I, A Kickstarter Sceptic, Pledged To Mai Mai Miracle And You Should Too

Mai Mai Miracle

In the last few years, the Kickstarter crowd funding website has really exploded in popularity – as someone who is heavily involved in the gaming industry, I have seen this help increase the rapid expansion of the indie game genre and heck, even launch a console. However, I had yet to pledge a single penny to a Kickstarter campaign for a multitude of reasons, with the majority of them falling into the sceptical, stubborn old man box. To put it bluntly, I didn’t have faith in pledging money to people I don’t know for a product that may never actually come into existence or I may not even like in the end. Yesterday however, I pledged $55 towards Anime Limited’s Kickstarter campaign for a US/UK release of Studio Madhouse’s Mai Mai Miracle anime movie, I have admittedly never seen this movie, that even Anime Limited acknowledge as niche, so what exactly was it that made me relax my usual Kickstarter-sceptic ways?

The Company

The first reasoning may sound a little bias, but it was because the Kickstarter was by Anime Limited – a company who despite only entering the market fairly recently (although its members have been around for longer), they have become renowned for their excellent taste in licensing (including classics such as Cowboy Bebop and Perfect Blue, as well as more modern gems like the works of Makoto Shinkai and Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning). As well as the quality of licenses, they have also shown to be deeply interested in giving fans the best quality product they can afford, so even without having seen the film yet, I knew I would be backing a quality product.

Last year was also the first time I had attended a single convention, making my debut at May’s London MCM Comic Con. Despite being pestered by friends for years, my intense social anxiety meant that it was too much of a daunting task, but after a positive series of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) sessions a few months prior, I felt that I was finally ready. I had listened to the representatives from the various companies on podcasts and the like before, but I made it a challenge to try and speak to all of them directly. I was casually walking in the venue when I noticed Andrew Partridge walking a few metres ahead of me. I called out to him and surprisingly, not only did he turn around, but he was actually willing to have quite a lengthy conversation with me! As with the many conversations he’s had online while visiting forums, he was incredibly honest and open about well, pretty much everything he could be – so it was only natural to trust him and everyone else at Anime Limited, who have expressed nothing but the utmost passion for this project – heck, when they noticed that the US rights were still available, they picked them up so that Americans can have a chance of seeing this movie too!

In fact, the main reason I actually decided to start up this blog in the first place was because everyone I spoke to at MCM, be they from Manga UK, MVM or Anime Limited, they were all incredibly nice, approachable and friendly – which left me at a peak of happiness that I don’t think has been met since.

The Campaign

Obviously, the proof is in the pudding but dayum does the recipe look good. I had no reason to doubt Anime Limited, but really drew me to support this campaign was how much Anime Limited have already invested – them already paying the licensing fees and only asking us to help support the physical release shows me just how dedicated they are to releasing this movie. In the past we’ve seen Kickstarters come up to fund entire projects from the ground-up, or in the case of anime, actually pay for the license (and the results of those ones are rather infamous). The knowledge that the rights to the movie have already been licensed shows just how serious Anime Limited are about this campaign.  They have also provided a detailed breakdown of exactly how the original $30,000 goal (which was met this morning) will go – 50% towards the production of the release, 40% for the KickStarter Backer extras and any other extras, while the remaining 10% goes to Kickstarter.

What is really cool though is that backers will have a say in what goes into the final product, through a process called “Crowd Producing” – basically, if the goal is reached (like it was in less than twenty four hours), backers will have a say in where additional money should go. One obvious choice is the production of an English dub (which has been estimated to cost a further $30,000). This concept is very interesting and one I whole-heartedly support.

The Movie

Regardless of the people behind the Kickstarter or the presentation of the campaign, it’s obvious that I wouldn’t have pledged a thing if I wasn’t actually interested in the product. As I have explained earlier I have yet to actually see the movie, but from what I have seen and heard so far, I am very interested. This movie is the second feature film from director Sunao Katabuchi, who is most notably the assistant director of Hayao Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service, which is a favourite of mine. The film is notable in that it had a very rare seven-month run in Japanese cinemas. Anime Limited describes the film’s story as:

Shinko, is a third grade elementary school student with a magically active imagination. She spends a lot of her time listening to her grandfather’s history lessons, imagining what her town was like 1,000 years earlier. One day, a sad and sombre girl called Kiiko transfers to Shinko’s school from Tokyo. A strong friendship soon grows between the two girls as Shinko helps Kiiko come out of her shell and deal with her loss – all thanks to their adventures, both imagined and real.

