Kill la Kill – 01

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At Honnouji Academy, the student council committee chairs don “goku uniforms” that bestow upon them supernatural powers. Their president Kiryuin Satsuki rules the school like a king. When Matoi Ryuuko transfers to Honnouji, she immediately confronts Satsuki – a grievous offense – and is beaten to a pulp by Boxing Club Captain Fukuroda Takaharu. Ryuuko escapes to the ruin of her house where her father was killed. She falls deep below the city, where a crazed uniform pops out of the garbage and forces her to wear him. When the council uses Ryuuko’s friend Mankanshoku Mako as a hostage, Ryuuko comes to her rescue, using the power of her new uniform to handily defeat Fukuroda.

An omnipresent thread in the work of director Imaishi Hiroyuki’s work has been comically over-the-top action at a hyper-sonic pace. Whether establishing a location, introducing a character, or landing a blow, everything is taken up to 11, and sometimes 12. If something has to be labeled, it’s done in huge blocky red letters. If anything has to be said, it’s usually yelled. This episode was the polar opposite of the relative stillness and calm of Coppelion, and not just because its city is inhabited (and what an awesome, insane-looking city it is). Where Coppelion strives for realism, Kill la Kill, is, in its most heated moments, pure abstract impressionism.

Suffice it to say, this was a hell of a lot of fun to watch unfurl. The personalities are kept quite simple: the imperious Satsuki, the defiant, plucky Ryuuko, the air-headed Mako. Most importantly, while the episode had some dark themes and serious moments, it knew when not to take itself too seriously, and is therefore infused with moments of bawdy comedy. It’s a potent stimulant of a show that knows exactly how absurd it is and runs with it, taking it as far as it can. Ryuuki is painfully aware of how incredibly revealing her new (apparently sentient) uniform is too, but that doesn’t stop her from doing what needs to be done.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • The goku uniforms are ranked on a scale from zero stars (powerless) to three (world-bending strength). Interestingly Satsuki’s uniform has no visible stars. Doubtless it has a personality like Ryuuko’s.
  • Satsuki has a whole council of committee chairs in every shape and size. We’re sure we’ll watch Matoi go up against them one by one in future outings. Meanwhile, all she has friends-wise are the Mankanshoku siblings.
  • Satsuki’s oxymoronic slogan is similar to the famous one in Orwell’s 1984: “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”
  • We loved the sound a very rigid Mako made when Ryuuko set her down after untying her.

Kill la Kill – 02

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After her battle with Fukuroda, Ryuuko passes out from blood lost to her uniform, which she names “Senketsu.” She wakes up in Mako’s house in the slums and spends the night there. Satsuki awards tennis club captain Hakodate Omiko a two-star goku uniform with orders to launch an armed suppression in the guise of an interleague match. The next day Ryuuko steps in to protect Mako from Hakodate’s hazing, but cannot get Senketsu to activate, and gets beaten, and falls down a sewer.

She wakes up in the office of her homeroom teacher Mikisugi Aikurou, who confirms to her that her father Isshin made her uniform, called a “Kamui”, which is awakened by her blood and can surpass goku uniforms. He gives her Seji Tekko, a glove that will help her easily activate Senketsu, and sends her up to battle Hakodate. Athletic chair Sanageyama Uzu makes Ryuuko fight Hakodate in a tennis match, and after some faults, Ryuuko is victorious. Satsuki comes down to cross swords with her, but low on blood, Ryuuko retreats.

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As you can see above, this series wreaks havoc on the desire for as concise a summary as possible. It quite literally has about four episodes worth of your typical shounen anime stuffed into one episode, liberally seasoned with kooky violence, creative fanservice, and avant-garde environments. It covers a lot quickly and doesn’t stop and wait for the audience to catch up, but those who keep up are rewarded to an experience quite unlike anything else this season; the same thing that can be said of greats like FLCL and Gurren Lagann. They take anime conventions and stretch, contort, and julienne them to their limit and beyond.

