First Impressions – Kill la Kill

Are you ready for some epic action!?

The new season has officially started on Metanorn which means there will be tons of first impressions flooding the blog and first we have Kill la kill! After seeing those trailers can this series live up to all the hype provided by Trigger and of course the amazing staff behind it? We shall see and joining me on this tag post, we have verdantly, our fresh meat, along with old mate lvlln.

 It’s safe to say that Kill la Kill is one of the – if not the – most anticipated shows of this season. And why not? It’s studio Trigger with their first actual TV show since inception, coming off their successful Anime Mirai release Little Witch Academia and their even more successful Little Witch Academia 2 Kickstarter. It’s director Hiroyuki Imaishi and script writer Kazuki Nakashima who had brought us the legendary Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann series. Without knowing anything of the premise, that alone is enough to get any fan excited. So, after one episode, has this show met its lofty expectations? Yes, fuck yes.

With the over-the-top action, retro art style, and revealing outfits all cranked up to 11, epic doesn’t even begin to describe this premiere episode of KILL la KILL.

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Powerful uniforms!

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Pretty much all the guys reactions to Ryuuko’s outfit.

Having school uniforms as a power source seems a bit crazy at first, but damn they make everything in Kill la Kill so freaking epic; however since this comes from the same team that brought us the over the top Gurren Lagann series I kind of expected this to be completely crazy and Trigger has done an impressive job keeping my attention. Besides the mind blowing production of the first episode I loved how aggressive Ryuuko was and she even gets owned in the first episode. I mean sure that really is not anything original and she does come back to own the boxer in the end, but her personality keeps me interested and I can’t forget to mention Mako who is the hyperactive sidekick or will she be something else? For now she will remain as the comic relief. Speaking of extra characters I really like the “evil” student council group and it appears that each member has a role to play like Nonon? I am curious to see how she fights, but I assume her attacks are music related because of her uniform? Now we just need to sit back and see what else Kill la Kill can bring us because I want more!

Epic production team

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I can’t wait to see how she fights.

Names like Imaishi, Nakashima, or Sushio don’t require much introduction, of course, but the one name in the show staff that stood out to me most is one you might not have heard in over a decade: Mayumi Shintani (Twitter). That’s because the last major anime role she voiced was the series villain Haruhara Haruko in Gainax’s 2001 OVA FLCL. Shintani’s main career is actually as a stage actor (a characteristic she shared with most of the FLCL cast – only 2 voice actors in that series remained in the anime industry), with the occasional role in TV dramas and movies (you can see a rundown on her Japanese Wikipedia page. Her anime debut was in Gainax’s KareKano back in 1998. Her character in Kill la Kill, the non-athletic committee chair Nonon Jakuzure, got about 10 seconds of screen time this episode, but I’m excited to see what her character will bring in future episodes, because Shintani’s Haruko was one of my favorite voice acting performances of all time. She’s a legit three star student council officer, so there’s plenty of hope that she will prove to be a major presence. And speaking of FLCL, who else caught the “left hook rules the world” reference to the first lines spoken by Mamimi in that show?

I have to admire the narrative efficiency of these guys. Within the span of 24 minutes, they managed to introduce us to an all new fantasy setting, the core cast of characters, and the main conflict, while still fitting in several fight scenes. I give props to starting off the entire show by talking about Nazis, and then dropping a nice Nineteen Eighty-Four reference with Satsuki’s 3-part “Fear is freedom; Subjugation is liberation; Contradiction is truth” slogan mirroring that novel’s 3-part slogan “War is peace; Freedom is slavery; Ignorance is strength,” cutting out a lot of introductions and setup about the school that would have been necessary without such shorthands. Already we had a small story arc as Ryuuko faced defeat, found power through her new uniform, and scored a small victory over Honmouji Academy, as part of the larger revenge plot that will probably carry the first act of the show. And there were interesting questions raised, such as Satsuki’s history with Ryuuko’s father and the origin of the scissors and the uniform. Basically, it told us everything we needed to know and nothing we didn’t. This kind of tight storytelling is almost unheard of in anime.

Exaggerate everything

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Another fantastic shot~

By laying all its cards on the table in a blisteringly fast-paced premiere, KILL la KILL never lets you forget for one instant that it is nothing like the other shows that have come to define the battle shounen genre as of late.  The setting, the villains, the heroine, and the main conflict – all have been distilled from their respective genre norms into the very basics, and then these basics are exaggerated to the nth degree.  As with anything exaggerated, these aspects of KILL la KILL so far have lost any semblance of subtlety or nuance – but they do gain the ability to highlight the many existing battle shounen tropes for comedic effect.

