Damn, look at the paint job on that bike.
Episode summary: Mako tries to reason with Ryuuko, but the latter refuses to listen to anything that anyone has to say. She hates herself and intends to fight Ragyou all on her own. The rest of Nudist Beach resigns themselves to the fact that they’ll have to carry on without Ryuuko. Thanks to Inumuta, they discover that Satsuki is being held prisoner beneath Honnouji Academy, so Aikuro launches Operation Rescue Satsuki. In the end, they manage to save her without a hitch, but then again, it doesn’t really seem all though Ragyou was actively preventing them from doing so. Instead, our villain focuses her attention on bending Ryuuko to her will, which she manages to do rather effortlessly. Ryuuko is forced to wear Junketsu, which she then uses to attack her former friends and allies. Satsuki and Senketsu reluctantly team up in hopes that they can stop Ryuuko.
Notes & analysis:
• Fictional characters always claim that they’ve been living a lie just because they learned something new and unexpected about themselves. I gotta say I never like how this often plays out in most stories. Basically, Ryuuko doesn’t think she’s human because she’s part Life Fibers. But who cares? That’s just one aspect of her totality as a person. Everything she’s done up to this point — her memories, her accomplishments, her friendships, her values, etc. — is what should actually matter to her. Would you really throw it all away just because your heart is not made up of flesh and blood? And the companionship that Senketsu has provided her, is it worth nothing now just because Life Fibers are wreaking havoc elsewhere? I guess I’m disappointed in the direction that Ryuuko’s character arc has taken at such a late stage in the game. Had this occurred earlier in the series, I would’ve been more receptive to Ryuuko’s existential crisis.
• Ragyou taunts, “He treated his own daughter as but a mere tool.” But to be honest, if I end up being a tool for saving mankind from the enslavement of mass commodification, I don’t think I’d mind it too much.
• And once more, we return to Honnouji Academy to do battle.
• Well, if Trigger wanted to make Ryuuko unlikeable, they succeeded. I just don’t know where she’s coming from whatsoever. Against Aikuro, she accuses, “Deep down, I bet you were laughing at this freak of a girl.” C’mon now, is she really going to be this irrational at the 11th hour? I know it must be a shock to learn that someone like Ragyou is your mother, but this is just too much for me. Unfortunately, I can’t exactly root for Satsuki either because she’s fascism personified. At the end of the day, that leaves me with only Mako to cheer for.
• Oops, I guess I forgot about Senketsu. Other than the way he forced Ryuuko to wear him in the very first episode of the series, Senketsu has done nothing wrong. Unfortunately, the girl doesn’t agree. “I’ve never been human to begin with,” Ryuuko whines, but humanity isn’t the end all and be all of the discussion. The capacity to care and love isn’t exclusive to humanity. After all, I’m pretty sure our pets are perfectly capable of loving us (unless they’re cats). So it’s just too bad that our heroine hasn’t recognized something this obvious by the twentieth episode of the series. It really makes you feel as if all the time she’s spent with Senketsu was for naught. In Ryuuko’s eyes, Senketsu is guilty by association, which is just a shame.
• I mean, I’m sure she’ll come around before the story ends, but I’m just sayin’… I could tolerate this temper tantrum of hers had it occurred earlier in the narrative. At this point in the series, however, the conflict just feels contrived so that we can squeeze in one more battle between her and her friends. It would’ve been so much badass though if Ryuuko had shrugged it all off and said, “Who the hell cares what I’m made of or where I came from? I know who I am!”
• “Senketsu wasn’t the weapon created to kill his brethren!” Ryuuko argues, “It was me!” That’s true from a certain point of view. But you could also say that her purpose in life isn’t to kill the Life Fibers at all, but merely to prevent them from destroying mankind. She can either be a weapon against the Life Fibers, or a shield to protect those that she cares for. It’s really up to her. Unfortunately, our heroine’s existential crisis is preventing her from realizing that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.
