3 years ago, I stumbled upon an anime called Kill la Kill 「キルラキル」, prolly from one of the posts on the SCANDAL HEAVEN forum. There are 24 episodes in total, of which I saw the first 8 but kinda left it as I found it difficult to set aside time to sit down and watch it. Until I realised this year that it was on Netflix, which meant I can watch it on the iPad while eating my dinner. Defo a role model for kids when it comes to dining etiquette.

The premise of the story by the time I finished watching Kill la Kill is essentially simple – it’s about clothing. Millenia ago, an alien being called a Primordial Life Fiber arrived on the planet and surreptitiously introduced the concept of clothes to primitive man which led to man’s evolution. The life fiber’s (seimei sen’i) ultimate aim was to finally have every single human being on earth wearing clothes containing life fibers which will then consume every single wearer, as well as the planet itself.

“ambiguous” by GARNiDELiA.

The story begins by the arrival of Matoi Ryūko, a transfer student whose scientist father had recently been murdered by an unknown assailant using half a scissor (yup, but a massive sword-sized one), at Honnōji Academy. Located in Tokyo Bay, the academy is run by Kiryuin Satsuki, president of the student council, and her Elite Four council members, with the academy’s faculty being essentially ineffective (think Crows Zero).

Matoi, armed with the other half of the scissor (tachikiri basami) confronts Kiryuin and threateningly queries about her father’s murder, following which Matoi is bested by one of Kiryuin’s lesser underlings. The academy operates on a class system where each class is given a gokuseifuku, a uniform containing life fibers which enhances the wearer’s abilities/skills, with three stars being the highest awarded to the Elite Four, two stars to presidents of clubs/societies and one star to minions of the council. Matoi later stumbled upon a sailor-styled school uniform (sērãfuku) in the ruins of her deceased father’s lab only to find out that it is a kamui – a uniform that is actually a living being entirely made of life fibers. The kamui is called Senketsu which enhances Matoi’s fighting abilities on wearing it by feeding on her blood. Matoi had to learn how to optimally wear, as it were, Senketsu in her battles as the story develops, which leads to further enhancements to the symbiotic Matoi-Senketsu relationship. In her attempts to uncover the mystery behind her father’s death, Matoi encounters an anti-life fiber rebel faction called Nudist Beach as well as REVOCS, an internationally renowned clothing company owned by Kiryuin Ragyo, Satsuki’s mom. To see how everything is connected – well, just go watch the series. It’s so well worth it.

The first thing that struck me about this series by Studio Trigger (founded by an ex-GAINAX director/animator) was the overall style of the animation, different from the ‘regular’ anime that I have watched prior. The characters were generally cartoon-y except for the protagonist Matoi and her antagonists, Kiryuin Satsuki and her Elite Four minions. Action sequences are interspersed with manga-esque motion lines and large red letters reminiscent of old movie posters, whilst typically seen rapid character movements are used in comedic segments.

Kill la Kill appears gritty and pretty much doesn’t look clean cut in its presentation like, say, anything from KyoAni, for example.

Genre-wise, Kill la Kill does seem to be a mish-mash of everything you see in anime, in my opinion. I never like the term but it is an action comedy, the comedy half provided mainly by the Mankanshoku family who takes Matoi in. Mankanshoku Mako, who becomes Matoi’s BFF is one to watch as I love her so much. Mako is so earnest, naïve, has a good heart but a real air head. The following before-and-after gokuseifuku images pretty much sums Mako up:

With the action sequences peppered in the series, Kill la Kill can go pretty violent. No gore, but there’s load of spraying blood, worthy of a samurai epic on celluloid.

And not forgetting that of the nosebleed variety.

Nudity is another aspect that is commonplace in this story, especially when the premise is, in effect, clothes. I find nudity in anime is largely fan service but I think it’s also true that, culturally, it’s nothing to be ashamed about in Japan. The transformation sequences[1] when Matoi/Kiryuin adorn their respective kamuis has flapping oppais and the lot but Studio Trigger has made genitalia featureless, hence more 15 (for violence) than, err… 18, I guess.

「シリウス」 by Eir Aoi.

Also, from how the characters in Kill la Kill are stylised, them being naked is just… them being naked. I am uncertain if this is a jibe to sexualised images in anime in general (shimapan[2] can be seen here too), or this is intended. I have also read online criticisms about the perpetuation of female objectification despite the apparent portrayal of strong female leads in Kill la Kill.

On the whole, I’d say that Kill la Kill comes highly recommended. I have not enjoyed an anime like this since Code Geass, and that was a very long time ago. And if you have the moolah, the Blu-ray version comes in three sets of all 24 episodes as well as the OVA (which I have yet to check out).

[1]Just watch any anime where a female character transforms. YouTube is your friend.
[2]For the uninitiated, shimapan is a portmanteau of「縞」shima +「パン」pan(tsu) transl. striped panties. Like so: