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Shoutout: Kill la Kill
As expected from show made by former Studio Gainax staff, Kill la Kill is absolutely overflowing with shout outs. The list below is in fact only a portion of all the known shout outs and references in the show. A more complete list is currently being compiled by the fans here.

General

  • Actor Allusion: Several cast members along with guest voice actors were part of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann 's main cast, so this factor has been played around for a little bit within the script.
  • Most of the main characters including the Ryuko, Mako, Satsuki, Mikisugi and the student council can be considered to be expys of characters from Cutey Honey and Re: Cutey Honey. See here.
    • Ryuko = Cutey Honey - Father killed by mysterious party. Seeks revenge using secret technology created by her father to transform into a scantily-clad warrior of justice.
    • Mikisugi = Seiji Hayami - Mysterious man with a connection to the protagonist and her father. Helps her discover her powers.
    • Mako = Honey Kisaragi - Genki Airhead that only desires friendship and food. Tends to get into risqué situations.
      • Mako also strongly resembles manga Natsuko - Cute, bubbly Damsel in Distress who immediately decides the new transfer student is her new best friend (and crush).
    • Mataro = Junpei - Perverted younger brother that has a crush on the protagonist and acts as comic relief
    • Satsuki = Natsuko Aki - No nonsense woman who doesn't have time to deal with the protagonist's issues. Not really sure if she's a friend of foe?
    • The Elite Four = Gold, Cobalt, Scarlet and Black Claw - 4 bosses leading up to the final boss.
    • Ragyo = Sister Jill - the imposing female Big Bad.
  • At the beginning of the series the main characters also have some similarity to the three female leads of Project A-Ko: a brash, impulsive, tomboyish girl (Ryuko / A-ko) is friends with a ditzy, hyperactive, childish classmate (Mako / C-ko) and is antagonized by a stern, snobbish and ultra-rich lady (Satsuki / B-ko) who is not afraid to don a skimpy super-suit if this means better chances of success.
  • Mako's design is similar to that of Pinoko from Black Jack, complete with her famous "Ohmigewdness!" pose in episode 3.
  • The last scene of the beginning credits features a gloved hand evidently grasping air, with details that suggest it may be a shoutout to Asuka's famous "I'll kill you" scene. Which, given the staff and the context of the story, might not be too far off.
  • The first ending is almost scene-to-scene identical to the ending of the 1985 live action version of the manga Sukeban Deka, as seen here.
  • The second ending pays homage to the first opening of Urusei Yatsura.
  • The ending credits list Guts, the Mankanshokus' dog, as voiced by "?" note  - Gainax already did this in FLCL where Miyu Miyu, Naota's cat, was credited as voiced by "?" (eventually revealed as Hideaki Anno).
  • The decision to translate Shitennō as "Elite Four" is likely a reference to Pokémon. They even challenge Ryuko to a Boss Rush in episode 8.
  • Honnoji Academy has a tall tower overlooking the school grounds similar to Ohtori Academy.
  • Honnoji City has a spiral highway going around it, Mako has a spiral watch, guess what other anime made by the creators also used spirals?
  • Each one of the Elite Four's Goku Uniforms has a Shout Out to the most well known works the staff of Studio Gainax produced.
  • The way the next episode previews cut to split-second frames of large white text on black is also used in Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • Satsuki's Kamui, Junketsu, bears some striking similarities to the eponymous Super Robot, of Gainax's Gunbuster.
  • Senketsu, on the other hand, bears an uncanny resemblance to Mazinger Z.
  • The X symbol on the soldier's "uniforms" of Nudist Beach is identical to the X symbol used by the X-Men. Particularly the ones from the the X-Men cartoon from the 90's. Though here the X represents their hatred of clothing; Their flag is a red X over a pair of underwear. Whereas in X-Men it was a symbol for Charles Xavier.
  • Of course, the blatantly obvious one is the Goku Uniforms themselves, which give the wearer superpowers and are fueled by alien lifeforms.

Episode 1: "If Only I Had Thorns Like a Thistle..."