Kill la Kill is window-lickingly insane in its presentation, but it’s also audacious, backing Ryuuko into some pretty dark corners this week. The first instance involves Mako’s father, a back-alley doctor who sure looks like he’s dry humping her when she wakes up (the whole Mankanshoku family scene was a trip and a half) As for Mikisugi, he seems to have her best interests at heart, but he should probably choose his words more carefully (and not strip in front of her). Like Ryuuko’s new uni, this show digs into you and doesn’t let go until you’re winded…but quite satisfied.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

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)

Kill la Kill – 04

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Sirens blare at 4AM, the morning of “No-Late Day”, when the academy’s no-stars must cross a murderous gauntlet of obstacles and arrive at school on time to avoid being expelled. Mako’s mom washed Senketsu so Ryuuko has to go in her pajamas. She and Mako come across their classmate Ogure Maiko, who accompanies them on their journey, but once Guts arrives with Senketsu, she reveals she’s the Disciplinary Committee Head of Trap Development, and was planning all along to steal the kamui. She dons Senketsu, but can’t move because he’s so starchy, and Ryuuko beats her. With only minutes left before first period, Ryuuko dons Senketsu and commandeers a luxury tram and launches them into the classroom just in time to say “present.”

If Golden Time tweaks and embellishes certain scenarios of its subject matter – in its case college life – but Kill la Kill is in an entirely different galaxy in this regard. The Student Council President is a brutal dictator with a cadre of deranged subordinates, and the social structure typical of high school is amplified into a strict caste system that applies to life as well as school. Because Ryuuko has no family save Mako’s, she’s at the bottom with them, which means those on top will throw everything they have at them in order to assert their power. Thus even a commute to school is suddenly becomes a bitter, epic struggle for survival, and scores of no-stars fall before getting anywhere close to school, to the point that the defeated partake in “pseudo-homeroom”; a fabulous concept!

The proud, determined Ryuuko is more than game, even if initially, she doesn’t have Senketsu to help her out. She lucked out with the sweet, loyal Mako, but she let her guard down in placing her trust in Maiko, and almost loses Senketsu. In just one of the countless demonstrations of this series’ clever storytelling, it’s because Mako’s mom laundered him that Maiko is unable to follow through on her grand plan. We were fools to believe anything resembling a lull or slow-down would follow Ryuuko and Satsuki’s battle. Satsuki may have been absent, the entire “No-Late Day” ritual is a product of her cruel, oppressive leadership, a system Ryuuko will hopefully crush, one Disciplinary Committee head at a time.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Kill la Kill – 05

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“Anti-Uniform Guerilla” Kinagase Tsumugu of the Nudist Beach organization arrives at Konnouji to eliminate Ryuuko’s Kamui. His first attempt is interrupted by his old friend Mikisugi who asks him not to target her. Kinagase refuses, certain that if left alone Senketsu could grow even more dangerous than Kiryuin. Satsuki sends Non-Athletic Committee Chair Jakuzure Nonon to deal with him.

Kinagase quickly dispatches the small-fry clubs she deploys, and corners Ryuuko again, and Senketsu flies off her to save her, and he’s pinned down, but Mako puts the kamui back to Ryuuko arms before leaving. When Kinagase threatens to harm Ryuuko, he can hear Senketsu speak and learns the kamui cares about her. Jakuzure arrives and he makes a quick getaway with Ryuuko, leaving her in Mikisugi’s office, telling him he’ll give Ryuuko a chance.

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Last week’s self-contained “no-late-day” story gives way to some meatier story wherein a third party enters the fray between Ryuuko and Satsuki. In the real world, most nudists are regarded as harmless weirdos, but Kinagase is more of a revolutionary, wielding a sewing machine-like gun and utterly devoted to eradicating the scourge of life fibers, which he sees as parasites. We can’t really fault his motives, considering the damage we’ve seen the uniforms do even when their wearers are in mostly full control of them.

But as much as the guy scowls and threatens to strip girls, he’s not so bad a guy: when he sees that Ryuuko and Senketsu aren’t just a parasite and host but actual friends, he has a change of heart, even saving Ryuuko from Jakuzure. Jakuzure’s role on the periphery of Kinagase’s pursuit of Ryuuko is a calculation by her and Satsuki; sending cannon fodder at him in order to collect combat data. Even if it’s a rout, it’s a highly enjoyable one, as Jakuzure conducts an orchestra as the battle unfolds.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • We’re amused at how raucous and nutty Mako’s family behaves, and yet they’re concerned about Ryuuko being weird just because she talks to her uni.
  • Jakuzure is voiced by none other than Shintani Mayumi, whom we hadn’t heard since her role as Haruko in FLCL.
  • Mako proves she’s a brave and loyal friend by standing up to Kinagase and delivering another long-winded, passionate monologue.

