Review: Kill la Kill- Dressed to Impress

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Kill la Kill is a 2013 series and the first original TV project by Studio Trigger who houses most of the creative staff that brought titles such as Gurren Lagann, FLCL and Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. The story takes place in an alternate post-WWII fantasy setting where Honnouji Academy is run by Kiryuin Satsuki and her student council who wield Goku Uniforms, uniforms that enable the wearers with crazy powers. One day a rebel student named Ryuko Matoi arrives at the school, seeking to track down her father’s murderer and after learning Satsuki has some kind of connection to the killer, vows to end her reign over the academy.

Being Trigger’s first TV project, Kill la Kill had a lot of expectations to live up to. Trigger needed to prove that they were still capable of making an action series as solid and fun as Gurren Lagann and that they could deliver on making something relatively profitable so that they could continue to make new projects. Fortunently Kill la Kill more than managed to meet those expectations and has show that the creators haven’t lost their edge just yet

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IRA GAMAGOORI DECLARES THIS SHOW TO BE EXCELLENT!!

The first half of the series is relatively formulaic as Ryuko typically fights the Club President of the Week but it does a good job of introducing us to the setting and characters. We learn bit by bit about the backstories of the Elite Four (Satsuki’s personal guard) and Ryuko respectively and the balance is generally between comedy and crazy fight scenes as the truth behind the academy slowly starts to reveal itself.

Of course the second half of the show is where it truly starts to shine. Plot twists become rampant while still generally being shown to have been hinted at well enough in advance  to not seem like their making up things as they go along and the  character development for Ryuko and Satsuki respectively becomes prominent. Each episode escalates in insanity and finale delivers on everything it needed to and wraps up satisfactorily.

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“MY ARMS!! DO YOU KNOW HOW IMPORTANT THOSE ARE?!”

Much like Gurren Lagann one of the greatest strenghs of the show is it’s sense of style and in a lot of ways it actually outdoes it in that area. The battles and actions are always ridiculously over the top and the series continually escalates in that area making it a lot of fun to see what kind of action will be coming next. There’s pretty much never a dull moment to be had in the show and it almost always manages to entertain.

However if style is the greatest strength of the series, then substance is one of it’s problems. The content of the story itself more or less delivers but there are a couple of notably weak episodes such as episode 7 which is unusually straightforward and generic for the series. It’s over the top use of fanservice (mostly in the first half of the show) can also be a bit of a turn-off though it fits the style of the show and thankfully avoids being a bit too distracting where it shouldn’t The characters also aren’t quite as developed as in Gurren Lagann (though the cast in general is arguably the more fun of the two) and the overall theme of the show (stuck somewhere between individuality and the importance of family) isn’t quite as definitive as Gurren Lagann’s theme of “doing the impossible and never giving up” but the show is fun enough that these issues don’t drag it down too much and it remains enjoyable throughout.

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Yep. It’s the Gainax crew alright…

The cast of characters for the series are all pretty entertaining to watch as lead character Ryuko starts off as a pretty typical loner delinquent but gradually  matures as she discovers the importance of family through her friend Mako. Similarly the other heroine Satsuki also becomes a lot more level headed throughout the series though her exact motivations aren’t made apparent until fairly late into the show. Mako also makes for a pretty interesting sidekick as her quirky speeches and personality are generally what keep some of the situations in the series from getting a bit too ridiculous and she’s done in just the right way to come off  as charming rather than annoying. The other characters of the series are all a bit more straightforward even if they are fun though the main villain Ragyo is notable for being in the running with Gendo Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangellion for being the worst anime parent of all time. 

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                      My, what excellent parenting skills. Gendo would be proud.

The animation budget for the series is pretty great overall as there are a lot of fantastically done action sequences though much like back when the creators worked at Gainax, the budget isn’t spread very even as it’s always pretty apparent when their trying to save on animation. It’s character designs are pretty distinctive though the art style resembles that of western animation a bit in terms of shading and zaniness. It also has a pretty great soundtrack and the insert song “Don’t Lose Your Way” is always great to listen to. The theme songs for the series are all pretty great as well though the second ED song is kind of take it or leave it.

Trigger has made the magic happen once again with Kill la Kill as it delivers on everything it needed to as an action series. Though it doesn’t quite have the same level of depth as it’s predecessor, it more than makes up for it in style and sheer fun. It stands as one of the strongest shows of 2013 and hopefully it won’t be too long before Trigger gets the opportunity to wow us once again

Overall: 9.4/10

Avaialble on Crunchyroll, Daisuki and Hulu

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