The fandom dropped Tsumugu/Kinue like a hot potato, when episode 17 revealed them to have been siblings, instead of just colleagues at Nudist Beach. Word of God revealed it was actually Aikuro/Kinue the whole time.
There was a mixed reaction for Satsuki/Ryuko: the revelation that they're sisters made the ship stronger for some fans, while others abandoned ship because they thought it was squicky, or because they preferred a sisterly relationship instead of a romantic one.
The finale has caused a lot of debates over whether any of the ships were made canon. On one hand, Mako asks Ryuko on a date and straight up kisses her; Gamagoori is shown with a bouquet of flowers during the epilogue, implying that they're about to confess to someone, very likely Mako. However, the episode ends without showing who they gave them to, if they successfully make their intentions known, if that person fully accepts the gesture or not, or even if the flowers were meant to be given romantically.
It's easy to interpret Nui's violent and sadistic attitude as a product of her upbringing. Ryuko was raised solely by Soichiro/Isshin and ended up a fundamentally decent person, while Satsuki was influenced by him enough to have good intentions. Nui, on the other hand, was created after Soichiro defected from the Kiryuins, and so the only parental figure she had was Ragyo.
Ryuko gets over herself pretty quickly after the Junketsu incident, which involves Junketsu being sewn onto her skin, her being Mind Raped into becoming a loyal servant of Ragyo, being molested by Nui and Ragyo (or at the very least being fed memories of being molested by them, this scene could've been a part of the brainwashing fed into her brain), and coming dangerously close to killing her friends. It's possible she hit her personal fury limit and spent the last episodes in a perpetual state of Tranquil Fury, essentially, but it can be jarring since the last major bombshell that was dropped on her (the fact that she's a Humanoid Abomination and that Ragyo is her mother) caused her to have a serious Heroic BSoD and subsequently had her lash out at everyone.
The fact that Satsuki's trauma over being sexually abused isn't explored throughout the series. She also does not show any visiblesigns ofbeing traumatized. The only explanations that come to mind could be that she's either Conditioned to Accept Horror or her Ice Queen demeanor is a protective shell she created for herself due to the trauma of Ragyo sexually abusing her.
The final battle may be bit of a disappointment for some. Nui doesn't go down fighting, but kills herself to fuse with the Primordial Life Fiber and give Ragyo a further power-up. Then we have Ragyo herself, who is not defeated with some awesome final attack, but by absorbing her ability to control the Life Fibers, rendering her powerless — at which point she too decides to kill herself. One kinda gets the feeling the writers got a bit too attached to them to really all out eviscerate them.
Arc Fatigue: Probably the biggest criticism of the series is the amount of time spent on Filler, despite the apparent plot going on. It's not until episode 16, and the origin behind the Life Fibers being revealed, that the plot really goes anywhere.
Awesome Ego: Satsuki definitely has truckloads of this, and it skyrocketed after episode 17.
Badass Decay: Tsumugu started off strong, defeating Ryuko and three school clubs all by himself. However, in almost all his subsequent battles, he is either ridiculously outmatched or even relegated to Plucky Comic Relief.
Nui is either really funny and cutely evil plus a badass troll of a fighter, or a loathsome dog kicker with no further motives and whose trolling is just annoying. Even her leitmotif includes the kanji for disagreeable. Ironically, Nui herself would be more than happy with either opinion of her: love and hate are interchangeable in her view.
Ragyo became this as she got more prominent. Fans either love the fact that she's such an over the top and camp villain, but still manages to be a credible threat and a repulsive person you wanna see die, or hate her for being a shallow, pretentious villain with a generic motive with no justifiable reasoning behind them beyond just being evil, and her molestation tendencies are creepy Fan Disservice.
To a lesser extent, Mako gets some of this. She either serves as The Heart for the series and her antics prevent things from getting too serious, or said antics detract from otherwise serious scenes and that she should have been pushed to the side when the tone of the plot shifted in the series' second half.
Senketsu, to a small extent. While people like him for his sweet friendship with Ryuko and for his tearjerking death, others explicitly remember him for his Establishing Character Moment, where he forces himself into Ryuko.
Best Known for the Fanservice: Ryuko's underboobs-revealing, ass-exposing uniform is perhaps the most iconic element of the series. It doesn't help that Satsuki has one of her own, and there is an entire organization of nudist freedom fighters and that the Elite Four also become part of Nudist Beach. This is justified as that's what the series is mainly about.
The excess fanservice. There is the camp that likes it and think it fits, considering the creators have worked on other shows that had large amounts of fanservice and the context it is given in-story, there is the camp that tolerates it for the other over-the-top and enjoyable aspects of the series and there is the camp that absolutely hates it and thinks it exemplifies anime's nasty reputation of being sexist and refuses to watch the series because of this. And let's leave it there.
Ragyo's sexual abuse of Satsuki either gave the latter a legitimate Freudian Excuse for her actions and made her a more sympathetic character, or was a hasty and clumsy plot twist that came out of nowhere that was designed to shock the viewers into discounting all her previous actions. Additionally, many a debate has been had over whether it perfectly illustrated how heinous of a villain Ragyo actually is, or if it was a step too far. There is also a faction that feels that the writers used Parental Incest, a very heavy and sensitive topic, purely for shock value. And that they not only didn't portray it realistically but also handled it with all the subtlety and tact of a sledgehammer. Againlet's leave it at that.
