Kill la Kill – Episode 15

I am goddamn excited you guys. After a long, continuously baiting first season, a defiantly resolution-lacking finale, and two more episodes of buildup, I am ready for this universe to fucking explode. I already know they’re going big this episode, and I couldn’t be happier to hear it. Let Ryuuko find her own philosophy, let Satsuki’s master plan be revealed, let the entire narrative erupt into an impromptu musical number – just do something crazy. Something I haven’t seen before. If this is following in the Gurren Lagann model, then this episode should herald the end of Kill la Kill Part One, and I’m ready to see it go out in a blaze of glory.

Episode 15

0:06 – Ah yes. That music. That backdrop. We’ve entered hell itself, and no narrative paradigm will survive

Kill la Kill

0:13 – And the gang’s all here. Hopefully these guys are more meaningful this time than during 12 – friggin’ Speedwagon could have done a better job in that fight

0:37 – You certainly can’t complain about this show’s sense of humor

0:48 – And they cut the OP short! Classic trick, of course – it’s shorthand for “things are really serious this episode” for a reason, it conveys urgency while also tripping the audience up just as they’re about to relax. But it’s also a very “Kill la Kill” thing to do – this show constantly sets up expectations of classic narrative/pacing beats just to catch the audience off guard. Like how they destroyed the “safety” of Ryuuko’s finishing pose during the fight with the Elite Four, or set up the Sanageyama fight only to trip the audience, or baited this “find the Senketsu fragments” narrative only to resolve it in ten minutes. Kill la Kill may not have the most innovative larger structure, but it knows all the tiny rules well enough to keep breaking them for deliberate emotional effect, all in service of keeping the audience tuned in and on their toes

1:06 – We’ve reversed the classic image. How many times have we seen Ryuuko on the right staring up towards Satsuki in the distance? Enough that it’s become visual shorthand at this point – this is how heroes square off against their oppressors in the language of Kill la Kill. And of course our Osaka villain is making use of the classic pyramid-hierarchy imagery the show can’t live without

Kill la Kill

1:11 – A clear difference between the two of them. Would Satsuki ever refer to herself as the “REVOCS Corporation’s heir”?

1:40 – I love how much fun the show has playing with these title cards. Their own family names towering above them is a fitting metaphor

1:58 – This seems pretty much exactly the message of episode 7.

2:48 – Does… does this show even have a protagonist?

3:30 – This friggin’ show. Love that background splash of color

Kill la Kill

3:37 – No wonder Satsuki hates this guy. I may think her philosophy is convenient bullshit, but she believes in it – believes that her use of strong tools is only a reflection of her own strength

4:31 – I’m with Mako. Being a 1-star sucks balls

5:22 – Continuing with our usual perspective games, Nonon’s torso is now half the size of Gamagoori’s ear

5:30 – Gamagoori plz

5:51 – Yeah, that’s sweet. I always thought Sanageyama’s suit was too bulky for his style. And if these guys are getting outfit upgrades, maybe Ryuuko…

Kill la Kill

5:52 – Straight-up acknowledging Sanageyama’s always been portrayed as a shounen hero

6:23 – Love the friendly banter between these guys. The Elite Four got much more fun after being knocked down a peg

7:32 – And now he’s violating a crab-mech’s butt. Well, that happened

8:27 – Great shot. And more silly games with perspective – Ryuuko’s bike is actually closer to us than Satsuki’s sword, but of course they make the sword look as if it’s inches from our face because Satsuki’s Just That Tough

Kill la Kill

8:35 – The best thing about cool shades is getting to take them off dramatically

9:13 – Gamagoori we get it you’re like thirty feet tall

Cute that he’s actually taken aback by Mako being there, though. Trigger know what the fans love!

9:30 – Fair assessment

10:33 – “If one piece is missing, the whole is useless.” This show is so stuffed with potential partial interpretations (politics! philosophy! representation! sexuality! adolescence!) that it seems silly to indicate any single thematically-charged line, but if this were a show where the ideas actually lined up in a coherent way, that’s certainly a line I’d be keeping in mind


Kill la Kill

11:37 – You know they’re heroes ‘cause they only talk to each other over their shoulders

11:58 – These are the dumbest mechs I’ve ever seen. And I have seen some pretty stupid mechs

12:06 – Ah, these lovely colors

13:06 – This is a fun episode

Kill la Kill

14:24 – So much for an outfit change 🙁

14:39 – Nice shot

15:34 – Man, they are really pushing GamagoorixMako today. Also, again we see that Mako’s time-out spotlight isn’t just a visual flourish, but an actual spotlight other characters can also see

15:53 – That is a great still shot

Kill la Kill

16:05 – That’s… still not a philosophy

16:07 – Yeah, I’m with Satsuki on this one

17:03 – What a line to bring up now. But it also proves the limited nature of Ryuuko’s argument – yeah, Satsuki’s ambition has costs, but she also still has people she trusts – she has everything Ryuuko fights for and her own personal ambitions besides

17:37 – This sequence is goddamn impressive. Someone mentioned on twitter that that “climbing the exploding tower” sequence was all CG, but I think for the first time I actually wouldn’t have guessed it. It pretty much all comes down to the direction – incredibly active camerawork keeps everything fluid. Nice work, Trigger

Kill la Kill

17:47 – So that’s what those giant shoulderpads are for!

