Reviews: Kill La Kill

Awesome, with or without fanservice

Now, I know it's a bit early for a review of a series that has just started and has only aired three episodes to date, but this series has had a lot of buzz around the internet and I thought I should give my two cents about it.

I'm gonna cut right to the point and address the 800-lb gorilla (or elephant in the room, whichever one works) in this part. Yes, there is Fanservice. Lots of fanservice. The main character and the de-facto Big Bad of this series wear incredibly skimpy costumes, the former of which has her's forced onto her in the first episode. This has caused a firestorm on Tumblr, specifically among social justice warriors, saying how offensive the costumes are, that it supports rape culture and other inflammatory noise that I often hear from that circle of people. Fans of Kill La Kill answered back and we get Flame Wars unlike any I've seen in a while.

I'll say this about any other series like it. Kill La Kill is not for everybody. It's like Tarantino films with its violence/the usage of the N-word. Just like that, there will be people who will watch this and feel legitimately uncomfortable about the fanservice and will not like it because of the fanservice (or other reasons too), and that's completely fine with me.

However, I feel that even without the Fanservice, Kill La Kill has a lot of good things about it that makes it worth the time. First off, we have the action scenes, which is so difficult to describe. "Off the wall" doesn't do it justice, "Awesomely over the top" doesn't do it justice. Nothing I could say could possibly do it justice as to how fun it is to watch it (Episode 3's fight scene is seriously among one of the best fight scenes I've ever seen.) And the characters are unique as hell too. Mako's a funny character, everyone in the Student Council a fun villain to watch and Ryuko's a great protagonist. I love the action, the characters, the animation, the story, and even the fanservice is enjoyable enough to look at.

I will say Kill La Kill, fanservice or no fanservice, is a great time, it's off to a great start and I can't wait for the series to progress. Guess I shouldn't have thought less from the people behind Gurren Lagann.

A nice show with its own merits

Warning, a good chunk of this review is about fanservice. Yeah, I know, but I can't resist it.

The first half of Kill la Kill is usual shonen fare with "who killed my father." Club President of the Week, Tournament Arc, excuses for people to awesomely and hilariously beat each other up. It can dragged on a bit, but I don't find it repetitive or dull. Episode 7 even has really good drama and character development, even when things go back to status quo. There is a big reveal midway through and then it becomes the second half of Gurren Lagann and Sonic Adventure 2's ending. Some commentaries about consumerism and fashion obsession are always nice, but they sometimes get drowned out by the bizarreness of the show. BTW if the moral of the show is how "clothes don't make the man," then how come members of Nudist Beach get thrown around like a rag doll by Kamui wearers?

The characters are the series' strong point. I love pretty much every good guy in the show. Their relationships are rather sweet too (peeping in the shower notwithstanding). I don't like how supposedly badass normal characters get lagged behind.

I accept that the ridiculous Kamui are supposed to be parody about fanservice (not that it stops people from getting aroused either, Misaimed Fandom?) However, Ryuko initially didn't want to wear Senketsu and definitely didn't like to have people ogle at her, so the moral is now "if you don't like this ridiculous suit that make people want to fap at you, you'll like it eventually because it's EMPOWERING!" There is reasons for these suits to cover as little as possible, but seriously those stockings and gloves cover a good chunk of their skin; the only things that get exposed are their T&A. Also, the option that both avoids being stripperific and empowers at the same time like wearing additional clothes on top of the Kamui is overlooked (Ryuko wears a rather badass cloak briefly in episode 1.)

Conclusion: A rather average plot driven by strong and likable characters. The supposed messages concerning fanservice unfortunately falls prey for fridge logic. 3.5 stars.

Pure Awesome if you can handle the "Fanservice"

KLK is an enigma to me. On one hand, I shouldn't like this show. And yet, on the other hand, it has become my favorite anime. And because of this, I've developed a very strange opinion on the anime that I've never had for any other piece of media before.