• And thus Ryuuko returns to her life of being a wanderer. Or a ronin, if you will. In one fell swoop, she regresses back to how she started at the beginning of Kill la Kill: an angry loner hellbent on revenge. All that’s changed is her fighting capabilities. In that sense, she’s the one reducing herself to nothing more than a tool than anyone else.
• It’s interesting how Mako can now understand Senketsu even if she doesn’t actually know what he’s saying. I previously said that I think these two characters are the only ones in the show that I can relate to. I don’t think it’s an accident, therefore, that Mako now has the ability to understand Senketsu just shortly after the latter voiced his desire to follow Ryuuko no matter how much she rejects him. Despite Ryuuko’s immense hatred for both herself and Senketsu, the Godrobe won’t allow it to deter him from supporting his best friend in her greatest battle. I would thus speculate that perhaps he and Mako can now understand each other because they share a similar wavelength in terms of their love for Ryuuko. As the saying goes, love is a universal language.
• Ugh, Satsuki’s toenail scraping against the floor of her cell is like listening to nails going across a blackboard. Please stop. Finally, I’ve heard something more grating in this anime than Nonon’s voice.
• Somehow, Takarada makes a return to the narrative, and not only that, his conglomerate used every last penny in its coffers to equip our heroes with the S.S. Naked Sun, an impressive-looking ship by any measure. I guess if we’re going to use Life Fibers to fight against Life Fibers, it’s not too much a stretch to fight money with money. I mean, I’ll admit that my Kill la Kill posts have had a rather Marxist bent to them, but I don’t consider myself a communist or anything. I don’t think money is evil. Yes, greed is evil, but money is just money, and everything in moderation is the key to life. After all, I think we can all agree that Ragyou’s brand of capitalism is ultimately no good for anyone. If Satsuki represents political fascism, then likewise, Ragyou represents the truth of economic fascism.
• In defense of Mako, Gamagoori says, “Not even [Nonon] can pull out the earplugs she wears, for they are the earplugs of the heart.” Okay then…
• I’m caught in a bit of a quandary here. Despite still being bound by her wrists, Satsuki has no problems taking down any of the humanoid Life Fibers in her path. She thus feels the need to explain to no one in particular that her fake tonails are actually “made from the same material as Bakuzan,” and thus they are “more than enough” to defeat Ragyou’s army. At the same time, however, if she hadn’t explained this to us, we’d have no clue why her toenails can suddenly shred through Life Fibers so easily. So what is a writer to do? Shrug. Maybe it would’ve been more elegant for Satsuki to say nothing until she meets up with her allies. They will naturally ask, “Lady Satsuki, how did you manage to free yourself from your prison and fight your way through all the Life Fibers?” Satsuki can then give them the explanation instead of what she’s doing now, which is to apparently talk to no one in particular.
Or better yet, just have Satsuki think those lines in her head.
• “You’re lonely, aren’t you?” Nui asks, as she taunts Ryuuko, “You believed you were human, but you were kept alive by the same Life Fibers you considered your enemy. In that case, who exactly are your allies?” Yes, I’m repeating myself, but I just have to say that this dilemma is just so silly at this juncture in the narrative. Ryuuko’s allies are the ones fighting for justice. On the flip side, Ryuuko’s enemies are the ones committing evil deeds. It doesn’t matter what she or anyone else, i.e. Senketsu, is made of. All that really matters are the actions that people personally choose to take.
• Huh, I guess Nui too has a heart of Life Fibers like Ryuuko. Don’t tell me she’s also Ragyou’s daughter. Or better yet, maybe she’s a clone of Ragyou.