Kill la Kill – 06

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Ryuuko is challenged to a duel by Athletic Committee Chair Sanageyama Uzu, whose “Tengantsu” ability enables him to see every movement she makes. Ryuuko turns the tables by slicing bits off Senkatsu, which cover Sanageyama’s eyes, enabling him to be defeated easily. The next day he challenges her again, but has had his eyes sewn shut, using his goku uniform as his eyes and other senses. With this new “Shingantsu” he overwhelms Ryuuko, but his goku overheats before he can finish her, and she escapes.

Mikisugi tells Ryuuko he’ll tell her more about her father and his organization, Nudist Beach when he trusts her more; by that, we assume he means when she’s been through a few more battles with Senketsu. While his original intent was to destroy the kamui, Kinagase ended up helping Ryuuko bond even further with it. As a result, she’s a lot more confident and even cocky in how she carries herself in Senketsu. She’s come a long way…but as Sanageyama shows her in his second duel, she has a long way to go.

This episode also made an effort to show us more about Ryuuko’s opponent, even flashing back to when Satsuki first recruits him. Watching Ryuuko fight Sanageyama and then fight him again without knowing anything about who he is or what motivates him may well have still been enjoyable, but his exchanges with Satsuki before, during, and after fighting her adds texture to his character (and Satsuki’s), making them at least as important in this episode as Ryuuko herself, which is fine with us. Ryuuko’s further development will come; Sanageyama and the rest of the Elite Four will make sure of that.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Kill la Kill – 07

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When students start starting obscure new clubs to go after Ryuuko, she forms a Fight Club, naming Mako president when she sees the level of paperwork involved. As Ryuuko piles up victories, the club rises in stature according to Satsuki’s merit-based system, and Mako’s family moves from the slums to the middle-class neighborhood and eventually, to their own manor and the lap of super-luxury. The Mankanshokus start to drift apart.

When Mako sees how their newfound wealth is corrupting the family, she resigns from the club. Satsuki awards Mako a two-star goku uniform and orders her to fight Ryuuko. Mako obliges, beating Ryuuko to a pulp, but at the last moment pulls back the killing blow, aiming for the ground instead. She and her family beg Ryuuko for forgiveness, and they return to the slums. Satsuki admits to her elites that she allowed Ryuuko’s club so she could identify which weak teams to purge in the next elections.

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Every time the Mankanshoku’s appear on the screen, it’s like shotgunning a can of the late, lamented SURGE cola; they’re a jolt of energy and a ton of fun to watch as they go about their lives, a veritable tornado of love-tinged activity that Ryuuko’s very much glad she’s in the middle of, after a lonely childhood. It’s even better when we watch them inspect their new middle-class digs with mirthful amazement; thanks to Ryuuko, their quality of life has improved. And mind you, they’re not gaming Satsuki’s system; they’re playing by the rules…and winning.

But then Ryuuko wins more; Mako gets shrewder and more ambitious; the family moves to an opulent mansion and everyone has separate evening plans, and the family cohesion Ryuko treasured melts away in a cauldron of avarice. Now Ryuuko eats alone again. And there is never enough champagne or Godiva chocolate. Mako is, to borrow a Gainax title, Aiming for the Top!, so when Ryuuko gets in the way, she’s threatening Mako’s status and her family’s, and becomes the enemy. It’s an audacious turn of events—Ryuuko forced to fight her best friend, who happily dons a bad-ass two-star goku and goes to town.

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But the situation is made perfectly plausible by all that preceded it. Whether you’re born into wealth or have it heaped upon you like Mako’s family, it can very easily make you its slave. That’s what Satsuki was hoping for: another family ensnared in her system built upon greed and obedience through fear of losing it all. She didn’t get that, but the system still stands, and even worse, thanks to Ryuuko and Mako, Satsuki knows exactly what to do to make the forces protecting that system even stronger. So while Ryuuko and the Mankanshokus are cool again, Ryuuko’s future trials are only going to get tougher.

