Kill La Kill is the first original work from Trigger, a studio founded by a couple former Gainax employees. It ran from October of last year to March of this year. Its head writer was Nakashima Kazuki, who was also one of the series writers for Gurren Lagann. So, how did Trigger’s initial foray into an original series go?
Our tale opens with the militant Honnouji Academy getting a new transfer student. Enter our protagonist, Matoi Ryuuko. She’s traveled across the country looking for leads about her father’s killer. The trail has led to Honnouji, where the student counsel President, Satsuki, rules with an iron fist and students’ positions in her hierarchy determine where they can live and what kinds of jobs their families can hold. Ryuuko demands answers from Satsuki only to be beaten by one of her minions who’s using a magic uniform that grants him superhuman powers. Yes, the premise really involves magical clothing.
Ryuuko slinks back to her father’s burnt lab, falling through a trap door. Inside she finds a magic sailor uniform that talks to her and grants her super powers but needs her blood to activate. Ryuuko decides to put an end to Satsuki’s ambitions and force her to tell the truth about her father’s death. But the secret of Honnouji Academy goes far deeper than she realises.
The plot of this story is pretty weak and largely just serves to transport Ryuuko from one over the top action or comedic sequence to the next. The plot twists come out of nowhere with nothing foreshadowing them whatsoever, but a lot of them are really predictable in spite of that simply because they’re really cliché. The attempts at comedy fall short as well, usually being based on either the idea that nudity is funny or rambling that borders on incoherent.
The only characters who even gravitate towards two dimensions are Satsuki and Ryuuko, the rest are firmly rooted one-dimensional archetypes. Whether it’s the friend, the loyal minion, the bloke who loves to fight or something else entirely. The only thing that really sets them apart from the usual archetype is that they’re more over the top. Kill La Kill subscribes to the notion that subtlety and depth are unnecessary. It just tries to exaggerate the casts’ archetypal qualities to make them the most extreme versions it possibly can.
The art in this looks pretty bad. The characters look like blank-faced action figures with proportions out of a bad 90s comic. The action sequences are frequently difficult to follow with an over-emphasis on flashy effects and special attacks that just strain your eyes more often than not.
The outfits are really fan-servicey as well, but I’m pretty certain the designs are being used in an attempt at comedy. Both because the art style does not lend itself to actual fan-service and because the anime draws attention to how ridiculous the outfits are on several occasions. The problem is the execution. Everything is ridiculously exaggerated in this anime so the over the top fan-service doesn’t come across as tonally different from anything else, be it serious or not. Furthermore, while a joke at the expense of how ridiculous fan-service can be could work in a short piece or when used sparingly in a longer work, the series is decently long with twenty four episodes, all of which keep the same ridiculous outfits. If they wanted them to serve as a parody, they really should have replaced them with something actually practical instead of coming up with a contrived excuse for why they couldn’t.
The voice acting is awful. Like the art, story and characters, it’s ridiculously exaggerated. The actors usually sound like they’re reading off of their scripts as quickly as they can with little to no range of emotion. The actors who get it the worst are Suzaki Aya, Shintani Mayumi and Hiyama Nobuyuki. It doesn’t help that Hiyama is the only one of those three I’ve heard in roles that required actual acting skill. That being said, the series also has Seki Toshihiko, Yuzuki Ryoka, Koshimizu Ami and Tamura Yukari all of whom are very good, but you wouldn’t know that with their performances in this. So, it is very likely a fault with the direction. The music is kind of generic action fare.
The ho-yay factor is a 4/10. Things get pretty homo-erotic between Mako and Ryuuko. Satsuki and Nonon are also implied to be more than friends. Nui is openly into other girls, even getting a kiss scene at one point. Then you have Ragyou, who gropes her own daughter in several different scenes. To be fair to Kill La Kill, these scenes are supposed to be creepy and are played up as such.
Still, this is the fourth anime I’ve seen in a row that’s had incestuous content to some degree. What’s next, a boy having a crush on a clone of his mum? Would any series really be that stupid?
Kill La Kill is a mindless, over the top, action series. This “over the top” aesthetic does give the series something different from the usual mindless action schlock, but I’m not sure if that’s to its benefit. It’s not even over the top in an enjoyable way like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. It’s just mind-numbingly stupid in terms of plot, characters, art and acting but at least it’s relatively harmless. If you’re a fan of that kind of exaggerated comedy, you might enjoy it. If you aren’t, there’s really nothing that this series can offer you. My final rating is going to be a 3/10. Next week, I’ll look at Neon Genesis Evangelion.