My episodic notes, reactions, and commentary from the second half of Kill la Kill, which aired during the Winter 2014 anime season).
Looking for episodes 1 – 12 from the first half of Kill la Kill? Click here!
Everything is by and large as it was when I originally wrote them in the Hangers category when the show was airing. They have been sewn together and provided for the convenience of readers to look back on my feelings on this series specifically, without needing to click through numerous pages.
Kill La Kill (episode 14)
In the grand scheme of things I suppose it doesn’t really matter, but I was kind of hoping to get more of a sense of the three unconquered schools before the Raid Trip went about its merry business. How they may have structured themselves, how they’ve been able to hold out for so long, what kinds of attempts had been made on them in the past (in any), etc.
We did kind of get some of that with the focus on Takarada and his rule over Osaka and how he can impact and command the non-student citizenry, but there is always that voracious desire for more. He has made for a fun little miniboss though, so I’m glad it seems we will likely be able to get another episode out of him next week.
To that point, while the assaults on the other two schools were visually entertaining (Composite meat armor as a cultural heritage defense! Rulebooks as the weapons of outsiders!), they were also very short due to how much material this episode was covering. We have Ryuuko coming to terms with Senketsu being torn apart, the Raid Trip groups deploy and we see each of them fight, some cutaways to Mako, back to Raid Trips and Ryuuko smacking down virtually everyone across three cities who had Senketsu’s fabric bits.
It’s a lot of ground to speed through, and it makes the non-Osaka locales feel kind of expendable, in a “Why was this important again?” kind of fashion. Which, you know, Ragyou Kiryuuin does seem to feel Satsuki’s plans are kind of small potatoes and / or misplaced, so this could be a sort of execution that leads to portraying that in a more palpable fashion from some speech later.
Something the series has been doing a lot of up to this time is essentially groundwork. So many things that can very easily led to very snappy future followups or rich thematic elements. And we have certainly had some, such as Satsuki’s thunderous exclamations on how she views clothes and the female body. We are going to be rapidly rapidly reaching a time though where the program hits the “put up or shut up” phase of things come what may in the next several weeks. And I think it is equipped to handle that, should it so choose. But it is going to need to start making those bombing run calls sooner rather than later.
Now that it seems as though we are at a point were Ryuuko needs to figure out how to take out Satsuki enough to get what she wants without Senteksu’s Kamui capabilities, which would fundamentally be akin to fighting naked, ideally we have one hell of a runway to actually launch from.
Kill La Kill (episode 15)
Nudist Beach custom rubber duckies. I want one.
That is at least a little bit more I know about Nudist Beach now. But given that they were fielding a full on robot counterattack from a secret command center and we are actually seeing some of the scale of their supposed operations, I would have liked to have at least a little more investment in seeing them struggle, get smacked down and essentially firebombed into the stone age. For all the conspiracy and larger hints offered when Aikuro was having small talk with Tsumugu so many episodes ago, I still don’t fell I know really anything about what Nudist Beach actually does or generally stands for.
Apparently we’ll find out “everything” next episode given Aikuro’s closing lines and the preview, but it is disappointing on a certain level to see this big rollout this episode and their smackdown feels kind of like white noise.
All the remarks about Japan being spilt between two conglomerates is at least a little jarring to me on a certain level. So were the other two schools on the Raid Trip Takarada allied supporters, under their influence, random city state level standalone resisting academies, what? At any rate, Satsuki has been well aware Osaka was going to be the hardiest holdout given her “Do you think I would commit a force this large just to fight students?,” the physical presence and the next level gambit where she also knew all this would draw out the renegade Nudist Beach forces (who, on their end, also wanted to rescue Takarada). And there’s Ryuuko to deal with as well.
The stuff about Ryuuko having a human skin connection with Senketsu seemed like the exact kind of thing the show would theoretically have been wanting to put more emphasis on given all the “be worn by me” stuff we were playing around with at the start of the series. But it just kind of gets glossed over in a snappy “You’ll only last a minute” “A minute is all I need” exchange and bing bang boom moving on style. Which is.. kind of odd, I think. I had expected a scene like that to have taken, well, more time, either to raise the stakes of the combat clock or the emotional connection of such a bonding.
