"Fear is freedom! Subjugation is liberation! Contradiction is truth! Those are the facts of this world, and you will all surrender to them, you pigs in human clothing!"
— Satsuki Kiryuin, "Episode 1: If Only I Had Thorns Like a Thistle"
Kill la Kill is a 2013 anime produced by Studio Trigger. A relatively new studio's first television production wouldn't normally raise too many eyebrows when announced... unless said studio happened to be made up of ex-Studio Gainax and Studio 4°C members, and the production's director, writer, and lead character designer also worked together on Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. It was originally conceived as a manga focused entirely on battle scenes, but shifted focus during production to become more character-focused.Ryuko Matoi is a New Transfer Student at Honnouji Academy, a high school ruled with an iron fist by president Satsuki Kiryuin and her Absurdly Powerful Student Council. Satsuki maintains absolute control over the school using Goku Uniforms, which grant supernatural strength to their wearer and are distributed only to her most loyal students.When Ryuko shows up in search of her father's murderer, she immediately suspects that Satsuki knows something and declares war on her. With the aid of a sentient uniform called Senketsu and a red half-scissor blade that can destroy Goku Uniforms, Ryuko fights to avenge her father and take down Honnouji Academy in the process.Part of the Fall 2013 Anime season, the series premiered on October 3 and ended on March 27 the following year, with an OVA released on September 3. It was simulcast with English subs on Daisukinote also with German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese subs, available for all users an hour after Japan broadcast, Crunchyroll, Wakanimnote In the UK and France, Hulu, and Aniplex Channel. It was one of the most requested shows for Toonami on [adult swim].An English dub has been announced, set to premiere in July, the trailer for the dub can be viewed here.All tropes related to individual characters belong on the character sheets, references to other works can be found in the Shout Out page. And, since the show is just that good, its Trivia and Meme pages have been made. Also check out the Recap page, which is in need of more work.
Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Exaggerated to high holy hell. They rule over the school literally like a totalitarian regime. They expect total obedience from the normal students and routinely execute rule breakers. They also appear to be capable of annexing other schools. What's more is that they have full control of the city surrounding the school; a student and their family's quality of life depends on how well they fare in school, and if they're expelled, they lose their home as well. And because Satsuki's mother owns the school the faculty can't really do much about it. During the Tri-City Schools Raid Battlefield Trip, it turns out that many high schools in Kansai are militarized.
And of course there's Ragyo Kiryuin, who establishes herself as the most powerful character in the series after Episode 18 when she brutalizes both of her daughters, Satsuki and Ryuko, without breaking a sweat.
Aerith and Bob: First names like Ragyo, Barazo, Satsuki and just about every other character, major or minor have their names written in kanji. Then we have Mako, which is written in katakana. Then there is club president Jack Naito, whose name is also written in western order.
Having True Companions, versus simply using people, as demonstrated by Ryuko and Senketsu, Ryuko and Mako, as well as Satsuki and the Elite Four, who play the trope straight, vs. Satsuki and Junketsu, who seem to actually be fighting each other for dominance.
That power corrupts, as demonstrated time and time again, notably by Ragyo Kiryuin, the berserk Ryuko/Senketsu hybrid in episode 12, and Ryuko and Junketsu in episode 20, though more notably averted by Satsuki Kiryuin.
Individuality, as batshit crazy as it can be, is what makes us human.
Apparently, all of Honnouji Academy's No-Star male students are this for Ryuko. Whenever male nudity is shown, it's treated either as comedy and/or the other characters are visibly uncomfortable with it.
All There in the Manual: A good deal of detail regarding the personal lives of the Elite Four of Honnouji Academy is barely touched upon in the anime itself, and can only be found in the notes accompanying the light novel written for the series, such as the following:
Sanageyama's family are well-known konjac producers, him being the second son, and he uses the Honnouji-provided allowance he gets (for being a Three-Star student) to support his old gang back in North Kanto.
Gamagoori is half-American — his father being a US G.I. stationed at Yokosuka — and his mother is a nurse. He sends the monetary stipend he gets from Honnouji back home to support his mom.
Inumuta's father is a policeman, and what's more, deputy director of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, which is currently investigating the activities of the Kiryuin Conglomerate. Oh, and he apparently framed his father to put a stop to the older Inumuta's investigations, and forced him to resign.
Nonon actually found Satsuki boring and uninteresting back when they were kindergartners, but when Satsuki's personality suddenly changed later that year, she decided that she wanted to be close to her. She was also supposed to attend a prestigious middle school for the rich, but passed on this to instead follow Satsuki.
Animal Motifs: The Elite Four's surnames contain characters meaning "toad", "monkey", "dog", and "snake". They even shout these during the scene where they curbstomp a bunch of COVERS after receiving their final Three-Star Goku Uniforms. A minor one is Mako being associated with bunnies, like on the third BD cover.
Animation Bump: Episode 3's fight scene of Ryuko vs a Kamui-sporting Satsuki, as well as the transformation scenes in that same episode.
Antimagical Faction: Nudist Beach is an anti-uniform organization of which Aikuro and Tsumugu are members.
The Goku Uniforms are made using a certain percentage of "Life Fibers" that determines their Power Level: One-Star uniforms are 10% Life Fiber, Two-Star uniforms are 20% Life Fiber, Three-Star uniforms are 30% Life Fiber, and so on. Kamui such as the ones worn by Ryuko and Satsuki are made out of 100% Life Fibers.
Kamui need to drink the blood of their wearers to function. Being embarrassed due to their Stripperiffic forms or otherwise rejecting them not only makes them less powerful, but also requires them to drink more blood to keep functioning.
Area of Effect: Ryuko defeats Inumuta when he uses his optical camouflage by turning Senketsu's eye gigantic enough to swat the entire platform ring they are on.
Much like Simon and Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Ryuko is drawn in a much rougher and sketchier style when she gets both really passionate and really powerful (after absorbing Shinra-Koketsu) in the final episode.
Barazo's staredown with Gamagoori in episode 17 has him shift from his normally simplistic design into an extremely detailed and rugged one. It's for less serious reasons.
Just about the only sequence in the entire show completely devoid of Deranged Animation is the end credits.
Assimilation Academy: It's pretty noticeable that all One-Star students look the same and even seem to act like a hive mind. Meanwhile, all No-Star students are different-looking even in crowd scenes. This is even reflected by the city where the slums the No-Star students and their families live in being highly individualistic looking, while the upper city the One-Stars live in being all identical mass family buildings. Interestingly enough, everyone else above the rank of One-Star looks individualistic.
Assimilation Backfire: Ryuko manages to get inside Ira Gamagoori's Shackle Regalia's first form, to which he responds by strangling her with it. Ryuko then counters by turning Senketsu into a chainsaw to tear and break out.
Also family names like Kiryuin (鬼龍院, Palace of the Spectral Dragon), and/or Mankanshoku (満艦飾, Full-Dressed Battleship) are both unusual and hammy.
Awesomeness Is Volatile: When Two-Stars, Three-Stars or Kamui fight, expect things to blow up. Lots and lots of things. Heck, Ryuko's and Satsuki's first major fight on Episode 3 caused a massive explosion simply by glaring at each other. This is lampshaded by the Elite Four (Satsuki's second-in-commands).
Badass Family: The Kiryuiuns, Ragyo and Satsuki. The family more or less rules the entire world and they have more than enough power to maintain it. In Episode 18, Ryuko is revealed to also be a part of the family.
Tsumugu, who is able to easily take down Goku Uniform users without wearing any ability-enhancing clothing himself. Even Ryuko wearing Senketsu proved to be no match for him at the time.
While nowhere near Nui's level, Sanageyama is able to stand up against attacks that effortlessly destroy One-Star (and likely a few Two-Star) uniform students with just a wooden sword, without his own uniform.
In episode 18, Satsuki's elderly butler Mitsuzo Soroi rescues his wounded nephew and half a dozen other full grown men, carrying them ALL AT ONCE on his back and RUNNING them to safety.
In episode 19, after the Student Council's Goku Uniforms are destroyed, we see that Gamagoori, Jakuzure, and Sanageyama can still hold their own against the Life Fibers even without their regalia enhancements.
Further expanded on in Episode 21 where the Elite Four stand up to Ryuko to protect Satsuki. Particularly, Sanageyama goes toe to toe with Ryuko using only knives and Gamagoori manages to immobilize her. Also Satsuki manages to fight Nui to a standstill without a Kamui.
Mako Mankanshoku is a very weird example. Even though she has zero combat ability and is a hyperactiveditz, when push comes to shove she will never hesitate to throw herself in the middle of battle just to be by Ryuko's side and support her, and this Undying Loyalty earns her a lot of badass points. Becomes an Empowered Badass Normal while wearing her Two-Star Goku Uniform.
Balloon Belly: Mako gets big one in episode 23, which is then digested in a second.
Every time Ryuko, Satsuki, and the Elite Four transform their uniforms, their nipples and privates are missing.
Averted in Episode 17, you can actually see Mataro's private parts (though they're covered in Body Paint).
Also averted in that Aikuro has very visible nipples, as do most male members of Nudist Beach. The pink glowing that they do is probably meant to censor them since their groins glow in the exact same way, but it does absolutely nothing and very likely isn't supposed to do anything anyway.
Also the last episode where EVERY character is naked, and only Mataro and Guts have visible privates. Every other character is missing them. It's all smooth, like an orb.
Partially averted in the Blu-Ray volumes, where male nipples are shown normally (Especially in the case of Mikisugi), but all female nipples are still MIA.
Batman Can Breathe in Space: Apparently, this is another ability of the Life Fibers. In the final episode, Ryuko and Ragyo's final battle takes place in low-earth-orbit. They both have Life Fibers incorporated into their body, and Life Fibers, being alien beings hurled to earth, probably can survive without oxygen.
Batman Cold Open: After the OP plays in Episode 5, we cut to the end of a fight Ryuko is having with a school club.
Beat Them at Their Own Game: Jakuzure gets constantly hit with it in her fight against Ryuko. First Senketsu learns how to fly and easily out-manoeuvres Nonon's flying tank, then Ryuko uses Nonon's own flute missile to destroy her tank and finally she hijacks Nonon's sound waves and sends them back at her.
Averted with extreme prejudice. Ryuko is the most frequent victim, especially in Episode 7 when her whole face gets covered in bruises, but by no means the only one.
Part of what makes Episode 18 such a Wham Episode. Satsuki, who at worse got her face dirtied during a fight up until now, gets completely demolished. She gets reduced into a bloodied, battered husk of her former pride and glory.
