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A broken hero…

Kill la Kill
Episode 20: Far from the Maddening Crowd

Since transferring to Hannouji, Ryuko has been through a lot. Over countless tests of strength, skill and tenacity, she has always remained resolute. Within the violent insanity of it all there has always been one thing driving her forward, one purpose that forced her to stand again and again against unspeakable odds: her past. The desire to avenge the father she ignored in life, to see justice be done…but that is no longer the case. With last week‘s revelation, a new Ryuko was born…and she is far from the one we know.

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She who would turn her back on the world…

We’ve seen it before. Rage. That which almost consumed Ryuko once before. Only it’s not quite the same this time around. In it’s previous incarnation, Ryuko’s malice was focused on Nui Harime, a single foe which drove her into the grasp of madness. But now Ryuko knows the truth of her existence and her anger is now directed towards her new opponents: everyone. Gripped by her emotions, she decided that she is not, nor has she ever been, a human and is therefore no longer a part of the world. Not a student. Not a friend. Nothing. She does not even consider Senketsu an ally, as it is her who was the true weapon created by Dr Matoi. If anything, Senketsu was a way to conceal the truth of Ryuko’s origins, having her believe that every feat of strength was owing to the Kamui that she wore. Combined with the fact that her father’s entire life was also nothing more than a cover story, Ryuko’s only memento of her family is deception. Not only that, but her true family has stood against her time and time again. With all this information bearing down on her, it’s no wonder the poor girl snapped. Not even a perfectly timed, and hilarious, burst of Mankanshoku exposition is enough to break her out of this downward spiral. So you know it’s serious. Just look at how she fought Nui. Without the guise of humanity guiding her, Ryuko simply smiled as she drove a blade through the girl’s heart. It was brutal.

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A glimmer of hope remains

All that said however, it is not truly anger that plagues Ryuko. It is something far more powerful and dangerous: fear. Even Mikisugi notes that in the midst of her tirade against the world, Ryuko was crying. Each of her criticisms of humanity were justifications, her way of trying to bastardise a world that she can no longer be a part of. Not human. Not Life Fibre. Caught in the middle, yet belonging to neither. Even those who carry the same curse of existence stand against her. Her own mother, someone who is supposed to care about her, sees her as nothing more than an interesting being, an experiment gone horribly right. It is this same “mother” that Ryuko has begun to bear a frightening resemblance to. Though their reasoning is different, both now stand against a world they do not connect to. It is assumedly this manner of thinking that allowed Ragyo to corrupt Ryuko and turn her subservient weapon. Whilst forcing Junketsu onto the lost protagonist, she showed Ryuko visions of a happy life. One of family, of normalcy, of love. Everything Ryuko had clamoured for, everything she had fought for her entire life. Compared with the reality she now dwells within, it’s no wonder why she accepted Ragyo’s lies and turned her back on herself. It was honestly heartbreaking to see Ryuko in such a state. All she could do was cry as she finally stopped fighting and simply let go of all the pain.

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Tears shed for a life not lived…

However, this utterly depressing turn of events proves just how confused Ryuko was after learning the truth. Throughout her screaming and flailing, not once did she ever hurt anyone. Though she threatened violence, she demonstrated her power on COVERS and empty buildings. Her words served to push everyone away in an attempt to protect them from her, having deemed herself unworthy of joy. If anything, Ryuko wished to free them of the burden of having a “monster” as a friend. Even in her darkest moments, her compassion still shone through, if only briefly before it was snuffed out by Ragyo. She tried to turn them against her, so that they would not have to feel pain when she left their lives. The same pain she escaped from by succumbing to the will of Junketsu.

With Ryuko now caught in the depths of despair, there was only ever one person who could replace her. In a reversal of roles, it is now Satsuki on who the world’s hope rides. Despite the stern and cruel actions that made us view her as a typical anime villain, Satsuki is now a beacon that may just be Ryuko’s final hope. Her magnetic personality truly shines through in the fact that, after all that has happened, her Elite Four still follow her unquestionably. It was actually rather sweet to see them all reunited, after the pure worry they expressed when they learned of her capture. These facts serve to dispel any questions you may have had regarding Satsuki’s humanity, cementing her as a misunderstood hero. Which is good, because we really need one.

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Can hope conquer despair?

As the only glimmer of hope left in the world, and with the future on the line, Satsuki partners herself with the only one able to stand up to Ryuko’s power: Senketsu. Though he despises the former President, Senketsu’s love for Ryuko is greater. In a complete inversion of their previous encounters, Ryuko now stands above Satsuki, looking down on the “foolish girl” who would dare stand against her. As the two begin the fight that will decides their fates, we can only hope that Satsuki’s indomitable will can break through Ryuko’s shattered psyche. It just has to…

Check out more Kill la Kill Impressions HERE.

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