Those who feel that the early characterization of Satsuki and the Elite Four as brutal tyrants who oppressed the weak and put down dissenters with uncalled for force got blatantly whitewashed when they switched over to the protagonist side, with Ragyo's overblown sexual abuse and being a one-dimensional Omnicidal Maniac that wants to blow up the earth, being a hasty and clumsy attempt to shock the viewers into discounting Satsuki's earlier faults to that end, while others defend them on the grounds that they did what they had to do. The OVA actually uses this as a plot point, using the student body's memories of Satsuki and the Elite Four to make evil clones of them, and having it acknowledged that they were genuinely bad people in the past and now must continue atoning for their crimes in the present as heroes.
The fact that both Nui and Ragyo died on their own terms despite their horrible actions also left a sour taste in some fans' mouths. Other fans would just say "So? They're still dead."
As aforementioned, the discussion of which, if any, ships were made canon in the finale is this. Some argue that due to the explicit mention of the word "date", Ryuko/Mako sailed. Meanwhile, there are those that say that it was only platonic. Then there's the matter of Gamagoori and the flowers he had. Many fans will insist they were meant for Mako, while others will claim they're intended for Satsuki or Ryuko. And going further into that subject is whether Gamagoori was actually successful with his intended target or not!
There is a general divide over the second half of the anime, largely due to character revelations and a shift in the direction of the story. This includes the revelations that the Life Fibers are alien parasites, Satsuki and the Elite Four were Good All Along, and Ryuko being the daughter of Ragyo and sister to Satsuki. Some welcome the changes for their entertainment value or impact on the story, while others feel the changes were completely at odds with the conflict and themes established in the first half of the anime. This is mainly due to how a story about a lone rebel facing against an authoritarian regime becomes a chosen one story to defeat an alien invasion.
On a soundtrack-related note, the rap version in "Don't lose your way". Plenty of people think it's narmy and you will find various videos on YouTube where it's completely removed, leaving only the part with the female singer. Another group, however, while it doesn't really like it, argues that it should stay, since the point of the song was to show how lonely Ryuko feels (represented by the female singer), but that's not entirely true, as she has Senketsu (represented by the rapper) who cares for her and he will help her.
Speaking of which, the line "I've gotta find out who killed my dad", which is either cheesy or moving.
Ryuko and Senketsu are a very popular ship, mostly since they're both the main characters and their bond is one of the most major components of the series. Though in this case, Senketsu isn't exactly inanimate.
Complete Monster: Ragyo Kiryuin is the CEO of REVOCS and the monstrous mother of Satsuki Kiryuin and Ryuko Matoi. Aiming to annihilate all human life on Earth with the alien Life Fibers, Ragyo previously married the genius scientist Soichiro/Isshin, having her daughters with him and using them for experiments with the Life Fibers, callously throwing away Ryuko when she thought her work had killed her daughter. Over the years, Ragyo has Soichiro hunted down and murdered when he betrayed her, and frequently subjects Satsuki to sexual abuse. Reunited with Ryuko seventeen years later, Ragyo immediately breaks her mind into subservience and later molests her mind-controlled daughter before sending her off in an attempt to kill her friends resisting Ragyo. While preparing for her apocalyptic endgame, Ragyo has nearly all of humanity converted into enslaved, mindless COVERS to build herself an army and while Satsuki is held in her captivity, continues to subject the helpless young woman to further sexual assault. Even when eventually defeated by Ryuko and offered a chance for reconciliation, Ragyo refuses any kinship and spitefully kills herself, cementing her status as a hollow megalomaniac whose only desire was to dominate everything under her own will.
Satsuki and Takarada. While the two seem to have been acquainted in the past, there is no romantic tension between them at all — aside from the fact that he thinks she's hot — and they haven't interacted since. Hilariously, most art of the ship has Takarada as a Casanova Wannabe, completely failing to woo a disinterested Satsuki.
Nui and Iori, which has practically no basis beyond the fact that both are tailors for their respective sides.
Gamagoori and Tsumugu have barely interacted with other, but have a decent number of fans shipping them together because of their Bara Genre appeal.
After the ending, Nui and Nonon has started to pop up as a form of Pair the Spares, especially given their similar feminine themes.
It's set in a totalitarian fascist dystopia where the powerful murder, torture, and subjugate the weak For the Evulz. The sole revolutionary is a girl in a stripperiffic outfit who is repeatedly subjected to attempted Black Comedy Rape and other fanservice tropes against her will. All of this is so ridiculously exaggerated that you'll either find it hilarious or horribly offensive.
Everything that Nui says and does. She admits to killing Isshin Matoi, and then has the gall to proclaim that hate is the same as love.
Anyone trying to explain Aikurou's "retirement" will inevitably find themselves saying that he exposed himself in front of a young boy. Bear in mind, he's been posing as a teacher. Depending on who you ask, the whole scene is either horribly offensive, or funny enough to keep you laughing for about 5 minutes straight.