You can also view Anime Limited’s official Kickstarter trailer here:

I think the film looks absolutely gorgeous – as expected of Madhouse to be honest. The story also sounds really sweet and charming, so it’s definitely one that has grabbed my interest.

Backing as little as $25 will earn you a digital copy of the movie, with $55 ensuring a physical copy as a backer reward. If you would like to back this project, please head over to the Kickstarter now!

Advertisements

A Ponder and an Analysis: Sword Art Online Extra Edition

SAO extra

Title: Sword Art Online: Extra Edition

Produced by: A-1 Pictures

Distributed by: AniplexUSA

Format: Stream via Crunchyroll.com

Language: Japanese with English subtitles

 

One of the biggest anime events of the last few months has to be the worldwide broadcast/simulcast of Sword Art Online: Extra Edition yesterday. The 25 episode adaptation of Reki Kawahara’s light novel series was arguably one of the biggest anime series’ of 2012, with its simulcast on Crunchyroll ensuring that it would have a loyal fanbase. The series’ main hook was hardly original though, being a scenario that has frankly, been done to death – players of a mass-multiplayer-online-role-playing-game (MMORPG for short) finding themselves trapped in the game, where dying in the game equals dying in real life. What made the series a success though, was arguably how it was executed. The story’s first story arc (known as the “Aincrad Arc”) really delved into the sociological aspects of MMORPGs and the situation the characters found themselves in, as well as the psychological effects such an event would have on a person, as well as the budding relationship between Kirito and Asuna. The second half of the series (Fairy Dance Arc), while not held in as high esteem as the first half (the less said about Suguha the better), did feature one of the few truly creepy, intimidating and despicable villains in recent times.

Seriously, Sugou was one of the most twisted villains in a long time.

Seriously, Sugou was one of the most twisted villains in a long time.

Sword Art Online: Extra Edition is a 100 minute long recap of the 25 episode series framed around two narratives – the first being main character Kirito speaking to a member of the Ministry of Internal Affairs regarding the incidents that occurred in the series and the second being the show’s female cast using the school swimming pool to teach Suguha how to swim while recalling how each of them met Kirito. Press releases before the release of this special hyped up a mission where the main characters would be going on a quest in the ALfheim Online game to show the adorable AI Yui a whale, but in actuality that was simply the last 10 minutes of the entire special (and had a really rushed and weird ending). Ultimately, I’m not exactly sure who Sword Art Online: Extra Edition was aimed for.  Usually, recaps (such as the first two Puella Magi Madoka Magica movies and Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning) are aimed at introducing new people who might have missed the original anime to the franchise while on the flip-side, specials tend to be aimed at existing fans of the property (which the promotion of this special would indicate). In respect to each of these two possible intentions, I think that Extra Edition failed at both.

If it was aimed at introducing new potential fans to Sword Art Online, then the selection of which clips to recap and which to leave out was sloppy, leaving both of the major story arcs impossible to follow. Examples include Recon, Sakuya and Alicia being included in the montages without any reference to who they actually were and in fact, despite the event being referenced, the special didn’t really explore how Kirito defeated Sugou. The majority of the Fairy Dance arc recap was focused on Suguha and her feelings towards Kirito, one of the most controversial aspects of the series – the sibling who falls in love with her big brother only to realise that they’re actually cousins (which doesn’t exactly make it better for western viewers!) and almost completely ignores Kirito’s fierce determination to rescue Asuna, which was the whole reason he entered ALfheim Online to begin with. I can sort of understand Kirito not wanting to tell the Ministry of Internal Affairs that Akihiko Kayaba still existed somewhat. If it was intended for existing fans, then the real question is why we needed to have the entire series retold to us? Sure, there were new clips, but aside from the 10 minute quest at the end, they were merely to provide a frame for the recaps.

