Kill la Kill Volume Two
Publisher: Madman Entertainment
Format: DVD (reviewed) / Blu-ray
Release Date: December 10, 2014
Price: $29.95 AUD (DVD) – Available Here / $34.95 AUD (Blu-ray) – Available Here
Even when a series starts out with a lot of potential, it often takes more than one episode to be able to determine without a doubt what the entire show will be like. It does not have to take more than one episode, though, as with Kill la Kill. It was clear from the very beginning that this show was going to be excellent. Do these next five episodes maintain the same standard of quality?
‘Hikigane’ (‘Trigger’), the fifth episode overall and the first episode in this set, introduces an organisation known as ‘Nudist Beach’. These people are anti-clothing as the name suggests, but more specifically they are against the Goku Uniforms that Lady Satsuki has produced for her loyal minions and the Elite Four. Tsumugu Kinagase is one member of this organisation, and is bent on forcing Ryuko to strip off her Kamui, all the while insisting that he is not a pervert. The two inevitably begin fighting, and during the episode, many club presidents fall victim to Ryuko’s finishing move, ‘Sen-i Soshitsu’. Aikuro Mikisugi, Ryuko’s odd homeroom teacher, is also a member of Nudist Beach and is in league with Tsumugu. Discovering this, Ryuko demands information out of her teacher, so he tells Ryuko about the interestingly-named organisation.
Much of the other episodes in this set are spent showing Ryuko fighting the Elite Four, however episode seven, ‘A Loser I Can’t Hate’, takes a break from Ryuko’s revenge plot and makes some powerful social commentary about social class and status. Although it has been previously mentioned in the series that the amount of stars a student has determines the social status of them and their family, this episode takes it further and takes a look at what it means for someone to be successful, to move up in the ranks of social hierarchy. As Ryuko helps Mako gain more stars, the Mankanshoku family is moved into more expensive housing and can now afford much greater luxuries. While at first they are all happy with their new lives, Ryuko finds herself lonely now that the Mankanshoku family is so busy all of the time due to their newfound success, as Mako gains more stars and becomes consumed with power. Although this show initially seemed solely interested in the fast-paced action present throughout every episode, this episode demonstrates the brilliant potential that the series has to delve into real-life issues.
It is becoming more and more evident that the plot is not simply driven by revenge for the murder of Ryuko’s father, an event that is explored some more in one episode in this set. The real-life issues of friendship, family, success and social class are all deeply explored in a way that may hit home with some people, and they are always explored seriously and effectively, even if something completely random and insane occurs merely seconds after something serious or emotional. Scenes featuring Ryuko talking to Senketsu, for example, is one such example of seriousness dissolving into comedy as everyone around her thinks she is lonely and crazy for talking to her school uniform.
The comedy in this series is great way to remove any tension that a scene would otherwise have had, and it never feels like a bad decision to have comedy intermixed with all of the seriousness. Mako gets more of her random short speeches, and is frequently shown to be oblivious to the insane stuff that keeps happening to Ryuko who is usually right next to her. Her family too is great for comedy, although some of it comes from the males of the family getting a look at Ryuko while she is taking a bath. Mataro (the son) in particular gets to be in the limelight a few times, and even though his actions have negative real-life implications, they are a great source of comedy nonetheless.
The set concludes with the beginning of the “Naturals Election”, in which we find out more about Satsuki’s past and how Ira Gamagoori came to be one of the Student Council’s Elite Four. Through this flashback, we see just how status and power has gone to the heads of some middle-school students, once again proving that this series has the potential to discuss social issues and actually uses it rather than letting it go to waste. The seven day ‘elections’ pit student against student, and at the end, Ryuko must face each and every member of the Elite Four in battle.
The visuals again are fantastic. The animation once again is very fluid, even during the high-octane action scenes that this series is known for. Ryuko’s homeroom teacher Aikuro is shown transforming from a regular high school teacher to a creepily ‘sexy’ member of the anti-Satsuki resistance group, yet whether that is the most bizarre thing to happen in these episodes is debatable. Although genitals and female nipples are once again left undrawn in scenes depicting characters naked, Aikuro once again has his nipples on full display for Ryuko and the viewers at home. The animators go so far as to light up his nipples. While these scenes are creepy, they can also be hilarious when the sheer ridiculousness of it all is considered.
Other fan-service is noticeably present once again, with much male and female nudity present through out these five episodes. While much of it is played for comedy, Ryuko’s very-exposed body following her transformation is again a disappointment. Camera angles often show her from such an angle that makes her almost entirely-exposed breasts the main feature of a shot, and similarly her butt is also often shown with varying levels of clothing covering it up. It is unfortunate that such fan-service is present in such an otherwise fantastic series, especially in a series that seems determined to challenge stereotypical gender notions by portraying Ryuko as a strong and capable girl.
The audio again is excellent. The background music continues to be very impressive and well-suited to the scenes it accompanies – the sad ones, the fun ones and the action ones alike. The English dub also continues to impress; the talented voice cast provide excellent performances as their characters, and each and every voice actor stands out in their roles. English dubs are hit-and-miss, so this is proof that English dubs can be good if enough time, money and effort is put in and if the right voice talent is used.
The extras in this release are limited to the ‘web-version’ previews (which are actually the TV broadcast-version previews) and again, the textless opening and ending animation. The textless version of the ending scene from episode seven is not included.
That such a crazy, high-octane series can keep up the fast-paced action and nonsense and not grow even remotely stale is a testament to the talent of Trigger, an animation studio formed by ex-Gainax employees. While the single-disc releases of this series will undoubtedly bother some people, Kill la Kill is worth watching. Japan rarely produces original anime series of this caliber, so if you have not already jumped on the bandwagon, give it a go and get ready for some of the most fun action and entertainment around.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.