Kill la Kill: First Impressions


Screenshot by Will Nacouzi/The Skyline View

Nick Major, TSV Senior Staff Writer

Ho-Lee-Shit. This anime is going to be one hell of a ride.

Kill la Kill, the brainchild of new animation studio Trigger headed by ex-Gianax employees Hirouki Imaishi and Masahiko Ohtsuka, both of whom worked closely on 2007’s “Gurren Lagann”, had it’s first episode simulcast last weekend on Crunchyroll, an online video streaming service that brings Asian media to American audiences. Anyone who’s familiar with Gurren Lagann will see the influence present in every step of this new show, and that’s a damn good thing.

The animation is gorgeous and abandon the currently popular methods used in the anime community. If you’ve seen any of the popular series coming our of Japan recently, you’ll see cellophane squeaky-skinned characters with gigantic glass eyeballs drowning in kawaii tears. Japanese animation has been invaded by the Gigglepies. But this show goes back to the gritty grind, each frame keeping the drawn-by-hand aesthetic. This lost-art form seemed to die out in the early 2000’s in favor of the smooth look generated by computer models. There’s a visual edge to the action and it makes all the difference.

The character and costume designs are stylish and appealing, too. Even one of the purposefully cute characters separates herself apart from the others with her balloon-shaped head and bland-yet-bright schoolgirl outfit. The the main characters are have parallel color schemes with the main antagonists, Honnōji Academy’s student council members, wearing white and blue school uniforms while the protagonist, Ryūko Matoi, wearing a black and red sailor uniform – or, what will be a sailor uniform. All she seems to have in this episode is a set of suspenders holding up a slim tutu, some nice eye candy for sure.

The characters in this episode were brought out in style, too. Each one dynamic, each one defined. We have our literally rounded characters like Mako Mankanshoku whose bubbly and energetic attitude gives the oppressive atmosphere a much needed relief. Then there’s the revenge-fueled but charming Ryūko who just wants to find resolution to her past. The members of the Student Council, our antagonists, each over-flowing with arrogant strength and oppressive pride. It’s fitting that the opening lines refer to the Nazi’s oppressive regime which I’m sure runs parallel to the Council’s stranglehold over the school, a hold they keep via the magic of their school uniforms.

These uniforms, called Goku uniforms, imbue their wearers with amazing physical powers. They are graded by rank, going from common rank zero to top rank 3. The rank zero students are just normal, no powers and no abilities. The rank one students gain superhuman strength, speed and their body slims down to better reflect this. The rank two student begin to rain individualized powers; the one showcased being a boxing club president with the ability to turn his fists into huge harder-than-iron boxing gloves. The rank three uniforms seem to have many abilities, their wearing ruling over the school with ease. We see one wearing completely shaming another rank-one student like it was nothing. In the words of Mako, “Long story short, they’re all awesome.”

Amazing visuals and fantastical powers aside, the real allure behind this episode, maybe this anime in general, is it potential for greatness. You can already tell that Trigger is taking something people really like and doing something really right with it. If you’ve ever considered yourself a fan of Japanese animation, you need to check out this new series.