KILL LA KILL ep5: Nudists vs. Exhibitionists!
Something interesting came to mind when watching this episode. How does it strike a female viewer or the character in a show when a guy tells you to disrobe “for your own good”? Maybe it’s the crazy, hyper-sensitive atmosphere of America and its politics that has me thinking this way. But I can only imagine what kind of firestorm some of these scenes would cause if exposed to the wrong people. That said, I’m glad none of those idiots are watching this show right now! Ha ha! So screw them and their tiny brains! I’m here to watch some damn good anime!
Things get off to an interesting start as we see Trigger make his appearance at Honnouji Academy with Ryuuko and Senketsu squarely in his sights. And we’re quickly shown his fighting skills and that he’s predisposed to kicking ass and hating anything that involves Life Fibers, as he tears down the Gardening Club. In the meantime, Ryuuko’s going about her usual day of meeting her own ass kicking quota, by saving Mako (again) and smashing the Biology Club (what a creepy group of bastards). Basking in the glow of retrieving another Life Fiber, she sits down for lunch with Mako. And this is where she and Trigger actually meet, as he wastes no time getting Mako out of the way and then attacking Ryuuko. The confrontation is disturbingly quick, as Trigger checkmates her before she can even transform. It appears to be only a matter of time before she’ll be forced to strip. Thankfully, the series doesn’t end this episode, as she’s saved by her homeroom teacher. You don’t see him immediately, but he’s the only reliable ally she has, so it has to be him.
Tsumugu meets Aikuro that night, where they try to hash out things. Aikuro and Tsumugu apparently work for the same guerilla organization that is the last means of resistance to Honnouji Academy. But Tsumugu’s hatred of Ultima Uniforms has lead him in a path that goes directly against what Aikuro is trying to accomplish by toppling the Honnouji Academy using Ryuuko and her Godrobe. And in the end, they can’t come to an agreement. That same night, we see Ryuuko’s cocky attitude completely turned around, as her near defeat has clearly shaken her. Tsumugu’s presence hasn’t gone unnoticed by Honnouji Academy either, as they are put on high alert by this renegade. Nonon, the head of the school’s culture clubs decides to take on the problem herself.
Everything over night seems to be building to the innevitable confrontation the next day. And when it starts, we see Ryuuko and Senketsu arguing over whether she should leave him at home to avoid losing to Tsumugu. A sight that is rather disturbing to Mako’s family, as only Ryuuko can hear Senketsu. In the end, Ryuuko wins out, but tells Mako to go on ahead to avoid getting caught in the crossfire at school. Mako reminds her that Senketsu isn’t her only friend (in her goofy ass way) and heads on ahead.
Ryuuko is visibly nervous, though Senketsu has no trouble knowing that, seeing as how he’s as intimately connected to her as anything could possibly be. And she has a right to be as Tsumugu attacks out of nowhere with rockets (where does he get all this stuff)! The battle starts furiously, as Ryuuko instantly transforms and Tsumugu immediately starts firing needles at her, the same needles that so effectively defeated everything else with Life Fibers before. But in Senketsu’s tranformed state, the needles can’t seem to penetrate, let alone have any sort of effect. The battle isn’t that simple though, as the various culture clubs that Nonon is in charge of start attacking both of them! Meanwhile, Nonon and Houka start talking as they view from high up inside the school. Houka asks her why she’s intent on sending these weak little clubs after Ryuuko and the rebel. Nonon replies that what she’s doing is merely conducting a study of her opponents abilities, and that it’s exactly what Lady Satsuki would want. Nonon points out that she’s known Lady Satsuki longer than anyone else, and this has helped inform her decision.
