Kill la Kill – 04

Kill la Kill - 04 -6 Kill la Kill - 04 -15 Kill la Kill - 04 -19

Wait – I thought Okada Mari was Head of Trap Development?

Two straight intros for Kill la Kill with Okada trap jokes?  It’s a coincidence I promise you (and content-relevant), but symptomatic of the fact that it really is getting harder and harder to talk about this show in any meaningful way.  It’s also growing increasingly harder to quell the nagging suspicion that, as Gertrude Stein famously said of Oakland, “There is no there there”.  I think what we’re seeing is what we get, for better or for worse.

Here’s how I see Kill la Kill after the fourth episode, which was the most trivial of the series so far and seems to have cost about as much to produce as the chicken katsu bento from Miuraya that I had for dinner last night (¥398).  It’s dumb, and mostly not “smart-dumb” but just plain dumb.  Like some good dumb cartoons it’s occasionally quite funny.  It’s unbelievably misogynistic, to the point where I can completely understand why many women (and some men) are offended by it.  And it’s incredibly cheap-looking a good deal of the time.

Take that for what it is – I certainly have no problem with shows like that, though I wish it would tone down the service some (using breastfeeding for fanservice purposes is pretty lame).  I just find it quite irritating to see this series painted as something more (or less) than what it is.  I don’t think it’s brilliant, or a statement about female empowerment, or visually revelatory, or great.  It’s just a puerile Saturday-morning cartoon with a lot of incredibly sexist overtones and toilet humor.  The fact that it has guys who’ve produced brilliant anime in the past behind it doesn’t confer brilliance on this one – these are also (mostly) the guys who produced Panty & Stocking, and that was with a sizable budget.

As for this episode, which was a throwaway if I ever saw one, easily the best part was the great Inoue Marina’s hilariously unhinged performance as Head of Trap Development Oogure Maiko.  There were some standout comedic moments, but they were honestly just incredibly stupid gags that worked – like the bit the Mako, the cheese and the pie-trap.  And boy, did it look cheap.  I guess you can look at legendary animators like Sushio and Imaishi working like this as a sad spectacle, or as a fascinating exercise – for me the result is a show that’s intermittently stylish and shockingly crude (visually I mean, though the other usage also fits).  The main thing I’m looking forward to now is the arrival of Jakuzure Nonon as a major character, because this will be an extremely rare anime appearance for Shintani Mayumi, who was Haruko in FLCL.  Content-wise I’m honestly not expecting any improvement, though I suppose there’s always the possibility that Nakashima will salvage this mess.

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  1. F

    So umm … why are you blogging this series again? After such a scathing review it makes me wonder.


  2. A fascinating… Dare I say it, trainwreck? One of the most popular series among the readers? The connection to so many staff I absolutely revere, and the disbelief that this show could have been written by the man who penned TTGL and OER?

  3. F

    Ahh… trainwrecks. I can kinda understand that. ^^

  4. Z

    It's too soon to call it a trainwreck though.

  5. T

    And here I was thinking you had given up on KlK.

    Yeah this episode was both stupid and pointless but I did laugh quite a few times while watching it and I definitely wasn't bored. It looks like next week something more plot relevant will happen (smartly done or not) but I myself am not having any real problems with the show other than some of the fanservice, which I usually don't let bug me but still…

  6. P

    It seems like the studio knows that they don't really have the budget for every episode, so they just hand a few episodes to their interns and say 'Do whatever you want, just do it REALLY REALLY REALLY FUCKING CHEAP'. While the past three episodes are definitely crude, they all have a sense of well-directed manic joy to them, something that is quite missing from this episode as if it is made by different people.

    From the preview, however, it seems like the 5th episode should be more like the first three, or at least with more budget behind it compare to this one. Speaking as a person who really like KlK so far (APART FROM THIS VERY EPISODE), I certainly hope so.

  7. I

    I'm pretty sure that this episode was a homage to the infamous fourth episode of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. In which case, I'm relieved that this was a throw-away episode instead of the character introduction episode seen in TTGL. Oh well, I'll continue riding this roller coaster of contagious insanity in monster-of-the-week format.

  8. j

    Alright you bastard, you're on.

    I think that is a BS argument. This was tons better that TTGL's episode 4, because unlike there, this episode flew by and was a laughter to almost anyone intelligent enough I've talked to. In TTGL, that episode was a torture, and I feel that's because how disconnected all scenes were (they literally used fade ins and outs, wtf? It was 2007 dudes), plus the lack of music in the background really made it feel like a 40-min-long agonizing ordeal. This KLK episode on the other hand has ace-level audio editing, and you can't help but at least chuckle (I laughed my ass off) when they use the Halleluyas or Blue Danube for comic gags. The audio is just one of the few points in which this episode is better that TTGL's 4th one (spoiler: it's better in every way).
    As for WHY they did this episode, I think they did so because this is simply their type of pacing in a story: first 3 eps hook the audience (in the 3rd episode make the hero discover his full power for the moment and end it just as the hero stars his epic), then sidetrack with separate/filler-ish/-comic-relief stories and have *fun* while doing so, before you engage in the real story. I think the pacing will be very much like TTGL: Around episode 15 shit will hit the fan and we'll discover the truth about Satsuki's actions and/or find out who the real final boss will be, and the series will take a more 'serious' turn as it starts developing more the characters it introduced us during the first 15 weeks. Then again, 'serious' for KlK means 'less over-the-top' lol.