Nui, on the other hand, plays it straight most of the time. It serves effect of emphasizing how powerful she is in comparison to most other characters, and also goes hand in hand with that whole "cutesy" theme she has going on with herself. Notably, when it is averted, it means that she just got taken down a major notch (ex. getting her arms chopped off.
Best Served Cold: Satsuki took thirteen years to enact her revenge for her father and sister's murder at the hands of Ragyo.
BFS: An oversized half-scissor which can transform into an even bigger sword, and then extend to three times its length. That's "Big Freaking Scissors".
The Kiryuin manor, which is shown to be a large facility located separate from Honnou Town that is usually accessed by helicopter. It's staffed by an army of bodyguards and maids.
Club presidents are permitted to live in mansions, shown in Episode 7 when Mako makes a name for herself as Fight Club President.
Ryuko's old house is shown to have been a pretty decent sized mansion as well. It's big enough that Mako ask if Ryuko was The Ojou when she first sees it.
Bigger Bad: The Primordial Life Fiber, given that the existence of Life Fibers is because it came crashing down to earth, and Ragyo Kiryuin serves it loyally. Said Big Bad later flies it around like a giant ship. Ragyo can be seen as this during the period of time when Satsuki is the primary antagonist, though her spot as Big Bad is made clear after the Naturals Election wraps up.
Big Red Button: The SS Naked Sun has one, which Inumuta gets to press in episode 21. It fires guns the size of rocket boosters.
Big Screwed-Up Family: The Kiryuins. There is Ragyo Kiryuin, an abusive Evil Matriarch plotting World Domination. Soichirou Kiryuin, a Mad Scientist who experimented on his daughters and encouraged the eldest to kill Ragyo since she was five. Satsuki Kiryuin, who is an Evil OverlordSocial Darwinist and has been plotting her mother's death since she was five. And finally the most normal one, Ryuko Kiryuin-Matoi, who is just a neglected, friendless and aggressive delinquent, but gets ''better'' as the series progresses. As of episode 20, it appears that Nui Harime was genetically engineered by Ragyo with Life Fibers making her a 'soul sister' of Ryuko. Plus there's the whole "screwed" bit when it comes to Ragyo and Nui. While never directly referred to as such, Senketsu could be considered among the family as well, being the second human Life Fiber hybrid created by Soichirou.
Bio Punk: Variably sentient and living clothing is used as a means of oppression.
Bishounen Line: Happens to the Elite Four (minus Inumuta, who's kind of the odd man out) and their Goku Uniforms. At the beginning of the series, Gamagoori's Shackle Regalia and Sanageyama's Blade Regalia transform into large, bulky suits of armor, while Jakuzure's Symphony Regalia in its basic form transforms into a massive flying tank. After the Naturals Election, they are given new, more powerful uniforms that are noticeably smaller and more streamlined than the originals when transformed. And finally, in episode 23, they are given a THIRD set of further-upgraded Goku Uniforms that are more like skintight bodysuits than armor and are a lot more Stripperific given their time in Nudist Beach, and also leave their faces uncovered, which at least in the case of Gamagoori and Sanageyama is new, as well as most of their torsos.
Black Comedy: About to be fried in front of the powerless masses purely for guilt by association? Worry about your uniform turning see-through Sexy Soaked Shirt! Your classmate brutally and publicly killed by Disciplinary Committee? That happens on a regular basis, nothing to be too concerned about. Don't have power? No problem, there is this powerful magical uniform who will gleefully force himself upon you! Are you a doctor but accidentally killed a patient? At least they won't sue!
Bloody Hilarious: When a certain someone gets their arms cut off, the blood Just. Keeps. Flowing, to the point where their assistant is trying to speak through a faceful of blood spraying from the stumps.
Blood Magic/Cast from Hit Points: Kamui literally consume their wearer's blood, so this is to be expected. Ryuko runs facefirst into this trope during the first few episodes when still figuring out how, exactly Senketsu works. She loses consciousness (or comes close to losing it) more than once.
One case of when Ryuko's rage completely dominates her mindset in Episode 12. Senketsu transforms into a much more repulsive looking form including bared breasts, but Ryuko's left arm becomes massive, her Scissor Blade merging into her right arm and her head coming out of Senketsu's eye (her left shoulder) with a stump where it should be normally. Not to mention the massive fangs that also cut through her face, the spikes that pierce through her legs, the green skin and her massive vacant eyes save for the right one with a cross-hair in it. Throughout the whole fight, blood is literally spraying out of Ryuko's body by the gallons.
Then later, Nui sews Junketsu and Ryuko together so tightly that separating them would kill her. Ryuko does eventually manage to take Junketsu off without dying, but it still hurt like hell and she would probably indeed have died if it weren't for her healing factor from being fused with Life Fibers, when she was a baby.
Bold Inflation: Big, loud, bright red block capital text introducing everything and everyone.
Used in the first episode which starts with Gamagoori shrugging off a hit from someone wearing a One-Star uniform before delivering an epic beatdown, followed by Satsuki making a declaration from the top of the school down to the students. The same episode ends with Ryuko no-selling a hit from Takaharu who wears a Two-Star uniform before delivering her own epic beatdown ending with her making a declaration to Satsuki who's in the same place as she was earlier.
The beginning of Ryuko and Sanageyama's first and third matches create parallels of their Character Development inbetween their meetings. Sanageyama looking forward to facing Ryuko, Ryuko saying she won't run away from a match with him, Sanageyama saying he admires her fighting spirit in the first and her evolution as a fighter in the third. Their matches also introduce Ragyo beforehand in the first meeting and Nui after the third meeting.
In the final episode, Gamagoori woke up from his coma and came flying down out of the sky laughing in the same way as he did in Episode 1.
Boss Rush: The Naturals Election becomes one when the Elite Four propose that they all get to fight Ryuko.
Boss Subtitles: A particularly ludicrous example. Whenever a character is introduced, they have their name displayed on the screen. It's displayed in huge, incredibly dramatic red letters. A character can be introduced multiple times during the same episode!
Ragyo's "Mental Refitting" forces special Life Fibres called Marionette Threads into her victim's brain, turning them into mindless drones that do her bidding without question. In Episode 18, we first see this used to enslave the entire One-Star student body of Honnouji Academy. Made even worse when she used it on Ryuko. She managed to fight it off, though, and physically pull the Marionette Threads out of her own brain with her bare hands!
This also happens when somebody is "worn by their clothes", and the Life Fibres in their garments forcibly bend the wearer's will to their own. This happens to Ryuko when she's forced to don Junketsu in Episode 20. This instance in particular, however, is nothing short of Mind Rape.
Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Senketsu has two notable alternate forms, "Senketsu Blade" and "Senketsu Gale". Satsuki adapts them for use with Junketsu, resulting in "Junketsu Edge" and "Junketsu Whirlwind", then one-ups Ryuko and creates their combination, "Whirlwind Edge", with both bladed armor and flight capability. Ryuko follows suit soon after with "Blade Gale".
Episode 8. While everyone else is fighting for election candidacy, Ryuko, the Elite Four, and Mako take time off for their personal business, Ryuko visiting her ruined home and Gamagoori practicing his driving. Each of them also have their share of Flashbacks.
After a few brutal, tragic episodes, Episode 14 lightens the mood considerably with a light-hearted class trip, albeit one with massive amounts of explosions.
Episode 22 follows a handful of intense, dark episodes, and mostly deals with Satsuki and her allies adjusting to the Naked Sun, hanging out with Ryuko and co.
Brick Joke: In Episode 23, Sanageyama still cannot drink tea without being hurt by the heat.
The Elite Four after their defeat at the hands of Ryuko. Even after losing their Three-Star uniforms, they're able to sit comfortably through all the mayhem in the stands while they crumble around them.
Even after their MKII (or in Sanageyama's case, MKIII) Three-Star uniforms break down, the Elite Four still manage to hold their own against COVERS and save the remaining parts of humanity that haven't been consumed by them.
The Bus Came Back: Mako's Two-Star Uniform makes a comeback for Episode 22. Relatively minor, but every single club president Ryuko fought in Arc 1 returns when they are all saved by the Elite Four ejecting them from the COVERS after they were absorbed offscreen.
Cassandra Truth: When Mikisugi honestly tells Ryuko the name of the guerilla organization he works for, she refuses to believe it at first because he and the name "Nudist Beach" are just too ridiculous.
Cast From Money: How Takarada the Osakan's power works. Everything he does relies on his Takarada Bucks, bonds issued by his conglomerate. This proves to be devastatingly effective against Sanageyama's Raid Trip division, not in the least because Takarada's force just keep getting bigger as people are lured by so much money laying around.
Central Theme: What ties the world together is not conformity, but diversity.
Whenever Ryuko destroys a Goku Uniform, a Life Fiber thread is shown getting absorbed into Senketsu. In the final episode, Senketsu absorbs Junketsu and all the Goku uniforms to achieve his final form, and then absorbs Shinra Koketsu so Ryuko can use its Absolute Submission power to undo the Life Fiber cocoon.
Subverted in the case of Nudist Beach's Anti-Life Fiber Bullet, seemingly important but never used or even mentioned again.
Isshin putting out Nui's eye with the combined Scissor Blades in a flashback. Later on, it turns out that Nui is a Life-Fiber Half-Human Hybrid and immune to Ryuko's single Scissor Blade...until she steals back the other blade and Dual Wields them, finally managing to dismember Nui.
In a flashback in episode 9, Gamagoori wears steel armor made by his family's ironworks under his uniform when he tries to stop Satsuki from taking over his school. He wears it again in episode 24, which saves his life when he protects Mako from Nui.
Chekhov's Boomerang: Much like its spiritual predecessor, Kill la Kill has no throwaway characters. For instance, Fight Club Mako was a funny and poignant episode, highlighting the emotional ties between Mako and Ryuko, ultimately having her give up the role. She makes a BIG comeback at the end of Episode 22 when she fights the COVERS Eldritch Abomination.
Cherry Blossoms: During Episode 9, a flashback of Satsuki and Gamagoori has them fighting with the blossoms around them, signifying the transition of Satsuki's rise to power and influence over the schools and signifying the start of Gamagoori's worship of Satsuki.
