Playing Catch-Up

First of all: happy holidays internet!

And second of all, glad to be back. I fell off the wagon there when the winter season of anime started, so that’s put a dent in my plans to keep up with a weekly look at new episodes. I’ve finally caught up with two of my most anticipated series though, so I’ll give a quick run-down of those while I’m here. Feel free to comment with your own thoughts on the season so far!

Beyond the Boundary

Beyond the Boundary | Saru Anime

This series has continued to be just as entertaining as the fist episode promised it would be. We have some endearing and interesting characters, a relatively well fleshed-out world, beautiful visuals and some believable (and emotionally gut-wrenching) drama. I love a series that can balance out romance, adventure, and drama without letting any one element overwhelm the others, and Beyond the Boundary has done a great job of that so far. Definitely my favorite show of this season.

I have seen some reviewers saying that the show is annoyingly silly and doesn’t have that strong of a plot, and I’ll admit that there are some slow episodes. These mostly lend themselves to character development in some way, which I’m all for, even if it’s at the expense of some excitement (though the one “let’s become idols!” episode is definitely there as a fun filler, so how you feel about that is probably up to personal preference.) So take my thumbs-up with a grain of salt.

Kill la Kill

Kill la Kill | Saru Anime

I was extremely hyped for this series, but it’s not quite what I had expected. Not to say that is a bad thing.

To start, it’s an amazingly quirky show. The visuals are often rough and very exaggerated, which actually works perfectly with the overall feel of the story and its characters. I definitely had not thought the show would be this lighthearted and fun from the PVs. There’s an theme of establishment versus individual will underlying the whole thing, and it’s really interesting to see how they handle the concept from episode to episode. Also, the characters are fun. Even the villains have something about them that makes them really entertaining, and everyone on the show seems to be just as overblown and outlandish as the visuals. It’s like watching a candy-colored action  movie.

The thing that surprised me the most though was the sheer amount of fanservice. There was probably some promo material that showed it off that I missed, so the first transformation kind of boggled my mind. Kill la Kill takes a unique approach to it by not only acknowledging the skimpy uniforms (Ryuko is extremely uncomfortable with her battle gear in the first few episodes, and many characters comment upon it rather than it being ignored outright as the norm), but also by making it relatively important to the plot. Kind of. At least they talk about it and let the characters wearing the outfits have individual opinions on them, which is more than some shows do.

There are still squicky things about the show (the main female character is only 17 and is often being leered at/spied on by older men, for one), but overall Kill la Kill brings something unique to the table if nothing else.

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2 thoughts on “Playing Catch-Up

  1. Do you think that after watching more Kill la Kill that it held up to a more positive critical response? For me, compared to many of my friend’s views on the series, I wasn’t as much a fan. I enjoyed Kill la Kill for what it is: a fun action anime that prides itself on being extremely over the top. Every week I could shut my brain off and watch some great entertainment, but the *value* of the series did not resonate with me as much as it did with others.

    It’s interesting to hear a female’s perspective on the fan service found within Kill la Kill. I hadn’t really sought out many perspectives on the series to begin with, but I was wondering if the fan service was alienating or if you went along with it. The best way for me to describe it is it became linear to the plot of the show. For some reason the more powerful uniforms were skimpy on females, and even the sexuality of Nudist Beach and the male teacher were emphasized for comedy. Overall it feels like all the fan service was added to be a part of the “Kill la Kill experience” of being over the top.

    • I had a lot of extremely mixed feelings on Kill la Kill by the time it was over. On the one hand, it does some really clever things (clothing as control over the masses and conformity as a tool of oppression, an emphasis on inner strength that particularly applies to the female characters). But on the other hand… it does some gross things (the mother who molests her own daughters several times, the explicit nature of the fanservice- because while it actually does have a function within the story, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum separate from the real world either.)

      At the end of the day, I was impressed with the series because I hadn’t been expecting much from it after the first few episodes. And it does a brilliant (and I think purposeful) job of desensitizing viewers to its sexual themes early on, so by the end there was a much larger focus on story than fanservice. But at the same time, it’s always there, and very obviously for the entertainment of the straight male viewers… and let’s not forget these girls are still in high school. Though that’s not uncommon in anime at all. Siiiigh.

      So the short version is- I went along with it for the most part, because the fanservice in Kill la Kill really is part of the experience and there were other aspects of the show I really liked. But it’s not a show I could ever recommend to someone without a big shiny disclaimer attached.

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