I’d like to think that my family is unique in some ways. My husband and I are not like other parents to our 16 year old daughter. We are not cheering for her on the lacrosse field, or attending choir concerts in which she’s performing.
Instead, we are snuggled in the living room together every Friday night watching an anime about living clothes where everyone’s outfits morph into fashion bordering on hentai, and the action is so fast paced and over the top that we usually laugh till it hurts.
And that’s absolutely fine with me.
Kill la Kill, if you are not familiar, is a brilliant anime directed Hiroyuki Imaishi and written by Kazuki Nakashima. Imaishi and Nakashima previously produced Gurren Lagann, an immensely popular post-apocalyptic anime that was further produced into manga novels, two films and a video game. So the success of Kill la Kill as an anime and manga, and as an addition to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim Toonami line up was not surprising. Shown to me initially by my daughter in the original undubbed version, we’ve started watching the dubbed version of Kill la Kill together as a family and it is nothing short of awesome.
It involves the quest for revenge by Ryoku Matoi, a young Japanese girl infiltrating Honnouji Academy in order to find out who killed her father, Dr. Isshin Matoi. Armed only with one half of a scissor blade left behind by the assassin and a mysterious talking uniform named Senketsu, Ryoku tries to find her father’s killer by confronting the academy’s student council president, Satsuki Kiryuin, and fellow council members known as the Elite Four. Assisted by her best friend Mako Mankanshoku whose family takes Ryoku in as one of their own, she slowly uncovers the plot against her father, her relationship with Satsuki Kiryuin, and the ongoing struggle between REVOCS, a clothing manufacturer conglomerate, and an underground rebel group, Nudist Beach.
The student’s uniforms at the academy, Goku Uniforms, are infused with Life Fibers, while Ryoku’s uniform, Senketsu, is a Kamui (which roughly translates to “Godrobe”) and is comprised entirely of Life Fibers. Senketsu and Ryoku’s interdependent relationship is sewn together seamlessly (ha!).
Yet despite the absurdity and sewing and clothing puns, themes regarding the importance of family and friends over materialism, being true to oneself, and loyalty preside over Kill la Kill. One of the more obvious symbols in the story is when enemies are defeated: they lose their uniforms, stripping them down naked to their bare essence and making them vulnerable, both to others and themselves.
Several times I have watched my husband tear up at the support Ryoku receives from her friend Mako, a sweetly naïve student at the academy, who often sees through the craziness of the situations to the heart of the matter that can only be found by an innocent mind.
Having one night a week dedicated to watching this show and other animated shows demands that despite all the craziness in our lives, we take Fridays to spend together as a family.
Which is really want Ryoku wants, and what I suspect we all want, as well – a family that loves and respects us, and the chance to sit down each night to eat croquettes with mystery meats cooked by Mrs. Mankanshoku after long and dramatic battles in a sexy uniform.
OK, maybe not the sexy uniform. But definitely the croquettes.