It is the only way to clear your conscience.
Episode summary: The COVERS begin to assimilate their human victims, which causes everyone to flee in terror. Unfortunately, Mako gets caught by one of the COVERS outfit. In one last ditch attempt to stop her mother and also save her allies, Satsuki presses a self-destruct button which causes the entire stadium go up in flames. We then fast forward a month where all that remains of Honnou Town are the grim specters of patrolling COVERS and street rats fighting to survive in the gutters. We then learn that the Four Devas have joined forces with Nudist Beach in an attempt to resist COVERS, but Ragyo’s nefarious plan has managed to crush every last academy in Japan.
Not only that, Ryuuko is in a coma and Satsuki has been imprisoned by her mother beneath the remains of Honnouji Academy. When COVERS locates the Nudist Beach base of operations, Gamagoori tests out their latest secret weapon: a vacuum gun that can extract humans from the COVERS, thereby saving them and disabling the COVERS at the same time. The COVERS then morph into harps so that they can play some sort of deafening song, but this somehow wakes Ryuuko from her coma. She then uses her Scissor Blade to extract a bunch of humans from the COVERS in one swing.
All is not well, however, when Ryuuko proclaims that she’ll never put Senketsu on again. Meanwhile, Ragyo intends to enslave Satsuki with a new Godrobe, but the latter swears that as long as she lives, she still has a chance of victory.
• In the Human/Life-Fiber hybrid, all that remains of the human itself is a shrunken, mummified head. As I have written before, this has terrible implications:
“The process of mummification involves the removal of a person’s organs, leaving behind only a lifeless husk albeit well-preserved. Essentially, what makes us human has been removed. Of course, no actual organs are being removed in the anime, but that’s why it’s a metaphor. Ragyo even alludes to this process of dehumanization herself: “Such wonderful silence… the cacophony spewed for by the foolish creature known as humanity fades away, and nothing but tranquil fibers will fill the world.” This is the end result of of the commodification of humanity itself. Humanity loses that which defines its nature: the ability to reason. Without reason, we can no longer defy and rebel. And through this process of mummification, Ragyo’s subjects become lifeless husks that can no longer protest. They’ve become the faceless employees of REVOCS, or in other words, the obedient zombie slaves of capitalism.”
Some key points are simply being reinforced, most notably how the victims are now “faceless.” Now that everyone has been reduced to the same shrunken head, they are indistinguishable from one another. The true test of COVERS’ powers, however, will be seen in its attempt to mummify Mako. She has been one of the more unique characters in the series. I mean, it’s hard to imagine a commodified, zombie-like Mako without any personality. After all, she has been nothing but exuberance personified. If COVERS manages to assimilate even Mako, then this is a frightening depiction of commodification reaching its logical end point. I have a feeling it will fail, however, as Kill la Kill does not seem to be either pessimistic or cynical.
• I still remain unconvinced that Ragyo is bending to the will of COVERS and the original Life Fiber. There are no signs that the original Life Fibers are even sentient. If Life Fibers exist to enhance, which makes sense considering the role Life Fibers have played in guiding human evolution, then perhaps it is plausible to think that the Life Fibers might also enhance one’s own moral character or, in Ragyo’s case, lack thereof.
Let’s suppose it wasn’t the Kiryuuins that discovered the original Life Fiber. Let’s say it had been another family instead — a benevolent family. Do you think the same COVERS plan would’ve taken place? Do you think we’d be watching the enslavement of humankind through relentless commodification? Essentially, I’m speculating that the Life Fibers are neutral. They have no skin in this game, so to speak; they exist merely to propagate their own existence and, at the same time, enhance whatever they attach themselves to. Ragyo is evil, so the Life Fibers in her possession are evil by extension. Ryuuko is… well, she is not exactly the paragon of morality, but she is ultimately a good person. And likewise, although Senketsu’s moral character was murky at the start of Kill la Kill, but it’s clear by now that Senketsu is one of the good guys.
• Ragyo: “Very few humans are merged this perfectly with Life Fibers.” If that’s the case, then I wonder what she failed to see in Ryuuko when the latter was just a baby.
• Damn, look at Gamagoori scream out for Mako. Maybe those shippers were onto something.
• A self-destruct button would suggest that Satsuki didn’t think her plan had a 100% chance of succeeding. Naturally, I have to ask how high she thought her chances were to begin with. She’s a confident girl so probably still north of 50%, but I wonder…
• Damn, a month has passed.
