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Light Novel / All You Need is Kill

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"Is it true the green tea they serve in Japan at the end of your meal comes free?"
Rita "Valkyrie" Vrataski, aka "The Full Metal Bitch"

There's one thing worse than dying; it's coming back to do it again and again. When the alien Mimics invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many raw recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to find himself reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. Just before his first death though, he gets to meet with a legendary soldier: Rita Vrataski, the "Full Metal Bitch", whom he will try to imitate and learn from in every iteration. Is the Bitch the key to Keiji's escape, or to his final death?

All You Need Is Kill is a 2004 Japanese novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka that deals with Keiji's "Groundhog Day" Loop and his desperate efforts to break the cycle.

In 2014, it was loosely adapted into a film called Edge of Tomorrow, directed by Doug Liman, produced by Warner Bros., and starring Tom Cruise as "William Cage" and Emily Blunt as Rita Vrataski.


There is also a two-volume manga adaptation illustrated by Takeshi Obata, with an omnibus release in 2016.

In May 2014, Sakaurazaka revealed he was working on a sequel.

Tropes in this work

  • The Ace: Rita and Keiji.
  • Action Girl: Rita Vrataski is the only person to ever kill more than one hundred Mimics in a single battle, and has the highest total kill count in the entire UDF.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In-universe, the Hollywood movie version of Rita is way curvier and sexier than the real McCoy, and is way undressed, to boot.
  • Adaptational Curves: Rita is flat-chested but the actress who plays her in the Hollywood movie based on her life is far more glamorous and curvy. When Rita is presented with a Japanese figurine modeled after herself, she has to be told that it's supposed to be her because of the utter lack of resemblance.
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  • Adaptation Distillation: The manga by Takeshi Obata. The manga still ends the same way except the story moves at a much faster pace, Rachel the cook and most of Keiji's squad survives till the end and Keiji is a much more sane & balanced individual thanks to his love for Rita...which makes the ending even more of a Tear Jerker & bittersweet.
  • Alliterative Name: Jacket pilots are referred as "Jacket jockeys."
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Keiji has fallen in love with Rita over hundreds of loops, but Rita only ever knows him a single day at most before he loops again. It's implied Rita felt the same way for Lt. Hendricks.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:In-Universe. Some consider Keiji New Meat that turned out to be humanity's greatest warrior. Others consider him an unstoppable monster who cares nothing for his allies and a Karma Houdini who gets away with murdering humanity's greatest warrior because the war goes on and he's too valuable to execute.
  • Armor Is Useless: The Jacket suits are necessary for soldiers to be able to wield weapons that have a chance of damaging individual mimics. They're completely useless for taking a hit, though.
  • Ate His Gun: Immediately after waking in the past for the fourth time, Keiji asks for his friend's pistol, sticks it in his mouth and pulls the trigger, just to find out if he really is time-looping.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Probably the only battle strategy the Mimics use. Despite this, they were still able to destroy much of Earth's defense force thanks to their ability to send their memory to the past.
  • An Axe to Grind: The preferred weapon of both Rita and later Keiji due to it being able to pulverize the Mimics without running out of ammo like the pile drivers.
  • The Berserker: After killing Rita, Keiji apparently went berserk on the Mimics attacking the base, wiping them all out practically single-handed. This earns him the nickname "Killer Cage".
  • Bittersweet Ending: Keiji manages to break out of the loop, but Rita dies just as they were forming a relationship, and his exploits have resulted in him being ostracized by his comrades, as well as having to coldly "sacrifice" all of his squad members. Plus, the war and the fate of humanity is now on his shoulders.
  • Black Comedy: Much like the later Hollywood adaptation, a number of Keiji's loops are played for laughs. A notable early loop involves Keiji getting fed up with the loops, asking Yonabaru for his gun, and promptly shooting himself in the mouth, only to be looped back to thirty seconds prior.
  • Blessed with Suck / Cursed with Awesome: Imagine being able to relive the day when you get painfully killed over and over until you figure out how to survive. Though it is not stated, Kiriya and Rita knows it is both a blessing and a curse.
  • Blood Knight: In their introductory meeting, Rita told Shasta that she was glad she lived in a world full of war. Rita herself admits she's skilled as a great warrior but does have some inner doubts about whether becoming a warrior would have been her own choice of destiny.
  • Bookends: The opening scene has Rita comforting a dying Keiji. The denoument has Keiji returning the favor after their fight.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted, which is why Rita and Keiji use a battle axe. The pile driver is the only effective anti-Mimic weapon for an individual soldier, and it only holds 20 rounds.