Possibly the Most Triumphant Example of anime, at least, as it's both the main point of the plot and it refers to actual clothes, as opposed to Powered Armor or other military hardware. If you don't have special uniform, then you're powerless. The uniforms contain fibers that enhance human abilities, with higher ranked ones containing a higher percentage of fibers. The Kamui are composed entirely of said fibers. However, the show is also an aesop about the inverse being true: it's all the more shocking when people who have no uniforms are capable of not only keeping up but even beating someone wearing a uniform, especially a Kamui.
Since humans became the most advanced creatures on Earth due to symbiosis with Life Fiber aliens, yes, Clothes DID make the Man, period.
Inverted with COVERS, whose power level depends on who they eat. When Mako is eaten her COVERS becomes significantly larger than the other COVERS who ate normal people.
Clothing Damage: How almost every fight ends — the loser has his or her uniform ripped off, leaving him or her naked. This is either played for fanservice or the opposite. This show turns this trope into an art form.
Ryuko's black Sailor Fuku and red gloves are sexier versions of sukeban uniforms. Sukeban was a tough, delinquent girl subculture in Japan during the 70s that inspired its own movie genre during those days. Also, Ryuko's gray and white jacket from first episode is a reference to Black, a delinquent student from Majisuka Gakuen.
An underlying theme of the show also seems to be about how much people hide behind their clothes. The Goku Uniforms are able to alter a person's appearance into something much more appealing, as seen by the unfortunate thief in the first episode. In contrast, both Satsuki and Ryuko have their bodies exposed in their uniforms' super forms, which give them no chance to hide behind them.
The walls of the school shown in several scenes, as well as some character sequences in Episode 3.
The launch sequence of the SS Naked Sun.
Covers Always Lie: The second opening features Ryuko and Satsuki locked in mortal combat. Beside that one fight after Satsuki takes over Kansai, and again when Ryuko was Brainwashed and Crazy, they haven't fought since. In fact they join forces.
Creation Sequence: As Senketsu understands why he was created, memories of his creation returns to him. It involves carefully layering one Life Fiber over another, very different from normal clothes.
Creator Provincialism: When in the second half of the series the Big Bad's threat becomes global, all of the action is still happening in Honnouji and the immediate surroundings. The rest of the world is mentioned a couple times (REVOCS' acquisition of the clothing market in China and India, for instance) and is not even seen until the last episode, and even then it's just a few scenes with the Eiffel Tower Effect in full force. Oh, and during Ryuko and Ragyo's final battle in low Earth orbit Japan is still the only country that can be viewed from space.
Both of Ryuko's fights with Fukuroda, with him easily winning the first, and her complete dominating him in the second. Ira's battle with a hapless mook in the first scene is also this.
Ryuko ends up on the receiving end of quite a few of these as well with her two fights against Tsumugu, and her rematch with Sanageyama is less of a fight and more of a massacre.
Nui Harime is the living, breathing incarnation of this trope, always standing out on top without a scratch in every fight. With the exception of her fight with Isshin Matoi, who injured her several times, even managing to put out one of her eyes. In more recent episodes, Ryuko has proven to be an increasingly difficult foe for Nui to fight.
In episode 18, Satsuki defeats Rei in literally two seconds, the "battle" ending with Rei being sent flying and slammed into a faraway wall.
Ragyo gives a devastatingly one-sided beat down to Satsuki, her own daughter.
In episode 22 Ryuko defeats Nui thoroughly and handily.
Curb Stomp Cushion: During Nui's fight with Isshin, she completely mops the floor with him, and the most he can retaliate with is two solid blows to her stomach that only wind her momentarily, and she strikes a mortal blow anyway. Then Ryuko shows up and distracts Nui for the moment needed for her father to pick up his weapon again and slash her eye out. This does little more than royally piss her off, and he still dies, but the injury is enough to make her abandon the mission without fully completing her objective, and she's still smarting about it long afterwards.
The end of Episode 13. Satsuki's invasion begins, Mako is forced to take part of it, Nui completely defeats Ryuko and destroys Senketsu, and the shredded pieces are used to further her invasion.
At the end of episode 18. Satsuki was completely crushed by her mother, her Bakuzan broken and Junketsu taken from her and her entire army sans Elite Four under Ragyo's control. Elite Four are up against Nui's clones and Hououmaru while Ryuko just got her heart torn out by Ragyo in an even more twisted version than normal of Luke, I Am Your Father. Oh and COVERS have awakened and are apparently about to start eating people.
Death Course: On the annual No-Late Day, the No-Star students are put through a gauntlet starting at the 4 AM siren, and must make it to school before the bell rings at 8:30. Any who arrive late are expelled on the spot.
Ryuko and Senketsu defeat Sanageyama in Episode 6 this way by cutting off a piece of Senketsu and using the scraps of cloth to blind Sanageyama. It doesn't work in their rematch, since Sanageyama doesn't use his eyes any more.
It happens again in Episode 23, with Ryuko letting herself get cut in half by Ragyo, putting up just enough defense so her Life Fibers aren't completely severed, as part of a ploy to get to the core of the Primordial Life Fiber.
And again in Episode 24. Ragyo stabs Ryuko with a large spike in an attempt to fatally wound her. However, due to Senketsu's absorption ability, they ends up absorbing the entirety of the Shinra Koketsu along with the Absolute Domination ability which Ryuko uses to send a signal that frees humanity from the consumption of Life Fibers, putting a stop to the Primordial Life Fiber's plan.
Nui Harime really takes Limited AnimationUp to Eleven, like in Episode 21, when she's being shot at in full fluid motion, but is floating around like a beginner's Flash animation.
Determinator: Ryuko the protagonist is a Determinator but she knows when she is outmatched and withdraws from combat on the first opportunity. Satsuki, the antagonist, is also a Determinator but she actually never backs off no matter how hard the fight becomes for her.
Dismantled MacGuffin: The Scissor Blade, half of which is in Ryuko's possession, and the other in Nui Harime's.
Disproportionate Retribution: The Student Council are fond of using torture and execution as the solution for any crime. It's implied to happen on a regular basis.
When Ryuko first finds Senketsu, he tries to undress her and force her to wear him. Then the camera pulls back and we can see him ripping off her clothes while she protests, and then she explodes with power.
Not to mention Satsuki putting Junketsu on for the first time. Considering Satsuki's father described it as her "wedding dress"... The undertones become much, much creepier when Ragyo Mind Rapes Ryuko and she has a vision where she's standing beside a faceless groom at a chapel while in a wedding dress. Did we mention that Junketsu is being sewed to her skin while this is happening? Yeah...
In Episode 8, Gamagoori uses his Combat Sadomasochist powered-uniform, and remarks that the "punishment makes it bigger and harder." He may not have just been talking about his uniform. Mako even calls him a "pervert" in response.
The members of Nudist Beach holster their guns in front of their crotches, with the barrel facing down. At one point Aikuro is holding a giant Tailor's Dagger at crotch height and offers it to Tsumugu, who takes hold of it very...deliberately, and pulls it out of its sheath.
In episode 18, Ragyo beats the hell out of Satsuki and takes Junketsu from her...by stroking her crotch, followed by an explosion which leaves Satsuki unconscious. In other words, she stole her "purity".
Nudist Beach's already decidedly phallic battleship turning into a "naked blade" form and penetrating the Primordial Life Fibre's cocoon.
In episode 24, Ragyo powers up Shinra-Koketsu using a dress made of a merged Nui and the Primordial Life Fiber, and the noise she makes whilst taking off sounds very much like she's having an orgasm. Her speech at the time — "You feel amazing to wear, Nui!" — lends credence to this.
Are we not going to talk about the giant Life Fiber transmission tower that is, ahem, "disciplined" by Gamagoori, and proceeds to shoot liquid out the top? And was protected by a "big rubber barrier"?
The ending scene of the episode where the whole of Honnouji Academy are lying naked in a pile has Satsuki and Jakuzure lying next to each other, with Jakuzure's hand in a...suspicious position, to say the least.
Double Standard: Rape, Female on Female: Averted in the implied relationship between Ragyo and Satsuki since it's not portrayed as titillating and instead comes off as deeply disturbing, largely since Ragyo is Satsuki's mother and it's implied the abuse may have been going on for years.
Gamagoori kicks down a reinforced metal door within the first minute of Episode 1.
During their second fight, Tsumugu's boot (with him attached) flies through a window and straight into Ryuko, sending her crashing into the next room.
Ryuko even pulls one on a motorbike. Unfortunately for Gamagoori, his face happened to be in the way.
When Ryuko is goaded into attacking Ragyo and Nui, she uses Honnou Town's rail system to launch a cable car onto the academy grounds... and then launches her motorbike through a crowd of COVERS from said cable car.
Early Bird Boss: The first two club captains Ryuko fights, Takaharu Fukuroda (boxing) and Omiko Hakodate (tennis) have an entire episode in which they are a threat before being defeated, and give her a very tough time at that. After embracing Senketsu in episode 3, later club presidents are lucky to last one minute against her, and many don't even get a line in beforehand.
Earn Your Happy Ending: After fighting to prevent a World Domination plot, and then an alien invasion. The series ends with all of the heroes alive save for Senketsu and finally living a peaceful and normal life.
Easily Forgiven: The Mankanshoku family cheerfully break bread with the people responsible not only for Mako's kidnapping and assault, but for imposing a social order on the city that led to the Mankanshokus living below the poverty line.
Ryuko needs Senketsu's power to stand a chance against the student council, but his transformed state is very skimpy and in her first couple of fights wearing it Ryuko's blushing the entire time. She soon decides to get over this, which allows her to use Senketsu's power for much longer.
Subverted with Satsuki, when Ryuko asks how she can wear Junketsu transformed without being embarrassed. She tells Ryuko that if it will help accomplish her ambitions, she simply doesn't care.
Empathic Weapon: Kamui are made less powerful by being embarrassed to be seen in them, or otherwise rejecting them. It also causes them to drink far more blood than they normally would.
Establishing Series Moment: A teacher is in the middle of a rather boring lecture on the rise of Hitler when an enormous foot breaks down the door, which explodes. Gamagoori enters, a student drops a tear-gas bomb, Gamagoori jumps out a window to intercept him, the student dons his power-enhancing school uniform, and several mind-boggling camera angles later an epic Whip-im To Groundpork punishment ensues. After said student is hung on display as a warning to future would-be thieves, we get Satsuki's Establishing Character Moment. All within the first four minutes of the show.
Evil Gloating: Ragyo loves to just keep on talking and talking about how pathetic humanity is and how everything they're doing is pointless. Satsuki takes advantage of this to buy Ryuko time to save the day.