Sanageyama's victory over Takarada involves repeated, violent Ass Shoves with his bamboo sword.
Omiko Hakodate, the tennis club captain, has a lot of fan art and support compared to the other club presidents.
Maiko Ogure has a sizeable fandom due to her memorable appearance early in the series.
In Japan, Kaneo Takarada is a two-off minor villain. Overseas, especially as far as /a/ is concerned, he is the DoshKing. This reaction was met by Trigger with confusion. After the series ended, and requests for Takarada piggy bank merchandise started rolling in, Trigger stated they were still scratching their heads about why he was so popular in America. The Dosh King's glorious◊ return in episode 20 was met with quite a fanfare, cementing him as this.
Evil Is Cool: Satsuki, by a long shot; and to some extent, Ragyo and Nui as well.
Evil Is Sexy: Pretty much every single female antagonist has some form of sex appeal, while also subverting an element of this somehow:
A rather funny example from episode 21: Mako tells Aikurou that she was able to remember Satsuki's plan so well because Satsuki had written every detail on her hands. Cue fan artists making a very intimate scene of Satsuki writing the instructions on Mako's hands.
There are Japanese fan artists who feature Sanageyama and Ryuko with konjac because of the first drama CD where Sanageyama asked Ryuko test questions on nothing but konjac.
A darker and more intriguing incident is the rise of the theory that Mako was replaced, or even possessed, by Nui at some point in the final battle, born from the observance of a number of rather sudden visual and behavioral changes. A detailed post on the theory can be found on Tumblrhere.
There's the question of what exactly happened to Rei after Senketsu separates her from Shinra-Koketsu... It gets answered in #25.
The alternate life the characters would have had if Ragyo didn't use her children to test the Life Fibers and abuse them or, alternatively, if the Life Fibers haven't existed is also the subject of fanfiction.
The backgrounds of Satsuki and Nui are also explored in fanfiction, especially with Satsuki's with her mother's abuse, along with the effects thereof.
The outfit Ragyo wears on her visit to the academy screams this, as it makes her look like some kind of pale, demented Monster Clown. Some chalk it up to be a parody of real life high fashion outfits, and/or that being a fitting representation of what Ragyo really is for the most part. She becomes an even more prominent example of this after she dons Shinra-Koketsu. In short, she resembles the Flatwoods Monster or the Walpurgisnacht witch upside down.
Junketsu certainly covers more of Ryuko than Senketsu does, but it looks straight out of Disco Dan's high school wardrobe.
Even within the camp that normally enjoys fanservice, there is the contingent that finds the kamui's transformed appearances to be so ridiculous-looking that the fanservice becomes unappealing and grotesque.
Ragyo in general is this. Any fanservice moments involving her often have her sporting a creepy look on her face or have disturbing context, or made more disturbing by knowing what kind of person she, or a combination of the above, and it's made even worse be the scenes in question involve her own children. She makes any fanservice into instant Squick.
Ryuko and Satsuki. Satsuki's Junketsu is referred by her mother as her "wedding dress", while Ryuko's Senketsu is mostly black, which is the common color of the groom's tuxedo. In their first major fight, they even shove their chests against each other (5:58). The reveal that Ryuko and Satsuki are actually sisters hasn't stopped some from still shipping them. However, they eventually stop being enemies altogether as the series goes on.
Nui lives by this paradigm. According to her, the more you hate someone, the more you're able to love that someone. Keep in mind that she seeks to be hated by everyone, which means that she's flirting with everyone.
Some Frozen and Kill la Kill fans are sure to be friends. Particularly, the incest shippers, as those who ship Anna/Elsa tend to also ship Ryuko/Satsuki.
There's also a significant overlap between the Kill la Kill fandom and the Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance fandoms, due the similarities between the over-the-top fight sequences, revenge-seeking protagonists, not-so bad rivals and a Big Bad powering themselves up, and Awesome Music featuring sudden shouts.
Because Ryuko looks similar to Seija Kijin (mainly because of their hairstyles), as well as some the other characters resembling the others in the Touhou Project be that vaguely or not, it isn't uncommon to find fans of both or being friends.
The series caught on quite well in America and the UK, much to the surprise of Trigger themselves; it helps that it's already had two runs on the U.S. Toonami block.
Kill la Kill has a good number of fans in Latin America. In Brazil for example, many anime fans praised it. Both anime and manga are licensed in the country (the former by Netflix) and in anime events always have a Ryuko cosplay.
Harsher in Hindsight: After episode 16 and the bath scene, Ryuko's taunt from episode 3 about whether there is anything "pure" about Satsuki seems much less amusing.
Heartwarming in Hindsight: Satsuki allowing Ryuko to take a break after her fight with Gamagoori. While it serves as an easy-to-forget Pet the Dog moment, it's shown in episode 16 that Satsuki has trouble wearing Junketsu, which shows that she has sympathy for her and that she doesn't want her getting too injured, unaware that Ryuko and Senketsu's mutual relationship isn't the same as her and Junketsu's parasitic one.
