Anime Review from the Vault: Kill la Kill

(Posted to my Facebook page on April 29, 2015)

Kill La Kill… ugh this anime. Do I really have to talk about this? No, no I do not. But I’m going to because I sat through the whole damn thing and I am way too committed to NOT talk about it at this stage.

Let’s do an exercise. Try to picture what kind of anime Kill La Kill is based on its title alone. Go on, I’ll give you a second. I bet you pictured a horror anime, right? About a serial killer maybe? Some kind of ultra-violent action anime maybe? Oh no. You have no idea what this anime is. Kill La Kill is a… fuck man, let’s see what Wikipedia says its genre is… “Action, Comedy-Drama, Magical Girl”… oh boy, if only that was all it was. If I had to nail its genre down I would call it an Action-Comedy Clothes Anime. You may think that I had a stroke midway through that sentence and added an extra word. I did not. No, this is an anime about clothes. People who use clothes to make them better at fighting. Alien clothes from outer space that wish to eat humanity. A scientist who created a giant pair of scissors to combat these clothes and a girl’s school Sailor outfit which is alive and allows its wearer to transform into a super-powered fighter wearing a thong with her tits hanging out. I swear to god I’m not making this up. I couldn’t if I tried.

Okay, let me seriously try to explain the plot to this anime. This anime centers around a high school (Don’t they all?) called Honnouji Academy. This school is ruled by teenaged Satsuki Kiryuin and her powerful student council using “Goku Uniforms” which greatly increase their physical prowess. This school more or less rules the city that surrounds it. How students preform in the school and how they rank in their respective clubs directly relate to their social status (From a 0-Star student to a 3-Star student). In the middle of all this, a mysterious girl named Ryuko Matoi wanders into this city looking for the one who killed her father. Armed with half of a giant pair of scissors, she challenges Satsuki for her knowledge but is badly beaten. Returning to her father’s destroyed lab, she finds a living sailor uniform named Senketsu, which gives her enough power to fight back against the school clubs. Now she seeks once and for all to find her father’s killer, and plans to go through Satsuki to find that information. All the while, she befriends a fellow student named Mako Mankanshoku. As Ryuko has no place to call her own, her family agrees to take her in.

Okay, got all that? No? Too bad, I’m going to start analyzing this thing now.

Let’s start with… fuck, the animation. That’s probably the easiest place to start. Whatever else I have to say about this series, it has impressive animation. It has some stark colors, and despite the city and schoole themselves mostly featuring black and white, the colorful character designs, active fights and lively characters make up for it. That being said, there’s some… questionable design of characters. Like I said, this is a series that likes to dress its female characters in skimpy outfits (It has plot reasoning for it, of course, just as the man peeking into a woman’s changing room probably has reasoning for it as well). I shouldn’t accuse this series of sexualizing the women, however, because everyone, regardless of sex, is found naked at some point in the series. No, that is not an exaggeration, it’s a thing that happens. Regularly. This is actually a rather big problem I can have with this type of anime. I don’t care how compelling the characters of High School of the Dead are, or how cool some of the actions scenes are, because I get the feeling that the series is constantly trying to make me get off on some tits flapping in front of the screen, and that can make me uncomfortable because that’s not what I sat down for. Look Japan, If I wanted to watch porn, I’d go watch porn. I don’t need you rubbing your tits and ass in my face while I’m trying to enjoy a drama or action show. Is there actual nudity in this show? Nooooo… technically. Is there sex in the show? Again, technically no. Yet, compared to Gantz (Which is a fairly tasteless show in my opinion) which actually does have nudity and sex in it, I almost feel more uncomfortable watching Kill La Kill just because of the frequency of the nudity and how tiring it can be to get all these damn panty shots, ass shots (Of men and women), tit shots, and it gets old real quick how they try to “cover up” these bits. It feels, for lack of a better term, tasteless and it gets real fuckin’ old. Honestly, this is probably my biggest problem with the show, but because it’s such a big and constant problem, it hurts the overall quality quite a bit. On a bit of a side note, the show has a minor case of Sailor Moon Syndrome. No, I don’t say that because it likes to parade girls in sailor outfits in front of us (Though the more I think of it, the more apt a comparison it becomes. Hmmm…). No, I say it because there’s a decent amount of Stock Footage used, primarily for transformations. This is usually a trick used by animes to fill up several extra minutes and make a fight seem longer than it actually is by adding a lot of previously animated shots of someone transforming or doing the same attack. Kill La Kill isn’t too bad about that… it rarely shows an old transformation in full, but it does have a lot of other transformations the seem to far around way too much. They look nice at least, which is something.

