It’s a frequent happening at my humble abode. Chris binge watches something on Netflix while I’m away, and then for a week afterwards all I hear is “Watch it! Watch it! Watch it!” I usually give in, since we have similar tastes in TV shows, but sometimes I can tell that it just won’t be my thing. Chris usually lets it go after a week of “no,” but not this time.
No, I went through nearly two months of “We should watch Kill La Kill! I’ll watch it with you. Pleasepleaseplease.” I had watched clips of crazy characters and explosions and people being eaten by their clothes, and I just didn’t want to. I did want to be free of the constant soundtrack of Chris’ pleading, so I finally said yes. Fully prepared to sit through 26 episodes of absolute insanity that I was convinced I would not enjoy, I started Kill La Kill. And now I’m afraid I’m going to have to watch every one of Chris’ recommendations from now on because in a weird and unfathomable way… I loved it.
Kill La Kill follows the heroic awakening of Ryuko Matoi, a new transfer student to the monolithic Honnouji Academy, which seems to be run entirely by the heads of student clubs under the command of “4-star” student Satsuki Kiryuin. Ryuko and Satsuki quickly become arch-nemeses, Ryuko’s relentless independence grinding against Satsuki’s determination for absolute rule of the school and the city that surrounds it. Luckily, Ryuko does find one constant friend in Mako Mankanshoku, a daughter of a back-alley surgeon and “zero-star” student destined to be mediocre forever.
Students at Honnouji Academy climb the scholastic and social ranks through their talents and services to the student clubs. They are rewarded with “starred” uniforms that improve their strength and abilities. But it turns out that Honnouji Academy isn’t the only producer of these amazing clothes. Ryuko finds herself in possession of a sentient uniform named Senketsu that gives her superpowers.
This seems like a mostly intelligent description of the show, but the reality is that I knew no one’s name. Like, not at any point in the show. I had to look all of it up to write this review. I’m not particularly proud of this; I’ve watched anime for a long time and I’m usually fine with picking up the traditional and fantastical names. But not this time. So, everyone got a nickname. (Except Gamagori… I don’t know what divine touch led me to remember only Gamagori.)
Kill La Kill never reaches a point where it makes any more sense. It is an absolutely insane show that moves at a breakneck pace, but the characters were so engrossing and entertaining that I found myself buying into their motives without issue. Even when these motives are “find the other half of this scissor sword and discover who murdered my father” or “take control of Japan using armies clothed in ‘life threads’ for my mother’s fascist fashion empire.”
Just go with it.
Everything about Kill La Kill is big and bright and loud and insane, and best of all, it knows that. There are hilarious self-referential montages and Mako’s frequent inspirational speeches/rants would take years of review to catch every visual gag in them. The musical themes of each of the student club leaders are as bombastic as the characters themselves, with everything from squealing brass to techno. (Just writing this has gotten this stuck in my head.)
The plot may be crazy, but it’s not without depth. A story about a loner coming to blows with the head of the student council becomes a civil war drama between the evil fashion empire and the underground rebel group know as “Nudist Beach,” and before the end, it becomes a save-the-world epic. There are breakups and team-ups of every variation between this mad cast of characters. And no one is relegated to the role of “dumb henchman.” Everyone takes charge of their own destinies with total competence. Even Mako makes up for her ineptitudes with a pure heart.
Kill La Kill: come for the scissor swords and scary haute couture, stay for the social commentary and glowing nipples.
If you’re looking for a fun and crazy anime, or even need a palate cleanser from your more dramatic/tragic anime tastes, I highly recommend Kill La Kill. Watch it on Netflix and Crunchyroll.