“Fear is freedom! Subjugation is liberation! Contradiction is truth! Those are the facts of this world! And you will all surrender to them, you pigs in human clothing!”
-Kiryūin Satsuki, Student Council President of Honnōji Academy
In the city of q3life is controlled by the powerful forces of Honnōji Academy and its Student Council. The closer a person lives to the Academy atop the artificial island means they have more money and most likely have a decent rank in one of the numerous student clubs found at the Academy. Life at the Academy is split between the No-Star students or in any other words a mundane (muggle) at the mercy of those above them. Powered individuals in the Academy themselves are ranked by the number of stars on their Uniforms. A higher Star number means that they’re able to command more power.
A major aspect of any Shounen Anime is the unique power level and the evolution of each main character’s abilities throughout the series. There must also be some sort of heroic or driving feat for that character. Be it Naruto’s desire to be Hokage or Sailor Moon’s goal as a Magical Girl to defend her friends and family. The main character, Matoi Ryuko, is a mixture of both in this regard. As a fighter, she wields a strange unique weapon, a scissor sword, and also possess strange and ever-increasing powers.
Clothes Make It All
At the center of one’s power in Kill La Kill are “Life Fibers” an alien parasite which has over the centuries directed the evolution of mankind. The fibers themselves are woven into clothing with different types woven from differing percentages of the parasite. Life Fibers themselves gain gift the wearers of their clothing with increased strength, agility and more. The most common Life Fiber clothing seen throughout the series are the Goku Uniforms created and used by members of the various clubs under the purview of the Student Council. Lesser club members are generally only gifted One-Star Uniforms whereas club presidents gain much more powerful abilities from their Two-Star Uniforms.
The Two-Star uniforms are far more unique and host their own strange abilities. One allows it’s user to deliver multiple powerful strikes from his gloves while another had a specialized monocle to use when hitting tennis balls at an opponent. At the beginning of the series, the Two-Star uniforms serve as episode wide challenges to the Matoi Ryuko as she enacts her revenge for the death of her father.
At the very top of the power pyramid, however, are two Life Fiber pieces, the Three-Star Uniforms and the Kamui uniforms are entirely woven from Life Fibers. When a user of any Life Fiber item activates its power (at least for Two-Stars and above) the user undergoes a unique transformation sequence. If a user is defeated their uniform is shredded on the spot and they are left naked on the spot.
Affectionate and Destructive At the Same Time
While it has it’s own original world and characters, Kill La Kill is a mix of affectionate and at other times destructive parody of the two Genres it calls home. Right off the bat, the Anime features over the top transformation sequences featuring full-on nudity as well as elaborate costuming. The Kamui worn by both Ryuko Matoi and Kiryuin Satsuki can easily be seen as over the top homage to the slightly sexualized nature of Magical Girl Transformations. This includes animated breast, and even butt motion as the Kamui drinks the users’ blood and comes to enwrap their bodies. Not to mention the overtly sexualized nature of the costumes themselves!
The Kamui themselves can easily become enraged or completely take over their host. Not unlike Venom and the various symbiotes of the Marvel Universe. In fact, at any given points the Kamui of Satsuki, Jenketsu, is savagely subdued by members of the Sewing Club. This is a story where the very “magical uniforms” and relics of the world just want to eat people and use them as little emaciated figures. Low-brow jokes are often highly visible and placed in the series. From Gamagoori’s invites for enemies to punish him to a scene where one of the Elite Four jabs a kendo practice sword up a mechanical crab suit’s behind.
Not to mention the “Nudist Beach” an entire rebel group whose main leader often has shiny purple nipples and crotch censors while he delivers poignant speeches.
Kill La Kill is one of those animes that I have waited -years- to actually get around to watching. And after waiting so long I can say that I was thoroughly impressed by many things about the story. The characters Ryuko and Satsuki both compliment each other quite well as two sisters torn apart by the machinations of their alien mother. The adoption of Ryuko into the Makanshoku family only adds to dissipate the pain she initially feels at the beginning of the series.
Yeah, Kill La Kill most of the time is a pure satirical comedy. Jokes about the greatness of a gang leader’s ability to use Kendo Shinai after asking for his eyes to be shut are brimming with “Blind Swordsman” Jokes. In between it and the very generous. In the end, I was laughing, nearly cry, and filled with joy (in between series cries of “WTF”) when it all ended. And I can’t wait to watch it again next year!