Kill La Kill, Vol. 1

By Ryo Akizuki, based on the anime by TRIGGER and Kazuki Nakashima. Released in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten, serialized in the magazine Young Ace. Released in North America by Udon.

There’s an episode of Monty Python that features John Cleese as a man who’s quite interested in shouting, so much so that he screams every line at the top of his lungs. As I worked my way through the first volume of Kill La Kill, it occurred to me that what this really needed was for everyone’s voice to be just John Cleese shouting. It starts with the volume at maximum and that’s where it ends too. And I don’t just mean the characters shouting, although boy do they shout. The situations, the fight scenes, the backstory, everything is so over the top that the whole manga is just 160 pages of “YES I’M INTERESTED IN SHOUTING, BRIAN!”

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The premise, equally ridiculous, is that Ryuki has come to an elite private school academy in order to track down her father’s killer. She has one half of a giant pair of scissors that she uses as her chief weapon, and suspects the student council president has the other half. When she arrives, she is immediately befriended by a small, cheerful chatterbox who spends most of the volume being kidnapped and pseudo-tortured to drive the plot. Can Ryuki find out the truth and win as she battles everyone? And will she need the help of the sentient, perverse school uniform she’s forced to wear in order to do so?

As you can see, the plot is just as shouted as everyone else. I think even if you knew nothing about Kill La Kill you’d know this was based off of an anime just by the aesthetic. I’ve never seen the anime, but I’ve heard enough about it to know that it’s completely ridiculous and also somewhat polarizing. The polarizing elements are here as well – Ryuki’s battle outfit is fanservice personified, and she clearly hates it, but the manga enjoys lingering on her. And there’s a creeper teacher whose presence is entirely unwelcome, in my opinion. That said, honestly, the manga moves so fast and doesn’t really linger on anything long enough for me to get vaguely irritated before something else is already happening.

This isn’t the sort of thing I could read if it were a long series – it’s simply too exhausting,even after only one volume. Luckily, it only seems to be three total, which sounds about the right amount. I’m not sure fans of the anime would get much out of this – it honestly feels like a straight up port of the episodes, though I can’t actually verify that. But for those who were curious, and enjoy seeing a lot of goofy action and manly shonen poses (though it’s technically seinen, probably due to the costume), Kiss La Kill is a decent series provided you don’t take it remotely seriously.

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