  • The episode's title is taken from Miyako Chaki's "Azami no gotoku toge areba" (YouTube).
  • Satsuki's first lines (see Double Speak on the main page) are taken almost verbatim from 1984.
  • Satsuki refers to the other students as pigs in human clothing, perhaps a reference to a certain novel that also deals with themes of totalitarianism and inequality.
  • One of the students in Mako's and Ryuko's class can be seen playing with a Hulk and Destroyer action figures, both characters from Marvel Comics.
  • Ryuko's first scene where she walks across a bridge into town, gets harassed by neighborhood gangs, and beats them up thereby earning respect, is straight out of Ashita no Joe.
  • Ryuko carrying her Scissor Blade in a guitar case and her search for revenge for the death of a loved one is an apparent shout-out to Robert Rodriguez's Desperado.
  • The scene where Ryuko lands onto the pile of cloths at the secret basement of her house bleeding, and then awakening Senketsu from below in search of the blood's owner, is practically identical to how Teppei met X in Masami Kurumada's Bt X.
  • Mako uses the Kinnikuman Kinniku Buster on Mataro.
  • Mako and Ryuko getting crucified (or pinned/hung) upside down is similar to how Mayumi Takahasi gets tied up in Kekko Kamen.
  • The student's salute is a direct copy of the salute from the German film The Wave.

Episode 2: "So Sexy, I'm Going to Faint"

  • The episode's title is taken from Char's "Kizetsu suru hodo nayamashii" (YouTube).
  • Isshin's letter to Mikisugi refers to the kamui as "just like dead leaves in the forest". Dead Leaves happens to be another anime that Hiroyuki Imaishi directed.
  • Episode 2's tennis scenario is similar to Aim for the Ace!.
    • Hakodate's speech about having only yourself to rely on on the court is parallels the opening narration of Aim for the Ace! as well.
  • Hakodate's interchangeable visors swivel like a Scopedog's.

Episode 3: "Purity"

Episode 4: "Dawn of a Miserable Morning"

Episode 5: "Trigger"

  • The episode's title is taken from Masanori Sera & Twist's "Hikigane" (YouTube).
  • Tsumugu's "let me tell you two pieces of information" catchphrase echoes Viral's first lines to Kamina in episode 3 of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.

Episode 6: "Don't Toy with Me On a Whim"

  • The episode's title is taken from the Southern All Stars' "Kibun shidai de semenaide" (YouTube).
  • Sanageyama gaining more power by going blind is very much an homage to Daredevil and/or Zatoichi.
  • Ryuko getting buried on the ground with only her legs sticking straight up is similar to how Unit-01 and Unit-02 get beaten up in one episode of Evangelion.

Episode 7: "A Loser I Can't Hate"

  • The episode's title is taken from Kenji Sawada's "Nikumi kirenai rokudenashi" (YouTube).
  • Ryuko shoves a bottle of Timotei Shampoo into Mataro's face when he catches him peeping on her.
  • A pretty obvious one in episode 7 with Ryuko forming a Fight Club.
  • The dishwasher Sukuyo's holding seems to be modelled after a Famicom.
  • The Two-Star uniform Club President Mako gets in episode 7 is a bancho outfit, complete with chewing straw and ripped up hat a la Otoko Ippiki Gaki Daisho and Dokaben. Commonly mistaken for a JoJo reference, it's a parody of series that did it at least 20 years earlier though virtually unknown outside Japan.
  • Club president Jack Naito is basically Jacknife, and not just In Name Only.

Episode 8: "I Will Wipe My Own Tears"

  • The episode's title is taken from Katsuhiko Miki's "Ore no namida wa ore ga fuku" (YouTube).
  • This scene seems to be a shout out to the Cromartie High School opening theme, especially given KLK's director Imaishi also storyboarded the Cromartie opening.
  • The Akio Car makes an appearance. Not only is the car nearly identical, but the route they take is nearly identical to the one Akio drove around when making his speeches.
  • Gamagoori's driving in episode 8 may be a Shout Out to the Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt episode "Death Race 2010", where the car ghost wiped out the Daten City police cars by spinning. How the Daten Police tried to subjugate the ghost by ramming into it is also replicated.

