Note: originally written on January 31, 2014, before my WordPress page was created. It was initially intended to be a reaction to the episode, but I decided to make the “This Week On …” series later that same night, and this was edited to be the first instalment. The next day I created this WordPress page, and reposted the article here, unedited.
Episode 15 of Kill la Kill. The show has now more than regained my respect.
The plot has finally been put on proper tracks, different forces are colliding, and substantial conflict has begun. The entire first half now feels like a Trigger’s demo real, while they’re real work went into this.
The Elite Four and Satsuki are finally getting the screen time they deserve (with awesome new bad-ass MKII 3-star Goku Uniforms). Every character is getting more and more characterization, but it’s all done very subtly. And the dialogue is great; emphasising the show’s themes without preaching or flat exposition, and portraying more depth about the characters without shoving it in our faces.
The words exchanged between Satsuki and the Osakan (did he even have a name?) demonstrate this well, especial with the differences in their characters. But Where it shone the most was in Nonon’s dialogue; every word from her conveyed a deeper understanding of her character, and did it so well that it has made sense of the mess of exposition, flash-backs, and rage that was her poorly handled development in episodes ten and eleven. That, and she just gets cuter every week.
Satsuki also has a lot more lines than usual. We’re used to seeing speak only when she knows what to expect from the conversation she’s entering, or when she’s giving commands. For one of the first times, she’s actually responding to people, and new layers of her character are revealed. For example, the way she treats the Osakan and his worship of money; it’s not the same disapproving stance she has towards thugs or Ryuko. In this case, she absolutely hates him, and treats him like a vile sub-human. And then there’s her interaction with Ryuko, where for the first time Ryuko can catch her off guard, and Satsuki doesn’t seem to know exactly what she thinks of Ryuko. All the while though, she holds her strong paladin-like stance.
Even minor interaction, like the ones between Mako and Ira are great.
Also, I might be reading too much into this but, there was one moment that looked like it took some inspiration from Full Metal Alchemist and Gurren Lagann. Whether that’s true or not, the moment was awesome.
Finally, they have delivered where it matters most; they have included what the first half was crippled for lacking. More glowing pink aura around a man’s nipples? No. Well, yes, that too, but that’s not what I’m referring to. Kill la Kill finally has a fight between Ryuko and Satsuki, not focusing on some vaguely defined personal vendetta between high school bullies, but on a passionate conflict of ideology between noble, samurai-like warriors. Trigger, this is what I’ve been waiting for. This is what can put you above Ginax. Substance.
But it’s still not perfect.
First, the animation quality has plummeted. You can see it dripping with the passion of the animators, but the time constraints are obviously taking their toll on the whole thing. There are so many panning images, speed lines, and poorly cut action sequences. But among all of that, Trigger did manage to get a short minute or two of beautiful combat in near the end; it’s not even a full fight scene, but it’s some proof that they’re trying.
And, to be fair, there is some excuse for the animation quality drop. With the major changes the show’s gone through recently, the animation team is suddenly having to do completely different types of scenes; it’s no longer 1-on-1 fights with generic backgrounds, but massive battles with creative, expansive, and dynamic cityscapes. And there was a ton of action in this particular episode too. Unfortunately, that excuse doesn’t really cut it, because that’s what Kill la Kill should be at its best, and the animation team’s going to have to be able to pull it off much better than they did here when the final episodes come around.
Second, the humor. A guy got a kendo sword shoved up his ass. That’s the joke. Come on Trigger, you’ve got something good here, so stop shooting yourself in the foot!
Also, a minor complaint, the music in this episode just seemed kinda off. It wasn’t very fitting, and came in and ended at odd times.
I can’t calm down about Kill la Kill, whether it’s pissed me off by missing its mark, or gives me hope that it may yet be a great anime, it has me engaged. It has me loving anime. So, Trigger, get the animation under control, stop with the lowbrow humor, and make something absolutely amazing already.