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Kill La Kill

Entry updated 30 August 2021. Tagged: TV.

Japanese animated tv series (2013-2014). Trigger. Directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi. Written by Kazuki Nakashima. Voice cast includes Kinryu Arimoto, Ami Koshimizu, Romi Park, Toshihiko Seki, Yukari Tamura and Ryoka Yuzuki. 24 24-minute episodes plus one OVA. Colour.

Student Ryuko Matoi (Koshimizu), hunting her father's killer, joins Honnouji Academy. It is run by the student council, led by Satsuki Kiryuin (Yuzuki), the daughter of Ragyo Kiryuin (Park), whose companies make 90% of the world's clothes (later 100%). Woven into their garments are Life Fibres, an Alien parasite (see Parasitism and Symbiosis) that has shaped human Evolution (including the desire to wear clothes): currently dormant, they await awakening by Ragyo, whereupon they will convert their wearers into energy and cover the whole world, eventually exploding, with their shreds seeding the universe (see Panspermia). Combating this are Nudist Beach, an organization set up by Ryuko's Scientist father, Isshin Matoi (Arimoto), who also created Senketsu (Seki), a Kamui, which is a sentient uniform made of 100% life fibres: in a symbiotic relationship it gives Ryuko immense powers in return for some of her blood.

For most of the show Satsuki appears to be the main Villain, until we discover her intention is to overthrow her mother so as to free humanity; she and Ryuko are also revealed to be sisters, both having been experimented upon as children. Eventually Satsuki, Ryuko and Nudist Beach join forces to battle Ragyo: however, being a human/life-fibre hybrid, even decapitation proves only a brief inconvenience for her. Ragyo dons a Kamui designed by her Grand Couturier, Nui Harime (Tamura), which controls all life fibres, and thus impels their wearers to "sheer obedience"; but Ryuko and Senketsu are also hybrids, making them immune and so able to defeat Ragyo, who defiantly tears out her own heart. The resulting destruction of the Life Fibres means Senketsu also dies, otherwise all ends happily.

The show's writer has confirmed that a major influence was Barrington J Bayley's The Garments of Caean (1976; text restored 1978). The series has an anti-fascist/totalitarian message: the Director has said an inspiration was the Japanese words for fashion and fascism being near homophones; the first words we hear are from an Academy lesson on the rise of Hitler; whilst early speeches by Satsuki ("Fear is Freedom, Subjugation is Liberation") recall George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). However, as Satsuki and her authoritarian Academy later turn out to be forces for good, this message might be said to be blurred.

Nevertheless, the dominant tone is one of knowing silliness, with frequent (cartoony) bloodshed and the occasional severed limb. A major drawback is that, although there are many strong female characters, this is undermined by the absurd levels of Fan Service: the frequent transformation sequences are exercises in gynaecological leering. This is a pity, as despite the budget constraints (much use is made of stills) and some plot holes, Kill La Kill is otherwise an entertaining, fun Anime. [SP]


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