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

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 – 22

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While watching an episode of anime, we typically don’t give much thought to what rating we should assign until it’s almost over. There are exceptions to this, obviously: sometimes something can happen in the last moment that can kick a 6 up to an 8, or vice versa. But most of the time, we don’t settle on a number until the credits are done rolling.

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So after a bloodied Ryuko puts Senketsu back on; duels with Harime while explaining the differences between them; slices her arms off, forcing a hasty retreat; the Elite Four-plus-one extract both human and life fiber assets to strengthen their arsenal; Satsuki agrees to be punched by Ryuko, but the Elite Four take the punches for her; and Satsuki admits her mistakes and apologizes(dazzilingly); the two make up and decide to join forces at sunset; and Mrs. Mankanshoku and Soroi whip up croquettes and tea for everyone…

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…We thought we had ourselves a pretty awesome episode in the bag: a solid 9 to be sure. More to the point, we though the episode was going to end with that feast. I mean, all that we mentioned up there…that’s a lot of stuff; surely an episode’s worth, right? And that’s the super-abridged version of what we’d watched up to that point. So, it was superior episode. Only one problem: it wasn’t even close to over. We were only fifteen minutes in.

 

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We’ve never been that off with an ending. That’s the power of Kill la Kill in its home stretch: it’s covering so much ground so quickly and so deftly, it seems to bend time itself. Each episode surges things forward, but each stands alone as a cinematic achievement. After everyone tucked in to supper, everything there after felt like bonus anime, even though it wasn’t. As soon as the dishes are washed and put away, it’s Operation Starto.

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Satsuki finally lets us all in on Ragyo’s ultimate plan: to clothe the entire world in life fiber fabric. It’s how the aliens reproduce: find a world, stimulate its population to evolve into an energy source, than cover it, use the energy to explode, and spread the “seeds” all over the cosmos; rinse, repeat. For all its ridiculous trappings, the plan is surprisingly elegant; the life fibers aren’t evil; they’re just higher on the food chain. But mankind still has plenty of teeth.

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Satsuki puts Mikisugi in command of the Elite Four to take out the transmitter at Honnouji that Ragyo needs to activate Covers worldwide, while the sisters—Ryuko in Senketsu (who feels more warm and comfy than ever now that it has Mako and Satsuki’s blood in it), Satsuki in Neo-Junketsu (no longer evil and imbued with Ryuko’s blood and Senketsu’s fibers), intend to intercept their mom and the Original Life Fiber. With even Mako breaking out her two-star uni to fight, it’s all hands on deck, and when the credits finally rolled, we wished we were still just fifteen minutes in. Instead, we only have about forty-eight left.


Rating: 10

RABUJOI World Heritage List

Kill la Kill – 21

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This show’s propensity to ratchet the intensity to dizzying elevations and then keep it up there for weeks is unparalleled this season; nothing else comes remotely close. This whole episode was a case in point: it never takes its foot off the gas for a minute, and yet there’s somehow ample fuel to spare. In the case of the stakes involved and the dwindling options of the good guys, it may just have been the most stressful yet exhilarating episode yet, and we could tear our eyes away any more then Junketsu could be easily torn from Ryuko’s body.

Frankly, after watching Ryuko’s wild ride, we started to wonder if it would have been preferable if Anakin Skywalker’s transformation into Darth Vader was strictly a matter of the suit making him evil. That’s certainly what goes on here: Ryuko’s rage and self-loathing give Junketsu the opening it needs to wear her completely (that and Ragyo and Nui made sure it was altered to her unique and exacting biology). What’s more, Junketsu continues to mess with Ryuko’s mind as it wears her, lifting the weights of her lifelong emotional burdens and just making her feel better than she ever has.

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However, as Satsuki neatly puts it, it’s only the bliss of slavery, and Ryuko is one more human (or at least half-human) brought under the heel of the Life Fibers, who are mobilizing for world conquest now that Revocs has achieved 100% market share. Wearing Senketsu despite being unable to communicate directly, Satsuki puts up a hell of a fight, especially when you consider she’s been hanging by her fingernails without food or water for untold days. The battle is everything we had hoped for; moreso, since Satsuki isn’t simply dueling with Ryuko out of her own pride and honor.