Episode 9: "A Once in a Lifetime Chance"

  • The episode's title is taken from Hideki Saijo's "Chance wa ichido" (YouTube).
  • The design of Gamagoori's Scourge Regalia bears a lot of similarities to Iron Man and War Machine, as well as Digimon Frontier 's Susanoomon.
    • And its cocoon form looks a lot like Zeruel. It even has a similar method of attack.
    • Although it is partially obscured, Gamagoori's transformed Goku Uniform bears a passing resemblance to Corset's outfit, especially in the pointed shoes.
  • Given the high density of Marvel references in Goku Uniforms in later episodes, Senketsu Senjin's Wolverine Claws are likely a reference to the Wolverine.

Episode 10: "I Want to Know More About You"

  • The episode's title is taken from Hiroko Yakushimaru's "Anata o motto shiritakute" (YouTube).
  • Many references to Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • The scene were Inumuta hacked into Revocs Corporation is similar with Ritsuko Akagi tried to stop Ireul.
    • Inumuta's Goku Uniform is reminiscent of an Eva Plug Suit.
    • When Ryuko had Senketsu enlarge his eye, it looked a lot like a smaller Sahaquiel.
    • Gamagoori holding a white cloth with a framing very similar to the infamous End of Evangelion opening scene.
  • Inumuta's HUD looks very similar to the one in the Iron Man movies.
  • Inumuta's smile after his hacking scene looks just like Light Yagami's smile in DeathNote.
  • Ryuko's outfit becoming skimpier in order to pull off a huge attack brings to mind Bayonetta.
  • Take a close look at Nonon's transformed Goku uniform, specifically her left shoulder. On it is a VERY familiar-looking skull.
  • Nonon's Symphony Regalia Grave and Senketsu Shippu look very similar to the Dendrobium and Dra-c

Episode 11: "I'm Not Your Cute Woman"

  • The episode's title is taken from Yuko Kanai's "Kawaii onna to yobanaide" (YouTube).
  • The horns on Jakuzure's hat in Symphony Regalia: Da Capo call to mind Galactus.

Episode 12: "Spit Your Sadness Away"

  • The episode's title is taken from Naoki Hongo's "Kanashimi ni tsuba o kakero" (YouTube).
  • Nui mentions that fixing Ryuko's monster form is useless, useless, useless, useless.
  • The whole sequence with Ryuko's mutated, monster form shares semblance to both Unit 01's Berserk state and The Thing.
    • But it most resembles William Birkin of Resident Evil 2 fame, especially his second stage.
    • The transformation itself with Senketsu swallowing Ryuko with a huge toothy mouth resembles the way Naota is taken inside Canti in FLCL
    • Berserk Ryuko bears strong resemblance to the Incredible Hulk in that she would never hurt Mako and the fact that Mako is the only one who can calm Ryuko down enough to reverse her transformation
    • The seven scars on Ragyo Kiryuin's back are a reference to Kenshiro's seven scars.

Episode 13: "Crazy for You"

  • The episode's title comes from Toshihiko Tahara's "Kimi ni barabara...to iu kanji" (YouTube).
  • The whole passage in REVOCS HQ is one big reference to Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • The city where REVOCS HQ is situated has the company logo, a blood red logo with the name of the company in capitalized letters, on the facade of every tower, like NERV's leaf was on all of Tokyo-3's buildings.
    • Then the camera shows the "cone-shaped" base of REVOCS building at an angle that make it looks like a pyramid, reminiscent of NERV's HQ pyramid.
    • Ragyo's speech mentions mankind's original sin and the Fruit of Knowledge, two themes often presents in Gendo's dialogs.
    • Ragyo's personnal office is basically a circular version of Gendo's famous office, with the complete lack of furniture except a lone desk, strange marking on the ground and ceiling and windows circling the entire office providing the only source of light.
    • REVOCS itself, a sinister multinational god-building think tank answerable to apparently no one, is actually a mere front for COVERS...an even more sinister multinational god-building think tank answerable to apparently no one, exactly like NERV was a front for SEELE.
  • Mako's brother and dad running in circles until they turn into butter is a reference to Little Black Sambo.
  • Nui's ability to create and operate human-like puppets with strings of Life Fiber reminds of Leonof the Puppetmaster from Trigun, who similarly created extremely lifelike puppets and moved them with strings.
  • Senketsu's apparent Death By A Thousand Cuts may remind some of the ending of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt.