Now the characters. Whoo, now that I have that rant off my chest, this is hopefully going to go a bit smoother. The characters, honestly, are quite well done. Most of them are funny, and they’re diverse enough with interesting enough backgrounds that I’ll find myself rooting for whoever the show wants me to root for, and despising whatever villain they have set up. Some of the villains can be sympathetic, but honestly I found the villains towards the end of the series to be pretty bland. A truly great villain can make you almost want to root for them, and their logic is often quite sound to the point of making you as an observer conflicted (See Handsome Jack, Galbatorix, or Caesar’s Legion for a crash course on that). On a whole, I’m rather satisfied with the quality of characters, their arcs and their individual endings. They’re not exactly revolutionary, but they drive the plot well enough. Ryuko is a little inconsistant at times for me, but on a whole she’s energetic and fun enough to drive the story. The character I really hold a decent amount of issue with it Mako. She’s just so damned annoying. A good comic relief knows when to ease the mood and give us a laugh and when to be serious. Hell, in Yu Yu Hakusho, some of the most touching moments belonged to one of the comic reliefs, Kuwabara. Mako has a moment or two where she can give us a touching moment, but I frequently groan when she steps in the middle of the action and tries to bring people back to earth with her song and dance. It’s just annoying, and isn’t even particularly entertaining like with Kid Muscle in Ultimate Muscle.

The action is really the entire reason I gave this series a chance at all. I heard that Kill La Kill had some excellent action, and I wasn’t really disappointed on that front. It suffers a little bit of Dragon Ball Z syndrome (“Augh! My foe is too powerful! Wait, I got a power boost! I can beat you! Augh, next foe is too powerful!” Ect), but I like Dragon Ball Z, so I don’t really knock that point so much. The fights are full of imagination and energy and here is where the animation really shines. The creators got really creative with these fights and they’re really the highlight of the whole anime.

The plot on a whole is… weak. I might be in the minority when I say that, but it’s seriously just all over the place. On one hand, it’s frequently very uninvolved and bounces around with disconnected episodes that just involve Ryuko fighting a new club. On the other, towards the end it gets so convoluted, complicated, and stupid that I officially stopped giving a shit where they were going with it and just watched the fights. I understood it all, but I really wish I hadn’t. The concept on a whole is just so fucking stupid and weird that I can’t bring myself to really care where they’re going with it. More importantly, the ending is pretty obvious. I mean, gee, will the good guys win in the end? Sigh… I feel like I’ve been spoiled by Angel Beats. You see, there they didn’t really need a villain. They just needed characters and a conflict. That fueled the series perfectly and nearly brought me to tears. Here… despite having so much more, it feels like a lot less.

So in the end, what did I think of Kill La Kill? Honestly, I’m still not sure. It’s so fucking bizarre I’m not even sure how to score it, so let me vocalize my thoughts quickly. Was it bad? Not really, no. Was it good? Apart from the action, not really. Would I watch it again? Probably not. Would I recommend it? Probably not (and not just because anyone I recommended it to might think I was a pervert). So there you have it. A sub-par anime with some superb action. I wouldn’t recommend it because it’s just weird Japan being weird Japan. There are animes with good action that actually have good stories to them, and I’d recommend those over this in a heartbeat. Nothing to see here, move along.

I give Kill La Kill a 2 out of 5.

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