Kill la Kill to me feels content to be very much what it is, and to its credit, not at all apologetic about that. But among the audience there’s seemingly a need to try and justify what’s happening on-screen as something more than what we’re seeing. There may in fact be more than what we’re seeing (Nakshima’s presence being the main reason to suspect there is) but so far I don’t see any evidence of it. And it’s pretty damn funny to see the attempts to explain away two high-school girls fighting in ass-less uniforms as anything but an orgy of fanservice and sexist glee.
I’m not proud to say I find that sort of show amusing, but I’m not ashamed of it either – like Kill la Kill, it is what it is. This is pretty lowbrow stuff, basically no-brow really – every button you can imagine an anime would try and push, Kill la Kill is pushing it. Amazingly Ryuuko’s outfit in the first two episodes wasn’t revealing enough – Imaishi actually upped the ante this week, giving us the pearl of wisdom that it was Ryuuko’s inhibitions (imagine, being embarrassed to be fighting publicly as she looked last week) that was holding her back. He also upped the GAR levels too, giving Satsuki a kamui of her very own (Junketsu – purity) which started the bar-raising and inhibition-lowering. I suspect that before too long most of the females in the cast will be wearing one.
To be clear, I wouldn’t be surprised if Nakashima is going to go somewhere darker with this – he has two cours to fill, and that whole business with Satsuki’s (absent) father calling Junketsu her “wedding dress” suggests he’s going to pursue some twisted paths. As well, we have the morally ambiguous Aikurou-sensei and his hilarious strip-exposition, which certainly tips us off that the whole enterprise is on the level of abject absurdity. But I don’t think this show is some sort of metaphor for female empowerment through the embracing of the female body unashamedly, the lustful eyes of men be damned – or any other such nonsense. I think it’s a raunchy, balls-out exploitation flick which is trying to show as many hot girls kicking (and showing) ass as possible, interspersed with generous helpings of gross-out humor and explosions. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
It’s also interesting to watch Imaishi and Animation Director Sushio work with what’s obviously a very limited budget here. It marks an interesting contrast with the heady days when they had the full resources of an industry giant behind them (though Gainax always managed to be in financial trouble even when they were producing hits), the days of Panty & Stocking and even more, Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann. Kill la Kill is a very different beast, as these titans are forced to try and produce a similar visual feel relying heavily on CGI and still-frames. And frankly, it’s a testament to their ability that the show looks as good as it does – style really does matter, and these guys have that to spare. Effects like the cratering of the walls behind Satsuki and Ryuuko as they land blows on each other might be cheap, but it’s damn cool – taking what could be generic and making it singular. KlK isn’t going to make anyone forget Imaishi’s best visual work, but it makes the best of what it has to work with.
As a blogger, Kill la Kill presents something of a dilemma. It really isn’t a series that lends itself to analysis, so far at least, to the point where attempts to do so run the risk of sounding pretty foolish. This ep was just a hair less silly than the first two (Mako’s very funny intervention in the final duel and the disappearing uniforms aside) so that alchemy may be changing a little – though I’m worried by the insinuation at the end that we’re going back to a “fight of the week” scenario with Satsuki’s underpeons. Seriously – if she in a full kamui can only fight Ryuuko to a draw, will any of her flunkies present a real challenge? That said, I’m sure there’s going to be plenty of the same elements that are KlK‘s stock and trade, and I’m just as sure that this series is going to be a commercial success as a result. If this is the show that makes Trigger a financially viable industry player, that alone makes me glad that it exists.