Episode 14: "Ride Like the Wind"

  • The episode's title comes from Takao Hirata & Cellsters' "Isoge Kaze no you ni" (YouTube).
  • The big tusked turtle guardian brings to mind a certain other guardian turtle.
  • A villainous force invades Osaka militarily. The citizens of Osaka harness their community power and keep the bad guys at the gate. That is one of the battles in Burst Angel.
  • Inumuta appeared as a very Star Wars-like blue hologram.
  • Did Mako channel Kenshiro to catch all that money being shot at her?

Episode 15: "Don't Stop Me Now"

Episode 16: "The Girl Can't Help It"

  • The episode's title comes from Reiko Ōshida's "Onna wa sore o gaman dekinai" (YouTube), and from the film The Girl Can't Help It (which shares its Japanese title with the name of the song).
  • During one of the early scenes with the Dotonbori River in the background, there's a statue of Colonel Sanders neck-deep in the river, referring to the infamous Curse of the Colonel.
  • When Mikisugi explains that Life Fibers are aliens, Mako wonders whether he means xenomorphs. In addition, she also visually alludes to a famous alien hoax picture.
  • As Mikisugi is making his lecture, at one point he is seen posing in various historical outfits - including some made famous by 1980s Michael Jackson, Aladdin Sane-era David Bowie, Madonna, and Sid Vicious.

Episode 17: "Why Are You...?"

  • The episode's title comes from Kitaōji Kin'ya's "Naze ni omae wa".
  • When Nudist Beach and Ryuko go to stop the Culture Festival, Mako says "Have fun storming the stadium!"
  • Ragyo quotes Macbeth to summarise Nui's mentality: "Fair is foul and foul is fair".
  • Satsuki betrays and rebels against Ragyo at Honnouji Academy in this episode. In Japanese history, Akechi Mitsuhide betrayed and rebelled against Oda Nobunaga at Honnouji.

Episode 18: "Into the Night"

  • The episode's title comes from Naomi Chiami's "Yoru e isogu hito" (YouTube).

Episode 19: "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head"

  • * The episode's title comes from The Mops' "Tadori tsuitara itsumo ame furi" (YouTube). The English episode title refers to the BJ Thomas song of the same name.
  • The arrival of COVERS in Honnouji is visually very similar to the Impact vortexes from Rebuild of Evangelion.
  • Three of the Nudist Beach members in one scene strongly resemble Korra, Mako, and Bolin.
  • Sanageyama's uniform's death scene is very reminiscent of Viral's Enkidudu's death scene, down to the remark where the weapons reach their limit.

Episode 20: "Far from the Madding Crowd"

  • The episode's title comes from Tomoko Ohta's "Tōku gunshū wo hanarete". The English episode title refers to the Thomas Hardy novel of the same name.
  • The motorcycle shop Ryuko got her badass bike from is called Inferno.
  • Sanageyama's "The enemy awaits at Honnouji!" is a reference to the famous line Akechi Mitsuhide supposedly said when he betrayed Oda Nobunaga.
  • The Nudist Beach flagship strongly resembles the Dai Gurren from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
  • This may not be a fully intentional one and more of a coincidence, but Satsuki's escape and fighting COVERS with her feet brings to mind the naked Raiden gameplay segment of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
  • The scene where Gamagoori jumps from a helicopter and lands in front of Satsuki is based on a scene from FLCL where Naota and Lord Canti jump down and land in front of Mamimi.

Episode 21: "Incomplete"

  • The episode's title comes from Hiromi Gou's "Mikansei" (YouTube).
  • At the end, when Ryuko rips her way out of Junketsu, after a brief trip inside her mind, we are treated to some shots that look suspiciously similar to Episode 16 of Neon Genesis Evangelion, after Unit 01 bursts out of Leliel and stands soaked in a rain of blood.