Kill la Kill kind of feels like it is trying to sprint burst speed read rapidly though a whole number of things, as if it’s conclusion was not nine episodes away but one or two. Even in the Trigger newsletter, they are calling the next episode “the end of Act 1,” which means Act 2 is going to be much smaller by comparison. It’s kind of a weird sensation and pacing, and the only way we’ll be sure if it works or not is to see what it actually does with the time.
Kill La Kill (episode 16)
“You bastards with your vague hint think you’re such hot stuff” indeed. I was probably going to want to strangle Senketsu if his compilation episode joke actually turned out to be the case.
That said, I do now wonder how much of Senketsu’s voiceovers for things like these bits or the episode previews could potentially be happening in or out of universe. If the life fibers control the world, and Trigger wanted to take that to a meta level, could Kill la Kill then be kind of rebel propoganda show?
I’m getting way too ahead of myself though.
So Ryuuko’s dad founded and funded Nudist Beach (not entirely unexpected) and Ragyou… is the leading human representative and business conduit for a global alien conspiracy (not quite as expected). The idea of the “Clothes Make The Man” phrase being warped into a “Clothes Made The Mankind” idea is a kind of nifty one though, particularly in the area where the parasites would have burrowed into their hosts but would end up killing them in the process. Much better then to have a longer term leeching operating as an external covering even if it means less of an energy haul, since it allows the crop to actually grow to larger population levels so the aliens can go all Soylent Green on us.
This is definitely enough of a kick in the energy pants to where I want to know where they can go with this, even if it does potentially mean we could be jettisoning potential material when it came to exploring the body issue commentary since that could be lumped under “Alien Conspiracy” as well.
Ryuuko’s “So you want me to fight for the human race? To hell with that.” moment basically fits in with the Refusal Of The Call part of the traditional Hero’s Journey framework. Which, it is kind of important to note, she really hasn’t been much of a “hero” through most of the entire series. Certainly, she has done things like rescue Mako, but her overall goal has been this sort of aimless revenge drive, where her target has shifted tangentially depending on what is roadblocking her way in that particular moment. She didn’t have enough information to really have much of an objective otherwise.
Ideally, with tensions being what they are in the room at this moment, perhaps these events can become a stepping off point for Senketsu and their opinion on the matter to be heard by all. Tsumugu was able to hear him once before, and everyone getting a change to maybe hear what the resident Life Fiber constituency has to say about all they have heard and what to do about it could make for a great moment.
Kill La Kill (episode seventeen)
When she is all dressed up for the Cultural and Sports Grand Festival, Ragyou Kiryuuin looks a lot like Reala from the old Sega Saturn game Nights into Dreams. I do not happen to think that is really relevant in any way to anything the show wants to deal in, its just something that struck me when she made her entrance.
Something that does seem quite a bit more relevant: I remember when I mentioned Satsuki was very much like a righteous paladin in her taking control of the situation when Ryuuko went all monster berserker during the Naturals Election. Well, now she has done gone and crucified her mother on a symbol of her own making. So… there is that.
This comes back around to the notion that Ryuuko really has not been much of a heroine in what is supposedly her story. Most of the traditional heroics really have been performed by Satsuki, right down to even thematic trappings like her white clothing and having what are essentially Knights of the Round Table… except not really round since she still very much recognized by her team as on a higher level than anyone else. Ryuuko is often reactionary and with situational goals, while Satsuki has been preemptive and the initiative taker. All of Satsuki’s prior actions, as varied as the king of the hill matches to the Tri City Raid School Trip, have played into the notion of preparing and honing her forces capabilities against her mother.
While she may not have been aware of the alien conspiracy until rather recently, Satsuki did likely consider that something was very much going on behind the scenes. Certainly, she would have had to have been introduced to the capabilities of Life Fibers and such somehow to integrate them so much into the culture of the academy, complete with its own R&D lab.
Given the compliments by Ragyou’s secretary, it seems to have been originally intended as making the life fiber clothing popular with youth demographics, which Satsuki likely saw some kind of purpose behind. And we haven’t really touched on what ended up happening to her father, who introduced her to Junketsu as her wedding dress and we haven’t really done much else with him since in the narrative. If this has been “the point” as it were, that the true heroine of all this is truly Satsuki right down to statements of now being in open rebellion, well… it’s been a really long and winding road, but, I sort of would like that to be the case. That this is really her story.
