School is tough. There’s assignments and tests, not to mention all of the social drama. There’s the popular kids and the athletic kids, the smart ones and the middle grounders. And to top it all of there’s the army of devout students empowered by specialised uniforms who all follow the dictatorial will of a tyrannical, stern faced Student Council President. But that’s how it is in every high school…isn’t it?
Welcome to Honouji Academy! Your one stop shop for all things fashion and fascism. Enrol today and receive a thoroughly degrading lecture from the one and only Satsuki Kiryuin, Student Council President and general overlord of Honouji (the city that is, why stop at just ruling the school?) Ingratiate yourself to her and you may just receive the honour of wearing a Goku Uniform, an awesome piece of clothing that will imbue you with tremendous power and give your social standing a nice little boost. From No Star to Three Star, that is the ultimate goal of the proper student, but it is only a possibility for the strong. For pigs in human clothing, the only option is to grovel before the powerful and pray that don’t take to violence. Though of course they would only do so were the rules to be broken. But no one would be stupid enough to do that…right?
Wrong! Meet Ryuko Matoi, a transfer student with and attitude as big as the half pair of scissors she carries with her (which is big). Drawn to Honouji by her desire to discover the one who killed her father, Ryuko makes quite a bold entrance into the Academy, immediately voicing her disdain for Satsuki aka Suspect Numero Uno. Setting the pace for the series, Ryuko shows that she isn’t the kind to wait around and launches at the President. Of course this immediately fails (you can’t jump straight to the boss fight) and Ryuko is soundly defeated. Bing, bang, boom, some plot occurs and Ryuko finds herself a rather revealing uniform which just so happens to possess tremendous power. Lucky break am I right? Rematch time rolls around and our scantily clad heroine saves her recently captured, and slightly less recently made, friend Mako Mankanshoku decimates her opponent drawing the attention of Honouji (for more than one reason). Thus begins Ryuko’s tumultuous high school life, jam packed with violence, insane students both good and bad. as well as one particularly forward teacher. It’s not that bad, he just strips a lot and talks to Ryuko about her body and skimpy outfit…wait…I made it worse didn’t I?
Now in case you haven’t picked it up by now, this series is lunacy given form. Though the plot will certainly aid you in reaching this conclusion, the visuals are were you will find the most clues. They are chaotic, to say the least. The animation style fluctuates all over the place. From intensely detailed close up, to simplistic chibi body shots. Consistency is not really a word held with reverence at Studio Trigger it would seem. But you know what? It works. Really, really well. The style of the series is such that the visuals can vary to such a degree, whilst still retaining the purpose of the series, if not bolstering it. The dreaded Episode 4 Animation Slump is also played with, with an intentionally simplistic style. Hell, most of the time the characters are nothing more than cutouts sliding across a background. Whilst contrasting the previous episodes all out fight sequence that moved in and out of CGI and traditional animation, it captured the essence of the episode and, perhaps most importantly, did not impede itself with trying to take itself too seriously.
With the characters presented in the way that they are, their voices need to be equally as powerful. Equally as outlandish. Equally as fun. And the English dub understands this. It does a great job at capturing the voices you expect to come from these characters and delivering great performances. This may be in part due to the fact that a lot of the English cast sounds the original Japanese cast. In fact, most of the main roster sound like their respective originals, with only Senketsu sounding noticeably different. Not that that is a bad thing, he just sounds younger than he did in Japanese. With the performances as good as they were in this early section of the series, I’m looking forward to seeing the characters as they progress and continue to bounce between real emotion and animesque overreaction. The latter of which will most assuredly come from Mako. You gotta give credit to a character who can appear crazy in the midst of a place like Honouji, it’s quite a feat.
Over the top. Ridiculous. A funsplosion of insanicrazy. These are all words that I just wrote. Words that coincidentally describe the rollercoaster that is Kill la Kill. Seriously, it’s just four episodes in and we’ve gone from boxing match, to tennis match, to fight…match. Ok, so there’s a lot of matches, but the series burns through them like nobody’s business. Speed is the name of the game and Kill la Kill knows how to play. In fact my only criticism of this release is the length. Four episodes is not enough, not by a longshot. I want to see more crazy battles, more spontaneous school shenanigans, more Mako intermissions. Because with a running start like this, I don’t think Kill la Kill will be slowing down any time soon.
Attention students of Honouji Academy! Make haste to Madman! Your President commands it!