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Kill la Kill: Using Style to Cross Genres


mitchhamilton

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Recently I finished the 2013 smash anime Kill la Kill, which is about a young girl name Ryuko Matoi seeking vengeance for the death of her father. The only clue Ryuko has is one half of a massive scissor that was used to kill him that Ryuko now uses as a weapon.

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With nothing else to go on, she decides to challenge the person with the most command in the town, Satsuki Kiryuin, who rules the only school in the district, Honnoji Academy. Upon seeing the one half of the weapon Sastuki reacts noticeably to which Ryuko catches.

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Ryko not missing her reaction decides to take action and force whatever knowledge Satsuki may have out of her. However despite how tough Ryuko is she is way out of her league against a student of Honnoji Academy who wears a special uniform from the academy that enhances their ability. Ryuko beaten and bruised quickly makes an escape to her now burnt down home to access a secret chamber underground. There she comes across an seemingly normal uniform but as she picks it up and bleeds on it the uniform comes to life and forcibly attaches itself to Ryuko's body. With the power from the outfit now on her, Ryuko sets off on a journey far more deep and cruel than she could've imagined in a quest for revenge.

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The first noticeably trait that popped out at me about Kill la Kill was its very unique art style. On the surface it is very distinct and engaging to look at as a viewer. But as the series progressed I couldn't help but think of two other animes with their own styles that couldn't effortlessly cross genres the way Kill la kill has. These two genres being dramatic and over the top comedic moments. Kill la Kill's style allows itself to be free from either constraint to openly switch between the two, sometimes in an instant, while the other animes seemed to have trouble with it. The animes I'm talking about for now are Your Lie in April and My Hero Academia.

 

Neither anime looked bad its just the art style they chose pulled me out as a viewer or left me wondering how I'm supposed to be feeling for the character or moments when it would switch.

 

Starting off with Your Lie in April, I started off watching this anime relatively knowing what was going to happen and was wondering if the anime could tug at my heart strings. I was only able to make my way to the first half of the series before just dropping it. I could go into all the reasons why that is but for the sake of my argument, I'll stick with one minor but constantly present annoyance and that was its inability to switch gears from dramatic moments to over reactions for comedic effect. You have beautiful moments like this

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Mixed in with this
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this
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then this 

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It would pull me one way than try to pull me another. The problem is, the drastically different styles were distracting more than anything.

 

Then we have My Hero Academia.

 

After watching One Punch Man I wanted to give MHA a try. The majority of opinions is if you like OPM, you'll like MHA. Well, seeing as how I loved OPM I decided to give it a try. I made it about 3 episodes. I don't know if Ill ever try again but from what I saw, same problem as YLiA was present in MHA. In the world of MHA there's some kind of test present that citizens can take that will evaluate how much of a hero you are or something like that. Forgive me for forgetting exactly what it is but for the sake of this example let's just go with that. Early on our main character thinks back when he was younger when a doctor had evaluated his potential as a hero. The evaluation concluded that the mc couldn't be one as he failed every category. This of course devastates him as he's always dreamed of being a hero. Later that day he sits at his computer staring at his hero and crying before turning around to his mother at the door asking distraught if he could ever be a hero.

 

So we have a character learning that his life long dream would be impossible with how he currently is. His life is shattered, his dream is gone, he is broken and what image do they use for this?

 

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Yeah, call me heartless but this image of our main character doesn't tug at my heart strings and instead leaves me confused as to how I'm supposed to be feeling. The anime just started and there's a mix of genres being juggled so I don't know how I'm supposed to feel about this. I get it's to convey hes distraught but look at it. It just looks so silly. You got the massive eyes, massive even by anime standards. You got tears that fill up half of them. How am I supposed to take this seriously? Am I even supposed to?

 

Back to Kill la Kill, the anime has set up wonderfully the differences it's animation will take based on the part of the story its telling.

 

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We have this with a character breaking down. Of course when looking at it it's automatically seen as over the top and silly and how can you take this seriously? Well, the anime has already established this character as the comic relief for the most part but she does have great qualities. And she is a comic relief like no other as tense and serious moments are usually interrupted with her stepping in all enlightened like and in a running gag fashion explaining her friends emotions and motivations.

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I've finished the show and I have no fucking clue what she's trying to say here. I'm pretty sure even watching this scene I could barely keep up to whatever her points are.

 

But back on topic, in contrast to Mako's crying, the comic relief, we also have this.

 

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The styles don't deviate from each other so far that they become two different entities and instead helps lend itself to emotionally driven moments like this and this

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so the two can share the same universe without any real distractions.

 

Well done Kill la Kill. 

 

In case you haven't guessed it, I do recommend this anime. Was surprised on how much I enjoyed it and now have a better understanding of shows like Power Rangers. Friends joining together to suit up and team up against a common enemy. The music kicking in as they suit up in their power outfits to face a great enemy. Really gave me some goosebumps.

 

Oh, also it's lewd. :maple:

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