Leave it to Satsuki to finish her conquest of Japan by literally raping the last opposition.
two days ago last week I said I would reserve my judgments about KILL la KILL until this episode was complete. Well, specifically the arc. Which concluded this week.
Well, psych. Sort of.
While I do not feel KILL la KILL has changed my opinion, next week will be where I lay out my issues with the pacing of this show. Not just the pacing, but the themes and symbolism and basically, everything -wrong-.
I mean it this time! For realsies.
Is that meta? Maybe. Maybe I am making a fourth wall joke at KILL la KILL’s expense.
Mostly it is my concession that they tried to cram this episode full of action and “plot” which seems to be the usual fare of nonsense…so…in fairness, I am letting the first episode of the successive arc play out, with the faintest glimmer of hope that there will be “backended” follow through from this week in the opening slug of next.
In short: I will let KILL la KILL confirm with us that is has moved on before I pounce.
But that pouncing involves the dirty words “status quo”.
Needless to say this is turning out to be my most anticipated series review at least.
As for the actual episode, I am grateful they cut Takarada and Satsuki’s back and forth down to a few minutes. We already heard this nonsense between Takarada and Sanegeyama last week, it was so much rehash. It has the Satsuki spin on things, of course, but it is basically the same talking points.
And then….I can’t tell if Trigger is taking a jab at the accusations of sexism or not. Are they waiting for the internet to flare up that they had the nerve to literally…um…deflower the enemy?
You’ll note this blog has never been of the opinion that KILL la KILL is especially sexist. Neither do I care here. But I approve of the trollish way they baited it for the moral crusaders to NOT care. Which they won’t.
I will say I loved the Elite Four in this episode. The Sentai parody? Magnifique. And it was nice to see them in action without having to need Ryuko go through them in dungeon boss sequence. It saves us the hassle of needing to go on and on with the Elections arc Mark 2.
But…here is a problem I have. Many people have been referring to KILL la KILL in terms of Imperial Japan, supposing it is reactionary to the new Nationalist movement in that country. Satsuki seems to embrace an old Hagakure style of power, and I’ve personally compared her on occasion to Oda Nobunaga uniting the nation (schools) under her rule.
Which is why I don’t feel this to be a biting commentary on Nationalism. It hasn’t proven itself to be one yet. There are elements, sure. Satsuki’s totalitarian style has led to the burning of Osaka, scorched earth in her wake.
And yet, as Takarada speaks to the power of money, how it is not good or evil, clean or filthy, it merely IS power…all it takes is one demonstration of Satsuki’s strength for his mercenary adult army to abandon the fight. The show seems to be siding WITH Satsuki on these points, that she is right in her assertion that force must be applied. And Gamagoori sides with her, that her struggle is noble. And if we have seen anything from Gamagoori, it’s that he will not bullshit his opinion to suit the situation. He is straight-laced, through and through. And yet Satsuki still wins his affection and loyalty. There’s still more to this than meets the eye.
The episode stops Takarada from answering how he was able to resist the Goku uniforms for so long, but the implication is that it was Nudist Beach helping them out. Interesting. In the course of opposing the Kiryuins, Nudist Beach was helping the Kansai region with comparable uniforms to the Goku outfits. Nudist Beach themselves, when they make an appearance, fight in little mechs. They fight in not-clothing by a technicality, but in spirit they, too, need to “put on” their power. They still need to wear it.
This had better be explained.
So Ryuko appears on the battlefield, demanding Senketsu’s glove back. Now, I’m not going to say the lack of graphic transformation was any conscious advancement than it was a time saver, just like the lack of introduction this week. But, somehow, miraculously, Ryuko is holding against a transformed Satsuki. It WOULD be a marked moment, in hindsight, building on the symbolism they’ve tried to inlay in terms of how Kamui must be worn and natural and the transformation sequences now reflecting that “second nature” aspect…but I don’t think it was done for any reason but practicality as of yet.
Nudist Beach moves into action to protect Ryuko when…PSYCH! This was all an elaborate trap for Nudist Beach, whom it turns out has been operating primarily from Kansai. Cue transformation sequence for the Elite Four as they handle the entirety of Nudist Beach by themselves. My favorite part was when Mako picks up the scissor blade, and Gamagoori engages in a long standoff with her. SHE WAS SO CUTE!
Senketsu explains why completing him is important. The energy that flows through a Kamui needs a conduit. Without the finished circuit, he can’t tap into his power. Ryuko volunteers to use her skin. This was a poetic moment. Because for all the affectations that Kamui are “like skin” and to wear one is to “be naked”, they really, really aren’t. Not even Nui is fooled, specifically having made the accusation two weeks ago that Ryuko finally “put on” her Kamui. And she’s a Grand Tailor, so probably knows most about them of all our actors. She isn’t buying this “naked” crap and neither should we after this.
Instead it is the two pieces need to be seen more as the partners they act like. Senketsu is a friend, Ryuko wins his power with love. Satsuki dominates her Kamui Junketsu. We have yet to see a real fight between the pair to see which way is better of course, though for sure, Ryuko’s way seems to adapt easier and go with the flow, as the girl herself does.
Still I would have liked for Ryuko to have burned her hand permanently in a scar from this action.
Why would I need that? Because this fight was so…lightweight.
Okay, there is one good part. Ryuko has finally decided to not just fight Satsuki because she has the information she needs, and for revenge, but she has decided to outright oppose her. It’s an important character moment.
One I do not buy into at all. Because why not kill Satsuki? Why not finish the job, even with mutually assured destruction?
Because she needs her alive? To answer her questions? Seems like the selfish old Ryuko to me. If she really is on this new “look forward” purpose, why did she let her go?
Indeed this whole fight didn’t feel “authentic”, it felt like kids play fighting. I realize I say this with swords and death threats and flying jets smashing towers and setting the landscape ablaze. But never once did this fight feel as visceral as it should have. I never once got the sensation that this was anything more than a warm up fight. I never felt that EITHER of the characters truly intended to kill the other. And that was the point, wasn’t it? A rematch, a duel between Kamui. Why did it feel like the two leads were just humoring the other the entire fight?
And it’s not even something I can point to and say “this is why it felt foolish”. The atmosphere just did not come across. There was no finality to this conflict. I realize not EVERY fight is for the heart and soul of the universe, but it seemed like this had been built up as a showdown for us to see the new Ryuko….and it felt like all the old Ryuko moments.
There was a spark of light that we were heading towards the conclusion. After Jakuzure blows up Nudist Beach’s base, and Satsuki’s withdrawl, Mikisugi promises to “reveal all”. We’ll see.