「チャンスは一度」 (Chansu Wa Ichi Do )
“Once in a Lifetime Chance”

In recent weeks, one of the big things I’ve been pondering is whether or not Kill la Kill is truly as good of a series as many viewers (including myself), have said it is. Specifically, I was wonder whether or not I’ve been blinded by the flashy style Kill la Kill brings to the table and thinking it’s better than it actually is as a result. After much thought, I’ll freely admit that I have indeed been blinded somewhat, but it doesn’t make the series any less awesome from my perspective. Because although Kill la Kill doesn’t really do anything subtle at all, it’s so direct that I can’t help but like it—especially since it seems to be an obvious design choice on part of the directors. There’s just a certain charm that being direct gives this series—even though it may not be everyone’s cup of tea as a result.

Point in fact, the entire fight between Matoi and Gamagoori was an obvious reference to female stereotypes, and how people (men in particular) try to mold others (women especially) into the objects they desire them to be. It’s not exactly rocket science trying to decipher the message they’re sending here, but the way they demonstrate it—aside from mentioning it directly in dialogue—makes it vastly different from other series. One can argue some of these demonstrations are merely fan-service, but it’s arguably fan-service done right. That is, if you’re going to include fan-service, the least you can do is make it purposeful. And what Kill la Kill does is both make these scenes a relevant reinforcement of the topic they’re trying to discuss, while maintaining the appeal fan-service gives to those that will ultimately make this series profitable.

Either way, this episode also continues the debate as to whether or not Matoi is more of an anti-hero than anything. In many ways, she is. Her shredding of the order Satsuki and her Academy bring and the personalities of those under Satsuki’s wing can attest to that. At the same time though, it’s not as though Satsuki herself is the cream of the crop either. Because whereas we can see she’s doing all this in order to remake a currently flawed world, we can’t overlook the fact that there are many whose individual worlds were ruined throughout the process. Matoi’s world in particular is one example, and although it wasn’t a result of Satsuki’s direct involvement—at least, from what we know now—it makes it an interesting debate because they’re both fighting for something you can’t fault them for fighting for. It’s a classic “Does the end warrant the means?” debate.

Continuing along the personality front, perhaps the best thing this week’s episode ends up doing is letting us know how Gamagoori ended up the way he did—despite the episode’s obvious focus on the actual fight itself. And it was just a nice touch to see that he was someone who also fought Satsuki at some point—believing that her way of ruling by force was not the right way to go about things. It goes a long way towards showing why he ended up with the Goku Uniform he did, and the dialogue in particular—again, another direct demonstration—emphasizes how he does what he does because he expects others to follow in his example. Whether you believe his philosophy is correct is another story, but I think I can speak for most viewers in that the flashbacks we got this week did a great job in actually making me feel a bit for his character. Up until now, he was just the “ridiculously huge, kind of cool, sadist discipline guy,” and although he still theoretically is, he’s definitely more than that right now.

Looking forward, the King of the Hill “Final Battle” continues next week, and we all know what that’ll entail. Indeed, if there’s one other good thing the formula Kill la Kill uses brings, it’s the consistency in terms of what you can expect, and it should be quite the flashy show next episode as well. Here’s to the next fight and to more epic soundtrack pieces on the part of Sawano Hiroyuki.

Full-length images: 06.

 

Preview

48 Comments

  1. I think the molding into conformity is more generic than just women from a Japanese standpoint. In fact that social molding is something of a stereotype in and of itself.

    Gamagoori manages to be both an ‘S’ and ‘M’ at the same time. He’s also someone with a strong absolutist morality. Once defeated by Satsuki he becomes the perfect follower.

    There must be another arc/boss that hasn’t been identified. I don’t see how this can go on for another cour with just the fighting to defeat Satsuki and her minions.

    1. The way I see the pacing; ep.10 Data-guy, ep.11 Orchestra-girl, ep.12 Kendo-guy, and finally Satsuki in episode 13, making it the end of arc 1 and the end of the first season (since one season/cour can have a maximum of 13 episodes).
      So, from episode 14 and on, we’ll have the new season and new arc, with the murderer of her father as the new final boss (or so I think).

      livid
      1. I think Satsuki’s goal is not to defeat Matoi, but to make her become one of her elites. And that might not be so difficult to do, because it wouldn’t surprise me if the one who killed her father came from Nudist Beach.

        turin
    2. Mmm, you’ll note that I mentioned that the episode was about female stereotypes AND molding into conformity. The bit in the paragraph wasn’t meant to just be about females, but merely that that is one of the examples of molding in general and how we tend to expect and want certain things from others.

