In Short:

Released in 2013, Kill la Kill is a 24 episode + 1 OVA anime that is the first series produced by studio Trigger. In it, we follow delinquent punk high school girl Ryuko Matoi as she searches for the person who murdered her scientist father. This leads her to Honnouji Academy, a place where top ranking students are gifted special uniforms that give them superpowers, and to the school’s indomitable student council president, Satsuki Kiryuin, who just might have the answers Ryuko seeks.

Kill la Kill features inventive, flashy, over the top fights, a story that is absurd but also absurdly well put together, a great soundtrack, and one of the best English dubs around.

Kill la Kill is overwhelmingly an extremely silly show. If you want something serious you should look elsewhere. Also, much of the show is dripping with mild fan service and sexual humor. There are even a few short scenes of sexual abuse committed by the main villain that may turn some viewers off to the series.

Suggested Watch Minimum: 1 episode. Kill la Kill has a great, action packed first episode that does a good job to set up its story and demonstrate the types of humor to expect from the rest of the show. If you like it, it gets much better. If you don’t or find it questionable, be aware that this is the most sane and contained the show gets. Anything you don’t like will be magnified several times over by the end.

Full Review:

Kill la Kill starts as our protagonist, the too cool for school Ryoko Matoi, arrives at an island off the coast of Japan whose entire city is dominated by its high school, Honnouji Academy. The academy is run by its student council president, the sword wielding Satsuki Kiryuin. Satsuki and her Elite Four rule ruthlessly and control every aspect of the students’, teachers’, and town people’s lives. In particular, they hand out special Goku Uniforms (“god uniforms” is probably the best translation for these sets of clothing) infused with Life Fibers that give anyone wearing one superhuman powers. The worthier a student is, the more highly powered a uniform they are given. Clothing, as you’ll quickly see, plays a very large role throughout this series.

Ryuko arrives at the academy with a large case strapped on her back. Inside it is a huge scissor blade. She is carrying around literally one half of a pair of giant scissors which she uses as a sword. Thinking herself a badass, Ryuko determines that Satsuki is in charge and demands the Student Council President tell her everything she knows about her father’s murder. Turns out, Ryuko isn’t nearly as tough as she thought, and is quickly shut down and has the crap beaten out of her by one of the lower ranked school club presidents wearing his special boxing club Goku Uniform.

Ryuko retreats to the burnt down ruins of her father’s mansion only to accidentally find a secret underground lab filled with giant piles of discarded clothing. Still bleeding from her beat down, some of her blood drips onto one particular sailor uniform which comes alive and forces itself on her… yes, it literally grabs her and forces her to wear it. Ryuko finds that while wearing this living, talking, single-eyed uniform, and especially when she uses its power to transform into a much more skimpier version of the outfit magical girl style, she too is granted super strength, speed, and durability. She names the uniform Senketsu (meaning “fresh blood”) and together with it, challenges the boxing club president who beat her earlier to a new fight. Ryuko wins this rematch in ridiculously easy fashion. She destroys her opponent’s special uniform with a cut of her scissor blade and absorbs its power.

The first episode ends with Ryuko again demanding that Satsuki Kiryuin tell her who killed her father. From there, Kill la Kill goes to outright crazy places with a plot that is both stunningly wacky and unexpectedly well crafted. The goofiness in this show maxes out the extreme-o-meter, but so do its expertly hinted at twists and turns.

The show is very silly. Ryuko’s best friend, Mako, is a clueless, brainless girl who is always getting herself in trouble. She is always interrupting Ryuko’s battles to deliver some important message in the silliest, most wonky, most disconnectedly nutty ways possible that often help Ryuko overcome her current challenge. Mako’s family is equally wacky with her little brother always robbing everyone and her father acting as an incompetent, illegal, back-alley doctor.

But, what this show has, above all else, is an overwhelming sense of style. Although it doesn’t have anything close to to the budget of something like Demon Slayer or an entry in the Fate series, it puts every cent it does have to good use. Its action scenes are very well done. The fights in this show get so intense that a simple glare from one character can smash walls and send dozens of mooks flying. The effects work is top notch, too, with explosions and destruction ranging far and wide. Even the way locations, characters’ names, and random plot points are introduced with large blocky letters that slam onto the screen is both amusing and intense. And the soundtrack is freakin’ amazing. (If you don’t end up sing shouting “DON’T LOSE YOUR WAAAAAY!” during high action moments by the third episode, you ain’t alive.)

One other thing this show has is a best of the best English dub. This ranks up there with something like Steins;Gate or Cowboy Bebop, in that the show has an amazing voice cast and a dub team that wasn’t afraid to let the voice actors loose to interpret the original Japanese in fun ways. This means the dub isn’t a one hundred precent direct translation at times, but the English actors were allowed to make the characters their own in spectacular fashion without changing too much of the meaning. Let me put it this way: This is a show with a cast so good that it has Matthew Mercer in a secondary roll. (One that he does an amazingly silly job at, as per his character, by the way!)

A few words of warning: In addition to being highly silly at times, Kill la Kill gets a lot of use out of lightly sexualized fan service. You’ll see it almost immediately in the extremely skimpy natures of Ryoko and Satsuki’s transformed outfits. And it continues to ramp up as the show progresses. Often this shows up in silly, laughable ways like character dressed only in the bare minimum of gun harnesses or one character who continuously slides out of their clothes and does “sexy poses” for no real reason. But, there is one main villain who uses sex as a reward, punishment, and weapon at various points in the show’s second half in ways that might be disturbing to some. There is no actual nudity in this show, and even at its “worst” very little objectionable content is actually shown on screen, but it can get pretty suggestive when it wants to.

All In All:

Kill la Kill is one heck of an experience. It is loud and over the top to the extreme yet it knows exactly what it is doing and plays into it. It’s story is nothing less than absurd yet also has some awesome twists, reversals, and character moments any other show would die for. It’s art and animation is fairly low budget yet is deployed and managed so well the show somehow has some of the best action scenes in anime. And the dub is so good and the actors have so much fun that I fully recommend watching it in English instead of the original Japanese.

There are almost certainly Easter eggs and references all over this show but I didn’t catch that many. The one thing that I saw online that I thought was pretty cool is the very first time we see Ryuko transformed, when she is blocking the boxing club’s punches, a piece Ragyo’s theme Blumenkranz plays signifying that Ruyko is, in fact, her daughter. It pretty much takes a rewatch to notice this as neither Ragyo nor her theme appear again for several more episodes.