Like Mako’s family (briefly), this episode had it all. It grabbed and held our interest. It made Ryuuko the architect of her own near-downfall through a seemingly harmless choice. It rocketed us along with the family during their meteoric rise, not skimping on the details of the ritzier life they gain. It slowed them way down when they grew rich and stuffy. Perhaps most impressive was Mako’s transformation from kooky comic relief sidekick to serious foe who doesn’t hesitate to turn on Ryuuko despite all they’d been through. It was a veritable windfall of magnificence, and our favorite Kill la Kill to date.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

RABUJOI World Heritage List

Kill la Kill – 08

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Satsuki holds the first “Naturals Election”, challenging all students to fight one another for their status. During the week of fighting, Ryuuko and Mako take a scooter to Ryuuko’s family home for clues, but find none. On the way home they run out of gas, but Gamagoori Ira offers them lift. The combined Automotive/Airsoft clubs ambushes Gamagoori, and Ryuuko and Mako watch as he employs his goku uniform’s “Shackle” and “Scourge Regalia” to defeat them. Back at school, the runoffs begin, culminating in a king of the hill-style final battle in which each of the elite four will fight Ryuuko, starting with Gamagoori.

As good as last week was, and while it developed Ryuuko and Mako’s friendship, it didn’t really progress Ryuuko’s central quest for answers regarding her father and Senketsu. It’s nice to see the Mankanshoku’s still recalling last week’s trials and being content not to participate in the fray. Ryuuko doesn’t have that luxury, however, as the only way she’ll get the answers she seeks is by beating the shit out of a lot of people. Satsuki used her and Mako to reveal the weaknesses in Honnouji’s power structure, and for that she’s repaying Ryuuko in a way by offering those answers. All Satsuki has to do is get through the Elite Four. Piece of cake, right?

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Well, no. As we found out from the Sanageyama Uzu-centric episode, they are very tough customers indeed, and all of them grew stronger and more confident after meeting with Satsuki, as we see in more flashbacks. Satsuki makes the distinction between letting her powerful connections take care of things for her, or taking hold of that power herself and using it without holding back. And indeed, the former leaders of her junior high school were definitely the former. Depending only on others and not oneself is a weakness Satsuki has overcome.

We like how the bad guys on this show aren’t the bad guys 24/7, as demonstrated by Gamagoori helping out Ryuuko and Mako, and keeping them out of his fight against the Automotive Airsoft Club. It’s his duty to help fellow students in need—even those who openly oppose his beloved Satsuki—and it’s pointless to fight before it actually counts for something anyway. And the runoff election battle will certainly count. Ryuuko’s next four opponents have been lined up, and we know they’re no slouches. We look forward to the impending battles.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • We learned quite a bit about Gamagoori this week: 
  • he’s 20, having held himself back to be with Satsuki; 
  • he has excellent taste in cars (that car is reminiscent of a ’59 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz);
  • his goku uniform has two stages of transformation, meaning any battle with him will have two stages;
  • he’s a masochist who gets off on physical punishment;
  • his parents are neither owners of a company nor high-ranking police officials.
  • She may be the villanous, but Satsuki’s swift takedown of the haughty kids whose parents were in those positions is pretty damn satisfying. And she did that in the sixth grade!
  • We also learn that while Ryuuko came from money, she spent most of her childhood in boarding schools picking fights and becoming a delinquent.

Kill la Kill – 09

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Kiryuin appoints Gamagoori Ira as Ryuuko’s first opponent, due to him having defeated the least cannon fodder out of the Elite Four. Her scissor can’t penetrate the cloth armor protecting the life fiber within, so when he launches his regalia, she and Senketsu bite into his whips with his teeth, and get thrust inside his uniform. Senketsu transforms into “Senjin” mode, becoming covered in blades that tear Gamagoori’s uniform to shreds.

The first of Ryuuko’s battles with the Elite Four committee chairs was immensly fun to watch. It was well-established last week that Gamagoori wasn’t going to be a cakewalk, a notion reinforced by his flashback battle with the adorable Lil’ Kiryuin, in which he managed to snatch the scabbard of her sword to prevent himself from kneeling before her. Last week we saw what he was capable of tactically; this week we find out why he does it: his self-punishes as an example to the student body to correct their own behavior of their own accord. When Ryuuko refuses to do the same, he revokes her independence and threatens to mold her into a model student. Mold literally, like taiyaki, which is hilarious. We also like how the battle was initially delayed, another example of Gamagoori’s devotion to protocol.