17:50 – Again. It doesn’t even look that bad in the still frames, but in motion it sings


18:50 – Goddamnit Mako you are the best

19:35 – I can’t think of a more “Ryuuko” battle strategy than “spray my own blood in your eyes and then punch you in the face”

Kill la Kill

20:16 – Well, here’s the payout of the “turn” we got over the last couple episodes.

20:36 – Gamagoori’s just bluffin’ Mako’s got him on the ropes

21:57 – I love this. This actually does align with her speech from episode 3 – “no means I take to achieve my goal are impure, because my goal itself is pure.”

22:16 – Damnit Gamagoori

Kill la Kill

22:39 – Thank you.

And Done

I was gonna say – all that work destroying Senketsu, invading the schools, repairing Senketsu, and dueling Satsuki, and nothing of importance actually happens? Nudist Beach gets revealed only to be immediately destroyed without affecting either the plot or themes in any meaningful way? Senkentsu’s destruction and subsequent rebuilding is only used to illustrate “friends are great”? Team Rocket just fuckin’ blasts off again?!?

Yeah, not exactly happy with any of that. But at least now maybe things will move forward? Hopefully.

That said, that was certainly a fine episode as far as pure spectacle goes. The Elite Four look very cute in their new outfits, the Ryuuko-Satsuki fight was likely the best-directed fight in this series so far, and the show continues to lead us all on with the promise of Gamagoori and Mako’s forbidden love. It wasn’t really the episode I wanted, but it was certainly an episode of Kill la Kill.

11 thoughts on “Kill la Kill – Episode 15

  1. So I guess the new stuff that delayed the new OP is probably the Elite Four’s new suits, huh? Gotta say I am a disappointed that Ryuuko didn’t change her suit. 🙁 I was so hoping for a new look to go with Ryuuko’s new attitude. Or maybe even the reveal of a new villain (like fucking Ragyo) or just something! I want this show to succeed and be awesome because I really want Trigger to succeed. I still like it a lot, but I’m not in love with it like I was during the first few episodes and that kinda sucks in a way.

    But on a happier note, that Satsuki vs Ryuuko fight was pretty awesome and Mako is still the best part of the show. If Trigger pulls a stunt where Mako is in danger and Gamagoori comes to protect her and admits his feelings I will give it a 10/10 best anime ever.

    • The initial sales numbers are pretty solid, so I think Trigger will be in good shape after this. But yeah, it is disappointing to see something that started with so much energy kinda spinning its wheels like this – it’s still impressive in some ways, but it could be a lot better than it is.

      But yes, if they decide to just switch to Mako-Gamagoori shenanigans I will be forced to give it a 10/10 regardless.

  2. Re 16:05 and the general issue of Ryouko’s philosophy, I disagree strongly with you. I feel that Ryouko has staked out an important position and completely articulated it in this episode. It is the mirror opposite of what you put forward as part of Satsuki’s philosophy at 21:57. What Ryouko says here, translated and summarized (and possibly interpreted optimistically), is ‘people and what you do to them are more important than the goals’. It is not only that Satsuki’s ends (whatever they are) do not justify her destruction of Osaka, it is that any goals that require the destruction of Osaka are wrong. As I see it this is even a generalization of Ryouko’s desire for revenge for her father’s death; after all, are there not fathers everywhere?

    (If I wanted to stretch things I could try to tie this to Ryouko living with Mako’s downtrodden family and becoming friends with them.)

    Personally I was extremely happy with how this episode gave Ryouko an articulate general reason for standing against Satsuki (and that it came out of her desire for revenge and didn’t involve any big swerves like renouncing it as petty and seeing beyond it). You could say that they’re now facing off as ideology versus empathy.

    • That interpretation of this as a natural reaction to the death of her father is actually pretty brilliant – it seems smarter than what the show itself has done. I agree with you on Ryuuko’s argument being that the ends don’t justify the means, but as you say, that’s just a general empathetic viewpoint. I feel in a show like this, which has raised so many other distinct perspectives, “empathy” as the answer is almost a copout – it’s a truism, it doesn’t measure up to the complexity of the questions involved.

      But again, I really like framing Ryuuko’s perspective as a reaction to the death of her father. If the show’s not going to make Ryuuko find more to believe in than empathy, then hopefully it at least makes use of that idea.

      • I disagree that what you’re calling empathy is a copout. Whether or not the ends justify the means is a big, long-running argument in both real life and anime and in as much as either side has staked out a philosophical perspective, that’s what Ryouko versus Satsuki seem to have come down to here. I think that Ryouko saying ‘no they don’t, I will fight for the people you are trampling on in your idealism’ is perfectly complete as an answer.

