In space, no one can hear you fanservice.
Well here we are. The very first regular DDA review was on KILL la KILL, Episode 1. I feel saddened by its loss on my schedule, in a way.
Mako easily dispatches the Kracken-COVERS on board the ship, and Nui is finished on her supreme Kamui. Nui has…also completely lost it. Pinkie Pie is completely off her meds.
We do have an explanation as to how the scissor blades work. One cuts the thread, while the other slices the regeneration threads before they take effect. Bakuzan can have similar effects. Satsuki and Ryuko take the fight to Ragyo, but they are barely even having an effect.
The original Life Fiber attacks the ship, where the forces threaten to overwhelm Mako…with Ragyo channeling Alucard for some reason. But Best Character is saved by four dressers landing on the deck. Yep. It’s the student council. The Three-star outfits now far more resemble Kamui, with their bare chests and composed mostly of gloves-boots. A bit of a visual representation of Humans ascending like the ubermensch while Ragyo talks about how crap they are.
Ryuko’s had enough shit, and pulls out the finishing move…but she’s been sliced in half by Ragyo, and is tossed into the sea.
On her own, Satsuki has no chance. She is completely at her mother’s mercy.
I would like to say that, while a couple episodes ago I made the comment that Ragyo has been under-utilized as an effective villain, here, at least visually, she is extremely impressive. Camera angles are fantastic, her eyes are extremely expressive in every shot. She may not be best villain story-wise, but here she FEELS like a worthy adversary. Everything about her aesthetic here is
making me we- working perfectly.
Even the Elite Four have joined the fray against Ragyo, and its revealed that they are the decoy while Ryuko attacks the Life Fiber directly.
Nudist Beach’s warship turns into a giant knife, because sure, and charges at the Life Fiber, giving Ryuko that extra bit of umph. This justifies their existence in this series. Right? Right?
But the party is short lived. Nui is finished with her Kamui and Ragyo re-stitches her new arms. “They’re only good for combat, no replacement for your nimble fingers” Ragyo laments.
Sure. Sure, Ragyo. Because I’m sure those fingers are less nimble than teeth.
Most of the club presidents have been empowered in their new Goku outfits, and Nudist Beach’s remaining forces are ready. They even have tea to commemorate the battle. But Satsuki orders them not to smash the cups. There will be no death here, she promises.
Battle is joined as Episode 24 begins, with Ragyo revealed in her new Kamui, “Shinra Koketsu”.
…Okay that stuff I said about Ragyo looking the part of worthy villain? That no longer applies.
But she does have a fancy new power, the power to lock down every Life Fiber. And since everyone wears Revocs clothing, every human will be vulnerable to her ability when she gets to the transmitter. Ragyo shares her philosophy, that Life Fibers are a microcosm of the universe, they exist to be birthed, to grow, and to be destroyed, and start the cycle over again. Rather fitting that she’s in a very priestess-like outfit now, as spiritual motivations are the only way to explain this away.
Ah, but Nudist Beach doesn’t wear clothes, Ragyo! Bet you didn’t….yeah she just kind of brushes them off her sleeve.
On the other side of the Usefulness-Spectrum is Gamagoori, who can fight through Ragyo’s Life-Fiber Domination. Nui takes him out, but Ryuko stops her before she delivers the killing blow, naked of course. She might not be able to use a Kamui, but she can still fight of her own will. Ryuko has had a revelation! She embraces that she is half-clothing, half-Human. That her nature makes her superior to either.
I would have liked this revelation more if it had been an arc. Ryuko neither had a REJECTION of her nature (more, she was unable to cope with it, she didn’t try to deny it), nor was there a pull from the Human forces for her to suppress it. This revelation would have more punch of there was a Human-Ragyo tugging on her, trying to encourage their nature while trying to purge the other as Ragyo had done. That way we could see there was a middle path. As it stands, Ryuko never suffered from such pressures, so it makes this declaration weaker by the absence of it.
And it turns out Satsuki can now hear Senketsu.
Oh man, Ryuko has only kept up with Nui until now, with her Kamui! How will she handle her naked and defen-
Oh, Senketsu’s fighting on his own and stabs Ragyo. Aaaaaand they’re back to normal.
Ohhhhmmmmmm….easy, Anna, don’t be so quick to anger. Sure they kind of just ignored this test, but undoubtedly Nui will present a test to our other heroes.
Well they do, the combined force of ALL of Honnouji’s students destroy the rocket. Ragyo commands Nui to kill herself to feed the Life Fiber, which she does happily.