I suppose there was another purpose behind the special though – to remind us that boobs exist. Silicia finds herself being reduced to the flat-chested girl with boob envy and Lizbeth to the pervert who is always finding an opportunity to suggest “things”. Most of Suguha’s new scenes either show her breasts bouncing around or references them (and there was even one really weird shot where she was showering and the camera was focused on her cleavage). Also, in the main series, Klein actually became well known as one of Sword Art Online‘s best players but in this special here’s merely reduced to a pervert who is severely downhearted when he finds out the female characters won’t be participating on the quest in their bikinis, which felt really out of character. There were even numerous references to Kirito’s councellor being an attractive woman and I was sat there thinking “Seriously?”. In fact, here’s a collection of images from the special:

Now, I’m not a prude – if anything, I’m probably the opposite; I’m a single young man who yes, does enjoy the occasional ecchi series (I might have even imported the French releases of To Love Ru Darkness and be a huge fan of HighSchool DxD) and as soon as the description of the special mentioning the characters going to a beach location was announced, it was inevitable that some kind of fanservice was going to exist. However, there is a time and a place for fanservice and Sword Art Online really doesn’t strike me as the show for it and the execution was so forced and out nowhere that it couldn’t really y’know…be sexy? Just the thought of hanging on the edge of a possible essay on the timing of fanservice makes me feel weird so I’ll probably leave it that, but yeah…there’s a right place and a right time and this wasn’t it.

Some credit does have to be given to how near the end of the special, when the Minister of Internal Affairs asks Kirito if he’s heard of “The Seed”, Kirito just says “Yes, of course” and closes the door behind him. Damn Kirito, you and your sass.

Personally, I would have much rather have had a 25-minute OVA focusing entirely on the ALfheim Online quest (with an actual, solid ending) and the Suguha-swimming thing as opposed to it being crammed into a rather pointless and poorly executed sequence of recaps or dedicated individual recaps of both the Aincrad and Fairy Dance story arcs (with each being around 90 minutes at least). Or why not both, just not as one thing? Let’s be honest, cramming roughly 625 minutes worth of material into 90 was never really going to work well in the first place.

In conclusion, I really wasn’t impressed with this much hyped special. I felt that its biggest flaw was that it was really confused in its execution, which dragged it down from beginning to end. They should have either went purely for the recap route, or purely for the fanservice OVA route – either would have worked, but this weird hybrid of the two didn’t. As a standalone peace, this wasn’t much and it really didn’t add anything of worth, but for people who have already seen the series and might have just wanted a brief refresher or to see a collage of some of their favourite scenes, they’ll have found it enjoyable (I almost teared up after being reminded of Yui!). As a plus, Yui is adorable as always and her riding Pina was beyond cute:

5/10

The shared cast of Bravely Default and Sword Art Online

If you have followed my activity on Twitter as of late, you will know that I absolutely love the recently released Square Enix JRPG Bravely Default, having previously campaigned for the localisation of the Nintendo 3DS game under the name OperationBrave. I am also a fan of the anime series Sword Art Online, which is set in the virtual reality MMORPG game Sword Art Online, where players are trapped until they either beat the game, or they die (which will cause them to die in the real world too).

To try and help promote Bravely Default, I have been writing a series of weekly articles on WiiUAndMii.com titled Brave Friday and while researching about the game, I came across quite an interesting discovery: Bravely Default, which was released in Europe last Friday shares a few significant voice actors with Sword Art Online, which has its first DVD and Blu-Ray volume set to be released on Monday.

The Protagonist:

Kirito Tiz

Tiz Arrior is the main male protagonist of Bravely Default; a former resident of the now destroyed Norende Village who is on a journey to help Agnés purify the four crystals to save the land of Luxendarc , as well as revive his fallen home. Tiz Arrior’s voice is provided by Bryce Papenbrook, who also gives life to Sword Art Online‘s protagonist Kirito, who finds himself trapped in the Sword Art Online virtual reality MMORPG and has to clear the game to escape. In a sense, both Tiz and Kirito are fighting to be reunited with their home once more.