• The sight of the human-form COVERS floating through the city stalking for victims is kinda neat. All of a sudden, we’ve become a horror story. No longer do we think of the red strings of Life Fibers as being the red strings of fate. Instead, they look frayed and macabre and thus more akin to guts and gore.
• I guess the Four Devas have decided to join Nudist Beach. I can’t say I approve of Nonon’s new look:
Oh, I’m not really complaining about the fanservice. C’mon, if I really wanted to complain about the fanservice, I would’ve been ranting about Satsuki’s tremendous assets from last week’s episode. Rather, I don’t approve of Nonon’s new look because her Ultima Uniform was so stylish! I know, I know, the Four Devas’ uniforms contained Life Fibers, and considering the effects of COVERS, wearing an outfit made out of Life Fibers is probably a very bad idea. But c’mon… where’s your sense of style! Joking aside, there is nevertheless a poignant point to be gleaned here. Yes, the Life Fibers are evil, but they look so cool! The special abilities you get from wearing them don’t hurt either. So unless you prefer seeing a half-naked Nonon bounce around the anime, which I’m sure a lot of you do, she simply looked cooler in her original Ultima Uniform. But ah, that’s the thing, isn’t it? Isn’t it the case that we often choose to ignore the moral implications of our material desires?
Who cares if something comes from dubious origins so long as it’s cool! So long as it makes other people jealous of us! Oh, you say brand name products are being made in sweatshops? You’re saying that Apple electronics are being put together by overworked and underpaid Chinese laborers? On the one hand, that all sounds horrible. But on the other hand, these victims are in far off places and the iPhone just looks so damn neat! At some point, however, we can’t keep ignoring the cognitive dissonance forever. And eventually, the only way to clear our conscience is to be like Nonon: get naked. Not everyone wants to clear their conscience though.
• Too bad her new look doesn’t come with a new voice.
• So all that remains in Honnou Town are the street rats, i.e. kids who are forced to survive in the gutters. They are perhaps the least valuable members of a commodified society. They have no money to spend, and they are too weak to be exploited through labor (in a first world country anyway).
• It was a given that Sanageyama would lose his Ultima Uniform. Hell, I even voiced these same concerns last week:
“And yet they depend upon Life Fibers. That can’t end well. I wonder how or even if this apparent dissonance will be resolved.”
Like with Nonon, one way to resolve the dissonance is to get naked, either willingly or forcefully. Sanageyama tried to hold on to his Ultima Uniform for too long. Of course, Senketsu is an exception, but then again, Ryuuko herself is an exception. Everyone else sees their Ultima Uniform as nothing more than a tool to be used in combat. On the other hand, Ryuuko typically treats Senketsu as if he’s a friend or a family member of her own. Of course, it would be easy to tell the likes of Sanageyama to emulate the heroine of the story, but where would he begin?
• And this is what I mean when I said, “Not everyone wants to clear their conscience though.” Tsumugu wonders why there hasn’t been any media or public outcry from the COVERS incident. Aikuro explains, “The masses have already been mentally influenced.” Inumuta then adds, “Clothing made by Kiryuuin Ragyo’s REVOCS Inc. has spread through the entire population. The Life Fibers woven into them are manipulating the minds of their wearers and devouring any unnecessary information from their brains.” Yes, this is what is literally happening. But don’t forget that stories are also metaphorical, and the subtext here is that people are materialist.
Materialists don’t care what’s happening so long as they are satiated by their conspicuous consumption. Life Fibers literally “devouring [the] unnecessary information from their brains” is no different from people simply choosing to ignore that their precious, head-turning t-shirt came from a sweatshop in Bangladesh. You could say that the prestige they get from being able to wear such “fine” clothing also “devour[s] any unnecessary information from their brains.” Sad to say, the fact that people make pennies per hour in some third world country is often an “unnecessary information” to a lot us.
• So all along, sticking her students in the Ultima Uniforms was Satsuki’s way of building up their resistances to the Life Fibers. Kinda like that idea that you can build up your resistance to poison by swallowing a bit of it everyday day or something. But was it a necessary evil on Satsuki’s part? I have not been persuaded as far as this question is concerned.
• Sukuyo (to Senketsu): “If I were twenty years younger, I’d wear you in a heartbeat.” Nevermind the fact that doing this would probably kill her — I mean, it’s not like she’s aware of that — but let’s be honest, it doesn’t look as though she’s twenty years older whatsoever. In any case, we learn that Ryuuko’s been in a coma for the past month. We don’t exactly know why, but perhaps Barazo’s words can provide us with a clue or two: “But the wound from when her heart was pulled out has already healed completely.” Yes, that wound has healed, but what about her heart itself? It’s not everyday that a person learns that her mother is an evil witch hellbent on the enslavement of humankind. Not only that, she now realizes that her own father withheld a lot of crucial information from her. And finally, she actually got to see that her very own heart is made up of Life Fibers. As such, it’s not surprising that our heroine has been shocked into a coma.
