Follow TV Tropes


Fanfic / Cellar Secrets

Go To
(cover uploaded by the fic author)

"Every family has secrets, there is no lie in that."
Satsuki Kiryuuin

Cellar Secrets is a Kill la Kill Alternate Universe Fic.

In something of a mystery, the story details the lives of Satsuki and Nui as they come to grips with the titular cellar secret. However, their family has more secrets than what has been found out and many more unanswered questions.

Cellar Secrets provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: This is played with in Ragyo's case. While neither Satsuki or Nui gets the worst of her treatment, she does seem to abuse them psychologically and lorded over them with fear (i.e her beating her secretary and leaving them to see her injuries and the fact that they don't refer to her as "mother"). However, at the same, she was exceptionally cruel to Ryuuko, keeping her caged and isolated in the titular cellar and, apparently, physically abusing her. She does regret her treatment of her daughters and, as she dies, tells them she loves them, however, she acknowledges she can do nothing to atone.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Word Of Goddess states that Nui's hair is either a tawny-ish or something of a very light brown, instead of blonde as in canon, along with it being shorter. Averted otherwise with Satsuki and Ryuuko, whose hair colors are as they were in canon.
    • She also stated that the same has occurred with Uzu, Nonon, Houka, and Rei, as Uzu's hair is dyed green and his natural hair color is a dark brown, Nonon's hair is a dark auburn, instead of pink, Houka's hair is onyx, and Rei's hair was dark gray (almost black).
  • Adaptational Heroism: Ragyou. She's still antagonistic and abusive but, compared to canon and her canon counterpart, she's tame, considering that the worst she's ever done was lock her youngest child in a cage, kept her in the cellar, abuse, and neglect her. Likewise, she is given some sympathetic moments in her diary.
    • So is Nui, considering she is one of the protagonist characters.
  • Afraid of Needles: Touched upon in chapter 31, where Aikurou worries about Ryuuko getting a flu shot, noting how she doesn't like to cooperate, especially when she's afraid. Obviously, true to canon and by being a wild child who's terrified of most things, Ryuuko hates needles, however, this extends to being Afraid of Doctors, as she doesn't like hospitals or clinics, remembering her stay in an instituion and a hospital where she stuck with needles and I.Vs.
  • All Abusers Are Male: Averted, as one of the more benevolent figures are male and Ragyou doles out as much abuse if she were male. However, her abuse is more psychological when it comes to her older two daughters but her secretary and her youngest daughter on the other hand is just brutal, causing the former to commit suicide after she was committed.
  • Call-Back: In Chapter 10, Ryuuko grips the gray streak in Shiro's hair, the which she does again fifteen chapters later, when he's on his deathbed.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Satsuki does this to a mentally-ill and interned Ragyou
    Satsuki: "You destroyed lives beyond any real repair and, fittingly, you've destroyed your own life. You destroyed Rei's with your abuse and a child you wanted to keep hidden. You also destroyed Ryuuko's, the child you never named and kept hidden, by keeping her locked away in a cage in a cellar, allowing her development and growth to become stunted. You didn't just destroy her life, you destroyed ours with your secrets and abuse. You hurt us and you're going to be living with that for the rest of your life."
  • Chekhov's Gun: The photograph Nui shows Satsuki at the beginning the story. Satsuki mentions that she didn't think it had much to do with what their mother and secretary were hiding in the basement.
  • Children Are Innocent: Ryuuko, due to being a Wild Child, having lived most of her life in a cellar since her formative years, Ryuuko doesn't have much comprehension of how the world works and most things she sees are new, fascinating or, otherwise, frightening to her. A notable case of this in the story is in chapter nine where she goes outside for the first time and seems to be elated by what she's encountered. However, this does have its drawbacks as due to her innocence, she is prone to putting things in her mouth to see what it is, having not a chance to learn much else otherwise.
    • She also doesn't quite comprehend what death is, regardless, she feels the pain of loss. Satsuki acknowledges this and explains to her that their father died, telling her, that "he's where the stars are" and that, where he is, is where people who've passed away go.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Aikuro considers getting Ryuuko a flu vaccine this, as she's had not a good experience with needles and he hates the idea of traumatizing her.
