Kill la Kill Episode 4: Overkill
Kill la Kill continues to out do itself week after week. I wasn’t sure just how the series could top the outrageous fight from episode three, but episode 4 managed to do so with ridiculous traps, characters and comedy. While not a lot in terms of plot happened, it was still a hugely entertaining episode.
No-Late Day is an annual event at Honnouji Academy. No-Star students cannot be late to class, or they risk being expelled. This sounds simple enough, but the Disciplinary Committee sets a huge number of traps that only the most skilled and determined students can overcome. Mako and Ryuko do their best to overcome the traps (which include massive boulders, a fake school and platforms hurtling down at breakneck speed), but this proves difficult as Senketsu is being washed by Mako’s mother, and to be delivered by her family. They’re also accompanied by another student, Maiko. Maiko turns out to be a member of the Disciplinary Committee who wants Senketsu for herself. She manages to get a hold of him, only to be immobilised because Senketsu has been sprayed with so much starch. Despite being flung to the bottom of Honnouji Academy, Mako and Ryuko make it just in the nick of time, by commandeering a shuttle and crashing it into the school.
This episode had me roaring with laughter because absolutely everything about it was ridiculous. From Mako’s freak out in the morning, to the obstacle course, to Ryuko’s entrance to homeroom. Again, it was a non-stop roller coaster of ridiculous action sequences, over the top situations and absurdity. It further highlighted that Kill la Kill has no intention of slowing down; even this “filler” episode is filled with energy and insanity. The background music was also hilarious because it was so dissonant, especially the classical pieces. The entire episode was just so well crafted and funny because it was a cohesive package. The team obviously made a lot of deliberate decisions both technically and in terms of the dialogue which are all rather extreme and don’t really look like they’re compatible, but really work well together.
One thing that you would have noticed is the drop in animation we saw in this episode. Viewers of Gurren Lagann will remember that the fourth episode of that series also featured a visible drop in animation quality as a commentary on the decline of animation quality after a few episodes in most anime. I don’t think the choice of animation was another commentary on that, but paid homage to the same episode of Gurren Lagann. The whacked out art style also reflected the equally whacked out events of the episode. It was probably also a way to reduce the budget, especially after the fight scenes from last week. By all accounts, Kill la Kill is operating on a fairly strict budget, so I think it’s fair to expect a couple of episodes like this one if we’re then treated to thrilling fight scenes we’ve seen previously.
The concept of No-Late Day is also an interesting one. Honnouji Academy distributes Ultima Uniforms on the basis of ability, and No-Late Day separates the wheat from the chaff. The students who remain are obviously superior, and thus candidates for Ultima Uniforms. As a number of people have pointed out, the One-Star students are all drawn the in the same manner and act much like a hive mind. However, they also have access to superhuman abilities and are fiercely loyal to Satsuki to the point of sycophancy. It makes sense that Satsuki would want capable students as part of her army, and by rewarding them for being superior, she essentially wins their loyalty.
Next week seems to be a return to (relative) normality. The animation has returned to normal, so hopefully we’re back on schedule for plot development. Even if we aren’t, Kill la Kill is still endlessly entertaining to watch.