• “The only difference between us is that you grew within Lady Ragyou’s belly, whereas I grew within an artificial womb made of Life Fibers. That makes the two of us soul sisters.” Okay then. But wait a minute, does she nevertheless share a part of Ragyou’s DNA? Yes, she developed “within an artificial womb made of Life Fibers,” but the fetus had to come from somewhere, right? Its origins had to be human, right? I mean, she does bleed, which means she is part human. I wonder if Ragyou’s so twisted that she would make love to the Life Fibers and thereby create a hybrid. With anime, you never really know. But then again, Ragyou seems particularly proud of Ryuuko in a particularly motherly sort of way. Although they are allies, one can’t say the same for Ragyou’s treatment of Nui, so if we are to judge from that and that alone, it doesn’t seem likely that Nui’s even partly blood-related to Ryuuko. Still, you gotta wonder where that fetus came from…
• Plus, why does everything else about Nui heal up quickly except for, y’know, her left eye?
• It’s only fitting that Ragyou passes Junketsu on to Ryuuko. We’ve learned from last week’s episode that Ryuuko’s been the favored daughter all along. Remember, Satsuki has no Life Fibers within her:
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.
In some twisted corner of her mind, I’m sure Ragyou believes Satsuki rebelled against her because her firstborn daughter has “inferior genetics,” i.e. she not part Life Fibers.
• In a way, it’s kind of like playing with dolls, isn’t it? “You get to wear the pretty dress first. Okay, now take it off. Now you you get to wear the pretty dress.”
Note how Ryuuko’s now blushing, though. Does it bring anything to mind? It should:
“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.’” — Ragyou
• Ragyou then brainwashes her younger daughter. When Junketsu finished attaching itself to Ryuuko’s body, it feeds her visions of what her life might’ve been like had she stayed by her mother’s side. Of course, this is all hogwash. I doubt her life would’ve been this peachy:
But it’s clear what Ragyou’s attempting to do. She wants Ryuuko to believe that her father had betrayed her. Due to her father’s actions, she’s grown up without knowing the love and care of a family. This is why our heroine has been so protective of the Mankanshoku family to begin with. They’re the only family she knows. Of course, from our vantage point, we can clearly understand Souchirou’s actions; he had to do what he did in order to form a resistance against Ragyou’s plans for world domination. Still, Ryuuko’s mind is very clouded right now by her negative emotions. From her point of view, she had to go away to a boarding school only to return home to see her father murdered right before her very eyes. Then even after she made all these friends — in particular, Mako and Senketsu — she feels as though her father’s legacy, i.e. the scientific research that allowed him to fuse her body with Life Fibers, is ultimately responsible for her loss of humanity and thus her friends as well. Ragyou’s just hammering home on Ryuuko’s insecurities. As a result, the girl now believes that she could’ve had the pure love of a mother all along, and trust me, practically no one denigrates the pure love of a mother. Again, from our vantage point, we’re like, “There’s no fucking way Ragyou could ever love someone like that.” ‘Cause let’s face it, it was Ragyou who threw Ryuuko away in the first place. But again, Ryuuko’s in a vulnerable state of mind as evidenced by the tears streaming down her face:
Plus, having Junketsu choke the life out of you probably doesn’t help.
• So much for the S.S. Naked Sun. We just got introduced to it, and it’s already getting destroyed.
• For what it’s worth, Ryuuko with Junketsu is her worst look yet. No wonder Senketsu will win her back in the end. Style above all, yo. But in all seriousness, what we have here is the familiar case of one of the good guys being lured to the dark side, and his or her allies will now have to somehow convince our protagonist to return to the light. Hell, this same thing is also happening in Mahou Sensou, which we all know to be a terrible anime series. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not drawing this comparison because I want to say Kill la Kill is shit. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that originality isn’t everything. Instead, it’s how you choose to utilize these tropes in order to craft a story that is authentically yours. A trope can completely bomb in one show, and succeed in another.
• Man, this episode has been full of insert songs.
• And as Ryuuko’s foil…
…it’s only fitting (no pun intended) that Satsuki will now don Senketsu in order to stop her sister from destroying everyone and everything she once held dear to her heart.