It’s the start of the new year and a whole slew of new anime are slated to come out, after a great line-up in Fall 2013. There is a lot of hype for some brand new anime like Space Dandy and Nobunagun, and already existing anime such as Kuroko’s Basketball and Silver Spoon are getting new episodes! While I liked most of the anime that appeared in late 2013, such as Log Horizon , the one I enjoyed the most has to be the insanely popular KILL LA KILL!
12 episodes had been broadcast so far, and with the 13th episode AVAILABLE NOW I could not be more excited! My name is Mario Savovski and I'm the co-creator of Race! On!, the action-adventure manga for Saturday AM. I decided to review KILL LA KILL now because after the 12th episode it seems as if this exceptionally crazy show's first major arc is complete and it (possibly) is about to take a different direction. I could be wrong but frankly, given what we’ve seen from Kill La Kill so far – anything can happen!
Now on to the actual review!
First off – What’s Kill La Kill and who is behind it?!
Kill la Kill is produced by Studio Trigger, an animation studio founded by former Gainax employees Hiroyuki Imaishi and Masahiko Ohtsuka in August 2011. This is exciting because many are familiar with the awesomeness that has already come out from Studio Gainax through their previous shows - Gurren Lagann and Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. Both shows had over-the-top action, great characters and amazing visuals, and Kill La Kill is no different!
The premise of the anime follows Ryuko Matoi – a girl seeking out the wielder of a...scissor blade (yes, you read that correctly) who murdered her father. Now, YES--the premise is very simple but trust me, that is the only thing that is in this show.
Carrying her own scissor blade (one part of it actually - FRed note), she ventures into Honnouji Academy in search of answers. There, the student council, led by the fearless Satsuki Kiryuin, use powerful school uniforms known as GOKU Suits to rule the school (and its surrounding city) in fear. Teaming up with a sentient GOKU uniform named Senketsu, Ryuko stands up against Satsuki and her student council in order to find the answers she needs, and of course – kicks massive amounts of butt in the process.
This anime is a pure delight in part due to the large cast full of wacky characters that complete the visual anarchy on screen. Ranging from the quirky and eccentric “Club Presidents” that Ryuko challenges to the mysterious “Nudist Beach” operatives that Ryuko comes in contact with. In fact, most of the baddies that Ryuko faces in her quest for revenge offer some of the more unique powers I've seen in an anime in quite a while! And the battles are filled with such energy that you can’t help but enjoy the creativity of the world that makes up Kill La Kill.
The driving force behind the anime’s story and the coolest part of it are the Goku Uniforms – suits made of “life-fibers” that give whoever wears them awesome power. This is shown in the very first scene of the anime and we get a taste of the crazy action that Kill La Kill offers. The Goku Uniforms are split into 3 ranks – 1 star, 2 stars and 3 stars. While 1 star uniforms are the weakest, the 3 stars are unquestionably the strongest. Every Goku uniform has its own “power-up” form that is unique to the Club Presidents and this makes for some really varied and mind-blowing battles! And these same life-fibers are the exact material that Ryuko’s own suit – "Senketsu" is made of. What makes it special is that it has the power to absorb life-fibers all on its' own giving Ryuko a good reason to finish off most her opponents by...literally stripping them naked!
Why should you watch it?!
Simply put, KIll La Kill is sheer madness!
If FLCL was considered avant garde when it debuted over a decade ago then today it is like looking at an episode of the Smurfs. Kill La Kill succeeds, it seems, by putting aside logic and complex storytelling in favor of (way!) over the top action and big explosions (which are totally fine by me).
One thing that some people might not like is the “monster-of-the-week” approach. Each episode finds Ryuko facing off against a different enemy and each of them is crazier than the previous one! I personally like this. It means I can pick up the show, watch it and forget about it until next week without worrying that I might not understand the next episode. It's not so episodic and allows for easy viewing for anyone who has a passing fancy.
Several enemies have become fan-favorites ranging from Uzu Sanageyama (whose Goku Uniform transforms into a big badass Kendo armor) to the downright creepy Houka Inumuta (whose Goku Uniform is basically a suit covered in ….keyboards…and he keeps typing on them, making creepy poses all the while)!
But one of the most memorable action sequences is not against the elite four, but rather the first time Ryuko faces off against Satsuki Kiryuin. It comes with a twist which I won’t reveal, so you’ll have to watch the series to see for yourself! But trust me when I say – it’s insane! The story itself is pretty simple – Ryuko has to get to Satsuki by defeating exceedingly more powerful enemies, all the while trying to understand more about her sentient uniform Senketsu.
Let’s start with the good stuff first.
The action is certainly amazing, and the visuals are beautiful and eye-catching. The humor is great, and Kill la Kill is one of the few anime that has actually managed to make me laugh out loud! The world of this anime disregards logic in favor of badass images and it seems that the phrase “crazy enough to work” applies to just about everything! The music and voice acting are also top notch but make no mistake--nothing I say can accurately express the sheer creativity of this show! There are so many moments, character designs and ideas expressed in the anime that it isn't just entertaining but often inspirational! There are just so many moments of randomness which I just felt added to the overall beauty of the show!
When it comes to the bad stuff: my major gripe with the anime is its story. When you put aside all the insanity, at its core, you find a very simple story that’s been done many times in anime. At this point, it seems that everything else is just an attempt to cover up for the lack of effort they put in the story!. Also, some of the characters can be trite, overused and annoying even though, in this day and age, it’s pretty hard for an anime to have a character that’s TRULY unique!
So in conclusion, let me say this – if you’re looking for a deep and engaging story and captivating characters, Kill La Kill probably isn't for you. However, if you enjoy that rare blend of action; comedy and an anime weirdness that does not (or can't) take itself too seriously then you should definitely give this a try.
Kill La Kill is enjoyed best if you let you brain rest and allow your other senses to fully soak in the glorious madness that is Kill La Kill.
Mario Score: OVER WHELMED
This review was created for Saturday AM by manga creator, Mario Savovski. Check out his EXCLUSIVE manga, Race! On! here in Saturday AM as well as his upcoming E-book, SKY PUNK. You can read an EXCLUSIVE excerpt in the Beta Issue (#1) -- read it free now!