SUPERVERSIVE Reviews: Kill la Kill

Wednesday , 25, April 2018 10 Comments
Image result for kill la kill

This poster is sweet

Well, that was…definitely an experience.

I have no idea what to make of “Kill la Kill”, an anime about evil clothing and the naked men and women who fight them.

Let’s just go the standard route.

Synopsis: Get ready, because this one is convoluted. “Kill la Kill” is the story of Ryuko, who has enrolled in the prestigious but terrifyingly fascistic Hannouji Academy, ruled under the iron fist of Student Council President Lady Satsuki. At Hannouji Academy status is conferred based on the rank of your Goku uniform, special uniforms that give the wearers special powers. Ryuko, armed with a mysterious half-scissor blade, is determined to take on Lady Satsuki and figure out the truth behind her father’s murder. To do so she’ll need the help of Senketsu, a sentient uniform that makes her especially powerful by feeding on her blood. During her quest she figures out a conspiracy surrounding the uniforms and gets embroiled in a plot to take down evil clothing before they destroy the human race once and for all.

Yeah. It’s weird.

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Ryuko, Senketsu, and her scissor blade

Review: I am having a lot of difficulty figuring out what to say about this one. The Kill La Kill team is almost the same as the team that made Gurren Lagann, and it shows in a sort of insane zest for life and crazed enthusiasm that runs through the show. That, at least, is infectious.

I don’t think it’s as good as Gurren Lagann though. Gurren Lagann had a structure, starting off…not small compared to most things, but comparatively small, and slowly increasing in scope and scale as the show went on until we got to our finale where punches were as powerful as the big band and galaxies were being used as shruiken. Kill La Kill starts at a 12 of 10, and while the show technically does get bigger in scope I don’t really think the craziness increases in any meaningful way, because it’s already completely bonkers. There isn’t as strong of a structure as Gurren Lagann, nor does it have GL’s sense of pacing.

The characters are memorable and leave impressions, and they certainly do change and progress as the story moves forward, but they’re not as well-conceived and finely drawn as the characters in GL, which had outstanding character development.

As far as how the show stands on its own…look, I really meant it when I said I had no idea what to make of it. It has its own style. It has memorable characters. I like the art style too. It’s just…weird. Really, really weird. And not in a way that feels fresh or interesting, just…weird.

Like, why does this even exist? The naked people, the powers of clothes, the incest and lesbianism…why? What are they trying to get across here? And some of the gags are just uncomfortable, like Ryuko’s friend Mako’s creepy father and brother who keep trying to sneak looks at Ryuko naked.

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Nonon Jakuzure in her symphony regalia. She gets the best battle in the series for my money.

I suppose I’m glad it exists in the end. The weirdness did create some truly memorable scenes and episodes. There are two episodes in particular I found outstanding, the episode where Ryuko and Mako go on a quest to reach their school before their names are called in homeroom, a truly masterful display of utter insanity. And the episode where Ryuko goes up against the head of the school band in single combat featured a creative and highly entertaining music-themed. Some of the plot twists were even pretty clever.

So it could definitely be a lot of fun. I’m just not sure how well it works as a whole package.

Is it superversive?: Uh, maybe? I guess? There are clear heroes and villains who are definitely heroes and villains, and it features themes of familial love and even self-sacrifice. So…sure, yeah.

Overall rating: ????? out of 10 stars. You really just need to decide for yourself if this sort of insanity is the type of thing up your alley. Sorry I can’t properly commit to this one, I suppose.

By the way, this theme song is second only to “Tank” on my personal favorites list.


  • Xewleer says:

    Kill la Kill is the female equivalent to GL, which is male all the way down. Fundamentally, it is as female as GL is Male. I didn’t repeat myself. GL becomes crazy over time, starting from something realistic and logical for the world with great characters and then evolves into the galactic sized craziness. Kill la Kill on the other IS crazy from the get-go to the end, only getting crazier and hitting on themes of womanhood as GL hits themes of manhood, of becoming men rather than being women.