Meanwhile, I think the notion that Senketsu is spliced with some of Ryuuko’s DNA robs him of some of his earlier characterization. When he was stolen that one time and was put on by another student, but locked up and resisted so as to allow no harm to come to Ryuuko? Now that comes off less as a conscious “I don’t want to hurt her” desperation move and more of someone else just not having the right keys to the car.
Kill La Kill (episode eighteen)
My considerations for the program this week are predicated on the following:
– I think Satsuki has consistently been the more interesting female lead for me compared to Ryuuko
– I think having Ragyou snark at folks for thinking Satsuki’s actions are impressive is a Most Dangerous game
– I think Kill la Kill at this time requires a “bad,” or at the very least “not traditionally good” ending to conclude satisfactorily
Walk with me.
Now, a fair number of concepts have been thrown around over all the months this program has been airing. Certainly, among these is the notion that Satsuki has been more of a general purpose heroine than our primary lead, despite the framing usually being the Satsuki has traditionally been our villain against her. Even Satsuki originally lying to Ryuuko about where the order for Dr. Matoi’s murder came from is, in effect, a sort of heroic action because Satsuki recognized Ryuuko’s focus is a very liquid thing.
She in turn took on the onus of being her villain because it serves to give Ryuuko both structure and drive, which she could make use of in allowing for testing of her uniforms to fight against her mother while also ensuring she knew what Ryuuko would be up to (ie, targeting Satsuki, which she can plan around). Which, of course, does have a more genuine villainous implication of using Ryuuko in a manner against her own wishes, despite the more overall positive heroics of engineering a takedown of an intergalactic multi-millennial conspiracy.
Satsuki’s consistent refrain has been the whole “fear is freedom, subjugation is liberation, contradiction is truth, these are the truths of this world” concept. Combined with that perception speech from way back in episode three, she also recognizes how this affects her goals being seen in multiple ways but will carry on regardless because of how ironclad her confidence is in their overall mission. So, I find her situation to be an interesting one for her to be fighting through.
We also know we are not necessarily supposed to fully agree with Satsuki, because there are a number of unfortunate implications in her methods of force and holier than thou top down authority. So, sure, I understand having Ragyou essentially tell the audience that only an ignorant fool would view Satsuki as impressive is on one level required. The tricky issue then becomes the matter of by the show having Ragyou tell us this directly, we would then as a production require a philosophical replacement we navigate forward with. We would naturally look toward Ryuuko to provide that, though going back to the matter of Satsuki recognizing Ryuuko required a rudder (say that five times fast!), we are potentially in a tough spot there.
“If your ambition is to protect humanity, fight now.” And Ryuuko did not.
After proclaiming to target Ragyou directly, the genuine biggest bad in the whole stadium, she switches gears to explode on Nui out of more personal issues.
A lot of Ryuuko’s path has been her getting bulldozed around, so she either shuts down or treats things that way in kind. Fair enough. What she has been afforded little room to do is really express herself in many ways.
So the rapidly approaching ending then and what it could choose to do.
I’m going to get into some Neon Genesis Evangelion spoilers as a means of comparison, given the Trigger staff, so eject now and scroll to the next series if you don’t want to read ahead.
Take the “clothes made the mankind idea” to its extreme and have humanity unified as one, but as a collective sea less for breaking down the barriers between them but indeed for that mechanical function and harvest. Ryuuko, as a Life Fiber infused individual, could be placed into some kind of position where she is alone to weigh in on what should be done going forwards. To then, in turn, come to terms with and express her philosophy. Give Kill la Kill its own take on a Human Instrumentality Project, essentially.
I would much rather have that than some of the other endings one could wheel out, certainly. I even think it could try and tie up a lot of loose ends regarding the clothing, personal expression and perception, and all the rest with that approach and dealing into Ryuuko’s mind and personal thoughts. But this is, of course, all in theory.
I give Kill la Kill a lot of rope to play with. There has always been an abundance of potential things for it to climb and bells to ring at their tippy top. The clock is ticking, and so I am sort stoically sitting here and watching the episodes count down. What I hope it does not do is get in a big tizzy, find itself far too tangled, and end up hanging itself.
