Anime Vice News

Why KILL LA KILL Isn't Working as a Series

Ep. #22 -- Watch & Learn. A double-length write-up for this beautiful mess.

Well, this episode was a whole bunch of nothing.

What happened? Ryuko got the scissor blades together and chopped off Evil Strawberry Shortcake’s arm - - but for good, this time? Then she went through a protracted exercise illustrating how she and Satsuki are better off as allies, that they’re two sides of the same coin, etc. Didn't they learn lesson already, though? The fact that the episode ends with the umpteenth re-use of their respective transformation animations (wait! They’re side-by-side, this time) really hangs on a lampshade on how KILL LA KILL keeps repeating the same points so many times that they’re dulled of any meaning.

As I mentioned in the latest SAMURAI FLAMENCO write-up, I’m still trying to wrap my head around how this show got away with being a whole day late (since that’s pretty much inconceivable in any other kind of broadcast programming). Obviously, ‘ratings’ is the answer, and that reminds me of so many instances in comics where a superstar artist can get away with blowing off his book’s serialized publishing schedule - - sometimes over a year, even - - simply because he has that strong of a following.

Sometimes, the creator in question explains it away to a search for a muse.

A lot of times, it’s abundantly clear that he just got distracted by the newest video game.

Obviously, there are many different interests, talents, tensions and personalities going into a given show’s production. With this comparator in mind, I’m starting to think that Trigger’s founders might’ve been the loose cannons on Gainax's staff who needed to be reined in and guided by the serious, story-minded story editors in the office. KILL LA KILL honestly isn't a case of style-over-substance: it’s a raw splatter of genuinely creative, substantive ideas which haven’t been arranged in any sensible order

And it’s in desperate need of an editor.

Watching KLK side-by-by with HUNTER X HUNTER has been a revealing experience, because the shows are handily demonstrative inversions. Togashi is all about rules - - those that editors hand down, and those in game manuals, obviously - - and he's more of a workmanlike artist than rock star. HxH is a continual illustration of how a series can be compelling if it skillfully adheres to the less-flashy nuts ‘n bolts of storytelling, even when its characters, art, music and lore are almost intentionally bland. Maybe the manga itself has gone through publishing delays, but the content of the story itself has demonstrated a patient ethic that’s made for a more compelling viewing over dozens of episodes.

KLK is the work of rockstar artists. It's colorful and striking and cool in all the ways that HxH isn’t, but its impatience about any rules - - storytelling or otherwise - - has made it a slog more often than I’d prefer.

When I come back, week after week, I’m always impressed by the style and creativity, but I’m never intrigued by what’s coming next week. I’m not curious to see what will happen when Ryuko or Satuski battle Raygo, because I’ve already seen them have several climactic duels. I’m not excited that Ryuko and Satsuki are teaming up, because they’ve already realized they should, several times over. And I’m not interested in how this extended metaphor about clothing, exhibitionism, sexuality and life fibers, et al, will tie up, because it's all meant to be taken flippantly - - even though it's gotten the screen time that serious concepts demand.

The creators only had enough solid content for a half-season here. They were in such an impatient hurry to get to the cool shit that interested them, they jumped over proper set-up; and now they keep jumping back to that stuff because they didn't actually have the follow-up structured.

The breakdown of KLK's plot recalls the aforementioned procrastinating cartoonist who started a series with a mad rush of creative excitement, only to hit the breaks mid-schedule so he could figure out what he was actually saying. It recalls the rockstar who skipped to the guitar solo before working out a proper bridge or verse.

Watch, Tell Me How You Feel” and decide for yourself, then read my comments about the previous episode.

About the Author

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk
the4tenon March 16, 2014 at 3:38 p.m.

You're absolutely right in your contrast with HxH, and I'll similarly concede the guitar solo analogy (well done.) However, I have a different take on KlK as a series. I, too, remain unmoved by the story lines and impending conclusion, but it's the spectacle that brings me back each week. I apologize if it screams "lazy excuse," but I really enjoy turning my brain off and watching this title. It's a celebration of excess, and I wouldn't change it. I liken it to a gradient scale, with "good" on both ends and "bad" in the middle. From the center to the right was "structured" and from the center to the left was "unstructured", HxH would be on the far right and KlK on the far left. I applaud both for picking something and sticking with it. Give me Mako being Mako on one side, and Kurapika being badass on the other. I get what I need from each title.