    • This trope is played subtly in Chapter 25, as, initially, Satsuki wanted to shield Ryuuko from Shiro's dying but opted not to because, to her, Ryuuko had to "see what death was for herself".
  • Dark Secret: What was hidden in the cellar. As we find out in chapter five, that secret was Ryuuko
  • A Day in the Limelight: A few of times. The most recent chapter is narrated by Nui, part of chapter 18 is narrated by Uzu, and chapter 30 is being narrated by Ryuuko.
  • Death by Adaptation: Rei, as she commits suicide
    • Later, Shiro passes away of something unspecified.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Ragyou's death, as she dies making amends with her daughters.
  • Deconstructed Trope: Ryuuko being a Wild Child. For one, her age does play a factor, as the older she is, the less they can reclaim, along with the fact that she'll improve as time goes on but she'll still remain stunted. Likewise, she's is terrified of almost everything and knows enough speech to state this and that but still has to learn how to use syntaxes. Said rehabilitation would be a long and ongoing one and, at the beginning of the story, she stayed in an institution for awhile before getting to come home.
  • Department of Child Disservices: The subject comes up in Chapter 14, when someone, upset that Ryuuko got into her plants (she's never seen flowers before), calls in a tip to CPS, to which they send someone to investigate. However, as Aikurou and Tsumugu (a lawyer) point out, regardless if there was no evidence of abuse and neglect, they could very well want to take Ryuuko away, based on the fact that she is considered a very impaired child and that Satsuki may not be considered a good enough guardian for her based on the fact (the inverse of the "Today, Tomorrow, and Forever" scenario). When a social worker does come in, she plays this to a degree, as she does things a social worker really isn't supposed to do, as she forces her way in and tries to interrogate Ryuuko without having a warrant or court order to so. Fortunately, due to the case being mishandled, it was dropped and Satsuki retains custody of Ryuuko.
    • Arguably, one could say they are in full swing of this trope as how they manage to not investigate Ragyo after Ryuuko's existence and her condition was brought to light is a mystery, as having a severely abused child with little to no legal documentation kept in a cellar and underwent severe abuse and neglect should have warranted their attention then.
    • Averted in chapter 33, where the social worker is competent and reasonable, acknowledging that Ryuuko was in no harm but does tell Satsuki that Ryuuko should get a medical bracelet.
  • Disappeared Dad: Soichiro (however, his name wasn't mentioned until Chapter 21) was mentioned to have left and never came back. As we find out in chapter four, he died not too long after he left. As Aikurou notes, his sudden absence has affected his daughters profoundly, so much so, that neither Satsuki or Nui can give many recollections of him and mostly remember the fact that he left.
  • Domino Revelation: When the sisters find out about Ryuuko being the titular cellar secret, other secrets are brought to light.
  • Driven to Suicide: In chapter three, Rei kills herself because of what she knew, leaving her motives and the titular cellar secret to be revealed in her diary.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The Kiryuuins, for lack of a better word.
  • Empathic Environment: As Shiro dies, the weather slowly changes from sunny to rainy.
  • Feral Child: Ryuuko as revealed in Chapter 5, due to her mother keeping her in the cellar. To elaborate further, she moves on all fours because of apparent developmental and acquired abnormalities to her legs and or spine due to being caged (which didn't leave her much room to move around) and she knows language, as she is heard speaking it, but has to learn how to use it in syntaxes, thus she communicates in gestures and has made up her own syntaxes. Along that line, she is frightened of a lot of things, is quick to swat at or hit someone, is somewhat like a baby, doesn't prefer to wear shoes but is known to tolerate socks and, unlike some feral children, she doesn't seem to mind sleeping on a mattress or toddler bed. Her chapter after her introduction mentions her as swatting at one doctor, biting another, and almost hurt herself trying to get away from them.
  • Flatline: When Shiro dies in Chapter 25. However, unlike usual, the noise, while it startled her, didn't frighten Ryuuko, instead, in response to it, she cried.
  • Floral Motifs /Floral Theme Naming: Soichiro initially wanted to name Ryuuko "Marigold", the flower usually represents grief and grief and despair over loss love, likewise, it's also associated with cruel treatment towards a loved one. It was also mentioned that a photo of Soichiro and Ragyou had them dancing in a field of wildflowers, among them were marigolds, thus the significance of her name being that the flower reminding him of one of the happier moments of their lives before their marriage collapsed.