Kill La Kill (episode nineteen)
If the prior week was a “Tick” where Many Things happened and pouring groundwork to be considered for how the final phase would go, this would be a “Tock” and the corresponding settling in and steamrolling of the hot sticky tar. We get a time skip of a few weeks, try to get ourselves back up to speed (and admittedly, that certainly has its downsides as well; I’d have liked to see this phase as larger and longer), and humanity being rather against the wall.
For that matter, so is Ryuuko.
What stuck me very clearly this episode was how human Senketsu was being compared to previous episodes or perceptions. While I would have loved and preferred to see an extended scene of him dragging Ryuuko from the stadium rubble and fires, we are shown this is something they did do and Aikurou witnessed it. Additionally, there was his time with Sukuyo Mankanshoku, where she can not understand the school sailor uniform but she speaks comforting words anyway and Senketsu sobs and hugs her, with the body language indicating that they can indeed see and feel him doing this.
Previously, it often felt as though Senketsu’s anthropomorphism’s were things only Ryuuko (and, well, us as viewers) could see, given how characters would react and view her as completely out of her mind. But now that Senketsu has been needing to most watch over the one who wears him, in a sense perhaps most truly covering her, in these moments he becomes an individual and better able to provide outward expression. I feel this is something thematically crucial as a piece of our ending puzzle.
Ryuuko, meanwhile, can not even be in a coma under her own terms. Her waking up due to the extravagant musical shenanigans of the COVERS forces I don’t feel was a side effect of them trying to call out a challenge to Nonon. I view it as the entire point of their being there; with all of Satsuki’s conquered academies and hold outs fallen, there are limited places where Ryuuko can be. Assimilating the Nudist Beach stronghold would certainly be nice insofar as Ragyou’s plans, but, I would view the more essential mission objective is to smoke Ryuuko out and get her moving again. Any of the lost business suit forces sent to wake her up would be expendable casualties. Now that Ragyou learned last episode that her life fiber daughter from years ago survived, there are Big Plans with the Alien Conspiracy that she can work her existence into.
So Ryuuko’s chain continues to be jerked around, and she is pissed.
I wouldn’t even view her having saved the people assimilated inside of the COVERS forces as a heroic action so much as she just wanted everything to shut up and leave her alone. Anything resembling saving humanity is, at best, a side effect.
I am probably most interested in seeing what Senketsu does next, oddly enough. He has been doing more that has asserted himself as an individual recognized by others but now has been soundly rejected by someone who lost all sense of being able to express themselves in any way and has gone completely off the deep end after the relative breather that this episode primarily was.
Kill La Kill (episode twenty)
“Aren’t you supposed to be avenging your father’s death?”
Well, you see spectral crazy lady, a lot has happened in the time since we started. Goku uniforms, Fight Club, Naturals Election, Nui Harime, Tri City Schools Raid Trip, the alien conspiracy, and the counter alien conspiracy coup d’état. Ryuuko had a bit more room for making decisions further back.
So it took us a while, but we have finally approached the bliss of being worn by clothing.
For many, this is exact the kind of thing they have been waiting for. We see it then through the visualization of an artificial past. An entire childhood and adolescence of all the kinds of things Ryuuko wanted on one level of another. Certainly, a presence of a mother figure. And clothes are a big part of all those life moments, from days out to school photos to a wedding day. It’s not the first time Junketsu has floated wedding dress imagery. The initial ending credits also had a Sukeban Deka style with visuals of Ryuuko looking towards them in shop windows as well.
Now, I view the “worn by” terminology as rather distinctive. It is the same phrase we were dealing in when Ryuuko was being “worn by” Senketsu back during the Naturals Election. In that event, the process brought on by boiling rage due to Ryuuko’s immense hatred towards Nui, then uncontrollably expressed. A personalized fashion disaster with too many over the top aspects and many literal disjointed parts.
In this more recent case, with the increased talk even in this episode of folks referring to her as a pawn and the like, it is about the opposite. She has shut out and shut down so much of the outside world by this point that being worn by Junketsu gives her a false identity or deflective shield from reality. Which would be how a lot of folks do end up in their own clothing. Notably: Senketsu can talk to Ryuuko, in a sense speaking to her as an article, while Junketsu has never said a word to anyone.
The question then becomes, for many I suppose, was this what they were hoping for?