  2. Disagree with the gender analysis, it’s more generalized than that. Bear has it right in being about the members of society itself rather than how those members view themselves. The struggle Kill la Kill is portraying is that of the individual versus the community and which one has more value. Should the individual have more right to “be themselves” or should the needs of the community come first? At its core its definitely a subtle reflection on the herbivore phenomenon and the refusal of many of the upcoming generation to take on the responsibilities needed to secure the future of the state.

    Gamagoori’s philosophy is very much about the community, about the need for the individual to relinquish independence in return for security. His masochistic uniform is the embodiment of the individual’s transformation, his iron will the support one needs to walk down that path. In effect he is the best form of shield Satsuki could ever have, one who will not be broken by force or ideology and will not only destroy her opponents but remake them into an image they will come to adore themselves. It’s ultimately too why he lost. Gamagoori assumed he would never be beaten by someone with a half hearted raison d’etre. He forgot the principle that there is always someone out there stronger than you.

    Serious philosophy aside, it was hilarious having Gamagoori wear not one, not two, but THREE ball gags. He apparently also takes pleasure reverse role playing where the slave is actually the master punishing the master made slave, coupled with some serious self flogging and Bruno-esque dual bondage. I seriously wouldn’t be surprised if that is already immortalized as a plot line in some adult entertainment.

    Pancakes
    1. It does has more general elements yes, which is why I bought up the bit about how Matoi’s fight against Satsuki in the subsequent paragraph. The general thing is Matoi’s fighting for her own individual “world” after it was shattered, and Satsuki fights more for the overall world, or the “community.”

      And within all of this, there’s the undeniable stereotypes we have about females and how we see their roles, of which the blatantly sexualized nature of Matoi and the obvious references to that uniform refer to. Yes, it’s part of a more general topic, which I also mentioned (you’ll note that I said it was a reference to female stereotypes AND molding of others)… but I don’t feel like that means you subsequently can overlook some of the more specific, gender biased views people have regarding individuality as well.

      As for the ball gag, yeah I’m pretty sure that is. Lol.

    2. Although applicable, using gender to analyze the revealing nature of both Ryuuko’s and Satsuki’s uniforms only gets us part way. Ryuuko’s battle with Satsuki was not so much about how women are seen by others, but rather how the individual comes to see himself. Satsuki for example was never hesitant in revealing herself to others, she had clarity of purpose and belief in her supremacy. “Who cares if i’m revealing myself to others, it shows I have the strength to see my goals through by forsaking everything including my individuality. I am willing to sacrifice everything including my feminine chastity to build my world.” Compare that to Ryuuko who until that point was embarrassed by Senketsu, unwilling to make the same sacrifice which Satsuki made because that was a line she was not willing to cross. Only when Satsuki showed her strength did Ryuuko take the plunge, accepting that to succeed she must relinquish part of herself for the greater goal.

      This is why the gender argument is incomplete. While it can relate to Gamagoori’s attempt to mold the perfect female student, it does not explain why Satsuki easily embraces a role which Ryuuko wishes no part of (something most gender equalists would applaud). The best way to make sense of this would be to consider if Kill la Kill was produced by an American company. Both Satsuki and Ryuuko would be males in that instance, sans skimpy fighting wear. The only questions about gender to pop up then would be why there are no female leads.

      Pancakes
  3. the entire fight between Matoi and Gamagoori was an obvious reference to female stereotypes
    Really? It might be just me being dense, but the last thing I could think of during the fight is “Wow, this is some deep take on the female role in the society!”. The things I was thinking of were closer to “Well this is a nice take on Gamagoori’s role in the school” and “Oh those Trigger guys and their not-so-subtle jokes”. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes a shounen fight is just a shounen fight, even if it happens to involve a woman and a man with BDSM tendencies. If you want to dig deeper, dig towards Gamagoori’s role in the school and the role of disciplinary committees in schools.