        (It also circles back to the rise of fascism, which the show started talking about in the first episode.)

        Part of the problem here is that we don’t know what Satsuki’s goals are. All we know is something about how she goes about achieving them (ie, theoretically stopping at nothing) and something about her leadership philosophy (that people are weak and are led by fear and so on). Ryouko opposes the methods but has nothing directly to say about leadership because she has been acting alone.

        (I’m not convinced that Satsuki’s words on leadership are coherent, either. She sure doesn’t seem to be motivating the Four Devas through fear, for example. If she’s inspiring them, well, is Ryouko inspiring Mako?)

        Overall, though, I don’t think that the show is interested in directly having a big clear philosophical debate. As a result I don’t expect either Satsuki or especially Ryouko to stake out their positions clearly and directly (Satsuki has given a fair amount of bombastic speeches, but that’s not the same thing and they’re at least somewhat given for public consumption; she interacts much differently with trusted lieutenants than with the average schoolkid).

        (Given Ryouko’s expressed characterization as a ‘guts’ teenager instead of an intellectual, I feel it would probably be out of character for Ryouko to slow down and talk out a philosophy for herself instead of just blurting out lines every so often. Not many people can do that in general, especially as teenagers.)

        • I think you’re probably right regarding the show’s goals. Satsuki’s philosophy has been kind of all over the place, Ryuuko does seem to be defined largely as a force for compassion more than any defined ideology, and the show overall seems to be setting up these various other ideas largely as flavor for the spectacle. It’s basically like the Christian imagery in Evangelion, I guess.

  3. On the subject of the fact that there was no Senketsu redesign, a thought occurred to me after this episode. I can’t remember if it was you or someone else that presented it as a message of this show that (paraphrased) you can’t control how people look at you, but you can control how you react to that.” The idea of the Senketsu redesign was then to be taken as taking control of one’s own image, that kind of thing.

    There are two problems with that. The first is that it would override that first idea; yes you can control how people look at you, you don’t have to put up with a damn thing. The second is that Senketsu is in his own right a person. It would be like saying “it’s okay to force your friends to change to suit you if you find them embarrassing.” Admittedly, Senketsu could have done it on his own, which would turn it into one friend sticking up for another, kind of thing, but then it still wouldn’t be Ryuko taking control of her own image at all.

    (Pretty sure the real reason is YAY SHAMELESS FANSERVICE, but hey, overthinking things is fun.)

    • You’re right, the fact that Senketsu is defined as a character with his own rights makes this all kinds of complicated. Because he’s clearly both – within the story, he’s his own character, but within the larger framework of this being a story about representation at all, he’s also shorthand for how Ryuuko presents herself/what she’s forced to tolerate. And the issue there is them saying “don’t be ashamed of yourself or defined by what others think of you” when the writers are the ones who forced Ryuuko to “define herself” in this way, with this outfit – it’s less her seizing control of her representation than her being forced to accept the way the show decides to represent her, and coming to tolerate/like it. Which I don’t find a particularly great message.

      All this representation stuff makes me definitely understand why people don’t like overthinking this show – the messages it’s sending kind of get worse the more you think about them. It’s like the writers started by making a fanservicey shounen, and then thought “hey, maybe we can also talk about ISSUES!” – no, doesn’t work that way, you kind of have to start with a point and make your artistic choices a coherent expression of that point.

  4. ”one who dosn’t know the fear of clothing mocks it?!”- Loved that line in correlation with the shows ideas (when she had just said that fear control people). People stuck in their positions due to the perceptions of others given by their clothes. The kamui being able to change and adapt could be an analogy for this too. I think that the fact that Ryuuko is friend with Senkentsu really helps with the whole acceptation thing has others said. It’s more about percetions then the image itself anyways. And yea we still get those fanservice images because they make it stylish has hell and the characters always looks strong and confident in those too.

    Is there somewhere that says that the Kamui/cover/revoc only enhance innate habilities? Like all those club members and the elite four who has outfits who fits their hobbies. Because that would validate Satsuki says about the nature of her own powers vs giant crab a bit more . (has her tools would really be a direct/amplified version of her strengths). The users of uniforms also needs to be in a set state of mind to use them at their full potential though anyone can hop in a mech.

    I’m just in love with the style and the directing of this show. It’s so entertaining I didn’t even mind that nothing much happened. Also nudist beach getting destroyed was a big surprise. Kill la Kill never follows any structure it announces and I love it.

    • I have to assume life fibers enhance natural abilities – Satsuki’s philosophy would make no sense otherwise. Although it would actually align with what I’ve regularly called the central hypocrisy of her philosophy – the fact that she handwaves how much of her power is given to her by her parents. Life fibers being simply power you take actually strengthens her argument there, since when it comes to uniforms, you really do have to use your own internal strength to wrestle with the power you’re taking.

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