That’s because she never intended to defeat Ryuko with Senketsu alone. Ever the well-prepared big sister playing a game of chess, she reveals herself as nothing but bait to lure Ryuko into the right spot at the right time so the Elite Four can maneuver her into a position of vulnerability. The gambit fails, but it’s one hell of a good try. Satsuki creates one last opening, through which Senketsu and Mako slip into Ryuko’s consciousness—don’t sweat the metaphysical details.

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Once in there, Ryuko’s about to get married to Junketsu once and for all, but Mako bursts in, Hollywood style. With her there in color and the dreamworld in monochrome, confined to a small frame within the frame tangled with life fibers, it feels far more like a prison than a paradise. When Mako tells Ryuko to go ahead and kill her, and with a casual flick of her scissor, Ryuko appears to do just that, for a moment our hearts sank. Puppet slave or no, there’d be no coming back for Ryuko if that happened.

As it happens, the act merely ejects Mako and Senketsu out of there. It’s only when Nui gets that same scissor through her sternum that we learn they were successful in cutting the strings after all. And yet again, a conflict that could have carried many an excellent show to the end is essentially resolved when the old Ryuko emerges from the tatters of Junketsu. This show is moving way to fast for the Evil Ryuko to be the final plot. There’s still a world to save from the Life Fibers, after all. Maybe at last the new-found sisters will work together side-by-side.


Rating: 10

RABUJOI World Heritage List

Stray Observations:

  • Needless to say, this episode is your usual Kill la Kill Klinik of imaginative angles, expressions, body-positions, explosions, and giant floating letters.
  • Mako’s performance art-like “explanations” (always beginning with “Hallelujah!”) have been a comic standby for one time, but they’re employed well here and have yet to get old.
  • They’ve had inferior resources for a while now, but you’ve gotta rally behind the tenacity and teamwork of the Elite Four (plus Shirou).
  • The explanation for why Senketsu is “skimpier” than Junketsu is the same reason Nudist beach don’t wear clothes: less surface contact with the skin means the human wearer is less likely to fear enslavement. MAKES SENSE TO US.
  • Call us crazy, but we’re starting to feel some sympathy for Harime Nui’s plight. While she’s a similar hybrid being to Ryuko, she’s unable to synch with any clothing. In the same vein, for her whole life she’s been a servant of Ragyo, unable to synch with anyone else, or with a normal life, for that matter. If the show intends to redeem rather than destroy her, it’s a transformation we’d be interested in seeing. Ragyo is probably a lost cause, however.
  • If you han’t noticed by now…Yes, we are no longer rating this showIt is rating us.

Kill la Kill – 20

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Episode the Twentieth: Wherein Ryuko, crying bitter tears inside, abjures Senketsu, Mako, and the others to go alone to Honnouji to destroy Harime Nui and Ragyo; in which Satsuki finally engineers her daring, naked escape; in which Nudist Beach unveils its aircraft carrier courtesy of the Takarada Conglomerate; and in Nui reveals she’s a life fiber being as much as Ryuko, and thus understands her plight; and in which Ragyo forces Junketsu upon Ryuko. Thus Ryuko shifts from being the pawn of her father to that of her mother; and is brainwashed into doing her bidding. Thus do Ryuko and Satsuki officially switch roles, with Ryuko as the frighteningly-powerful and arrogant villain, and Satsuki and her Elite Four as the scrappy underdogs with their backs to the wall.

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What started out as a simple selfish tantrum of self-loathing and anger, leading to her running off on her own, turned into something far more potentially devastating, as Her Hot-headedness is perverted through Junketsu into an instrument that could potentially destroy what’s left of a free mankind. And better still, it’s a transition that makes perfect sense. That’s right: no unsightly leaps in logic or ridiculous contrivances are necessary to justify Ryuko’s inversion: she’s always been susceptible to manipulation, and much of her exploits thus far have taken place while she was unwittingly serving as a guinea pig or pawn to others. Every time she’s learned the truth about her involuntary roles in the schemes of others—many of whom have turned out to be her relatives—she’s grown more bitter and lost. Here she was, thinking she was living her own life, while all along others were truly driving her course.