The whole "losing dignity by wearing Junketsu" part Satsuki says is hilarious if you take into account her Japanese voice actress, Ryoka Yuzuki, previously voiced Cattleya, who is notable not only for her Stripperiffic outfit, but also because she's a Shameless Fanservice Girl. Even more hilarious, in a meta way, is the fact that Yuzuki is also a former gravure idol.
Ryuko is initially very reluctant and embarrassed to wear Shinketsu due to his stripperiffic nature as a Kamui. Ami Koshimizu, Ryuko's Japanese voice actress, also provides the voice of Mai Shiranui, a stripperiffic, Highly Visible Ninja who normally doesn't mind her outfit at all.
Romi Park (Ragyo) voiced Vasquez in the Japanese dub of Aliens, at least in the DVD release. Vasquez kills herself, along with Gorman, with a hand grenade while being cornered by the titular aliens. On the other hand, Ragyo also kills herself at the end, while being controlled by aliens.
The beating Nagita got from the Disciplinary Squad looked pretty funny. It gets better when it is revealed that Nagita was Nui all along, and the Disciplinary Squad guys were actually dolls she controlled. Nui was actually beating herself up in a hilarious way to give credence to her little manipulation stunt.
Throughout the series, Satsuki is undergoing a threat from Junketsu as it could easily take over her body. Her Japanese voice actress, Ryoka Yuzuki, would provide the Japanese voice of Regan, a character who gets taken over by a demon and changes her body.
Invoked, by Tsumugu grabbing hold of Aikuro's equipment in episode 17.
Mako for Ryuko, which sometimes goes beyond fangirling:
When Ryuko's nipples are nearly exposed during the official fight against Gamagoori, Mako gets a nosebleed.
Senketsu points out how Ryuko calms down from a fight when she watches Mako being adorable.
When Aikuro freezes Mako by hitting her "freezing pressure point" with a pin, Ryuko quickly tells him to unfreeze her because "talking to her makes me feel a whole lot better than talking to you".
Mako's theme song, "Light your heart up", is basically all about how much she enjoys being Ryuko's friend. And the lyrics of the second ED, "Shinsekai Kōkyōgaku" ("New World Symphony"), are also about how much Mako cares for Ryuko.
Mako has frequently shown herself as the most capable and reliable of motivating Ryuko, and has snapped her out of an earlier Heroic BSoD, saved her from the Ax-CrazyHeroic RRoD that caused her and Senketsu to become something horrifying, and was able to break her out of a lot of her brainwashing in episode 21. Her method for doing this can be described as tearing off her clothes and entering her.
Hype Backlash: After so many quotes like "Trigger saved anime", it's almost inevitable to expect some fans to find the series disappointing. After the series' overwhelming success, and having time to cool off the momentum, critics found many pacing issues with the beginning, late in the middle, and the finale. It doesn't help that it's compared with Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, another series that has a similar reputation. The amount of fanservice probably doesn't help.
I Am Not Shazam: You know that song that plays whenever Ryuko is about to do something awesome? It's called "Before My Body is Dry", not "Don't Lose Your Way".
Incest Yay Shipping: Satsuki is commonly shipped with her own mother, Ragyo, and her sister, Ryuko.
Inferred Holocaust: The casualties of Satsuki's military campaigns and the frequent torture and execution victims of her totalitarian regime. Because of Amusing Injuries and people often bleeding profusely without serious harm, it's impossible to tell how many people actually died throughout the series. Also, the finale shows that everyone's clothes have been destroyed, which could be a problem for people living in arctic regions.
Ryuko. Every known member of her family has either died under mysterious conditions or tried to kill her several times. She was faced with abuse for most of her life, was without either of her parents by the time she was a middle schooler, and had no family or friends until the events of the show. She's spent her whole life moments away from getting what she wants. This is what has driven her on over seventeen years on earth. She couldn't escape this even in her moment of triumph against Ragyo, since defeating them ended up costing Ryuko one of her first friends.
Satsuki is a prime, if not better, example. Thirteen years spent of planning and being raped amount to absolutely nothing, and she ends up imprisoned naked, while her mother ramps the sexual, physical, and emotional abuse Up to Eleven, her friends risk their lives trying to salvage her ruined plans, and her sister (at least who she now knows is her) ends up in a coma before snapping into a psychotic rage, all in the span of a month. And yet her resolve doesn't diminish, and she still believes she can succeed (even revealing she was deliberately staying imprisoned, and could actually escape the whole time).
What's arguably the biggest reveal in the whole series, the fact that Ryuko and Satsuki are sisters, and that Ragyo is their mother, is practically common knowledge among most circles across the internet at this point.
Neither do they bother hiding the fact that Satsuki and the Elite Four were Good All Along.
Satsuki. She may be the head of a fascist dictatorship that has claimed much of Japan and razed what it couldn't, but her mom is — quite frankly — a walking freudian excuse of the highest order.
Ryuko is a milder example; her prickly attitude comes from dealing with Parental Abandonment, she gets thrown into a World Gone Mad in a quest for revenge for a father she barely knew, and a lot of her worst moments are thanks to the metric tons of crap thrown her way.