The Feisty Swordswoman:

Leafa Lee

Bravely Default‘s Edea Lee and Sword Art Online‘s Leafa have four key things in common (aside from having similar hair styles – they totes co-ordinated that) – they are both the secondary female protagonist of their series (with Agnés and Asuna taking those roles in Bravely Default and Sword Art Online respectively), they both received tutelage in wielding a sword, they both have a big secret they wish to conceal and they are both voiced by Cassandra Lee Morris.

The Fairy Helper:

Yui Airy

In Bravely Default, the four heroes are guided in their journey across Luxendarc to purify the crystals by the Cryst-Fairy named Airy. In Sword Art Online, Kirito and Asuna come across quite the oddity during their journey through the world of Aincrad; the artificial intelligence that is Yui. In Sword Art Online’s Fairy Dance arc, Yui appears in the form of a navigation pixie to aid Kirito in his mission there. Both of these fairies have their English voices provided by Stephanie Sheh.

The voice actor of Sword Art Online‘s Klein (Kirk Thornton) also provides his voice for a role in Bravely Default, although which character in particular has yet to be confirmed (although I have reached out for some confirmation on this and other roles).

Remember everynyan, you can purchase Bravely Default, which is exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS, from Nintendo’s online store and you can pre-order the first volume of Sword Art Online from Amazon!

What being on the Oscar consideration list could mean for Madoka Magica

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences have revealed the names of 19 films that will be going head to head for 5 nominations for the Best Animated Feature category of the 86th Academy Awards (or 3, depending on any disqualifications). The list does contain some stiff competition from the likes of Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University and some oddities (I’m pretty sure The Smurfs 2 was significantly live-action) but it does contain three anime movies – The Wind RisesA Letter to Momo and Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie – Rebellion.  A quick Google search shows that a lot of people believe that it will come down to The Wind Rises (which would be very suitable considering that it is Hayao Miyazaki’s final feature length film) or Despicable Me 2 (which admittedly, was a very good movie).

2013-11-05The_Rebellion_Story_Key_Visual_02

Now, I am a huge, hugeHUGE fan of Puella Magi Madoka Magica – to be honest, I have no hesitation in calling it one of the greatest works of art ever written and I am someone who has had to study the works of Shakespeare, has read numerous classic novels and seen many cult films. Unfortunately though, the series simply has not received the attention I feel it deserves. Even if I Google for news on the consideration list, many only include it among the overall list (although to be fair, The Wind Rises has attracted a significant amount of attention). This is obviously because of the obvious – anime is niche and unless your name is Hayao Miyazaki, you won’t get recognised (I’ve seen about the same buzz for A Letter to Momo as I have for Madoka).

While I would absolutely love it for Madoka to win an Oscar, I highly doubt it will happen – in fact, with the competition it has, I would say it will have a hard time fighting for one of the five nominations (or three, is more than three of the considerations get disqualified). There is a positive though – various movie websites and blogs will be covering the list and some will be better than the lazy people who just copy and paste the Academy’s article (I’ve seen quite a few of them – that’s not journalism, that’s laziness!) and they will either post a trailer or a brief description of the movie. That might get people interested, or if they just see a title and want to act like they’re uber movie-buffs when the Oscar season comes around, they’ll research all of the films on the list and then might think “Actually, that sounds pretty cool” and watch it. So for those of you unfamiliar with Madoka, sort that out and I’ll help you:

Puella Magi Madoka Magica started out as a 12-episode long television anime that aired in 2011. The series takes the usually happy, bright and fluffy Magical Girl genre (such as Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura) and completely flips it on its head, becoming a tragic dark fantasy known for the incredibly powerful emotional impact it has had on its fans. The series centres around Madoka Kaname, a 13 year old middle school student. Madoka’s life is fairly normal until one day when a student transfers into her class – Homura Akemi instantly shows a mysterious and keen interest in Madoka. While Madoka is shopping after school with her friend Sayaka, she encounters a mysterious cat-like creature, who is being pursued by Homura. This creature is Kyubey, a being who promises young girls any single wish they desire, as long as they promise to dedicate their lives to fighting witches – creatures born from the despair inside people’s hearts. Things aren’t as black and white as that though, as soon Madoka and the people around her begin to discover the truths about what it really means to be a Magical Girl and about the balance between the hope they bring and the despair witches are born from. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is the story of hope, despair and the Faustian pacts that lie on the thin line between them.

