Kill la Kill – 15

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When Kill la Kill goes all out, it’s truly something to behold. Osaka’s forces continue to put up a fight thanks to Takarada Kaneo’s deep pockets, but then Satsuki arrives and teaches him that it’s fear, not money, that rules the hearts of mankind, scaring all his forces away. Cornered and alone, Kaneo counters with a giant crab mecha, but the new 3-Star Goku uniforms arrive just in time, and Uzu defeats him easily, sticking his katana where the sun don’t shine.

Satsuki & Co. are acting so cool, and Takarada is so loathsome, that up to this point they look like the protagonists. But at the end of the day Kaneo is the wronged party, defending his territory from aggressors, and he’s the one (momentarily) saved by the timely arrival of a very reinvigorated Matoi Ryuuko. Satsuki knows  Ryuuko can’t transform without the glove in her possession, and wastes no time wiping her face in it. That proved to be a miscalculation, as it only convinces Ryuuko to take the next step in her symbiotic relationship with her kamui and allow Senketsu to use her skin to synchronize.

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Satsuki had been treating Ryuuko like a pesky housefly, but underestimated the lengths Ryuuko would go to, and also failed to divine Ryuuko’s new motivation, which is no longer wholly revenge. The more grand plans for conquest and subjugation Satsuki carries out, the more forcefully Ryuuko will butt in; no longer a housefly but a formidable, unpredictable hornet. Ryuuko’s not afraid to gamble with her own life to attain victory, but unlike Satsuki she’s unwilling to let others sacrifice their lives in the service of her selfish goals. Now Ryuuko’s goals align with those of Nudist Beach, much of which seemed to have been wiped out by Jakuzure while Ryuuko fought Satsuki.

And theirs is a hell of a fight, winding through (and ultimately obliterating) a souped-up Osaka tower in some of the best and most manically-animated combat of the series. It’s also an immensely satisfying battle, as Ryuuko is able to fight toe-to-toe and even deliver a crippling punch to Satsuki, albeit by playing “dirty” (the ol’ sword-blood in the face trick). More than anything, Ryuuko and Satsuki displayed quite a bit of mutual respect; Ryuuko’s no longer after Satsuki’s head, but wants to convince her to stop her villainy; while Satsuki gets a refresher in Ryuuko’s staying power and seemingly bottomless font of spirit. One could totally see the two as friends, were circumstances different.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • We really dug the “Ryuuko Entrance Fanfare” of these last two eps, which always started with her motorbike’s engine revving.
  • We reiterate: Takarada never looked anything other than lame and slimy, but the Elite Four in their new threads look simultaneously mighty and correct.
  • Ira doesn’t want to hurt Mako…another cool quasi-friendship in the making.
  • We like how Ryuuko tells Mako to go somewhere safe, which Mako determines is by Ryuuko’s side.
  • We finally see Nudist Beach forces, who were Satsuki’s ultimate target (of course). They don’t wear any more than they need to, so they’re certainly the polar opposite of uniform-obsessed Honnouji.
  • The more encounters Satsuki has with Ryuuko, the more emotion she seems to express.

Kill la Kill – 14

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This week chronicled the threefold raids on Kobe, Kyoto, and Osaka by Gamagoori, Jakuzure (with Inumuta), and Sanageyama, respectively, and it’s a thrilling powerhouse of an episode. The Honnouji forces, enrobed in Goku uniforms and supplemented by shards of Senketsu, come up against stronger resistance than we’d foreseen, and that resistance comes in the form of the cities’ unique cultural attributes—distilled and amplified to a ridiculous degree, of course.

Kobe’s defense is bolstered by students in American football armor, tanks, and Kobe beef; Kyoto is protected by illusion-conjuring sorcerers, and Osaka is under the control of a powerful conglomerate like Kiryuins, which uses cash to mobilize every man woman and child in the city to resist Sanageyama’s onslaught. Mako ended up in the Osaka contingent, and she quickly shirks her duty to explore Osaka’s abundant culinary bounty.

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As Satsuki said to them earlier, the Elite Four’s loss to Senketsu was merely a rite of passage; something that prepared them for the campaigns they’re now heading up. It’s clear from the relish with which they press their attacks that they’ve all got their mojo back, and it’s fun to see them in action again, even if they’re ostensibly the bad guys. That brings us to the good guys: Mako is just goofing off, so what’s up with Ryuuko? Well, that small scrap of Senketsu she managed to hold on to happened to be his eye, and he can still communicate with her.

Much to our delight, Ryuuko doesn’t spend a whole lot of time sulking at rock bottom, donning a sweet tracksuit and red motorcycle, crashing the three already gloriously chaotic battles, and snatching back every last scrap of her friend. In the process she demonstrates that even with just a scrap of Senketsu round her neck, she’s become a formidable warrior. The last piece of him left is naturally on Satsuki’s person, setting up their next one-on-one confrontation. It should be a good one.

9_superiorRating: 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)

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)

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