What They Say:
Ryuko Matoi spends her days battling student after student as they continue to aggressively confront her in hopes to raise their own status and living conditions as promised to them by Satsuki Kiryuin. In the midst of all the chaos, Uzu Sanageyama, one of the Elite Four, gets permission to face Ryuko in battle. He corners Ryuko with his super-human vision, but Ryuko manages to fight back! This leads Satsuki to resort to drastic measures as she declares to begin the great “Naturals Election,” or “Battle Royale!!”
Now every student at Honnouji Academy must enter an unbelievable ceremony of destruction as they clash to survive for seven whole days to participate in “The King of the Hill Final Battle.” There, Ryuko finally comes face-to-face with the formidable Ira Gamagoori!
The audio presentation for this release is definitely solid as we get the original Japanese language track and the new English language dub, both of which are encoded using the uncompressed PCM format in stereo. The series is one that definitely plays big with the action as it’s almost a constant series of events and the forward soundstage makes out very well with this mix. Dialogue is all over the map as it should be and the big action sounds hit hard with great placement and some solid impact and oomph throughout. We sampled both tracks but largely stuck to the Japanese mix and the end result is a show that definitely has one of the better stereo mixes out there and isn’t afraid to just have fun with it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2013 and 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The Blu-ray release has five episodes for this set that gets its own disc while the same five are on their own DVD as well in the set. The high definition release is something that a lot of fans really do want in the end as we get the whole thing practically set at the 39-41mbps bit rate and that means bold, striking colors with a lot of pop that can handle the high motion and detail in a great way. The show has a lot going on here and the detail is strong, the colors look great and the whole disc is pretty much gorgeous to look at. While I’m sure someone could find fault with something somewhere with it, the whole thing is simply a fantastic looking experience on our setup.
The packaging for this release is definitely nicely done, though once again I would have preferred a heavier chipboard box to go with it rather than this lighter one. The main panel of the box gives us Mako with a comical look to her face and posture that definitely makes it a cute work. We get a simple beige background and a dull red logo that does work for what it’s trying to do here as all the pop and energy is with Mako herself. The back panel does the same thing but gives us Tsumugi and a few other men from the series that are ostensibly on her side alongside him. Within the box we get to clear Blu-ray cases that gives us a look at Mikisugi for the documentary disc and Mako for the DVD/BD case. It’s done as a good bit of black and white artwork with the beige background instead. There’s little to the back cover but the reverse side breaks down what’s on the discs. While there’s nothing for the documentary, for the DVD/BD case, it’s a breakdown of the episodes by number and title.
Also included in this release is a great little foldout poster for the Ryuko and Mako together while the reverse side is an amusing pairing of Mikisugi and Tsugumi together getting ready to really show the Nudist Beach side with some great fanservice. We also get a fantastic postcard set of high quality that shows off the original artwork used for the two covers of the box itself.
The menu design for this release is kept pretty simple but it works well and you can see how it’ll grow and change over the course of the run. The layout uses the right side where it has the character artwork of Mako along the right with lots of color and pop to it that stands out while the left side goes for the beige-scale that has another image of Mako there underneath the logo. The navigation strip along the bottom is done at a slight angle and it works easily enough while doubling well as the pop-up menu during playback as it feels like it belongs in there. The layout may not be the most special thing out there, but it fits the show well and has enough of a hook to draw you in.
The extras for the main disc release is pretty simple but we get some decent things as the clean versions of the opening and closings relevant to this set of episodes are included as well as the web previews for the episodes on this set. With the limited edition set we also get a bonus DVD that includes a 50 minute documentary called the 500 Days of Production for Kill la Kill. This one goes back to early 2013, m0nths before the debut of the series, and shows all sorts of stages of the production. It touches upon some of the original designs and concepts from when it was first conceived in 2011 at studio Trigger as well, showing the evolution of characters, story, production and overall presentation. It’s the kind of bonus that really goes into the heart of making an actual show and it really comes across well here to humanize the creative team themselves and show what went into the project.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kill la Kill definitely proved to be a lot of high energy fun in its first installment with the four episodes we got. It laid down some of the basic foundations of what the series is going to be about while keeping it more than open enough to adjust and change since it runs for twenty-five episodes total, including the OVA. The introduction of Ryuko as our eyes into this world of competitive high schooling with the various clubs, the large reach that Satsuki is trying to set and her overall goal of changing the world speaks to that kind of primal teenage need to leave a mark on the world. Providing Ryuko as the contrast where she just wants answers about her father certainly cements the humanity in it all against the larger works being painted for the viewer. If there’s a downside, it’s the gap between releases and the low episode count that keeps the energy from really building in a strong way that you would get in half season marathons.
