“The theme was about a young animator who joins the industry looking up to a -sorry for the term- lowbrow late-night magical girl anime. So he’s mocked by people around him.”
-Yoh Yoshinari on Little Witch Academia, interview with Animestyle (2013)
Late August of this past year, I was informed that my presence was required at a weekend-long business trip in Oklahoma. Without delving too much into my day job, the majority of my peers are in Texas. Prior to these meetings, they did not reach out to me, a remote member of their group, preferring to stay within their own, impenetrable clique.
There’s something a bit off about Mako Mankanshoku.
The universe of Kill la Kill takes care in setting its presentation as a stage. Everything appears, six episodes into the performance, to follow a set script. Due to the death of her father, Ryuko Matoi is given a reason for arriving on the stage of Honnouji Academy, and her entrance additionally provides her the means, through Senketsu, to discover what she wants to know. To uncover her father’s mysterious past and the truth behind his demise, she must go through a series of weekly challenges by battling various members of the student body. If this sounds vaguely familiar, then you may have watched Revolutionary Girl Utena, which Kill la Kill is both influenced by and refers to directly. In turn, Revolutionary Girl Utena borrows heavily from classical theater and The Takarazuka Revue (a Japanese, all-female, performance troupe) in both visual presentation and direction. One of the more obvious theatrical elements present in Revolutionary Girl Utena is the inclusion of a Greek chorus in the form of the Shadow Girls, who appear once an episode to act out a parable through silhouettes and shadows.
“Humans are clothes-wearing pigs. In that case, I will dominate them. Rule over them.”
-Satsuki Kiryuin, Kill la Kill
When I was in my last year of junior high school, I bumbled my way through a grueling week of standardized tests for various preparatory schools. I ended up choosing none of them, and attended the town public school as originally intended – regardless of whether I would have presumably had a better education – in order to be with my friends.
Upon graduating, my only regret in not attending a private institution, much like my decision on where I would receive my high school diploma from, was based solely on fashion. I wanted to have worn a school uniform.
Yes, I was one of those disgusting “pigs in clothing” that Satsuki Kiryuin loathes.
Kill la Kill continues to have interesting thoughts on clothing, how it affects the attitude of the wearer, and how the attitude of the wearer affects the way that article of clothing is presented, and received by, a viewer. In episode five, the series shows Ryuko Matoi has come to accept Senketsu, her vampiric sailor uniform, as a friend. Likewise, Senketsu is shown to care for Ryuko’s life above his own. This is opposed to Satsuki’s viewpoint, which requires dominion over Junketsu.
“What I drew was not eroticism. It was all about Japan’s culture of shame. The characters want to show what they’ve got, but they’re too embarrassed to do so. It’s all about the tug of war between men and women. I wanted that embarrassment to be the eroticism of the stories.”
I did not like Kill la Kill until episode three of the series.