Kill la Kill – 03

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Ryuuko learns that Mikisugi was her father’s assistant, who received a letter from him instructing him to give his daughter Senketsu in the event of his death. Suspecting Satsuki as her father’s murderer, Ryuuko vows to beat the answers she wants out of her. Enraged that Ryuuko “beat her” to donning a Kamui, Satsuki breaks into her manor’s inner sanctum and puts on her kamui Junketsu. The next day the two spar, and Satsuki easily overpowers her, but when Ryuuko realizes her modesty is holding Senketsu, she “gets naked”, treating him like her skin, and the battle balances out. Ryuuko promises to “crush” Satsuki’s ambitions, and Satsuki accepts the challenge. She’ll duel Ryuuko again if she defeats her entire school.

As good as they were, the chaotic, kaleidoscopic visuals of the first two episodes were merely warming up compared to the mayhem of this week. The brilliance of this series and others its creators have wrought is that there is literally never a dull moment. Even scenes that would be mundane in other series – walking down a hall, getting an infodump from a faculty member, getting ready for bed, everything is done with the utmost panache and playfulness, while the powering-up and battle scenes are even more insane. If we were to whip out some engine metaphors, your average anime is the steady clatter of a diesel truck; Kill la Kill is the unhinged scream of a 21,000 RPM F1 engine.

It’s just as nuts – i.e., creative – with its concepts, like the whole idea of “life fibers”, and the way in which Satsuki is experimenting to create stronger uniforms. Take Ryuuko’s main conflict this week: not lack of confidence or spirit, but a lack of immodesty. We thought it would be a running gag that her face would always be beet red while fighting in her sleazy kamui. But it turns out her embarrassment was preventing her from fully contracting with Senketsu. Mikisugi’s advances on her actually serve to desensitize her to that kind of behavior: guy and girl alike are going to gawk at her; she has to learn to deal with it. Ironically, she learns this from her adversary Satsuki, who doesn’t feel the slightest hint of shame, despite showing slightly more skin than Ryuuko.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Kyoukai no Kanata – 03

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When the “Hollow Shadow” – a massive, storm-like, amorphous dreamshade (youmu) approaches the town, Mirai is resolved to fight it, while continuing shun Akihito. Through Mitsuki and later Mirai herself, Akihito learns that she was adopted by the Inami family of spirit hunters, but when the Hollow Shadow possessed their oldest daughter Yui, Mirai’s only friend, Mirai panicked and killed her. Yui’s younger sister Sakura ambushes Mirai; and they’re both absorbed in the Hollow Shadow. Sakura is about to kill Mirai when Akihito appears and breaks up the fight.

When Akihito delivers to Mirai a 10,000-yen bounty for the youmu she cornered (Mitsuki finished it off with her pet squirrely thing), Mirai verbally refuses the cash, but contradictorily holds her hands out to take it. Akihito notes that her words don’t match her actions at all. This is one reason why he ultimately ignores her warnings to stay away from her and out of her affairs, to the point where she’ll even stop hunting him. The other reason is, without knowing it, she’s put a spell on him. Not literally, no, but he cares about her and doesn’t want her to throw away her life.

When the ominous Hollow Shadow arrives in town, it’s treated as a force of nature like a hurricane; something to weather out, not take on directly. Mirai disagrees; she killed her only friend attempting to fight it, and in addition to not wanting that death to be in vain, she wants to atone, at the cost of her own life if necessary. It’s good then that Akihito decided not to listen to her words. Considering how quickly Sakura almost defeats her, Mirai probably would not have lasted long against the Big Black Cloud of Malice. Not that we expect her to be grateful for his heroics.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Fujima Miroku, an interrogation officer from the Spirit Hunters’ Observation Department, shows up due to the Hollow Shadow…but he doesn’t do much. That’ll probably change.
  • The Nases keep a real youmu embedded in the wall. Makes a great conversation piece at dinner parties!
  • We like how the Shadow not only turns the night sky purple, but also causes the propagation of all manner of lesser youmu all over town.
  • Sakura’s gun-spear (complete with built-in chainsaw) is an awesome weapon, and her blood-splattery battle with Mirai is quite exciting.