Japanese Title: Kill la Kill
Similar: Gurren Lagann
Watched in: Japanese & English
Length: 25 episodes
- Energetic, crazy fights.
- Several hilarious characters.
- Great soundtrack.
- Action becomes tiring.
- Not much in the way of story.
- Many characters lack individual motivations.
- Script redundancies.
In conversations about Studio Trigger’s two major properties, Gurren Lagann and Kill la Kill (they worked on Lagann at Gainax before creating their own studio), consensus decreed the former to be superior. However, upon starting Kill la Kill, I wondered why, for it felt like the better anime. It got to the point immediately rather than Lagann’s meanderings and the action had more weight. Then I watched a few more episodes… And I realised why KLK didn’t excite the same level of praise: that action is all there is to it.
But first, the story. Ryuko’s father was murdered, and to find answers, she joins Honnouji Academy, a school run like a Nazi camp that puts every playground fight to shame. Honnouji seems to have no other purpose than to facilitate students beating the crap out of each other, where the elite wear special uniforms that transform them into super humans. Ryuko acquires one such uniform, Senketsu, who also talks. It feeds on her blood (I know what you’re thinking…) for immense power and gives her protection of the…non-existent kind. Let’s just say Korean MMOs have a new bar to reach for armour design. At Honnouji’s head, stands Satsuki, president of the student council and the school’s top bitch. She commands a line of elite students, all of whom Ryuko must vanquish in order to get the answers she desires. In short, Kill la Kill is a ‘fight your way to the top’ anime.
The first significant bit of story, outside the setup, doesn’t arrive until two-thirds through the series. Even then, it shakes proceedings but a little. Fights, fights, and more fights fill KLK’s airtime. Yes, the fights have energy, unparalleled craziness, and creative powers (one girl fights with tennis, another guy wins by throwing money at you, literally), but with one fight per episode, my eyes glaze over.
Furthermore, the dialogue surrounding these fights seems stuck on an endless loop. There’s only so many times I can stand to hear of Senketsu’s need for blood or about how amazing Satsuki is. Say something different! And how often can Satsuki promise answers if Ryuko wins a fight, only to receive no answers afterwards? I also don’t see why everyone is loyal to Satsuki – diehard, get-attacked-by-her-and-still-love-her loyal. None of these opponents is motivated beyond loyalty to her. Why? They would have been more interesting if they felt like individuals – ironic considering how unique their designs are. This is a common problem in large cast shounen anime – one thing Naruto got right; many characters, yet each had individual motivation, making them distinct from each other.
Thankfully, humour comes to the rescue. Beyond the over-the-top (and effective) sexual comedy, KLK rarely goes a minute without a joke. The best of these come from Mako, a hyperactive girl who forces her way to be Ryuko’s best friend. You have likely seen her in gifs already. She talks of how friendship should righteously triumph and how the bigger-breasted fighter will always be the winner. Love it. Many jokes come at the expense of the student council and Satsuki’s love for exhibitionism – she denies it, of course. (Not fooling anyone, Satsuki!)
Unless you love plotless action, Kill la Kill will start to feel repetitive after a few episodes. If you do wish to watch it, take in doses. No single fight is bad, but engagement drops with each successive episode in a short period.
Art – High
Heavily stylised art renders Kill la Kill’s fights in a crazy and creative way. It’s also more consistent than Gurren Lagann is. However, the animation for non-action scenes could do with more frames.
Sound – High
The voice work is good, whether sub or dub fits your fancy. For me, the music stood out most, as it hyped me for the fights with its choir.
Story – Medium
A schoolgirl with a super powered uniform fights her way to the top of school, searching for answers in her father’s death. Kill la Kill hits the ground running; sadly, the ground stays rather flat for most of the journey.
Overall Quality – Medium
Recommendation: Try it. If pure action appeals to you, Kill la Kill will deliver two-dozen high energy, very nimble, crazy fights. Don’t expect more than that, however.
Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)