The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Kill la Kill

Title: Kill la Kill
Genre: Action
Company: Trigger
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 4 Oct 2013 – 28 Mar 2014

Synopsis: Matoi Ryuko is an orphaned schoolgirl with a penchant for violence. After witnessing her father’s brutal murder, she immediately sets off, determined to find his killer. Her search leads her to Honnouji Academy, a heavily fortified militaristic school that towers above a poverty-stricken city. Ruling over the academy is Kiryuin Satsuki, who claims to know the secret of Ryuko’s father’s murder. Unfortunately, Satsuki is not willing to disclose this information, so Ryuko’s only rational alternative is to beat it out of her. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that Satsuki is guarded by hundreds of students clad in superpowered “Goku uniforms”.

The Highlights
Hype: Through the roof.
Fanservice: Awkward, distracting, and completely misplaced.
Animation: Ugly.
Writing: More instances of deus ex machina than there are stars in the sky.


Every now and again there comes a series preceded by such immense hype and such widespread buzz, that nearly the entirety of the anime community tunes in for the first episode. The hype can carry even a mediocre show to vertigo-inducing heights when it comes to popularity and ratings. This is likely what occurred with the otherwise fairly below-average Kill la Kill. Presumably, had it been exactly the same series but made by a less notable studio, the show would have fallen under the radar of most of its current audience. Perhaps the bar had been set too high by the excellent Gurren Lagann, or perhaps studio Trigger ran out of creativity after their most successful series, but whatever the case Kill la Kill fell far beneath my expectations. The series is not just awkward, poorly written, shoddily animated, and badly paced, but aggressively so.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an idle man in possession of a Crunchyroll account must be in want of a good anime. Kill la Kill, while it has its upsides, is not a good anime, and certainly not what an idle man such as myself wanted. First among its slew of negatives is the pacing; it’s all over the place. Sometimes the show skips across great lengths of time with next to no explanation, while other times entire episodes are spent on a single fight, Dragonball Z-style. It seems some parts of the series were written as though it were made to be thirteen episodes long, and others were written as if it were part of a fifty episode epic. It’s off-putting and outright odd. The pacing is remarkable not for the directorial expertise exhibited by it, but for the lack thereof.

The pacing is, however, the least of one’s worries while watching the mess that is Kill la Kill. Were it not for the excellent soundtrack, I’d venture to say that the redeeming qualities of the show are few and far between. Shoddy is the best word to describe Kill la Kill‘s animation. Shoddy and haphazard. Shadows are often left an unnatural pitch black, and the backgrounds are largely poorly detailed and unappealing with their slap-dash construction and dreary colors. The academy where a good part of the show takes place consists almost entirely of various shades brown, grey, and dull blue. That’s not to say a show needs to be entirely vibrant and colorful, nor am I implying that the character designs of Kill la Kill don’t make up for the boring environments, but some more interesting venues would not go unappreciated. The use of stock footage doesn’t much help matters; the same transformation sequence can be found in almost every episode, and after a while it becomes rather grating.

What’s more, the amount of deus ex machina used in the show is simply astonishing. Very little gets done without the main protagonist gaining some unexpected, unexplained new ability that magically changes the tide of battle. It inspires precious little admiration for the writers. The show tries to be a sort of Dragonball-Z/Gurren Lagann hybrid, but fails to do what either of those shows did right. It completely lacks the originality of Gurren Lagann, and in comparison to that series Kill la Kill just seems like a soulless cash-in by a studio that has made shows that had some real heart. I know Trigger can do better than this; they have done better than this, and it’s very disappointing to see how far they’ve fallen. Despite my love for this particular studio, however, I can’t bring myself to say that their most recent project is anything but twenty-four episodes of puerile nonsense.

In conclusion, Kill la Kill is not particularly remarkable or special. Despite my almost strictly negative words about it, the show isn’t atrocious, but just below average. Admittedly the soundtrack was fantastic, and Ryuko’s sidekick, Mako, was a joy to watch, but everything else just wasn’t there. There are a few aberrations from the norm; the awkward and plentiful fanservice, for instance, but other than that I find that there’s little here to keep my attention.


The Rating: 4

Reviewed by: CNile

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