16 April 2014

inspirations: kill la kill and the reinvention of divine symbolism

Courtesy of Project-ICICLE
So this is a huge "rough cut." People who have seen my panels over the past month on Kill la Kill and the Transformation of Japanese Legend have been asking a lot about how that panel came into being. Well, this might be the first instance of me collecting my ideas, long before I even submitted it to Anime Boston, or began mapping the themes out for later use. It's still rough, written right after I watched episode 12 for the first time, before the third narrative slapped me upside the head, or my excitement into the series reached fever pitch. A collection of IDEAS, less one of practical explanation. 

This rumination is why I fell in love with the series, and why I adore Kiryuuin Satsuki as a character, and as a representation of a tumultuous time in Japanese history. 


As I’ve previously written, this past year will go down as a banner year for Shinto themed anime. From re-envisioning of classical myths, to fox spirits and tanuki running wild, fans and viewers curious about the nature of Japanese traditions and folklore have have a lot to choose from. But as the year winds down, and fans begin to look to the new year and new ideas, one more series debuted over the fall that might not appear to have much in the way of classical Shinto, but shares enough themes and situations to be a worthy exploration of some of the “darker times” that faith has gone through. 

Kill la Kill is one of those shows that remind 90s/00s anime fans why they got into the medium in the first place. It’s over the top, practically exhibitionist fun with little need for deep plotting, and a whole lot of explosions, skimpy outfits, and laughably horrible antagonists. Scissor blade swords, people losing the will to fight alongside their clothes, and arrogant student councillors lording their power over all the “lesser folk”- done up with style and panache by the same design team responsible for “Gurren Lagann.” What’s not to love about it? AND it’s also one of the best “f*** you” series of all time! 

Confused as to that last part? Let me explain a little bit. This will require a bit of a history lesson, so bear with me, I will try to keep this as brief as possible.

09 April 2014

clever names and lecherous uniforms: the puns of kill la kill, round two

Based on the popularity of Kit Flowerstorm's last post regarding the clever naming convention in Kill la Kill, she's back for round two. Remember, she's trying her best to cover expenses for grad school, so check out her gofundme and contribute. 


In the last post, I introduced some of the name puns in Kill La Kill, such as the puns and wordplay behind the Kiryuin family.
This time, more wordplay.

02 April 2014

moe moe bushido: how yoshika miyafuji taught me what it means to be japanese w/ haru menna

Mention Japan to the average person on the street and it will not take long for someone to make a reference to the Samurai, or their “arch-nemesis,” the Ninja.  Even now, a century and a half since Japan was opened up to the rest of the world, the image of the Samurai, those mythical and super human of ancient warriors, still serve as a symbol that popularly defines Japan.  
While we can contemplate the many possible reason why Samurai are still so popular more than a century since the end of the shogunate, I think it is more important to ask what exactly defines a Samurai?  Given their great importance as a national symbol of Japan, I have to think that the popularity of the Samurai is due to more than their unique armor, arms, and feats of combat.  A Samurai warrior in feudal Japan was more than his raiments, more than a mere weapon, crafted by masters and wielded with precision honed by decades of training, and far more than a socio-economic class.  
I think that the true importance of the Samurai lies not so much in their deeds, but in what we want to perceive those deeds to be.  It is this “ideal” or “idea” of Samurai, the one who serves, the ultimate warrior, who will face any odds and do what it takes to protect whatever it is they have sworn to protect, that we have fallen in love with, and all the myths and misconceptions that come along with it. 

31 March 2014

kill la kill: quirky names and hidden puns w/ kit flowerstorm

Kill La Kill ( キルラキル ) - the title of the series itself has multiple readings, also thanks to the title being written in katakana (one of the Japanese phonetic syllabary systems). The katakana spelling can lend emphasis, or be used for foreign words; but it can also be used for wordplay and multiple readings. In this case, "kiru" can mean "kill", certainly; but "kiru" can mean the verb "to wear" (like, to wear a suit or a uniform, spelled 着る), or "kiru" can mean the verb "to cut, to sever" when written as 切る).
Also a visual pun: the life fibers are usually red, when you see them. This is a reference to the idea of the "red thread of fate", seen in plenty of anime and manga and visual novels before this.

Also while I'm at it, there is a balance issue here in the typography: “ki” tilts left (キ), while '”ru” tilts slightly right (ル), and the combination has a balancing effect, especially with “ra” in the middle (ラ). In the English typography of the title it is presented as KILLlaKILL, which to me looks like |o| - like the Scissor Blades, for example... or the idea of balance, of two sides to a coin. Neat effect, in any case.
And that is just the beginning.

21 March 2014

panel notes: Hunger Games/Battle Royale, A Comparison- Anime Boston 2014

Here are the notes and points from the Hunger Games/Battle Royale comparison panel from Anime Boston 2014. Also, please consider donating to our respective gofundme campaigns.