Nui can be surprisingly sympathetic when you thinkabout it. She's still irredeemably evil, but it is not hard to see how she got that way: she knows she isn't made to last and just wants to spend her limited life enjoying it. Sure, her way of enjoying it amounts to doing horrible, messed up things to people, but it's still sad. Further, she was raised solely by Ragyo, without a positive influence like Isshin in her life. Given how enthusiastic Satsuki was about wearing Junketsu before her father revealed the truth to her, as well as the way Ragyo Mind Raped Ryuko by implanting memories of a childhood raised by her, it can make you wonder if Nui is inherently evil, or if she could have turned out just like her "sisters" if she had been given the chance.
Finally, there's Rei Houomaru, who has such low self-respect that she's willing to serve Ragyo unto an assured death. It may have more to do with the trauma Rei endured as a child during her country's civil war which seems to have pushed her into being a Misanthrope Supreme. Couple that with the fact that Ragyo was the one who saved her from certain death and it's little wonder she'd go so far as to sacrifice her own life to help Ragyo exterminate humanity or seek revenge afterwards.
On the boys' side, Sanageyama gets shipped with just about everyone in the cast: Satsuki, Ryuko, Gamagoori, Mako, Nonon, Iori, Aikuro, Hakodate, Tsumugu, Ragyo, Nui, Takarada... even Junketsu, Satsuki's sentient but feral uniform, gets in on the action. They have their own anthology doujinshi and everything.
Gamagoori and Tsumugu are rather popular with gay male fans. Their status as Mr. Fanservice certainly helps.
Jakuzure for gay female fans. There are quite a few female fans who declare her the most attractive character in the series, for instance.
Like You Would Really Do It: Subverted once in episode 12, and then played straight in episode 13. Apparently, Senketsu has multiple spots where you'd have to hit him to rip him to shreds, unlike goku uniforms. Thus, in Ryuko's first fight with Nui, her Finger Poke of Doom has no ostensible effect. Not many people really thought Senketsu would fall apart during a fight scene with an Outside-Context Problem, at the climax of the season... except that he gets cut to pieces by Nui in episode 13 anyway. He spends the next few episodes getting patched up by Ryuko, to whom Satsuki left his eye-scarf.
Nui is an extremely unusual case, where her fans actually started hyping her badassery up a lot more afterher first complete defeat. The reason behind the surge was a combination of multiple factors; the personality change she went through immediately afterwards made her less obnoxious and more intimidating, the fact that her grievous injuries did little to hinderher willingness to fight or her ability to keep working on REVOCS' master plan, and her defiance of the mockery she is subjected to by both friend and foe afterwards inspiring her fanbase to raise their voices to counter the vast majority of viewers calling out Take That, Scrappy! That Nui recovers completelyin the following episode adds even more fuel to this memetic status. Love her, hate her, or both: either one, you just can't keep her down. Her Breaking the Fourth Wall and hijacking the ED credits in the penultimate episode has practically made her a full-on Memetic Troll.
Mako, while donning her Fight Club President Uniform. Half of the batshit crazy stuff in episode 23 wouldn't be possible if not for her, and Iori even notes that her power level exceeds 9999. Vegeta would be proud of her.◊
Gamagori because of his over-the-top attitude towards discipline and his gigantic size.
What more than a few people think of Senketsu, considering the way he takes off Ryuko's clothes and, for lack of a better term, "forces himself" on her afterwards. And this is the first thing he does on-screen. This view has died down episodes after, though, as Senketsu since hasn't really done anything forceful, and is shown time and time again to care deeply for Ryuko's welfare.
Ragyo Kiryuin, and unlike most examples, she deserves it. Almost all of her scenes have her doing something extremely perverted, mostly to her child Satsuki. If what she does is really meant to "purify" then the method Makes Just as Much Sense in Context.
After Ryuko and Satsuki were revealed to be sisters, the fandom had a field day, turning the latter into a full on siscon for the former. It led to some hilarious results.
Memetic Troll: Nui. Fans like to ramp her up into an uber troll that messes with the fans as mach as she does the characters, particularly when she did just that in the penultimate episode's ED credits.
From a narrative standpoint, Ragyo Kiryuin crosses over it during episodes 17 and 18, where she gleefully offers a stadium of innocent people to the Life Fibers as food, which luckily doesn't succeed; delivers a completely and utterly brutal beatdown to Satsuki. However, the aforementioned events are mere Kick the Dog moments when the exact point where she crosses this line is revealed in a flashback - the moment when she casually disposed of her newborn second daughter (that she didn't even give a name to) when experiments on her failed. Her actions in episodes afterwards simply serve to dig her hole even deeper.
It seems at first that killing Isshin was Nui's crossing, but it turns out that she was just following Ragyo's orders. But soon after her introduction, she pretends to be an injured student, forcing Ryuko to let her stay at her place, which results in Mr. Mankanshoku being beaten up, Senketsu being shredded to pieces, and Ryuko left for dead at her hands, and she would've been killed her if it weren't for Satsuki interfering. And the reason behind all of this? None whatsoever!
The ridiculous designs of the kamui can be seen as a little too Stripperiffic to be taken remotely seriously, despite their use in fairly awesome fight sequences. For example, Ryuko wearing Junketsu would be a lot easier to take seriously if it weren't for those weird... leg-skirt things. It's possible that the big poofy pant legs are supposed to resemble hakama, but that doesn't stop them from looking outright silly.
