Review of Kill la Kill (Box One)

killlakill

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.

OVERVIEW

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.

VERDICT

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.

12 thoughts on “Review of Kill la Kill (Box One)

  1. I would also say that I loved it. Mako and her family were funny. I did start to get tired of seeing the same uniform transformation scenes (although they are good). I binge watched it so I wish that they had mixed it up a little more. Also some of the storyline towards the end took it in a direction I wish it had not gone.

    I know I don’t see nearly as many anime series as you do, but KlK was in my top four I watched in 2014:
    1.Knights of Sidonia 2. Attack on Titan 3. Sword Art Online 4. Kill la Kill

    • The animators probably felt obliged to reuse the transformation sequence because fans would complain whenever they shortened/cut it. I liked the wacky KLK story although I agree the plot dipped towards the end. Like many shows once it reveals its surprises it closes out with non-stop action.

      KLK, AOT and SAO are all brill. I have yet to check out Knights of Sidonia. I hear good things about it, but I was initially scared off by its use of CG animation.

  2. Good write up!

    It’s a very manic series, which I have to admit struggles to maintain this until the end but it is still a hugely fun and inventive show. I have to say I preferred Mako, who was a riot throughout, along with her family especially the dog! 🙂

    The only thing that is stopping me buying this set, like you pointed out, is the price (natch) and the outdated release policy of a few episodes per set. In the day and age of 13 eps on 2 discs, just giving 8 or 9 at a time is really divisive and unfair on the punters.

    While I enjoyed the series, I can’t justify that expense so either I wait until it comes down in price or I stick with my fansubbed version (every episode on 2 DVD+Rs 😉 ).

  3. I think One of the main elements that sets it apart and could have made it flop if not done so well are the elements of parody and satire. Few have such a great understanding of these trope so as to be able to incorporate them and twist them so well yet not fall into the stereotypical

  4. Since you are one of the best regular reviewers out here, why don’t you set up a Patreon page, so people can fund you if they want to. That way, maybe you can save a little bit more of your money, since you’re legally purchasing anime. You deserve to have one (Patreon page).

    • Thanks for the feedback. It’s nice to hear that you rate my reviews so highly. Getting review copies from distributors and Patreon income from readers would be a dream come true, but my blog is sadly nowhere near popular enough for that. On average I get between five to ten hits a day. Not worth the risk of scaring off followers with begging 🙂

      • No problem. Hmmm it’s true that it might scare off some followers, since most do not know its difference from PayPal or adds. But it isn’t like that, though.

        Still, the decision is yours. Maybe you can set it up after another few years of reviewing stuff. 🙂 Best of luck to you.

  5. I also really enjoyed this show. It had everything I loved about Anime the ones that you just turn your brain off and enjoy. But when you look below the surface it has a bit of meat to it. Not a whole lot but just enough to keep you satisfied. I cried at the end but these days that isn’t really a feat by any means. I enjoyed your review very much!

  6. Pingback: Fall fashions and baring your heart for the world to see: a Kill la Kill review – Weekend Otaku
  7. Pingback: Kill La Kill | Anime Gauge
  8. I was looking for a contact form so I can send you this privately but I will comment it instead.

    I’m Raie the creator of Anime Gauge http://animegauge.com It’s a website that collects anime reviews and puts them in one place for easier consumption. Similar to Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes but for anime shows.

    One or more of your reviews has been added to Anime Gauge. I just want to notify you of this.

    Thank you and keep up the good work! Your reviews are excellent.

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