The series has been an absolute success in Japan, spawning numerous manga spin-offs, games, merchandising and even a jump to the big screen. Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part 1: Beginnings and Part 2: Eternal, two recaps of the original series with improved animation, re-recorded dialogue and a new soundtrack were released theatrically in Japan last year (and released on blu-ray in North America by AniplexUSA earlier this year).  The anime won the Grand Prize for animation in the 2011 Japan Media Arts awards, three Tokyo Anime Awards (Television, Director and Screenplay) and even the Seiun Award for “Best Media” at the 2012 Japan Science Fiction Convention.

The movie which has been submitted for the consideration list, Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion is a sequel to the series (and the recap movies) that focuses on Homura, who after witnessing the rewriting of a the universe during the emotionally heavy finale of the TV series and being the only person to remember such changes, is suffering from severe loneliness. However, this new world order and God itself are placed under a new threat when people who should have moved on from the mortal plane start to return. The movie opened in Japanese theatres on 26th October and topped the weekend box office – earning over 570m yen (around £3.6m) in just 5 days. The movie will be receiving its US premiere in Los Angeles on 3rd December in an already sold out premiere, before being shown at various locations across North America and Canada throughout the month.

Also, hopefully the hype of being on the list could lead to more international showings of the movie. Living in the United Kingdom, I was heartbroken when the recap movies didn’t receive a screening and am even more-so considering that this film has yet to have one announced either. While in recent years, numerous anime titles have been submitted for the consideration list, none barring  Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away have made the cut (which later became the first Japanese feature length animation to win an Oscar). Imagine, if by some miracle Madoka gets a nomination, how much a “Nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 86th Academy Awards” notice on the front cover of a home media release would do for the franchise – I’m sure even being placed on the consideration list would be huge.

Honestly though, if the soundtrack of this latest movie is anything like that of the TV series and first two movies, Yuki Kajiura’s soundtrack should be nominated for Best Original Score. If that happened, I would bet serious money on Madoka.

If you have yet to experience the sheer artistic brilliance that is Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the series is available on both DVD and Blu-Ray from AniplexUSA (America) and MangaUK (United Kingdom), while the first two movies are available from AniplexUSA (and sold to nearly every major country).

What will the future hold? Who knows – we’ll find out the nominations in January 2014, then we’ll have to wait another two months to find out the winner. To quote Madoka Kaname:

If someone ever tells me it’s a mistake to have hope, well then, I’ll just tell them they’re wrong and I’ll keep telling them until they believe, no matter how many times it takes.”

In the Spotlight: Kill la Kill

Killlakillpromo

Name: Kill la Kill

Studio: Trigger

Notable Staff:

Hiroyuki Imaishi (Director, Gurren LagannPanty & Stocking with Garterbelt)

Kazuki Nakashima (Writer, Gurren Lagann)

Hiroyuki Sawano (Composer, Attack On Titan)

One of the most frustrating things about having a laptop out of action for over a month is that I have missed an awful lot of anime, as websites like Crunchyroll, Daisuki, Wakanim and Animax don’t like Flash players, ruling out my Wii U browser and other than Crunchyroll and Daisuki, the others don’t have iOS apps. This meant that despite how much I wanted to, I could not watch Studio Trigger’s Kill la Kill until the other night. However, I have managed to blast my way through all five currently aired episodes and well, thought that I should share my thoughts on them.

Kill la Kill gained a lot of attention prior to its debut due to it being the first television anime produced by Studio Trigger, an animation studio founded in 2011 by former Gainax employees Hiroyushi Imaishi and Masahiko Ohtsuka. Trigger’s previous works have been limited to smaller work (like a single episode of The Idolmaster) or OVAs, such as the crowd-funded Little Witch Academia. It is obvious that the production of Kill la Kill was not something the studio took lightly – they wanted to take their time with it and that has shown.