With this set, we get things bumped up to five episodes instead of the four we had and it certainly helps considering the story material here. The opening episode in particular is fun as we get the arrival of Tsumugu, who has come to eliminate Ryuko and more specifically her Kamui. As a part of the Nudist Beach group with its own mysterious goals, he sees Ryuko’s kamui as far more of a threat than anything Satsuki could bring to the table with her goals of changing the world and he intends to eliminate her. Which is not what Nudist Beach wants, or at least a portion of it since Mikisugi reveals that he’s a part of it and has some good interactions with Tsumugu over it. What makes it a fun episode to watch is that as Tsumugu goes up against Ryuko, he doesn’t hold back overall and that gives her quite a challenge along the way. His obliviousness to others also works well to frustrate the system in general, which makes for some good laughs as some of the mosquito clubs of the school system try to get revenge on him.
The class system of the school is something that really gets put into focus more here throughout these episodes. We see the way Satsuki is using as many of the lower run clubs as possible, those seeking their own Goku, against Ryuko to wear her down but also in order to eliminate them from the chain of command that exists in general. That keeps Ryuko busy and also lets Satsuki get some of what she wants do, even though she instituted the system. What turns things around a bit and really makes it interesting is that Ryuko realizes it with a little help from Mako and decides to change the approach by setting up her own Fight Club in order to get others to challenge her in a cleaner way. Because of the paperwork involved, she has Mako act as president and that leads to the best bits about the whole thing. While the action is good and comical, once the club starts racking up wins, they gain in social class and status, wealth and prestige, and move up the ladder with residences and other lavish aspects. Ryuko is focused on what she has over it, but everyone else starts to drift apart with the focus on their individual greed. It works in a pretty blunt way, but it does work well to show just what kind of system that Satsuki has put in to expose it as she prepares to tear it down.
And tear it down in a way she does, to start at least, as once events pick up with Ryuko and what she’s doing Satsuki opts to essentially reboot the entire class structure. With herself still at the top organizing, because she is the best of the best of course and the last to be truly challenged, she puts everyone below her on a weeklong battle to climb in rank. A lot of the students simply bide their time with their zero rank status and look at survival, but others go all out in their fighting. This leads to a lot of wacky moments and cut and paste background characters organizing, but it’s also welcome because we see that the Four Generals get “demoted” as well as they have to vie for their positions again. That all leads us eventually to a series of challenges against Ryuko by them, since they knew it was going to come to that. But in the interim, it’s the destruction of the class system as it exists. And a lot of the school too with all the fights.
What mixes into all of this that’s surprisingly welcome is that it focuses on Gamagori a whole lot. As one of the Four Generals that’s very much vocally intent on defeating her, we get some good background that show show he came into Satsuki’s service – which also includes Satsuki’s arrival at his school where she established a power base. It’s good to see how the two interacted a few years prior at that level and the intensity he had then, which segues into how he’s completely in service to her now with what she’s done. At the core of it, we really do get a much more humanized Gamagori, caricature that he still is at times, and that makes him far more accessible even as the last episode shifts us into the actual fight sequence between him and Ryuko. As a start to this phase, it definitely works well to give us a good opponent, more than just a cardboard character, but it makes me wonder how much more of this we’ll get with the other three.
I had a whole lot of fun with this set overall, once I got back into the groove of it with the story and characters since it’s been a few months since the first set, and it has me looking forward to more, which is coming sooner rather than late. Kill la Kill has some fun ideas its working with in a kind of straightforward way and I’m hopeful that it’ll find ways to twist and subvert itself as it goes on. What it really does for me right now at this just before the first half stage is to provide some big set piece action sequence and have a lot of fun doing the run through of it. It’s beautifully animated with such a wild yet detailed design that you want to just go in slow motion through so much of it and savor what effort was put into it. It’s definitely a lot of fun and has me excited to see more.
Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Clean Openings, Web Previews
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: October 21st, 2014
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.