Kill la Kill Ep. 25: Sea change at Honnouji Academy

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Y’know, I like Kill la Kill, but… I was satisfied with the way the series ended. And by this, I mean was satisfied enough to move on from the story. I don’t feel the need to watch another minute of Kill la Kill. I guess it’s nice that we got this 27-minute OVA, but I’m just not excited to watch it. It’s like when you’ve eaten a hell of a dinner, but the chef feels the need to trot out yet another course. Yeah, I realize it’s been months since I last watched a minute of Kill la Kill, but I still feel full, if you know what I mean. I feel satiated. I’m not hungering for more the story, especially when Senketsu is dead. He is dead, right? You’re not going to drag him out of thin air just for a single OVA, right? But hey, maybe this 25th episode can convince me otherwise. So have at it, Kill la Kill. Convince me that this OVA meaningfully adds to what I’ve already consumed and enjoyed.

— So the episode kicks off with Sanageyama challenging Satsuki to yet another battle. It’s to settle the score between them, y’see. Of course, Satsuki barely has to do anything and she still wins. Or to put it more accurately, she has no resolve to fight, and this makes Sanageyama want to give up too. I’m not surprised by this; It’s time to move on. Satsuki had to stop Ragyo at all costs, and with Ryuuko’s help, she did. But with the death of the mother also comes maturation. In a way, Kill la Kill is just another stylish coming-of-age story. Ryuuko and Satsuki basically cast off their overbearing mother in order to make their own choices in life. And now that Ragyo’s dead, it’s time to move onto adulthood. It’s time to leave your uniform behind, to leave your high school behind, and to leave these petty schoolyard fights behind. I wouldn’t say Satsuki lacks resolve. I’d say she’s just trying to move on and grow up. It’s not that she’s done fighting; she’s just done fighting these battles. Everyone is still wearing their school uniforms more or less. Satsuki, however, is in a simple robe. And that’s not surprising at all.

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— Oh yeah, judging by the way Satsuki’s hair is still long, this OVA takes place before ending sequence in the original series’ final episode.

— I’m more surprised no one’s bothered to wipe the blood off those overgrown barbs in the background. Seriously, can we get some help around here or what?

— Kinda sad that not a single person is rooting for Sanageyama. Kinda funny too, but sad.

— I don’t see any changes in the OP. That’s kind of disappointing. I guess I just expect a new OP for every new stage in the story, I guess, and the OVA should be distinct from the second cour of the original series.

— Watching everyone in the slums pack up and leave, it’s sort of funny. I wonder if Satsuki ever feels guilty about the way she had enforced harsh class stratification on her society just to separate the weak from the strong. I suppose you could always hand-wave this away by claiming that even the people in the slums never really suffered. Just look at the Mankanshoku family. They’re always happy as clams. On the other hand, the guy who stole the Goku Uniform definitely seems to have lost his life, though.

— Aikuro pays Ryuuko a visit to see if she’s okay with moving on with life even though she still has Life Fibers within her. I thought we settled that matter already…

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— So far in the early going, this is like one of those extended epilogues that tells you all about what everyone will be doing after the story ends. Basically, moments like these are only here to please the fans and give them more fodder for their fanfiction stories. I don’t personally need to know that Gamagoori will be working in the iron works, nor do I need to know that Jakuzure will inherit the Jakuzure Corporation. But obviously, I can’t speak for the average Kill la Kill fan.

— According to Ryuuko, Satsuki is still trying to put down her sword for good. I guess it’s a bit of an existential crisis, but what’s the hurry? The episode even said that it has only been two weeks since Ragyo’s demise. Hell, most of us have never had to go to battle for any reason, and we still don’t know what we want to do with our lives. Why should Satsuki have to make her decision so soon?

— You could even argue that she needs to “mourn” her mother’s death in a way. I’m not saying she should cry buckets of tears over Ragyo’s death, but still, the lady was an important figure in Satsuki’s life for nearly two decades. I’m sure she feels free from her mother’s bondage, but at the same time, it’s a sea change that you need to process. Two weeks don’t really cut it.

— But unfortunately, Satsuki won’t get the chance to relax…

— In fact, “shadow versions” of the Elite Four show up too. As a result, the battle rages on. It’s like the past doesn’t want to let go of the present.

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— Here’s your palette-swapped version of Satsuki in her Junketsu. It’s like I’m playing an MMO all over again.

