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[Anime Review] Kill la Kill (2014)

Official Website

Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi

Writer: Kazuki Nakashima

Music by: Hiroyuki Sawano

Episode Runtime: 24 episodes / 24 mins

Genre: action, comedy, drama, fantasy, science fiction

Studio: Trigger

English Network: Crunchyroll, Daisuki, Hulu (streaming)

Main Cast:

  • Ami Koshimizu as Ryuuko Matoi (JAP Voice)
  • Erica Mendez as Ryuuko Matoi (ENG Voice)
  • Ryoka Yuzuki as Satsuki Kiryuuin (JAP Voice)
  • Carrie Keranen as Satsuki Kiryuuin (ENG Voice)
  • Aya Suzaki as Mako Mankanshoku (JAP Voice)
  • Christine Marie Cabanos as Mako Mankanshoku (ENG Voice)
  • Romi Park as Ragyo Kiryuuin (JAP Voice)
  • Toshihiko Seki as Senketsu  (JAP Voice)
  • David Vincent as Senketsu (ENG Voice)

Review by: Anthony, Kendrick, and Nena

When we first saw the promos for Kill la Kill in the Fall 2013 lineup, we were intrigued.  An insane over the top action comedy anime with a female lead from the makers of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt and FLCL? Yes. With those animes in their recent works, we had a pretty solid understanding of what to expect from Kill la Kill.

Ryuuko Matoi is the newest student at Honnouji Academy and she’s on a quest to find her father’s killer.  Satsuki Kiryuuin, student council president at Honnouji Academy, rules the school with dictator-like authority along with her Elite Four, students who make up the rest of the student council. The students are divided into ranks according to their skills and overall usefulness (as determined by Satsuki): Three Star, Two Star, One Star, and the lowest, No Star. Students who are ranked One Star and up receive a special uniform known as a “Goku uniform”, which grants the user incredible superhuman abilities. These uniforms are made partially out of a substance called Life Fibers, which is the source of the students’ abilities. One Star uniforms have 10% Life Fibers, Two Stars have 20%, and so on. The Three Star uniforms (30% Life Fibers) are worn exclusively by the Elite Four.

Ryuuko challenges Satsuki after hearing her claim to have information regarding Ryuuko’s father’s killer.  Getting to Satsuki won’t be an easy task though–Ryuuko has to fight her way through the dregs of Honnouji Academy and even Satsuki’s Elite Four.  Ryuuko won’t be alone in this seemingly insurmountable task, because she has a Goku uniform of her own, Senketsu, to aid her. Senketsu isn’t your ordinary run of the mill Goku uniform. He’s a Kamui, an extremely powerful uniform made of 100% Life Fibers, and he was the last thing Ryuuko’s father worked on before his murder. Unfortunately for our heroes, Satsuki also has a Kamui–Junketsu. Both uniforms are filled with untapped power and potential. Together, Ryuuko and Senketsu will find answers and get the revenge Ryuuko has been longing for.

What We Liked:

Characters

Ryuuko Matoi – Much like the protagonist in many of Trigger’s other animes, Ryuuko Matoi is the over-the-top action hero. Any obstacle can be overcome by yelling a little bit louder and digging a little bit deeper.  This was exactly what we were expecting and Trigger did not disappoint. We loved it.  Ryuuko’s awesomeness is only amplified when she gets Senketsu.  The conversations they have are absolutely hilarious, especially considering the fact that she is the only one who can hear him.

Satsuki Kiryuuin –  We also loved Satsuki Kiryuuin, but for a completely different set of reasons.  From the first episode, you understand that she is elite.  She is better than the rest of the trash that populates Honnouji Academy.  She has her own butler, the absolute loyalty of the Elite Four, a cool sword, and more.  She not only rules her school with complete control and authority, but she expands to the other schools in neighboring districts with ultimate efficiency.  Even with her sworn guards around her, she is a highly capable fighter in her own right, and that’s even before she gets Junketsu. The level of Satsuki’s greatness is almost expected, what with her mother, Ragyo, being the CEO of a global business and even more of a boss character than her daughter.

Mako Mankanshoku – Mako Mankanshoku is the clear comedic relief in Kill la Kill and she does a fantastic job at that.  Mako is the first friend Ryuuko makes at Honnouji Academy and she’s the most loyal friend anyone could ask for.  Mako and her family are truly one of the many comedic highlights throughout Kill la Kill, especially when she interrupts the most serious battle or situation to explain something or encourage Ryuuko to overcome whatever obstacle is in her way.

Plot

The fight scenes in Kill la Kill are epic.  They’re huge in scale and massive in destruction, and that’s just within the first handful of episodes. As you progress through the season, the fights are amped up to an even crazier scale as logic goes out the window to make more room for pure awesomeness.

The plot, at first glance, seems pretty basic. On the surface, it appears to be a simple revenge story where you think you know all the key players and their roles.  Kill la Kill did a great job of turning what seemed like a thin story into much more.  Without spoiling too much of the plot, the death of Dr. Matoi (Ryuuko’s father) was only the first thread to be unraveled in this story.  There’s a lot of character development and flashbacks that add depth to the plot and change the motivation of multiple characters.  In addition to the multiple backstories, there are some good inner character battles as a result of the information learned from those stories.

The strong female characters were great to see in a fighting anime.  Ryuuko, Satsuki, Ragyo, Mako, Nonon, and Nui are all great and interesting characters, and we’re not even listing every female character that appears.  While all of them weren’t necessarily fighters, they all had something interesting to do that added to the overall story.

Lastly, there’s the fan service.  The skimpy Kamui outfits that Ryuuko and Satsuki wear are mere strips of fabric that only the bravest people will attempt to cosplay.  The transformation scenes into their Kamui, Mako’s family attempting to peek at people in the shower, and Ryuuko’s homeroom teacher’s constant slow-motion stripping and glowing pink nipples (yes, you read that right) are but small examples of the fan service in Kill la Kill.  The good thing is that it wasn’t just females providing the fan service; the guys definitely got in on the action too. The entire Nudist Beach organization had enough eye candy to satisfy pretty much everyone’s needs.

What We Didn’t Like:

The animation overall wasn’t anything to write home about. To be perfectly honest, it took a couple of episodes to get used to it. Oftentimes, it would have a static background with minimal details–the action and movement were just sort of laid on top of it.  The so-so animation combined with heavy amounts of fighting and action left us desiring more. We were left imagining how much better things would have looked if the overall quality was better.

While the fan service appealed to most, there are those that will find it just too absurd.  I (Nena) found it to be a little too much at times.  It wasn’t enough to make me stop watching the series, of course, but I was aware of how outlandish it was.

Images Courtesy of Random Curosity

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