Ladies and gentlemen I have had an epiphany.
So no backpeddaling, just a bloody…um…skinleess(?) Ryuko. In true Strike the Blood fashion, within sixty seconds Mako has thrown Senketsu at Ryuko and the pair are back to normal.
I know I shouldn’t expect better of this show, but jeez. Ryuko is right back to talking about how friendship is stronger than anything. Like a light switch her philosophy is back to normal.
Again, if Trigger were trying to deliver a message about female empowerment, it would seem strange if their lead character’s penultimate development was centered around her fickle woman problems. Thankfully we don’t actually live in such a world.
Much more satisfying is the beating that Ryuko is delivering to Nui. It gets mixed when Ryuko cuts Nui’s arms off, the latter at first her non-chalant self. But remember, these are the scissor swords, which judging by her eye, Nui should have remembered that they destroy her life fibers, unlike normal weapons.
Conveniently, the COVERS sent to…cover…Nui’s escape are all Honnouji students. The scraps of Life Fibers are collected.
Ryuko makes a point now about calling her friends “incomprehensible things”. It comes up again as Ryuko confronts Satsuki, saying she doubts the latter’s strength. Yeah, because you have been the PICTURE of the hero as of late, haven’t you Ryuko?
I think one of the reasons I wanted Nui eliminated, instead of letting her get away (or waiting to listen to the heroes taunt the bad guy, for a show like KLK you’d think the characters would be more genre-savvy), is that ever since Nui appeared, Ryuko has been excessively unstable. From her possession, to her depression, there was but a brief respite from these negative emotions after Ryuko fought Satsuki to a draw. But very quickly after she went to sleep for an entire month because of her despondency, and then her outright snapping and giving in to Ragyou’s camp. All of this has been since Nui entered the field.
Which is why, to me, Nui has come to symbolize Ryuko’s vulnerabilities. If Ryuko is truly past all that, why not send Nui packing with those emotions? Before someone says it: The fact she hasn’t completed the super-kamui is arbitrary, that could easily have been “finished” off screen and merely needs a host now.
Unless of course Ryuko isn’t done doubting herself. Which, hey, is possible. And completely expected.
Anyway, Ryuko challenges that if Satsuki can withstand one punch, Ryuko will let her fight by her side.
Again, this wouldn’t bother me so much if Ryuko had strengths OTHER than brute force. Her will and passion may be strong, but they aren’t directed, so they’re really just as big weaknesses as they are strengths at this point.
It’s like the heroes are tolerating Ryuko as the kid with mental powers in the Twilight Zone. “Oh, shit, Ryuko experienced a new emotion. EVERYONE GET READY FOR HER TO BE FUCKIN USELESS!”
Sigh, back to the story, the Elite Four aren’t letting going to let Ryuko punch Satsuki. Not once. Ryuko sighs in frustration, letting slip that the Elite Four completely confuse her. In an actually good moment for Ryuko, she understands that they are just as much Satsuki’s family as Mako and Senketsu are hers. It’s also shown that Ryuko had been holding back, she mostly just wanted to hit Satsuki, because Ryuko is just petty that way.
Satsuki gets legitimate character development when she admits that she was behaving like Ragyou in…well, in different clothes. She tried to treat the world as a single unit that would bend to her will, where she could cut the bad parts away. But she finally realizes how wrong she was. Capping this off, Satsuki gives a VERY deep bow to Ryuko.
There is a little bonding during dinner between Ryuko and Senketsu. This doesn’t manage to be annoying, and actually quite adorable.
Down below, Iori is re-jiggering Junketsu to incorporate some of Senketsu’s Life Fibers, along with a hint of tailoring it to Satsuki’s blood much like Senketsu is designed for Ryuko.
We also learn Ragyo’s ultimate plan: To blow up the earth and send Life Fibers across the universe. Fittingly KILL la KILL in how over the top it is.
And Ragyo’s not letting them off so easy. COVERS are attacking the ship. Satsuki leaves Mikisugi in charge, since she will be fighting at the front.
We are then treated to the most ADORABLE of moments as Ryuko tries to call Satsuki “nee-san”, but the words just can’t get out of her throat. I guess some milestones need to wait.
The pair transform and head into the sky. It seems Satsuki has gained some of Ryuko’s abilities with her blood in Junketsu now. But it doesn’t stop the…uh…release the kracken?
And dropping from the sky in a dresser like Sanegeyama’s outfit in episode 15 is Mako, adorning her old 2-Star outfit. I presume Iori has been much more busy than just making the Deva uniforms, after all we made a big show about the club leaders being rescued earlier.
Oh badass Mako, your presence has been missed.
I think this episode was mostly frustrating. It was an episode that works as an improv. But it’s like the writers were going in one direction, found themselves written into a corner, so this episode exists to revert everything to status quo.
KILL la KILL’s philosophy seems to be “people don’t care as long as we get there”, but that’s a phrase we can apply to almost everything that’s happened.
It is buoyed up by Satsuki, whose development is treated like a legitimate character arc. We’ve seen her grow over the past few episodes, and ultimately what changes her mind, I think, is Mako. It is the friendship that, just like at the very first, challenged her expectations of Humanity. And here, where her brains and tactics didn’t work in saving Ryuko, Mako succeeded. Satsuki has aligned herself -slightly- more to the forces of chaos, and seeing that was a good thing. It’s nice to have the story acknowledge these things now and then. The only complaint is that these are mostly thoughts that have been stirring in her mind off-screen during the time skip. But its easy enough to see that finding she had a sister, whom she may have inadvertently lost if she hadn’t been up to the ruthlessness, and now at the tender mercies of the organization she deemed unfit to fight by her side, Satsuki’s world view is very different from even five episodes ago.
Doesn’t mean she’ll stop being Satsuki-sama, and the world’s greatest dominatrix, but it’s a warmer, fuzzier kind of absolute control.
Ryuko continues to be frustrating. I think in this sense we are seeing that Ryuko IS a Life Fiber: She is only as good or as evil as the person “wearing” her. Before she was very chaotic. She fought for her own reasons, rebel without a cause, ronin style, the black knight. In this she was basically neutral in all things. Then she was worn by Nui, and her feelings of rage corrupted her. Then worn by Satsuki, who tried to direct her rage, and that was a mixed bag. She was then worn by Ragyo, and fully embraced the ideals of Life Fibers and conformity. And all throughout, in interspersed moments, Mako occasionally wears Ryuko and sets her on the “right track”. The Ryuko we’ve come to regard as “the normal” Ryuko is the one who feels unconditional love. But the memory is only ever as present as the last person to put her on.
I think it is this fickle nature that is going to torpedo Ryuko’s character. Because I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this flip-flopping.