Extra fun

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Everyone needs a sidekick just like her !

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Breast friends forever…

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I love these shots.

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That is never a good thing!

End thoughts

Holy crap that first damn episode was a lot like the final episode of Railgun S aka filled with Non-stop action from start to finish, but in the end this sounds like it will be just another revenge story with Matoi hunting down her father’s killer or will it be something else? I mean of course they won’t exactly brush that to the side because that is the main story. So what did you think of this episode? Are you going to keep up with it or was it not for you? I certainly think it will be a thrilling ride and the soundtrack is done by the same team that brought us Guilty crown!

The visuals certainly feel very reminiscent of Gurren Lagann, for better or for worse. There’s no mistaking these guys’ influence in those pointy character designs, especially with the face on the torso of Ryuuko’s uniform, and Imaishi’s flair for the excessive and overexaggerated. But what was acceptable and even impressive back in 2007 don’t quite seem as magical now, 6 years later. The show does well with its animation smears to make up for the less-than-smooth animation most of the time, but it falls back to many of the same tropes that these guys have used and overused in the past. The reliance on tight zoom ins during action sequences – always to the same angle and filled with speed lines – and the pans over stills feel a little tired.

What it lacks in pure technical excellence, it makes up for in style. This is a show confident badasses butting heads against other confident badasses; there’s no room for hesitation or subtlety. From disciplinary chairman Ira’s whip insanity to boxer Takaharu’s infinitely replicating iron boxing gloves, Kill la Kill is all about excess. Imaishi turned that love of excess into a legit plot point and central theme in Gurren Lagann. It’s not quite as much the main focus in this one – though touches of it abound, such as the student council’s hilarious multi-staged attempt at stopping even a splatter of blood from reaching Satsuki – and we’ll have to see how he will harness that energy in this story.

So Trigger, you’ve caught my attention with this first episode. You’ve practically kidnapped it and taken it hostage. As much as I loved Gurren Lagann, that was a show that took me a while to warm up to. No such problem exists with Kill la Kill. This action-filled audacious first episode met every one of my expectations and exceeded most of them, the only possible disappointment being that the quality gap between this and the average action show wasn’t large enough. I’m always a skeptic when it comes to works by my favorite studios, but this intro has made me take one giant leap towards being a true believer.

For starters, the basic premise of any battle shounen’s setting is simply one where characters constantly come into battle.  Many series flesh out their settings beyond this basic premise, and rightfully so, as this is where much of a series’ individual flavor and style comes from.  KILL la KILL, on the other hand, embraces this basic premise and runs with it.  So far, nothing is known about what kind of school Honnouji Academy is other than it is extremely brutal and strict, and  the students are outfitted in special uniforms that give them fighting powers – which essentially means that there will be plenty of battles against the school’s powers of authority and probably less of studying or school festivals.  Already we’ve seen this setting put to good use with the boxing ring out of nowhere battle stage, and even more creative stages will likely make their appearance in the coming episodes.

As for the villains of battle shounen, the basic archetype is that they are evil, are the source of the story’s conflict, and are hell bent on opposing the heroes at all costs. KILL la KILL’s take on villains for the most part adheres to this archetype and exaggerates it, thereby eliminating any gray area. So far this group, consisting of brash muscle-bound bully Disciplinary Bureau Chairman Gamagori Ira (Inada Tetsu), suave Head of Sports Sanageyama Uzu (Hiyama Nobuyuki), “constantly-adjusting-his-glasses” smart guy Intelligence and Tactics Officer Inumuta Houka (Yoshino Hiroyuki), and token moe girl Head of Culture Clubs Jakuzure Nonon (Shintani Mayumi), are not much more than exaggerated send-ups of their respective archetypes.  While they are definitely shaping up to be fun and enjoyable to watch, it remains to be seen whether KILL la KILL will develop their personalities and motivations or leave them as is to fully leverage their comedic value.

A villain that is seemingly bound to be developed further is Honnouji Academy’s student council president, Lady Kiryuin Satsuki (Yuzuki Ryouka).  So far she’s not much of a talker, but there’s a sense that there is a lot more to her than her reputation as cruel and cold-hearted student council president.  For all we know, she might not even be a villain at all, but another battle shounen trope in disguise – like actually turning out to be the heroine’s long lost amnesiac sister ready to join forces.  KILL la KILL has developed quite the compelling character with Satsuki, and it will be intriguing to see which direction the showrunners will choose to take her.

