Our long national nightmare is over.
KILL la KILL’s return this week met our low expectations. What else to do after a hulking out than make your hero lose her cool? You can have them be in denial of it, I suppose, that works, too. And is arguably more realistic. Though perhaps that’s what Ryuko’s approaching Satsuki was in Episode 12.
Last time I speculated the show was rebooting into a new power tier. I’m still not convinced that isn’t what’s ultimately happening. But at the least, we had some interesting developments along those lines. We had some insight into the war plans, how the school is being mobilized.
At the beginning of the first season we had an explanation to some of the social commentary in KILL la KILL. The stuff regarding the school, how it determined where you live, how well you were treated, everything in your life based around how well you jumped through Satsuki’s hoops.
Well, setting up for the second season we had a new iteration of that same kind of commentary in Kiryuin Ragyou, Satsuki’s mother. We see an executive meeting, which Satsuki crashes (by the way, still love how Satsuki radiates light, and Ragyou has the full spectrum. And…and a little bit wincest….little weird…but not complaining exactly…). Ragyou lays out the simple question: What is clothing? Her answer…is that it is sin. Going back to when humans first ate from the tree of knowledge and learned of sin, they covered themselves up. It ties into Satsuki’s own comments about “pigs in human clothing”. Again, people judge you on how you dress, your conformity.
It actually gives some cute insight into one of people’s major complaints about the show: Ryuko’s outfit. There are all the arguments about “it’s fanservice”, “it’s fanservice, but ironic fanservice!”, or other such. I think such arguments fail to get at the truth of the matter.
The truth that this episode nails perfectly? It is only fanservice because you choose to see it that way. Because your culture has accustomed you to seeing clothing as moral.
It is why Satsuki can name her Kamui “Junketsu”, Purity. It is why the wielders of Kamui embrace them as their “skin”. Clothing, beyond its practical uses in cold climes and in-climate weather, is a social construct, and little more. Like school.
Now, I don’t think the show is saying (and neither am I) that either of these doesn’t have a good place and function. Merely challenging the way we unquestioningly adhere to it.
Throughout all this, we meet Nagita, a student banned from the school grounds for trying to protest Satsuki’s rule. Mako gets caught up in his antics, and is placed on “hard labor’ by Gamagoori, in the form of helping conquer the Kansai region.
Brilliant, by the way. This was actually a plot we needed in the early series. It would have fit so well. Ryuko help a student bullied by Satsuki’s empire. And yet…it emerges here, of all places. It totally slipped past me. Nice use of expectations….but I don’t want to spoil the climax.
Just one complaint about that final fight: Where the hell did the budget go for this series?
This episde led to a lot of fan theories bubbling up that have lingered in the past, about who is who’s daughter and what not. I won’t get into that nonsense, because while probably coming, you can use any justification of the characters we have thus far met to prove who is which character’s daughter. Based on looks, demeanor, script, or how gaps in their backgrounds fit together like puzzle pieces.
So, again, it’s hard to talk about the last few minutes without spoiling. But I will say…this feels like such a Machine Doll cliffhanger. We know, guys. You gotta make the journey interesting, now, because there’s only one way this can end. Otherwise it is so much stalling for time to get to that inevitable resolution.
One thing I’m not afraid to mention, Satsuki launches her invasion. And Mako gets to be in Gamagoori’s unit…a unit that is elite, but severely outmanned…hmm…will Mako be forced to “save the day”, and unwittingly, conquer the final school for Satsuki in the process? It would be cute, and it would be fantastic to see these other schools, how they are either better, or inferior, to our familiar Honnouji. I fear this will be a mostly-off-screen conflict, though. I hope not! But could go either way.