Female Empowerment in Kill la Kill

The strong female lead in Kill la Kill

Kill la Kill has been hailed by critics as a masterpiece, with some of my esteemed colleagues claiming that the series not only lives up to its spiritual predecessor Gurren Lagann, but surpasses it:

While the format is incredibly similar to Gurren Laggan, it uses a cast of powerful human characters instead of powerful mecha as the primary source of action. I haven’t seen an action series I’ve adored in this way since Bleach.[1]

Gurren Lagann

Yet while Gurren Lagann sits at a respected #16 on the MyAnimeList top anime list, Kill la Kill is currently ranked below #400. This huge difference is no fault of Kill la Kill itself. Instead, as some detractors have argued, the fanservice has outweighed the action:

But the thing that got me and made me drop it was the insane amount of unnecessary fanservice and borderline ecchi. It made me so uncomfortable to watch that I had to drop it. Even the characters are uncomfortable with their outfits and it’s only when they accept that they have to wear skimpy outfits that make them almost nude and deal with the ogling men that they become more powerful warriors. Which is not an okay message.[2]

These detractors aren’t seeing the true face of Kill la Kill. As many have argued, these shallow critics have focused only on breasts and butts, refusing to see any significance in their appearance in the show. Their preconceived notions of what “fanservice” stands for incorporates only lewd reasons. Why do the characters wear skimpy outfits? Why has the animation studio Trigger decided to present a society centered around exhibitionism? Surely it can’t be just for the sake of appeasing the audience’s nether regions. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Unlike your standard Ecchi anime series, Kill la Kill incorporates an extra layer of deepness to its ecchi. The fanservice is not hentai, nor is it purely ecchi, but it fukumerus a story of growing pains. The sailor fuku that Ryuuko wears symbolizes her adolescence. As she dons the uniform, Ryuuko becomes intensely aware of others’ gazes on her exposed skin. Initially, she seems embarrassed as she fights, hesitant to show her bare body, but she learns to draw power from the “ogling men.” Ryuuko grows up, from a shy girl to a bold, promiscuous woman who doesn’t fear attention.

[Underwater] KILL la KILL - 01 (720p) [914B637B].mkv_snapshot_19.56_[2013.12.10_01.30.05]

She’s fine in life

Kill la Kill sends a message to girls everywhere: you shouldn’t be shy. Under your clothes, you are a beautiful woman. It doesn’t matter what’s inside, but as long as you can draw attention to your boobs, you’ll be fine in life.

MonkeysWithGuns puts it best in his MyAnimeList.net review, claiming that

There is a deeper hidden meaning there for everyone, especially young women, and that is to not be ashamed of yourself or who you are, but to instead use the gifts that you have been given to become a better and stronger person, to use them to make your mark on socity, to use them to change the world.[3]

So go out there and face the world. Naked.

This post was inspired by an insightful commentary by tumblr user skaboyjfk.[4]

Works Cited

[1] IzumiIzayoi, November 3, 2013, Kill la Kill Anime Review, MyAnimeList.net.

[2] keruje, October 19, 2013, Kill la Kill Anime Review, MyAnimeList.net.

[3] MonkeysWithGuns, October 21, 2013, Kill la Kill Anime Review, MyAnimeList.net.

[4] tumblr user skaboyjfk, 2013, Kill la Kill: A Visual Guide to Understanding Female Empowerment and the Male Gaze, http://i.imgur.com/DpG1VIk.jpg.

3 Comments on “Female Empowerment in Kill la Kill”

  1. Kill la Bill says:

    Soooo good. This post. Not the anime.

  2. mush says:

    “but it fukumerus a story of growing pains”


  3. […] the development of the anime sub-genre titled Ecchi. I was inspired by Flomu’s article “Female Empowerment in Kill la Kill,” which I discovered whilst traversing Reddit, an article which claims that the anime Kill la […]

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