19
Jan
15

Btooom, Kill la Kill

Btooom

Bombs and boobs.

Despite having a terrible Engrish title, Btooom is a decent show. It falls in line with the genre of kids who have to kill each other in an arena like Battle Royale or The Hunger Games. Even though this has already been done a million times, Btooom still manages to bring something new to the table. It doesn’t matter that the idea isn’t original, what matters is that the show is executed in an interesting way. A popular online video game called “Btooom” features teams of people playing deathmatches, and their only weapons are various types of grenade and mines. One day, many of the games best players are kidnapped, dropped off on a mysterious tropical island, and forced to play “Btooom” for real. Each character has a unique grenade or mine, and must kill the others in order to win the game and get off the island. As you would expect, characters form alliances to try and improve their chances of survival.

The show is fun to watch. It manages to have a lot of variety and somewhat ingenious ways to use explosive devices. It has just as much of characters outsmarting each other than just winning by brute force. The characters are likable, and the plot moves at a quick pace. The ending leaves a bit to be desired, clearly they want to do a second season, but at least it didn’t stop on a cliffhanger. My only real complaint is that this show is inconsistent in the blast radius of the various explosives. Sometimes, it seems that a grenade will explode right next to someone, and they will be unharmed. But, whatever, it’s anime, it isn’t realistic. Btooom is worth a watch.

Verdict: Good

Kill la Kill

Kill la clothes.

Kill la Kill is the spiritual successor to Gurren Lagann. Those of you who follow me online know that I declared Gurren Lagann best anime of the last decade. And I still stand firmly behind that assessment. Naturally, I was extremely excited to check out this show, given its outstanding pedigree. And the show is really good. It puts an interesting spin on high school dynamics. In reality, high school is like a constant battle against annoying peers, jealous kids, exclusive cliques, and raging hormones. Kill la Kill takes that to absurd levels with the students literally fighting each other. The student council dominates the academy, passing down special uniforms to favored individuals that will boost their fighting skills. One day, a mysterious transfer student (anime trope alert), Ryuko Matoi, comes to school demanding vengeance for the murder of her father at the hands of the head of the student council, Satsuki Kiryuin. They each get special talking battle uniforms, and battle it out, blasting apart the school, and pounding each other with absurd levels of force. What arises from that is an even more absurd concept. The world has been colonized by “life fibers” which are evil alien organisms that have plotted to take over the world by forcing human to wear them as clothes. An insurgent organization, Nudist Beach, is trying to rid the world of clothes. Ryuko, Satsuki, and Nudist Beach ultimately team up to battle the life fibers.

The action in Kill la Kill is phenomenal. I haven’t seen a show with such fantastic battle, and such tremendous animation quality since, well, Gurren Lagann. There is also a lot of humor in the show to punctuate the onslaught of battles. Unfortunately, Kill la Kill isn’t perfect. For all its great points, the show is ultimately hollow on the inside. There is no character development, there is no deeper meaning, everything is taken at face value, and despite the worldwide battle, the show is surprisingly low-stakes. None of the heroes die. One dies, but it turns out to be a fake out, and he was fine all along. Characters don’t have to die to make a show good, but it goes a long way to show that there are real stakes, and there are real dangers against which the characters are willing to sacrifice themselves. As none of the heroes die, they can throw themselves headlong into every battle, and there is never any worry that anything bad will happen to them. Also disappointing is the fact that the heroes don’t kill either of the primary villains. Both of the villains end up killing themselves. So, even with all that fighting, the good guys were completely ineffectual. Overall, Kill la Kill was a lot of fun. It may be light, mindless entertainment, but it was incredibly entertaining mindless entertainment. It’s hard to recommend a show more than this one.

Verdict: Good

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10 Responses to “Btooom, Kill la Kill”


  1. 1 Gazerbeam
    January 20, 2015 at 1:45 am

    Kill la Kill is the pretentious man’s unpretentious, run of the mill high school mecha ecchi anime, except without the mecha and just cut-up school uniforms.

    Budget = Good

  2. January 20, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Kill La Kill is awesome. Btooom is good too, although as you say the finale is disappointing.

  3. 5 UrsusArctos
    February 2, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    A bunch of comments, Brik –

    The character development has been flipped from main characters to secondary characters – TTGL had development for SImon, Viral, and to a lesser extent Rossiu and Dayaka. Ryuko and Mako don’t seem to get much at all but Satsuki and the elite four actually do. I wasn’t happy with TTGL getting rid of so many of the lesser Dai-Gurren Dan brigade and I’m glad they were spared for the movie, so I actually support the decision to keep the majority of the cast alive.