    Basically, clothing is everything based on the philosophy of Satsuki’s mother and she imparts it all the way down the ranks of her people. In the real world, the kid without brand names is a loser, for example. Because men are sexual beings but not driven by our sexuality (we don’t give birth or are influenced by the ‘moon’, is what I mean) like women are, nudity and ‘sensuality’ are more important. Satsuki’s mother is all about it since she understands it and the power granted by it over others. It’s clear that she represents feminism, including the sexual abuse of younger and weaker members of family because of her philosophical beliefs (see The Last Closet).

    Since Kill la Kill IS it puts far more dynamics on how each character is a part of that matriarchal system, or rebelling against it. Satsuki’s three stars represent a different part of school and dress/transform appropriately. They serve her because they know they can’t escape their ‘clothes’ whether metaphorical or literal and so serve the one with the best ‘dress sense’. I’ve said this before in our discord talks and I’ll say it again, Kill la Kill is a female mecha anime.

    Ryuko disrupts it all by being both descended from the same evil as Satsuki but not dominated by her, or particularly aware of her presence. Clearly, she doesn’t care for clothes (raised by a male) nor does she appreciate the power structures that Satsuki provides. In rebelling against Satsuki she fails until she ‘dresses’ better or as good as she does. Having no experience with clothes, she has no chance against her for a few episodes. Note, Nudist beach eschews clothes and can beat even 2 star wearers, but can’t beat the Kamui wearers or the 3 star wearers. It’s as if that nudity can help you against those who don’t know how to dress to the nines, but a man in a suit is better than a naked man aesthetically, and therefore in power.

    When Ryuko dons the ‘wedding dress’, she is suckered into thinking of Satsuki’s mom’s way of life as how it should be. She isn’t thinking for herself but wearing what the matriarch says, marrying who she says and attacking a ‘freed woman’ on her orders. She is freed by a different woman who doesn’t really care for anything about what everyone else does, being relationship oriented, not clothing oriented.

    In the end, Satsuki’s mom rips out her own heart rather than having facing the failure of her clothes/matriarchy. Her ‘life’ is more important than real people and the consequences of her actions. All her abuse and clothing choices will be forever justified by her actions. Raping her daughter? Fine fine as long as she wears what she has to wear. Death is preferable to being wrong about, say, Feminism.

    Ryuko, Mako and Satsuki enter into friendships, which I never understood to be lesbian and incestuous until someone talked about it, being more ‘two girl friendship’ than ‘lesbians’ since the ending stuff implies that Gamagoori will ask her out in the credits scenes. Also, it’s far far far far less offensive than the ending of the Legend of Korra, since it both fits the themes and motivations of the characters and doesn’t insult the males involved.

    Mako X Gamagoori ship is best ship fight me

    • A. Nonymous says:

      What you say makes sense, going by what I know of the series (I’ve never had any interest in watching it), but it also doesn’t make me feel any less revolted by the whole thing either, for what it’s worth.

    • Terry Sanders says:

      So, KILL LA KILL is MEAN GIRLS or HEATHERS–except the social competition is *literally* cutthroat and clothes are *literally* weapons?

  • TWS says:

    Just by your description, I’m going to guess, ‘no, not superversive’ and avoid it. Like a plague ridden corpse in a heap of rotting corpses.

    • Anthony says:

      Ben’s analysis above is pretty good, so I wouldn’t necessarily say it isn’t superversive…just not safe for work.

  • JD Cowan says:

    I’ve never been able to get into this one.

  • Mr. Tines says:

    Imaishi’s weird and wacky style is something you either get or you don’t. I’m in the “don’t” camp myself, with Gurren Lagann being a surprising exception.

    The series as a whole was claimed to be a tribute to Showa period media; but beyond things like the shot-for-shot remake of the Sukeban Deka (Delinquent Girl Detective) live-action TV ending sequence, that is rather less obvious than TTGL’s love letter to the history of the robot genre.

  • MegaBusterShepard says:

    You either love KLK or you hate it, very little room for a middle ground.

    If you guys want something more up your alley may I suggest the excellent Fate/Stay Night relaunch. I think it’d be apt for someone like you Anthony.

  • I see it as over the top satire, one of the funniest animes I’ve ever seen. Plus no anime gal is hotter than Ryuko.

    • Anthony says:

      There is no question it has an audience, and I don’t begrudge people that audience. It just wasn’t my style.

      Also clearly that title goes to Gina in Porco Rosso FITE ME IRL

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