Wow. Such kill. La kill.
I admit it…I feel rather…well…let down this week. Here, the halfway point, was a place for KILL la KILL to shift its paradigm.
And now, after today, it seems like the next 13 episodes will be identical to the first 12. Faces will change, sure. Powers will alter. But where is the growth? Where is the movement?
Perhaps this is premature. If anything KILL la KILL has taught us to not pre-suppose anything about its story. But…Conquest of the West? When Ryuko got to Honnouji Academy Satsuki was on the verge of uniting all the eastern region schools. So…the premise is the same, just the adjective is now different. It looks like Nui is being put away for a few episodes, and that Ragyou won’t be making her appearance just yet.
And most unforgivable, after showing us her glowing moment of badassery, Satsuki is sent back to the antagonist camp, with barely a whimper of protest.
Getting into the episode, we pick up where we left off. with Ryuko attacking Nui. Bluntly, she is outclassed. And how. Nui is always one step ahead of her.
Between Senketsu’s comments last week and this week, about how Nui “feels” different, and how she is “cold” (meaning, in his case, almost certainly about blood, as he mentions Ryuko’s “hot” blood in her rage), she is almost certainly not human. The flashbacks with Ryuko’s father display this almost perfectly. I am also of the opinion that Nui is in favor of causing mayhem because she just finds it a good test of her skills. She is a more happy Yomi of Ga Rei Zero, I think. Humans are sub-standard, their suffering is trivial. Her comments about the nature of what is wrong and right, love and hate seem to reflect this kind of mind. Perhaps Azula on Avatar, or even the Heath Ledger Joker may be good comparisons. She couples these streaks with a sort of “drunken monkey” act of SUPAH KAWAII YANDERE (hey, monkeys again). I personally think this is evidenced by how she explains her fight with Dr. Matoi. She tells Ryuko it was because he dared create a Kamui, that such a being is taboo of the highest order. But Satsuki later observes that Nui didn’t actually have any idea that Senketsu was in that lab somewhere. So all the things she says, even the tone she uses, is probably calculated to draw the strongest response from whoever she’s dealing with. After all, we see her push Satsuki’s buttons all the time, she’s the only thing to make Satsuki lose her temper.
Senketsu warns Ryuko about her temper, but she can’t control her rage at finally meeting the person who killed her father. Not helping is that Nui knows exactly the buttons to push in her cute yandere voice (“The more you hate someone, the more you can love them!”) Senketsu’s power overwhelm’s Ryuko and she turns into a shambling horror.
Our “loser’s box” cut-aways were fantastic, by the way. Always funny, no matter the action.
My favorite part had to be when Satsuki sees what’s happened to Ryuko and enters the fight herself. Instantly the Elite Four are beside her, asking for orders. It was amazing to see them ready to fight, regardless of the enemy. But Satsuki’s orders are, for lack of a more appropriate term, heroic. “The school is lost. Evacuate the students. I’ll deal with them.” And out comes Junketsu for a second go. This was really their crowning moment of badassery, but sadly it isn’t truly developed further.
At this point, we have entered critical mode. Nude Beach makes its move. And personally the Pepe Le Peu style chase scene between Nui and Kinagase had me in stitches. But ultimately this only serves to drag Nui away from the fight to let Satsuki step in. While the fight between Nui and Ryuko was average for KILL la KILL (good, but not exactly memorable), the animators really kicked their game up when it came to the Satsuki/Ryuko fight, arguably one of the best the entire series thus far. For that action sequence alone it’s worth checking this episode out.
Of note: Satsuki seems to have a very poor understanding of the situation. Kinagase once was shocked that Senketsu had protective feelings for Ryuko, and Junketsu is kept pinned down at all times. Earlier this episode Nui tried to rip the core threads from Senketsu, only to be shocked that there was more than one. And here, Satsuki observes that Ryuko is unfit to be her rival if she is consumed by her Kamui. Only that isn’t true. It was the other way around. Senketsu was overwhelmed by Ryuko’s rage, and that’s what caused him to go berserk. I think this is more important than it’s made out to be (that is, glossed over), in that Dr. Matoi was probably not only building Kamui, but designing them to have a soul. Because for whatever reason, the people most familiar with Kamui have no capacity to understand Senketsu’s motives and actions.
One bit of continuity I loved was when Mako finally enters the fight. She clings to Ryuko in tears, and when Nui steps forward to remove the little obstruction to her party, Satsuki puts her sword to her throat, telling her to just watch. After all, this was the friendship that defied Satsuki’s expectations once before. And I liked that a lot. She even remembered Mako’s name.
Then Satsuki sends Nui away (how well the latter obeys that order is up for debate), and announces she has enough data for some new omega-mega uniforms that are way beyond anything a 3-star uniform could manage.
So we reset the series, basically. I fear it will be the exact same series as the first half, just with different packaging. I seriously hope not. I pray not. But this was KILL la KILL’s chance and they blew it.
I don’t MIND if KILL la KILL is to be a mindless action romp. But it could be so much more it hurts.