Now Kill La Kill is an anime that came out in the Fall Season of 2013, and people were like “another magical girl anime?”- Oh, how wrong we were… See, Magical Girl anime is a dime a dozen just like it’s boy counterpart, Shounen anime. What I mean by that is, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Kill La Kill literally had to stand itself apart from the rest.
So, before we dive in, let’s take a look on what does Magical Girl Anime even means, shall we. Like the name suggest, magical girl or mahō shōjo features girls possessing magical powers to combat evil or the sort. Furthermore, another trope of in the genre is the ability to transform into their “uniform” with the aid of a henshin device. The most universally recognized Magical Girl being Sailor Moon, having popularizing the genre.
In Kill La Kill’s case, they’ve taken all the tropes, trappings, and anything associated with the genre, and just straight up flipped the script! This shouldn’t come as a surprise since the anime was produced by Studio Trigger and helmed by the team responsible for Guurren Lagann. One of the biggest difference Kill La Kill did to differentiate was with it’s tone. The anime is more raunchier, heavy on the fan service and has more emphasis on the action.
The series follows Ryuko, a vagrant who has arrived at a town under the rule of the dystopian school looming over it, Honnouji Academy. She carries the following: a giant one-armed scissor for a weapon, the need to find those responsible for the death of her father, and a bad attitude. The big bad at the Academy is Satsuki Kiryuin, an elite leader who sips tea, occasionally smirks, and rules over the school by yelling lines like the following: “Fear is freedom! Subjugation is liberation! Contradiction is truth! You pigs in human clothing!”
The show gets going once our plucky hero stumbles upon a living sailor uniform answering to the name Senketsu. In time-honoured shounen (fighting anime) style, wearing Senketsu gives Ryuko great powers, even though it cuts off a large amount of her clothing. For Ryuko and Senketsu to triumph over evil, they need to work in symbiosis, which calls for Ryuko to learn to be positive about her body.
Kill La Kills’ animation can generally be summed up in one word: frenetic. Meaning that it’s very fast and energetic in a rather wild and uncontrolled way. The series has an inviting aesthetic to it and does a great job of establishing the tone of any given scene. It’s also pretty cool to see a slightly unique character design style come up. There’s also some great framing which supports the humor, characterization and even some of the dramatic scenes and thematic ideas the series brings up. Overall, this is where the show’s creativity and unique style really shine and compliment a lot of what it does well.
Themes and Concepts
Kill La Kill deals with the concept of vengeance and power when Ryuko’s acquisition of power throughout the series allow her to enact her vengeance. It is during these scenes when Ryuko is confronted with vengeance and the emotional toll it takes. As a result, Ryoko at various times during the course of Kill La Kill, literally and figuratively becomes drunk on power and thus, the very monster she set out to fight. She loses her way; and it’s her friends and family that are able to save her.
Nudity is a thing in this anime, as both for fan service but as a form of subversion as well. When its time for Ryuko and Senketsu to combine, their henshin sequence is very sexualised as oppose to Sailor Moon’s more tamed transformation. As the series progress, nudity becomes less of a fan service gimmick, but rather a symbol to be free.
After re-watching Kill La Kill for the first time years since it left the air, Kill La Kill is a beautiful mess of an anime. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that its bad- the messiness adds to its charm. The anime makes up for its short comings with its creative approach to its animation and visuals, well executed comedy, fast paced and suspenseful action, its colorful cast of characters and the thematic ideas that work.
Kill La Kill to me is often at times like a Michael Bay movie. Its entertaining and action packed ride with amazing characters, with a touch of sexy-raunchiness . If you enjoy those things, this is for you.