In the world of anime, there are a few legendary names that everyone should know. Ghibli is the obvious one; if you don’t know them, what the fuck are you doing? But there are several others that, while not on the same level as that legendary name, are notable. Studio Bones, Madhouse, Kyoto Animation, and even Toei Animation (for all the wrong reasons sometimes) are well-known among weebs all across the world. But none of them have the same reputation for the bizarre as one of my favorites: Studio Trigger!
Trigger is the name behind a few beloved anime. Little Witch Academia, Space Patrol Luluco, SSSS Gridman, and Darling in the Franxx (that one was always bad, you just don’t want to admit it) are just a few examples. But none of them are as well-known as the show that made their name. The subject of today’s review: Kill La Kill.
Anime is wildly considered to be one of the weirdest forms of entertainment out there. That’s part of what makes it so fun! But even among weird shows, Kill La Kill stands at the top! From the first minute to the last, this show is absolutely insane!! It simultaneously makes perfect sense while making no sense at all!
And it. Is. Glorious!!
Story: Get Naked!!
*Deepest of deep breaths* Okay! Let’s fucking do this! Buckle up, this is going to be a wild one!
Ryuko Motoi is a troublesome girl with a troublesome past. After her father’s murder, she takes the Scissor Blade, the weapon of his demise, and heads to Honnouji Academy to find the truth behind it. Here, she meets Kiryuin Satsuki, a powerful woman who seemingly knows all the answers to the mysteries Ryuko is pursuing. In order to stand against Satsuki and her army of super-powered students, Ryuko forms a bond with Senketsu, a talking sailor uniform that bestows upon her incredible power by transforming into a lewd outfit. Can she battle her way to the top and find the truth behind her father’s death?
Quick question for those who haven’t seen the show: would you believe me if I told you it got crazier? Like, a lot crazier? No, I don’t think you understand. Take the number you have in your head, multiply it by a billion, then square it five times. Do that, and you’ll have about one-eighteenth of the actual number! Actually, make that one-thirty-sixth! And that’s being generous!
This show is completely insane! Yet it somehow manages to set and follow its own internal logic perfectly! The rules of the world are made clear and communicated to the audience well enough to keep them from becoming confused. It’s bat shit crazy, but it still makes sense!
That, or I’m completely crazy and I’m on this show’s wavelength. I might’ve lost my mind at some point, it’s hard to tell.
Where do I even begin? It’s odd how truly decent this story is! A story this insane shouldn’t be able to work! But if you boil it down on an actual storytelling level, it’s pretty good!
All the characters are larger than life, with explosive personalities that interact with one-another super well! They’re not especially deep characters, but they’re likable and undergo decently compelling, enjoyable arcs! Ryuko’s growth from an edgelord (edgelady?) to a ‘power of friendship’ shounen protagonist and Satsuki learning the joys of a simple life with a family are both super memorable and fun arcs!
It helps that the pacing is like fucking lightning! The story never slows down, not even for a second! It runs at a mile a second, blasting through story beats like a cheetah on speed! They even make a joke about it in the recap episode! It never lingers on any of its insanity; it just goes, goes, and goes! If it were even a tad slower, the whole story would fall apart!
It also manages to pull off some genuinely surprising twists! Better yet, they all make perfect sense in retrospect! The story plants the seeds in subtle ways early on, which then bloom in explosive effect later on! They aren’t the most original twists in the history of screenwriting, but they do the job and do it well.
It’s not the finest story in anime. Hell, despite all my hyping up, it may not even be the craziest (although it’s undeniably up there). But it’s a pretty good one; it’s solidly executed and wildly enjoyable to watch!
Although the animation may do a good chunk of the heavy lifting.
Presentation: Knowing Exactly When to Be Dumb
Holy shit, this show is pretty! The art style is incredible, the music makes me want to bang my head, and it knows just when to use limited animation and when to bust out the sakuga! Studio Trigger is great at many things; making a damn good looking show is near the top of that list!
Second only to designing waifus. They’re kind of unstoppable in that regard.
Let’s start with the animation. At times, it’s very limited, almost to an amateur level. However, this is clearly done for the sake of comedy, not incompetence. Sometimes characters will just spiral off into the sky like Team Rocket, other times they’ll just fly off in a straight line then plummet straight down! It’s hilarious!
Plus, it makes room for the sakuga. Because holy shit the sakuga in this show is amazing! There are some incredible moments of animation in this show! Practically every action scene that isn’t played for laughs features shots like these! It makes the show a joy on the eyeballs!
It certainly helps that they align with the music perfectly! Every single track is amazing! Each character theme perfectly fits that character’s motif, every insert song gets the blood boiling, and even the more soothing tracks are nice to listen to! We all know ‘Before My Body is Dry’ (you know, ‘DON’T LOSE YOUR WAAAAAAAY!!!’)!
Even if the lyrics in the full version kind of suck. Seriously, why did they have to interslice it with the shittiest rap I’ve ever heard? Thankfully, there are plenty of fan-made remixes that cut that part out.
Honestly, I shouldn’t even bother. Praising a Trigger show for having amazing visuals is like staring directly into the sun and saying “Wow, that’s bright!” We all know this show looks incredible. It’s basically baked into its whole identity!
That and boobs. And Gamagoori. Mostly the ladder.
When I first watched Kill La Kill, I honestly had no idea how to feel. I honestly wasn’t even sure if what I was watching was real! But for some reason, I just couldn’t stop watching it! I didn’t even know if I was enjoying it!
But then I watched it again for this review (and because I may or may not have been high). That’s when I realized just how good this show really is! Batshit crazy? Oh, fuck yeah! But that’s what makes it so glorious!
If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d recommend you give Kill La Kill a shot! It’s wild, it’s dumb, and it’s a ton of fun! There are few anime so unabashedly insane as this show. But that’s part of the charm; it knows what it is and it fully embraces it! Much like Ryuko herself learns, the show just does its own thing and runs with it with no shame!
Now, I should probably get on and finally watch Little Witch Academia like my buddy Jack keeps yelling at me to do. Have you ever been shouted at in Russian? It’s super intimidating! And I’ve yelled at people in German!