…Oh fuck you, Trigger.
Ragyo lets out an orgasm as she launches the rocketship. Subtle. People all over the world begin to transform as Ragyo sends out the signal.
Ryuko volunteers to head after her…but first…!
Mako asks Ryuko out on a date.
You win points back Trigger…but tread lightly.
Ryuko absorbs the power of all the Goku outfits, Senketsu turning bright red and…you’re doing this? Yeah, yeah they are. Ryuko’s gone Super Saiyan. I approve.
Of course Ryuko’s even more naked. But her scissors have been given multiple dimensions now. I wager it’s the excess Yuri pouring out of Mako’s proposal.
But Ryuko has a plan. Well, Senketsu has a plan that Ryuko approves of. Senketsu realizes he’s evolving since Satsuki can hear him now.
…Good gamble, Senketsu. It couldn’t have been that she was wearing a Kamui with Ryuko’s blood in it or anything? Well either way, they get stronger the more damaged they are, so the pair takes a fatal blow, using it to power themselves up.
…She really did go Super Saiyan.
Ryuko absorbs Ragyo’s Domination technique, using their absorption technique they’ve been honing since Episode 1. I actually like this resolution to the crisis, Ryuko essentially becomes just as big a monster as her mother, only she’s using it to a good end.
Ragyo can’t handle defeat. A true dominatrix to the end, she opts to destroy herself instead of being captured.
Senketsu hurries Ryuko back to Earth. His power is waning, Shinra Koketsu was more powerful than he could handle. He dies burning up in the atmosphere shielding Ryuko. Because it’s the end and he’s supposed to be dead like Obi-Wan.
But in a nice visual touch, Ryuko is caught by Satsuki, and everyone at Honnouji. She doesn’t need Senketsu to support her power anymore now that she has a place in society. Or something.
We bookend the series on Ryuko’s date…where Satsuki joins them (OT3way?), and Ryuko among the monochrome crowd.
Probably the most frustrating thing about the finale is the deaths. They didn’t actually serve much purpose other than tying up the loose ends. I think Nui’s is the most dissatisfying. The best I can take away is she represents the women who want to be living Barbie dolls living the dream, as she becomes one with the Shinra Koketsu, even sharing her final act is to be worn by Ragyo, like she were clothing herself, all proper like. But it would have been way more satisfying from the narrative standpoint to see her eliminated. And it mostly -felt- like they did it to get rid of her because they couldn’t agree on how, rather than any substantive symbolism.
Ragyo’s death makes the most sense, in the context of how the series ended. and the quiet way it was handled was so against-type that it didn’t offend my senses. Rendered powerless over the Life Fibers she dedicated her life to, having to now “fall” and be a normal Human again, she opts to keep her dignity. I suppose in this case it was lose-lose, Ragyo was established as SO far over the moral event horizon, that there were two options: Harakiri or have Ryuko and Satsuki share the killing blow. Which, I was expecting the latter after they revealed the two-blade system that stops Life Fiber from regenerating. Kind of, have Ragyo destroy one of each weapon, forcing the pair to work together. Of course, that would have been EXCESSIVELY cliche. That and, you couldn’t give any SINGLE hero the killing blow, except maybe Mako, without it being grossly unsatisfying. Satsuki and Ryuko both have a good case for the deathblow. So really, this was the best of a lot of bad, cliche options, going on how the story had progressed until this episode. It could have been averted, but that is a structural item of the narrative, and not really this episode alone.
Senketsu’s death doesn’t bother me in principle but in practice, it existed to wipe the slate clean, no questions about “what happens to the Goku outfits?” or “What do powerful Life Fibers do now?” Nope. All gone. Convenient, innit? It was also IMMEDIATELY after Ragyo’s dramatic exit, just kind of throwing the deaths at us so fast we don’t have time to appreciate them. That probably boils down to series pacing though.
Which is the big problem this episode, I think: The pacing. Super speed may be the modus operandi of KILL la KILL, but it really hurt the finale here.
KILL la KILL will probably be the last or second-last series recap this season. There is a lot to cover, a lot to study, and generally a lot to sort through in my own head, separating the subjective and the objective (as best I can), and ultimately ask myself how I felt about the show. Because right now…I can’t really say. It has been such a mixed bag that the passions are running too high. I want to give it a few weeks to settle. But for now…I will say that my opinion remains much the same: KILL la KILL managed to be fun, but not very interesting.
But I will see you at the season recap in a few days.