Lurkeroon March 16, 2014 at 6:23 p.m.

Excitement for Kill La Kill's finale definitely isn't building up for me. Everything that is cool is still there but its become so redundant that I often just want the show to get it over with and move on.

Perhaps KLK would have been better as a 13 episode series.

zaldaron March 16, 2014 at 8 p.m.

I wish I had time to do a write up about how wrong you are....but as a law student I don't. Will comment longer later but, as before I disagree.

Kino88on March 16, 2014 at 8:59 p.m.
I like Kill La Kill and I am kinda eager to see its conclusion, However I personally think the show was a bit thrown together even In the early goings, the creative energy on display works great when Everything clicks, yet most of the content that made up the story here We're just played off as gags, so while the later episodes did bring in A more dire plot and truly evil villains, one could say the show has a slight Identity crisis, in other words while I did have fun watching it I'm not sure I'll ever be able to look back at it as a solid steady whole,
Vapovileon March 16, 2014 at 11:09 p.m.

Just like Zaldar, I too disagree with you on this one Tom. But since it's late at night, tomorrow I will write a more extensive response for why KLK does get me hyped for the final battle :D.

hitsusatsu11on March 17, 2014 at 12:31 a.m.

As much as I agreed with Tom on his opinions and observations in the past, particularly his watching of Evangelion way back when, I must disagree completely on KLK.

While I think many of the critisisms presented are valid, they seem seem to be 'micro' in nature, what I mean by that is there are technical points that need improvement or are cliche, but from an overall zoomed out or 'macro' perspective, it just works. For me anyway KLK has been the most captivating show of the last 2 cours.

FoxxFireArt moderator on March 17, 2014 at 6:55 a.m.

I completely disagree with this assessment of KILL LA KILL. I'm so loving this series. It's been a fun journey for me. So much of my perceptions have changed. The way this series has played out busts so many stereotypes for series with female leads. Those almost always break down to ham-handed shipping relationships. Even series with male leads push those. Yet this series has almost completely avoided that. Women aren't the window dressing of the story. They're the ones driving the plot. You'd be hard pressed to find many series like that out there. It's a rather bold choice for Trigger to do on their first full series.

If you want to see what a slog in story telling is really like. Try following NARUTO for the past few months. I've run out of ways of describing "drawn out" from the English language.

I've not seen any serious flaws in the plot, and I can see the structure of the story from my perspective. I've been suspecting that Satsuki was grooming Ryuko for a long time now. I wrote a blog about it back in January, and I've been suspecting for even longer.

Once again, I don't see how this series breaks down any more than GURREN LAGANN. They all have wild character's with loud personalities, quick flashy animations, localized stories that stretch out to impossibly weird, galactic scales, and yet never takes itself too seriously. It's open to having some fun.

At first, I didn't think I'd like the idea of Ryuko an Satsuki being sisters, but I'm really enjoying their dynamic. It was a touching moment where Ryuko was struggling to call her "Sis", and Satsuki told her how just feeling her blood flow through Junketsu was enough. It was especially interesting that Satsuki addresses her once rival as simply "Ryuko" with no honorific. She's acknowledging her as both sister and equal.

Ragyo has been one of the most despicable villains I've seen in a long time, and Romi's voice work for the character has been great. I wouldn't want villains like this all the time, but it's nice to have a character that I'm comfortable with hating completely. She's completely remorseless. She's not oblivious to her evil. She embraces it.

The repeated transformation scenes don't bother me in the slightest. I love them, because they serve as a great vehicle for the music. It builds that heroic mood for what's to come, and this time "Don't Lose Your Way", Ryuko's song, is playing for the both of them.

I never suspected that the Fight Club Captain Mako would return, and it left me with a huge grin. This time, she has an enemy that she can fight without holding back.

SpectroRaphaelon March 17, 2014 at 7:19 a.m.

@FoxxFireArt: I agree with most of what you said, but I currently don't have time to write a lengthy comment, so I'll do so later.

Marshal Victoryon March 17, 2014 at 12:04 p.m.

Um opinions vary an such,but um hate to harp on this again its a Loony Tunes style anime. 90% of the time one does not wonder about next weeks episode of Bugs Bunny either.