But both the intensity of Gamagoori’s resolve and his dogged desire to impress his mistress form another shield: one of arrogance. He’s too busy getting the job done (and punishing himself) to realize Ryuuko and Senketsu have a plan; they adjust their tactics to the mechanics of this particular battle (she also ate Mako’s mom’s bento, ensuring victory!) Senketsu’s new look is even more ridiculous and extreme in keeping with the show’s escalatory nature. No doubt other transformations will reveal themselves as Ryuuko faces the other three. But we’re wondering why Mikisugi won’t tell her anything, doesn’t want her to fight the elite four, and isn’t “happy about it” when she beats Gamagoori. Will the truth implicate him in some way, or otherwise make Ryuuko even more angry and unsatisfied?

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

 

Kill la Kill – 10

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Inumuta Houka, who was recruited by Satsuki five years ago when he hacked into her company’s stocks, faces off against Ryuuko. She has Senketsu enlarge his eye to the size of the battle area, neutralizing his optical camo. Not wanting to lose his data, Inumuta elects to forfeit, so Jakuzure Nonon, who has known Satsuki since Kindergarten, is next. She initially overpowers Ryuuko with sound and even takes to the skyin her uniform, but Ryuuko joins her there as Senketsu evolves and achieves flight too. Concerned the kamui is evolving too fast, Mikisugi calls Kinagase, who heads to Honnouji.

We admire a show that knows exactly what it’s doing…and simply gets on with it. To that end, this week isn’t just Inumuta’s battle—as he forfeits barely halfway in—but Jakuzure’s too. As she promises, she puts on quite a different show than the two guys who preceded her. As Satsuki-sama’s oldest disciple (and the closest thing to a friend), it seems she has the best toys and the most leeway to bend the rules of combat, i.e. leaving the battle area by air or laying waste to the entire arena with a recorder-missile barrage. The proceedings are kept quite jaunty and proper with the orchestral accompaniment, and Kill la Kill pulls out all the stops meshing shonen and mecha battle tropes with a whimsical musical aesthetic.

Ryuuko looks utterly outclassed as the very ground beneath her feet crumbles, but then the episode reminds us, she and Senketsu are on a roll, and they’re not going to let cloaking devices, sound-waves or the power of flight bring them down (we also dug the use of Mako as her calming device). If Jakuzure can fly, so will Senketsu; that’s the power of a 100% life fiber kamui. The reveal of her “Gale” regalia is an awesome moment, but it’s also a cause of growing concern for Mikisugi. We also got the feeling Ryuuko is letting herself get too swept up in her power and trying to do too much to fast, which could lead to everything blowing up in her face at the worst possible time.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Kill la Kill – 11

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After Ryuuko seemingly defeats Jakuzure in an aerial clash, she bounces back with an encore in her “Da Capo” Symphony Regalia, paralyzing Senketsu with Beethoven’s Fifth. Ryuuko negates the attack with the sound of her own heart, and turns the sound on Jakuzure, who falls in defeat. Uzu faces her next, but their battle is interrupted by Nui Harime, Grand Couturier of Revoc, an organization led by Satsuki’s mother Kiryuin Ragyo. Nui brandishes the other half of Ryuuko’s scissors and tells her she was the one who killed her father.

“Things are getting more complicated by the minute,” Mikisugi laments when Harime Nui (voiced by the lovely Tamura Yukari) makes her appearance. We personally couldn’t be happier with the significant raising of stakes. Satsuki is fresh out of three-stars, and the self-amplifying dynamic of the show demanded that eventually Ryuuko’s conflict was going to soar far beyond the walls of Honnouji Academy. Here we were thinking Satsuki was unquestionably Ryuuko’s dad’s murderer, but in comes Nui, turning our (and Ryuuko’s) assumption on its head.

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Not only is Satsuki not the culprit, but she’s not even Ryuuko’s greatest threat anymore. The show really underlines Ragyo’s magnificence by making her literally shine with a blinding light. As pumped as we are for the ramifications of all these new introductions, which will reverberate across the second half of the series, we commend the episode for resisting the urge to dispatch Jakuzure too quickly. Satsuki’s right-hand woman deserved a longer, more intense fight against Ryuuko than those who preceded her, and got it. (Also cool: the theme to Ryuuko’s heart sounds like Aoi Eir!)

