Anime Annex: Kill La Kill

Anime will always be second to my love of comic books as a hobby. In fact, my interest in anime only began within the last 5 and a half years and I still have so much to see and learn. I’ve written about horror, slices-of-life, and just about every genre in between. But now, something perverted.

Kill La Kill is full of action and contains plenty of comedy, but it falls within the “ecchi” category. Ecchi have perverted situations and imagery, but not graphically like another genre which we will never discuss in this column. There are plenty of butts and boobs, but does excessive skin diminish the show’s message? Beware of titillating spoilers, anime-niacs.

Matoi knows who’s watching this show.

Ryuko Matoi is a high school girl who transfers to the Honnouji Academy located in Honno City, where her father, a scientist, had lived. Sadly, Matoi’s father was recently murdered, but the girl is determined to find his killer. Honnouji is a strict academy governed by the student council and its president, Satsuki Kiryuin. Satsuki runs the school like the military and forces students to wear matching uniforms which are ranked based on a 4-star system: The more stars a uniform has, the higher the student’s rank. This system not only determines a student’s social status, but also the family’s social class. Academy club leaders and Satsuki’s “Elite Four” all wear “Goku Uniforms” that grant them incredible power, but soon after arriving in the city, Matoi stumbles upon a special uniform of her own (sounds pretty super…just saiyan).

Matoi searches her father’s home for clues regarding his murder and stumbles upon a sentient sailor uniform named Senketsu, which forcibly attaches itself to her and grants her great speed, strength and agility. With a scissor-blade weapon in hand, Matoi is certain that Satsuki has answers regarding her father’s death and is willing to fight to bring his killer to justice. Satsuki adorns her own sentient uniform, named Junketsu, in anticipation of a fight with Matoi. It is revealed that the suits the girls wear are actually members of an alien race that landed on the planet millennia ago, and that Satusuki’s mother, Ragyo, plans to use the fibers from the alien clothing in order to force humans to be her servants (so a real Ragyos to riches story).

Although Kill La Kill is full of action, there are plenty of laughs. There is a covert, militant organization named Nudist Beach that has been preparing to fight Ragyo’s company and, as the name implies, its members are completely or nearly completely naked. Their leader, Aikuro, is an eccentric man that poses like a supermodel for dramatic and hilarious effect. At school, Matoi meets Mako Mankanshoku, who is cute and bubbly but also dumb, often to hilarious results. However, some of the humor in this anime stems from perversion.

Behold: The true power of teenage angst…

There are plenty of impossible bouncing boob physics, images of butts, and other provocative displays of skin (the show of briefs are not brief). When Matoi synchronizes with Senketsu, the sailor uniform is extremely skimpy, but much of the provocative art and animation is ridiculous to the point of hilarity. I recognize that the art objectifies women’s bodies in Kill La Kill, but what I found actually offensive was not any of the imagery, but the behavior of Mako’s father and brother.

The male Mankanshokus are perverts who spy on Matoi in various stages of undress during compromising moments. That Barazo Mankanshoku is married and Matoi is 17 years old is particularly disturbing. The very young Mataro Mankanshoku does not simply have a crush on Matoi, he lusts after her. It is not acceptable to sneak peeks at women and girls who are undressed, but Kill La Kill trivializes this disgusting behavior for levity. Perhaps this is something that regularly occurs within ecchi, but it is not funny. Surprisingly, however, the creators of Kill La Kill could have oversexualized one particular moment, but chose not to, and I think that is awesome.

Before Matoi leaves for the final battle with Ragyo, Mako kisses Matoi on the mouth and asks her to return safely so the two can go on a date, to which Matoi agrees. While not explicitly stated within the show, the two are lesbians. Neither shows any attraction to male classmates or men in general throughout the entirety of Kill La Kill, but Mako very vocally supports Matoi throughout her journey, and Matoi, most of the time, values Mako’s support (Mako is the bra beneath Matoi’s wings). The kiss was an incredible moment and, considering the genre, I’m surprised that it was so quick but Mako’s sentiment so strong. It nonetheless made me very happy to see and also helped reinforce the message this show contains.

Having supportive friends is important.

Kill La Kill illustrates that the imposition of uniforms are a way of oppressing self-expression and free thought while promoting conformity. The large student body at Honnouji who embrace the uniforms and authority of the school’s dictator are essentially soldiers who attempt to quash Matoi’s challenge to that authority. Illustrating this, the majority of the students are drawn exactly the same while in the background during scenes. Families in Honno City are separated into very distinct social classes based on the amount of stars a student’s uniform has. A one-star, like Mako, lives in the slums with her family, while four-stars live in mansions. This illustrates classist and fascist ideals, in that the powerful live in luxury while the majority of citizens are poor and dying, yet no one openly challenges the ruling class. That Matoi fights against the establishment of norms and is a lesbian shows viewers that they ought to think for themselves, express who they really are, and question authority while not accepting oppressive and rigid social control. Uniforms and militant rule are the sentiments of true villainy in the show, and by wearing Senketsu, Matoi effectively defies and literally fights against conformity and oppression.

Kill La Kill is a great show with a lot of action, humor, and interesting plot points. Some of the animation is lazy in certain segments, but at other times, watching the uniforms morph during battles is astonishing (and a little titillating). Regardless of what I have spoiled, there are some major plot-twists that I have not covered. Of course, I recommend this show for adults only, but I highly recommend it.

Jonathan Robert

Jonathan loves comic books and he loves coffee. Jonathan’s mother gave him his first taste of coffee at the tender age of 3 and it was love at first sip. He now needs to wheel around an IV drip of caffeine at all times or else he turns into a dark, monstrous creature that feeds on despair and makes babies cry. The local village-folk have kept him locked away ever since the “decaf catastrophe of ‘06.” When allowed out of his dungeon, he writes various articles for Geekade, including the monthly column, “Welcome to the D-List,” and records the "Mutant Musings" podcast with his geek-tastic girlfriend, Patti.

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