  • Break the Cutie: Rita's Backstory. She was raised in the Midwest. At age fifteen she watched both her parents get murdered horribly by Mimics. Shortly after she steals the identity of a refugee to enlist in the UDF for Revenge. During the Florida campaign she gets caught in the loop. Eventually she escapes the loop and even discovers another Looper only to realize she has to kill them.
  • Broken Ace: Rita and Keiji, by the nature of the loop.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Sergeant Ferrell, a Japanese-Brazilian, immigrated to Japan after his family farm was destroyed by the Mimics.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Various characters use this to calm down their panicking fellow soldiers.
  • Censor Steam: Used to obscure Rita's nudity during the early moments of her time loop resetting, as it happens while she's in the shower.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Due to the constant combat experience, Keiji and Rita develop enhanced reflexes and agility.
  • Chekhov's Gun: There's a minor event that is described as happening in every loop that Keiji survives long enough to reach - him helping a drunk Yonabaru into his bunk. When it doesn't happen (on account of Keiji spending the night with Rita), it's a sign that the upcoming loop is going to be very different.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Keiji feels that this is the Mimics' one weakness, as their reliance on looking into the future, and acting solely on that foresight means that humanity can learn faster than they can, and that humans can specialize in other ways (as mechanics, or soldiers, or inventors, etc.) that Mimics can't with their shiny hammer.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: The novel is ambiguous about how close Keiji and Rita got during the night they spent together before she died, although the manga is quite clear that they just sat up talking all night.
  • The Dreaded: Rita "the Full Metal Bitch" Vrataski is respected and admired by her fellow soldiers. Keiji "Killer Cage" Kiriya is feared.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Keiji tells Rita he loves her as she's dying... from injuries he inflicted.
  • Five Rounds Rapid: Instead of using an entire military arsenal, the UDF rely mostly on Powered Armor with what are essentially small arms. They're even stated that the small arms were issued with the intent of having tank support but fail to receive it. Lack of air support is at least explained by the Mimic's ability to shoot them out of the sky very easily, and can avoid aerial bombardments due to knowing the future.
    • The manga does include a few shot of some kickass Spider Tanks on the humans' side.
  • Friend or Foe: Result of heroes Roaring Rampage of Revenge
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Keiji enters the loop as a not particularly exceptional soldier. He exits it as "Killer Cage" Kiriya, second recipient of the Order of the Valkyrie, with the highest Mimic kill total period - he killed more Mimics in his first battle than Rita in her entire career. His fellow soldiers are shown to have a good amount of fear of him afterwards.
  • Future Food Is Artificial / Only Electric Sheep Are Cheap: The Hostile Terraforming of most of Earth's agricultural areas means that nonessential crops like coffee aren't grown much. Rita's hand-ground coffee made from natural beans is the only luxury she allows herself, not because she Must Have Caffeine but because it's a reminder of her deceased father who passed on his love of natural coffee to her.
  • Genius Bruiser: Rita, though not explicitly stated. After getting stuck in the loop, she figured out how it works, which Mimics are responsible for it and the strategy to get out of it, all by herself.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Keiji and Rita (but not in Keiji's loop) are stuck repeating the same 30 hours.
  • Guilt-Free Extermination War: The Mimics are going to kill every last human being unless humans manage to destroy all the Mimics first.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Played very straight. The Jacket's 20mm rounds does little damage to the Mimics' armor; Heavier mounted guns can hardly hit them due to their speed. The pile-drivers are capable of killing the Mimics in one shot, but can only be used at near point-blank range.
  • Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Rita's crimson Jacket and Keiji's sky-blue one. It is explicitly stated that they want their Jackets to draw attention and let everyone know they are still alive and kicking.
  • Hostile Terraforming: This is the true purpose of the Mimics.
  • In Medias Res: The manga begins as Keiji is gasping out his last breaths from a loop.
  • Innocent Aliens: Ruthlessly subverted in the narration of "what probably happened". The aliens decide to terraform the Earth without checking to see if it's inhabited by intelligent life, because sending a radio signal and waiting 80 years for a reply would take too long. Worse, even if the Earth is inhabited by intelligent life, the aliens decide that they should terraform the planet anyway, reasoning that civilization is always built on the sacrifice of the natural world, so xenocide is no big deal. Though there was a faction of the aliens that opposed the terraforming on ethical grounds, the ruling government ignored their protests and went ahead with the plan anyway.