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She’s not even sure who or what she is anymore, and it disgusts her, so she lashes out at everyone close to her and sets of on a nihilistic errand. Harime, who has the same life-fibrous heart as hers, even asks point-blank what Ryuko hopes to get out of killing her and Ragyo. Ryuko doesn’t have an answer, because she hasn’t thought that far ahead, and falls into yet another trap. The blissful montage she sees when Junketsu wears her is a life that never was, but it’s enough to overpower Ryuko’s already brittle grip on her identity, and thus reality itself. Koshimizu Ami changes up Ryuko’s voice accordingly, to something simultaneously more feminine and unhinged—in other words, a lot more like Ragyo’s!

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Fortunately for Ryuko, there are those less quick to rage and reckless action who are determined to get her back. Among them are Mako, the Mankanshokus, the Elite Four, Mikisugi and Nudist Beach…even Satsuki. She may have had her own problems to deal with this week—breaking out of prison with a sharpened false toenail in unfathomably badass fashion—but as contentious as her interactions have been, we don’t think Satsuki wants to lose Ryuko to darkness and evil. In this, she and Senketsu are of like mind, which is why in a sensational latest twist, Senketsu lets her wear him, thus giving her at least a chance against her sister. The two have been in quite a few scraps, but this one is gonna be something else.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

RABUJOI World Heritage List

Kill la Kill – 18

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Mother of God, what the heck is going on here? Kill la Kill is looking down on our Plebeian rating system! We’ve watched and written a lot of anime in the last few years, but it’s been a long while since we’ve seen a show string together so many awesome episodes in a row, including the two best episodes of the Winter (so far at least), back-to-back. Last week it threw a hundred balls up in the air; this week we learn all those balls were actually bombs, and they all get blown the fuck up.

Where to begin? Satsuki’s wholly terrifying upbringing, in which Ragyo used her as a life fiber test subject, tossing her baby sister away when she didn’t fit the genetic bill? Might as well, because that was the last straw for Satsuki’s dad Souichirou, who started Satsuki’s lifelong vendetta against her mom. It did look like her dad kinda stood by and let this crap happen to his children, but ultimately Ragyo killed him for opposing her. Junketsu was her inheritance: the garment with which she’d exact her revenge.

And so there you have it: Satsuki isn’t just after power, or the salvation of mankind; all that’s just a means of getting back at moms. The whole time she was looking down on Ryuuko, she was harboring the exact same base thirst for revenge. We’d always seen Satsuki and Ryuuko as two sides of the same coin, and we’d entertained the possibility they were really related, but the nature of the reveal knocked us back in our seats: Ryuuko was that discarded baby sister who ended up surviving. Her body is imbued with life fibers, just like Ragyo’s.

The tables in this episode must be sturdy, because they’re turned more times than an Ikea furniture testing facility. It’s a whiplash-inducing back and forth between Satsuki vs. Ragyo; the Elite Four vs. Nui; Satsuki’s Army vs. Satsuki, Ryuuko, and Nudist Beach; Nui vs. Ryuuko; Zombie Ryuuko vs. Satsuki; Satsuki’s katana vs. Ragyo’s neck. Everyone experiences victory and defeat, but nothing is permanent and there’s always another twist lurking. We’re left with both co-heroines out of commission, Ragyo in Junketsu, a sky full of angry COVERS, and the entire supporting cast left to pick up the pieces. This is finale-caliber shit going down, with nearly a quarter of the show left to go. Hold on; we’ve got a live one!


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

RABUJOI World Heritage List

Stray Observations:

  • Yup, all of Satsuki’s conflicts against Ryuuko were a means of testing whether she’d be a worthy ally. Everything she does seems to condescend to Ryuuko…but as she’s the elder sister, it makes perfect sense!
  • Mako reunites with her family, who weren’t bothered enough by being imprisoned by their clothes to even pause their gorging on free food. We love that family.
  • Good to see the Elite Four back in action. They do seem stronger.
  • Gamagoori orders Mako to help evacuate the crowds. We like their relationship.
  • We liked how Satsuki and Ragyo got into a bit of a light shine-off.
  • This episode and/or the last didn’t deserve 10s? Leave it out. We couldn’t rank ’em lower if we tried. We’re merely puppets of the producers at this point.

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 – 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)