Kill la Kill – 03

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There’s definitely a trap in this show for a blogger – and I don’t mean Okada-style.

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-LagannKill 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.

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  1. j

    I love this series :) The cuts, the shot compositions, the action, all in all the direction…Simply fabulous. I almost didn't even notice that the two girls were CG when they fought in the school's hallways. Really intrigued to see now how the Two/Three Star underlings can present a challenge…I'd like to encourage you to keep blogging this Enzo, if not at least for the creativity levels in this show.

  2. S

    As opposed to you, Enzo, I'm pretty sure there's some meaning down there instead. Which doesn't mean that there isn't ALSO fun and a certain does of tongue in cheek-ness. Just that the entertainment lies also in laying down multiple layers of symbolism. Honestly, this coming from the same guys who gave us FLCL, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and Panty and Stocking… do you REALLY think there is not a shred of sexual symbolism here besides "yay boobs"?

  3. Well, let's be clear – the only connection to FLCL here is on the visual side, not on the writing/directing side. And I don't consider P&S w/GB to be especially profound or deep.

    As I said in the post, though, Nakashima may very well go darker at some point – I just don't think there's much evidence of it yet. And I find it absolutely hilarious to see folks doing contortions trying to explain away what we've seen so far as anything but unapologetic fanservice for its own sake.

  4. j

    I found it really funny when Satsuki said something along the lines of "Do you really care about these outfits? This is the society we live in….If I have to wear this to achieve what I want, I'll wear it with pride!" I thought that was very entertaining way of Trigger staff talking about themselves and anime in general 😛 I hope that was it, anyway 😛

  5. S

    I think P&SwG had more than struck the eye, but that doesn't mean it was "deep" – every single bit of it was entertainment, both the lines and what was laid in between them.
    Let's put it like this: there is a layer of criticism here, but it's less of a complex dissertation about the harms of social imposed morals on the psyche of women and more of a snotty bratty girl showing the middle finger and screaming "BAKA!" to the mother who's trying to convince her to behave.

  6. k

    If Guardian Enzo thinks this series is just mindless fun, that's fine, but I can't help to see a criticism on the culturally-imposed shame on the female body… no, scratch that, on the human body in general (hence the shameless striper male teacher) in this episode. Maybe they're just trying to justify their fanservice, but either way, the theme is definitely there imo.

  7. i

    I like Kill la Kill too but I feel like a bit of a hypocrite for doing so while considering IS or Freezing or Ichiban boobs in the world whatever as absolute garbage. Doesn't anyone else feel that was as well?

  8. R

    I don't because I feel that the difference between KlK and those other shows are quite abysmal. The biggest one being that KlK so far has been entirely honest.

  9. i

    @Richard your point makes no sense.

  10. V

    At least Kill la Kill knows it's silly and revels in silliness. Hopefully this anime has potentially somewhat deeper plotline in the later episode as long as it has TTGL scriptwriter responsible for this anime. With Freezing and IS, their stories are almost barebone. If you do not like the characters, there's really nothing to stick around for. That's how I felt with Queen's Blade, nothing pulled me in.

  11. K

    " But I don't think this show is some sort of metaphor for female empowerment"

    Thank you, don't get me wrong I am enjoying the show. It's a lot of fun and I love the characters. But I am starting to see this nonsense from some corners and its starting to tick me off a bit.

    As a woman I see nothing empowering about those outfits. Considering they were designed by men for female characters? So because the male writers are saying the female characters should be comfortable in those outfits, that makes it ok. Where the hell is the female empowerment? Just because the writing says "this is empowering" does not mean it is true.

    I mean this is not like women suddenly wearing pants instead of dresses (something like Rose of Versailles shows real female empowerment).

    And I acknowledge that the show at least is equal opportunist with its fan service and the male teacher (although I honestly think those outfits are a bit much). Like I joked on AS I would almost rather the girls fight naked, I don't really see the difference with what they are wearing now.

  12. R

    Now that you mention it, there's no way that they'll forget to make a naked fight episode.

  13. R

    Okay, I think I need to put a pause on Kill la Kill. As creative and fun that it is, and as potentially thought-provoking that it may become, I can't stand the show anymore — it's too pornographic to my taste. I had hopes for the show, but I can't agree with how it's directed here. I will still read your reviews and the comments on the show, but that's it.

  14. R

    People are crediting the entire Trigger staff line up for a lot of works that they really didn't give any creative input other than their technical talent in the animation and design department.

    You get people recommending KillLaKill while namedropping Evangelion, FLCL, Diebusters, and even Redline (or whatever show comes up in the creators' MAL pages) when the only track record that the guys have is:
    – Gurren Laggan
    – Panty and Stocking
    – Inferno Cop
    – Little Witch Academia

  15. R

    You may be right. I still like the creative energy — especially when it's under a smaller budget — and that's quite a talent there. However, as a female, I can't take it anymore. Whether it's just visually creative or something thematically brilliant at the same time, I no longer have the patience to appreciate what comes.

  16. Z

    I can see, and respect, how that aspect of it may be off putting for female viewers. The Sensei-service is done in such a fabulous way that you'd have to be extremely bigoted to take offense. So it isn't comparable.

  17. R

    Thank you, Zeta Zero.

  18. J

    I agree. The fanservice has been over the top. I can usually put up with it for a good story and a little bit of humor, but I can only take too much of it before shutting it down.

  19. Z

    Well Trigger certainly aren't shying away from the more unsavory aspects of the Gainax legacy. This is the studio that invented the the "Gainax bounce" afterall.

  20. J

    While I should just enjoy this show for the fights (I haven't really laughed at the humor yet, it feels forced), I have to say, I was quite disappointed that they [writers] somehow managed to buy themselves an unlimited amount of "fights of the week," where Ryuuko gets curb-stomped and discover's some new secret about Senketsu she didn't previously know. I don't think I can put up with that kind of lazy writing.

  21. M

    This episode is cause for celebration.

    Satsuki looks fantastic naked. Nuff said.

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