In the grand finale, humanity and the Life Fibers face off for the fate of the planet. Blood is spilled, tears are shed, and we witness the incomprehensible power of the human spirit.
Kill la Kill brings out all the stops for its climactic finale. Everybody who’s anybody is here in a finale that will be remembered for a long time to come. Ragyo reveals her trump card in the form of Absolute Domination, which destroys the will and the ability to move of anybody who wears Life Fiber clothing. Thanks to the 100% distribution of Revocs brand clothing, everyone is brought to their knees. However, Ryuko, who’s neither quite human nor clothing, manages to keep up the fight. And just as Ryuko isn’t entirely one or the other, we learn that this is the same for Senketsu himself. In the form of what is the first of many Gurren Lagann references, the efforts of Ryuko and Senketsu combined manage to overcome Ragyo in a very satisfying clash. I have to say, the first half of the episode does a lot of great things to get the viewers hyped about the final battle. Nearly every character gets their chance to shine, rather than just devolving into Ryuko singlehandedly doing everything. Okay sure, Nudist Beach is still kinda useless, but between Mako’s speeches and the Elite Four’s efforts, we get some really satisfying moments this episode. To pick a single one as my true highlight of the episode would be impossible. That said, I will give a shout out to Gamagoori’s utterly insane special attack that literally turns him into a living Gurren Lagann mecha, face on his chest and lasers included. It’s the moments like these that make me realize why I enjoy Kill la Kill so much. For all its insanity, it’s a show that has done an amazing job of making me love the characters in it. I don’t just want to see Ryuko win, I want to see them all win. I want to see them succeed and prosper because they’re all great in their own unique incomprehensible ways. Last year I mentioned that Kill la Kill had my favorite ensemble cast of the year. In its finale, all the time Trigger has invested in its wildly fun cast pays off. Not since the likes of Gurren Lagann have I cheered and shouted for an entire cast, rather than just an individual character.
To the delight of my speculation, they do eventually take the fight to space after Ragyo and Nui basically do a fusion dance with the remains of the original Life Fiber, though its just Ryuko and a ridiculously powered up Senketsu against her. It’s fitting though, and Mako’s wonderful speech about enjoying a normal life once this is all over really hits home. We really are at the end aren’t we? It seems Kill la Kill’s basic flowchart for combat is for Ryuko to fail multiple times, get an upgrade, and then continue to fail until she eventually succeeds. That holds true for the finale as Ryuko and Senketsu realize that Senketsu’s unique ability to absorb Life Fibers can even apply to Ragyo herself. With Ryuko in control of all the Life Fibers in the world, she prevents them from consuming humanity, leaving Ragyo powerless. With Ragyo defeated, the world is finally free form the tyranny of clothing. I gotta say, Ryuko’s crazy speech about humans being human and clothing being clothing was pretty great. Sure it might not be at the levels of “this drill is the drill, etc.” but it has a great emotional payoff as Ryuko acknowledges the reality of who she is, and is ready to bring an end to it all. It’s hugely satisfying to say the least.
What I didn’t expect from this final episode was to shed a few tears though. Strained by the task of absorbing all of Ragyo’s Life Fibers, Senketsu begins to disintegrate as the duo descend back to Earth. Like Nia from Gurren Lagann, I suppose it was thematically fitting. With the Life Fibers gone for good, it’s time for Ryuko to move on and pursue a life free of revenge or hate. Still, I definitely got teary-eyed when Senketsu said that school uniforms are meant to be outgrown. After nearly half a year with the two, I’ve come to love their character dynamic as much as Ryuko and Mako’s. I’ve spent plenty of time talking about Mako, but I think we almost forget that Senketsu has also been with her this entire time. It’s a relationship that goes beyond the bounds of mere friendship into something truly special. We’ll never forget you Senketsu.
The day is saved and life goes on. In the end it’s a satisfying conclusion that leaves just about everything settled and taken care of. It’s been a crazy ride, but I know I’ve enjoyed my time with Kill la Kill.
My major criticism of the last few episodes of Kill la Kill is that they have felt somewhat predictable. That doesn’t really change here as Trigger go for the safe and somewhat by-the-numbers finale. The difference is in the execution, which is excellent and really does the job of puffing this up into a world-ending apocalypse. Armed with a noticeably higher budget than anywhere else throughout the run, the studio are able to close out their story in spectacular fashion. It’s no revolution for sure, but the strength of the tropes they fall back on and the excellent characters who have hauled us this far mean that the show finishes with quite a flourish.