Ragyo's abusive treatment of Satsuki, while intended to be shocking and make her come across as a bad guy, seems to produce this effect on some viewers; especially in episode 19, where she simply caresses and then spanks Satsuki several times, and not particularly hard, all while cackling maniacally. Perhaps there's some sort of sadomasochism fetish involved.
Nui gets her arms cut off. Cue the Monty Python and the Holy Grail jokes. Later on, her angry "tailoring" of Shinra-Koketsu looks more like she's chewing on red meat than sewing something with her mouth.
The final battle between Ragyo and Ryuko becomes increasingly hard to take seriously, when Ryuko and Senketsu start to repeatedly assert that "humans are humans and clothing is clothing", and that the two of them "are neither human nor clothing". It Makes Sense in Context, but the subject of the phrases combined with the overblown conviction with which they say, it makes it impossible to listen to with a straight face the first time, let alone the fifth. When Ragyo gets fed up and just starts yelling "what is this nonsensical garbage you keep babbling about", quite a few viewers found themselves sharing that sentiment.
"Before My Body Is Dry" features the infamous line, "I gotta find out who killed my dad!" As an "I Want" Song, it is incredibly on-the-nose.
Narm Charm: The whole series, given the ridiculously hammy setting:
All the talk about clothing, especially whenever Ragyo goes on a tangent, gets more than a bit ridiculous. But the way it's delivered usually keeps the scene tense. Usually.
Mako spouting comical amounts of cartoonish tears over Gamagoori's supposed death in episode 24 is an immediate indicator that said spoiler really wouldn't come to pass.
Kamui uniforms derive their power from the blood of their users. Viewers who are Afraid of Needles and have experienced having their blood drawn may feel themselves fainting at the whole concept.
Sukuyo's mystery croquettes. In the first scene they're shown, the worms in the croquettes seem to move.
The entirety of episode 12, after Ryuko overwhelms Senketsu with her rage and they morph into a hideously deformed berserk hybrid. There's blood spraying literally everywhere, Ryuko and Senketsu are both screaming in savage agony, and the extent of the damage they take before they finally go down is almost sickening.
The end of episode 18, where Ragyo rips Ryuko's heart straight out of her chest, still connected and beating! And then episode 19 ups the ante when Ragyo holds an entire conversation with Ryuko while still holding the beating heart; when Ryuko finally gets out of Ragyo's grip, her heart is briefly seen dangling by its arteries before being sucked back in her chest, as Ryuko is looking in pure horror at just how inhuman her body is.
This is repeated in episode 20, with Nui holding out her own heart, colored a rather unhealthy-looking blue, but it luckily has less focus.
Episode 24 has Ragyo ripping out her own heart and crushing it in her bare fist, all in glorious, nauseous detail.
The end of episode 21. Ryuko rips off Junketsu, which had been sewn to her body, and ends up covered in blood from literally head to foot.
No Yay: The series is heavy on the sexual imagery, and some of it can get seriously disturbing:
Any ship in which Ragyo is involved, largely because her interests lie exclusively in getting what she wants. All the Parental Incest doesn't help, either; neither does the fact that she's a Humanoid Abomination. In fact, it's hard to think of many ways in which Ragyo's unsubtle advances on the rest of the cast aren't creepy.
Ditto for Nui, who — bar the mental instability — is pretty much Ragyo's frilly pink marionette.
And then episode 21 gives us both of them naked with a naked Ryuko and a lot of unfortunate subtext between them.
One True Threesome: There are a lot of these; mostly revolving around Satsuki, Ryuko, and Mako, which is a popular ship as well with Jakuzure often added, especially since the final episode has the three going on a date together.
Nagita was Nui all along. And in his brief screentime, he'd quickly managed to become a very developed, sympathetic, and seemingly-trustworthy ally.
Imagine, you're exhausted and have to be extracted from a war zone by a chopper. Then, the pilot of the chopper turns out to be the last person you want to be carrying you to safety...
What if your clothes were actually embedded with an alien thread, that would eventually consume you, along with the entire planet?
Check out some of the real world clothing/fashion line marketing blurbs and such, like UNIQLO's Power of Clothing marketing spiel. What if they really are cover companies for REVOCS to propagate Life Fiber-infused clothing?
When she lost her arms in episode 22. It helps that she made a fairly cool comeback in the next episode, which came off as genuinely badass rather than cheap. And then in the grand finale, she defies expectations and offs herself to power up Ragyo, which was such a psychotically ballsy move that it won her even more respect.
When Stephanie Sheh was cast as her voice actress in the English dub. It won over a good many fans who hated her in the Japanese version.
There is a sizable contingent of fans who watch the show for Satsuki and the Student Council. Though, in episode 17, they became the good guys...
There are some fans who root for Ragyo simply because they find her character more bearable and less insufferable than Satsuki. The same goes for Hououmaru during the OVA due to her backstory being sympathetic.