Evil Versus Evil: It's difficult to say whether you should root for Takarada or Honnouji Academy in Episodes 14 and 15, given that they're both pretty villainous, but for different reasons. And then, as it turns out, both of them were Good All Along.
After Satsuki first dons Junketsu in Episode 3, the opening in the following episode gets tweaked to show an aerial battle between Ryuko and Satsuki in their Kamui, replacing stock footage of Ryuko's debut from the first episode.
Before Episode 9, the red sky during this battle breaks away to reveal a blue one. Afterwards, the colors are switched, matching the red sky that looms over the King of the Hill final battle.
The second opening updates the clothing the main characters wear.
Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Anything and everything that Isshin gets to name winds up with a blunt description of what it is meant to do. Giant blades meant to cut Life Fibers apart? Rending Scissors. Secret organization meant to oppose a giant, tyrannical, clothing-based business empire? Nudist Beach. Newborn baby girl used in an experimental Transhuman operation that seems to fail and gets literally thrown away? One possible translation of Ryuko Matoi is "child abandoned by the collective".
Extreme Melee Revenge: In episode 22, Ryuko uppercuts, headbutts, knees, and finally dropkicks Nui through several meter-thick pieces of metal, having finally had it with her shit. To say nothing of the beatdown that follows.
Eye Scream: Two examples: the first being when Sanageyama gets his eyelids sewn together in order to advance his powers, the second being when Ryuko's father catches Nui Harime off guard as they battle and cuts her left eye out. Blood is shown literally gushing out of the socket. Nui's horrified scream doesn't help, either.
Sanageyama's Blade Regalia has eyes in every opening, greatly enhancing his ability to see everything with precise detail. The second model ditches these eyes once Sanageyama gets rid of his own, essentially becoming his eyes.
Ragyo massaging Satsuki in the bath in Episode 16. What would normally be a case of Girl on Girl Is Hot fanservice is seriously offset by the undertones of Parental Incest and the visible discomfort from the latter. There's a reasonRagyo is known as Mama Bad Touch by the fandom.
You can see Mataro's penis several times in Episode 17, as his suit is painted on. There are also a few instances where you can see it with his Nudist Beach uniform.
Even worse than the Episode 16 incident is a similar scene with Ragyo, Nui, and Brainwashed and Crazy Ryuko in the beginning of episode 21. Ryuko even kisses Nui near the end of it.
There's actually a nipple-slip on Ryuko's part in Episode 22. Of course, any arousal that this would have inspired is instantly void because she just ripped Junketsu off of her body, leaving her soaked in gallons upon gallons of her own blood.
Fanservice: Rampant. Using clothing as a source or symbol of power is a recurring motif in the series, and the concept of being (metaphorically, but also literally) naked is used as a sign of resolve. But at the end of the day, there's no shortage of scenes that are probably there for the sake of the fans as well.
Fighting Series: The main focus of Kill la Kill is the furious fighting scenes involving the main cast and whatever opponents get thrown their way.
If any combination of Ryuko, Satsuki, Nui or Ragyo are fighting one-another, expect this to be the order of the day, with sword-on-sword strikes occurring numerous times each second, with nobody really scoring so much as a glancing hit. (Added points for numerous Blade Locks.)
However, if the fight is any of those four vs. anyone else, it's usually over pretty quickly. Its also averted in the second opening sequence when Ryuko & Satsuki cross blades where they are very clearly drawing blood from one another with every strike.
A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted: In Episode 7, the Fight Club brings the Mankanshoku family into Two-Star lodgings, that is, until Satsuki pits Mako against Ryuko with a Three-Star uniform on the line, and Mako intentionally loses.
In the beginning of Episode 4, Ryuko has a nightmare where Senketsu gets cut into pieces. In Episode 13, this actually happens. And then they really hammer it in your head in the Cold Open in the subsequent episode, where Ryuko has the same dream.
Episode 12 has Ryuko's Scissor Blade fusing into her enraged form, while Episode 15 has Bakuzan giving off Life Fiber sparkles when tapped by Satsuki, both of which reveal that they are made from hardened Life Fibers, something not revealed until Episode 23.
Two cases from the second opening:
What are implied to be Junketsu's 'eyes' are shown to be far more alien in appearance compared to Senketsu, implying the true nature of Life Fibers.
In the same sequence, Senketsu is shown with both of his eyes open.
Early on, there was a brief discussion of the origin of Japanese school uniforms being derived from actual military uniforms. Appropriately enough, Satsuki has been building a student army to fight against Ragyo.
The underside of Ryuko's hair changes color when she uses Senketsu. One could think it is one of the effects of the transformation, but there is another character whose hair does the same thing, namely her mother, Ragyo Kiryuin. This detail foreshadows their connection and the fact that both Ragyo and Ryuko are half-human hybrids due to having some Life Fibers inside of them.
In episode 1, right as Ryuko's cloak is torn off by Fukuroda, "Blumenkranz"note Ragyo Kiryuin's leitmotif starts playing. In episode 18, it's revealed that Ryuko is Ragyo's daughter.
In the first opening, Ryuko is shown to appear at the center of a rainbow-colored light not unlike Ragyo.
In the first ending, the wedding dress which Ryuko stares at through a shop window is the same one she wears in her mental world after being brainwashed by Ragyo.
Four Is Death: The Elite Four, the highest-ranking members of the Student Council behind Satsuki herself.
A male student groping the butt of an oblivious female classmate during the scene where Ryuko calls out Satsuki.
A student with Gag Boobs for eyes staring at Ryuko when she shocks everyone by shrugging off Takaharu's punch.
Senketsu's and Ryuko's transformation as seen from the outside can reveal some rather creepy looking bits.
Nekomusume from GeGeGe no Kitaro appears as a No-Star student at Honnouji Academy in Episode 4. She also looks like the version of the character from the 1980s, which fits with the overall style of the series.
In the same episode, Mako's mother uses a dishwasher that is similar to the Famicom pad.
Friendly Enemy: Mako and Gamagoori seem to have a somewhat amicable relationship; such as when Gamagoori tries to take the Scissor Blade from Mako by threatening to give her no mercy, yet doesn't attack her.
From Bad to Worse: Episode 12 had Ryuko having just recovered from her berserker rage getting beaten up by her father's killer, Nui, and ended with Satsuki revealing that she had used all the information from Ryuko's fights to create an advanced army for her to conquer Kansai. In Episode 13 we have Ryuko having a BSOD over the events of the last episode, a student she inspired to fight turns out to be Nui just trying to mess with herandSenketsu gets ripped apart by Nui.
Sanageyama has attempted to keep fighting naked no less than twice.
This is also standard procedure for Nudist Beach combatants since they're, ya know, nudists.
Both Ryuko and Satsuki do this in episode 20; Ryuko slaughtering numerous COVERS, storming the academy on motorcycle and getting in another fight with Nui wearing nothing but a sheet cape, and a completely-nude Satsuki breaking out of her cell in the same academy and fighting her way outside with her hands bound and wielding nothing but sharpened fake toenails.
Gainaxing: Ryuko and Satsuki's Transformation Sequences are full of this. When they run or there is a power wind blowing (i.e. ALL the time in every fight), there is a lot of jiggling.
Generic Doomsday Villain: What Ragyo, Rei, and Nui end up being. Nui operates mostly on aimless malice until Ryuko enrages her enough to drive her to fully adopt the extinction of humanity as an active end goal, Rei has literally no characterization beyond her devotion to Ragyo's plans, and Ragyo herself never gives a concrete reason for specifically wanting to blow up the earth.
The Mankanshoku family has engaged in some Gratuitous English a few times. Barazo has addressed the others as "my family", and Mako as "my daughter". Mako herself has let out a shout of "Let's goooooo!" twice in one episode. Another has Sukuyo respond to a demand by Barazo with "Aye aye, sir!" while they all run out of the house.
Almost. When Tsumugu slides on his knees to avoid one of Berserk Ryuko's attacks, Nui is waiting to plant her scissor blade between his legs.
From Sanageyama's position after the attack, it's implied that he also got hit with one of these courtesy of Nui.
Ground-Shattering Landing: In Episode 6, Ryuko slams into the ground head first after Sanageyama (after being intentionally blinded) does a number on her. A zoom-out shows that the ground fractured for quite a distance.
Halfway Plot Switch: The first 11 episodes were a quirky little tale about trying to take on an oppressive school council while searching for the killer of Ryuko's father. However once Nui and later Ragyo show up, more of the plot is revealed and it essentially becomes an Alien Invasion story.
Heart Trauma: Ryuko watches in pure horror as Ragyo holds up her heart in front of her face after she removed it from her body, infused with Life Fibers and revealing that she's her long-lost daughter.
Heel-Face Turn: Satsuki goes up against Ragyo, her mother and CEO of REVOCS and the Kiryuin Conglomerate, revealing that her purpose for making the academy in the first place was to defeat her mother and rise up against the Life Fibers. Proving she needed Ryuko's help. Similarly, the Elite 4 and the rest of the remnants of Satsuki's forces join Nudist Beach, their former enemies, to fight the Life Fibers and save the world.
Heroic RROD: Senketsu, after absorbing Shinra Koketsu's power, finds out post-battle that it was too much for him to handle, and has caused him fatal, irreparable damage.
Heroic Sacrifice: Immediately following his realisation of the Heroic RROD (see above), Senketsu makes it his final action to ensure Ryuko reaches Earth safely, using himself to shield her from the heat and friction of atmospheric re-entry, but burning up himself in the process.
Ragyo Kiryuin, who can survive having her head cut off, save for one Life Fibre connecting the two severed ends of their neck. And this is after being Impaled with Extreme Prejudice and crucified! They even admit that they aren't fully human any more, due to being symbiotically fused with Life Fibres. By their own admission, Ryuko is the same as them.
Also, Nui Harime qualifies, due in part to their unnatural strength and speed, Psychotic Manchild tendencies, and sheer demonic presence, which is so terrifying that so much as a touch from them even scares the crap out of Senketsu. Also their ability to survive being engulfed in multiple C-4 blasts unscathed! All without the apparent help of Life Fibres. Confirmed by the lady herself in Episode 20.
Humans Are Bastards: There's a good reason why Satsuki refers to people as "pigs". Her system prevents people from becoming truly virtuous revolutionaries by offering all the pleasures in the world to those who have the power to challenge her.
Humans Are Flawed: On the other hand, Mako (yes) believes that humans are not pigs. She and her family turn their back from the pleasures the system can afford them because that system ground their friend Ryuko to dust.