  9. p

    I like it for being honest about what it is. It's a very low-brow slapstick action-comedy series. Yes, it's misogynistic (the rape jokes are, in particular, repulsive). Yes, it's crude. But it's honest. It has no pretensions. It doesn't try to squeeze out shallow, heavy-handed and pretentious social commentary the way a certain other clusterfuck of a show did last season (hint: it's name that rhymes with "crowds"). The only people who expected this show to be otherwise are the types of people who spammed variations of "TRIGGER IS SAVING ANIME" in various boards. In this sense, you were right in the skepticism you displayed in your seasonal preview of this show.

  10. I'm something of the same mind, but the thing is stuff like we saw this week isn't even that good as lowbrow slapstick comedy goes. It was OK and had its moments, but it's not inspired lunacy as far as I'm concerned.

    Is it unfair to expect more based on the pedigree of the staff? Maybe, I dunno. I just don't think it was a slam-dunk that there would be no depth to KlK given who's involved – especially Nakashima, who's written some really subtle and imaginative stuff.

  11. i

    I guess I'm one of those guys you spoke of. But I don't find it offensive, just pointless. Personally low brow humour for me is something like Seitokai Yakuindomo (supposedly 2nd season announced). I have very little attachment to Gainax (JC are the ones I have that sort of connection with) so I don't feel any reason to keep going because of them. I still think KlK can be something more than perverse toilet humour and action but I think I'd prefer reading to watching to find out now.

  12. A

    I'm still not entirely sure where I stand on this show, but as it's a two cour I'm giving it as far as episode six to see if it can break out of the mould that it's currently set in.
    If anything it's maybe TOO frenetic – if you start off with everything turned up to eleven, where do you go from there?
    On top of which I find too many scenes that involve characters BELLOWING AT EACH OTHER too much tend to irritate me.

    It's a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.

  13. U

    So what's so misogynistic about this episode. Enlighten me if you please.

  14. A

    "What is the duty of a housewife? To do laundry!"
    Hello, Is this the 1950s?

  15. At least it was our first rape joke-free episode.

  16. U

    So ? No matter what year it is, the meaning of the word "housewife" doesn't magically change.

    If the word "woman" was used instead of "houswife" it would indeed be a misogynistic statement.But that's not the case.

    Here's a link to a dictionary if you haven't heard the said word before:

  17. d

    I take stance the misogyny isn't really there. Exploitive? No doubt, but our leads and even side and supporting females are characters with power and agency. The hate is not there, nor the put downs.

    Women have guns, girls have swords, and even those without either seek power and use it.

    It is all incredibly low-brow, but women are often equals or superior (in the case of our main protagonist and antogonist).

    Really though, they don't have enough budget to be particularly hateful toward women. This show just exploits everyone, and tries to entertain with that process.

  18. j

    yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh you did~ I feared you had dropped this (then again, it's highly possible you'll do it next week)

    There is no real story in this show, but that's why it makes it so entertaining to watch. Enzo you nailed it when you said that it looks like this episode "seems to have cost about as much to produce as the chicken katsu bento from Miuraya that I had for dinner last night (¥398)". I laughed out loud because it's true, but that's why I'm always constantly amazed at this: isn't it entertaining to see people air a TV show that is smart at cutting corner in animation?
    In doing so, you really look into klk's makers' minds. That's because you can see how THEY see anime. They highlight what they think of the most while leaving everything else behind for the budget's sake. They like entertainment, so they'll ditch any real story or drama to give you exactly that. Example: "Hey bros, let's have some shit and giggles in this fourth episode. it'll be the cheapest n fastest filler you've probably done" and everyone was like "k lol". It's simply fun.

    ->When you're a child, you like children's stuff (like this).
    ->When you feel you grow up, you start telling yourself you will watch more MATURE stuff, because now you're an ADULT, you find children's stuff -dumb- or pointless.
    ->When you actually do grow up and have to deal with life and its hardships, you realize you really dig children's stuff, because it's the perfect way to entertain yourself for a while from reality.

  19. Z

    "Isn't it entertaining to see people air a TV show that is smart at cutting corner in animation?"

    It harks back to the days where Japanwasn’t known as a purveyor of fluid animation (Shock!).

    The late Osamu Tezuka (The Godfather of manga) of all people was instrumental in developing these cost-cutting animation techniques. However what they lacked into fluidity they made up for in energy and creative solutions (speed lines, still frames, etc). Amazing animation never really happened until the 1980s when there was a lot of money to throw around (Akira film) and more recently with Kyoto Animation – where fluid animation is now a part of their branding and corporate identity.

  20. K

    I actually really enjoyed this episode. I don't think it was trying to be anything but silly, fun, and entertaining and for me it delivered. I didn't mind the low budget because it was directed really well.

    I also personally don't see anything misogynist in this show. I highly dislike the fanservice myself and find it objectifying and a bit sexist but that is not necessarily misogynist.

    Someone mentioned the housewife line but I will point out that the mother also said its the job of a student to go to school to Ryuuko another female character. If every girl was a "housewife" then I might be a problem but so far the female characters have varied roles and personalities in the show. That is something I actually really like.

  21. K

    *have a problem*

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