Some would consider this to be the exact kind of material the series should have been dealing in a far more decisive manner. What clothes themselves can come to mean as tools of expression and sense of self, that sort of thing.
The show has another month yet, so we have some time. A show can reasonably survive a lot of things: taking some oddball filler tangents, drawing out on the delivery of core themes, etc. A bad ending arc tends to disproportionally damage a work for a lot of folks though. That’s the point where it gets to perhaps best present itself.
Which I suppose is what we have the characters dealing in now, uniform reversals and all. And were it to continue as such, I think it’ll at least finish on a better impression for many folks, naked toenail martial arts and all.
Kill La Kill (episode twenty one)
So that opening full of strategic body positions and Ryuuko grabbing then making out with Nui. I imagine it set something of a tone for many folks, haha.
That said, Ragyou’s immediate next point of intense existential terror I think is keenly relevant. Ryuuko is scared out of her fucking mind.
From birth, Ryuuko has had a lot of things built around her not having much say. Her father tries to seal away and restrict the Life Fiber aspect of her existence when she was growing up, Aikurou does not reveal the truth sooner, etc. Her whole story has been one of lacking control and trying to find a means of expression, which is something I have touched on before. As time has gone on, with different folks like Satsuki coming to manipulate her attentions and use her in their own ways, Ryuuko keeps getting whiplashed around. It is a frustrating thing. And scary. Very much so, given the scales we are dealing in here.
She is thundering at the walls in a manner one could extrapolate as a cranked up to eleven version of how some teenagers or young adults go hog wild as a response to restrictive environments. Some turn to drugs or alcohol abuse, Ryuuko was susceptible to the fantasies Junketsu could give her. Even if it is itself quite destructive, it felt freeing.
She can ram her tongue into the mouth of Nui then push her away because it puts her antagonizer on the back end for once. It is a momentary rush and it feels good as all hell to her. Hence said kiss being for luck, seeing herself as in control of something.
…Except she is not of course. She is “just” a rampaging teenager on a power trip lashing out at all kinds of things due to longstanding issues surrounding her environment and treatment. There is a lot of self hatred matters due to this notion that she had so much hidden from her. That she was to be afraid, rather than being better socialized about her body and what it contained.
In reality though, she is looking for something more substantial, the question is what and where she can get it from. The entire fight for the rest of the episode is dealing in this, and Mako getting sucked into the open wound would in this kind of interpretation be akin to an intervention. Which is in its own way also a kind of force, oddly enough. Trying to lock down a friend and get them out of a destructive state because said friend does not feel they have enough power to control their own life in healthier manners.
Is it bombastic? Without a doubt. Is it messy action drama? Sure. The show has been increasing this tendency to drop very important lines like the “existential terror” bit that are downright essential to everything Kill la Kill wants to be dealing in right as the audience is reeling from something on the visual front like Ryuuko locking lips with Nui.
But, it has been putting things like the clothing and control elements more at the forefront in recent episodes. And I think that has been an excellent choice. Were it not to have done so, I would be far more alarmed for where the ending could go.
Kill La Kill (episode twenty two)
Junketsu finally gets to have a reaction.
Of all the dismemberment, blood fountains, croquettes, missile barrages, and so on this episode, that scene of the destroyed uniform crawling away and the earlier one of it screaming was one of the primary things on my mind when the credits rolled. Junketsu has been either an inert object locked down or railroaded along ever since their introduction. Seeing them get to express an opinion of any kind is important at this stage. Especially if that opinion was amounting to a non-verbal equivalent of “I am in indescribable torment.”
I expect Junketsu to speak by the end of the show.
This week a lot of the heavier lifting was done by the episode itself, which was nice as far as me needing to parse things out is concerned.
We reiterate how the Life Fibers travel through the universe. The scissor blades are back together for Ryuuko, and both halves of Bakuzan are in Satsuki’s hands. How do Ryuuko and Satsuki need to move forwards as sisters? Well, there’s no need to outwardly force bond at this stage. They’ve gone through some things together, and their sibling’s blood is now flowing in each of their clothes. Said uniforms feel warmer as a result. This is especially true for Ryuuko, who also has Mako’s blood and that level of ironclad friendship reminder to keep her head on straight.
