Annotated Anime: Kill la Kill episode 17


Things will never be the same

With last week's exposition explosion out of the way, Kill la Kill continues to move forward with its insane narrative. The end result is an episode of build up and release that wouldn't feel out of place as the climax of a series. Some might say this was the predictable outcome of this plot thread.

Personally, I think it goes without saying that predictability isn't necessary a bad thing. It all comes down to the execution of any given plot point.

Kill la Kill episode 17 nails it, and nails it hard.

Also with an overwhelming amount of blood.

Satsuki announces the Honnouji Academy Cultural & Sports Grand Festival to the student body, and preparations for Ragyo's arrival begin in earnest. With the end goal of feeding the Life Fibers, Satsuki's mother and her crew depart for the school. Back in Osaka, Ryuko admits to Senketsu that she originally approached this whole thing as a simple brawl. Now, her duel with Satsuki has grown into this massive conflict encompassing the entire fate of the world. Nonetheless, she embraces and accepts Senketsu as both her partner and friend. Ready to lend her power to Nudist Beach, Ryuko, Aikuro, Tsumugu, and Mako head back to Honnouji Academy to crash the big event.

The Grand Festival begins, and Ragyo arrives on the scene ready to give her final speech to the ignorant masses of the Academy. The Life Fibers in their clothes activate, and the entire population of the city is engulfed by the red threads from space. Ryuko and her pals bust into the arena and confront Ragyo for the first time, but are shocked when Satsuki impales her mother from behind. The skewered Academy Director asks her daughter if this is all in an attempt to take the throne, but is met with rejection. Satsuki's end goal is to rebel against Ragyo and stand against the Life Fibers. Honnouji Academy was the castle she built to accomplish that goal.

As far as I'm concerned, plot twists live or die by their build up and execution. Just because something is shocking doesn't necessarily make it great, just as something predictable isn't necessarily bad. My favorite kinds of twists are the ones that are given appropriate context and make sense for the characters. Undoubtedly many of us, myself included, suspected that Satsuki would eventually turn on her mother. One could even argue that this was a necessary moment for the series in order to leave behind the simpler narrative structure of the first half. I don't disagree with either of those thoughts. 

Where I think Kill la Kill episode 17 succeeds is in the way it brings together all of Satsuki's characterization up until now, all of her insane charisma, and finally gives the cast a real target. Ragyo is so big a threat to the world that it took Satsuki her entire life to build up a force she felt was able to take on her own mother. Episode 17 has some great moments leading up to this that help to make the final few minutes that much more dramatic. Her conversation with Soroi is excellent foreshadowing. We see Satsuki fondly reminiscing of the past and her own childhood, but never once does she ever reference her mother. She speaks of personal growth, and for perhaps the first time in the whole series, the sequence has a genuine warmth to it. 

No, none of this is especially subtle. Even the way Ragyo is framed with Satsuki and the Elite Four implies something big is about to go down. Once she enters Honnouji Academy, we never again get close ups of the former main antagonists' faces. Anytime they're in frame, their eyes are mysteriously either out of shot or brightly lit in an ominous fashion. There's a lot of great direction here, and it all leads to Satsuki's grand declaration of rebellion and subsequent gesturing. All the silly games, all the campaigns, every battle has led to this inevitable point.

In terms of particular layouts, the final four minutes stand out strongly in my mind. There's a whole lot of foreground and background work going on, and the way rough lines are used to draw the harsh facial expressions is very powerful. There's also an increased use of depth of field that makes the sequence feel especially theatrical, leading up to that wonderful still shot that closes out the episode. On the music end of things, I found myself overall satisfied with track selection this week. The final piece that plays over Satsuki's betrayal in particular reminded me of a Kohei Tanaka piece from Gunbuster

I've spent a lot of time here talking about Satsuki and her mother, but there were plenty of other fabulous moments this week on Kill la Kill. Ryuko's heart to heart with Senketsu was another strong moment for our heroine. It's refreshing to hear her honestly reflect back on all this craziness. What started as something so seemingly simple has evolved into a heavy burden placed on her shoulders. I don't necessarily think she's the most interesting character in the series, but I have a special place in my heart for Ryuko.

The Mankanshoku family gets a great scene with Gamagoori of all characters, once again lending credence to my OTP (Mako X Gamagoori 4 lyfe). TRIGGER plays with art styles to admirable effect here, making for some great visual comedy. Speaking of visuals, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how much I adored Ragyo's insane dress. I love how the neck piece ostensibly forces her head into a position where she's constantly looking down on the people around her. It's certainly appropriate for personality. Shout-outs to Aikuro and Tsumugu continuing to be naked. Keep rocking that birthday suit, gentlemen.

It feels like Kill la Kill has once again settled into a groove, this time allowing writer Kazuki Nakashima to really stretch his wings. A lot of gears are moving, and with an apparent big baddie having finally been properly brought to the front-lines, things are hopefully only going to get more interesting from here. Next week looks to focus primarily on the first battle with Ragyo, but I'm looking forward to the eventual fallout from Satsuki's declaration in the coming weeks.

I really do love this show.

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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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