Sacred Cow: Satsuki and the Elite Four, specifically their status as good guys. Huge portions of the fanbase will angrily write off anyone who tries to argue that some of their actions in the beginning were not performed in good sense, and that they still have a lot of past crimes to answer for. This is touched on in the OVA by Hououmaru, making this Ascended Fanon, with the final word on the matter being that the Elite Four were bad in the past and still must continue answering for their crimes, though on that same token they shouldn't be judged solely by their pasts and instead have the merits of their present selves acknowledged.
The Cargo Ship pairings of Ryuko/Senketsu and Satsuki/Junketsu have the same fanbase.
Ryuko/Mako fans often also pair Satsuki/Jakuzure (or, less commonly, Satsuki/Gamagoori or Satsuki/Sanageyama), while Ryuko/Satsuki fans are the natural ally of Mako/Gamagoori shippers. Inumuta/Jakuzure is also common for fans of Satsuki and anyone other than Jakuzure.
Ryuko/Mako versus Ryuko/Satsuki in the earlier part of the series, though Gamagoori/Mako became really strong after the Naturals Election. To put it lightly, the disagreements between the pairing are not pretty.
Some fans just took the third option and ship Ryuko, Mako, and Satsuki, especially after the epilogue of the final episode. Mako/Gamagoori shippers are a bit ambivalent about the whole thing, considering the ambiguity of their ship. There are also some fans that ship Ryuko and Nui due to some Nui's backstory being revealed and the implications of it.
Due to their backstory, another popular pairing is Satsuki/Nonon. Some prefer this pairing over the others for this very reason.
Shocking Swerve: Proving that even this can be made to work, the series' second half is an insane full throttle drive down a mountain of sudden plot twists. Nui killed Ryuko's father! Nagita was Nui all along and she destroyed Senketsu! Satsuki destroyed Nudist Beach's base even as she was forced to flee! Wait, no she didn't! Life Fibers are aliens who want to eat mankind! Satsuki and Honnouji Academy were planning to oppose Ragyo all along!RAGYO IS RYUKO'S MOTHER! The series' demented energy makes all these twists awesome instead of annoying.
Special Effect Failure: The CGI used when Satsuki climbs the school in episode 3 looks weird, to say the least.
In episode 6, you just know that that Sanageyama will definitely come back for more, because he's defeated halfway in the episode. And boy, he sure does.
In episode 23, Ryuko and Nudist Beach manage to destroy the Primordial Life Fiber, seemingly putting an end to Ragyo's Evil Plan. Sure enough, Ragyo has a few tricks to ensure her plan gets back on track until the end of the final episode.
Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Clothing is not to be seen as a shield for your shame against the rest of the world, nor used as a visual tool to mark out and enact subjugation or repression against distinct groups of people, but rather, clothing (and by extension, most of mankind's civilization and customs whose main function is not basic survival mechanisms) should be regarded as a common and diverse symbol of humanity's rise to sapience and hard-won privilege to reshape and define nature and the world around us according to our higher complex ideology.
Satsuki receiving a beatdown from both Ragyo and Ryuko is seen as this for her detractors.
Nui losing both of her arms, screaming in shock upon realizing that she cannot recover them, and having a complete breakdown as a result, made most of the fandom happy. Hilariously, both of these are undone in the very next episode, leaving the fandom feeling trolled. Then again, it's Nui, so that feeling is to be expected.
A disproportionate number of examples for such a short and neatly tied up story, the fault is largely because of the relatively large and diverse pool of secondary and tertiary characters whom all have colorful personas and (at least initially) imposing presence, but who are largely reduced to background or even one-shot roles. The members of the Kiryuin family are the only ones who actually move the plot along, and one the backstories of Ryuko, Senketsu, Satsuki, and the Elite Four are given any sort of information.
Tsugumu Kinagase establishes himself as a certified badass when he gives Ryuko not one, but two curb-stomp battles in his debut. A lot of fans were interested in his backstory and hoped he would contribute a lot to the series. Unfortunately, he's relegated to being a jobber who Can't Catch Up, while the younger heroes continuously get stronger with their upgrades.
Rei Hououmaru. She seemed to play The Dragon to Ragyo along with Nui, but literally nothing about her is explored and she accomplishes next to nothing as well. She gets absorbed into Shinra-Koketsu with little to no fanfare, and even when she's freed, it's treated like an afterthought. Her fate at the end of the series is also not disclosed, either. However, she returns as the Big Bad of Episode 25, trying to avenge Ragyo and, to a lesser extent, Nui. This episode also gives us a part of her previously unknown background.
Brainwashed Ryuko could count towards some. A lot of people were hoping that Trigger would use them in an interesting way, but ultimately the character's situation is resolved in the very next episode, in almost the exact same way berserk Ryuko from episode 12 was, leaving fans wondering what was the point of establishing such a character in the first place.
Ragyo's characterization is barely explored. Some feel her character to be the weakest part of the series, due to her lack of motivation beyond her evil plan, which itself barely amounts to more than end humanity via the Life Fibers.
Junketsu is presented as an antagonistic counterpart to Senketsu, but doesn't speak, very little of its background is explored, and is absorbed to power up Senketsu without a word. It is ultimately treated no differently than a Goku Uniform, though this was likely meant to serve as a contrast to Senketsu's more human personality and the reveal that he's not exactly a pure Life Fiber piece of clothing.
