KILL la KILL: Episode 1

First Impressions are very important…

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So, our first (official) episode of our first (official) anime. Yay!

And I’m not just talking about the blog. TRIGGER’S first series, KILL la KILL is off to a well defined, rather amusing start. Nothing serious today, just a general brush with the show in case you haven’t seen yet (you should).

I will not hide biases, I have admitted here already that I want KILL la KILL to be the success story of the season.  Going by our first impressions, I can’t say for sure it will be the Autumn’s “big winner”, but it will almost definitely earn its place as something new.  But before we go further, two words really hammered at my brain the entire first episode….

Heavy Metal.

It really does look inspired by Heavy Metal, doesn’t it? And not just from the direct similarities, but in the fact that it’s stylistically designed to look like it’s literally drawn in the 80s.

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Yet for the record: We know this is intentional, because not everything looks “casual”, some of it looks, well, “normal”, compared to the way anime is designed today.

You know, as normal as the high school girl with a goth My Little Pony in the list of things she brings to school everyday (that’s a thing).

I admit that the art is just a hair too rugged for me.  It wavers on the edge of style and crosses into the realm of distracting on more than one occasion for me.  This could just be over-emphasis for the sake of the first episode, and things may dial down from here on out as we progress and start focusing on character, they will drop the “sloppy-rotoscope” look to something closer to FLCL.  It is a minor gripe, particularly since, as you can see clearly above, they did it as a choice, so there must be something they wish to get across as time goes on.

It could also be to jerk us around and pull the rug out when, in one random episode, they just randomly change the animation to super high-budget HD masterpiece. I’m not willing to call off bets yet.

But if there is one thing the art style is getting across in this premiere, it is, shortly, “controlled anarchy”.  A perfect reflection of this world, where the pace is fast and there are no rules. Not as we recognize them, anyway.

So let’s get into the meat of the episode.

The girl with the half-scissor sword.

I am in love with Ryuko Matoi. Her expressions (mostly angry), her voice, her attitude towards authority (especially the way she crouches in the crowd instead of bowing), the way she steals the delivery guy’s moped but swoops back to leave his deliveries, and her apparently lengthy past of causing trouble at all the schools conquered by Honnouji Academy.  They all just scream of bad girl with a good heart.

Yes, surprise surprise, logic is not at the forefront of the menu in KILL la KILL.  It is a world with its own physics and rules, and you simply have to go along for the ride. While very much a style over substance first outing, ala Fifth Element and FLCL, with a LOT of groundwork laid that could later be expanded upon. Minor details, seemingly harmless, may come back and bite us in the ass later.  If there’s one thing to take away from a series as fast paced as KILL la KILL, it’s that the opening plot will rarely reflect the climax of the series.

So, the school for militants.  Honnouji Academy.  Apparently, under the leadership of student council president Satsuki Kiryuin, the school has conquered numerous high schools in the region.  Satsuki’s mother is apparently in charge of the board, so Satsuki has lease to run the school however she wants, including murdering students who break her rules.

Yeah, we are way beyond normal rules of logic.  We passed Comic Book Logic about three miles back.

By the way, Satsuki has the greatest entrance. Her opening line is “Fear is freedom. Subjugation is liberation. Contradiction is truth.”

…I may also be in love with her. If she and Ryuko aren’t getting along by the end I will be very disappoint.

I didn’t just post those opening words for my health. I have a feeling they will be very important later on. And not just as a mantra. An example of the game I believe KILL la KILL may be playing.

Our opening scene is a high school lecture about the rise of fascism in Germany.  While this can be obviously seen as a link to the brownshirting going on with the student council, on a more subtle level, it is about Hitler’s election. His arrival on the grand stage. As Ryuko’s entry threatens to tear apart the hierarchy in Honnouji Academy. Will Ryuko see a rise and fall?

And! In my personal corner, there was -some- girl-crushing on the part of Mako. Not what we expected, but it is so adorable it’s hard to argue.

After a violent, chaotic, and hilarious introduction to the academy (try to look at Gamagori’s face as he flies down the side of the building and not laugh), we learn how Satsuki maintains her power: Goku Uniforms, clothes that imbue power into their wearers, are given to her followers.

The fact that she recognizes Ryuko’s family name, and the scissor sword itself, is a hint that this Goku thing may be much bigger than just the schools. But we’ll see about that.

And of course the fact her father apparently had such a uniform, which drinks blood and is a pervert, lends more credence to this idea.

And of course, I have to discuss the most obvious plot detail: Only Satsuki’s mother is mentioned, and only Ryuko’s father is mentioned. It seems very possible the pair will end up being sisters. But that’s still just a theory, and could damn well be a red herring.

So next week, will we find out the identity of the person who killed Ryuko’s father? Maybe, but it seems like Episode 3 is being hyped up as “the big one”, so my money is we will be delayed for one more boss fight.

So, my first impressions? WATCH IT. KILL la KILL is going to be a fun adventure. I can’t promise it will be deep, but it will be FUN. But at 12 episodes, it had better ground itself a LITTLE bit. But for trying to make a statement about what this show will be about? Trigger can slide. I look forward to next week.

KILL la KILL is simulcasting on Hulu.

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