Kill la Kill Episode 8: I’ve Been a Bad Boy
Satsuki announces the “Naturals Election”, in which students compete against each other in a week long, all out brawl. Those who emerge victorious lay claim to their opponent’s Ultima Uniforms, and the most successful combatants are eligible for a position amongst the Four Devas. Uninterested, Ryuko and Mako treat the Election as a week long holiday. They go to investigate Ryuko’s old house, but find nothing. Their transport breaks down on the way back, and in a shout out to Revolutionary Girl Utena, they get a lift back with Gamagoori Ira. Along the way, Gamagoori is attacked by other clubs trying to claim his Ultima Uniform. They are unsuccessful, as Gamagoori bears their attacks (and enjoys it a little too much) and displays his power. The Election concludes with a reduced student population, and Ryuko challenged to a King of the Hill battle against the Four Devas.
These character focussed episodes of Kill la Kill have fleshed out the characters quite well, and it’s been very enjoyable getting to know the characters better. This week, we find out more about Ryuko’s past, as well as Gamagoori’s.
Ryuko’s mother died at a young age, and he father was distant. She rebelled by becoming a delinquent, and the last time she saw her father was when he was on the verge of death. He tried to impart some words of advice to her, but in her rage at seeing her father dying, she chased after his killer before he could finish what he was saying. This gives Ryuko’s motive to find his killer a twist. Not only does she wish to discover who killed him, and why, but also to find out what he tried to tell her. Her revenge is mixed with regret.
Likely the information related to the Kiryuins and their plans. The girl leaping away from the murder scene definitely resembled Satsuki, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were someone else. Not only that, but the basement at Ryuko’s house has been entirely cleared. But by whom, and for what reason?
The focus on Ryuko’s backstory also gave focus to how much Mako and Ryuko value each other, and how Mako has come to see Ryuko as family. In a series which generally goes for over the top and crazy, it was nice to see Mako reassuring Ryuko she wasn’t alone in a calm, quiet way. It added a poignancy to the scene.
Gamagoori’s past and character was also explored more this episode, and it seems that the guy is a masochist! I can’t say I was expecting that, but it does seem that this fetish influences other aspects of his character. A masochist heads the Disciplinary Committee because he is so passionate about discipline, and who better to serve up appropriate punishment than a masochist? It also brings in to play the concept of submission versus dominance, and Gamagoori seems to fall on both sides of the spectrum. He certainly demonstrates dominance over the general student population, but this is only because of his submission to Satsuki and her system.
As a person, Gamagoori is definitely not a bad guy, despite his undying loyalty to Satsuki. He agrees to give Ryuko and Mako a lift back to Honnouji when their scooter breaks down. The flashback to his past also shows us that he does care about students and won’t tolerate bullying. Perhaps his passion for rules is fuelled by his desire to prevent people bullying other through strict control of their actions? Regardless, this episode humanised Gamagoori, rather than having him continue to just be a stickler for rules. It also served to introduce more sexual elements to male characters, and also demonstrate characters taking ownership of these elements, rather than be ashamed of them.
The flashback to Gamagoori’s past also gave us an interesting insight into how Satsuki views power, her control over Honnouji and the structure of the system. Satsuki differentiates herself from the population in that she acquires power rather than leeches it. Her valuing this can again be seen in the structure of Honnouji Academy. Students who can utilise their own power quickly rise to the top, while those who cannot, or leech off of others, are destined to fail. But in the end, the majority of people are still leeching off Satsuki’s power. She is the one who grants them Ultima Uniforms and their living quarters, and so she still views them as pigs who leech off her.
Which brings us again to the Naturals Election (which is very punny). Again, Satsuki tests the resolve and power of the students to cull the useless students. I also think it serves as a pretext to get the Four Devas to battle Ryuko and possibly not demote them should they fail; Satsuki hasn’t expressly said what will happen to the Devas should they fail.
However, it’s certainly exciting to see what will happen next. The prospect of Four Deva battles is amazing! How will Ryuko fare against the onslaught of four continuous battles? And if Ryuko does fight and defeat Satsuki, will that see the end of the Honnouji Academy arc? I’m inclined to believe that may happen, as we have five episodes until halfway; one for each Deva and Satsuki, which would be a perfect mid-series climax. At this stage, though, who can predict what Kill la Kill will throw at us?