We also appreciated the running gags of the losers sitting with Mako, Gamagoori gradually warming up to her, and her family’s struggles to catch all the action. Let’s not forget that by summoning Fukuroda and commissioning a bullet made of life fibers, Mikisugi sure looked like he was fixing to “subdue” Ryuuko lest she get out of control, perhaps. But both his plans and Ryuuko’s battle with Uzu were cut short (quite hilariously in the latter case) by this whimsically-attired young lady who can dispatch a three-star with one finger, and cheerfully admit to killing Ryuuko’s dad with a smirk on her face. The Anti-Ryuuko.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Kill la Kill – 12

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Nui Harime and Ryuko fight, and Nui’s flippant attitude enrages her more and more until Senketsu explodes out of control, merging with Ryuko into a grotesque monster. Mikisugi and Kinagase’s efforts to neutralize her fail. Satsuki dons Junketsu and steps in to put Ryuko out of her misery, but before she kills her Mako races to Ryuko’s side and slaps her back into coherence. Satsuki bans Nui from Honnouji. Days later Satsuki tells Ryuko thanks to her battles, she’s helped her perfect her Goku uniforms, which she’ll deploy immediately to conquer the western academy administrators.

Amidst all the outrageous, expressionistic, sometimes psychedelic as-all-get-out Trigger action, this episode was a ripe opportunity to explore the relationships the arch-rivals Ryuko and Satsuki possess. First of all, Nui Harime is basically a thoroughly irritating thorn in everyone’s side, but to Satsuki, she’s also something of an employee. If Nui were to blatantly disobey an order or otherwise oppose Satsuki, there’d be hell to pay, hell Nui isn’t immediately interested in seeing.

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Jakuzure, meanwhile, is one of Satsuki’s officers, unqeustionably obedient and at the mercy of her whims. Like the other Elite Three and the rest of the student body, Satsuki is essentially their goddess. Then you have Mako: Ryuko owes her very life to the very nearly suicidal intervention of her best friend Mako, who didn’t merely save her out of the kindness or love, but also to repay a debt: when Mako was drunk on power and lost, Ryuko brought her back.

What that means is that Mako is no underling, servant, or acolyte of Ryuko’s—they are equals. Amigas. Buds. They keep each other honest…and alive. Even Satsuki sees this, and acknowledges Mako by name as Ryuko’s savior. There’s a glint of appreciation in her face, as we kinda doubt Satsuki wanted victory the way it was going. And though it’s highly unlikely she’s wired this way, given her affluent upbringing, it’s possible that for a nanosecond Satsuki was jealous that Ryuko had a real, true friend: something she didn’t.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Kill la Kill – 13

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In the previous episode, things went too far for Ryuko. She allowed her rage consume her, and were it not for Mako, she’d probably be dead. So for much of this episode, she’s out of commission; skulking in the dark, refusing to put Senketsu back on not because she fears him, but because she fears herself while wearing him.

Satsuki is not so idle this week: she’s mobilized Honnouji for war against the Kansai academies, moving at breakneck speed with a laser-focus on her goals while Ryuko stands still, defeated and paralyzed. When a free-speech-loving former school newspaper editor gets beaten badly enough in front of her to stir her to action protecting the weak from the forces of oppression, it looks for a moment like she’s got her groove back. But even that proves to be a deception.

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The show’s trend of having Ryuko falling victim to the machinations of others continues, with devastating results. Even with Satsuki paying a personal visit to her rainbow-haired mom Ragyo asking about Nui, we didn’t expect the newspaper guy to be Nui, and we certainly didn’t expect Ryuko’s rehab to be so quickly “cut” short by the destruction of Senketsu. By the time Satsuki collects the scraps for R&D and Mako is conscripted into Raid Trip service, Ryuko has hit rock bottom…which just means she has to stage an even more stunning comeback!

But while Satsuki sits high and mighty in her double-rotor helicopter, it’s clear she’s being played too. Her mother is obsessed with Kaizen and the notion 99% market share is a defeat; only 100% is victory. Satsuki is tool in Ragyo’s quest for world domination, and by letting Nui harass her, she’s hoping to witness the extent of a kamui’s power, so that they can harness and control it. Whether Satsuki is being the dutiful daughter or secretly vying for her mom’s throne top the World of Adults, it’s clear she won’t have to worry about Ryuko anytime soon.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)