Title: Kill La Kill
Platform: Anime series
Genre: Action, Comedy-drama, Sci fi
Directed by: Hiroyuki Imaishi
Starring: Ami Koshimizu, Toshihiko Seki,
Ryōka Yuzuki, Nobuyuki Hiyama
Rating: E/U (Everyone)
Length: 24 Episodes

Written by Whistler 9th April 2014


















Ever since 1995 Gainax has been a studio that brought some of the biggest hitters and great animes such as the infamous Neon Genesis Evangelion series, Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, the Cowboy Bebop movie: Knockin' on Heaven's Door, and even the borderline legendary series of of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. In 2011 however, Gainax co-founder Hiroyuki Imaishi (who had also worked on Samurai Champloo and Fullmetal Alchemist), and Masahiko Ohtsuka left to form Trigger, their own studio. In all honesty besides their work on the opening to Project X Zone I had heard nothing about their projects.

That all changed of course with their latest 24 episodic series Kill La Kill, that pretty much equals if not exceeds Gurren Lagann in style, ridiculousness, and epic fights.
Kill La Kill follows the story of Ryuko Matoi who in her search for her father's murderer leads her to Honnouji Academy, where students are granted superhuman abilities by wearing Goku uniforms and a student's ranking within the academy determines life status.















While oddly enough the premise sounds serious enough, the first 6 or so episodes are rather silly and borderlining fan service; after being beaten to a pulp Ryuko has a fateful encounter with Senketsu, a talking sailor suit imbued with special powers who when donned and given a steady supply of Ryuko's blood, allows our heroine to stand toe to toe against the elite of Honnouji Academy. Yep, Ryuoko's outfit turns into an ultra-skimpy perv’s dream come true and for the first couple of episodes it becomes a running joke with a lot of innuendo and constant tightrope balancing between action anime and hentai.
While I myself wasn’t too put off by it, it is easy to see where the first few episodes will and has put off many who are a little less comfortable with the ‘skin showing’ spectacle or who are not all too familiarized with ecchi or fan servicing from continuing to watch the series after a couple of episodes.

Luckily however for those who get passed that will be happy to see that the fan service does take a back seat to proper serious plot, action, character development and some nice drama along with some unexpected twists (and not-so unexpected).
Once the serious plot jumpstarts it goes pretty full throttle but it also hurts the series overall; sadly from start to finish Kill La Kill has a serious issue with pacing, whether elongating rather non-important scenes or shortening some of the more impactful ones. I personally feel this was due to the 6 or so episodes that besides the occasional scene had no build or impact on the overall story which led to rushing a couple of key points here and there, though arguably thanks to the pacing there is little filler episodes and even the standardized recap episode in a parody to the pace, is shoved into a minute of the 16th episode that. That’s not to say the story is bad, cause it isn’t; while it follows a lot of stock standard tropes such luckily gaining powers in the last minute to win the day several times, certain characters switching sides and of course the bigger enemy awaiting in the shadows cliché, you can’t help but watch each episode one after the other to delve deeper into the series.














While pacing is really the only matter I can truly fault Kill La Kill on, the visuals are by far some of the most unique and stellar I’ve seen in an anime for quite some time.
Combining a very traditional hand drawn style along with over-the-top animations and effects, Kill La Kill is just non-stop eye candy be it for the awesome style, the action packed combat, the revealing designs or the outright ridiculousness. I actually found myself for the first time in ages replaying certain scenes as the fight scenes (what did you think something else?) are a spectacle to behold; practically every fight is set to overdrive as you get to watch some awesome character beat each other to a pulp Dragon Ball Z style with destruction on a scale of Godzilla and a presentation equivalent to a Beethoven orchestra.

Speaking of orchestra (dat Segway), the soundtrack for Kill la Kill is brilliant, while some it if listened to on its own needs to grow on you; timing of each track is marvellously placed to heighten the scenes to a whole new level. Of course the opening intros for both halves of the series gets you pumped up and the outros give you a nice melody to unwind to after a cliff hanger or two, what I believe is the series main theme (or at least it plays almost every time that Ryuko is about to kick the living snot out of her opponent) ‘Before My Body is Dry’ is a strong piece that much like Gurren Lagann’s songs gets you pumped at the right moment for a combination of adrenaline, hope and motivational pointing to the skies.

Hell even the bad guy theme’s got me going, ‘Blumenkranz’ which plays in a lot of the borderline defeated moments that not only elevates the bad guys onto a higher playing field, but also sets a perfect tune of gut wrenching defeat yet setting our heroes ambitions even higher.














While pacing was off for me, I really enjoyed the character development of the majority of the cast.
Ryuko goes through the heroes journey nicely (granted they almost screwed that up towards the end), Mako her friend is always there to pick her up, the Elite four become larger than life while showing their more humanistic side and even Satsuki becomes a nicely multidimensional character.
There are plenty of moments when Kill La Kill will have you really feeling what’s happening to the characters, from eye widening badassery or even heartstring plucking that will have you glued to your screens whilst (internally) shouting praise and rooting for the heroes.
Sadly it is a bit of a dual edged sword as much like Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, there are many characters with so many awesome spotlight moments and backstories that it feels like the writers weren’t sure on who to give the most spotlight too. I actually found myself enjoying the Honnouji Academy Council to be far more interesting as the series progressed compared to Ryuko, (seriously in the rumoured OVA I want more Gamagoori and Sanageyama).

While Kill la Kill is by no means a thinking man’s anime, it is pure enjoyment with over the top visuals and action combined with likeable characters, an enjoyable soundtrack and relatively good (yet silly) plot that even admittedly brought a tear or two on the occasion. Kill la Kill never takes itself too seriously and while the ending wasn’t as climatic as I expected, still goes above and beyond to turn up the Pièce de résistance all the way up to 24 (episodes). If you’ve been finding your intake of good anime rather low lately or have been avoiding popular animes like Attack on Titan (over hyped) and need something you can enjoy time and time again then Kill La Kill is the must watch for this year no matter what kind of anime fan you are.

Pros:    

Amazing visuals,

Action packed episodes,

Little to no fillers,

Superb characters and character design,

Balanced action, drama and comedy,

Simplistic yet enjoyable story,

Stellar soundtrack.


Cons:   

Somewhat off-putting fan service early on,

Irregular pacing issues,

Rather anti climatic final fight,

Predictable at times.


Final verdict,

Kill La Kill scores a 7.5 out of 10 and a guaranteed recommendation from me.


Written by,

Whistler














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