Equally compelling but for vastly different reasons is the heroine of the series, Matoi Ryuuko (Koshimizu Ami).  Here, KILL la KILL has pulled out what seems to be nearly every battle shounen hero character trait in the book.  To name a few, she’s brash, talented, determined, hot-headed, and has a soft/cute side – just like countless other heroes and heroines – but to the show’s testament, despite her cookie cutter origins, there’s something about Ryuuko that manages to make her actually likeable.  Right now, she’s arguably the most interesting character of the series – which is unfortunately often not the case for many other shounen series, especially battle ones.  Maybe it’s her deft handling of the scissor sword, her classic quest of revenge for her murdered father, or just how she looks in the talking rapist sailor uniform Senketsu (Seki Toshihiko) – there’s something in her that appeals to everyone’s tastes.  KILL la KILL has a great heroine to start out with and is practically winning half the battle there already.

The final piece to the battle shounen equation is the main conflict, and here KILL la KILL sticks with the tried-and-true “revenge for a loved one” story, just greatly exaggerated once again.  So far, not much has been revealed about Ryuuko’s motivations for finding the wielder of the other half of the scissor sword, other than presumably killing that person.  There is a wrinkle with the mysterious role of Mikisugi Akurou (Miki Shinichiro), which is probably the most interesting storyline right now.  Overall, the story works as a vehicle to set up the battles that are essential to this genre, but how far can such a simple premise go towards the epic saga that this series is probably aiming for, given the pedigree of its showrunners?  In any case, KILL la KILL’s story might never turn into anything on a grandiose scale, but at the very least with its superbly fun action scenes, unique visual style, zany humor, and compelling cast of characters, this is one series that offers some of the very best aspects of battle shounen and is bound to take viewers on an undeniably enjoyable ride.

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Hey all, I’m verdantly and I’m a new writer on Metanorn.  You can also find me on MAL and Twitter.  It’s been several months since my last stint of writing episodic posts, so please bear with me as I shake off the rust.  In each of my posts, I hope that I will be able to help you see an episode in a different light, notice aspects you didn’t notice before, and maybe even lead you to appreciate a series in a new way.  In any case, I wouldn’t be here without Kyokai, so many thanks to her for this wonderful opportunity. Looking forward to being here, and thank you for reading my posts!

Preview

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Tennis anyone?

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We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
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40 Responses to “First Impressions – Kill la Kill”

  1. Highway says:

    Welcome, verdantly! Good to have you here!

    I thought the show was pretty good, although I’m not the biggest fan of 100% frenetic action and battle laddering for a series. It might be interesting to see if Ryuuko’s power levels off or she just keeps getting better. I did like that she actually tried to fight before getting the outfit, but I don’t know if I really cared for the idea of “outfits are the source of power”.

    • skylion says:

      I AM IRON MAN!

    • Foshizzel says:

      Yes yes welcome to the team Mr Verdantly <3

      Outfits as power seems crazy but I can get behind that! I kind of think of it as a magical girl uniform that boosts the girls power or as Skylion said xD

    • BlackBriar says:

      The way the uniform attached itself to Ryuuko was very much like the beginning for the anime version of Witchblade. And as far we know, the uniform won’t consume her, body and soul, to the point it kills her.

  2. skylion says:

    Excellent work, Team. First of all, thank you so much verdantly for working on Team Metanorn, and for lending a very keen insight into things I had forgotten.

    What is that? It seems to me that the GAINAX/Trigger/Kara mindset is always about self-indulgence of the medium; not quite mindless, but always in the realm of over the top WTFery. Panty Stocking and Garterbelt comes to mind. I have to admit, I haven’t watched TTGL, so I am an out on that.

    I recall back in the day when the news of Anno’s breakdown and his Take That to the otaku culture of the day rivaled anything that the Eva anime ever did. And it became quite a burden to be a fan. Did I really want to know this just to enjoy an anime?

    It looks like Trigger has passed those days, and has tightened the angst into full blown story mode. While I feel that most of the exaggerated animation has as much good caloric intake as the deep fried bacon food porn, I have to admit, it tastes really really good.

    But, didn’t the studio say that even though they have taken the battle anime to heart, that character narrative would be the key to it all? If that is so, I look forward to more good deep friend bacon food porn.

