From the creative minds that brought us Gurren Lagann comes Kill la Kill – a series I have been dying to watch ever since I checked out the premier episode at London Comic Con a couple of years ago. That convention was the event where Manga Entertainment announced that they would be releasing the third Evangelion movie. Two years on and we are still waiting for a DVD release of that particular film, partially due to the pedantic demands of the Japanese licence holder. Have it your way Studio Khara. If fans cannot pay to watch the feature in a timely manner don’t complain when they then resort to using “cheaper” alternative methods.
Kill la Kill stars a high school student named Ryuko Matoi, who is on a quest to uncover the identity of her father’s killer. The search sees her transfer over to Honnouji Academy, which is ruled by a student council president who answers to the name of Satsuki Kiryuin. Satsuki’s totalitarian reign over the campus is so strict that it makes Robert Mugabe’s administration look like a liberal democracy. Kiryuin rewards her faithful followers with lavish accommodation and superpower granting Goku uniforms, whilst everyone else is forced to live a life of poverty out in the slums. When Ryuko and Satsuki eventually butt heads, the student council president lets slip that she may know who murdered Matoi’s pop. In order to get her to spill the beans Ryuko will however have to get past a horde of school clubs that are protecting the academy’s female dictator.
The nine episodes contained in this first box set have Ryuko taking on Satsuki’s minions with the aid of an oversized scissor blade, which she uses to shred the strength enhancing Goku uniforms worn by her opponents. Over the course of the two DVDs, viewers will witness Ryuko squaring off against the captains of the school’s boxing and tennis clubs before entering a Dragon Ball-esque fighting tournament that will pit her against Satsuki’s closest confidants – The Elite Four. Dragon Ball isn’t the only show that Kill la Kill draws inspiration from. Much like the classic Mazinger Z, Kill la Kill sees its protagonist battling the bad guys with an invention created by a deceased relative. Instead of inheriting a giant robot, Ryuko instead uses a blood-sucking sailor uniform that embarrassingly shows off a lot of skin. Perhaps if Sailor Moon donned Ryuko’s Senketsu more boys would have watched that cartoon when they were growing up.
I have no hesitation in awarding Kill la Kill five stars, as it is one of the best animes released in recent years. The over the top battles are a blast to watch and I found myself consistently chuckling at the cartoon’s visual gags. The show’s soundtrack is simply superb and although the artwork isn’t the sharpest thing you will ever see, I would still argue that the visuals are pleasing on the eye thanks to a good use of colour, captions that pop out from the screen and fast paced action. I can’t name a character I disliked from the cast, with my personal favourite being Ryuko’s best friend Mako Mankanshoku. I normally find hyperactive sidekicks to be annoying, but Mako won me over with her comical motivational monologues.
Anyone who dismisses Kill la Kill as a mindless action show couldn’t be more mistaken, as the story surrounding Ryuko’s departed parent is surprisingly gripping. The scriptwriters also had the sense to mix things up saving the series from following a predictable “Ryuko fights a baddie of the week” schedule. Episode four for example has the heroine tackling an obstacle course in order to avoid expulsion. From this set episode seven, which sees Ryuko starting up a Fight Club, is my personal highlight. Titled “A Loser I Can’t Hate” it tells a rather poignant tale of how power corrupts. Despite all my praise Kill la Kill sadly remains the best anime I do not own. Anime Limited is demanding £45 for this Collector’s Set, which is too dear for this penniless reviewer. If I am doing the math right, buying this one season series will set me back an outrageous £135. Hopefully it gets discounted in the future, or else I will be forced to rely on legal sites like Daisuki to watch it online for free.