Watching Ryuko square off against Satsuki again in a duel, is like watching a fighting game battle between two completely different, but evenly matched opponents.
Satsuki would be the equivalent of Daigo Umehara, a supremely skilled and exceptionally ruthless fighter with no real flaws to speak of. She strikes fear and awe into anyone that dares face her in combat.
And in the other corner, you have Ryuko, the Rocky Balboa underdog. She lacks experience, and her skills and fighting finesse are nowhere near as close to Satsuki’s or even the rest of the Elite Four. But she makes up for this with her sheer spirit and determination. Raw, fearless, unflinching guts no matter the odds.
I was so thrilled in the previous episode (ep 14) when Ryuko was still able to fight and kick ass without the powers granted by her uniform. Because this solidifies what I’ve been whining on Twitter all along: she is Ryuko Matoi because she is Ryuko, and she is badass because of her character and actions. The costume does not make the character. It never has, and it never will. It really saddens me that so many fans are misinterpreting her character.
So you can imagine my elation yet again in the latest episode, when Ryuko decides to take a gamble by transforming with an incomplete uniform. She continues fighting by using her Senketsu Senjin blades, Wolverine claws, and her SPINNING SAWBLADE SKIRT, even after she was disarmed from her signature weapon, the half-scissors (!). Any fighter that becomes over-reliant on a single skill or weapon, will eventually be doomed when they are unable to wield it. This was my biggest beef with Saber from Fate Stay/Night. Take away her weapon, Excalibur, and she becomes a worthless adversary. Some King of Knights you are.
I have said this before in the past: my problem with Gurren Lagann was that the series teaches us that blind courage and reckless determination would solve anything. This is the wrong lesson to teach, because it is missing one very important ingredient: growth and acceptance. Every time Ryuko fights and figures out a way to beat her opponents, she learns something new about herself and Senketsu. She becomes not just a better fighter, but a better person. Only by growing up and confronting our darkest shadows, by accepting our own faults, do we become more powerful. It is the _journey_ to find our courage and determination that makes us strong.
I wish I could fight like Ryuko whenever I play Melty. Everything she learns in the series so far can be applied to any real life competition:
– Learning to adapt. Changing your tactics, your fighting style, using whatever you can think of to match the strengths (and flaws) of the enemy.
– Fighting with a true purpose and objective, instead of fighting blindly just for the sake of winning.
– Having the support and trust from friends and allies. Two in harmony will always surpass one in perfection.
– And the most important lesson of all: never giving in to uncontrolled rage. Hatred and anger may give you temporary power, but you will still end up losing in the end no matter what.
Congratulations, Ryuko Matoi. You have officially surpassed Shiki Ryougi for Edward’s Most Badass Anime Female Lead. I don’t care how the series ends now, you are now and forever my anime idol, someone I will always look up to whenever I lose my way.