Home > Episode by Episode > KILL LA KILL ep6: the beauty of defeat and the ugliness of shame

KILL LA KILL ep6: the beauty of defeat and the ugliness of shame

That was a fun and beautiful episode, and somewhat ridiculous. But it’s all very fitting for this show. A show that revels in being as over the top and beautiful as it can possibly be. And what I love most about this is that it’s just showing that we’ve only scratched the surface of what is capable of presenting. Nothing is wasted in this show, in the pursuit of beauty.  The beauty of a man’s goals, dreams and drive.  And I suppose beauty can also mean dudes getting naked and sweaty for the ladies.  Hey, I said this episode was fun and beautiful.  I never mentioned classy.

There’s no doubt that KILL LA KILL is Ryuuko Matoi’s anime. She’s the star, the focus, the gravity that holds this show together. Without her, I couldn’t imagine how this story progresses.  But every now and then you get a character or performance that can totally and utterly overshadow the star. In anime terms, you could think of such characters as Kamiya (TENGEN TOPPA GURREN LAGANN), Sesshoumaru (InuYasha), Kenpachi (Bleach), L (Death Note) and so on. Uzu Sanageyama’s performance doesn’t necessarily reach those levels, and he’s only shined for this one episode, but it’s one hell of an episode!

As episode six begins, we see Ryuuko grilling Aikuro about his involvement over last episode’s events.  Tsumugu had nearly killed her twice, and she had photo evidence of her homeroom teacher hanging out with him the night before.  She demands answers!

And that’s too bad, because all she’s gonna get is a face full of pink man nipples and – the truth?!  Aikuro informs her (after stripping) that he and Tsumugu are a part of a a guerilla group called Nudist Beach.  His information is totally true, but his presentation is so ridiculous and flamboyant, and the name given is so stupid, that she doesn’t believe any of it and just storms off.

Things switch to the antagonists side of the story, as we see a fresh shipment of Life Fibers being delivered to the academy’s Sewing Club.  As the materials are brought in, some of the Four Devas begin to wonder what she could need with so much of this precious material.  Everyone takes notice that this has all started because of Ryuuko and her Godrobe, even Lady Satsuki herself has been influenced, donning one herself.  All this talk about their biggest thorn gets one of the Four Devas, Uzu’s blood boiling.  And he goes to ask Lady Satsuki for permission to fight that very thorn.  After some deliberations (and a flashback), Lady Satsuki decides to give Uzu his opportunity, but reminding him of the punishment for failure.  As Uzu leaves, Lady Satsuki receives a very important phone call.

The next day, Ryuuko is called out to the kendo club’s dojo to battle Uzu, while the three other Devas watch from above.  Once she shows up, Uzu wastes no time transforming his Ultima Uniform into a uniform that resembles mecha, as much as it resembles samurai armor.  Ryuuko transforms in kind and wastes no time jumping confidently into battle.  But she soon realizes that fighting a Three Star Ultima Uniform wearer is nothing like fighting a Two Star, as Uzu outmaneuvers her and pounds her at every opportunity.  With Ryuuko sitting on the verge of defeat, Uzu brags about the special ability that has carried him through this duel, the Heaven’s Eye.  Think of it as a low level Sharingan, able to follow and even predict an opponent’s moves based on the eyes’ abilities to observe and follow even the most minute of movements.  Uzu’s Ultima Uniform only amplifies that ability, making him an offensive and defensive juggernaut.

It truly appears that Uzu has Ryuuko and Senketsu checkmated.  But Ryuuko takes the information she’s just been given and uses it to her advantage perfectly in battle.  Slicing off a portion of Senketsu, she uses those pieces of cloth to attach and cover any of the eyes on Uzu’s suit.  Thus, Ryuuko is able to turn the match completely around and strip Uzu of his Ultima Uniform, and potentially his Deva status.  Though even with all his clothes stripped, and his tabernacle dangling in the wind, his fighting spirit refuses to fade.  That very same night, Uzu goes to Sewing Club for a very extreme favor, and that very same favor convinces Lady Satsuki to give him another chance.

The very next day, Ryuuko is again challenged and again meets Uzu for battle, commenting to Lady Satsuki that she’s gone soft giving a loser like Uzu a second chance.  But Lady Satsuki seems supremely confident in her warrior today.  And we soon see why as Ryuuko’s attempt to conquer him in the same fashion as before are met with pure failure, as Usu is once again to put her on her heels, and on her ass, and on her face, and – you get the point.  Ryuuko is all but destroyed as Uzu flawlessly beats on her.  What’s his secret?  He’s blind!  Uzu has had his eyes sewn shut, and in true anime logic, it is explained that the loss of his most powerful asset has allowed all his other weaknesses to blossom.  His Heaven’s Eye has been replaced with the Mind’s Eye, opening up a whole new world of possibilities to him.

Uzu literally pounds Ryuuko into the ground and is about to administer the finishing blow when he armor disappears.  Due to his sheer force and skill, the Ultima Uniform has been outstripped and overheated, forcing this collapse.  Ryuuko uses this opportunity to slip away (I almost forgot how much of a fool and coward she was), but Lady Satsuki tells Uzu not to be ashamed.  His determination and willpower were more than enough to impress.

End of episode.

