When everything is said and done, anime only has one purpose: to entertain. If it fails to do so, it is deemed exactly so, and those who strive to create such entertainment shy away from the subject as a result. On the contrary, if a single anime is deemed so entertaining by the masses that they are willing to rip each other to pieces in order to get a glimpse of what more could be done with the series, those who strive to create such entertainment might feel pressured into doing so out of obligation and greed, rather than for the intended purpose. While this continues to happen, the quality of certain series only continue to skyrocket with each sequel. If there were any series that were to come out within the last couple years that I feel deserves to be left untouched, it would be Kill la Kill, studio Trigger’s very first anime blockbuster.
Kill la Kill is the creation of director Hiroyuki Imaishi, who is most known for directing titles such as Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and Panty Stocking and Garterbelt. What becomes common knowledge while watching Imaishi’s works is that he has a tendency to overexaggerate. Fight scenes, overall animation and design, fan service, and story telling are a few notable examples of subjects that Imaishi toys with in every creation. This trend isn’t broken in Kill la Kill, as the very beginning sequence shows. No context, no background checks, just a quick overview of what the viewer comes to witness and the story begins. While intimidating, this type of story telling can benefit the viewer by baiting them into feeling more immersed in the story, as if they were actually there, as ignorant as the youthful characters within the series. The only information given at the beginning of the series is that Honnouji Academy, a school grounds of epic proportions, is being run by a terrorizing force in Satsuki Kiryuuin. The only thing in her way is Ryuuko Matoi, a strong, developing individual who suddenly appears in Honnouji Academy to search for her father’s murderer.
The story of Kill la Kill grows as with its progression, ultimately becoming more substantial than anyone starting the series could ever imagine. The other thing that comes with this type of plot is the magnitude of unrealistic situations. No matter the event, Kill la Kill ultimately can’t escape some of the shounen cliches that it means to spoof, leaving them in a state of laughing at their own misery. However, what the series does so well all throughout is hold its ground; no matter what happens, the characters, the plot, the animation, all will make it through to the end, by any means possible. What Kill la Kill accomplishes with this is what was meant to be accomplished in Imaishi’s other series: entertaining the viewer through sheer spectacle. Despite the plot’s flaws and unrealistic qualms, the story is entertaining to view from every standpoint, even from the stingiest of mindsets.
Those who inhabit such a sporadic plot are sure to be colorful, right? To varying degree, the series does well in creating characters who match the overall tone. Ryuuko Matoi is the main heroine of the series, and that role is never relinquished, even in times of hardship. Her growth as a character is only slightly embellished, while her overall progression of strength may seem strange to some. Mako Mankanshoku, Ryuuko’s friend and the show’s main source of comedy, is the epitome of what kind of character can evolve from the rapid-paced animation of Kill la Kill. Very rarely is she shown in a normal state of balance, always bouncing off of walls and displaying unrealistic feats of human biology. She’s legitimately funny, which is always nice to see from a longer-running series. Satsuki Kiryuuin as a villain is about as grand a performance as any series could ever hope to accomplish. She sticks to her beliefs and crushes those who oppose her, even those who were at one point accepting of her rule. Her cold demeanor makes her somewhat disheartening as an overall character, but, along with Ryuuko, Satsuki becomes just as three-dimensional as any valid character. The side characters serve their roles well, but almost never stray out of it, almost as if the very thought would kill them instantly. With a series like this, it wouldn’t surprise me. Regardless, every character feels genuinely important to the plot of the series.
What fully deserves a round of applause from every person within an Earth-sized radius of the North Pole is the animation. It’s rare to see so much effort put into the fluidity of the animation. The fight scenes are flashy and well drawn. The characters’ designs are interesting, along with every outfit they choose to wear. The only thing I could care to point out is that when compared to high-quality works of this time period, Kill la Kill seems almost old-fashioned, but that might be a point in of itself. Most, if not all, entertainment derived from this show can be traced back to how fluid and smooth on the eyes the art style is. If one were allowed to mention one key point about Kill la Kill as a whole, animation might be a common choice.
One other thing about Kill la Kill’s art style is the amount of fan service present within each episode. While, admittedly, the first few episodes almost relied on it, the connection to the characters and the focus on the plot almost makes one forget that they’re basically fighting naked. The outfits worn by each character are so stylishly designed, I’d even suggest that what isn’t shown of the female body is almost more alluring than what is. A distraction from the distraction, if you will. Using fan service from one taste to combat fan service from another taste. Kill la Kill is just as much a battle of where to pay attention as it is a battle against characters.
A series as entertaining as Kill la Kill is bound to give pressure to its creators to create something just as amazing, if not better, than what they can handle. They could always try to appease their appetite with an appetizer, such as an elongated OVA or a few movies, but to recreate the magic that Kill la Kill left within an audience will be a difficult task to accomplish, if they decide to continue the series. Whatever they choose to do, Kill la Kill is enough to leave any fan either clamoring for more or feeling satisfied with a creatively diverse story. Despite some issues with realism, every question that arose with Trigger’s first official tv series, whether it be its ability to entertain or its animation skills, were checked off with every passing episode, and met with a solid following.
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