    Up until now, he was just the “ridiculously huge, kind of cool, sadist discipline guy”
    Really? For me, he was one of the main reasons I was questioning Satsuki&Co’s villainy from the very beginning. Frankly speaking, there is nothing negative about him: he’s just doing his job, and doing it pretty damn well.

    if there’s one other good thing the formula Kill la Kill uses brings, it’s the consistency in terms of what you can expect
    I wonder how many people expect the scrawny intelligence guy to transform into a gigantic battleship sort of thing.

    SingerOfW
    1. It’s completely okay to feel differently by whatching this anime. I mean, maybe you love the flashiness, the fan-service or fast-paced action, and they feel more compelling to you. Or maybe not, and you want to pay attention to other things. Any anime that can appeal to a wide audience is worth to be watched.

      And when Zephyr wrote about the “consistency in terms of what you can expect”, I believe he was talking about the extrapolations this series brings, not about the specifics of each power or transformation.

      Bel
      1. Yeah, I wasn’t exactly disagreeing on both those points, just wondering how a single anime can be watched from so many viewpoints. You’re right, this is certainly a sign of a good series.

        SingerOfW
    2. Yeah there was no gender stereotype analysis in this at all. While reading Zephyr’s post, I said out loud “Huh??” when I saw that mentioned. It’s completely out of context.

      ergZay
  4. it seems like Satsuki is trying to test and maybe recruit Matoi to her side, rather than simply fight with her. it’s very similar to the way it has been with her current Elite 4.
    is she the anti-hero or not?who knows…but clearly that macro level in plot can wait for now, they are carrying it along the series so far with flashback, yet there will come a time when this pandora box will open.

    I guess it wasn’t surprising that Gamagoori will lose, but for now he is the most interesting fellow from all four.
    his uniform’s power definitely fits his perspective. he bears all the burden, and refuses to use force unless it’s necessary. in matter of fact, he was the first to fight Matoi because he fought with less students than the rest. we saw it last ep when he simply wanted to avoid fighting as possible by driving his car.

    I still don’t know what made him fighting in the name of Satsuki, but I don’t think he would give up his values that easily. again, it demonstrated that Satsuki isn’t necessary the evil here.

    and there is the teacher who tried to prevent “king of the hill” to happen. he almost helped Matoi in the fight, ended up not doing so.
    makes us wonder…maybe the whole plan is to make him interfere? I mean…there is no way Satsuki isn’t aware of him being a mole in school.

    the real fight/test begins now. Matoi can’t afford herself to give up or run away anymore like she did before. either she win, either she lose. there is no “trying later”.
    I wonder how KLK will manage with the fact that at least the next 3 eps will be somehow expected battles…or is there something hidden under the sleeve?

    thedarktower
    1. Grill-la-Hill, you need to do your homework better and read up on where those terms came into being (hint, read about the French Revolution). Right-Wing doesn’t mean “Freedom and Individuality”, it means the exact opposite, in which the government polices and enforces its definition of morality. You see this in right-wing states in the US (yes, it’s there, but nowhere near as bad as my other examples), in the Islamist nations (Saudi Arabia’s “morality police” is a prime example), we saw it in former Fascist nations of Portugal, Spain, Italy, Austria, Hungary (arguably today too, read about its recent constitutional changes in regards to marriage), and Nazi Germany (the Nazis called themselves a far-right party, as do their neo-Nazi successors), and we saw it in the Soviet Union and in China (in fact we still see it today; those nations were/are communistic only in name). Right-Wing is more about government control over the people and their behavior and relaxing controls over the elite than anything, and that’s been true ever since 1789 when the term first came into existence. Even the original meaning of Liberal (relax government controls over the economy) falls under the label of Right-Wing.

      Likewise, Left-Wing is more about economics and political representation for the non-elite, mostly for political gain of the left-wingers. Left Wing is about getting as many people involved in politics as possible (hence the reason why left-wing groups tend to monitor elections and cry foul over gerrymandering and voter ID laws), and “protecting” people from “devious” market practices (this is a more modern concept for this wing).