    • Foshizzel says:

      Thank you and yep its good to have Verdantly joining the team <3

      WTFery is a good word to describe Kill la Kill! I mean there was non-stop action and hilarious humor thrown in and that part reminded me of Panty and Stocking the most and I highly recommend TTGL! It’s GREAAAT~

    • lvlln says:

      Keep in mind, Trigger’s Imaishi, while a protege of Anno, never really got into the overly depressing and trolling stuff Anno came to be known for. His defining work was Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, a show that you really have to watch. It was a love letter to the concept of excess, using it as an actual important plot point to produce a story that didn’t stop escalating until there was literally no more room to go up.

  3. skylion says:

    Ach, Spammy.

  4. Karakuri says:

    I haven’t gotten around to watching this yet, but welcome to the team, verdantly!

  5. BlackBriar says:

    Before anything else, greetings, Verdantly, it’s good to have you here at Metanorn.

    First things first, I don’t know what I was watching but it was damn awesome! Even at a break neck pace, this world looks promising and instantly gave vibes from FLCL, a feel from a Quentin Tarantino movie (Kill la Kill almost sounds like Kill Bill) with some Witchblade thanks to Ryuko’s transforming uniform that suddenly came alive, attacked and attached itself to her.

    For a school, a dangerous lifestyle is ushered there. It’s crazy to be killed just for a uniform. Even worse when your body is used as an example to teach the others a lesson not to do the same. What I want to know more is about Ryuko’s new uniform. As it shows, it needs blood from its host to survive. What nutjob decided to make that?

    Overall, I’m definitely watching more of this.

    • BlackBriar says:

      Another thing I’ve noticed is that they’re doing everything in their power to instill equality on the playing field whether it’s good or bad. It’s the first time I’ve seen a female character get so brutally beat down the way Ryuuko did. Normally, it’s a guy, especially in shounen, that gets that kind of over the top, unforgiving abuse.

    • Foshizzel says:

      . It’s the first time I’ve seen a female character get so brutally beat down the way Ryuuko did. Normally, it’s a guy, especially in shounen, that gets that kind of over the top, unforgiving abuse.

      It is a good change of pace! I wonder who would win in a fight between Ryuuko or Misaka from Railgun? LOLOLOL

      • BlackBriar says:

        That would be an impossible fight. It would be like an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. Both girls are hardcore in their own respects.

  6. KoroshiyaKi says:

    Will be looking forward to Verdantly in any upcoming podcasts.

  7. HannoX says:

    Welcome, Verdantly! A good first post and I look forward to reading more from you.

    Man, oh, man, kick ass has a new name and it’s Kill la Kill! But enough has been said about that and I really can’t add any more to it. I want to mention a little detail that really impressed me and that was the drifting fog. A lot of shows would have taken a short cut there and just drawn it statically in order to devote more resources to the battle scenes. TRIGGER took the time and spent the money to actually animate it. That proves they’re really paying attention to details and doing their best for us.

    Great job overall, TRIGGER, and you have more than lived up to the hype generated for this show.

    • Foshizzel says:

      Trigger for the win yooooooooooooo! I loved the backgrounds and goofy characters and I can’t wait to see more <3

  8. belatkuro says:

    It’s verdant…ly!

    As a huge fan of TTGL(being one of my favorite anime of all times, as seen in my MAL), somehow I wasn’t as hyped when I came into this show. Sure they have the same staff but that doesn’t quite guarantee that they can produce the same caliber as the show that pierces the heavens. So I came in here ignoring most of the hype it brought.

    And I’m pleasantly surprised as it was pretty great. It’s hotblooded, it’s more or less the same artstyle, and it’s got some promise in it. It’s the last show I expected to have fanservice but then again, TTGL has Yoko in it.
    I’ll be looking forward to this show more and hope it delivers.

    But man, that battle uniform. Just…wow.

    • Foshizzel says:

      Yay new members! Woooooo!!

      Same I loved TTGL and when I saw the trailers for Kill la Kill I got so excited because I want to see what they can do with other stuff that isn’t giant robots beating the hell out of each other, but mostly because I am a huge fan of their art style <3

      That battle uniform is great! I wonder if we will see any cosplayers with it? LOL I wouldn't put it past someone to at least try hehe

  9. Liza says:

    Welcome verdantly! ^_^

    I’ve actually been pretty out of the loop when it comes to the hyped up shows for the seasons(I usually am so I can base what I watch on my own personal judgement) and I have to say, this was fun.

    Everything is so over the top and dramatic, it is just perfect. I never finished Gurren Laagan(only saw the first episode and then my sister’s friend spoiled almost all of the big plot twists…) but I have seen FLCL so I was thinking more of that while watching this.

