Anime: that wonderful visual form of entertainment that a lot of you who are reading this right now know and love. What’s brilliant about Japanese animation is how different it can be from traditional media. It can tell stories that we never expect to be told in Western television. It can make us feel a lot of things: happiness, sorrow, melancholy, terror, etc, etc. Anime can also be aimed at particular audiences. It can be for a more intellectual crowd, or for people looking for touching tales of fantasy or maybe romance, or, in a lot of cases, just for fun and entertainment. The anime in question is definitely full of entertainment factor; a show that may require you to turn off your brain in order to enjoy it.
Aired during the fall season of 2013 (October 3-March 27), Kill la Kill was produced by the studio Trigger (a company that branched off from Gainax), with Gurren Lagann director Hiroyuki Imaishi having full-reins in production. The soundtrack was composed by Hiroyuki Sawano, whose famous anime soundtracks include the music from Guilty Crown and Attack on Titan. Now, with these three powerhouses in the anime industry combined, it would stand to reason why this show has garnered massive amounts of hype. People even try to compare it to Gurren Lagann, a show of similar hype. However, as its own show, how does Kill la Kill stack up? Does it have essence, or is it just another Maken-Ki? (SPOILERS: IT’S NOT)
Okay, real talk guys: Kill la Kill’s plot may cause your brain to spontaneously combust and rupture at the cellular level. Just a friendly little warning.
The story follows Ryuko Matoi, a young student who transferred to Honnouji Academy in order to gain information about the death of her father. This particular academy isn’t your average day-to-day academy; led by the dominantly fearsome student council president, Kiryuin Satsuki, it is a fascist high school where council members wear Goku Uniforms: clothing that grant its wearer heightened strength special abilities, which they use to oppress the “lesser” students. Upon reaching Honnouji, Ryuko challenges Satsuki, only to be defeated by a Goku-Uniform-wearing student. Soon after, in the ruins of her own home, Ryuko discovers an invention of her father: a talking sailor uniform named Senketsu, who grants Ryuko marvelous amounts of power (after inadvertently “raping” her, take that as you may). She then returns to Honnouji Academy, where she vows to defeat Satsuki and figure out the mystery behind her father’s demise and avenge him. Then we have a bunch of other clubs hunting Ryuko down, the mystery behind why and how Senketsu was created and what he really is, a renegade oppositional guerilla force called the Nudist Beach (seriously, I am not making this up)(nice name though), the mysterious Life Fibers that make up the Goku Uniforms, shonen power-ups that seem really cliche and predictable, and a whole lot more convoluted plot points and plot twists than you can wrap a thread of Life Fiber around.
And it’s brilliant.
SEE I TOLD YOU I WASN’T MAKING STUFF UP!
Let’s start from the beginning; the first few episodes of Kill la Kill are sorta episodic in nature, with a “club president-per-episode” format. Mind you, they were pretty cool, but for a show that has garnered massive loads of hype, it can be pretty disappointing for some people. However, at about episode 8, the show starts picking up its pace, getting greater and greater until the 17th episode, where everything starts to tie together, and then continues climbing up the scale of epicness until the BRILLIANT ending, where everything gets wrapped up in a nice little Life Fiber bowtie. What impresses about Kill la Kill (something I just recently discovered) was how the scale became greater and greater as time progresses, but the show’s storyline was also being put together piece by piece until everything made sense by the end. There might’ve been some plot holes here and there (not that I can name any on the top of my head), but they are very minor and does not affect the overall brilliance of the plot. Another thing that amazes me is how much the series has grown over the course of 24 episodes. The show felt like it started from the bottom, with epicness piling up on top of each other until, by the last few episodes, you look back and think to yourself how much the show has developed, something that some series with the same, or even greater, number of episodes fail to accomplish (I’m looking at you, Sword Art Online).
Keep this picture in mind when you watch the last few episodes of Kill la Kill. You’ll see what I meant.
And finally, THAT ENDING. At the time of this review, it has only been a mere few minutes since I saw the final episode of Kill la Kill, and, I must say, the production staff didn’t fail us. Everything was bloody brilliant: it was action-packed, it had its moments of feels, the soundtracks were maxed out and brilliantly used, and, above all, the story came to a proper close while also harboring the prospects of continuation. It was everything I hoped the ending could be, and I seriously wouldn’t have it any other way. Enough said.
Really, there isn’t much to say about this show’s characters apart from a few exceptions. As far as I can tell (and your opinion may vary greatly from mine), all of the characters (supporting and main) are important in some way or another. The entire series builds upon the ideal that we can’t live and fight our battles alone all the time, and that our friends, no matter how “bat-crazy” they are, always support us in some way, shape, or form. On that thought, interesting characters are vital. Good thing there isn’t much to worry about in the case of Kill la Kill.
All of the characters, from Mako and her family to the Elite 4, are given a purpose, no matter how “minor” it may seem. Some of the characters are really stand-out, and for a multitude of reasons, ranging from their personalities to their designs; there’s main protagonist Ryuko, student council president Satsuki, the awesomely funny Mako, the menacing Ragyo (who is one of the most well-represented villains I’ve seen in a while), the exhibitionist leader of Nudist Beach, Mikisugi, and a whole slew of colorful characters that makes the show more wholesome.
When I said “colorful”, this wasn’t what I had in mind…
However, the show kinda needs to work more on the character development-side of things; Ryuko especially. She seems a little bland and a little one-dimensional. For a pretty badass female lead protagonist, it’s kinda vital to have her undergo a little change and development over the course of the series. Of course, this can be said for some of the other characters in the show, but, nevertheless, the characters were very amusing and terrific (I can’t necessarily say much because of <spoilers>).
A problem with Kill la Kill’s animation is that it kinda remains inconsistent for the most past. There are times when the animation seems remotely sketchy and weirdly detailed. The animation frames can be a tad bit simple sometimes for a studio like Trigger. The use of freeze frames are also prevalent, replacing what could be really detailed action scenes (an indication on how Trigger might have been saving its budget). There are a couple more problems I can talk about, but those are beside the point. Kill la Kill’s animation is not perfect.
However, to me, this factor is part of the show’s charm. It can be funny and wacky with its odd style, but action-y and epic with brilliant masterstrokes seen in the show’s action scenes. Above all, it can also invoke moments of sadness with its beautiful background settings and gorgeous lighting styles. When the animation wants to be good, studio Trigger puts on its sunglasses, strips naked, and says, “Who the hell do you think we are?”
The character designs are pretty neat as well; from Tsugumi’s Mohawk to Ryuko’s red highlight (an edgy touch, by the way) to Ragyo’s impossibly colorful hair style, the designs really add to the characters themselves. The fan service knob can be turned down a bit though, although it didn’t really bother me as much and I was able to appreciate the designs despite it.
Lastly, the uniforms. THOSE THINGS ARE FASHIONABLE AS FUDGE, especially the Elite Four’s uniforms. The improvements made to those uniforms over the course of the series are some of the most impressive costume designs I’ve seen; they made me wonder whether they were designed by actual fashion designers. In any case, for a show about clothing (yes, it is a show about clothing), the designs are appropriately unique and wicked.
Tell me that this doesn’t look cool…IT’S A GREEN FREAKING LIGHTSABER, DAMMIT!
Besides the awesome openings (especially the 2nd OP, something you should check out, by the way), Kill la Kill has a huge number of brilliant soundtrack pieces that match the show’s style. The soundtrack, composed by Hiroyuki Sawano (a composer who I personally am a fan of), fits the show’s action-y aura to a T with fast pacing, bombastic orchestration, and a mix of techno and choirs, coupled with brilliantly climatic timings. But that’s not the only thing the soundtrack succeeds at. It also has the ability to make a show such as Kill la Kill awe-inspiring, not only in its action-y parts, but also in its moments of sadness, hope, and even despair. Memorable tracks include “Before my Body’s Dry”, a heart-throbbing piece of soundtrack that can fit into ANY action-packed show; “I Want to Know”, a beautifully rendered acoustic song that brings in the feels; and “Blumenkranz”, which is one of the best villain’s themes I’ve heard in a long time.