If there’s a weakness here, it’s the number of loosely explained plot elements which we need to swallow in order to make this work. Individually, Total Domination, Nui becoming a giant living bit of clothing or Hulk Hogan Senketsu are acceptable breaks from the narrative, but together they can begin to cause a little bit of confusion. There’s nothing here that even approaches a plot hole, but it might have been nice if we’d more strongly hinted at or established some of these things earlier on. It’s a minor nitpick for sure, but just one I thought I’d mention. The other issue I had with this episode is one that’s very common to final episodes everywhere, and it’s that the show is striving so hard to be epic it occasionally becomes very noticeable that its trying too hard. Again, Trigger reign this in very well and mostly save the cheesy histrionics for when they’re needed, but there are a few moments that it teeters on the edge of self-parody.
Fortunately, the studio made the sensible decision to duck that problem by embracing comedy, and while there is obviously serious content, this is a way faster, looser funnier finale than I expected. It’s all the better for it too, as the writers and animators are able to unleash the manic energy that’s been the show’s real strength all along. There’s some terrific visual flourishes here, be it Ragyo’s awesome looking final form or the furious fights that for once hold up well under closer scrutiny. Mako’s final comedy moment is an all-timer and there’s a ton of memorable visual gags here, none more so than Gamagoori’s incredible Gurren Lagann parody attack.
Despite the comedy, the show actually does a surprisingly good job of milking pathos from the situation too. Ragyo and Ryuko’s final confrontation is spellbinding, a quiet, dark conversation that’s a bravura contrast to the bombastic battle which preceded it. It’s a fine goodbye to Senketsu too, even if it’s surprisingly abrupt. He does get some great dialogue, wryly funny but sad too, and if someone had to be sacrificed to give this ending weight, thematically and emotionally this was probably the right choice. Everything from that point is on pure gold, from the incredibly heartwarming multi-person catch to Ryuko, Mako and Satsuki’s montage date while the credits roll. For a show which so often prided itself on being as over-the-top as possible, it’s somehow poetic we ended on a moment of beautiful simplicity.
Gee’s Final Impressions
Kill la Kill was a special experience for me. As a tremendous fan of Imaishi and Trigger crew, I had high hopes for the show. To my endless joy, Kill la Kill lived up to those expectations in almost every sense of the word. The reason I love the likes of the Gainax greats, like Gurren Lagann, FLCL, and Gunbuster, isn’t just because of the insane heights they reach, but also for the heart they have. For the crazy characters, awesome scenes, and generally memorable moments, it’s also the sincerity of the shows that speak to me so much. You can tell the people who worked on them truly loved the medium and what they were working on.
I get that very same feeling from Kill la Kill. What the show lacks in production values or sensibly dressed people, it more than makes up in the heart and spirit it carries with it. Like Gurren Lagann, it’s an anime that’s just so damn enthusiastic, you can’t help but get wrapped up in it as you watch. But beyond its heart, lies a genuinely well put together show. As many of us have mentioned, Kill la Kill did an amazing job building its cast. The changes and developments that happen is a great example of true character development. Ryuko, Satsuki, and the rest of the cast change as time goes on, but it never feels unnatural or forced. Trigger did an amazing job of making them all feel like people, if a bit crazy and incomprehensible at times. They endure hardships, enjoy victories, and grow all the stronger because of it. It’s this kind of narrative consistency that makes Kill la Kill such a solid show.
From a technical standpoint, Sawano’s soundtrack does an amazing job. While I initially preferred the idea of Iwasaki doing the score, I think Sawano’s tracks are a perfect fit for the show, each leitmotif and theme doing its job. I think we’ll all remember Kill la Kill’s excellent tracks for years to come. From a visuals standpoint, what Kill la Kill lacked in fidelity, it more than made up in composition. As an artist and an animator, I was constantly impressed by how well-composed the shots and scenes were. Kill la Kill did an excellent job of keeping things visually interesting, even when there wasn’t that much going on. I can say Kill la Kill had limited animation. I could never say that it had technically poor animation. The fact that Trigger was able to do so much with so little is a testament to the skill of its veteran crew.
