Image Credit: てつくず from Pixiv
Best Girl. Not-So-Best Anime
Okay, guys. I’m finally getting to this post after an eternity of postponing it.
Mostly because I’m afraid of the backlash. My opinion of this series literally goes against what everyone loves and says about it. Heck, instead of talking crap about Sword Art Online, I just simply dropped it without a word simply because the rabid fanboys are coo coo for cocoa puffs. Thankfully Kill la Kill wasn’t terrible to me, just mediocre in comparison to how much praise it gets, but I still had to wait until the show was finished in order to marathon it instead of following it weekly.
Welp, onto the first and only sad post of the month!
I’ll get this out of the way first: I get that the series is supposed to be “mindless” nonsense (…and now I’m going to get crap from fans that think it’s some deep and thought-provoking anime), but I honestly got more enjoyment out of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt’s mindless nonsense, along with everything else it had to offer (a nice throwback to American adult animation and doing that really well) than I ever did with the beginning chunks of Kill la Kill. KLK wasn’t unwatchable, but it wasn’t good enough for me to follow weekly. I just couldn’t bring myself to. It would have felt like a chore if I didn’t marathon it. Especially the middle arc, which was pretty much the most boring you could get out of Kill la Kill.
In all honesty, I felt that everything Kill la Kill was is essentially a low-tier version of everything Imaishi Hiroyuki and Nakashima Kazuki had done in the past. Yes, unlike Kill la Kill, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was never intended to be “mindless fun”, but you know what? It managed to be a louder over-the-top action anime than Kill la Kill ever was. I can understand the concept of being into a TV series because it’s a good action anime, disregarding the plot and characters — and action is always a good source of entertainment value — but the action in KLK was just really bland to me. It’s the type of thing you can get from ANY Imaishi-directed anime, only done better and on a bigger budget.
Derp la Derp
On the subject of “budget”, let’s discuss the animation. I mean, I don’t intend to give Studio Trigger too much shit since it’s their first full independent series (Little Witch Academia being a short and Inferno Cop being a web series), but there’s no doubt that the animation is pretty bad for what it’s trying to be. It’s pretty much still-frame city and my jaw dropped upon seeing how bad the CGI was in episode 3 (thank god Trigger didn’t really use CGI much after this). The art style is great, but when you have bad animation, it’s really inconsequential. I, who am not in any way part of the animation industry — can literally mimic a number of Kill la Kill’s still-frame animations on Sony Vegas/Adobe Premiere. Anyone can. And the funny thing is, the animation is actually amazing at some points, but there are just so many moments where the animation is jaw-droppingly awful in comparison. Studio Trigger definitely had trouble allocating the budget evenly. (That being said, I loved the studio’s animation in Little Witch Academia and wish them the best of luck on Little Witch Academia 2.)
It’s not necessarily a bad thing to turn off your brain for a while to enjoy something that’s purely entertainment value and nothing more, but for me, it really didn’t feel as entertaining as any other mindless action shows even when I tried to do that. I admit to enjoying the hell out of Kill la Kill at first because it seemed like an awesome parody that was going to go places with that in mind. Heck, the whole set-up just screams parody, what with the over-the-top zaniness and the setting itself, which poked fun at a number of anime series taking place in high school (what made it funny was the fact that the series could have taken place anywhere, “but because this is an anime, it has to be in a high school”). But somewhere along the line, Kill la Kill’s direction kind of got LOST and it was increasingly harder to tell if it was a parody or just genuinely generic — we start getting motifs and symbolism/metaphors regarding nudists and clothing which isn’t really executed as well as they could have been because KLK never went full-on srsly deep animu (a.k.a. average anime with direction), there was a bunch of bullshit they felt they needed to explain with logic, etc.
I felt that, even with the bad animation, Kill la Kill could have at least benefited from better direction. As a parody or a show not meant to be taken so seriously, we’re all perfectly fine with taking things as what they appear to be on screen no matter how insane or silly they are. But when you try to incorporate meaning into pieces of the show, you end up turning on our brains again and we start realizing that our intelligence is being insulted. You’re not supposed to rationalize the plot, the whole premise already throws logic out the window to begin with — “people with super clothes versus other people with super clothes in high school with a lot of explosions and shit” . At first, I figured Ryuko being at Honnouji Academy to “avenge her father, who she never had much of a loving relationship to begin with” was just a parody of that common backstory a lot of angsty protagonists tend to have. It didn’t make sense, but you never felt as if it was supposed to.
So I would have been fine with, say, a lightning bolt hitting a piece of turd, causing a bunch of other turds to rain down from the sky and infecting the citizens, turning them into an army of human turds. It’s silly and illogical. It shouldn’t supposed to be logical. But when you go out of your way to have the characters, like Inumuta, try to explain how all of that worked out using pseudo-science or some other BS in-universe reasoning, it’s like — why are you even telling me this? This happened several times throughout the show, which has a pretty straightforward plot, fanservice, and cast. And because these things were so straightforward, so simple, all of the themes, metaphors, symbolism in motif (clothes), etc. felt so sorely out-of-place (and probably gives a bunch of crazy fans the excuse to argue that the show is 2deep4me when it really isn’t).
All of the “flaws”, that could have probably been inconsequential depending on the nature of the series, ended up feeling like they were played straight because they decided to do all of that.
This was pretty amusing, at least
Did the characters manage to be the saving grace, at least? Well, about that… The characters weren’t really amazing; in fact, they felt pretty mediocre to me. In terms of characters, I did grow to like Satsuki starting from episode 18 onwards because she had the best character development (which isn’t saying much), but the only characters that I consistently liked were Senketsu and Nonon (best girl, but that’s not saying much) because their dialogue at least made me smile. I… guess I liked Ryuuko at first, but then she remained static for a dozen or so episodes before she started awkwardly “developing” from angst to “SENKETSU’S THE BEST BRO” determination to “FUCK YOU SENKETSU I’M NOT HUMAN” angst to determination again the last several episodes (character development is great when you don’t try to awkwardly squeeze it all into the tail-end). I mean, I like the Kamen Rider parallels with her riding a motorcyle, donning Senketsu as a scarf that one time, being a modified human, etc. but that’s really just about it. Mako’s alright, even though I’ve seen her before. I don’t know, she seems to be pretty popular, but “lolsorandom” characters never really resonated with me well, to be honest. She did manage to “pop out” in her focus episode and a few times towards the end, however, so I’ll give her that. Other than that… not much for me to praise about the characters, though I have little to complain as well. There’s nothing to talk about besides their archetypes.
Kill la Kill, in short, was a gigantic mess to me. I could see how much potential this series had, all from the first episode — both as a mindless parody or the next TTGL (an over-the-top anime with better direction), but in the end, it failed to reach any of these expectations. There are much better entry-level anime out there, and I’m not so sure why Kill la Kill is one of them. It’s pretty mediocre, and while it’s watchable/enjoyable as a marathon, it’s not exactly memorable — and I’d most likely have forgotten it already if it weren’t for people talking about it all the time, for some reason.
After all, the best character in this anime for me was a seifuku. Kill la Kill me.