  • Happily Married: Souichiro and Ragyo once, as Nui and Satsuki once found out. Sadly, Ragyou's mental illness and her refusal to get help, along with her bitterness, and secrets got in the way.
  • Hidden Depths: For a Feral Child who lacks comprehension and is terrified of most things, Ryuuko seems to be rather perceptive, figuring out, to a degree, of what's going on around her. She also has a mischievous side.
  • Hulk Speak: A lot of times when Ryuuko talks, its like this, as she hasn't had enough interaction with other humans to learn syntaxes, so she had to make up her own. Case in point would be when she states as to whether or not she wants to do something, she'll state, "Don't want to" instead of "I don't want to". Despite her limited speech, she has an awful lot to say, at given points.
  • Is It Something You Eat?: Ryuuko asks this sort if question to Nui about her kitten to which the latter responds, gently explains some things they eat, cats not being one of those things.
  • Last of His Kind: Shiro was the last of his family, as Satsuki mentioned that all of his relatives had died before he had.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: Ryuuko, as we find out in chapters three and five. However, she isn't mad or insane, instead she was a somewhat normal little girl, who had the misfortune of being something her mother wanted to keep hidden
  • Marriage of Convenience: Satsuki's narration of Ch. 35 discusses this , along with Nobility Marries Money and a deconstruction of Awful Wedded Life, as she wonders if she should get married to someone to delay Nui from getting a job to pick up any financial slack.
    "[...]I wonder if I should find someone wealthy and get married just to secure a constitutable future. Of course, while I had the thought, I would find that to be far worse in comparison, as I'd probably be selling ourselves to a long life of misery. Likewise, I figured that the idea would make little sense as we don't live in any sort of dark or primitive ages where marrying into money was the thing that everyone did."
  • My Greatest Failure: Satsuki, as she states in chapter 17, wishing she had protected her sister from their mother's abuse and lamenting about how she didn't stop Rei's suicide. What makes the former all the more stinging is the fact that she's the older sister.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Ragyo really regrets how she treated her daughters but, while she wishes she could, she does acknowledge how she cannot atone.
  • My Secret Pregnancy: One of Aikurou's theories about Ryuuko involves this and its further implied in chapter 16 when Satsuki and Nui finds evidence that supports that, along with fact that their little sister might not have been born during happy times, Nui even asking, "I wonder, did Ryuuko remind the Mistress of something she wanted to forget?" We actually find out why Ragyo kept her third pregnancy secret and, well, the reasons were because of her erratic behavior and her refusal to seek help, Souichiro was planning on leaving her and taking their daughters with him, thus if she had a child within that time, she probably would have lost custody She wasn't very keen on letting that happen.
  • Never Learned to Read: Teaching Ryuuko how to read and spell is the subject of Chapter 27, as by means of Wild Child, she never learned literacy. They managed to, however, she can't read much besides kindergarten and preschool level, along with the fact that she tends to disregard the syntaxes and the fact that she can't spell too many things, rendering, in most senses of the term, functionally illiterate. Satsuki notes she might not advance very far.
  • Never Say "Die": Justified in Chapter 24, as Satsuki doesn't know how to explain death to Ryuuko, so she just simply tells her that their father had "gone up to where the stars are", which keeps the point that he had passed on and won't be coming back but helps her help Ryuuko come to terms with their loss. Earlier, when telling, at different points, Ryuuko that their mother died she and Nui told her that she passed away, instead of saying "she died".
  • Nice Guy: Aikurou, who wants very much to help the girls.
  • No Infantile Amnesia: Having lived in a cellar as secret, Ryuuko doesn't remember much and her formative years memories are limited to knowing her mother was abusive and that her father wasn't, along with having small bits of recollections here and there (i.e, recognizing the sound of shaking chain-link fence).
  • No Name Given: Ryuuko, initially, as Ragyo never named her, however, her sisters give her one. For the most part, her sisters, not knowing what else to call her, earlier in the story, called her "She". According to chapter 21, Souichiro initially wanted to call her "Marigold".
  • Nonverbal Miscommunication: Ryuuko gesturing to Uzu in Chapter 18. Unlike Satsuki or Nui, he can't understand her and she becomes frustrated, causing her to hit him.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: It was noted in chapter fourteen that Ryuuko doesn't usually pull hair but, because she did, Satsuki could tell that Ryuuko very much wanted her attention.
