I won’t lie, I missed Tsumugu in this episode, as for me he’s easily the most entertaining thing Kill la Kill has brought to the table so far. But a heavy dose of Hiyama Nobuyuki’s Sangeyama is a pretty good consolation prize. Hiyama-san may not have the greatest range in the business, but he’s pretty much the only one who does what he does the way he does it. I do find it ironic that he’s playing a character who’s existentially in the exact same role Viral was in TTGL, but I guess given the names involved here that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
Kill la Kill has definitely gotten better, largely from stepping back from its over-reliance on juvenile humor that wasn’t funny most of the time and actually giving us a bit of story to focus on. But it’s also because the focus has been on characters more interesting than Matoi, which begs the question – how strongly can a series succeed when the main character is the least interesting person in the cast? Certainly we’ve had shows that have done pretty well, as this syndrome isn’t all that common, but it does limit the upside somewhat. There’s still time for Matoi to establish something but right now she’s a bore as far as I’m concerned, and I really don’t think we’ve been given much reason to care about her personal journey. Given that KlK is largely build around that premise, it’s a problem that could be a lingering one.
I also don’t care much for the battle format the series has set up, because there’s very little suspense about how any of these fights are going to end up and while there’s certainly creativity in the way they’re depicted, it’s not as if the visuals alone are enough to make them riveting. Most of the interest in this episode came from Sangeyama’s backstory and the lengths he was willing to go to in order to prove his worth to Satsuki. In much the same way Viral’s fierce determination and loyalty was more interesting than the characters he was loyal to, so it is with Sangeyama here.
That said, I do find Satsuki’s family situation more interesting than Matoi’s. This time around we’re introduced to her mother, Ragyou (Paku Romi), by phone anyway, and adding another legend like Paku to the cast can only help. It hasn’t escaped my thoughts that KlK could be setting up a scenario here where the Kiryuuin family ends up being the good guys – either in the mode of the Spiral King in Gurren-Lagann, or because Aikurou and Nudist Beach are revealed to be the real threat to mankind. I kind of hope so, to be honest, because the prospect of the feud between Ryuuko and Satsuki dragging on through two cours, with the flunkies being defeated one-by-one building up to the eventual duel with (and defeat of) Satsuki sounds like a pretty wearisome slog to me.