    KLK doesn’t have TTGL’s awesome “Believe in the you that believes in you” credo and doesn’t push it in your face, although there’s plenty about Ryuko losing her waaaaay….oh well. I think they could’ve gone along this angle and given KLK a message of that sort, one that’d make it stand out.

    I would rate the show as “Awesome” rather than “Good” if I could figure out what to make of the sexism vs feminism angle. As far as outfits go and with some of the scenes in the early episodes it’s outrageously sexist, but in other areas it is remarkably feminist – far more so than TTGL. It’s just nuts that way.

    • February 10, 2015 at 9:36 am

      I couldn’t quite get a handle on the sexism vs. feminism angle either. Some times it does seem feminist, but most of the time I think it isn’t. Just putting the girls in those costumes, I mean, that’s sort of the epitome of sexism right there. They could have easily designed any other kind of costume for them and it wouldn’t have changed the show one iota. I just wish KLK had more to say, that’s what held it back for me from getting the “awesome” rating.

      • 7 UrsusArctos
        February 11, 2015 at 3:41 pm

        Agreed, absolutely. Now that I look back at the show, I find it bizarre that they didn’t try to integrate “don’t lose your way” into the show itself, rather than just singing it out loud in the soundtrack. “Don’t lose your way because of what others do. You have the strength to find your own way in life.” is a message as powerful as “Don’t believe in me who believes in you, believe in the you that believes in you.” Why the hell did they not bring it to the forefront when it is part of Ryuko’s character to get sidetracked so easily, and part of her growing up is in accepting herself for whom she is?

  4. 8 Fireball
    February 19, 2015 at 1:16 am

    Kill la Kill has a lot to say and nothing, it is up to you what to make of it. Some just see mindless ecchi action, others see female empowerment in it etc…

    In regards to TTGL, Lagann is a straightforward boy’s journey to adulthood, KlK is about a girl growing up with all the chaotic nature that comes with it. I think they both do their respective gender really well.

    Also Ryuuko is much closer to Shinji and had more devolpment than Simon ever got.

    The reason they those outfits so skimpy is because they wanted to challenge the cosplayers who readily accepted. More importantly It plays straight into naked = freedom/cloths = oppression thematic so I have to say, no, they couldn’t have changed the cloths without changing an integral part of the series.

    • February 19, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      I must have missed the character development. Yes, TTGL is a classic hero’s journey, but it was executed perfectly. KLK might be about the chaotic nature of a girl growing up, but it was subtle as hell. I would say it’s so subtle it’s not even there. Can you point out how it is displayed in the show? And as for the costumes being made to challenge cosplayers, that’s pure fantasy. They made the costumes skimpy because the artists are pervy Japanese men, nothing more. I cannot believe they meant it to be empowering to the girls to make them free from oppression. I’d need a direct quote from the character designers or something to believe differently.

      • 10 Fireball
        February 20, 2015 at 12:14 am

        Character development doesn’t require a drastic personality change to notice it.

        The thing with Ryuuko was, and why I mentioned Shinji, is that she fought her own adversities, things her character was built on:

        Individualism – Ryuuko insolently rebelled against the collectivism of Ragyo’s idealogy and objectives, Satsuki and the Elite Four agenda and other obstacles throughout her journey.

        Determinism – Ryuuko stumbled but she never faltered, she tried to surpass her own limitations to achieve her her own goals.

        Absolutism – Ryuuko’s most important characteristic was her ability to discover her resolve and accept the situation she was conditioned in, she let go of her anger, she forgave her sister, she gained a family and she discovered it doesn’t matter if she is human or clothes.

        Unlike Simon who started as an empty glass that was filled as we moved along, Ryuuko was already full but had to sort it out. However, by the end, Ryuuko has come to terms with who she is and has a much better handle on herself. Kill la Kill is essential a series about self-discovery (her geared looking eyes are the Dharmachakra, the symbol of Buddha’s path to enlightment) and the whole reason Senketsu exists is to make her understand herself through understanding someone else (the lyrics of “I want to know” explicitly talk about it, there is even an episode named “I Want to Know More About You”). By gaining/realizing all that it does change her. Before, she was basically a rough, rowdy orphan with a bad temper out for revenge. Now, she’s a grown stable. The fiery personality is still there, but she won’t lose her way anymore.

        here is the quote regarding the cosplay btw

        http://animeslovenija.tumblr.com/post/88115476325/trigger-staff-at-animenext-kill-la-kill-panel

        as for empowerment, I don’t think it is restricted to females. Kill la Kill celebrates nudity without any shame regardless of the gender, it’s not even subtle. Satsuki outright states it in her Kamui speech, Ragyou who is literally clothes and wants everyone enslaved by clothes is the big bad evil and we have a freedom fighting force of stripteasing nudists.


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