Hypocrite: The fundamental hypocrisies in Satsuki and her subordinates' philosophies and actions are called attention to as the series progresses.
Gamagoori despises Ryuko's school-inappropriate Senketsu, but when she points out that Satsuki's Junketsu is just as skimpy, Gamagoori simply yells that Satsuki is an exception to the rules. Unlike the incident with Satsuki above, he doesn't even offer an argument, weak or not, for this.
During the Naturals Election, which is all about putting your position on the line to see if you're worthy of holding it, Satsuki spends the entire time camped out behind an impenetrable wall of Life Fibers. It's pretty hard to be tested for your position if you never allow anyone to reach you so you can be tested in the exact same way you are testing everyone else, right Satsuki?
Subverted with the results of the Naturals Election as Satsuki reinstates the Elite Four and it's doubtful she removed any of her favorites from their positions. However, she herself stated that they will be removed from their positions if they lose and then the new Elite Four will be formed with the students most worthy of being members of it becoming the new Elite Four, and the old Elite Four are clearly the most worthy in terms of both skill and loyalty; at least one of her favorites (Iori) is also non-replaceable but seeing as he was never defeated during the Naturals Election there was no need to remove him from his position, and we are not aware of any other favorites of hers who kept their positions (though they might exist).
The Idiot from Osaka: Inverted with Takarada. He's all the stereotypes of Osakan rolled into one character and he turns all those traits into his forte, allowing Osaka to effectively resist Satsuki's Raid Trip. Until Satsuki herself appears.
Individuality Is Illegal: Satsuki seems to be keen on turning every qualified student into a drone with her One-Star uniforms while only those who excel them being allowed to have individuality again.
Infant Immortality: Subverted when it's revealed that Satsuki's younger sister was experimented on with Life Fibers and then disposed of when the experiment failed. It's one of, if not the most, gut-wrenching scenes in the entire anime. Not five minutes later it's Double Subverted when Ragyo reveals that, not only did the baby survive, Ryuko is that baby.
In the Back: Satsuki impales her mother Ragyo from behind with her sword, then picks her up and throws her onto a protruding roof spike. Satsuki's real motive was to eliminate the Life Fibers and take down COVERS.
Ironic Echo: Episode 18 is full of echoes to episode 1:
Satsuki delivers a speech on Double Speak in episode 1, using it to belittle and oppress her subjects. She repeats the speech in episode 18 when she finally springs her trap at the Festival, but in the context of hiding her true motives from Ragyo and how her iron-fisted rule over her students is the only way to create an army capable of successfully rebelling against the Life Fibers.
When Ryuko and Satsuki first fight, Satsuki comments that Ryuko's goal of revenge is pathetic. Fast forward to episode 18 Ragyo says the same thing when Satsuki reveals she's rebelling to avenge her father and Dead Little Sister.
At the start of episode 1, Satsuki has a student who stole a One-Star uniform beaten, told he's not worthy of it, and then smashed into a wall after having the uniform removed. Ragyo does the same to Satsuki at the end of episode 18.
In episode 19, Satsuki is imprisoned inside a metal cage in a large, boxy room. That is probably the Time Out Chamber which Mako would have been thrown into for a month for distribution of anti-Satsuki newspapers. Now it's Satsuki herself who got thrown in there for a month for going against Ragyo.
In episode 10, during Nonon's flashback, Satsuki tells Nonon "a castle that is blown away with the first gust of wind is worthless" when talking to her about sandcastles. In episode 21, Ryuko, after beating Satsuki & Senketsu down, calls Satsuki "a pathetic princess standing atop a mere sandcastle" and remarks "one wave is all it takes to wash her kingdom away".
Irony: By the last episode, Aikuro and Tsumugu are the least naked people on Earth.
I Will Only Slow You Down: Invoked by Maiko Ogure (who has a broken arm) during the No-Late Day Death Course. After Ryuko takes her word for it, Maiko plays up the pain in the hopes of tagging along, and succeeds.
More than a few characters seem to have them as part of their backstories, either by being delinquents themselves (Ryuko, Sanageyama) or by fighting them (Gamagoori).
Even Satsuki herself is shown wearing a the typical uniform of a sukeban, or female delinquent, in flashbacks. This serves to foreshadow her andRyuko'srelationship.
Japanese School Club: A large number of them serve as the minions of Satsuki. They range from the common such as the Tennis Club, to the absurd such as the Tightrope Walking Club (it's stated that the number of them has significantly increased since Ryuko's arrival, since Satsuki's standing challenge means that more of them have the chance to apply for Two-Star Uniforms and a chance to win a Three-Star).
Kung-Fu Sonic Boom: Several large ones occur during the confrontation between Ryuko and Satsuki. The final sonic boom was powerful enough to blow away all the nearby air, creating a vacuum strong enough to pull everything back in towards the point of impact with such speed that the colliding air and dust particles cause a secondary sonic boom. Considering that this happened in the third episode, this will probably be topped later down the road.
Large Ham: Most characters qualify, though Ira easily takes the cake with his fierce and undying loyalty to the rules and the president.
Layered Metropolis: The entire city is built like this, with the school on top, nice looking houses beneath, followed by identical concrete apartment buildings and ending in a giant slum. The star ranking of a student also decides which layer they and their families live.
Near the end of Episode 16, we're treated to a minute of just watching Ryuko and Mako just sitting. Mako is (failing) to stay awake, while Ryuko spends the whole time wrapping her head around The Reveal.
Done to horrible effect in episode 18 when we get a first person view of Ragyo beating the tar out of Satsuki, immediately preceded by a first person view of Satsuki receiving said beatdown.
The Kiryuin family have been building their base of power at Honnouji Academy ever since the school was founded.
Satsuki has been waiting to rebel against her mother ever since she was a child.
Isshin Matoi has been planning against the Kiryuin family ever since he became disgusted with the way Ragyo discarded their daughter when she was just a baby. He even died before the plan was finished.
The Primordial Life Fiber has waited since before mankind evolved to execute its plan, and actually helped humans evolve to make it happen!
In Japanese, REVOCS is referred to as the "Kiryuin Zaibatsu" where "zaibatsu" roughly translates to "conglomerate" in English, but implies a specific sort of monopolistic business empire (linked to a powerful family) found in pre-WWII Japan. It carries connotations of a "large, sinister corporation" and is actually the first hint to anyone Japanese that REVOCS and Ragyo are very important to the plot, something which can't really be communicated to non-Japanese viewers.
Similarly, fansub groups have failed to translate some terms. Such as the "Goku" (極制服) Uniforms being translated into English as "Goku" (which conjures up the imageof something else), but the term "Goku Uniform" (極制服) roughly translates to 'Uniform of Ultimate-Oppression'. Since that doesn't really sound right in English, some fansubbers instead substituted the term "Ultima".
Senketsu's final form, Kisaragi, is named after an old Japanese word for February, which was traditionally the time when one would start wearing spring clothes. Naturally, this is a hard concept to get across to non-Japanese, so some fansubbers instead settled for "Fashion Week", which is held in New York in February.
In Japanese, certain concepts are conveyed through homophones. The pronunciation of "fashion" is similar to "Fascism", for instance, and "school uniform" sounds the same as "conquest". These puns can't be translated.
In Episode 22, Inumuta makes an untranslatable pun when Sanageyama picks a fight with Jakuzure: he uses the term "konnyaku mondou", which roughly means "useless chatter", but also contains the word for "konjac", since Sanageyama's family own a konjac shop.
Lovecraft Lite: It is revealed that the Life Fibres incorporated into REVOCS' clothing and the Goku Uniforms are actually part of an ancient extraterrestrial entity that has been guiding human evolution, and intends to devour all of humanity before blowing up the earth to scatter its progeny throughout the cosmos. The protagonists' response: impale it with a battleship.
Lucky Charms Title: Not of the anime itself, but of many of the tracks from the OST contain numbers and symbols such as "=", "@", "◎" and "♪".
Lyrical Dissonance: During Episode 8, Mako sings a road song about going on a drive to hell in a cheery tone.
The Mafiya: The Kami-Kobe High School American Football team has the Russian mafia smuggle in a (probably) Russian tank and improve its armor. The tank is defeated, but it still looked cool.
Magical Girl Warrior: The series borrows a lot from the prototypical example of the trope, Go Nagai's Cutey Honey, from Ryuko's revealing costume to her murdered father starting her quest as well as also being responsible for the source of her powers (in this case, her uniform, a keepsake from her father). Interestingly enough, one of the original Cutey Honey manga was written by Getter Robo's Ken Ishikawa, someone who Kill la Kill writer Kazushi Nakajima is a big fan of. Ishikawa also influenced the team's previous work, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
Magic Pants: Given that this is a "magical clothes" anime, no amount of shape-shifting from Gamagoori can destroy whatever he's wearing.
Martial Arts and Crafts: Overlaps with I Know Madden Kombat. Apparently just about every school club activity, including but not limited to sports, can become a deadly fighting style - assuming you wear the right uniform for the task. However, actual fighting techniques are more effective. Lampshaded by Ryuko, when she is challenged by the tennis club president to a tennis duel and wonders why she can't just beat her up without any regard for sport rules, like she did with her previous opponent, the boxer. Eventually, she decides that beating the enemy at their own game would be more humiliating and decides to roll with it.
Episode 5 can be summarized as Ryuko vs. Tsumugu with Nonon's cultural clubs in the crossfire.
Episode 12 can be summarized as Berserk Ryuko vs. Nui Harime vs. Tsumugu vs. Junketsu Satsuki.
Men Are the Expendable Gender: So far the vast majority of characters who have died are male.note All the many dead or dying nameless students that are shown during the No-Late-To-School Day and Naturals Election are male. All the mooks Gamagoori (presumably) kills and the student soldiers are male as well. Particularly foul in that the student population has been shown in various episodes to be a roughly 50/50 gender split...
Mexican Standoff: How the fight between Ryuko and Satsuki in Episode 15 ends. They both accept the draw.
Might Makes Right: In a city ruled by a hierarchical system based on the strength of their uniforms, this is to be expected.
Mini Dress Of Power: Omiko (a tennis dress with a skirt made of balls), Nonon (a feminine drum major's outfit), and Nui (a sweet lolita-style gown).
The Mole: Episode 17 reveals that Satsuki, the head of the Sewing Club, and the Elite Four have all been working against the Kiryuin agenda for years.