Man, so much to soak in and think about this episode.  I witnessed something I did not at all expect to see coming into this episode, or even in this series.  One of the Four Devas actually gets stronger fighting Ryuuko.  At this point, I genuinely wonder how Ryuuko can defeat him in their next fight.  He’s become so incredibly strong now that Ryuuko wasn’t even a challenge.  And I’m almost grateful for it, because if the episode had stopped with Uzu’s initial defeat I would have been highly disappointed in the Four Devas overall, and I would have wondered what was the point of this episode.  But I suppose this growth was hinted at fairly enough.  In the flashback arc, we see his utter defeat at the hands of Lady Satsuki in middle school.  And when they flip back to present time, he talks about how he’s gotten strong enough to take on the Lady Satsuki he first met.  He’s not at all satisfied  with any level of strength.  He also mentions that he openly seeks out challenges and strong people.  More evidence of his progressive attitude and his drive towards bettering himself.  Couple that with his utter disdain for losing, and you get a potent and stubborn combination.  For now Uzu is moving on ahead of the other  Devas it seems, I’m anxious to see if they can keep up.

Uzu’s transformation shows not only how dynamic the storytelling in this series is, but that characters in this story may be deeper, stronger and more fleshed out than originally thought.  The first impression I got from Uzu was that he was a brash and cocky guy who enjoyed using and testing his natural talents.  But his origins show that he was more than a little bit of a punk, and even back then he relied on those eyes of his.  Uzu’s love of competition runs deep, so deep he’d do something that many would find disturbing, while interestingly there are those who no doubt find it honorable and inspiring.  I’m just happy he didn’t gouge them out, though that would have been an interesting thing to add to the narrative for this episode.  He completely stole the spotlight from Ryuuko this week by showing in one episode, as much progress as she’s made in six.  In one episode, Uzu was stripped of his greatest asset (pun intended), left on the verge of oblivion, sacrifices one of his senses in a gamble that I’m not sure if he had any idea of if it would pay off, and he manages to come back and dominate his opponent  to the point of near obliteration.  Meanwhile, while Ryuuko has overcome her selfconfidence and shame at wearing Senketsu, she’s now dealing with some extreme cockiness, and has paid dearly for it twice already.

I also have to give props to Uzu for a pretty badass transformation sequence, and to the show for being extremely fair in giving equal opportunity and exposure to both sexes.  For all the fanservice that is just naturally shown in Ryuuko’s favor, the male fanservice is just as gratuitous and over-the-top.  Whether it be Aikuro’s posing, or Uzu prancing about with his tabernacle flapping in the wind, I’m pleased to see that Studio Trigger is not leaving anyone out of the fun.

And since we’re speaking of equal opportunity, I gotta say that Ryuuko seems to be getting the fairest treatment of any woman I can remember in recent anime when it comes to taking a beat down.  And it’s proving to be an awkward thing to watch, as Ryuuko looks like a stripper getting beat up during these battles.  It’s a strange feeling to see a woman flaunting under-boob, ass, camel toe and a perpetual upskirt get punched, kicked, covered in bruises and beaten into the ground literally.  It makes me wonder what the studio expects the audience to feel when they watch these scenes.  The first time through, I was enchanted as usual by KILL LA KILL’s active, expressive animation.  But on the second watch, which is when I try to pick up on details missed, my focus on detail lead to me feeling a bit strange about the scenes with her taking such a beating.  It makes me wonder what other viewers, you guys, were feeling during those scenes.

I believe that as much story is being told through the details and presentation of the story, as the actual plot that unfolds us.  In essence, it’s not about the contents of the story, so much as how you present it.  For Uzu, this is a story of failure and redemption, the only shame coming not from being stripped of his clothes, but his actual pride.  For Ryuuko, I wonder if her story in this episode, and overall, isn’t about something similar.

Note:  seeing Lady Satsuki recoiling in the shower from the effects of Junketsu may be a telling sign of their relationship is working out.  Lady Satsuki may be more powerful, but Ryuuko has a much smoother symbiosis with Senketsu.  Placing my bet on that being the deciding factor in their eventual dual.

Note 2:  Mako is awesome.  You really need to pay attention to her mannerisms in this episode.  They’re much more subtle than before, but no less entertaining.

Further Reading:

  1. November 10, 2013 at 07:31

    I’m with Satsuki here: why should what a warrior is wearing ever affect out perception of their battle performance? Being fine with somebody getting beaten up, but only as long as they aren’t wearing skimpy clothing, seems weird to me. Of course, clothes are a huge theme of the show, so if you find yourself asking questions like that, it’s doing its job for you.

  2. November 10, 2013 at 17:37

    I suppose Lady Satsuki’s lesson has already been lost on me. But like you said, I think this is all on purpose to make the viewers think about what they’re watching. This show is turning out to be a very interesting take on the mahou shoujo genre.

  3. Emmanuel
    November 14, 2013 at 20:53

    Started reading your blog today, and I must say, really awesome job mate. Can’t wait for your Episode 7 reaction. Kill la Kill, one of the best animes of the year!

    • November 14, 2013 at 21:20

      Thanks a lot! Every comment is appreciated.I got a cold right now and I’m trying to get ready for. Long trip tomorrow, so I hope you forgive it being a little late. But I’ll push out a post as soon as I can.

  1. November 24, 2013 at 00:45

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