    I wonder if we’ll hear more from the school uniform in the future.

    • Foshizzel says:

      More blood! YESSSSS

      TTGL and FLCL are some of my favorite series! So Kill la Kill should be easy for you to get into especially if you love badass female leads who can own <3

      I think so yeah we should hear the uniform talking next week or later on in the series lolol

  10. Irenesharda says:

    I have honestly never seen a show like this before.

    Yes, the plot line is pretty standard fare: feisty girl on a journey to get revenge for her murdered father, dystopian future when there is fascist rule by a dictator, a hierarchy system that keeps the weak down and the strong in control. This is all not too unfamiliar territory.

    However, I’ve never seen anything truly presented in this way. This was loud, outrageous, ridiculous, over-the-top, and even a little risque, and I loved every minute of it. You know when the first line in an anime like this is about Nazis, we’re in for a totally different ride than any thing we’ve been on before.

    I did think the uniform a little too much, mostly cause I’m a girl and seeing a girl wearing next to nothing in obvious fanservice does nothing for me other than to either make me uncomfortable and to just wonder “why?”. I like the way the uniform looks in the poster and promo art better. I hope we see more of that one.

    I know Gurren Laagan and FLCL was done by the people of this studio before, and many have said they are similar, but I’ve never seen any of the shows from these people and this was my first introduction to Trigger’s style. I wasn’t sure about this show at first, but I’m totally into it now.

    Also, welcome verdantly! Can I call you “V”? The more the merrier on Metanorn.

    • BlackBriar says:

      Can I call you “V”?

      Just that sentence alone makes me think of this.

      • Irenesharda says:

        I love that movie! And that scene is the best. Long live the revolution!

    • lvlln says:

      If you’re interested in finding out more about these guys, I’d recommend Little Witch Academia as a good starting point. Easily the most grounded of their works – not directed by Imaishi – and has a great Disney-like charm, along with their impressive animation quality.

      On the other end of the spectrum is TTGL, which is kind of a must watch. It has its ups and downs, but it gives life to its overall spiral theme perfectly, spinning out of control as it goes until it reaches unprecedented levels of epicness. It’s the closest to Kill la Kill in terms of visual style. And if you found Ryuuko’s uniform off-putting (and honestly, who didn’t? That’s way too much underboob – even the in-world characters were taken aback), Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt might not be for you. But it is a hilarious parody of Cartoon Network shows, ie Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, and definitely Invader Zim.

      • Irenesharda says:

        I’ve heard many tell me to try out TTGL and it sounds interesting. I usually only marathon one older show at a time, and I’ve just finished Steins;Gate this weekend (one of the most awesome scientific sci-fi shows I’ve ever seen. And definitely the best one I’ve seen that deals with time travel.), so I guess Gurren Laagan can be next on my list.

      • Highway says:

        Boy, it’s like you guys didn’t see Hyperdimension Neptunia or something… 😉

        I liked Little Witch Academia, but the one episode of both P&S and TTGL left me cold and uninterested in more. And to be honest, embellishing what I said above, if I were watching this show as a backlog project, rather than as a current show, I probably wouldn’t get very far into it for the same reasons. It holds far more allure for me as a shared experience than as something to watch for its own sake.

        • HannoX says:

          I could only watch a few episodes of Panty and Stocking, but did watch all of TTGL. Irenesharda, I’d recommend you watch Little Witch Academia (still up on Crunchyroll, I believe) and then try TTGL, although you might only find it listed as Gurren Lagann.

  11. Overcooled says:

    Welcome, welcome~ Just joined and already hard at work, huh? At this rate we can’t let you ever escape.

    Kill la Kill is mindless fun…which I’m slowly beginning to realize is one my my favourite genres. I don’t think there is a single moment that isn’t badass. It’s the kind of show you look forward to each week with the same bright-eyed joy you used to await Saturday morning cartoons with as a kid.

    I didn’t realize Haruhara Haruko’s seiyuu was back in action! Wow! I’m even more hyped now =w=

    • Foshizzel says:

      More blood for the Metanorn gods! Muhahahahah~

      I can’t wait to see the epic fights every week and yes the action was amazing!

      It’s great to see her retruning xD

  12. Kyokai says:

    Welcome verd, but I’ve already done that! xD

    Finally got around watching this and oh hell man, is this overly badass or what. If not the screams were enough, the action and silliness of it all keeps me glued to the screen. I really don’t care about the plot right now, just watching for plain old fun and TTGL nostalgia.

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