If you're anything like me, you carefully dissect each episode of Studio Trigger's KILL LA KILL, trying to suss out just what's relevant to the plot and what's distraction. The tricky thing, of course, is that sometimes the distraction is the point, as this show's themes focus on things like fashion and exhibitionism. One of the big factions in the story is a clandestine organization called Nudist Beach, for crying out loud!
Now that we've hit a turning point in the series with last week's big fight between Mako and Ryuko, I feel like I've finally got enough evidence on my side to voice my hypothesis. So let's talk about THE TYRANNY OF OBECTS, shall we?
They say that clothes make the man and, in the case of the Goku Uniforms, this is demonstrably true! Having the Life Fiber-strewn garments means that you are a higher class of person in Honnouji Academy, entitled to much higher standards of living. This is doubly true at the two-star level, which you can only attain if you are the president of a student-interest after school club.
At this point in the story, students are founding clubs based on any minor interest they have in a mad scramble to advance their station, since anyone who can defeat Ryuko will be rocketed to the three-star uniform level. They are therefore defined by their station and uniform, becoming the embodiment of what they wear.
THIS is the tyranny of objects: when you are defined by what you own as opposed to who you are. In a very real way at Honnouji Academy, you are your uniform; it defines your station, your power, and you life. Your uniform owns you.
I think it's this reason that Tsumugu (the mohawk guy) says that people and clothing cannot be friends. In the eyes of Nudist Beach, clothes enslave those who wear them, forcing them to do things they don't necessarily want to do because that's what their station demands - - exactly what Mako did when she fought Ryuko!
Clothes make people inherently unequal in Tsumugu's eyes. But what if people weren't wearing clothes - - like at a nude beach? Why, they'd all be equal! And THAT, I think, is what Nudist Beach is about! Once everyone discards their clothes and the preconceptions they bring, we will finally be able to see each other as people.
Consequently, as a fellow member of Nudist Beach it is in teacher Aikuro Mikisugi's best interest to keep Ryuko in the dark for as long as possible about their activities. When Ryuko defeats someone, they lose their clothes and become naked in front of the student body, revealing their "true selves" in the Nudist Beach philosophy. Ryuko liberates these poor souls from the prison of clothes, and potentially swelling the ranks of Nudist Beach.
So when Mikisugi does his striptease for Ryuko, it's actually for a plethora of reasons! One: he's revealing his "true self" to her by losing his clothes and shedding preconceived notions of what he is while doing so. Two: he pulls Ryuko's attention (as well as the audience's) away from his words. And three: he's maintaining his cover as a teacher. If anyone walks in on them while he's explaining Nudist Beach's activities, it will simply look like he's perving out on her.
What? You say you want MORE ANALYSIS? Then lets look at the epic battle been Ryuko and her rival, the dictatorial Lady Satsuki!
Satsuki claims her Goku Uniform, the kamui Junketsu, as part of her station in life. She doesn't care what it makes her look like because the uniform doesn't define who she is - - that is her right and hers alone. Ryuko, meanwhile, has to put a lot of energy into maintaining her kamui Senketsu (in the form of feeding it her blood) because fights with the labels that it seems to assign her (mainly "exhibitionist"). Because there is no such conflict between Satsuki and Junketsu, Satsuki begins the fight with the advantage.
When Ryuko comes to accept that Senketsu and the role of avenger are one, however, she realizes that they are in fact a perfect fit (pun intended)! She is an avenger, and Senketsu is the uniform of an avenger. When Ryuko and Senketsu are unified in both purpose and intent, it is then that they can perform a full fiber synchronization and gain the upper hand on Satsuki, who only sees Junketsu as a tool instead of an equal.
So there's my rant on Nudist Beach and what some of the themes of KILL LA KILL are. What do YOU think? Have I been sitting out in the sun too long? Am I a few life fibers short of a one-star or have I just performed a full synchronization with a kamui? Hit the talkback below and let us know!
Matt Murphy is a freelance nerd who has contributed to many nerd websites. You can reach him by going to where the light meets the shadow, by sending out zeta-brainwaves or by following him on Twitter @Murphix.