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.
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|