Episode 22: "Tell Me How You Feel"

  • The episode's title comes from Machiko Watanabe's "Kuchibiru yo, atsuku kimi wo katare" (YouTube)
  • Upon Senketsu reuniting with Ryuko, the way Ryuko puts on Senketsu looked like a Transformation Sequence out of the Super Robot Genre.
  • In yet another American comic costuming reference, Iori's Goku Uniform features robot tentacles, evoking the appearance of Doctor Octopus, combined with the colors and All-Encompassing Mantle of Spawn.
  • Ragyo's plan involves turning all of humanity into a Hive Mind through use of a powerful extraterrestrial organism. Sound familiar?
  • The giant sized COVERS that attacks the Naked Sun is made to look like it has shades both on its "head" and its chest, just like a certain mecha from a show by the same creators.
  • The dark shot of Senketsu's stripes glowing red with blood is likely a reference to Kamen Rider Faiz. The titular Rider's suit had glowing red strips of Photon Blood powering it, becoming dramatically visible in the dark.
  • Gamagoori carries Human Extraction Devices in the same weapons arrangement and hunched over pose of a Destroid Monster.

Episode 23: "Imitation Gold"

  • The episode's title comes from Momoe Yamaguchi's "Imitation Gold".
  • There seem to be several nods to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann in this one:
    • Sanagayama's transformation into his Final Goku Uniform is basically TTGL's transformation in reverse, his earlier, larger armor breaking away to reveal his later, smaller armor.
    • The Elite Four's Asskicking Pose after their transformation is shot almost identically to a scene from the third opening (GL and two Grapearls in a Back-to-Back Badasses pose surrounded by enemies).
    • The Naked Dagger's attack on the Primordial Life Fiber is pretty much the same as the Dai-Gurren's attack on Teppelin, though in this case, it goes all the way through.
    • And after that, when Ragyo is going This Cannot Be!, we get Ryuko, Satsuki, Mako and the Elite Four assembled in the same Asskicking Pose from the final episode (with Ryuko carrying Mako in much the same way Simon was carrying Nia) complete with Ryuko giving a Badass Boast not too different from Team Dai-Gurren's motto.
  • Sanagayama's Final Goku Uniform makes him look quite a bit like Jetstream Sam.
  • Inumuta's Final Goku Uniform has him sporting the same distinctive red, rhomboid, bridgeless sunglasses worn by ∀ Gundam Char Clone, Harry Ord mixed with the looks of a Kamen Rider. The suit's powers and overall emphasis on lithe acrobatics also makes it a reference to Spider-Man.
  • Gamagoori's Final Goku Uniform resembles a combination of Colossus and Apocalypse from the X-Men.
  • The bold text "In Heaven's Name, We Smite Clothing!" is a parody of divine wrath-themed In the Name of the Moon speeches used in various jidai geki and anime like Might Gaine. Clothing rhymes with evil in Japanese.
  • Mako's power levels while wearing her Two Star Fight Club Uniform are - baring intelligence - well over 9000.
  • Ragyo proclaims that "Resistance is futile!" when fighting Satsuki.
  • Nui's HUGE head looming over the characters is a nod to Lilith's rise in The End Of Evangelion.

Episode 24: "Past the Infinite Darkness"

