Annotated Anime: Kill la Kill episode 18


In which it all comes falling down

Oh Kill la Kill. Just when I thought you couldn't top yourself, you go ahead and give us episode 18.

An explosion of plot progression, action, drama, and even a bit of humor, this week's Kill la Kill epitomizes what this show can be at its very best. Looking at the past five or so episodes (including this one), this is the show I initially expected from director Imaishi and writer Nakashima. 

Hell, we even get some Mako and Gamagoori time, which is never a bad thing.

With Satsuki's grand coup d'état plot out in the open, things get real as her troops collide with Ragyo's ambitions head on. The Elite Four work together to keep the malicious Nui at bay while Ryuko, Aikuro, and Tsugumu try to make heads or tails of the ridiculous situation unfolding before their eyes. With their main target preforming a heel turn, our three heroes decide to take on Ragyo as well. Unfortunately for the good guys, the Director of Honnouji Academy has more than a few tricks up her fabulous sleeves; she brainwashes the student body using her Life Fibers, and proceeds to bring even Ryuko under her direct control.

Satsuki once again finds herself in a deadly duel with our heroine, failing to free her from Ragyo's Life Fibers. Fortunately, Ryuko somehow manages to bring herself back under control, and gets ready to confront Nui yet again. This time around, things don't go as planned for the one-eye'd villain, and she ends up being completely overwhelmed by Ryuko and Senketsu. Elsewhere, Satsuki cuts her mother's head off, only to find that not even decapitation is enough to end Ragyo's tyranny. She's beaten within an inch of her life and ultimately has Junketsu stolen off of her body. Ragyo summons the original Life Fibers to the arena, and reveals that Ryuko is the daughter she thought she killed and threw away as a baby. Whoops.

It's hard to know where to even begin when it comes to an episode of anime as packed as Kill la Kill 18. First and foremost, I take my non-existent hat off to director and storyboard artist Hiroshi Kobayashi, who did a fantastic job of juggling multiple subplots, battles, and separate sequences in a 24 minute block. This week's Kill la Kill featured no less than three different fights, all with their own specific style. On top of that, the main plot moved forward in major ways, all leading to the big reveal in the final minutes: Ragyo is Ryuko's mother.

Like last week, this was a beat that I think a lot of folks saw coming way ahead of time. There were certainly enough hints to point in this direction around the time of Ragyo's first appearance. While not quite as obviously telegraphed as last week's reveal, I still think the final moments were effective in conveying how weighty the twist is. I'm curious as to what sort of fallout will come of Ragyo ripping Ryuko's heart out of her chest, Temple of Doom style. We finally get a look at Satsuki's father Souichirou, a scientist who would eventually come to be at odds with his wife's aspirations. The sequence in which Ragyo dumps her second child was actually uncomfortable to sit through, if I'm being completely honest.

Episode 18 also presents us with the first time that Satsuki is completely and utterly overwhelmed in battle. At no point do things move in her favor, and the cut of Ragyo punching her daughter over and over again was cringe inducing. I also want to point out that animating that particular sequence from Satsuki's point of view was a nice touch; you can see her bring her hand up in a futile attempt to stop her mother's attack. There's yet another uncomfortable moment in which Ragyo feels up her daughter just before stealing her Kamui, a clever play on the direct translation of Junketsu: chastity or purity. It was also satisfying to watch Nui finally get her back pushed up against the wall. Hopefully she'll get what's coming to her sometime in the near future.

On the technical side of things, there was a fair share of animation short cuts as per the usual, but those were balanced out by some fantastic cuts of animation. Much of the Ragyo vs Satsuki back and forth was framed well, and I particularly enjoyed the shots after the latter took the former's head off. What Ryuko vs Nui lacked in pure animation power, it made up in speed and direction. Musically, I've spoken about how I'm not crazy for Sawano's scores, but I think the choices made in episode 18 were great. The soundtrack jumps around a lot, but none of the tracks felt out of place.

I think Imaishi and his team have been killing it over the past five or so weeks, and while the next episode will likely slow things down (an Elite Four episode!), I can only hope they maintain this level of quality. I'm already sad that it's not next Friday yet. Sigh.

Ragyo for best mother of the year!

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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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