Kill la Kill is an anime that makes me glad to be an anime fan. The medium isn’t perfect by a long shot, and there’s a lot of crap to sift through, but its the gems like these that make it really worth it. Watching it every week has been one of the most enjoyable experiences as an anime fan in a while, and if it takes 4-5 years between every show like this one, so be it. It’s an anime that will stick with me for years to come and has me hopeful for the future. With Kill la Kill, Trigger has proved that they’re more than just big claims and crazy people. There’s a real heart and soul to this studio and I look forward to their future works. Thank you Trigger and thank you Kill la Kill for all the great memories.
Aquagaze’s Final Impressions
Kill la Kill is hardly an intellectual masterpiece, despite what the dozens of half-assed Powerpoint presentations on Tumblr might tell you. Yet that’s why it’s so hard to write about it. It’s impossible to deny that at its very core, Kill la Kill is a good show — even more so, a good anime. It piles up all the things only anime can do and does them like only anime can do them. It’s everything we love about anime: imaginative, boisterous and vivid. Yet at the same time, it’s everything I hate about anime. It constantly risks ruining itself with the tired, gratuitous tripe anime as a whole risks ruining itself with. Because its flaws are so deeply engrained in Kill la Kill’s very nature, it’s hard to call it anything more that a good show. It’s a tour de force oozing with soul and heart, yet sadly enough, that heart is very often in entirely the wrong place.
Kill la Kill is air. Highly explosive, incredibly well made air, but air nonetheless. It’s an empty box wrapped in the most gorgeous paper ever seen. In other words, it may be nonsense, but it sure as hell is well-executed nonsense. The soundtrack is a bombastic, genre-busting recipe for instant boiling blood, the character design is amazing, the direction is tight and stylish, the visuals unique, the pacing lighting fast and the animation a masterclass in putting a very narrow budget to good use. Kill la Kill knows how to excite and entertain like the best of them. Every episode brings about surprising twists and turns the formula around, and even after you’ve seen it 23 times already, Ryuko making a heroic comeback as “Before my Body Is Dry” explodes in the background never gets old. It takes an especially cynical person to not be thrilled by at least some aspects of Kill la Kill’s hyperactive storytelling, whether it’s the pompous fight sequences or Mako’s adorable antics. But this doesn’t hide the fact that underneath it all, Kill la Kill isn’t really about anything at all.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Kill la Kill doesn’t have a narrative. We’ve all seen Ryuko look for her father’s killer, only to end up in the crossfire between a rebellious group of nudists and an evil fashion designer. No matter how wacky it might be, that certainly counts as a narrative. But does this perfectly entertaining popcorn plot also tell us something? Teach us something? Hardly. At the very most, Kill la Kill lifts its values and life lessons straight from its spiritual ancestor, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, — heroes can overcome any hardship as long as they scream loud enough and punch hard enough — only with an added dose of regressive gender politics. Whatever empowering message it may want to present gets violently repressed by its inherent, bizarrely dated views on purity and independence. According to Kill la Kill, you’re not strong if you’re ashamed to run around half-naked. There is a difference between accepting your own sexuality and being forced to expose yourself, and it is her refusal for the latter that Ryuko is outright chastised for throughout the first part of the show. You can’t just shove body positivity down someone’s throat, because that way, you just end up on the wrong end of the spectrum again. And that’s not where you want to be.
Imply that Trigger thinks all women belong in the kitchen this does not — in case the loveable cast of quirky, badass female characters didn’t already tell you this — but it does make for a pretty nasty cocktail when Kill la Kill shoves its ass-backwards values into your face alongside some of the most repulsive fanservice this side of Queen’s Blade. Action scenes always go hand in hand with jiggling breasts, thong-clad buttocks and worse, characters constantly get their clothes violently ripped off and by the end of the show, most of the cast spend more time in their birthday suit than in their clothes. Whenever Ryuko falls in battle, the camera lingers on her behind as if the character’s weakness suddenly allows it, and whenever she passes out, you can bet your life on it an implied rape joke isn’t far off. The pandemonium gets even worse as soon as the twisted Ragyo makes her entrance and disturbingly graphic sexual assault becomes the order of the day. It’s never appropriate, never ironic, never necessary and never meaningful, but always excessive, reprehensible and vile. For every “hell yeah” moment in Kill la Kill, there’s one that makes you want to look away in sheer disgust. It’s the single most detrimental factor to the show’s credibility, and it only has itself to blame.