I'll start with the most obvious part of the anime: the fanservice. Or "fanservice" as I like to call it. Yes, I will not lie; this anime is filled with characters being either half-naked or completely naked all throughout the 24 episodes. No matter who it is, everybody gets naked at one point in time. There are no exceptions. However, I've found that this "fanservice" is almost like a parody of fanservice. Yes, clothing is ripped off rather easily, but it never seemed to be done in a glorifying way. And not only that, but the fights all throughout the show were rather gruesome with blood flying all over the screen and the characters receiving significant injuries from each strike they took. Yet, the way this fanservice is portrayed is not for everyone, despite this.

Moving past the most notable aspect of the show however, I will admit that the anime starts off rather slow. For the first 11 episodes, nothing of significance seems to happen, with Ryuko fighting various characters. However, once Nui is introduced, I really feel that the plot pulls itself together and the anime suddenly becomes a lot better, probably because a clearer sense of direction is gained. The beginning is still very entertaining, but for those who want to know what exactly is going on, you have to wait a while.

But, I think the slow start is made up with the characters and humor. Everyone has a unique personality, there being absolutely no carbon copies in sight. Admittedly, there are some characters I felt they could have expanded upon more, but I suppose with such a large cast they had to cut something. Music is also a real treat, just about every track being in my personal music library. And don't get me started on the awesome fight scenes and utterly hilarious moments that are in just about every episode.

So in conclusion, KLK is not for everyone. You have to have a certain tolerance for the fanservice, but if you can look past that, then you may like it. I would recommend watching the first 3 episodes, and if you can take it, then you should be good for the rest of the series.

Magical Girl Told as Shonen Action

Kill La Kill is not a smart anime. It's not a revolutionary anime, or a mind-blowing anime. What it is, like the creative team's other big hit, is a whole lot of fun.

Like TTGL, KLK treads a lot of familiar ground for shonen anime. Superpowered teens, bizarre weapons, Martial Arts and Crafts, New Powers as the Plot Demands, Heel-Face Turn, The Power of Friendship, Quirky Miniboss Squad, True Companions, etc, etc. And like TTGL, KLK's greatest strength is in playing these tropes straight to the hilt with joy and gusto. It's appropriate that an early plot point has to do with main character Ryuko Matoi having to overcome the embarrassment of wearing her combat outfit in public, because clearly KLK feels no shame in hitting every last shonen action trope it can, and why should it? The difference between a cliche and a trope is the execution, and KLK's is all but flawless.

Of course, that raises the fanservice. If a viewer knows anything about KLK before seeing it firsthand, it's probably that the main character's aforementioned outfit is Stripperiffic and, like every other trope present, shamelessly cranked to 11. What it is not, though, is plain spank material. When Ryuko dons her battle bikini things are about to get brutal and very, very bloody. Fights in KLK are not settled by striking sexy poses and neatly magicking the foe away, but by charging into bone-breaking, limb-hacking, blood-drenched melee combat with a giant half-scissor blade. When Ryuko does pose, it's one that any male hero would happily strike, and her injuries would look right at home in the middle of Goku vs. Frieza. Ryuko's outfit makes Taarna look sensibly dressed, but she has stronger agency than the majority of her fully-clothed female peers. It's arguable that this raises Unfortunate Implications about such a strong female protagonist needing to be presented 90% naked to be palatable, but at least there's solace in that KLK is just as gleefully ready to exploit the male form as others are to exploit the female. Heck, maybe moreso: the Bishōnen leader of La Résistance wears little more than a perpetual Lens Flare Censor, and poses sexily (and frequently) to deliver exposition. Your move, Yoko.

KLK is fast and tightly paced, action-packed, and absolutely unashamed to be rote, dumb fun. If you liked TTGL, you'll like KLK.

Proper Review To Follow

In this place there used to be a review that was invalidated by recent developments in the series. As per the comment thread I'm deleting it and will give Kill la Kill a proper writeup once the season's over.

Sorry for the inconvenience.