  • The episode's title comes from Ichirō Araki's "Hateshinaki yami no kanata ni" (YouTube), also the ending theme of the second Ashita no Joe TV series.
  • There's a few blatant Gurren Lagann and references, to make the final episode even more epic:
    • Senketsu transforms on its own, without Ryuko, and drills a hole through Ragyo. The scene looks like Lordgenome's defeat by chest-drilling.
    • Gamagoori's ultimate Regalia turns him into what can be described as a "human Gunmen", looking much like the Gurren Lagann. He attacks using multiple projections of his own chest-face.
    • Finally, during the end credits sequence Mako's backpack resembles the head of those "grape-hippo" creatures that appeared in the early episodes of the series.
  • Some similarities to Neon Genesis Evangelion have been noted as well.
    • Much like Sahaquiel impaling EVA-01's hands in the remake, Ragyo gets the palms of her hands impaled by Satsuki's Gako and Koryu blades, only to break them instead.
    • The Prime Life Fiber, which was thought to have been killed, tangs itself and flows up to the school before reforming.
    • Gamagoori's attack on the transmitter's shield has a shot of his hands ripping it open that is identical to the shot of EVA-01's hands ripping open Sachiel's A.T. Field.
    • Nui's assimilation into the Primordial Life Fiber was similar to Rei's assimilation into Lilith whilst implementing Instrumentality, complete this time with a giant Nui-head growing out from the fibres.
    • The Sword-Scissors, in their final form, look uncannily similar to the Lance of Longinus.
    • The freeze-frame from when, in Ryuko' and Ragyo's fight, the first time Ragyo grows spikes and impales Ryuko is strikingly similar to the one of Asuka's death in End of Evangelion.
    • Ragyo growing glowing wings and shooting out rays of light which cause everybody to cower in fear is strongly reminiscent of Arael's Trauma Beam.
    • An overly passive half-alien woman named Rei getting absorbed into a white giant in order to complete a generations-old plan to turn humanity into orange stuff.
  • Tsumugu and Aikuro's combined DTR looks a lot like Chouryuujin from GaoGaiGar.
  • Inumuta's Regalia referencing Spider-Man becomes even more obvious in this episode, with him doing Spidey's gestures and substituting computer cables for webbing.
  • At one point various world cities are shown. In the New York sequence, a billboard advertising the Lion King musical and the insignia of the Weyland Corporation appear.
  • Ryuko impales herself on Ragyo's arm in a direct reference to GunBuster; the act, poses, and perspective are all identical. Compare this (around 2:00) to this (around 2:40).
  • Senketsu Kisaragi is very clearly a homage to the ever-classic Dragon Ball Z, from the basic physical details up to and including "I grow stronger when I'm on the verge of death!"
    • The shot of Ryuko facing a naked Ragyo in space, with Earth orbit as background is visually reminiscent of the final part of Goku and Beers' fight in Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods (can be seen here at about 12:00).
  • The death of Senketsu book ended in the exact same fashion as the original manga ending of Bt Xnote , where X dies by using all of his protection system on Teppei and his brother Kotaro, sending them back to Earth as he disintegrates.
  • The final battle has also been noted to be strikingly similar to the climax of Sonic Adventure 2, complete with a Super Form involving the use of multiple elements, the battle taking place in space around an orbiting satellite, and one of the heroes sacrificing themselves and dying while falling back to earth. It would make sense considering the comparisons people made with Ryuko and Shadow.
    • Also, some people may be reminded of the ending to Kamen Rider OOO, where it also had the sidekick dying while the hero falls into their cast of allies.
  • At one point, Ragyo gets a horned "headdress" that makes her look just like a white version of Maleficent.
  • Shinra-Koketsu looks similar to Izanami. May also be an Actor Allusion as Romi Park voiced that character.
  • Ragyo's defiant suicide by pulling her own heart out, holding it up then crushing it sure resembles a villainesque take on Musashi's iconic heroic sacrifice in Getter Robo.
  • During Mako's spotlight speech, when talking about how Ryuko can create a perfect world, she turns into the "It's A Small World After All" ride from the Disney Theme Parks.
  • When Ragyo gets cut into four separate pieces by Ryuko and Satsuki the situation looks very similar to how Dio Brando of Jojos Bizarre Adventure got bisected during his fight with Jonathan. It is also similarly ineffective and doesn't impair Ragyo's ability to talk

Episode 25: "Goodbye Again"

  • The episode's title comes from Kiyohiko Ozaki's 1971 song, "Sayonara (wo) mou ichido" (YouTube).

Drama CD 1: "I Really, Truly Appreciate Your Work"

  • The first drama CD's title comes from The Drifters' 1970 song, "Honto ni Honto ni Gokurōsan" (YouTube).

Drama CD 2: "Between the Night and the Morning"

  • The second drama CD's title comes from Shinnosuke "Peter" Ikehata's 1969 debut single, "Yoru to Asa no Aida ni" (YouTube).


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