Satsuki textually admits to all the manipulation and chess piece brinkmanship shenanigans she had been doing if one was charting out her decision trees regarding Ryuuko. Ryuuko could kill Satsuki if she punched her for real, but she pulls her throws because she does not in actuality want to cause her too much harm. And she gets chewed out for half assing things by the Elite Four members who stepped in to take those hits.
This ending arc has been so far hitting a number of the conceptual balls it needed to bring about a smoother finish. To the extent where I can see Kill la Kill had a clear beginning, middle, and end phase planned out for its core themes. Then I come to wonder how much of the connective tissue could have benefited from that same level of editing. I do not think the story and fight delivery would flow well in a thirteen episode series. Yet twenty four seems almost too long given how much the more filler oriented bits seemed to derail the show for various folks to one extent or another. There is something of a dilemma there.
This is especially true in regards to the Trigger Newsletter recalling from their planning sessions “There must be some contents that other series wouldn’t dare to exclude… A typical series will depict several characters going through mental distress.“ Which is to say, Kill la Kill features fewer mental monologue escapades, so many things from that inner angst department need to be derived via the visual or verbal fronts.
Such is the plan, at any rate. I know different internet writers have very diverse opinions on how effective this matter actually is. Either way, each of those are outward expression. Like clothes.
Given that, I do wonder how different a reception Kill la Kill would have if we did see more inner arguments to tell the audience things, angst filled or otherwise.
How would the reception to Ryuuko’s shifting actions differ if we had to hear a more elaborate series of internal thoughts rather than needing to try and connect various outward dots with incomplete inner data? Would that have strengthened the show, or is the series one better suited to operating at full speed like a spinning top and it would instead fall over and crash had it slowed down? What would the audience be saying, or how different of an audience would it have cultivated?
I’m not sure myself, but it’s interesting to think about.
Kill La Kill (episode twenty three)
“Welcome to the runway of death.”
Kill la Kill and Project Runway: Under the Gunn air on the same day, so that makes up my Thursday night.
I would contribute serious personal effort to hear Tim Gunn make a grand declaration like that at a crucial series moment.
The penultimate episode of this show then. We have been on track for a spell now regarding things like trying to tie back together elements regarding clothes, family, friendship, and the like. Unless a series wants to risk unraveling everything it has come to gel towards, there is little legitimate room to do more than double down.
So that is what it did: the massive throwdown on the sea and in the air, culminating in near total enemy defeat on each front due to raw I Have To Win Because Friends And Family. power displays Which is not a terrible thing, mind, as everyone received their tailor suited piece. Ryuuko gets a suicidal death wish dive to victory, Satsuki defeats Ragyou by virtue of convincing her to monologue herself to defeat, and Mako’s human fusion reactor core of a personality barreling through both enemy forces and generating the hamster wheel power to run an aircraft carrier. Among other folks like the Elite Foure and such as well of course. A destruction and visual flair filled means of the show aiming to tie up the bows that bond them. And everyone is going to get to have Mitsuzo’s tea again.
Which is, itself, not quite enough yet. There is still a ground (and maybe space?) war to win. The Earth being the very floor homes, cities, nations, and the like are built on. And Ragyou is wearing… an outfit inspired by traditional Japanese wedding dresses. Which devours Rei as an underling to submit to it and give it strength. You don’t say.
As Junketsu has had plenty of wedding dress phrasing and visuals presented around it, in addition to the ones from the original ending credits, this next episode I hope will come to apply conceptual finishing touches for at least some of the points regarding clothing the series has raised thus far over its duration. It was one of the aspects I was most interested about the series, after all.
The wedding dress, across cultures, is an institution almost unto itself. Alien, almost, compared to many other kinds of clothes given how occasion and life event specific they often are. And yet wedding dresses and marriage as a social and legal matter have gone through various revolutions over the years. As such, this is almost an unstoppable force (changes by younger generations and the forward march of time) meets an immovable object (entrenched establishment of older generation resistant to altering status quo) scenario. And trying to stick the landing was always going to be hard for such a wild series as this. One can hope though that with this episode doing so much of the collective character unity work displays, that would leave plenty of room for the follow-up finale to deal more in the conceptual clothing battles it has waved around.
Well Trigger, as Tim Gunn would say: Make it work.