No matter how much I would like to unconditionally worship Kill la Kill like it is the second coming of your preferred prophet of choice, the fanservice is hardly the only problem working against it. While its hilariously limited assets are so often skillfully compensated for the sheer admiration for Trigger’s exceptional animation skills makes you forgive their lacking budgets, the series still remains too shallow to justify its full 24 episodes. Around the halfway point, the breakneck pacing hits a bit of a funk and the show briefly becomes a fairly standard shounen romp where the main heroine pulls one power-up after another out of her ass just because she can. At the very least though, Ryuko has some sort of justification for doing this. The villains, on the other hand, do not. Nui is mostly just a pain in the ass, butting in on key scenes and curb-stomping the entire cast like ‚that one kid’ on the playground who bluffed his way through every play-fight with his infinity plus one sword and his impenetrable shield, but at least she becomes so over-the-top it’s entertaining once she loses her arms. Ragyo, however… Oh, Ragyo.
Every story benefits from having a strong antagonist — after all, the antagonist is often the character whose motivations drive the entire plot. A good antagonist has an interesting outlook on life, and might even be relatable. Raygo is not that antagonist. Let’s go over the facts for a spell, shall we? Why does Ragyo want to cover the world in Life Fibers? Because humans are slaves to clothing. Okay, why is she convinced of that? Because she’s an evil fashion tycoon who can make great profit off of humans being dependent on clothing? Fair enough, but then why does she want to kill everyone? That won’t benefit her in any way. Everyone in the world is already wearing REVOCS, so the only thing she’ll do is prove that humans are, in fact, slaves to clothing. But then what reason does she have for siding with the Life Fibers? Does she just want to dominate over everyone? Okay, why? All she ever gives as explanation is that an invasion is simply “supposed” to happen. What sort of motivation is that? What do we know about Ragyo? What happened to her to make her think this way? Why did she grow so jaded? We never learn. We never learn how Ragyo became so ruthless and ambitious, and why she made a deal with the devil that would in no way benefit her. What remains is a caricature of a villain with trite motivations and an obsession with sexually assaulting her daughters just to show how eeevil she is. Congrats, Ragyo, you are the laziest excuse for a villain since that guy in Galilei Donna who randomly shot people. Because he was eeevil.
In the end, it’s hard to entirely dismiss Kill la Kill on the shortcomings of its plot when it is so obviously intended as a victory of style over substance, but then again, such a lopsided distribution of its many positive points does not a classic make. Kill la Kill is a good show with strong action, colourful visuals and an entertaining ensemble cast, but in the end, the excitement it creates only nearly wins out against its incessant, highly disturbing fanservice and questionable morals. If anything, it is the vanguard of great things to come for Trigger. With some more money, some more common sense and some more interaction with real life women, these guys can one day live up to the standards they set for themselves with shows like FLCL or Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. After all, let’s not forget they also made Little Witch Academia, a wonderful, imaginative little OVA with immensely likable female characters and not a speck of saucy contest. So despite Kill la Kill’s shortcomings, Trigger remain the most exciting anime studio of the current decade for a plethora of reasons that needn’t even be explained. Here’s to you, guys. Let’s hope you… don’t lose your way.
Zigg’s Final Impressions
In these days of anime as a mass market, cookie cutter product driven by merchandise sales and targeted to specific demographics, my enduring memory of Kill la Kill is how ALIVE it felt. The show never felt like anything less than a window into the minds of the men and women who made it. It was brave, ambitious, engaging, funny, problematic, cheap, messy and so many other things, but it was always rammed with personality and soul. That only gets you so far of course, but I do feel that the anarchic spirit that coursed through the production did a lot to sustain my interest in it even when the on-screen product was not entirely up to scratch. Kill la Kill always felt like a unique vision in the swamp of generic shows, and that alone wins it big points.
If the show has a weakness, it’s that that uniqueness is channeled entirely through ideas and execution. Kill la Kill‘s story is not a bad one, but it’s not a barn-burner either, and the fact that most people guessed the big twist one or two episodes in is a pretty major indicator of the well-worn narrative path the show trod. It hit its beats well and generally made the most of the substantial parts of the tale, but what we got out was ultimately pretty familiar, at least in terms of overarching narrative structure.