Mood Whiplash: The second ED — which is incredibly cute, sweet and adorable — plays when the show gets Darker and Edgier, and can really offset moments like Ragyo revealing herself to be Ryuko's mother. On the other hand, given the much darker nature of the second half of the anime — as well as the anime's tendency to leave off on hard-hitting cliffhangers — it can serve as a well-needed pick-me-up afterwards. While Episode 23 ends on a high enough note for the ending to not count as one, there's one mid-credits once Nui shows up and Ragyo reveals her master plan.
Mook: One-Stars; Ryuko can beat whole gangs of them into a pulp even without her Kamui.
Moses in the Bullrushes: As revealed in episode 18 Ryuko was coldly discarded by Ragyo, thinking her Life Fiber experiments on the infant Ryuko were a failure, but she had her death faked by her father Soichirou, who assumed the cover Isshin Matoi and raised her in secrecy.
This is taken to absurd lengths in Episode 14, where the Kansai region schools defend themselves with any and all clichés associated with the area, from Kobe beef to gossiping Osakan grannies.
Mysterious Parent: Both Ryuko and Satsuki have them: Ryuko's father designed a Kamui that was apparently intended for her and was later killed; Satsuki's father had one prepared for her, and her mother is head of the academic board. When you put them all together, the mystery vanishes: Ryuko and Satsuki are full blooded sisters; Isshin Matoi is Soichirou Kiryuin after faking his death and changing his appearance, making Isshin/Soichirou Satsuki's father and Ragyo Ryuko's mother.
Never Trust a Title: Despite the series's name and giant, blood-spattered logo, there are only a handful of character deaths at the end. The only actual killing is in a flashback (Isshin Matoi's murder, which kicks off the show), and all the rest are suicides of some variety.
No, I Am Behind You: Ryuko does this to Nui in episode 22 in order to show-off her newly acquired powers as an awakened Life Fiber hybrid wearing a perfectly synchronized Kamui.
No Sell: Takaharu's attacks on Ryuko, after she acquires her super-uniform, are about as effective as spitwads fired at a tank. This generally happens when someone strikes an opponent with a higher-level uniform.
Not Me This Time: Inverted. Ryuko tends to blame everything on Satsuki, from her father's death, which Nui and Ragyo are responsible for, to destruction of Osaka which was actually caused by Takarada's reckless army. Instead of claiming innocence Satsuki usually takes the blame in order to further manipulate Ryuko and keep the vengeful girl focused on her.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: At the end of episode 21. Ryuko throws her scissor blade into Nui, impaling her and flinging her across the ship and into a wall. All this accomplishes is giving Nui both halves of the scissor. Subverted, as Nui is swiftly disarmed — in both senses of the term — early in the next episode.
Battles against Goku Uniform-clad combatants almost always end with the loser butt-naked. Played for Laughs sometimes and Fanservice others. Ryuko's finisher can even be translated as "Stripped of the will to fight".
Episode 19 introduces a weapon that literally sucks a person out of their clothes that have been imprisoning people and using them as a power source. It doesn't do anything besides immobilize Ryuko when she wears Junketsu though, because Nui sewed them together.
Offhand Backhand: The Elite Four (sans Jakuzure) do this repeatedly while walking through a crowd of No-Stars in Episode 8.
Episode 4 is drawn in a very cheap-looking style, and uses a bare minimum of animation when it can get away with it. The quality is used as much as a stylistic homage to the infamous fourth episode of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann as it is to cut down on costs.
Mako's face is constantly lacking a nose, and given the series' art style it's hard to tell when it's intentional, and when it's just bad outsourcing.
Ominous Fog: Always seems to be drifting around Honnou Town, particularly the academy.
Only Like Can Cut Like: Only Life Fibers can combat fellow Life Fibers. To this end Nudist Beach experimented with them and developed Senketsu. To the point that the Rending Scissors and all other anti-Life Fiber blades are made of compacted Life Fibers themselves.
Only the Chosen May Wield: In a sense, anyway: Kamui can only be worn by certain individuals (see Power Level below). Even a Five-Star uniform made with 50% Life Fiber turns its user into a mindless berserker. Kamui (made entirely out of Life Fibers) require a truly exceptional (or at least shameless) person to wear them properly.
It's eventually revealed that Satsuki isn't actually "properly wearing" Junketsu, so much as forcing it to let her wear it. This is evidenced by how drained it leaves Satsuki, how it has to be forcibly removed from her, subdued, then restrained and trapped behind reinforced glass. And it still thrashes wildly even then.
It's even more specific with Senketsu who will allow only Ryuko to wear him and will resist anyone else, due to her inborn resistance to the effects of Life Fibers. That said, Senketsu allows Satsuki to wear him in episodes 20 and 21 in order to try to subdue the brainwashed Ryuko.
Only Ryuko can truly use Senketsu to full effect anyway, since Ryuko's DNA was used in Senketsu's creation.
Whenever characters bleed High-Pressure Blood, this is usually the case. It's particularly egregious in Episode 12, when Ryuko mutates into a twisted berserker form, spurting blood all over the place like a leaky fire hose, in volumes that simply could not exist in a human body.
Even the credits take this trope to its Logical Extreme, with Ryuko and Satsuki literally painting the title logo red with the blood they spill while fighting. See here, at 1:03.
Panty Shot: Surprisingly for a show with such heavy fanservice, these are few and far-between, and generally so subtle that it counts as a Freeze-Frame Bonus.
Exaggerated with Jakuzure's Symphony Regalia: Finale, which features the least amount of clothing of all the Elite Four's final Goku Uniforms; the only thing she's wearing is a c-string.
Parental Abandonment: Ryuko's parents are dead. Her mother died when she was young, while her father died on the hands of the one carrying the other half of the Scissor Blade. It turns out her mother is still alive. She's Ragyo, and she really did abandon her for dead as a failed experiment.
He does the same later with Mako, this time giving her his back.
Powered Armor: Goku Uniforms don't have to resemble this to augment the wearer's abilities, but the Scourge◊ and Blade◊ Regalia are very much your standard bulky mechanized suits. Until the final version that is.
The power of a particular uniform is signified by the percentage of Life Fiber sewn into it, which in turn is denoted by the number of stars it has: One-Star uniforms are 10%, Two-Star uniforms are 20%, and so on. Kamui such as Senketsu and Junketsu, which are made entirely out of Life Fiber (making them Ten-Star uniforms!), are the most powerful kind of uniform.
An even more literal version in episode 23 when we're shown a simulation of Mako without her uniform and then with it, showing the power levels of her various body parts to go from 0000 to 9999!Except her head.
The Scissor Blade, half of which is possessed by Ryuko. They exist to cut Goku Uniforms to bits. The Blade also has a very important secondary application. Life Fibers cannot regenerate when both are being used by one person. This is why Nui couldn't regenerate the eye that Isshin cut, and Ryuko later slices off her arms permanently once she recovers both blades.
Tsumugu's ammunition is designed to sever the connection between a Goku Uniform and its wearer. They are much less effective at the job than the Scissor Blade though, requiring a substantial amount of needles to take effect. In their second fight, he spends the entire fight nailing Ryuko with enough needles to make a hedgehog jealous before he finally brings her down. To his credit, if it had been anything other than a Kamui, it would have fallen a lot earlier.
Privately Owned Society: Honnou Town is this as every aspect of life is controlled by the Student Council. It's mentioned that "If the Kiryuins approve it, anything is allowed".
The "kiru" in the title can be rendered as Engrish for "kill", or as Japanese which means "to cut" or "to wear (put on)". One could render the title as Dressed to Kill.
And "la", or "ra", is a homophone for "naked" (most commonly as "zenra", "completely naked").
The series in general is filled with puns and double-meanings of words related to clothing and oppression, the two major themes.
The show's Chinese name translates to both "The Girl Who Cuts Cloth" and "The Girl Who Cuts By Dual-Wielding".
Episode 17 reveals that Satsuki and Nudist Beach take the title literally: Kill the Wearables.
Punishment Box: Gamagoori claims that Mako's actions in Episode 13 would normally merit one month in the academy's Time-Out Chamber.
Pyrrhic Victory: The defense of Osaka. Honnouji Academy forces are successfully beaten back by the combined forces of Takarada, Nudist Beach, and Ryuko, but all the parties involved have suffered devastating losses, not to mention that Osaka itself is a smouldering ruin.
Recap Episode: Parodied in Episode 16 where Senketsu Motor Mouths the summary of the series up to that point in little over a minute.
Meta-example. A shot from an early episode displayed some numbers reflected off of sunglasses that Mako was wearing. If flipped over, these numbers could be read as the phrase "21 I DIE". Come episode 21, Mako comes extremely close to being killed by Nui and Ryuko at different points, but she survives the episode, albeit sans clothes.
It's also hinted that Ryuko may be related to Kinue and Tsumugu Kinagase due to their physical resemblance, specifically the red steaks in their hair. This is jossed, however, when we find out that Ryuko is actually a Kiryuin meaning that the resemblance was quite literally a red hairing!
Red Shirt: The One-Star students all appear to be this: not only do they absorb the brunt of this series' massive amounts of collateral damage, but they appear practically identical, and even live in identical, featureless homes.
Red String of Fate: The threads of Life Fiber that power the Goku Uniforms (and are absorbed by Senketsu after battle) are literal red strings. These same red strings are revealed to be what Kamui are made of, the only two seen so far of which are in the possession of Ryuko and Satsuki. Furthermore, to get to Satsuki, Ryuko has to defeat Goku Uniform users and absorb red strings—Ryuko is literally tracing a path (of destruction) made of red strings leading to Satsuki. Made even more obvious in the opening that traces a red string starting from Ryuko and ending with Satsuki.
The Anti-Kiryuin group, Nudist Beach. They stand against the Kiryuin regime by "not becoming their pigs in clothing", therefore deliberately code themselves as "StripperifficPeople." Currently, we have Mikisugi and Tsumugu who are part of this group, which explains why they act the way they do, seriously.
Episode 17 reveals that Satsuki and the Elite Four have been working as an entirely separate resistance group this entire time. Episode 18 has them all except Satsuki, who's been captured joining Nudist Beach.
Retraux: It emulates the visual style of anime of the 80s.
Ryuko is an exhibitionist, which she vehemently denies. Also counts as Lampshade Hanging over her ridiculous uniform.
Mako being picked up, and then put down again in a standing position without her even so much as flinching.
Mako's melodramatic explanations for things. They come off as stupefying even for people living in a World of Ham.
Whenever Aikuro explains something, he's bound to do it while stripping and sparkling.