    • Two chapters afterwards, Nui recalls that Rei was beaten for something, however, while Rei being beaten was commonplace and happened often, she notes that her mother was exceptionally cruel in that, instead of hitting her with something typical, like a belt, a shoe, or a rope, Ragyo hit Rei with something metal, along with actually providing something of a reason as to why she was beaten.
    • It was noted that Ryuuko doesn't normally articulate that she would like some comfort, as she would ask for it nonverbally. The fact that she specifically asks for a hug alerts Satsuki that she was rather upset about something. Likewise, the noise of the heart monitor flatlining didn't frighten her, instead, her response to it was crying.
  • Older Than They Look: While Ryuuko's age isn't revealed, Amoridere states that Ryuuko's general appearance can be described as "prepubescent".
  • Parental Abandonment: The sisters' situation didn't initially start out this way. At first, it was just a Disappeared Dad situation, with their father, Soichiro (his name wasn't mentioned in the fic), being mentioned as to have left and never returned but, as time went on, their mother, Ragyou lost her mind and was interned in a mental hospital and, shortly after, her secretary, Rei, commits suicide, leaving Satsuki and Nui to find out that their father had passed away, sometime after he left and their mother dies roughly two and half years since her interment. Fortunately, someone their father knows, Aikurou, steps into help.
  • Parental Substitute: Aikurou plays the role of a surrogate father figure.
  • Passed in Their Sleep: When he died, Shiro didn't really wake up, aside from twitching and resting his head on Ryuuko's in the latter bits of his final moments.
  • Peaceful in Death: Ragyo dies, after making amends with her daughters and acknowledging how poorly she had treated them.
    Satsuki (later musings): " She went to her grave, at peace with the fact that she wronged her daughters and she had no one but herself to blame."
  • Potty Failure: Justified. Ryuuko isn't potty trained (she's afraid of the noise that the flushing makes) and prone to urinating on the floor. Its noted that she does wear diapers due to not being potty-trained.
  • Precision F-Strike: Ryuuko's "Hell no!" when she makes it very clear she doesn't want to do something.
  • Primal Fear: Downplayed. Ryuuko is afraid of a lot of things, however, this comes being locked in a cellar since her formative years and having not have encountered them before.
  • Promoted to Parent: This happens with Satsuki and Nui (mostly the former). In light of Rei's suicide, their mother being committed and living in the care of a mental hospital before later on dying of a terminal illness, and the fact that their father died years ago, the sisters have to play a caregiving/parental role to their Wild Child little sister Ryuuko. Unlike some examples, they do have some help in the form of Aikurou on the side.
    • This is emphasized more in Chapter 19, when Ryuuko calls her oldest sister "Mam", another name for one's mother, instead of calling her "Satsuki", thinking of her as a protector (which is to say, a maternal figure), more so than her older sister.
  • Running on All Fours: Ryuuko due to the developmental abnormalities with her legs and spine worsened by caged. She'll stand on two legs but she won't walk on two legs.
  • Sanity Slippage: Ragyou and Rei in chapter three. Ragyou's get her interned at a mental hospital, while Rei's drives her to kill herself.
  • Secret Chaser: Satsuki and Nui are these as they want to know more about Ryuuko.
  • Secret Diary: Rei's diary as we find out about in Chapter Four and Ragyo's diary in chapter 21.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: While information on feral children is scant, the authoress did research some of the reported cases, in which case most of Ryuuko's behaviors were drawn from Genie and Oxana Malaya, though mostly the former. To be more specific, the older Ryuuko is, the less they can actually reclaim what was lost to abuse, neglect, and severe isolation like Genie, who was about 12 or 13 when she was rescued), however, at least, she's learned language due to living around it, even if she didn't have normal human interaction (like Oxana, who lived around dogs but otherwise not away from other humans).
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: For some reason, Ryuuko does not like Nonon and will never miss a chance to enforce some kind of boundary. Apparently, her reasons why boil down to that they never got to know each other or that Ryuuko didn't like Nonon's greeting when they first met.
