KILL la KILL: Episode 20

Ryuko, your voice now causes panties to spontaneously burst into flame.

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Okay, it’s usually a granted in episodic reviews that there will be spoilers.  After all, you can’t just say “some stuff happened” for 25 weeks straight, that’d be silly.

But holy crap are there going to be spoilers.

I say this because this is the first week I’ve been excited about KILL la KILL since…well….damn, since Nui appeared.  That’s an achievement.  And I’d go so far as to say if the rest of the series can keep up the pace, it might even be worth the headaches thus far in the ride.

Not that it’s much of a surprise, we knew the end would be way stronger than the beginning. It’s just the middle dragged out and killed that sense of fun.  Well the fun is just back this time, despite this being a, well, depressing episode.

It’s amazing how just a few slight changes can take the very familiar form of Ryuko that we know and love and make her…wrong.  It’s a strange sensation, like seeing your arm broken, hanging there.  It’s so familiar, a part of you, that with the smallest of changes just looks strange, off-putting, and unsettling.  And that is Ryuko this episode, she is never, not once, drawn “to type”.  Sometimes it is subtle, her hair out of place, or her eyes in emotions we are unaccustomed to seeing from our spunky protagonist.

Perhaps the broken arm metaphor is perfect, as Ryuko herself IS broken.  She’s having an identity crisis knowing she is composed of Life Fibers.  It’s something the impulsive and simplistic Ryuko is vulnerable to.

Personally, my love of speculative fiction has caused my brain to wrestle with the nature of the word “person” quite a bit, and something as simple as “you’re part alien”, I don’t THINK (but obviously, have not tested), would phase me very much, not to the degree of isolation and calling myself a “monster” if there was nothing else different.  People come in all forms, made of meat, metal, or in this case fabric, and while it certainly would make one question a lot (do I feel -real- emotions? Do I truly have Human values? Do I see the same colors?) in the face of global apocalypse, we can triage that for the time being.

But Ryuko is NOT an analytic person by nature, She is ruled by her emotions and impulses.  Sure, she’s “grown up” a bit, but that core nature is still there.  This is probably nothing she’s ever contemplated, and thus probably has no frame of reference.  So it’s quite understandable.  Even Mako can’t cheer her up, which is odd.

Mako takes a spin this week.  As being the only person who understands Senketsu’s emotions, this symbolism can now be extended to Ryuko.  Ryuko once said “Mako makes me feel way better than (Mikisugi).”, and Senketsu observed that a simple look used to set her at ease, calm all of her rage.

At this point, in retrospect, Mako’s role has become something of a Clothes-Whisperer.  Why that is is unclear, but she has always been non-judgmental of clothing in general (her admission she cannot “go naked”, but wanted to stay by Ryuko’s side), and her emphasis on Senketsu being “Ryuko’s only outfit” has always seemed silly, but maybe there’s actually more to that than first seemed obvious.

Most importantly, in what is hopefully a bit of foreshadowing, Mako is the only character to wear her clothes.  The full school outfit and all.  No one comments on this once.  Which may also make it a production error.  Yeah my good will has limits.

Meanwhile Ragyo continues to be sexy creepy, baiting Ryuko’s emotions and telling her to come kill her at Honnouji. And we know right away something is weird, because in literally back to back sentences, Ragyo condemns Satsuki for betraying her, and practically masturbates at how much Ryuko hates her.  No one can stop Ryuko from pursuing, and she makes the trip in a….Ryuko why does your bike have a penis on it?

Inumuta has finally hacked into Honnouji’s systems, and finds Satsuki.  The Elite Four are dead set on rescuing her, as they can’t help Ryuko as long as she’s a chaotic factor.  Mikisugi agrees, that with Ryuko unreliable, Satsuki is the next best chance at thwarting the plan due to her knowledge and strength.

Also, Sanegeyama….I love you. You and your dorkiness are so adorable.

Turns out the Nudist Beach base was a warship.  …Kay.

Ryuko arrives and is met by Nui. The budget’s kind of gone to pot but the back and forth is great here.

Satsuki hears the battle outside, and frees herself with a sharpened toenail, running naked through the halls and taking out COVERS like bedsheets with the improvised weapons.

…Excuse me…I need to take care of some…lady things….

Nui starts spouting stuff about how she understands Ryuko.  She talks about how she must feel lonely.  But one line…Nui talks about how Ryuko feels betrayed because she is made of life fibers, which are her enemy.  But that’s not exactly true, Ryuko has never made the Life Fibers themselves her enemy.  Only Satsuki, and by extension, Ragyo.  This leads me to believe that Nui is actually recounting her own struggles before giving in to being Ragyo’s puppet.

But it’s close enough, and Ryuko isn’t paying attention as Nui attaches…um…puppet strings to her, enabling Ragyo to immobilize her.  We also confirm that Nui is made of Life Fibers, too, shown when Ryuko stabs her through the chest, with this…nightmarish look on her face, excuse me while I drool.  And Junketsu appears.  Ragyo’s plan comes together as she forces Junketsu on Ryuko.

The Elite Four escape with Satsuki, in an extremely badass entrance.

Now the…confusing part.   Ryuko fights wearing Junketsu as best she can, but with Nui and Ragyo holding her down, and the sheer power of Junketsu as a kamui, her defenses buckle.

