I have not been hiding my difficulties in feeling invested in anime over the past few months. It could be due to a resurgence I experienced as I began reviewing the medium or it could be due to a couple of seasons that just didn’t do anything for me. Point is that the tropes, cliches, and simple lack of anything I cared about in the past few months left this as a monthly thing with the concept of discontinuing the segment coming into my mind. Then I got a list of ten series from the past season I want to watch starting with Kill La Kill, which revitalized my interest like a defibrillator does with a man at death’s door. So yes, prepare for loads of gushing.
Kill La Kill’s plot is one of the few that not only manages to sound as if it was devised from ab libs, but be completely awesome in its own right. Ryuko Matoi is a seventeen-year-old delinquent who wants to avenge her father’s death by going to Honnouji Academy in Tokyo Bay and defeat the Elite Four student council, to get to Satsuki Kiryuin and obtain the answers that drive her to fight. Said fighting is achieved through her weapon, a big red scissor blade, while she gets powers from Senketsu, a talking sailor uniform. All before discovering a twist one would expect from a show with lots of partial nudity and the creative staff behind Gurren Lagann. Also she has a comic relief sidekick named Mako, because Ryuko is practically living on the edge of edginess and is in need of an adorable sidekick.
That is nowhere near the full scope of the wild direction the show does eventually take itself on as it goes down a gradual slope where stakes are naturally raised to the point of near absurdity. It actually does nearly collapse in on itself as the show asks why is there a massive island in the middle of Tokyo bay that acquires most students in northern Japan. Even after most insanity like that was properly explained, Kill La Kill is by no means anywhere near the narrative polish or insight of something along the lines of, I dunno, Virtue’s Last Reward. Instead things are explained just enough for me to overlook any plot holes for one particular, and very good reason. Kill La Kill is awesome.
Even I groan a little at such a train of thought, but the show’s primary drive is the action and unquestionable loads of energy invested into the show by the creators. Resulting in something that I cleared through in about four days total while feeling like its pacing had a firm balance of never being too slow or too fast, and only possibly a bit too jat jacked for its own good during mini-arcs without any clear pausing point aside from how the episode was over. But the stellar fight scenes are only on half of what I cannot help but view as a hybridization of the core team’s prior two titles, which for the uninformed were Gurren Lagann and Panty and Stocking.
From the fact they have a character, make that five, who should by every right be long and dead while serving as the comic relief and… how do I put this without sounding shmaltzy, heart of the show. To the fact that this show’s transformation sequences involve both Ryuko and Satsuki showing more of their Kentucky milk jugs and contain more than a little bondage imagery along with about fifteen minutes total of naked characters minus the gentails. Normally this would rub me the wrong way, but due to how the show does offer far more justification than cheesecake for the sake of cheesecake, and even then it was hardly framed like the offenders. If I had to compare it to something, it is a lot like the whole Bayonetta debacle from 2009/2010 except involving more skin.
Besides, the characters do stand very well on their own, far and above any notion of anyone of them being viewed as an object. Whether it be due to general coolness, a level of death, lovely design, or just good writing for the characters, I just about loved them all, excluding the villains, one of which is probably up there on my hypothetical list for most unstable antagonists. Right next to that incestual king from Berserk. But this is a visual medium that likely took as long as it did to create due to the elements at play. As such, let me say, oh my goodness, the animation, visuals, framing, and just about everything else about the show beyond the story. I have one complaint, I am not too keen on the big japanese text that appears at certain moments simply because I cannot read it. Everything else?
The art style is very versatile in its ability to shift between the high octane and fairly realistically proportioned action to becoming a flat-out cartoon where proportions mean nothing. Such a move is justified as the framing of nearly every scene practically oozes with a style that, while certainly quality on its own, meshes very well with its quality character designs, which do very nicely bridge the gap the staff at Trigger must have gone through in the past few years. All of which amounts to something I was dropping my jaw at regularly, with the first episode being something I frequently paused in order to truly appreciate the motion of just about every single thing in this show. While at the same time anxious to get an art book simply so I have a catalog of designs that left me giddy, helped by how I not only formed a fondness or downright loathsomeness for just about every character featured in this show. Also, I ended up taking about 180 snapshots of the series just so I would capture a few frames of majesty that this show brought to the table. In other words, it would get a 10/10 in this department.
I could continue gushing about the killer soundtrack, nod worthy symbolism at play with modern Japanese culture and potentially the anime climate as of right now, the execution of the simple duality held by Ryuko and Satsuki, or bang on about any one specific character longer than I ought to. But to keep things short and simple, I found Kill La Kill to be an unquestionable treat. A lovely blend of goofball comedy, balls to the wall action, and genuine drama that only as a could stitching errors in an outfit constructed of a very comfortable material. I’ll admit to being extremely hesitant at first, but if the copious amount of good things I have to say is not an indicator, Kill La Kill is up there in my all time favorites, even though that doesn’t mean a whole lot.
It is among the best.