  • Sniff Sniff Nom: Ryuuko's object identification protocol involves putting things in her mouth and declaring it edible or inedible.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Kinue Kinagase, as she died in the original series. Here she is alive and a children's pediatrician.
  • Stars Are Souls: Somewhat. Satsuki doesn't say they are souls, however, she does allude to an afterlife by telling Ryuuko that their late father how he's gone to "where the stars are".
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: In the moments that Ryuuko does talk, she talks much like this (which excludes saying "I"), being a combination of Hulk Speak and You No Take Candle. Justified, as, while she had to learn how to talk, she had to make up her own syntaxes.
  • Straying Baby: While technically not a baby (besides behavior), Ryuuko decides to venture out of her home when Nui leaves the door open.
  • Troubled Abuser: Ragyo is implied to be this. According to Chapter 21, she was apparently suffering from some kind of mental illness and had a hard time connecting with her children. Unfortunately, because of said mental illness, refusal to get help and her secrets, Souichiro considered on leaving her and taking their children with him.
  • The Unfavorite: Ryuuko gets a twofer in that she was treated the worst and made to be a secret.
  • The Unintelligible: Ryuuko whenever she doesn't talk and communicates using gestures or noises.
    • Intelligible Unintelligible: Her sisters can understand her and would translate/interpret what she says or gestures based on the situation should anyone else not understand, as was alluded to in chapter 26, where Nui says, vehemently, "I'm not translating any of that!" in response to Ryuuko's gestures towards Nonon.
  • Unperson: Ryuuko, who, due to being a secret, is a legal version of this, as she wasn't born in a hospital, thus she wouldn't have been registered and have a birth certificate. However, as we find out in chapter 21, Souchiro had obtained a delayed birth certificate for her, making this not to be the case.
    • Legally Dead: Apparently, there was more to Ryuuko being an unperson as, while she had a delayed birth certificate, she didn't have a social security number and Ragyo, on a population survey, stated that she had died at birth, so, with those things in consideration and when Soichiro died, her records or lack thereof was crossed with his. Fortunately, this wasn't hard to fix once the papers were sorted out.
  • Unpleasant Parent Reveal: A variant in that Satsuki and Nui find out their dad died, as opposed to have found out that he had done something horrible. Although how he died remained unsaid, until chapter 21, where we find out that he died in a car accident, leaving Satsuki to be relieved that he died rather quickly and not because what she would have thought previously.
  • Vague Age: Ryuuko's age is unknown, as due to her mother's treatment, her growth and subsequent development is stunted, however, it was mentioned that she's younger that Nui but how much younger isn't known. To elaborate further, Nui is 16 and Satsuki is at least 20 Tidbit ,by the time chapter 12 comes around.
    • What definitely forestalls calculation is the fact that when Satsuki and Nui finds scant photos of Ryuuko, they have the month and date on them but they don't have a year on them, in which case they go by her appearance in the photos, along with the fact that the two that did know, Ragyo and Rei, her secretary, are dead and there are no real legal documents of her.
    • Likewise, Ryuuko's vague age is a plot point, as it does drive the sisters to learn more about their family, however, her age not being known complicates rehabilitation, as the older she is, the less they are to recover (i.e, see Genie).
      • Writers Cannot Do Math: The authoress went back to correct Satsuki age, which places her at twenty, as she had miscalculated 17.5 + 2.5 and thought it added up to 21, when it actually added up to 20.
  • Virtual Soundtrack: Chapters 7 has the links to Molly Svcina's "I'm finding my way" and Fernwood's "Kalyan" playing in the back ground, while Chapter 12 has Ikue Asazaki's "Yoisura".
    • Chapter 24 has Mononoke-Hime playing in the background. It fits.
    • Chapter 25 has Helen Jane Long's "Embers" playing.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Apparently, we're supposed to take the assumption that the story takes place in America, considering the fact that their house has a basement and the fact that Satsuki narrations mentioned middle names (kids and the birth certificates thereof don't have middle names in Japan).
  • Wistful Amnesia: Satsuki describes some of her childhood memories, particularly ones with her father in them, as "fragmented" or "lost", which is to say, she doesn't recall them very well and how she remembers so little of him prior to his leaving. Likewise, she doesn't remember too much of her mother outside of her cruelty.
  • Yandere: According to Chapter 21, Ragyou was a mild one for Souichiro and her children.