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.