Saturday, June 7, 2014

Anime Review: Kill La Kill


GAY. Gay gay gay gay gay- that ending was gay. Despite our great enjoyment of Kill La Kill from episode 4 on, my girlfriend and I had been slow to finish it, but we started episode 15 today and plowed through the rest of the series in one sitting. This is a pretty awesome show- epic, sweet, and ultimately gayer than I expected.

Matoi Ryuko is a transfer student at Honnouji Academy, a school that functions as an independent city. Some students wear super-powered uniforms, and the uniform you wear (three star, which is the most powerful, two star, one star, and no star, which has no power) determines your class, which determines not only your school rank but where you and your family live. At the top of of this hierarchy is Kiryuuin Satsuki, a student who runs the school with a steel grip.

A delightfully offbeat no-star named Mankanshoku Mako shows Ryuko the ropes and invites her to live with her and her family since Ryuko doesn't have anyone there. Someone killed Ryuko's dad, and she expects to find out who killed him and get revenge at Honnouji- and pegs Satsuki as the person who did it. This makes just about every student who isn't Mako her enemy, but she has her own super-powered uniform since her dad was a mad scientist. Said uniform is sentient and can speak to Ryuko, and I expected to find him creepy or at least annoying, but he turned out to be likable. Other important folks include the four three stars who pretty much comprise the student council Ryuko has to face off with- sooner than I expected- and others who it would be spoilery to describe.

This show moves away from its initial premise very quickly, then does so again, and by the end it's a completely different story but it works beautifully. The first three episodes, which are the most servicey and low on plot, provide a high barrier to entry, but I found the overall series well worth it even though there's still some service later on. From the beginning, Ryuko and Satsuki's battle outfits are awkward and they continue to be so, but the camera does become less obsessed with them after episode 3, the story becomes addictive and a lot of fun, and there's a lot of dudes getting naked too. The characters who are supposed to be likable are incredibly likable and the ones who aren't are more monstrous and creepy than I expected. (Be warned that said creepiness includes some incest.) This show is also very surreal, and manages to be as out there as it can while still being consistent with its own world's logic. Studio Trigger's visuals are second to none in bringing the energy of this series to life.

As for yuri, there is cute yuri at the end. Skip the paragraph below if you don't want it spoiled.
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In the last episode, Mako asks Ryuko to go on a date- in front of basically everyone they know- with her after everything is over. Ryuko agrees, their teacher is later like "Welp, now those girls can go on their date" and we eventually do see them go on a cute, girly date. Apparently there are people who did not see Mako asking Ryuko on a date and Ryuko agreeing as the least bit romantic, but I can't help wondering if they would interpret it the same way if either Ryuko or Mako were a boy. But then there are people who didn't pick up on Psycho-Pass's Shion and Yayoi being canon paired before P-P season 1's final episode despite Yayoi leaving Shion's office while they both put on their clothes and Shion commenting on what Yayoi likes in bed, and in short, I like to not put much stock in what heteronormative folks "think." Anywho, I like Ryuko x Mako. The basis for Mako asking Ryuko on a date was established well- like with Senketsu noting that Mako is the only thing that reliably makes Ryuko relax and Mako being the only thing that could bring Ryuko back from Life Fiber-induced freaking out, not to mention Mako being visibly attracted to Ryuko earlier, what with the nose-bleeding over her.
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In short, it is completely understandable if the service- especially those shitty first three episodes- put you off from watching this show, but I really enjoyed it as a whole and found it worthwhile.

Kill La Kill is streaming on Crunchyroll and Netflix.

3 comments:

drawnseeker said...

I literally cheered at the end of episode 15. it put a big old smile on my face.

Steven said...

I can see people taking the "let's go on a date" thing as non-romantic... except for the imagery that shows up as Mako is going on about it. Though the images are literally blink-and-you'll-miss-it images they're the most telling about the nature of the date:

A) Ryuko and Mako sitting next to each other on a bench holding hands in school uniforms (with Ryuko in a boys uniform).
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B) Mako kissing Ryuko (this one occurs twice during the monologue). Also, given Mako's penchant for being able to have a physical effect on things (Ryuko in particular) during her monologing, that they're both in the clothes that they're currently wearing at the time, and that Ryuko looks kinda surprised in it, it seems it may have actually happened in reality and not just in Mako's monologue world.

Without those, sure, there could be a debate over whether it's romantic or non-romantic, but intention is everything when communicating and those make it pretty clear as to Mako's intentions for what the date means. And of course, as you've pointed out Katherine, had either one (or both) been a boy there would be no debate about it.

I'm hoping that the rumored OVA will have something that indicates if not that they're dating, then at least that they consider each other to be more than friends. (Though my expectation is that they'll leave everything ambiguous so anyone can be shipped with anyone else while being considered 'almost cannon'.)

Katherine Hanson said...

@drawnseeker- It was indeed pretty great. =)

@Steven- You are completely right that Mako's monologue when she asks Ryuko out reinforces the fact that she has romantic intentions.

And yeah, fingers crossed for that OVA!