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Annotated Anime: Kill la Kill episode 15

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In which Ryuko finally kicks some ass

Goddamn.

The School Trip arc ended in a blaze of glory this week with Ryuko taking the fight to Satsuki and the conflict between Honnouji and Nudist Beach coming to light. Revelations were had, nipples glowed, and buildings were smashed as things finally came to a head for most of the major characters in the series.

And it was damn good.

Satsuki arrives on the scene prompting Osaka's kingpin, Kaneo Takarada, to unleash his secret weapon: The Dotonbori Suit. Essentially a giant mechanized crab body armor, it proves to be more than capable of taking down the legions of One-Star Goku uniform students. With things looking bleak, the Elite Four arrive on the scene sporting new Three-Star uniforms, and Uzu makes quick work out of the giant enemy crab. Osaka falls into Satsuki's hands, but Ryuko once again arrives on the scene to challenge her rival. Risking her life to equip Senketsu, she manages to retrieve her stolen glove, reclaiming the kamui's full power. 

Aikuro and Tsugumu arrive on scene with their armed forces and the true might of Nudist Beach is revealed. The Elite Four are dispatched to deal with the intrusion, leaving Ryuko and Satsuki to battle it out one-on-one. Buildings are destroyed, smacktalk is had, and Mako speeches are given while Ryuko manages to hold her own against the once impossible to beat student council president. In a final all or nothing attack, Senketsu turns into a blade and blinds Satsuki with blood splatter, allowing Ryuko to disarm her and subsequently steal her sword. With things having reached a stalemate, Satsuki is forced to retreat, though not before having Nonon obliterate Nudist Beach's homebase, declaring the school trip a total success. 

I've spoken about this before, but it's very clear that TRIGGER has been working with what is probably a smaller-than-average budget. In this age of light novel/manga/video game adaptations, it's becoming difficult for creators to put out strong original work. Kill la Kill as a whole has, in my opinion at least, been a very consistent work in terms of its visuals. I'm not necessarily even talking animation either; I'm mostly referring to visual style, art quality, and the way in which Imaishi and his crew cover for budget restraints. Arguably most TV anime series are filled with awkward animation, art problems, and all sorts of weird blunders. Kill la Kill is by no means devoid of it, but I think it does a better job of hiding its lack of animation or working with it than most.

That being the case, when TRIGGER gets it done, it gets it done. Episode 15 was a strong example of this as the first fight, Uzu vs Takarada, is filled with animation short cuts. It's fast and energetic (you won't find any slow, time consuming pans here), which covers for the lack of smooth animation. The second half of the episode, Ryuko vs Satsuki, starts off in a similar way, occupying the screen with fast cuts to character faces as they battle it out with words. Things change when the combat starts for real, with a nice combination of CG action (the tower fight was great) and a more traditional hand drawn style (the midair combat). By no means is the entire battle some sakuga-fest, but it's fun to watch and never grinds to a halt. The shot choice is also as strong as ever, which makes even still frames interesting to look at. That's more than can be said for many a TV series.

Many things came to a head this weak, not the least of which was the full reveal of Nudist Beach, and the realization that this whole school trip was a ploy to lure them out in the open. With most of their forces left in shambles following the big battle, I'm curious as to where Aikuro and Tsumugu go from here. There's no doubt that they'll be hurting, especially without money flowing in to fund them. On the enemy side, the Elite Four have finally upgraded their suits, though I imagine that they're still no match again Ryuko at this point. I'm overall quite fond of the new designs and I can only hope we'll see more of them in action from here on out.

Mako played a smaller, though undeniably important, role this week as she continues to support Ryuko when she's at her lowest. Her best moments in episode 15 however come when she, like Nudist Beach, is forced to stand face to face against the Elite Four. In this case, she stands opposed to Gamagoori, who continues to be something of an oddity as he singles out Mako. I love that this tiny young woman who lacks any real combat power is still able to hold her own in a face off.

The real game-changer this week came in the form of Ryuko's triumph over Satsuki, marking the first time that she's ever caught the student council president off guard. One could argue that this was Satsuki's victory; she managed to take down Nudist Beach's base, the supposed goal of this entire school trip. Despite the "greater" win however, this was perhaps an even larger personal defeat. Ryuko not only managed to get her glove back, but also disarm Satsuki and force a ceasefire. Satsuki puts on the front of victory; we see her with the usual blinding light from behind. However even that regular character moment is subverted because it's in the context of her retreating from a distance, not entirely unlike the way Ryuko would flee the scene in early episodes. 

Satsuki is caught completely unprepared during this battle, and the fact that she has to rely on Nonon to fight on an equal level is another sign of this. Her post battle bombing of Nudist Beach, planned or not, comes off as scheming and underhanded, the latter of which is not something typically associated with her personality. Even the victory over Nudist Beach is a glass-half-full sort of situation in that two of the heads/members of the upper management are unscathed. Aikuro and Tsugumu will live to see and fight on another day, maybe even stronger than ever due to a united front with Ryuko. Meanwhile our heroine has seen that she can win, and that alone is not something I imagine Satsuki wanted. Her image of perfection is crumbling, even if she fights a futile battle to maintain it.

This week marked an exceptionally strong episode of Kill la Kill, and with Aikuro promising lots of backstory exposition next week, it seems like we're going to get to the heart of Nudist Beach and their war against Satsuki and Revocs. I'll be sad saying goodbye to Osaka, but I'm looking forward to seeing what developments TRIGGER has in store for the rest of the series. 

Also: Gamagoori x Mako for life.

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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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