Kill la Kill is a 2013-anime series produced by Studio Trigger, the first original series of the animated japanese company, founded in 2011. The series, directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi and written by Kazuki Nakashima, has a number of touching points with Gurren Lagann, their previous work together. At the moment of the release, Kill la Kill raised the attention for the innovative and surrealistic storytelling perspective.
Lots of words have been handed out about the fanservice. Fanservice from which neither female nor male characters are substracted from. The work is approached by an apparent completely disengagement, placing itself as a parody. A parody assimilated in recent years by animation, especially for the action side. But it’s only a bait. As always, the Presticebdt team has dug under the surface to light up the founding philosophy the authors have hidden underneath the mask of physical appearance and a benevolent smile.
The eye-catching fanservice that weaves the plot of Kill la Kill.
Ryuko Matoi. The female centered character around whom the plot of Kill la Kill is supposed to set. The storytelling starts with the goal of seeking out the wielder of a scissor blade who murdered her father. But if you’re here you already know the story. She meets with a sailor uniform referred as Senketsu, an outfit made entirely of Life Fibers, which provides its wearer with superhuman abilities in exchange for their blood. Ryuko’s fate is intimately bounded to that of Satsuki Kiryuin.
The latter, in fact, is the ruthless student council president of Honnouji Academy of 18-year-old, administers Goku Uniforms to students using various hierarchical schemes such as a no-late day event and battle royale-esque tournaments. Lady Satsuki can, on her side, count on the power of her kamui Junketsu and on her katana named Bakuzan which has the power to destroy Life Fibers.
Getting involved in the events, Ryuko is able to develop a special sychronyzation with her dress and a special collaboration between the two gets started. The first part of the anime, fully focused on the Honnouji Academy internal dynamics, is the pre-requirement for the alliance of the two kamui-dressed female warriors: Satsuki and Ryuko teamed up to fight against Ragyo Kiryuin. Who is Ragyo? You’ll find out that the relation among them is very familiar. However, Ragyo is the CEO of the Revocs Corporation: her aim is to control the entire world through the Primordial Life Fiber. You’ ve got it! Kill la Kill is an anime clothes centered!
The fanservice character design of Kill La Kill.
Honnouji Academy, a wink to totalitarianism.
The first narrative arch is useful for defining the personality of the characters introduced in Kill La Kill. Both Ryuko and Satsuki are strong-willed and stubborn teenagers. The dynamic narration allows to skip the potentially boring moments of the anime: in that context the dystopy of the Honnouji Academy takes place. Inspecting beyond the mere (sexual) appearence of the nearly naked female characters some social problems are risen.
The society that Ryuko encounters is socially-divided. We have the poor people who does not deserve to go to school and cannot own a Star-Goku Uniform. It’s there where Ryuko meets up with Mako Mankanshoku. Mankanshoku’s family is taken as a reference: the power derived from the uniforms is the cause of the the degraded human relationship, till all realize the importance of deep bounds and real friendship. In particular, the more the member’s of Mankanshoku’s family became separated by each other, the more isolated inside their own dimension they are. Their status is reflected in the clothing. We’ll remind later that clothes and nudity cover a fundamental role inside the animated series.
Pigs in human clothing, an orwellian quote?
Moreover, the despotism of Satsuki is the one of orwellian-memory: the natural election day are more precisely natural selection. A small self-sufficient world where the only law is that of the strongest. In fact, the only ones who survive after that life-tournament are Ryuko who could rely on Senketsu and the Elite Four of the Academy.
Another hint of words used with reverse meaning is related to the “war” that breaks out between Honnouji Academy and the other Japanese academies. Those event are recalled as school trips but their true war of conquest. We see, then that such tricks are the way of introducing the tools of the regime to exert its power.
The masses…fools all. They’re pigs in human clothing, domesticated by the establishment. They must be governed.
In this situation we also got hit by the self-sacrificing spirit of Satsuki: she has created the entire Honnouji Academy system and the Star-Goku uniform to beat her mother Kiryuin Ragyo. While Senketsu is woven from its birth to defeat the Life Fiber, Junketsu takes the side of the COVERS, the Life Fiber true form. This is the reason why the dressing of that Kamui produces physical grief to Satsuki.
Fear is freedom! Subjugation is liberation! Contradiction is truth! These are the truths of this world!
– Satsuki Kiryuin
The clothes in Kill La Kill: a shield for the soul.
The Nudist Beach organisation has a self-explanatory name. In Kill La Kill the concept of nudity is indissolubly twisted to the real essence of character personality. Only when we are able to get rid of the unnecessary things we are eligible to understand the reality and the other people which surrounds us. In Kill La Kill plot, the clothes become an alive entity which are referred as COVERS. In fact, they cover humanity pretending to protect it but instead isolating us from each other. On a philosophical level, we are very close to the proverb “It’s not the cowl that makes the monk” and to the Christian teaching of Pope John Paul II:
The human body can remain nude and uncovered and preserve intact its splendour and its beauty… Nakedness as such is not to be equated with physical shamelessness… Immodesty is present only when nakedness plays a negative role with regard to the value of the person… The human body is not in itself shameful… Shamelessness (just like shame and modesty) is a function of the interior of a person.
-Pope John Paul II
Another meaningful happening is determined by Sanageyama‘s lost of sight (after suffering a defeat from Ryuko, he chooses to have his eyes sewn shut) which allows him to heighten his other senses and giving him a more powerful Shingantsū (eyes of the mind), which allows him to perceive things with no blind spots: it’s the way to overcome the appearances.
The aestheticism of Ragyo is directly reported in the character design which distinguish itself for the overabundant showing off of her dresses. The only way to destroy her plan of controlling the entire world through the Life Fiber is to cut the Primordial Fiber. Yes, the red thread acquires the symbolic meaning of the thread of faith, the faith that Ragyo and the Covers wants to manipulate.
I understand now. The world is not cut from the same cloth. It’s because it is overflowing with inexplicable, unidentifiable things that the world is so beautiful.
– Satsuki Kiryuin
Kill La Kill, the final remark.
We’re at the end of our journey and we are at the stage of writing down the grades. For sure Kill La Kill has a dynamic relation with the spectator enabling an energic exchage thorugh the screen. Each situation is taken to the limit to create ironic and double sided moments. The battles and the continuos coming of new enemies may remind some unforgettable fights typical of more male oriented animes. The result is great, the idea of using the fanservice to cement the success is a very clever call. Keeping that in mind the authors are able to treat hot topics with a light-heart approach. The final word to describe Kill La Kill is entertaining! A pity? Probably Studio Trigger has used the same strategy of Gurren Lagann, but for a newcomer is fascinating!
“I finally get it now. I need to get naked. Putting on a Kamui means becoming one with you! It means you becoming one with me! That’s what it means to master wearing you! Isn’t that right, Senketsu?!
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