Kill la Kill (Episode twenty four)
Chalk up a prediction loss for me – Junketsu did not, in the end, speak at all.
That is a shame, even if you put aside the notion of me just being wrong about something. They had been around our cast for so long, is quite sentient, and with a lot of wedding dress imagery. There are a number of threads that could have been taken in a succinct fashion to tie their narrative arc up regarding Junketsu’s relationship with Satsuki. A line or two there, even another scene of silent movement at a key moment, and that would be it. Ah well.
“But right now I’m real grateful that my body is the way it is.”
I do love that line Ryuuko yells out in the finale, because it is hitting so much at the core of what I had signed up for way back in episode one. That the series would be dealing in things like body issues, the use of clothing both as everything from identity expression to personality replacement, and so on. And we got some of that, to be sure. Now that all is said and done (until the OVA in a few months), was the show that we did receive different than what I expected in many ways? Sure. Is that in and of itself bad? Well, no, not necessarily. But I do need to consider the show sitting in front of me.
I live within a resonable-ish driving distance of Kingda Ka (which could do a crossover given Kill la Kill‘s name) at Six Flags Great Adventure.
I could travel there in a few hours. It is the tallest roller coaster in the entire world, and for a number of years was also the fastest (now it is “just” number two). This is a ride that needs to shut down if the wind is blowing the wrong way or if there is a very light mist. Heavier weather has derailed it for months at a time. When the ride is fully operational and is firing on all cylinders, it is an absurd rush that works as an engineering marvel and a crunchy experiential moment in time. Otherwise it never leaves the track. Some roller coaster aficionados speak of weather conditions for different rides, how the experience changes and can even be improved or altered, that sort of thing. Not so much for Kingda Ka. It is either The Best Day in some sort of zen-like synergy, or it is not happening at all.
If Trigger built anything out of this series, they aimed to forge a similar roller coaster. The stakes were raised again and again in an attempt to build a track. Down to this final episode, where humanity was spun into that LCL-like pool. We would have fashion and the like as our car to ride in. And viewers could be in line with friends like Mako or other members of the internet audience.
It is not a bad plan at all. And indeed, aspects like Ryuuko coming to wear the clothing threads of everyone around her, were apt. She brought herself into that next level of wardrobe that allowed her to successfully rebel against her mother and the alien Life Fiber establishment on a battlefield with the planet itself as a backdrop. That she would realize the Absolute Submission field was all mental for her, and only worked on her body so long as she believed it had the power to do so. I like that. There is good messaging in there as she saves the world. And the reward being she can begin to dress for herself, rather than the clothing that has been expected and required of her.
And yet the series also leave me conflicted in areas. Aspects like the Tri City School Raid Trip were not really all that necessary. Interesting elements, like the entire social and housing structure of the original school system being based on where the kids were ranked and permitted to wear rather than the parents successes, faded away. Parts like Ryuuko literally losing her way and donning a set of clothes that created a substitute for her emotions come later in the game and leave just as quickly. I would have liked more time on that for maximum impact and narrative delivery, for instance.
Other commentary writers have mentioned the series has excelled in delivering service to the fans in a rather particular manner.
That it was essentially everything all at once. Grandly over the top hot blooded action for those most into those elements, and threads for those who wanted to parse out deeper thematic meanings and run circles all over the blogs and message boards. Provocative costumes. Blasting music. Key frame shenanigans for the animation and sakuga folks. And I think that is a valid perspective. Kill la Kill was going to be a show a lot of people were going to watch together, as many anime fans were going to line up for this initial television display from Trigger.
When push comes to shove, I think it made for an overall positive time. I got a lot of writing out of this show week to week, and I liked reading so much of what others thought. As a participatory spectacle for so many months, I think the series delivered on that level of objective for the studio. As a series removed from that, I think there are chunks of the program that are then turned more into hanging threads or nonstarters. Which is not inherently bad. But it does mean some elements are not going to hold up as well over time as future folks try to get into it as a more singular experience and a nice wind may grind the roller coaster ride to a halt.
Amusement parks and fashionable dates are more fun when you have people with you. To chat with, cheer, or casually pick apart how silly or important that thing you saw was while passing by one of the attractions. Which may be a more important message and caveat regarding this series than even Trigger may have intended.