Kill la Kill Episode 9: Whipped Into Shape
Ryuko and Gamagoori finally duke it out at the Naturals Election this week. Ryuko believes she has the upper hand, having seen Gamagoori’s Ultima Uniform previously. But he reveals that he is capable of punishing and disciplining himself to unleash the power of his Ultima Uniform. Overwhelmed by Gamagoori and his attempts to literally mould Ryuko into the perfect schoolgirl, Senketsu transforms into a bladed variant of himself, tearing Gamagoori’s uniform to shreds. Shamed by his defeat, Gamagoori attempts to kill himself, but is stopped by Satsuki. Eager to continue, Ryuko calls upon the next Deva to fight, which is Inumuta.
It appears these episodes featuring the battles with the Four Devas will not only serve to provide us with awesome fight scenes, but to further explore the Devas’ characters and the nature of their relationships with Satsuki. We saw this week how Satsuki and Gamagoori came to be partners, and we gained further insight in to how Satsuki treats the Devas differently to the general student population. The Four Devas have been specifically chosen by Satsuki because of a particular talent or trait they possess; one which will help further her cause, yes, but also one she can help them develop.
For Gamagoori, it was his indomitable resolve and desire to see rules enforced. Satsuki recognised this as useful in her campaign, and has given Gamagoori the opportunity to further strengthen his resolve.
But how does this differ from Satsuki’s treatment general student population? Is she not just using them? Well, sort of. However, the Devas, unlike the rest of the students, play a direct role in both the governance of Satsuki’s system and further establishing it. Because of this, the Devas are shown a level of care not afforded to other students at Honnouji. The general students clamour for ranking out of their greed and desire for power; Satsuki gives them the chance to gain material goods in order to control them. However, the Devas are offered the chance to better themselves, which in turn benefits Satsuki. Satsuki could simply discard the Devas following their loss, but she chooses to allow them to remain by her side because by allowing them to lose to Ryuko, she has given them a chance to grow. Satsuki helped them rid themselves of their weakness. Sanageyama was rid of his arrogance and dependence on Heaven’s Eye in episode 6, and in this episode, Gamagoori was rid of his misplaced belief that his resolve and disciple were capable of overwhelming anything. Satsuki directly placed these two in situations which would fuel this growth, thus aiding the Devas as well as her plans.
This relationship of mutual benefit and growth is directly contrasted to that of Ryuko and Mako. Ryuko and Mako have a very overt friendship. We can see they care about each other through their behaviour towards each other, as opposed to the more subtle and understated interaction between Satsuki and the Devas. Mako and Ryuko hug, share food, smile at each other. There’s a real warmth between the two of them. The friendship is also based on simply being friends and having each other to rely on, rather than using each other for mutual benefit.
This distinction creates a further divide between Ryuko and Satsuki, but also serves to further showcase that Satsuki isn’t simply a ruthless dictator. It’s this blurring of her role that makes me think that we could perhaps see a shift in the power balance at the halfway point. Maybe the emergence of a villain which forces Ryuko and Satsuki to work together? I would love for that to happen. It’s still very much a possibility, given that we’re yet to hear anything from Satsuki’s mother (aside from her very cool introduction).
The fact that Kill la Kill is taking the time to develop the Four Devas, and how they all fit together, shows that they are going to be major players in the future events of the series. Which makes me really happy because I love their character designs and don’t want to see them thrown on a bus at all. I’m so excited to see the fight with Inumuta next week, and the mid-season climax, too.