— The villain of this OVA? It’s none other than Hououmaru Rei, a.k.a. Ragyo’s fanatically loyal secretary. You didn’t think Ragyo or Nui would be making a comeback, did you? But at the same time, it’s just Rei, so it’s like, “Really? Not only are you fighting shadow version of ourselves, the big bad baddie is just the secretary?”

— The episode keeps repeating Rei’s previous defeat over and over, so the more I see it, the more comical it gets.

— I guess you could say Rei is haunted by the fact that she can’t move on with life on her own terms. Ragyo and Nui got to die for their cause, so even in death, they got to go down in a blaze of glory. They died fighting for what they believed in; their deaths symbolized their cause, as misguided and evil as that cause was. But that’s the thing: Rui believed in that cause just as much as they did. She, however, didn’t get the same meaningful, martyr-like death. Her story thus lacks closure, so I guess there’s nothing better to do than to prevent others from getting their closure as well. As a result, the past comes roaring back to haunt our heroes in the form of their shadow selves. I mean, if you think about it, just because the Elite Four are ready to move on doesn’t mean the rest of the school is too, y’know? Like I’ve said, a good portion of the society was forced to live in the slums. Satsuki and her small circle dominated this school for a long, long time with an iron fist. And now they’re just going to live the rest of their lives out in comfort? Where’s the justice in that? Don’t you guys need to repent for your crimes?

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— We then learn that twenty years ago, Ragyo, in a navel-bearing tank top and loose camo pants, had saved Rei from some indistinct African nation. The thought of this alone is comical, but let’s just go along with it. Anyway, the point is that Rei knows firsthand what it’s like when the strong prey upon the weak, and maybe if Ragyo had succeeded in her plan of turning everyone into Life Fibers, then equality would be achieved in some twisted, scorched earth sort of way.

— Rei activates the school’s Final Defense Apparatus, something which the good guys never got the chance to use in the final battle against Ragyo. Satsuki tells Rei that if she dies, then the Final Defense Apparatus would stop working. Rei has come prepared with a back-up plan, though. For some reason, Mako can also be used to activate the damn thing. Well, she’s always had a surprising amount of strength. She simply spent 90% of the original series as a noncombatant because she never felt the need to fight.

— Rei comes right out and explains that the shadow versions of Satsuki and the Elite Four are merely physical manifestations of the fear remaining in the hearts of the No-Star students. Like I’ve said, it never really made sense that Satsuki and crew never had to pay for their crimes. Sure, they did what they thought they needed to do in order to build an army strong enough to resist Ragyo, but at the end of the day, a lot of people suffered under Satsuki’s fascist rule.

— The OVA is being too obvious about it, though. Rei ends up talking too much and not letting the action speak for itself.

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— Mako does her usual thing of being wacky, adding levity to counterbalance the show’s seriousness. She reasons that the Elite Four, as a whole, are better people now than they were before. Eh, so what? I still think some sort of reparations to the No-Stars are necessary. Simply becoming better people doesn’t absolve you of your sins. But in the end, like always, Mako’s words inspire her friends to fight.

— Then out of nowhere, the spirit of Senketsu summons the Scissor Blades from the deep of space and into Ryuuko’s hands.

— Needless to say, the Scissor Blades undergo yet another ridiculous transformation in order to defeat Rei once and for all. And just like that, Ryuuko cuts through the school with her giant pair of scissors, and frees everyone from Honnouji forever.

— Meanwhile, Satsuki shows her maturation by not fighting back at all. Instead, the once combative Kiryuuin tries to use words and words alone to reason with Rei: “I can’t imagine what kind of hell you’ve lived though… But because people don’t understand, the world needs you.”

— I know a lot of people like Rei feel that they can only strike back against the privileged by resorting to violence. And y’know, for a lot of people, their lives are threatened each and every single day. There’s no denying that. Living our normal, privileged lives, we’ll never know what it’s like to fear for our safety every single waking moment.

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So yeah, we do need to take a step back and listen to the people who have been through hardships we’ll never have to face. And I’m not talking about the first world activism that seems to dominate the Internet as of late. I’m talking about the real shit in far-off countries, stuff we never hear about unless we actually look for them. Stuff that don’t get any airtime on TV.