• Geez Gamagoori, calm down: “Listen boy! I will rescue your sister no matter what! I, Gamagoori Ira, will devote myself, body and soul!” I guess there must’ve been hints about him and Mako that just completely flew over my head. Oh well, I’m not a shipper. I don’t really care who pairs up with who.
• I’m not a big fan of this scene between Ragyo and Satsuki. I like the caged bird metaphor the show’s got going with Satsuki, but it’s Ragyo’s lines that I take exception with. It just feels too unnatural. It’s more exposition than a natural conversaton: “So you planned to defeat me using students in their late teens, who hadn’t lost that resistance.” Why would Ragyo feel the need to say that out loud? I just think Kill la Kill has been pretty smart thus far, so this sort of madman villainy from our antagonist is lame and offputting.
• Plus, I still haven’t quite figure out Ragyo’s need to sexually abuse Satsuki. My best guess is that it plays into her narcissistic personality, i.e. it’s her way to dominate and shame a person that she had a hand in creating. Something like a perverse version of “I created you, so I can destroy you” that you often hear from certain parents. But of course, Satsuki is half Ragyo, so it’s also masturbatory in a way.
Something then occurred to me. Put yourself in Satsuki’s shoes. How would you feel as you’re being spanked like a child and sexually molested by your own mother? Possibly humiliated and ashamed, right? And what would be your first instinct? To cover yourself up, right? Ah, to cover yourself up in clothing. Well, the last time this same thing happened between these two characters, Ragyo’s words were pretty telling: “Humans are such fragile beings. When we’re naked like this, anxiety overcomes us. It makes us want to hurry up and cover our bodies in the wonders known as ‘clothes.’” So let’s think about what Ragyo is attempting to accomplish here. Her daughter had just rebelled against her a month ago. She thus wants to break her daughter’s resolve, hence “[h]umans are such fragile beings.” By forcing Satsuki to be naked, Ragyo can then prey upon her daughter’s flesh, and in doing so, she hopes that anxiety will overcome the girl. She wants to humiliate and shame her daughter so that Satsuki will, as Ragyo had claimed, “hurry up and cover [her body] in the wonders known as ‘clothes.'” Come back to clothes, she’s trying to say as she’s abusing Satsuki, “if you want to rid yourself of this shame.” But we can’t forget that Satsuki has a powerful resolve; she doesn’t care about the shame of being naked. As a result, one might naturally think she isn’t ashamed of her mother’s abuse either.
• That’s just nuts:
It’s also nuts that he can change his posture so easily. I cringed at the sound of his spinal bones cracking.
• So the initial speculation that Satsuki is still bound by her family’s legacy still hasn’t changed. Yes, she rebelled against her mother, but she failed. As a result, we get to see her bondage in several different ways. First, the obvious: Satsuki is literally bound by her wrists. Not only that, she’s trapped within a human-size bird cage. Second, she is bound by her anger towards her late father. After all, she never knew that Ryuuko had been her sister all along or that Nudist Beach had been her father’s creation. Finally, Satsuki’s bound by the Life Fibers once again. We learn this week that Nui’s working on creating the ultimate Godrobe, one that will force itself upon Satsuki. One can naturally presume that this new Satsuki/Godrobe hybrid will serve as a potent weapon in Ragyo’s arsenal should Ryuuko ever return to resist her and COVERS.
What’s been lost in all this sibling talk is how Satsuki must now feel after hearing all of these revelations. Somewhere deep inside her, I think she’s coming to the realization that she’s always been the inferior child. After all, Ragyo created a new baby simply because she felt Satsuki was too old for that experiment the evil woman attempted to fuse her children with Life Fibers. Granted, Ragyo thought the experiment failed with Ryuuko too, but as we can see from the start of this week’s episode, this isn’t the case. Ryuuko’s heart is living proof that the experiment — or some future iteration of it — ultimately succeeded. Not only that, Isshin, a.k.a. Souchirou to both Satsuki and Ragyo, escaped to raise Ryuuko in secrecy.