Sanageyama has a habit of being beaten by women the first time he challenges them; Satsuki in middle school, Ryuko when he issues a challenge, and Nui Harime when she interrupted his second rematch with Ryuko.
Mikisugi hates the name "Dotonbori Robo" and will insistently correct anyone who uses it.
Save the Villain: Upon defeating Ragyo, Ryuko tries to convince her to come back to humanity and try to live a normal life. However in one last act of defiance, Ragyo crushes her own heart, refusing to allow anyone to control her fate.
Schizo Tech: Despite severe technological advances in the clothing industry, even the most advanced of computers (including portables and handhelds) still use monochrome LCDs.
Ryuko spends the first three episodes complaining how skimpy Senketsu's combat form is. Satsuki expects a level of chivalry from her subjects, but otherwise doesn't care how skimpy her outfit is if it means more power.
Inverted in the long run, as clothes are fascist. The trope actually gets an explanation in episode 21, where Satsuki reveals that minimizing direct skin contact reduces the Life Fibers' mind control, also explaining the brainwashed Ryuko's much more conservative version of Junketsu.
When Satsuki puts on Junketsu for the first time, the fabric of its skirt is seen stretching towards her feet while she struggles with it for dominance. When Ryuko is later forced to wear the same outfit, her skirt extends into ankle-length hakama as well.
Sequel Hook: Episode 24 has a couple of loose ends that raise the possibility of a sequel.
Just before committing suicide, Ragyo says there are plenty more Life Fibers left in the universe and that one day, they will return to haunt the earth.
There's also Rei's ultimate fate being unclear, leaving the possibility open for her return.
Literally everything related to school life is considered serious business. Students can be executed for breaking rules. Tennis matches against rival schools are referred to as "armed suppression" and considered part of a larger pattern of conquest. Even the sewing club is less of a school club and more of an R&D laboratory for creating and further developing the weaponized uniforms.
Nui is an extremely twisted example, as she squees with delight commenting how Ryuko and Satsuki are in your own little world! There is no room for anyone else! in episode 12, as Satsuki and berserk Ryuko fight to the death.
The series' ending shows the rest of the Elite Four being this for Mako/Gamagoori.
Shoo Out the Clowns: Surprisingly averted. Despite the plot getting progressively darker and serious in the second half of the series, Mako continues to be a relevant character and never loses too much focus, and that includes the finale and her comic relief tendencies are kept in tact. Even her family, whom have a far less active role, aren't kept out of the loop completely.
Shoulders of Doom: Both Kamui Senketsu and Junketsu provide their owners with huge shoulder pauldrons. Though, Satsuki's are bigger and point up, while Ryuko's are thinner and point to the sides.
Shown Their Work: This show touches upon how ordinary Japanese school uniforms were originally based on military uniforms, and also contains myriad references to the fashion world and sewing in general.
Single-Stroke Battle: Episode 7 sees Ryuko dishing this out quite a few times, as she takes on the many club presidents who attempt to rise to Three-Star by defeating her.
Invoked, then subverted; the Student Council is forbidden from attacking Ryuko until she has defeated all club presidents, and Satsuki herself will only fight herself when the council has also been defeated. Defied by Sanageyama, who wants to (and gets to) fight early on. Satsuki deliberately holds back to ensure Ryuko survives and grows in experience so Ryuko can be incorporated into Satsuki's revenge plan. Her manipulation keeps Ryuko away from the far more dangerous REVOCS, but eventually ensures Ryuko rebels against her allies and falls into Ragyo and Nui's hands.
Defied again in Ryuko's fight with Nui. Ryuko jumped straight from fighting the 1st Season's Quirky Miniboss Squad to fighting the 2nd Season's Dragon.
Part of Episode 5 is set to upbeat classical music conducted by Jakuzure, while Ryuko stumbles upon traps and hordes of slaughtered Mooks Tsumugu has scattered about.
In episode 10, Ryuko and Jakuzure's battle is set to several other Standard Snippet classical pieces, specifically Josef Wagner's "Under the Double Eagle," Franz von Suppe's "Light Cavalry Overture", Rossini's "William Tell Overture", Jacques Offenbach's "Infernal Galop" (AKA "The Cancan Song"), and Beethoven's "Fifth Symphony", the last of which averting the dissonance of the previous pieces.
Averted with the second OP, which shows just enough hints about the fact that Satsuki and Ryuko are both gunning for Ragyo without outright spoiling it. The fact that Ryuko and Satsuki's rivalry is heavily emphasized helps a lot.
It was, however, played straight in a meta sense, since Trigger didn't want to show it until after episode 16 (instead of the traditional switching of the opening at the halfway point in a two-cour series), when the Elite Four get some upgraded outfits.
Spoof Aesop: Greedily going for instant short-term rewards is bad. Instead, wait until everybody else is worn out and pickpocket them afterwards.
Starfish Aliens: Life Fibers arrived on Earth back when homo sapiens first began to walk, and have been feeding on humans ever since.
States Of Phlebotinum: Life Fibers come in normal and hardened varieties, the latter is what is able to cut the former.
At the end of Episode 17, Ragyo Kiryuin is impaled in the back by Satsuki with Bakuzan and thrown onto a crucifix-like platform. Satsuki then reveals that she actually led Honnouji Academy as a way to stop the Life Fibers from controlling humanity. Satsuki backstabbed her mother both figuratively and literally.
In episode 12. Ryuko confronts Satsuki about Harime Nui, but Satsuki reveal's that she was the one who sent Nui after Dr. Matoi note Though this is later revealed to be a lie in order to prevent Ryuko from going after Nui on her own. She also reveal's that the Naturals Election and the King of the Hill Battle was all to improve her army and upgrade the Goku uniforms for her final invasion of the Kansai region.
In episode 19. It reveals that Satsuki has false toenails made of the same material as her sword Bakuzan, and was thus indeed prepared to escape her confinement.
Senketsu, when worn by Ryuko. While this trope is played straight, it's also consistently lampshaded:
Omiko: "That looks both painful and embarrassing, you masochistic exhibitionist!"
Satsuki becomes one later on in Episode 3 with her Junketsu and she is not embarrassed by it.
Nudist Beach completely take the cake by going to war wearing only gloves, boots, and utility belts.
Subverted when post-Face-Heel Turn Ryuko wears Junketsu. Even though it's a little revealing, it's still the most modest Kamui transformation yet.
The Elite Four's Ultimate Configuration Three-Star Uniforms are much more skimpy than their usual getup, looking much more like a Kamui.
Super Power Meltdown: Using too much Life Fiber in a uniform eventually will make the user lose all control, becoming a raging hulk. Conversely, Kamui are too powerful for most people to be able to use.
The Symbiote: The nature of Life Fibers is revealed to be alien lifeforms that feed on the neural impulses of living organisms. To survive through centuries, they cover the skin of humans and feed on their energy without overwhelming their host.
Take Me to Your Leader: The first time she sets foot inside Honnouji Academy, Ryuko demands an audience with whoever is running the place. Well, it doesn't take long for that to happen.
Milked for all its worth in Episode 18, when Satsuki seems to run on the spot for about a minute while exchanging threats with Ragyo.
Invoked and Averted near the end when Satsuki intentionally distracts Ragyo by getting her to start gloating so that Ryuko can attack the Primordial Life Fiber. Satsuki then mocks Ragyo for wasting time to brag.
Teenage Wasteland: The principal and teachers of Honnouji Academy are painfully aware that they are merely slaves to the Student Council President. In this case, however, it's said president's connection to her mother, the chair of the academic board, that gives her such authority.
Theme Music Power-Up: Whenever Ryuko is about to deliver an epic beatdown, the "Don't Lose Your Way!" portion of her theme, "Till My Body is Dry" fires up. The epic orchestral version of the music in question also gets play, especially during later episodes.
The Kamui have names that end in "-ketsu" (although their meanings are different). This includes Senketsu, Junketsu, and the gigantic "Ultimate Kamui" Nui made for Ragyo, Shinra-Koketsu.
Appropriately, many characters also have names related to clothes or the making of them.
There Was a Door: In Episode 4, Ryuko and Mako narrowly escape the No-Late Day Death Course by crashing through their homeroom class's wall on a hijacked monorail just as Ryuko is being called for attendance.
Time Skip: Between the end of episode 24 and the credits scene - there is an establishing shot of Honnouji at the beginning of the credits sequence, followed by a shot of the same location, but with the school and town completely gone; this indicates that the scene in the credits likely takes place several months after the events of the series (and definitely after the OVA).
Too Awesome to Use: The infamous Anti-Life Fiber Bullet, mentioned halfway through the series by Aikuro and Tsumugu, and never once put to test or even shown again. It's possible that this was an aborted plot point, rather than an intentional choice by the characters.
Tournament Arc: The Naturals Election has shades of this, except that only the Elite Four are fighting Ryuko and not anyone else.
Training from Hell: Living and studying at Honnouji Academy is a real exercise in survival, what with iron-fisted disciplinarians, navigating Death Courses, and dealing with abusive club presidents. It all starts to make sense, though, when Satsuki reveals that the academy is actually a huge boot camp where she has been preparing herself an army to fight Ragyo and Life Fibers.
Transformation Sequence: Ryuko and Satsuki both have nearly identical ones when they awaken their Kamui's full power.
Transformation Is a Free Action: Played straight for most of the series, although subverted in episode 24 when Ragyo smashes the Ultimate Double Naked DTR during its transformation sequence.
Happens every time there's a big battle, but most notably with Episode 12, which has a berserk Ryuko trash Honnouji Academy to the extent that construction crews are seen working to repair it several in-universe days after.
Then, there's Osaka, which is not only mostly destroyed by the School Raid Trip, but is completely razed when Ryuko and Satsuki fight using the full extent of their powers. Scenery Gorn included as standard.
By the end of episode 24, the academy is completely and utterly demolished after the fight finishes. Although, it doesn't pose a problem anyway, seeing as it's torn down later due to having already served its purpose as a base camp for Satsuki.
Troper Critical Mass: Look at how extensive the main page is. Look at all the tabs (and they're all sizable pages, too). Look at how the character sheet had to be split into separate pages. The show has caught on like wildfire.
Troperiffic: Like you wouldn't believe. A Hot-Blooded loner who fights against an established rule to avenge her father along with her wacky best friend, and gains a rival who's her complete opposite in every way. And that's just the beginning of the series; as it continues, it pours on even more tropes on top of the ones already established. Considering theworks the directors have previously worked on, this was more than likely intentional.
