This slightly long-winded post contains spoilers for Kill la Kill. Please stop reading now if you do not want to ruin the show for yourself.
I like badass female characters, and I like badass females that know how to fight. This should be no secret to anyone aware of my tastes. This is not due to some feminist mindset or agenda of mine, but rather, I am fascinated by shows and videogames that dare to subvert the traditional roles of female characters.
Why can’t the girls kick ass just like the boys? Why can’t the girls beat other girls up, and destroy the world in the process? Who cares if they are the physically weaker sex? Why not?
As of episode 18, the three most powerful characters in Kill la Kill are all female: the two sisters (I totally predicted this plot twist, along with half of the Internet), Ryuko and Satsuki, and their birth mother Ragyo. Finishing slightly ambiguously in fourth place is Nui Harime, the Grand Couturier, also a lady.
One very crucial aspect of the power fantasy genre, is the progression of power of the protagonists. It is very important to show the growth, training, and struggles of our heroes. Not just for plot purposes, but to track their development from beginning to end. Take Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z as an example. By the end of DBZ, Goku has learnt how to teleport instantly to any place in the universe. He has defeated overpowered machines and androids, fought alien tyrants from outer space, and vanquished ancient evils that have been sealed away for millenia. He can even cause the entire planet Earth to tremor with his strongest transformation. Not bad for someone who started out as a clueless little kid.
There are two notable female fighters in DBZ: Number 18 and Videl, and they are shown kicking butt in the TV series (if you want to count the movies, you can also add Zangya to the list). But they do not have the same power trip as their male counterparts. They do not have the same journey to unlock their maximum, hidden potential.
Every episode of Kill la Kill until now, has been about Ryuko’s journey to discover herself and become stronger. As I have written in an earlier post, she learns how to become a better fighter and person, and learns how to become one with her Kamui. Now, it is Satsuki’s turn. After being completely defeated by Ragyo, and losing Junketsu and Bakuzan in the process, she has to embark on her own journey to rediscover herself, to find a way to continue fighting and to defeat the Life Fibres.
For the longest time, me and my friend have viewed Ryuko and Satsuki’s transformation attires, as nothing more than fanservice for the young male audience. Gotta show some (under)boobs and flesh to attract more bishoujo-loving viewers, right? I realise now that their costumes could very well be yet another subversion of the male power fantasy.
Kenshiro from Hokuto no Ken [Fist of the North Star]. This is from the OVA remake.
Look at the archetypical male-power heroes from other series: eg. Conan the Barbarian, Kenshiro from Hokuto no Ken, Kratos from God of War. What do they have in common? They usually fight half naked, or end up half naked with their top exposed, muscles bulging everywhere. So if we want the ladies to be their equals, we should let the ladies fight exposed in their own feminine way. It sounds quite crude and misogynistic, but I think that this may be the creators’ true, hidden intentions.
Unlike Ikkitousen, and to a lesser extent, the Dead or Alive series, which are very specifically focused on ecchi for ecchi’s sake, Kill la Kill achieves this with some reasonable taste. The show actually bothers, in a pseudo-satirical way, to explain why Ryuko and Satsuki have to expose so much flesh while fighting each other. “This is the form in which a Kamui is able to unleash the most power!”, screams Satsuki in episode 3. Right.
I do not expect Ryuko and Satsuki to reach the same power level as Goku and Vegeta. I do not expect Spirit Bombs, Spiral Power, or “HIKARI NI NARE!”. But after seeing what Gainax has done with FLCL, Gurren Lagann, and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, we are now expecting the series to finish strongly on a high note. We all know that something absolutely crazy is going to happen by the finale… the question is, what?
Suddenly, the opening two lines of the chorus for “Before my body is dry” have a lot more foreshadowing:
Don’t lose your way in your mind
We have to be as one
Here is my prediction of what will happen for the remaining episodes. I am posting this list for posterity just to see how accurate they are once the series reaches its conclusion:
1) The two sisters have to “fuse” with each other to become one
The same way how Goku and Vegeta fused with each other to become Vegito/Gogeta. It makes perfect sense. Ryuko and Satsuki are both blood-related, and they both have their different strengths and traits. Opposites attract to produce a stronger force. It is also a poetic way for Satsuki to learn how to open her tsundere-heart to others — what better way to do this than by connecting with her long-lost sister? This absolutely needs to happen.
2) Full scale mecha war
We’ve already seen Sanageyama and Gamagoori transform into mecha suits. Let’s take this to the next step by having a full scale, giant mecha battle. I predict that the Elite Four will combine themselves, Transformers and Voltron-style, into a giant robot. This is very obviously going to happen, considering that Trigger consists of alumni from Gainax, the same studio that made Evangelion and Gurren Lagann.
3) The final showdown, the final boss battle will take place in outer space
Again, this is very obviously going to happen.
4) The sisters will use a pro-wrestling move in one of their fights before the series ends
Oh come on, if Korra could do it for The Legend of Korra season two finale with her fire(wo)man’s carry, there’s no reason why Ryuko and Satsuki can’t. This must be a PROPER wrestling hold or grapple, and not a simple striking attack like a clothesline or superkick. High-risk moves such as a diving elbow or moonsault can be counted, but they must be done from the correct elevation. I am betting on either a German Suplex or CM Punk’s Go To Sleep (GTS).
This is starting to become a weekly trend, where a new episode comes out and then I blog about it. It is not my intention to turn this blog into a TV blog where I post weekly episode reviews. But Kill la Kill is something special, a show that grabs your attention and leaves you in awe every week. This is the way to make anime more strong.