deep and meaningful, I could not quite feel the connection between Mako and Ryuuko, and that is the biggest fault I found with their relationships. Allow me to elaborate on all of my points.
The characters that they designed are quite good, everyone looks pretty cool in their own particular right. I found no one hideously ugly or designed in such a way that they were detestable. I like how the Goku Uniforms look, even the stylized 2-Star Goku Uniform for Club Presidents or even the advanced forms that they happen to take on when the Elite 4 enters their “Regalia” modes. Transformations even look cool when a 3-Star Goku User transforms, and even a Kamui user transforms, even if you cannot necessarily understand how the transformation is working (Such as life fibers wrapping tightly around the Kamui’s eyes), all you have to understand is that the moment is exciting and they present it as such. However, a big inconsistency within the series that I did not understand was Gamagoori, who happened to change his body size quite often during the series. In the above screen cap you can see that he is slightly bigger and taller than everyone else in the Elite 4, other times he is so big and tall that he can barely fit into a room and can hold one or all of the remaining Elite 4 members within the palm of his hand…it is nuts (Then again, I have no idea if this is a play on another anime element or possibly a well known trope).
As far as their personalities, they did a good job to explain everyone’s connection and ties to each other; I am especially impressed on the backgrounds concerning the Elite 4 and Satsuki. We can use Gamagoori as an example since he is the most anal member of the Elite 4 when it comes to following rules and showing his loyalty. They perfectly describe why he is who he is, why his regalia and title as “Head of the Disciplinary Committee” fits him, and why he is so loyal to Satsuki. Even when they begin to go into Ryuuko’s past, they completely address everything and look holes purposely to be filled in at a later point and time which seamlessly links exactly who they are, making you relate to a character and giving them a new sense of value. Later on as things begin to become clear, these bonds and histories become vital to each character, further weaving their futures and pasts to one another.
One of the big flaws that it has is not explaining the main antagonists’ followers history and how they came to be so loyal during the course of the anime’s length, because of that shortcoming it only heightens my feeling of their ambitions seeming hollow (As I explained in the “Story Review and Impressions” section). For me, the most MASSIVE downer within the series is the “unbreakable bond” that Ryuuko’s friendship with Mankanshoku Mako carries, it just never feels truly authentic because they met during a completely random coversation during episode 1. Sure, they have their moments when they believe in each other (and save each other from themselves) and from the way Ryuuko and Mako talk it is obvious that they care for one another, but it never feels quite authentic and pure but rather forced to serve a point that “friendship and belief in others can conquer all”. I think I feel this way because of how Ryuuko’s personality is, not to mention since their friendship is derived from something completely silly that has little to absolutely no meaning. There is also one thing during the final minutes of the final episode which is heart-warming, but it feels entirely too soon and extremely forced, especially since that person said there was no need to force that bond during the episode prior to that and it was noted and agreed upon by the said party.
All-in-all they did a very good job when it came to the characters and designs, mannerisms and personality traits, even the bonds which formed between them. While I admit that things could have been a bit better by way of more elaboration, you do not get something as short as 24 episodes with this amount of detail very often, and so I give Kill la Kill much praise for jamming as much depth as they could within this series.
|Mako’s kid brother, father, and dog watching Ryuuko change clothes (Ooh! She’s wearing shimapan! <3)|
Aside from the usual sections I like to mention other things that could be relevant for the reader. The very first thing I want to cover is the fact that Kill la Kill has a massive amount of fanservice, MASSIVE amount. You will not be hardpressed to find panties, abs, breasts, and heavy sexual innuendos presented in this anime, hell, even the transformation of our heroine into her battle-ready Kamui is riddled with sex appeal. One positive about all of this is that not all of the ecchi presented is actually meant to be sexual-oriented, sometimes it is humours (Like the picture above). One thing that is quite positive about the ecchi is that it caters to both male and female audiences (Though it still falls in favor of men). Normaly in anime you will get fanservice only given to one particular gender, such as Free! Iwatoi Swim Club for women or Variable Geo for men. While I do feel like they go overboard with it sometimes, it becomes better after the first initial episodes only to go right back to the same lewd routine, there are even hints of incests later on through the series (Though only small fondling and nothing else). Those who are looking for a meaningful anime that does not have to use fanservice and sexual exploits or are sensitive and easily embarrassed at the site of skin may want to skip Kill la Kill.
Something else that is abundant at times in Kill la Kill happens to be blood, and it is often random when you will really see it. Sure, it is said even in the first episode that a Kamui needs blood to be able to transform into its battle-ready state, but this series often has massive amounts poured out for the hell of it. Actually, Kill la Kill can be quite brutal in some of the scenes that come up, something it kind of sneaks in from time-to-time, and there is even one cause of dismemberment and blood going all over the place. Keep in mind that most of the time this is rather playful or only for brief periods, it is not as graphic as something like Hellsing Ultimate or Kite, but it can still get pretty crazy sometimes.
Last, but not least, I want to mention the awesome music present in this anime series. Starting from the very first episode I loved the opening and ending songs ( my favorite of the opening and ending themes happens to be “Sirius” by Aoi Eir. You can click the link to watch the official video). There are various different themes present for each character, such as “Until My Body is Dry” which is Ryuuko’s theme, “Light Your Heart Up” which is Mako theme’s, and my favorite “Blumenkranz” which is Ragyo’s theme (Do not look this up and spoil yourself). Playing a mixture of these music at key moments bring the absolute BEST out of this series and completely adds to the atmosphere of whatever is going on at the time. Excellent musical selection on the part of Gainax (I expect nothing less after the excellent variety we found in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, I still listen to “Row Row Fight the Power” and “Happily Ever After”).
STRENGTHS – Interesting story, Excellent character designs, Equality in ecchi content, Opening and Endings are splendid, Terrific musical soundtrack, Fulfilling ending.
WEAKNESSES – Overly ecchi at times, Too outrageous at times, Ryuuko’s and Mako’s friendship depth seems a bit forced, Many of the major plot twists are extremely predictable, Lack of backstory on the main antagonist’s followers.
Kill la Kill is one of the best new anime series I have seen in quite sometime; it was packed with over-the-top action, a meaningful plot, and a band of interesting characters place in interesting scenarios. Sure, I did hate the fact that the plot twists were very predictable and that a few things they hinted at never came to fruition, but that pales in comparison to the anxiety presented while waiting for each new episode and it being just as awesome as you were hopiong that it would be. Also, when compared to other anime like Kyoukai no Kanata, Watamote, and even Oriemo, this ending feels more complete and leaves the watcher fulfilled and happy with its outcome.
In conclusion, For those of you who are looking for a good anime to pass the time, trust me, you will NOT be disappointed with this one. This gets the RoKtheReaper.com seal of approval, I am happy to report that yet again Gainax delivers. Bravo!