That smart-but-familiar concept also translates to the characters, who are mostly impeccably written and acted versions of stock parts, albeit with enough ludicrous spins put on them to make them fresh in the eye. Ryuko’s a fine protagonist – headstrong yet smart, vulnerable yet also powerful, recognizably human but also a total badass. She arguably gets the rug pulled from under her by her supporting cast though. Mako is wonderfully well fleshed out for what could have been a one-note joke character, brilliant writing and production layering genuine friendship and affection in between the show-stopping comedy skits. Arguably even more impressive is Satsuki, whose aggression and domination are so rarely seen in female anime characters that it’s impossible not to admire her. Once she’s on the side of the angels she arguably steals the show from the others and I think it’s to the writers’ credit they barely ever make the audience question her overwhelming competence. She also has the advantage of the Elite Four, who are satellite to her in the best possible way – they’re interesting characters in their own right, but their ultra close relationship to their leader magnifies and draws out important parts of all of their personalities.
Iro’s Final Impressions
All eyes were on Trigger back when Kill la Kill began. Gurren Lagann was one of the most memorable shows in the past decade, and hype was at a fever pitch. It was said both in jest and in seriousness that Trigger would “save anime”, bring us a show that would rekindle the flames of enthusiasm.
They succeeded in making it entertaining, at least. Part of the reason I watch anime is because of the ludicrous, outlandish things it does, things that wouldn’t fly anywhere else. Kill la Kill captured that perfectly. Where else can you see talking school uniforms, giant scissors, and world domination via fashion sense? I was smiling at the crazy antics onscreen every week, always waiting to see how they would one-up themselves in the next episode.
That wasn’t everything, though. Enthusiasm and absurdity can’t make up for a weak story. Thankfully, Kill la Kill didn’t skimp on its fundamentals: the plot was built well, even with some of the fastest pacing I’ve ever seen in a serial format. Nothing crossed the line of “too crazy”, because the line was always being pushed further. Events progressed logically, even though the events themselves were anything but. It wasn’t long before I was completely caught up in the show’s flow.
Who knows how long it’ll be before I watch another show that keeps me happy and guessing every week? Some part of me doesn’t want the craziness to ever stop, but just as Senketsu tells Ryuko that school uniforms are meant to be outgrown, all good things must come to an end, so it is with Kill la Kill. It was a fun ride.
Marlin’s Final Impressions
Every few years there’s a show that is just a joy to watch. A show that keeps you coming back for more every time and never fails to deliver. Sure, it may not have the deepest narrative, but you know what? At the end of the day, Kill la Kill was fun. It took an absolutely off the wall concept and played with it as much as possible. It had so many memorable scenes and funny lines that every episode would have you cheering or laughing as hard as possible.
Of course, even with all its ridiculousness, this show would have been nothing if it wasn’t for its strong characters. Every individual has such a distinct style and personality. Even among bit characters each design was so unique and interesting that it made every encounter a visual treat. This was a good idea on Trigger’s part, as their limited budget usually made us focus on their well designed character models. The theme of clothes allowed them to play around a lot with the idea of different uniforms as the stakes got higher and higher. Each new level would bring in a new style that elevated the menace of the villains or power of our protagonists.
The writing for the main characters was absolutely fantastic. Mako was by far my favorite. She is the best kind of spaz, bringing a great amount of energy with the frenetic and abstract way she bounced around every scene. Ryuko herself was a great protagonist. She always had a great level of confidence, and even when the chips were down she would find inspiration either in her friends or her cause to never give up. Senketsu is really the unsung hero of the story. While he never stole the spotlight like Mako, he always supported Ryuko in his own way. The way he cared for her was like that of a close friend, and in the end it really showed. Satsuki started out with a great deal of malice, but as the show went on we saw more and more of her personality, the way she cared for her subordinates and her desire to change Japan. In the same way, the Elite Four’s devotion to her and to the students of Honnouji showed they really weren’t as bad as we’re led to believe. As many predicted, she eventually turned around on the real villain, and by the time she did we saw enough of her character that it wasn’t cheap or unexpected. She became a great contrast to Ragyo and Nui. They were much more conventional villains. As with many, their motivation came from a position of hubris. They believed for all the world that the life fibers were inherently superior to man, and more deserving of surviving on in the universe. All of these characters bouncing off each other was really the star of the show.
I’m disappointed to see it go, but all good things must come to an end. If it wasn’t for the fact that this was an Aniplex production I’d guarantee this would be a first day buy. Not many shows are filled with the unbridled energy and passion that Kill la Kill has. When Kill la Kill first started, most everyone joked about the idea that Trigger would “save anime”. All I have to say is, they certainly didn’t disappoint.