  • Javelin Thrower: The Mimics' main weapon is a large spike called a Javelin round which they generate from inside their bodies and shoot out at bullet-like speeds.
  • Killed Off for Real: Rita at the very end.
  • Kill the Cutie: Rita and the cook, Rachel.
  • Lonely at the Top: Rita Vrataski. At the end, she escapes that fate, and Keiji takes her place.
  • Meaningful Echo: "I'll stay with you until you die."
  • Ms. Fanservice: Rachel the cook is very endowed, and her default outfit is short shorts and a shirt tied under her bosom to expose her belly.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Minor example occurs after Keiji sees results of his rampage.
  • My Skull Runneth Over: As a result of the time loops, Keiji begins suffering migraines. Later on, Rita is revealed to also have them, and that they're a side effect of their brains being rewritten by the Mimics' tachyon transmissions that allow them to broadcast information through the loops.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Rita "Valkyrie" Vrataski, the Full Metal Bitch. At the end, Keiji "Killer Cage" Kiriya.
  • Necessary Drawback: The battleaxes used by Rita and Keiji are the perfect tool for killing Mimics, but they weigh over 200kg each and the inertial stress of swinging them will tear both Jacket and pilot to pieces if done improperly.
  • One-Man Army: Deconstructed, and discussed. Both Rita and Keiji are clearly One Man Armies, and it's stated that without Rita humanity would have lost the war years ago, but they're not so powerful as to be able to save all their teammates, a failing which rips them up inside. Many think that Rita is just used for propaganda purposes. After Keiji breaks out of his loop, his incredible battlefield prowess causes his old teammates to regard him warily.
  • Passing the Torch: Rita to Keiji.
  • Pile Bunker: The Jackets' secondary, close-range weapon. Rita and Keiji eschew them in favor of huge battleaxes due to their limited ammo capacity.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Rita is rather petite; in the manga, she only comes up to Keiji's nose.
  • Planet Looters: The aliens are actually machines sent by an alien civilization to turn Earth into a place they can populate. Although in the narration this is presented as a sort of theory of what "probably happened". We never actually see the aliens in question.
  • Powered Armor: Called "Jackets" herein.
  • Recycled with a Gimmick: Is basically Groundhog Day with Powered Armor.
  • The Red Baron: Rita "Valkyrie" Vrataski aka "The Full Metal Bitch" and Keiji "Killer Cage" Kiriya.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Played with between Rita and Keiji. Ultimately lampshaded with their Jackets — Rita's is painted crimson, while Keiji has his painted sky blue after his induction into the Special Forces.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After he's forced to kill Rita to break the loop, Keiji goes into such a rampage that he barely remembers the resulting fight, in which he kills more Mimics than all of Rita's kills combined.
  • Save Scumming: The author's inspiration for the novel. It's the source of Keiji's and Rita's advanced combat skill, and the Mimics' important advantage. Rita was actually skilled before her looping began, but it was the looping that enabled her to figure out how to finish off a Mimic troop.
  • Sergeant Rock: Sergeant Ferrel fulfills this role giving support and taking care of his men.
  • Shaking Her Hair Loose: Rachel normally keeps her hair up in a bandanna, but lets it down as she's offering to spend the night with Keiji.
  • Shower Scene: Rita's time loop resets to her in the shower.
  • Shown Their Work: A nice thing about the Manga is that there is accurate portrayals of military life. PT that seems like an excessive punishment, very fussy commanders when it comes to gear maintainence, and one very nice touch is when Keiji is confronted in the cafeteria. The guy who assaults him is wearing dogtags with rubber silencers wrapped around the tags. Those are real things that started being made after Vietnam because the sound of jingling dogtags gave away American soldiers' positions.
  • Slasher Smile: Keiji starts sporting these as soon as he realizes that he has the best way to train.
  • Starfish Aliens: The Mimics landed in the ocean, and copied what they found there (Starfish), which they now have much more in common with them than humans. There is little mention of the real aliens though, other than that they require a much different biosphere than us.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Downplayed, Rita is by far the greatest fighter the Earth has at its disposal, but among Keiji's Japanese squad there are no women. Men are also referenced as making up the majority of Jacket users worldwide.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The third chapter focuses on Rita's past and the Mimics' origin. The 8th chapter of the manga adaptation switches to Rita's backstory.
  • Take Up My Sword: Rita to Keiji.
  • There Can Only Be One: Only one Looper can exist at any time.
  • Trust Password: Green tea after a meal is complimentary in Japan. After so many times of asking a variant on this question to people, to finally hear an answer which means that person is now the looper instead of her brings her to tears.

Alternative Title(s): Edge Of Tomorrow