Just that it has enuff substace to entertaine thoughts of plot progress is amazing enuff. It can be enjoyed on many levels or one can be disapointed on levels it never had to begin with. Again opinions vary but the sure fire way to become jaded about any entertainment medium is to be disapointed on what is not there,than enjoy something for what it is.

takashichea moderator is online on March 17, 2014 at 12:44 p.m.

Kill la Kill was more of light hearted series that you can't take it seriously. It was entertaining to watch each week. Even though others have found deep insight, I still feel it's exploiting the fan service even with strong women driving the story. It's not like Robo Cop where the Christian allusions are definite. I'm not good with arguments regarding women and their portrayal in anime. Kill la Kill has done some good and bad. A best example would be Korra, Avatar the Airbender, Wolf Children, etc. I can't think of any more anime series that does portray women without the fan service and exploitation right now.

@Marshal Victory:

Saw this on CR.

taichokageon March 17, 2014 at 12:55 p.m.
I've heard as much about Kill la Kill. Haven't given it a chance yet though. Basically, most tell me that it's an above average anime but nothing special and the plot is not particularly it's strong point. That's kinda what I get from this post too. But I see a lot of conflicting opinions. Maybe it's time I get on KLK and see for myself.
takashichea moderator is online on March 17, 2014 at 12:58 p.m.

@taichokage:

Without spoilers, it's like Attack on Titan without the character death and massive drama and padding. Both shows are overly hyped like Bigz007 said. For Kill la Kill, it's showy and full of bounciness, Fooly Cooly/Looney Tunes animation and expressions, and somewhat predictable storyline.

I hope you do enjoy it. Yeah, this series gets a lot of love and hate at the same time. Like sickVisionz and a lot of folks said, it depends on your tastes. "Different Strokes for Different Folks"

Marshal Victoryon March 17, 2014 at 2:36 p.m.

@takashichea: Point proven an think that puts a finer point on it ! Good fan art an intresting casting. Is Pepi la Pew the teacher? Cause that would fit.

whiskerson March 17, 2014 at 3:35 p.m.

Lol, Porky is Mako!

Donwunon March 18, 2014 at 11:31 a.m.

Well from just catching up on KLK i understand and agree with alot of the points Tom has made but also i kinda just sat back and enjoyed the spectacle not expecting much in terms of story

It's certainly not a bad show and i love the visual style to death, i just wish the story was more compelling for me personally

I kinda feel like this is the first super ultimate girls shounen show so far with all the good visuals and tropes to boot. i know i would have liked this alot less if it were male characters for leads instead....in fact alot of the dynamics would not even work as well

but i'll save my final thoughts for a youtube review once this show is completely done

takashichea moderator is online on March 18, 2014 at 1:07 p.m.

@Marshal Victory:

Yeah, it fits him. I don't know who is the character that portrays Nui Harime. Do you know that Looney Tunes character?

@whiskers:

I can picture Mako doing Porky's lines.

Marshal Victoryon March 18, 2014 at 1:49 p.m.

@takashichea: that is .. drum roll please...

"

The Do-Do of Wackyland[edit]

The Do-Do of Wackyland is a crazy, green do-do bird with a pink umbrella growing out of his head that appeared with Porky Pig in Porky in Wackyland. His only appearance in the classic shorts after that, was Dough for the Do-Do, its color remake."

it was used later on to i rember one its the one thing that bugs couldnt top.

takashichea moderator is online on March 18, 2014 at 5:16 p.m.

@Marshal Victory:

I don't even recognize that character. Since Bugs kissed Elmer Fudd, I say he would make a great Nui Harime.

Marshal Victoryon March 18, 2014 at 7:09 p.m.

@takashichea: Heres a side by side of the black and white version vs the color.

The character always put me in mind of The Mask. Or rather vise versa. Pretty sure it was used in one vs Bugs an he lost. But i can not find it on youtube. Reguardless whoever did that fanart is a huge Looney Tune fan.

Is not that elmer as their mother?

mooned_knight staff on March 20, 2014 at 4:46 p.m.

Why aren't we talking about the most important aspect of this episode?

THE RETURN OF FIGHT CLUB PREZ MAKO MANKANSHOKU!!!

Dig Deeper into Kill la Kill

Kill la Kill is an original anime series that is produced by Trigger, a new animation studio.

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