“Just rip it off and get naked!” – Mako Mankanshoku

When I started watching Kill La Kill, I really wasn't ready to be sucked into this colorful and over-the-top world full of awesome fighting, nudity, and Mako’s inspirational speeches, but the more I watched, the more I got into its style. It engrossed me with its use of fast and frantic animation and very punchy directing and in turn made me appreciate some subtle things about similar shounen-esque action anime which I usually overlooked since I was always focused on action parts of it.

With that being said, plot of Kill La Kill is rather simple, it is about a 17-year-old tomboy protagonist, a real roughrouser, called Ryuko Matoi, who’s looking for her father’s killer. Her search leads her to Honnouji Academy, where she's looking to find answers trying to fight her way trough. But as the story progresses it keeps getting crazier, with sentient sailor uniforms appearing, one of which is Senketsu that gives its user immense power and ability to further transform in order to adapt to various situations. This was done in a very Tokusatsu-style fashion, except that Senketsu, the sailor outfit, is also its own character. Its there to be calm, composed and analytical to contrast and guide Ryuko trough her story. Not just a garment but also a friend.

Now, many critics have given Kill La Kill flak for appearing to be more about style than substance and that it is too brash and loud for it's own good. But style IS substance. Aesthetic of the show is its narrative. Kill La Kill is not just about a girl duking it out in her sailor moon outfit, it is about acceptance, the power of hope, friendship, familiy, love and at the very centre of it is Ryuuko and her rivlarly against Satsuki Kiryuin, president of Honnouji Academy. And this relationship Ryuuko shares with Satsuki was the height of the show for me, since it's not your typical shounen-esque "good vs bad" but more like "chaos vs order" kind of thing, which each one of them respectively embodies, as they are the driving force of this show.
There are also a lot of puns and references in this anime where fashion is related to fascism. The idea is that clothes control everything about society and that they represent enslavement. The whole series is really an exploration about the complex relationship between humans and clothing and what better way to explore such a theme than using hot girls in sailor outfits! It manages to be fun and tells a point at the same time.
Each of the three Kamui represent the three rites of passage that a woman goes through between different stages in her life and sexuality.
Uniform Ryuko wears, Senketsu (first blood) represents the start of puberty and is modeled as a school uniform, for a reason.
Junketsu (purity) represents marriage and is modeled as a white wedding dress. It's also likely that the whole premise of it overwhelming the user until it is retailored with Ryuko's blood and Senketsu's fibers is supposed to be a metaphor for marriage and family.
And finally, Kouketsu (silk) represents pregnancy and motherhood.
As you watch the show, all of this comes into place and is thematically coherent.

Satsuki was definetly my favorite character, not only because of her design, but because of her role in the show. She has everything: real strength, leadership skills, she's patient and calculating with badass sword skills and loyal followers. Each time I see a .gif of her heel clicking I can hear her theme playing. But that's not the say other characters and their relationshp were not fun to watch, too. You had the protagonist Ryuuko, whom I wrote about earlier. She was potrayed as a bit agressive with a bit of flair to her, if not a bit edgy at times, but she had real shounen protagonist heart. Then you got Mako who appears to be more of a comic relief side character at first but she really has her own proper role in the show and wasn't sidetracked into being a lame supporting character. Then you got some other characters like Nonon who is just snarky all the time but simultaneously fun for me to observe and villians like Nui who's role is to just be annoying, I guess. Or someone like Ryugo who has the most fabulous looking resplendent multi-colored hair, with a silver color on top and is the best mom (not really). The show definitely has a nice cast of characters to offer, in terms of both character design and personality. Each one of student council's Elite Four characters was fun addition to the supporting cast.

Another thing I want to point out is the use of "fanservice" in this show. Kill La Kill took all those skimpy outfits that you see most mahou shoujo anime girls wear and gave a justified reason for it It. It really reconstructed this entire feeling of shame by watching something which has nudity in it since Satsuki herself explained that nudity is nothing to be ashamed of as long as it serves a purpose, and that to feel embarassed about it proves how you lack conviction. It has this theme of sexualization as empowerment to it, which was done well. This is why the ecchi part of the show really shined here since it was woven within the shows narrative properly and it didn't feel forced at all, unlike in most shounen shows where fanservice feels out of place and not really adding anything to the show (I'm looking at you, Fairy Tail). So even if you're not a fan of ecchi anime at all, you can still see how it was done well in Kill La Kill. It also had creative and fun use of censorship, just look at how Aikurou Mikisugi, member of Nudist Beach (awesome name btw) loves taking his shirt off and how long it takes him. Everything that had to be censored was censored just right.

Kill La Kill draws a lot of inspiration from its spiritual predecessor, Gurren Lagann, and while it pays homage and references to it (and some other anime, too), it is very different in its themes and plot. It shares more plot superficialities with something like Utena. You can say that Kill La Kill is like a shounen, less psychological, version of Revolutionary Girl Utena, in a way. And both have "revolution" aspect to it.

Music accompanied this anime well, each theme fit their respective character well and was mixed in properly into the background. I was always hyped seeing, for example, Nonon being accompanied by her marching band. Or always hyped to hear Satsuki's theme after her heel clicked and she made her grandiose appearance on screen. It also followed fight choreography on point.

I hope you'll give Kill La Kill a try after reading this review and embrace this fun mix of straightforward adaptation of standard action anime tropes with to-the-point storytelling and have as much blast watching it as I did!

100 /100
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