— But in the end, Rei is just lucky. She manages to stumble upon Satsuki, one of the few people in the Kill a Kill universe who is not only willing to listen to what she has to say, but strong and influential enough to do something about the injustice in this world. The episode thus wants to end on a hopeful message, but instead, it leaves me in a strange place. Why? Because I know it’s just not that simple. And an anime telling me otherwise won’t magically hand-wave away the misgivings I have about the real world problems that Rei’s character merely alludes to. Just like how the Elite Four magically becoming better people won’t fix all the problems of the past, there aren’t Satsukis in the real world for the downtrodden to depend on. That’s not even to mention the fact that the downtrodden don’t really want to put their fates solely in the hands of great men and women anymore.

— Satsuki finally cuts her hair short.

— Final word? There’s a lot more of the same for Kill la Kill fans to enjoy. All the familiar characters and their familiar mannerisms are back. Only Satsuki undergoes any major character development, if you think about it. So if you enjoy over-the-top shounen action and a reunion with some old pals, then the OVA won’t disappoint.

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Storywise, the OVA is potentially thought-provoking at times, but it doesn’t quite hit the spot. Everything’s resolved in a very simplistic manner, but then again, that’s just Kill la Kill‘s schtick. The anime is certainly smarter than the average shounen, but like most of us, it can only rely upon hopeful platitudes at the end of the day. Take that for what it’s worth. For a lot of us, I suspect this is hardly an issue to worry about.

15 thoughts on “Kill la Kill Ep. 25: Sea change at Honnouji Academy

  1. Anonymous

    Kill la Kill can be fun, thought provoking, or whatever you want it to be, I think that’s one of its biggest charms.

  2. BoyTitan

    You seem to have a pessimistic view on the worlds problems. If good people rose to power the world would be a better place. Even in 3rd world countries their biggest issue is the improper distribution of wealth. The rich live great while the poor literally die. Humans are not actually over populated there is enough food and shelter to go around etc a lot of the worlds problems can be solved its just no ones really trying to solve em.

    1. E Minor Post author

      Even in 3rd world countries their biggest issue is the improper distribution of wealth.

      It’s a big issue, but it isn’t the only issue. For example, longstanding tribal conflict won’t be resolved by a mere proper distribution of wealth.

      a lot of the worlds problems can be solved its just no ones really trying to solve em.

      I never said the world’s problems can’t be solved. I don’t know where you got the idea that I’ve said this. I’m just saying that Kill la Kill makes solving problems look easy, which they are not and this is the one quibble I have with the anime as a whole. Furthermore, you call me cynical, and yet you assume that no one’s really trying to solve the world’s problems. That’s just ridiculous. There are very smart people working around the clock on these issues. It’s just not that easy.

      1. BoyTitan

        I meant to say majority wise as in the the people instructed to lead countries. I feel it is good for the anime to make things seem simple it just felt like a well comforting story that way. Idk I really love the simpleness in the series.

        1. E Minor Post author

          Idk I really love the simpleness in the series.

          And I’m disappointed Kill la Kill couldn’t do more. Different strokes for different folks.

  3. higgsbosoff

    Personally I liked the closure they gave to the series – also acknowledging Satsuki’s regime and its effects. In a sense I think I get the message here – if you hang onto the past (as bad as it can have been) by for example looking for revenge, nothing good’s going to come out of it. The whole ‘the Elite Four are better now’ thing might look simplistic, but it’s true that killing/punishing them wouldn’t change much. You can’t be all buddy-buddy with them if you suffered because of them in the past maybe, but tolerating their continued existence as long as you don’ have to cross their way again would probably be good enough.
    Of course, as you mention, it all was pretty simplistic, but still a tad more thoughtful that the average Kill la Kill and it wrapped up some hanging threads (…see what I did there?), all while being fun as usual (which you didn’t comment on but really… Mako doing the whole Halleluja speech thing with the Giant Robot Academy? Inumuta shutting his own clone down by simply pressing the power button? Elite Four DTRs? I laughed a lot), so I was satisfied.

    BTW I didn’t catch this at first, but the whole ‘scissors from space’ thing is apparently an End of Evangelion reference (what isn’t?). The Lance of Longinus scene. They do look pretty similar, in fact.

    1. E Minor Post author

      but it’s true that killing/punishing them wouldn’t change much.

      but tolerating their continued existence as long as you don’ have to cross their way again would probably be good enough.

      Who said anything about killing them? Those like Jakuzure and Satsuki are pretty rich though. They can afford to help the people they’ve hurt. I think it’s too easy to rule people like fascists then turn around and say, “Look, punishing us won’t help any…”

      which you didn’t comment on but reall

      Well, I didn’t comment on them ’cause they didn’t make me laugh.

