Thursday, October 24, 2013

Nonsense and Sexuality: Kill la Kill and the Secret Genius of Hiroyuki Imaishi

So Kill la Kill arrived, it was everything it promised to be, the people cheered, anime was saved (from wha - SHUT UP ANIME WAS SAVED), and the haters proclaimed it to be to the worst thing since Attack on Titan (everyone's least favorite show, amirite guys?). But one quite common, and I suppose expected, refrain is "what's with the ridiculous uniform?".

Ten times out of ten I'd be with them, but this eleventh time is the drill that pierces the heavens and breaks the scale, and instead I'm breaking out a phrase I normally reserve only for Bakemonogatari, Madoka Magica, and Evangelion: "YOU JUST DON'T GET IT".

See, her boobs represent motherhood and the black and red

are symbolic of corruption, and it's all a critique of how

capitalism has destroyed our relational view of each other and

the world and replaced it with the commodification of life and


Even before the first episode dropped, this concept art appeared and drew more than a bit of consternation from some people, including me, but I held out hope and I'm glad I did, because once I saw Kill la Kill in motion things clicked together. Let's break this uniform down into its components and see if we can find the magic behind the nonsense. Luckily, it doesn't look like there are too many places it could be hiding.

First, Ryuko's wearing a bit more clothing than it at first appears, for two reasons. The first and less important is that Senketsu has to look like a school uniform when not being worn, which means he has to have sleeves. The second - as should be abundantly obvious if you've been looking at this picture for more than a second - is that this "armor" has been expressly designed not merely to be skimpy but also to incorporate a vast array of fetishes, from the heels to the skin-tight leather on the arms to the stockings (mmm...) to the garter-belts, to name just a few. Rather than generous cleavage, Ryuko's outfit includes that most mysterious of contrivances created in the murky past of graphic art: the underboob. (Incidentally, does anyone know if that's physically possible? Maybe with a lot of tape...)

The design of this uniform also brings a decades-long trend to its illogical conclusion: a miniskirt that's actually shorter than the underwear beneath it. The parts that are wearing underwear anyway - while from the front the armor provides a permanent pantie-shot, the back provides nothing at all. Trust me, I went through the TRULY ARDUOUS task of checking the episode frame by frame, just to make sure.

The fact that on top of all this, this is somehow still a seifuku - a school uniform - just hammers home how nonsensical this design is from conception to keyframing.

This piece of fanart helpfully highlights

both the classic seifuku parts of the design

along with certain other, um,aspects.

All this comes together to create a design far too overwrought to be called "sexy", but that doesn't stumble into the grotesque and somehow fails to be "degrading". It's nothing but raw absurdity. In other words, it's hilarious.

Because as should have been obvious from the very first frame, Kill la Kill - just like Gurren Lagann before it - isn't a condemnation of the elements it incorporates but rather a celebration: a wild outburst of passion and sincerity with at least as much self-worth and self-confidence as what it gently mocks, created by someone who has discovered the cogs of trope and cliche behind stories and - instead of rejecting them - waves them over his head, boldly proclaiming their existence.

In short it is - to borrow some phraseology from NisiOisiN - a FAKE MORE REAL THAN THE ORIGINAL.

Who the hell do you think Trigger is!?
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