Anime Reporter sets the scene for Kill la Kill Collection 01 (Episodes 01-08), the bizarre anime where character are literally dressed(-ish) to kill.
Ryuko Matoi arrives as Honnouji Academy, eager to get some answers about her father’s murder, and she’s not necessarily going to be polite about it. Her chief suspect, and the only person she’s interested in talking to, is a rather stern example of a student body president, Satsuki Kiryuin.
The biggest problem with that is that Honnouji Academy has a whole lot of… not exactly red tape. Students are ranked with a number of stars. By far the most common ranking is zero stars, with the students effectively having no power or influence in the school, or even in the large city surrounding the academy. Club members seem to be mostly made up of one-star students, with club presidents receiving two stars. Satsuki’s elite inner council, made of four students, are granted three stars, effectively serving as her generals around the school. That might sound like a little bit of a dramatic term, but you haven’t heard all of the details yet.
Students with stars are given Goku Uniforms, (quite possibly named after you know who), which give the wearer superhuman strength and in some cases a variety of other abilities, depending on the number of stars. Stars also determine the wealth and social status for the families of students, so it’s effectively the true currency of Honnouji and the key to prosperity. Now, Ryuko isn’t too interested in any of that, until she realises that the only way to get Satsuki’s attention/respect will be to fight her way through the entire student population. This might ordinarily be a problem for even as brave and capable a fighter as Ryuko, but circumstances and a friendly pervert lead her in the direction of a, (I can’t believe I’m actually about to type these words), skimpy, sentient, vampiric, sailor uniform. This uniform, yet another mystery left behind by her father, wields more power than even the three star uniforms, though it does tend to, uh, tighten ever so slightly when its power increases, leaving very little to the imagination whatsoever.
Ryuko is taken in by her classmate and generally hopeless but well-meaning Mako, a zero star student whose family lives in the slums at the bottom level outside Honnouji. The two help each other survive Honnouji and its crazed hierarchy while Ryuko tries to cut her way through the student body. This show has two main sides: over the top violent action and utterly ridiculous humour. Regardless of which aspect is in play, it’s all bizarre and there’s usually some barely obscured nudity or breast-bouncing happening onscreen.
Honestly at first, this anime reporter wanted to dismiss Kill la Kill as a silly and stupid excuse for drawing skimpy sailor uniforms, but the humour grew on me gradually and while it is certainly a very silly excuse for short skirts and jiggling extremities, but it’s not really stupid. It might actually be a very clever parody of anime in general, or it might just have got lucky with a few very well executed jokes. In either case, it can be an enjoyable viewing experience, if you’re very much prepared not to take it seriously.
The characters are pretty shallowly explored in the eight episodes so far, with enough back-story in the occasional episode to make some antagonists feel misjudged. Animation is this series main weakness, with some serious fluctuation in style. Action scenes are given bold colours, hard lines and computer effects but the rest of the series has a very basic, even rustic, appearance and it’s pretty hard to reconcile the two. Overall the effect is something more cartoony than an average anime connoisseur might enjoy, though this does often add to the humour of the entire show.
Kill la Kill is a curiosity, it’s hard to tell whether it’s something lazy done fairly well or something brilliant done very well. I’ll be careful to be as subjective as possible in my final score, but the quality of this show is very much in the eye of the beholder.
Kill la Kill Collection 01 (episodes 01-08) is currently available on DVD and Blu-ray from Anime Limited.
73% – “I Still Don’t Know if I Like it or Not, but if I do, it’s great!” – Kill la Kill is oddly charming in quite a lot of ways, but it certainly feels like from one viewer to another, this might be a case of Glass-half-empty, glass-half-full. Some will call this amazing, some will call it trash, some will watch it because they’ve heard that it shows boobs and then, disappointed by the animation, they’ll just rewatch Highschool DxD instead.