We then see a little montage of what Ryuko’s life might have been like if Ragyo knew she survived.  Or perhaps a life without Life Fibers? As Ragyo seems WAY too cheery here.  Either way we’ll discuss this soon.

Back on the ship, Satsuki practically falls into place in charge, Mikisugi is even deferring to her decisions.  Thus relegating Nudist Beach even further down the totem pole.  They don’t have much time beyond a sip of tea though, a blue streak is hot on their trail.

Yes, it’s Ryuko in Junketsu.

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Her outfit is gorgeous. Contrary to the skimpy versions we’ve seen thus far, this transformation has Ryuko in a very samurai outfit, only the sides of her torso are showing any skin, it’s comparatively modest. And GOD DAMNIT WHY AM I SO TURNED ON RIGHT NOW?!?!

The Yuri is strong in this one…

Does this mean Ryuko is being worn by her clothing? Is that why she isn’t a piece of eye candy (in the established form in the series, that is)? Or is this part of Ryuko’s natural affinity for Life Fibers enabling a transformation like Senketsu’s jet form?

I love Ryuko’s voice here.  It is the epitome of perfect beauty.  It has a deranged, furious madness to it that really gets me wet in the panties (what?).  She casually takes out the aircraft on the deck with a delighted, sadistic laugh.  She isn’t a carbon copy of Nui, which would really have been cheap.  It has this bitter derision to it.  Like a woman who is enjoying her just revenge a little too much.  I have watched these final couple minutes SO MANY TIMES over the past few days, it is entrancing.

Tsumugu hops into his super-special DTR, while Satsuki descends below decks to do something important.  She comes to see Senketsu.  And as Tsumugu is beaten (in a sequence which basically only exists to answer the question “Why doesn’t Ryuko just blow up the ship in five seconds?”), Satsuki emerges wearing an inactivate Senketsu. He seems to be on board with the plan of stopping Ryuko by uniting with Satsuki though, but important to note we never hear him speak.

So the big question this week: Is Ryuko being controlled?

The answer is almost definitely.  I don’t honestly think Trigger has the balls to have Ryuko make a Face-Heel turn.

But it doesn’t sit right with me.  Here are our possibilities.

First, Junketsu is just overpowering Ryuko.  We know he (she?) is an extremely powerful kamui and in Ryuko’s fragile emotional state she probably can’t fight back.  This would play the “being worn by clothing” thing to the hilt.  The little memory thing is just a way to keep her locked down in some sort of Matrix-mind so she doesn’t interfere.  After all Ryuko is used to Life Fiber Synchronization, and that certainly wasn’t what was happening.

Second Option: Ryuko herself is being mind controlled.  Be it by Ragyo or Junketsu as agent or principal, while wearing it Ryuko believes in the things she does.  This seems likely as well.  The thing that puts this down is Ryuko broke free of Ragyo’s mind control before, but perhaps without her pride she has no well of energy to tap into.  This might make the memory montage a sort of re-write of her brain, brainwashing, if you will. Or also a Matrix-like loop to keep her docile and under control.

Either of the above options has its own virtues, and judging by the red lines around Ryuko’s eyes like the Kamui, it seems to be the one the show is leaning towards. Or wants us to believe.

But I like the third option.

Junketsu is showing Ryuko happiness. That’s all. Her own happiness.  The normal life she always wanted, but her father never gave her.  He had his reasons, absolutely, but that doesn’t change the fact that Ryuko spent her childhood away from family at boarding schools and it is less the wound her father’s death that enrages her, but the fact she was robbed the CHANCE to become close to him.

But like anything you watch…any anime, perhaps? The emotions it evokes in you are just as real as experiencing the emotions from causes of “real” events.  But Ryuko is seeing here her secret wish, her inner joy, the one thing that would fulfill her soul.

That she can never have. Again, it wouldn’t be about that life being ideal, but being robbed of the chance to have it.

Ryuko didn’t wait around.  She has charged right after Nudist Beach.  Earlier this episode we saw her yelling, practically ready to KILL Mikisugi because “he was in on it”. Her father’s legacy, the father who never told her.  That is where her ire is directed, and she will gleefully destroy it now that the beauty of that perfect world is no longer an abstract, but a concrete vision that she has seen.

And that’s why I love the voice she has.  It has a sting to it that Nui’s never could. It is a bitter, personal grudge. When she sees Senketsu being worn by Satsuki, her eyes and voice are so much “Oh? I KNEW everything would betray me in the end.” It’s a sort of confirmation bias, I think, that Ryuko is on a crusade to ruin the world that turned its back on her.  The face she makes attacking Tsumugu…it is beautifully terrifying. screaming all those emotions.

But like I said, I don’t honestly believe Trigger has the fortitude to push that direction…still it is a lovely image I will hold in my head until next week when we find the truth.

EDIT: I did think of one instance where option 3 is actually possible.  If Ryuko pulls a Chikane on us and turns on Ragyo, replacing her as the big bad.  The power of friendship would probably save her in the end, but if Ryuko truly HAS gone rampage-chaotic, it would raise the stakes to unpredictable Ryuko rather than very political, logical Ragyo.

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