Besides the music, the voice acting is impressively accurate as well. From Mako to Lady Satsuki herself, all of the voice actors/actresses made their respective characters shine even more. Their voices certainly aided in giving the characters personality, and that was a noticeably nice touch. Special props to Mikisugi’s voice actor, for inspiring us with one of the best lines in anime ever since Spike Spiegel’s “Bang”:
When Kill la Kill was on its baby steps, I thought it was pretty cool for what it was. It was over-the-top, bombastic, and completely action-packed. After putting it on hold for a while (for reasons unknown), I found that the show is getting grander in terms of scale and awesomeness, after which I decided to follow the show on a weekly basis. And I must say, I am definitely impressed by what Trigger has done. I loved the show as a form of entertainment, though that is not to say that its plot was crap. It’s action-packed, funny, climatic, and, most of all, plain epic. Its soundtrack is a feast for the ears; the characters are a treat to watch on-screen; the animation is brilliant when it needs be; the ending was phenomenal and the story was all wrapped up: what more can I say?
In essence, Kill la Kill is a show that, despite its flaws, can really be enjoyed and appreciated with the right mindset. It is a show that will test your suspension of disbelief, granted, but if you could do that, if you could turn off your brain and watch it for the entertainment piece that it is, you may just be surprised at what you find. It’s definitely NOT just some random ecchi-action show. It has heart and makes sense story-wise, while being wickedly epic at the same time. From an entertainment standpoint, Kill la Kill is an anime that will leave you in awe and clapping slowly at your seat. It may not be an anime that necessarily EVERYONE will enjoy, in fact no there is not one anime that EVERYONE will enjoy; but it is a brilliant piece of entertainment that proves that anime can be a lot of things, and people will be looking to Kill la Kill as one of the examples for quite a long time.
Oh yes…yes we are…
As per usual, leave a comment down below pertaining to your thoughts on this review, on the show itself, or if you would like me to review anything. And, speaking of liking, give the review a thumbs-up if you enjoyed it.
With that, I leave you, and until next time, ladies, gentlemen, and others, this has been Kenji, and I’ll see you guys in the future.
I loved Kill La Kill and all, but the animation an 8/10?
Seriously? The animation is 90% key frames, and extremely basic animation, almost like something out of the 1980’s era of Japanese animation. The only times the animation actually has a decent amount of frames is when the fights happen, and even then it’s below average.
You can tell they were on an extremely tight budget with it.
The art and style though was amazing, and has all the signature TRIGGER style to it, but the animation is pretty terrible. I’d give it a 4/10 personally.
All in all though, I loved it. It ended on an extremely good note, and even left room for a possible season 2 or continuation of some kind.
We’ll have to see what TRIGGER do with it.
haha, true that ^^ they did use a lot of copy-pasting. but i found that the good parts really softened up the bad parts a bit.
Still, i do agree with you on the fact that it is choppy at times.
Yeah, the animation was pretty old-style all around and even weird in some areas. I read elsewhere that this was Trigger’s first work though, and they delivered pretty well. A first impression is always important, and from what I’ve seen in various places online, especially places like Youtube, it’s left quite the impression.
Finished it recently, and yeah, it was glorious the entire way, start to finish. Also, Aikuro is positively fabulous.
The only things that Trigger worked on was Little Witch Academia and I think Inferno Cop, both of which aren’t really full series but rather they’re more like little ova’s.
And yes he was one of the best male characters indeed ^^
KLK was quite a blast to watch, since Gurren Lagann is my favorite anime it was really easy to get into and I enjoyed watching this every week. It really is a thrill-ride for the entertainment value, and while I wouldn’t say it has a bad plot, it doesn’t have as much development as some other series. For people like me that’s just fine, but it really is one of those things you have to appreciate the style for to really get the most out of. All said though, I really did enjoy this a great deal and I’m really excited since Anime Expo’s actually hosting some guests who worked on this for a big event. And that second opening is amazing. KLK’s music in general is amazing, clearly the series didn’t lose its way lol.
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