      1. higgsbosoff

        Well, I didn’t comment on them ’cause they didn’t make me laugh.

        Guessed as much. But I think most KlK fans appreciate that side as well. It is shallow, as you pointed out, but in the context of its cartoonish reality that makes it fine for me. Kinda like I wouldn’t go question the weak ethics in a Looney Toons show.

        The gist of it is, of course it’s more complicated, and of course I’d expect a more realistic show to deal with it in a better way. I’m just pointing out that that’s the bare bone message – stylized as the art and anything else in this anime. Of course IRL there are “ifs” and “buts” to it, which is worth of analysis in its own right, but this anime ain’t the best place to do it – it would have looked downright awkward to go all gloomy at this point, in fact. On the other hand, something like Aldnoah.Zero is putting itself in the position of trying to tackle the same issues with more seriousness – and will suffer the much more if it will just handwave them away at the end (and I’m afraid that’s exactly what it’s going to happen).

        1. E Minor Post author

          Kinda like I wouldn’t go question the weak ethics in a Looney Toons show.

          Can’t really compare Kill la Kill to Looney Tunes. I just think it’s lame that Kill la Kill gets to sit in this in-between zone where it’s serious enough for people to wax poetic about its symbolism, but silly enough that any attempt to criticize it is met with “You’re taking it too seriously” or “You wouldn’t question the weak ethics in a Looney Toons show.”

          Of course IRL there are “ifs” and “buts” to it, which is worth of analysis in its own right, but this anime ain’t the best place to do it – it would have looked downright awkward to go all gloomy at this point,

          Making a lot of assumptions. I didn’t say anything about going gloomy. I merely think it’s lame to raise complicated issues, and take a simplistic approach to solving them. You say this anime isn’t the right place to ask these questions, but I didn’t conjure these questions up out of thin air. I’m fine with the anime taking a simplistic approach, but then don’t raise difficult issues that require nuanced answers. It’s almost offensive in a way. But I think this is fruitless. You won’t change my mind and I won’t change yours.

          Anyway, I think lately you’ve been a contrarian every time you’ve commented, and I find it pretty annoying.

          1. higgsbosoff

            Uh? I wasn’t being “a contrarian”. But it makes sense that one would comment mostly when there’s something to debate/analyse more in depth rather than just say “Yeah, I totally agree!”. Honestly, I simply feel like sometimes you do take this stuff too seriously, I wouldn’t read your blog or comment it if I thought what you write is always wrong or even simply uninteresting, would I?

            I completely understand where you’re coming from with Kill la Kill, and I am the first one to not think that there’s ALL THAT symbolism to be dug out – lots of graphical references to various stuff, true, but not an especially deep meaning planned behind all of it. But then again, Evangelion got away with randomly shoehorning crosses and Kabbalistic terms in a giant robot show, so… In the end I think it’s also a matter of gut feeling – if you don’t find KLK fundamentally *funny*, which really is its main aim imho, then it’s harder to forgive its misgivings. About the ‘gloomy’ part I never assumed that’s what you meant, it’s just that I can’t imagine how the show would tackle those issues without dropping its whackiness a bit. So it’s part of my mental picture, I wasn’t attributing it to you.

            1. E Minor Post author

              Uh? I wasn’t being “a contrarian”. But it makes sense that one would comment mostly when there’s something to debate/analyse more in depth rather than just say “Yeah, I totally agree!”.

              Plenty of people disagree with me. You do it in a way that annoys me. Like seriously, drawing an analogy to Looney Tunes?

              Honestly, I simply feel like sometimes you do take this stuff too seriously,

              That’s all I need to hear. I could easily accuse people of not taking things seriously enough, but I don’t go there. I chalk it up to a difference of opinion. But at least we now know where we stand.

  4. Jovian Dreamer

    I was disappointed with KLK. And not just because my Satsuki x Ryuko thing was ruined. It felt like it was going to be something like a shounen version of Utena but still with girls. If not that, it at least seemed to be more promising than the, in my opinion, “good but not great” anime it ended up being. It was a shounen, albeit with a twist and done pretty well for what it was, but not much more. I was expecting more.

  5. Good Taste

    This entire episode just felt so pointless. I wonder if this is the end of the franchise? At least it looks like Trigger still has some potential.


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