2013 was a notable year for anime simulcasts as I was starting to get into it….albeit I started a little on the Fall season and quickly went into full mode in 2014…and oddly enough, the one anime I stumble into was my most anticipated thing to watch that season. The day was oddly enough October 3rd, 2013 (and yes, that is my birthday) and the reason for this particular title being hyped is because of two things: it was directed and written by the guys who made Gurren Lagann – Hiroyuki Imaishi and Kazuki Nakashima and it was made by their new studio, Trigger.
However, can this show live up to the hype it brings?
But first, what is this show about?
Ryuuko Matoi carries a large weapon shaped like half of a pair of scissors. She’s looking for the woman with the other half, who killed her father. Satsuki Kiryuuin, student council president of Honnouji Academy, is said to know the woman’s identity, so Ryuuko transfers there. Those who arrive at the school receive a special “goku uniform”, and Satsuki has used that power to rule the school in fear.
Yeah, that’s basically it.
So the question to this is…..is this show the next Gurren Lagann?
The answer is no. This is not another GL…….IT’S SOMETHING MORE AND SOMETHING BETTER, TOO!
To be fair, as much as I was anticipating this, my hopes weren’t exactly sky high. I mean, I liked Gurren Lagann but it is nowhere near the top tier anime everybody makes it out to be and this is practically the anime that surpasses it by a wide mile in terms of story and pace. Speaking of that…….yeah, this show has a simple premise. Girl wants revenge for her father and stumbles upon this magical uniform that makes you look like a freaky exhibitionist.
OK, let me rephrase that. A premise that starts out simple but ends up progressing its story in a fast pace that never seems to slow down on its energy and spectacle and even on its slower episodes, it is still present there. We get to know more about the story and the characters as the show goes on its 24-episode (that and the OVA) runtime and it is very self-aware that this is some cray-cray shit going on there. It’s so bonkers and over the top and it lets you get in the moment of its fun instants and it never felt like it clashes or bringing a show to a halt. I could mention many of the scenes in Kill La Kill that are worthy but some are just too spoilery to mention.
Speaking of that, I know some of you brought up the fan service of the show and it has become a topic of the show that some people dismiss for being some tasteless eechi show. Yeah, the fan service is present here but the way it’s used doesn’t feel offensive or flashy. This show isn’t some run-of-the-mill panty fighter show or some bipolar fantasy show with added nudity just because. There is a concrete reason why fan service is part of KLK yet the story isn’t overshadowed by it.
The characters are easily the best part of the series as some of them go through an evolution of who they really are and also being some kick-ass characters. The ones with a big evolution of them are Ryuko Matoi and Satsuki Kiryuin as you see them as likely enemies with a strong exciting rivalry going on between them and along with Satsuki’s crew The Elite 4. It’s like a classic shonen show rivalry but more exciting and it never gets old and it actually advances. Mikisugi, the homeroom teacher who’s secretly part of NUUDDISSTTT BEACCCHH! Is a major funny highlight of the series as he aids Ryuko with Senketsu. Speaking of which, Senketsu – the talking sailor uniform also adds in some hilarity and heart onto him, especially with his bonding with Ryuko. There is one surprise (another spoilerfic) character in the show here that will make love that you hate them and the more evil this particular character gets, the more satisfying you want their downfall to be. All the other characters do have their moments and there is many to go by but I can’t go without mentioning this character. Yes, that is Mako Mankanshoku and I’ll say it right now…..She’s the best character of the show and possibly the heart of the series and that also includes her family as well. Hell, if they weren’t in there, it wouldn’t have been as funny as it is.
The fight club episode is one of my favorite episodes and they are a good example of that. Ryuko living and bonding with them shows that they are not only the family, but the people that she is longing for since all of her life she’s been bounced from school to school and her home life seems empty and cold with only her father.