One of the factors that put this series on the radar of many people was that it reunited Hiroyuki Imaishi and Kazuki Nakashima (the director and writer of the critically acclaimed Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann respectively). Personally, this didn’t phase me much as I didn’t actually like Gurren Lagann (okay, put your guns down now!). What drew me to Kill la Kill was when I watched trailers and saw the striking art style. It instantly stood out from the rest of the fold; it was obvious that Kill la Kill wasn’t just another shonen series, which is down to Director Hiroyuki Imaishi, whose previous works have been known for their unique and energetic looks.  Due to being without a laptop for a while I couldn’t watch the series when it started, but I started to see users on Tumblr uploading screen-caps and GIFs that shared a style similar to Little Witch Academia, an OVA produced by the studio and this only increased my intrigue even more. What was this series? Well, I had to found and now, I have: In short, Kill la Kill is over the top in almost every way and doesn’t give a damn – in fact, it embraces it with open arms.

The series’ setting is the Honnouji Academy, which unlike the typical high schools you see in series’ like K-ON!, looks like a towering fortress and is overrun by Satsuki Kiryuin, the daughter of the board of director’s leader and head of the Student Council dictatorship (in fact, the early episodes try to constantly remind the viewers of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime in a way that probably was meant to be subtle, but wasn’t). Fellow students and even the staff find themselves oppressed by the towering Satsuki and her council, who are powered up by “Goku Suits” that give them superhuman abilities. The series’ protagonist, Ryuko Matoi, is a feisty 17-year old transfer student who quickly puts herself at odds with the council, by declaring that she is out for any information she can get about the identity of her father’s killer.

Fortunately, my old school's Student Council president was nowhere near Satsuki's level!

Fortunately, my old school’s Student Council president was nowhere near Satsuki’s level!

It is really easy to forget that this series is set in a school due to the utter brutality of the Student Council, such as proudly displaying a stripped down and executed attempted thief across the school’s entrance. Hardly any of the scenes so far have done anything even remotely school-like, with the focus being on Ryuko having to fight Satsuki’s various underlings who are out for her for disrespecting Satsuki and possessing a blade capable of damaging the Goku Uniforms. The bizarre mix of high school life and over-the-top action leads to some very unique and entertaining action scenes, such as one episode where Ryuko, after protecting ditzy and hyperactive classmate Mako from a 110 Million Cannonball Serve barrage for missing Tennis Club practice, has to face off against the rather psychotic-looking team captain in a rather deadly game of tennis – let’s just say the walls are completely outlined with giant spikes and players deliver serves with enough force to shatter the ground.

If your Tennis Club Captain looks like this, RUN!

If your Tennis Club Captain looks like this, RUN!

When these action scenes do happen, they are presented in an incredibly stylistic and fluid way that makes the level of destruction and ridiculousness actually feasible to swallow, as well as an absolute treat for the eyes, such as in an early episode where Ryuko and Satsuki’s fight begins outdoors, then goes through various rooms in the school building, only to end up outside again – it was chaotic, catastrophic and dayum did it look good.

Ryuko and Satsuki's relationship could be seem as similar to Kazuma and Ryuho from s-CRY-ed - two opposing forces constantly doing battle.

Ryuko and Satsuki’s relationship could be seem as similar to Kazuma and Ryuho from s-CRY-ed – two opposing forces constantly doing battle.

In any other series, the likes of Satsuki and her followers would be seen as rather cookie-cutter villains for an evil organisation, but the setting of Honnouji Academy provides a unique and extremely fun twist. Sometimes, I was watching episodes and thinking “Actually, you know what? School life was sort of like this…just not as over the top” and let’s be honest, it is. You have the popular students in their closed off cliques that make life a living hell for everyone else and staff who don’t do anything about it – we’re just lucky that it (usually) doesn’t go as far as people being dipped in deep fat fryers.  Maybe amidst all the insanity, we can fit in some sarcastic social commentary?

Kill la Kill‘s greatest strength though is that it is a series that balances on that fine line between seriousness and comedy and does it perfectly. We can have a really tense scene where Ryuko is squaring off the possible killer of her father, swearing that she will find out the truth, only for the scene to effortlessly and seamlessly switch to the bizarre and random Mako, with a “Hallelujah” heralding the beginning of her random skit-like statements about Arceus-knows what, such as how Ryuko should just strip naked and somehow, the story manages to etch these random outbursts into being incredibly relevant to the story with the moral of needing to become one with your suit and let’s not get into the ridiculous poses Mako does when making these explanations.  Actually, here’s an example:

Your local chiropractor does not recommend trying this at home.