      The two terms are used 100% incorrectly by the American media and public due to plain old stupidity and ignorance of what the terms mean, which is why so many fools claim that right-wingers are all about independence and left-wingers want authoritarianism. Fox News is the worst in this respect, though MSNBC and CNN are bad too. If you live in the US, do yourself a favor and never again watch any of the TV new stations. Either way, if you’re going to spout stuff about politics, do yourself another favor and actually learn about the words you’re using and the history behind them.

      anon234
      1. Why don’t you do your own homework? The Left of the Revolution created the Terror (remember that from your history books?), the Left in the form of Marxist/Leninism killed more people than Hitler managed (“oh but you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet”). The problem is that the Left degenerates into what you see in the Soviet Union and China and Revolutionary France. Are you saying Lenin wasn’t a Leftist? Mao? Saying that they aren’t part of the Left is just trying to absolve the Left of what they wind up becoming. That is just hilarious.

      2. Your trolling won’t get you anywhere Bear. The Left is just as bad as the Right. In France, the Terror was mostly a result of leftists (aka the have-nots) taking revenge on the rightests (aka the haves), but if you want to put a political spin on it a somewhat accurate way to put it is “killing those who wish to deprive the people of their economic and political freedom”. Marx and Lenin were definitely leftists, but the nations they founded and inspired were actually ended up being ruled by right-wingers. I’d put put violent people like Pol Pot and Ho Chi Minh in the violent Left wing, like the French revolutionaries who ran around killing nobles. The goal of the Left is to remove social inequalities, which doesn’t mean that they can’t and won’t resort to violence to do so. The goal of the Right is to maintain social inequalities, and also won’t resort to violence to do so.

        The USSR that Lenin fought for was supposed to be a democracy where everyone voted on everything, and all profits were to be shared equally. After Lenin’s death, Stalin turned the nation into what was effectively a right-wing dictatorship where the new elites used the same tactics the Czar used, and paid lip-service to Marx so he’d still look like a Communist in the eyes of the people. Mao was a Stalinist, so while he also claimed to be a Communist, he set up the People’s Republic no different than your typical right-wing dictatorship in practice (anyone who uses the government to enforce morality is a right-winger, and that’s exactly what Mao did). Basically, those two claimed to be part of the Left, but everything about them and their actions blends perfectly with what motivates the Right. To say Mao’s and Stalin’s actions were motivated by removing social inequalities is laughably wrong. Those two may have said that in their speeches, but their actions prove otherwise.

        The key difference is their motivations. Left-wing violence is more about removing obstacles to “reform/progress” or whatever term for social change you wish you use. Right-wing violence is more about preventing changes and cementing the power of the rich and the political elites. Both Stalin’s and Mao’s purges were about cementing their power rather than killing opponents of change, because not much actually changed after the purges.

        Anyway, all of this is still relevant to KLK so far, in that Satsuki’s actions are right-wing due to her underlying motivation: remain in power, preserve a system of social inequality (that’s EXACTLY what the uniforms are for, and episode 7 illustrated that perfectly), and mold everyone to better suit her needs. If she were a real leftist, she would be tearing down the high school’s system, which is what Ryuuko is doing. I hesitate call Matoi a leftist though, as I find her to be more of an anarchist since she’s fighting the system simply for the sake of fighting it. The Nudist Beach faction seems to fit the leftist terrorist model in that they’re using violence to “fight clothing” (aka symbols of power in the show) and remove inequalities caused by clothing.

        anon234
    2. The problem with that argument is individualism is not limited to the Right and collectivism and authoritarianism is not limited to the Left. It was actually the Classical Liberals (think Locke) who first discussed freedom and liberty as a means of securing wealth arrived to by means of the rising prosperity of the merchant and craft middle class. Only recently historically has individualism become something of a Rightist ideal, held up as the light against the increasing tides of social engineering, expanding government, and greater state intrusion into the private sphere that are associated with Leftist thought.

      Likewise collectivism has roots both in the Right and Left. Communism is the best known example, but Nazism and Fascism both are ideologies centered around the collective. Marx’s Communism was about the collective community while Mussolini and Hitler focused on the collective state. Whereas Marx placed the community above all, desiring people place their collective security ahead of themselves, Hitler and Mussolini wished to mold their populaces around the concept of state, placing it above all with the citizen’s duty being to both protect and help grow the state. Surprisingly Stalin’s USSR was more in line with that of Hitler’s Germany than Marx’s dream, with the only difference being the ideological propaganda used to justify their actions.

