Annotated Anime: Kill la Kill Episode 08


No pain no gain

I normally don't expect much from the big tank characters that often pop up in action anime. They frequently have super flat personalities that are limited to their stupidity and/or physical strength. In that sense, Kill la Kill's Gamagoori has been a complete surprise for me.

Strict and formal, but not at all a simple brute, Gamagoori's loyalty to Satsuki stands in contrast to the rest of the Elite Four's more casual relationship with her. Much like how episode six cast the spotlight on Sanageyama, eight looks toward Gamagoori in an attempt to flesh out the leader of the disciplinary committee.

The results hurt so good.

Things start off simple enough. Satsuki announces the new election system designed to reboot the whole student council. Students must survive a seven day battle and return to the grounds if they wish to earn their own Goku uniform. Of course, things devolve into complete chaos, and Satsuki retreats into her tower until time is up. Despite their high rank, the Elite Four are not exempt from these rules; they too must survive until the last day, though none of them seem especially concerned about the situation. 

Ryuko takes the brief respite from school to head back home in search of clues, only to be stopped by Mako. They check out the burned remains together but have no luck finding anything remotely useful. Things get hairy when Ryuko's scooter breaks down on the way home. Forced to hitchhike their way back, they're picked up by none other than Gamagoori himself, who only recently got his driver's license. Things go bad when the three of them are attacked by members of Automotive Airsoft Club and the car is totaled in the attack. Ryuko prepares to layeth the smack down on the attackers but is stopped by Gamagoori, who explains that it's his responsibility to take care of them since they're after him. 

Gamagoori unleashes his three star uniform, Scourge Regalia, revealing that he's a huge masochist. He describes his first encounter with Satsuki back in middle school; he was a passionate student who cared deeply about the school, but lacked the ability to act against the powers that be. Gamagoori demolishes the attacking club, and seven days later shit gets real.

Much like episode six, eight's animation quality isn't nearly as strong as other entries, but it does the job. There's not a whole lot of action here, and I imagine TRIGGER was holding back and pushing resources into number nine. Be that as it may, there are some strong moments in which the art direction truly shines, such as the reveal of Gamagoori's Scourge Regalia, and the always enjoyable retro flashbacks. Some of the car combat was also exciting, even with the lower animation budget.

This week's Kill la Kill was largely a set up for the greater conflict, but that doesn't mean it lacked in character moments. Rather than reducing episode seven to one-off status, the first half of eight casually references it. As such, the scene where Mako invites herself to go with Ryuko is that much more charming; these two are inexplicably tied together, and Ryuko welcomes that closeness. The flashback to her childhood is also the first time the audience gets a clear look at Ryuko's past rather than bits and pieces. It's no wonder she seems so drawn to Mako's family; she never really got to have one of her own.

The core focus of episode eight however is on Gamagoori and his reasons for following Satsuki as closely as he does. Even his driver's license is just a means for him to better serve her when outside of school. Unlike Sanageyama, Gamagoori's relationship with Satsuki wasn't born out of a rivalry but rather her words and their effect on him. Unable to help the student body he so longed to protect, all he could do was grit his teeth in the face of power and influence. It's a surprising backstory for a brute-like character in that he was never a bully, but rather on the opposite side in a sense. Satsuki essentially freed him from that life and gave him the drive to find his own power. It's a nice touch that he ended up a masochist, though it's up for debate whether or not that came as a result of Satsuki's leadership and/or the way people treated him before. I'm looking forward to getting a clear look at his uniform transformation.

Other than that though, this week set up the upcoming conflict, starting with Ryuko versus Gamagoori. I suspect that she won't end up fighting every member of the Elite Four; the series has already shown its resistance toward having a boss rush-kind of structure. I'm anticipating an appearance by Nudist Beach, or perhaps even a greater power.

Also: Mako is still alive.

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Elliot Gay
Elliot GayContributor   gamer profile

Elliot is an associate editor for Japanator and can be found contributing to Destructoid on occasion. He lives in Japan and can be found on Twitter @RyougaSaotome. more + disclosures



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