One thus can’t help but feel pity for Satsuki; it’s hard not to think she was abandoned by her own father. Of course, you can argue that he did what he thought he had to do. You can also argue that he put his faith in Satsuki to remain strong despite having to be in Ragyo’s care. But if you put yourself in Satsuki’s shoes, it’s hard not to feel as though she has been betrayed by her own father. And despite all of this — despite the impression that Ryuuko’s been the Golden Child all along — Satsuki still managed to achieve so much. And the key here is that she’s done it through the strength of her resolve and her resolve alone.
Satsuki’s story almost reminds me of Gattaca in a way. Gattaca is an American science fiction film about the implications of genetic manipulation. The main character was conceived through traditional means, and as a result, is seen as inferior to his brother, who had been conceived through genetic manipulation. In the end, however, it is the “traditional” brother who accomplishes more in life because we are more than what’s encoded in our genes. How is this relevant to Kill la Kill? You can already argue that Satsuki has been more successful than her little sister in life, but nevertheless, it is Ryuuko who gets to be the heroine of the story. What will Satsuki choose to do now? Will she continue to show that the strength of her resolve alone is enough to carry her through the end of the series? Or will she succumb to to her “inferior” genetics and become one of Ragyo’s pawns when she is forced to wear the new Godrobe? Naturally, I think Satsuki will win out against her mother, but we’ll see.
• Inou creates a giant vacuum gun that our heroes can use to extract the human victims from the human-form COVERS. How lucky of Gamagoori to save Mako on the very first use of the gun. I realize that’s why Guts was barking around that human-form COVERS, but still, you gotta admit that that’s one hell of a coincidence. On the bright side, the fact that Guts can still detect Mako shows that even the mass commodification of humankind can’t erase our humanity completely. As I said above, Kill la Kill does not strike me as a cynical or pessimistic sort of anime.
• Naturally, Ryuuko can accomplish the very same thing with her Scissor Blade and she’s a lot faster at it too.
• Unfortunately, our heroine is now suffering from an existential crisis. She can’t deny the pain and suffering that the Life Fibers have caused, but unfortunately, she sees herself as a product of Life Fibers. As such, Ryuuko hates herself, and her self-loathing extends to even Senketsu. Ryuuko is “genetically superior” to not just her sister but everyone else around her, and this is thus the source of her self-resentment. Her sense of guilt forces her to go naked even though she’s never had a reason to doubt Senketsu. But even though she’s technically going naked, she still covers her nakedness with a cloth and I think this is very key in understanding Ryuuko’s regression.
Ryuuko’s suddenly ashamed of her nakedness all over again like how she used to be at the start of the series. Contrast her behavior with Mako’s from just a few moments earlier. Although Mako was surprised to find herself in her birthday suit, she didn’t reflexively cover herself up as though she was ashamed of it. Ryuuko is ashamed, however, which is why it also makes sense that she then allows her anger to return and dominate her actions as it had once done so before. Finally, remember how Ryuuko was reluctant to wear Senketsu shortly after she allowed her anger to take control at the midpoint of the series? She now swears again that she will never put on Senketsu.
As for Satsuki, she’s the “genetically inferior” sister, and I would suggest that this is the potential source of her resentment. Throughout the series, her calling card has been the purity of her will, but now even that is being threatened. Ragyo taunts her for a reason: “…I suggest you bring the rage in your heart to a boiling point! The deeper your rage, the more useful you are to me!” Ragyo hopes that Souchirou’s apparent betrayal will cloud Satsuki’s heart and, as a result, Satsuki will become like her sister and act purely out of anger. This anger will then allow Satsuki to “get eaten by [Nui’s Godrobe].” Without her purity, she won’t have the same strength of resolve to resist the Life Fibers; she won’t be able to override it as she had done repeatedly with Junketsu. And again, Ragyo’s words are pointed: “Yes. [Satsuki] was dying to wear this outfit as soon as she could.” She wants her daughter to “die,” i.e. lose her resolve.
What Ragyo doesn’t realize, however, is that the “genetically inferior” sister is mentally stronger than she had predicted: “Damn you, Ragyo. You let me live so you could use me, did you? Well, that was a miscalculation on your part. So long as I still draw breath, I, Kiryuuin Satsuki, still have a chance at victory!” As Ryuuko’s foil, Satsuki remains resolute despite everything that’s been thrown at her in the past two episodes. One can’t help but think Ryuuko is too easily swayed by her emotions. Instead of seeing the Life Fibers within her as a blessing, Ryuuko sees it as a curse and gives up all too easily on not only her symbiotic relationship with Senketsu but her own self as well. Meanwhile, Satsuki never gives up. Even upon the realization that she’s all too human, she won’t be bend to anyone’s will but her own.