      This is why Kill la Kill is a battle between the individual and community rather than one of right versus left. Satsuki is the god figure, the one who will change the world and bring about utopia, freeing people from the shackles imposed on them by evil (whether others, human nature, or political thought, the show has yet to comment on what she sees wrong with the world). She is rarely ever involved in the actual fighting, instead choosing to let her subordinates handle the dirty work. If you know anything of Hitler’s or Stalin’s inner court you can understand the reasoning behind this. Her underlings will compete amongst themselves to be better seen in her eyes. They know the price of failure, it’s why the every member of the Elite 4 wants to beat Ryuuko before the others, to be seen better in Satsuki’s eyes.

      The thing left unspoken in Kill la Kill is what world is Satsuki trying to create? Who benefits? Who will be required to shoulder the burden to hold up the new utopia? This is why I think Trigger is using some of the Code Geass playbook. It’s a very similar storyline, except instead of Knightmares, Geass, and the Brittanian Empire we have Uniforms, Life Fibres, and Satsuki’s school. In place of Lelouch we have Ryuuko, both trying to bring down an overbearing system for what are ultimately petty and naive reasons. It wouldn’t surprise me as well if Ryuuko’s father also happens to be related to Satsuki somehow and that both girls–if not sisters–might be cousins.

      It’s important not to get caught up too much the hot button ideology phrases as we have a habit of doing so over here in the US/Canada/Western Europe. Kill la Kill is very much a Japanese show and the biggest problem facing Japan right now is demographic collapse. Too many coming up onto their golden years, not enough youth to replace them and willing enough to take on their old positions. Kill la Kill is asking which has more right, the individual to do whatever they want, or the community in seeking to ensure its survival? It’s the fundamental question which has existed since the founding of human civilization.

      Pancakes
  5. @anon234

    Oh, so pointing out flaws in your comments is trolling? Basically, you seem to be saying that Left = good, Right = bad and if someone on the Left doesn’t fit your conception then they are on the Right. Somewhere along the line you might have missed the concept of “dictatorship of the proletariat”. Neither Russia nor China fit the model for the rise of Communism (i.e. an industrialized state) and both Stalin and Mao attempted to force them into one through collectivization. While you can claim the purges were about consolidation of power that does not explain the forced starvation of kulaks in the Soviet Union nor the Great Leap Forward in China. Many more were killed in the name of collectivization than in the purges. So much for removing obstacles to reform/progress. Same hold true for the Terror. The fanatics took power to implement their ideologies of equality. Killing multitudes was just a necessary evil.

    AFA Satsuki goes, her comments in junior high to Gamagoori don’t jibe with your statement. Her intent is to destroy the old corrupt regime and replace it with a student body that is molded into a uniform one. Shades of the Marxist “new man”. If her intent was to preserve the power of her elite then why the contest which allows students to attain a higher ranking through battle? A meritocracy of sorts though not one I would want to be in. Maybe once she has attained her goal the “state will wither away”.

  6. Man, for a show most people discard as a shallow, fan-service based action anime, there sure is a lot of human philosophy discussions buy us fans. Just look at all the walls of text we’re having here.

    livid
  7. I don’t think the purpose of the mold was to show how MEN mold WOMEN into place within society. I talked alot about it in my post (http://sekijitsu.com/2013/12/01/kill-la-kill-9-a-primer-to-bdsm-philosophy-and-a-kinkier-take-on-klk/) But, as near as I can the purpose of that sequence is to illustrate the way that authority is used to strip people of identity, while portraying the process as vaguely sexual.

    The reason I say this is that Gamagori and Ryuko don’t really have all that much interactions outside Gamagori’s role as the dipline and shield of Honnoji, and Ryuko’s role as the rebellious outsider. As such, in that sequence Gamagori was acting not exactly as himself, but more as an extension of the discipline of Honnoji Acadamy. Ryuko is out of lock step, time to crush her back into place.

  8. I can see the second half.
    Show Spoiler ▼

    Show Spoiler ▼

    pedobearmatt
  9. Definitely loved more of the story behind the man – in this case, Gamagoori.
    It is interesting that of Satsuki’s inner circle at least two have fought her initially. As for Matoi, she seems to be kinda V-style anti-hero destroying the system just due to personal revenge – in her case, it would be “My name is Matoi Ryuko. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Had Satsuki delivered her the info on the father’s killer – and I strongly suspect it was not Satsuki herself – Ryuko would probably leave Satsuki and her academy alone.

    ewok40k

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