This animation……this is actual animation here, not just ‘make a pretty aesthetic and do nothing else but gaze and drool’ style of animation that most are used to. What Trigger has brought us is the spirit of pre-2010 Gainax shows like Gurren Lagann, FLCL & Panty and Stocking onto this show and the cartoonish style fits into the mold of this series. An over the top and silly show SHOULD LOOK like the way its portrayed here. It has more room for action and packs it in so it doesn’t feel overlong or limited.
I have to say for the music, the score from Hiroyuki Sawano is absolutely amazing from beginning to finish with two great highlights of that being “Before My Body is Dry” by Mika Kobayashi that plays almost in every episode; that show is practically the official theme of the song, even more official than the 2 opening songs for the show and whenever you say ‘DON’T LOSE YOUR WAY’, you immediately know that this is a KLK moment….oh, and the rap part by David Whitaker was awesome, too. “Blumenkranz” makes a great ‘villain’ theme for the Kiryuins with those German vocals by Cyua. “Sirius” by Eir Aoi & “ambiguous” by GRANiDELiA were good opening themes but never stick to me in the long run and the same can be said for the ending songs “Gomen ne, Ii ko ja Irarenai.” by Miku Sawai & “New World Symphony” by Sayonara Ponytail although I have a soft spot for the 2nd ending theme because anything end credit sequence featuring Mako is just adorable.
The English dub…..oh boy…..This may be one of the BEST English dubs I’ve heard in a while as it matches the insanity of the show itself. Hell, I definitely would say this should be watch in the dub rather than the sub to get more entertainment out of it. It’s up there with good English dubs like Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo & Toradora for some top quality dubs. Erica Mendez as Ryuko gives a great performance and this is only her second lead role (the first being Magi less than a year ago) and it shows that she is improving as a voice actress and I eagerly await what she has next. Carrie Keranen also gives an impressive performance as Satsuki; it reminds me of her role as Casca on Berserk but sillier. Hands down, Christine Marie Cabanos was made to play Mako as I thought she delivered the best performance of the show and the best in her resume. My second favorite performance of the show goes to the ever charming Erika Harlacher as Sukuyo Mankanshoku, Mako’s mom but that’s not to disregard the other actors like David Vincent as the manic Senketsu, Matthew Mercer still being one of the best VAs in the game was Mikisugu, All of the Elite 4 (Patrick Seitz-GAMAGOORI being the standout, Grant George- SANAGEYAMA, Steve Cannon-INUMUTA & Sarah Anne Williams-NONON), Stephanie Sheh being a little evil girl in Nui Harime, Laura Post’s RAAAIINNBBOOWW-head Ragyo or ‘mother of the year’ & in their 2-episode appearances, Ben Diskin playing Takarada as a Dirty South Pimp is AMAZING and I want more of that!
FINAL VERDICT: There’s no doubt about it. Kill La Kill is now one of my favorite anime of all time and could possibly be in my top 5 if I ever make a favorite anime list. From its simple story that can grow into an amazing one, its endearing characters that have you invested in every one of them, either hero or villain and the fan service doesn’t clash too much in the show to diminish your enjoyment. It’s a fun anime from beginning to end with enough energy and bombastic moments to make it last. This show is one of the many reasons why I’m an anime fan and I personally think this is an example of anime doing fan service right!
So, most of you already know what I give this show?
8/ – PSYCH!!
10/10 – HALL OF FAME!
Definitely on the KSA – The King Seal of Approval
KILL LA KILL is available on DVD & Blu-ray from Aniplex of America. Streaming options are on Crunchyroll, Hulu, Daisuki & Netflix. The show has previously aired its dub on Adult Swim’s TOONAMI Block.
Ah…..damn, it feels good watching that show again…..I should probably do that again.
Anyway, this is MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid reminding you to DON’T LOSE YOUR WAY!!!!
KILL LA KILL – animated by TRIGGER / distributed by ANIPLEX OF AMERICA
Oh, and here’s a bonus:
BLOOPERS!!!! (Courtesy of Anime Expo 2015 and the KLK panel!)