Your local chiropractor does not recommend trying this at home.

Sometimes, these situations are reversed and random bits of comedy are injected into serious scenes, such as when Ryuko is talking to teacher Aikuro. While in a deep explanation about the inner workings of the Life Fibres of the Goku and Kamui Suits, Ryuko asks Aikuro about the rather scandalous design of he garb when it was worn, to which his reply was stating that it must have been to her father’s tastes. Ryuko’s dramatic reaction completely suits the feeling of the scene as a whole, just not the question and answer it proceeded, but it succeeds so naturally because Kill la Kill has the comedy-drama mix down perfectly.
The biggest example of the amazing ability to jump between comedy and seriousness (that yes, I will soon shut up about) is to compare episodes 4 and 5. Episode 4 features the incredibly comical and far-fetched escapade of the characters having to get through an obstacle course to make sure they aren’t late for school, which has everything from an old lady with a machine gun, to a Pulp Fiction reference and a dog that gets nosebleeds from seeing a human’s panties! Then jump to Episode 5 and you have a more serious episode looking at the relationship between humans the Life Fibre suits. There’s also the amazing soundtrack from Hiroyuki Sawano that has actually given me goose-bumps on numerous occasions – when “Don’t Lose Your Way” kicks in…BAM, you know things are about to get epic.
One of the most obvious things about this series, which has attracted a lot of attention to it though, is the level of fanservice it offers. You just have to take one look at Ryuko to see that:
This outfit definitely isn't one for the kiddies!

Definitely not a standard school uniform!

It’s also pretty much a fact in this series that the majority of guys are perverts – Mako’s father, brother and even dog are constantly trying to see Ryuko change, while the various background character guys are seen with nosebleeds and taking pictures during fights. What is brilliant though is that blatant fanservice goes both ways, with Aikuro clearly not being one with body issues (it also doesn’t help that he’s voiced by Shinichiro Miki. Even as a perfectly straight man, I can admit that he has a rather seductive sounding voice).

Easily the most suitable pose to make when explaining something. Luckily he's not like this in the classroom!

Easily the most suitable pose to make when explaining something. Luckily he’s not like this in the classroom!

The level of fanservice, mixed with Satsuki being a despot ruler has lead to a lot of discussion on certain social media websites that won’t be named about whether this series is empowering to feminism or misogynistic (those two are so far apart that I find it odd to think how anything could be on the fence between the two, but eh).  The thing about the fanservice in Kill la Kill is, the purpose clearly isn’t to titillate like it is in series’ like To Love Ru – here, the purpose is clearly to add to the ridiculousness. One of my favourite moments was when Ryuko was squaring up with Satsuki, only for Mako to intervene and promptly tell Ryuko to get naked, as she’ll clearly beat Satsuki in regards to bust size.

That determination in Mako's eyes. Probably the most determined she's ever been.

That determination in Mako’s eyes. Probably the most determined she’s ever been.

I’m not saying that any kind of exploitation is acceptable depending on the intention (as some people are bound to try and spin it) – Kill la Kill is definitely a series with a lot of emphasis on nudity (the amount of times it comes up in the show is quite a lot, especially when what is shown is quite tame compared to other anime) and we all know that in a few months we’ll be seeing adverts of figures of the leading characters. It’s hard to really say without sounding rude but, the thing is, what did people expect from the people behind Gurren Lagann? Behind Yoko Littner? This is a show where everything is deliberately over the top – the school, the characters, the fight scenes and yes, the fanservice. That’s what Kill la Kill is – it’s absolutely everything receiving a massive power boost from a Goku Suit of its own.
To be honest, Kill la Kill probably isn’t the best show to write a literary thesis on. It’s something to sit back, with a cold drink in one hand and a remote in another and just enjoy the ride. It’s wacky, it’s over the top, but bloody hell, it’s amazing.  I would seriously recommend this series – I just hope the rest of the series is as good as the first five have been!
Kill la Kill is currently available for streaming on wakanim.co.uk!