The battle culminates with all of the clubs defeated and with Ryuuko checkmated again in the girls’ restroom. It seems the needles Tsumugu were firing did have an effect, as they eventually weakened Senketsu to the point that he could no longer hold his transformed state. He once again demands that she disrobe, in the process telling her a minimalist, but interesting story about how a woman he knew trusted her clothing, only to receive the ultimate betrayal. Senketsu sees the dire situation and tries to hop off of Ryuuko, only to fall flat on the ground, pinned easily by Tsumugu’s needles. He claims that the godrobe is just a parasite trying to save itself, Ryuuko says that Senketsu was her friend trying to protect her. And Mako pops in again for some useful goofy exposition, telling Tsumugu the same thing, that Senketsu is her friend. The essence of what they’re saying only gets through to Tsumugu once he somehow senses the intent from Senketsu himself, hearing a piece of clothing talk for the first time. It’s enough to get him to change his mind and save Ryuuko before Nonon can capture them.
End of episode.
There’s some interesting things to think about here, amidst all the chaos and insanity of the episode. First of all is the strengthening bond between Senketsu and Ryuuko. Despite their epic unison back in episode 3, they still have a relationship to work on, and (scarily enough) they’re still capable of becoming much stronger. Throughout the episode, we see these two arguing. Usually this involves Senketsu giving advice, whether it be sagely or incredibly intimate. And then we’d see Ryuuko rebuff it. And it seems the lesson here is that she should respect Senketsu’s words and try to listen to him more, rather than taking his power and just using it anyway she sees fit. We learn this episode that there’s more than one way to defeat Ultima Uniforms and Godrobes, it seems that whatever “nudist” organization is funding this research, they have a good grasp on the Life Fibers and how they work. So in a way, we see that Senketsu does have a form of Kryptonite, as does anyone with a Life Fiber based uniform. It really adds some diversity to the power base, and helps make the combat less about overpowering your opponent.
Another benefit of Tsumugu’s intervention is that we get a wider glimpse into the world of KILL LA KILL, though we don’t necessarily get to see it. We’re getting more of an idea what the resistance to Honnouji Academy looks like and what it’s doing. We learn that Tsumugu has been attacking other schools affiliated/ruled by Honnouji Academy, and again it’s made quite clear that Kansai is the only region left not under the Kiryuuin thumb. Which means that it’s very likely the home base of the resistance. And while I wouldn’t trust Aikuro with a vagina if it were frozen in a block of ice and locked in a cage, Tsumugu seems to be the opposite, a very straight forward guy with only one goal, and no ulterior motives. It makes me wonder if there’s such diversity in the resistance as well. I can imagine that some opposing the rule of the Kiryuuin clan and Honnouji Academy may not be opposed to the use of Life Fibers themselves, and may want that power for themselves. Though I think at this point I’m veering too far towards speculative observation.
On the Honnouji Academy side of things, I’m interested in Lady Satsuki’s plans for Ryuuko going forward. She really does seem to be grooming her for something. Does she want a better fight? A bigger challenge? Will this journey she’s sending Ryuuko on help her rival understand something she doesn’t know, yet? It’s really hard to say at this point, though it does seem at least one person understands. And that person is Nonon. I’ll be interested to see how this friendship got started. Stoic characters like Lady Satsuki always benefit from a good flashback.
One more thing to notice, the nudity. I hope you ladies that would complaining about lady bits and “creepy” camera angles are happy now. There’s plenty of male fanservice starting to pop up in this series as well. And I’m of course OK with this. I’d rather enjoy what I have and have to deal with what I don’t care for, than not get what I want at all because everyone’s sensitive. Plus, with this being a show about clothes, intimacy and friendship, I find this sort of thing very appropriate, and I’m glad Studio Trigger is going “balls out” with its presentation. I also get the feeling with the sailor uniform, and the way the show’s been playing out that it’s very mindful of the statement it’s making, especially when we think of mahou shoujo shows as a possible inspiration for this series. The tiny uniforms, the nude transformation sequences and the theme of a strong female protagonist fighting to keep her clothes on and , in essence, keep her power, solidarity and freedom are all strong ties between this show and that genre. This show is no Revolutionary Girl Utena, but we may have something to think about when it comes to female protagonists and not only their roles, but their presentations in stories as well when this series is done.
Note: now that I think about it, maybe it would be more than fair to compare this to Revolutionary Girl Utena. Hmmm, food for thought.