Kaneo Takarada is the Student Council President of his own highly effectively militarized high school, scion of a shipping business that rivals the Kiryuin Conglomerate's economic power in at least Japan, is the main finance and weaponry supplier for Nudist Beach, knew Satsuki as a kid, and is one of the only people ballsy enough to defy and challenge Satsuki and the Elite Four, even after being beaten down and humiliated by Sanageyama. Also the American viewership idolizes him. With all these credentials, you'd imagine he'd be an incredibly effective and charismatic commanding presence in the later battles. Nope, he's captured in his second episode, rescued off-screen, and just gets a half-minute cameo during the build-up for the penultimate confrontation.
Iori also gets no character focus or backstory, and never enters the battlefield either as an opponent or an ally, despite being the creator of the Goku Uniforms, being part of Satsuki's inner circle, and the nephew of her Parental Substitute butler. However, some bits of his characterization and backstory is explored in the Drama CDs .
Aikurou is the apparent leader of Nudist Beach after the death of Isshin, but we never get to hear a word of his backstory or motivations.
A sizable contingent of fans are disappointed by Mako's decision to have Ryuko simply destroy her two-star uniform, which is monstrously powerful, and not to mention incredibly awesome, instead of keeping it and helping Ryuko in the fight against the Kiryuins. She gets it back at the end of episode 22, much to the delight of said fans.
The reaction towards Nudist Beach was bad. People had come to expect a small band of badasses in the style of Tsugumu, instead they got a bunch of faceless red shirts in silly looking mechs.
When Senketsu is cut up and put into a bunch of upgraded goku uniforms, it was the perfect chance to bring back some of the club presidents, at least one of whom is a pretty big Ensemble Dark Horse, especially considering that the student council regained their ranks right after the Naturals Election. Like Mako above, however, they did end up making a minor comeback in episode 23; while minor, it was enough to appease their fans.
Some fans, especially those of Satsuki, felt that Ryuko's forced FaceHeel Turn in episode 20, which was negated the next episode, was a perfect chance to make Satsuki The Hero, and better show her and Ryuko's Character Development since Satsuki is much more involved against Ragyo than Ryuko is at this point.
In episode 21, Satsuki brings up an interesting plot thread in how Nui will not give her scissor blade to the Junketsu-wearing Ryuko because she's nervous of losing it, a point they could easily exploit to defeat her. This thread opens an interesting opportunity for Satsuki to steal the blade and use it against Ryuko, which also ties into the above example of the two going against each other as opposites... but then Ryuko's FaceHeel Turn is negated at the end of the episode, with Nui continuing to hold onto her scissor blade into the next episode until Ryuko steals it back, and the plot thread goes absolutely nowhere as a result.
While not exactly "ugly" per se, this is how some fans see Aikuro's teacher disguise. There's even a rubber strap of him in it, and some of his fans actually find him sexier while in this disguise, preferring it to his regular Bishōnen looks.
Senketsu is rather adorable, especially with his devotion to Ryuko, despite being just an animate seifuku.
Takarada is fairly gonkish but he has his fangirls.
Guts, being a pug, counts as well.
Vanilla Protagonist: Ryuko is plenty colorful herself, but she enters a world filled with a large and bright cast of secondary characters and can sometimes feel overshadowed by them.
The Woobie: Senketsu, as of episode 19. The poor guy's closest friend now hates him (and herself) and views him (and herself) as a monster, then left him lying in the rain devastated. And this is after he risked his life dragging her to safety, after Ragyo injured her, and sat by her side the entire month she was in a coma. Episode 21 takes a step further with him being trash talked by a brainwashed Ryuko. Finally, in episode 24, he sacrifices himself to save Ryuko, whilst telling her that she is free to wear clothes that are cuter than he is. This is the last thing he ever says to her, but she immediately cries out his name in sadness.
In the Aniplex English sub, the name of an event in which the Student Council were booted from their seats and expected to fight their way back to the top went from a pun on 解散総選挙 kaisan sousenkyo ("snap election") note the homophone 壊惨総戦挙, lit. "broken, cruel general battle election" to one on natural selection,note "The Naturals Election" which went along with the implication that only the fittest would survive to form a new council. In addition, when Mako cheers "Ganbatte ne!"note "Good Luck!" in episode 17, the subtitles translate this to "Have fun storming the stadium!" These changes made their way into the English dub.
Rather than try and translate the pun on kiru ("to wear", though as it's written, could be read as "Kill"), Trigger gave the show's Chinese simulcast the title The Girl Who Cuts Cloth. The character used for "Cloth" could also translate as "Dual-Wielding."
Sanageyama's "The enemy awaits at Honnouji!" refers to the famous line Akechi Mitsuhide supposedly said when he betrayed Oda Nobunaga. However, instead of translating it as is (Jakuzure and Inumuta groaning over using it at all), the dub makes it a Punny Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "It's laundry day at Honnouji!" and have Jakuzure and Inumuta ticked off that he hogged it for himself (Jakuzure mentions that it was a line they'd worked out earlier and planned to all use together).