Kill la Kill – 24 (Fin)

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Last week we said we were sad that Kill la Kill was ending, but that didn’t mean we thought it shouldn’t end. Far from experiencing pangs of withdrawal in the aftermath, we feel perfectly satisfied and a little relieved; almost as if we’ve been through a mutual breakup. A weight is gone, but there are no regrets. The show came to its natural conclusion…which is to say it went completely nuts; one last hurrah before purging itself form our systems.

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Victory ultimately goes to Ryuko, Satsuki, and all mankind, but it isn’t easily achieved. Sanageyama’s initial raid on Honnouji results in a scene suffused with fairly overt reproductive symbolism: he’s leading a charge of thousands of his underlings—lets call it a school of sperm—but Ragyo’s transmitter is protected by what amounts to a giant condom, which is ultimately busted open by…err…Gamagoori’s face cannon thing.

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That would only be the…er…tip of the complication-berg, as Ragyo throws anything and everything at Ryuko & Co., including ordering Nui to cast her body into the revived original life fiber, creating an even more ultimate garment that Ragyo dons, allowing her to rocket into orbit to transmit the message for all the world’s Covers to start feeding. Ryuko in turn borrows the fibers from everyone elses’ uniforms to create her own ultimate rocket suit, thus leaving the entire cast buck naked.

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The orbital battle between Ryuko and Ragyo becomes just as much one of words than of blows exchanged (Ryuko is slashed to pieces multiple times, but quickly regenerates). In effect, Ryuko yells a lot about how she and Senketsu are neither clothing nor human, and yet both clothing and human, Ragyo calls out their lofty, highly abstract BS, but it doesn’t matter, because they use that BS to absorb her power and render her Covers around the globe inert.

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Rather than return to earth and reconcile, she tears out her own heart. With his role as a check against Ragyo’s plans completed, Senketsu burns up in the atmosphere, shielding Ryuko during re-entry. Ryuko is distraught, but once she comes down to earth, and her landing cushioned by the bosom of her sister (and virtually everyone else, all of them still naked), she immediately feels a lot better. As Senketsu eloquently puts it in his parting words, a sailor fuku such as himself is meant to be grown out of, not worn forever like a second skin.

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Now the threat has passed (at least until the next Life Fiber arrives on Earth), and she is free to wear what she wants, live life with her real and adoptive sisters (Satsuki and Mako, respectively). Kill la Kill took the guilty pleasure to dizzying new heights, ones we won’t likely return to for quite a while. But like the placid epilogue we see during the credits, coming back down to earth and to a state of relative normalcy isn’t so bad either.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)
Average Rating: 9.417 (episodes 13-24), 8.958 (total)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.51

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Kill la Kill – 23

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It certainly looked like Kill la Kill pulled out all the stops for its penultimate episode, but there’s a very good chance it’s saving a crapload of stops for the finale. And while we hate sounding like a broken record, this outing continued to maintain the quality andmomentum of the previous three, so despite actively seeking notable demerits throughout our watch, we found no reason to lower our rating…so we won’t.

Lord knows there’s a lot to get through, but Kill la Kill dives into it all with gusto, snatching up some previously thrown balls while throwing up new ones and shooting (or bisecting) others. The good guys’ neat two-pronged plan goes pear-shaped fast as Ragyo, not a villain to be trifled with, figures out the plan and intercepts the Naked Sol with her gourd-shaped original life fiber. But the mission hasn’t changed for her daughters: take it, her, or both out.

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That proves difficult, as Ragyo is armed with life fiber blades and her wounds heal immediately. The girls slash at her mercilessly to no avail. There’s even another gut-wrenching moment like the moment we thought Ryuko killed Mako, when Ryuko’s triumphant theme abruptly stops and she’s cut the fuck in half. Thankfully (and unbeknownst to Ragyo), some of Satsuki’s long-game strategery rubbed off on Ryuko, as they use their mothers’ low opinion of them against her. Their strategy pays off, and the original life fiber is incapacitated.

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While all this is happening, the supporting cast is doing their part. Back in her Goku uniform (and it feels so good!) Mako quickly frees humans from their Covers by the barrel-full as she gets recharged with her mom’s croquettes. When a boss-type Cover appears, the Elite Four take over sporting their ridiculous new regalia, an interesting merging of the Nudist Beach and Goku styles.

While the sisters, who are really getting along now and don’t snipe at each other at all this week, are doing the heavy lifting, it’s made clear from the get-go that they’d be in trouble without the help, support, and love of their friends. From Satsuki’s Elite Four showing up to shield her from Ragyo, to Mako, along with all of the club captains Ryuko had defeated, providing the human power needed to launch the Naked Sol (transformed into a giant naked dagger) into the heart of the Original Life Fiber, providing her the boost needed to pierce it.

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The episode also makes clear that while the good guys made lemonade out of the ruins of their original plan, they’ve only won a battle, with the war still on the horizon. While they were winning their battle, Nui (who has gone quite insane) was completing Shinra-Koketsu, an uber-kamui for Ragyo (with Hououmaru as her sacrificial human power source). The episode unsettlingly interrupts its own cutesy end credits to announce this.

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While one could dismiss Ragyo and Nui as lame one-dimensional evildoers, to do so would overlook the fact that Nui has lived a cursed life, while Ragyo is essentially a slave to the Life Fibers, carrying out their will, which is more natural biological process than evil plot. We can’t wait to see how Ryuko, Satsuki, and everyone else takes back their school—and their world—from that process. But we’re also sad that this journey is coming to an end.


Rating: 10

RABUJOI World Heritage List

 

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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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.