More importantly, a good amount of the plot is seemingly devoted to showing how Ryuko and Senketsu become this, in contrast to Satsuki who has to dominate Junketsu and is exhausted after every time she uses it.
Later on, it's pretty obvious that Satsuki and the Elite Four are this as well.
And by the finale, all of the aforementioned groups are this to each other.
Twinkle In The Sky: In Episode 7, Barazo, Mataro, and Guts get punched out like this by Ryuko when they peek in on her bathing.
Two Halves Make A Plot: Ryuko Matoi transfers to Honnouji Academy armed with one half of a sword-sized pair of scissors, and is in search for the one who stole the other half of the blade from her father, his killer.
Tyke Bomb: Both Ryuko and Satsuki. Their father motivated Satsuki to rebel against Ragyo, which fueled her desire and vendetta for thirteen years (meaning since she was five), while he raised Ryuko and created garments (Senketsu) and weapons (the Scissor Blade) for her to use against Ragyo when the time was right.
Unflinching Walk: Satsuki and her Elite Four casually stroll along as chaos and mayhem rage around them in Episodes 8 and 12.
Unmoving Plaid: Whenever Life Fibers temporarily form a three-dimensional object, it's animated with Tron Lines arranged like this. Most commonly seen with Two-Star Goku Uniforms, but Episode 18 reveals that Ryuko's heart has the same pattern, absolutely proving to Ragyo that Ryuko is her Life Fiber-spliced daughter. It also manifests during injuries to likewise augmented Nui and Ragyo herself.
Vagina Dentata: A rather disturbing example appears in Episode 12, when Ryuko transforms into her berserker form, effectively turning her entire pelvis into a huge, toothy mouth. Just look at this!◊Beware of spoilers in the link.
Sanageyama is effectively the protagonist of Episode 6 instead of Ryuko. In fact, when he's defeated halfway through the episode, it focuses less on Ryuko's victory and more on the radical Character Development Sanageyama undergoes in order to defeat her.
Also Episode 14, which focuses much more on the actions of Satsuki's army during their Battlefield Trip than on Ryuko running around Kansai collecting pieces of Senketsu.
Villainous Incest: Ragyo molests Satsuki in order to open her chakra gates and increase her attunement to Junketsu, and seemingly has a threesome with Nui and a brainwashed Ryuko while attaching Junketsu to the latter.
Villainous Rescue: In Episode 13 Satsuki steps in right when Nui tears Senketsu to pieces and is about to finish Ryuko off. She's even considerate enough to provide her a blanket to keep warm, afterwards!
Takarada's forces use literal clips to hold their money together.
Wake-Up Call Boss: So many. In the first episode, Takaharu Fukuroda is able to defeat Ryuko initially, after she blows through the One-Star Mooks with ease, which is also an Early Bird Boss. Episode 3 marks her first "real" fight against Satsuki, where she must embrace Senketsu in order to not suffer a Curb-Stomp Battle. In episode 6, she has to fight Sanageyama, and after he Took a Level in Badass after sewing his eyes shut, gets her ass kicked, only barely surviving. Then Nui Harime shows up and gives Sanageyama a massive dose of The Worf Effect, proceeding to spend the next few episodes making Ryuko miserable and causing a Heroic BSOD. Later still, Ragyo Kiryuin begins to take to the battlefield, and being Nigh Invulnerable isn't even the worst of her abilities.
Wham Episode: Episodes 16 - 18 may as well be called a Wham Arc.
Episode 16: It's revealed that Life Fibers are extraterrestrial life forms that accelerated human evolution so that humans would start wearing clothes, allowing Life Fibers to be worn by, and subsequently feed on, humans. Ragyo is actively working with the Primordial Life Fiber by using REVOCS to spread clothes containing Life Fibers to every person on the globe. It is also revealed that Ryuko's father used to work for Ragyo before finding out the truth and founding Nudist Beach to combat her. He also created Senketsu specifically to destroy other Life Fibers.
The end of Episode 17 through Episode 18: Satsuki finally rebels against Ragyo, literally backstabbing her before announcing her intent to take down COVERS. She also reveals that everything she's done, founding Honnouji Academy, setting up the Elite Four and the Goku Uniform system, was all part of her plan to stop Ragyo and the Primordial Life Fiber's plot. Then not only is Satsuki savagely beatenby her own mother (who proves herself night-immortal, then steals Junketsu for herself), but Ragyo goes on to subdue Ryuko by tearing her heart out...revealing that Ryuko is both fused with Life Fibers and is also Ragyo's daughter. The fact that the Primordial Life Fiber is now entering the fray with an entire army of COVERS almost seems like an afterthought compared to everything else that happened!
As if that wasn't enough, Episode 20 aired. We also find out that Nui is born out of the Primordial Life Fiber's womb, making her a Humanoid Abomination. We also see Ragyo brainwashing Ryuko into believing that she has a normal, happy life with her, resulting in the latter donning Junketsu with the intent of finishing Nudist Beach on their ship. That's right. After being one of the series' main protagonists for 20 episodes, Ryuko, of all characters, turns heel. Finally, we find out that Satsuki escaped and is now wearing Senketsu in order to defeat her younger sister.
In Episode 6, Ryuko has finally had enough of Aikuro's aloofness, and demands straight answers about what is going on, especially because she knows that the guy who just beat the living crap out of her was seen meeting him earlier.
In Episode 7, Mako calls out her own family for not trying to make her stop fighting Ryuko.
Where It All Began: It comes to pass that Honnouji Academy is the theater of the final confrontation between the heroes and Life Fibers, since the Primordial Life Fiber needed to combine with the transmitter located there to broadcast the signal that will activate COVERS all around the world.
Whole Plot Reference: Lessee... our main protagonist finds a powerful artifact and stands up against a powerful dictator who keeps the people subservient and oppressed, with the help of four elite generals. However, by the midpoint it turns out that the dictator is actually a Well-Intentioned Extremist who stands opposed to an evil alien race, the leader of which seems to think that humanity is too chaotic. The former dictator joins forces with the main character, and eventually the alien leader is painstakingly defeated in an epic battle that takes place in space.Hmmm, now where have I seen that before? Both shows also introduce a new female character midway through the series, with an extremely girly personality and a name that starts with "N". They play completely different roles in the story, though.
Sanageyama tends to suffer from this after Episode 6, in which his status as the strongest of the Elite Four is all but confirmed by him utterly curb-stomping Ryuko and Satsuki declaring his Shingantsu unrivalled. Then, in the Naturals Election, he defeats the greatest number of students and is slated for a dramatic rematch with Ryuko, only for Nui Harime to drop in and defeat him in all of two hits.
Played horrifyingly straight in Episode 18. Until then, Satsuki never lost a fight against any opponent. And then Episode 18 aired, where Ragyo mercilessly beat the living shit out of her, before ultimately finishing her by stripping Junketsu from her body and tossing her into a wall.
Nui also seems to be hit hard with this in the same episode, where Ryuko, having finally reached total synchronization with Senketsu, outperforms her on such a scale that she completely drops her usual overly cheerful and smug expression for one of pure shock. However, this just sets up another example, where a Junketsu-wearing Ragyo can easily flash step behind Ryuko and effortlessly pluck out her heart without Ryuko having time to react.
Workout Fanservice: There's official artwork◊ of Gamagoori, Sanageyama and Inumuta working up a nice sweat. Gamagoori is shirtless, Sanageyama gets to show off his arms, and Inumuta...has unzipped his jacket halfway (revealing a t-shirt).
World of Badass: Just how badass are these characters? The uniforms that the low-level Mooks wear boost their strength and reflexes to a superhuman level. Said mooks are sent flying in droves by the simplest of attacks from the named members of the cast.
World of Ham: Dear lord. EVERY! SINGLE! LINE! Is delivered with CONFIDENCE! AND BRAVADO! AND HOT-BLOODED FURY! And GIANT RED BLOCK CAPITALS ALL OVER THE SCREEN! Taken Up to Eleven in Episode 14.
Worthy Opponent: After their battle in Episode 3, Satsuki considers Ryuko one. Sanageyama also feels this way about her.
Wretched Hive: The slums of Honnou Town. Its citizens are well aware of this fact, even the kids.
In Episode 7, Satsuki tells the school that any club president who defeats Ryuko will be promoted to Three-Star, with all the privileges there-in. This causes most of the clubs to splinter, and dozens of newly minted presidents to throw themselves at Ryuko. If it had worked, Satsuki would have gotten rid of Ryuko and found a fifth student worthy of a Three-Star status. Instead, she is able to weed out dozens of weaklings and gain an excuse to call for a "Naturals Election".
She then allows each of the Elite Four to fight Ryuko one-on oneso she can better pinpoint the weaknesses in their uniforms and fix them before her impending invasion.
Every fight Satsuki sets up is either improving Ryuko or the students' capabilities.
Xtreme Kool Letterz: The OST track names are written with a mix of kanji, kana, Roman letters, and/or numbers. This is a signature style of the composer, Hiroyuki Sawano.
You Can't Thwart Stage One: In Episode 3, Ryuko actually fights against Satsuki twice. The first time is because she wasn't really focused, still embarrassed of her battle outfit. She overcomes it in the rematch and puts up a much better fight, but Satsuki handily defeats her again. Not that this rattles Ryuko's determination any.
Any student with a Goku Uniform who's defeated in combat is immediately stripped of his or her uniform (most of the time literally) and demoted to a No-Star.
Averted in Episode 6 when Sanageyama figures out what he did wrong, and has his eyes sewn shut in order to hone his other senses. That is enough to earn him a second chance.
Inverted in Episode 9 when Satsuki stops Gamagoori from killing himself after losing to Ryuko. He still ends up demoted, though. In addition, later on, Satsuki declares that despite the Elite Four's failures in the Naturals Election, she's not disappointed in them, feeling that they've grown stronger by learning from their mistakes. For that, she restores their ranks and eventually returns their uniforms, new and improved, to them.
Part of the series involves Ryuko finding out just who to tell this to. She finds out it was Nui Harime, and Ragyo Kiryuin was the one to send Nui.
And then in episode 18, we have Satsuki saying this to Ragyo, after she explains her motivations for what she did in the previous episode.
It gets kind of funny when it's revealed that both girls are fighting to avenge the same person. Isshin Matoi was the alternate identity of Souchirou Kiryuin that he assumed after he faked his death to raise Ryuko in secret from his former wife, and the girls' mother, Ragyo.