by Chris Perkins.
Anime and manga have always had an extremely close relationship. Despite a recent increase in those based on light novels and videogames, a sizeable proportion of anime today are still adapted from manga, or at least conceived simultaneously. But what about those manga adapted from properties that started life as anime? It’s not always immediately obvious which came first, as tie-in manga frequently starts reaches the public before the anime that inspired it, forming part of the promotional campaign. However, in the case of Trigger’s Kill la Kill, both the original anime and its manga adaptation began in Japan at the same time, in October 2013.
In some cases the manga version of an anime will differ considerably from the source material. What works in one medium doesn’t always necessarily work so well in another, or the storyline will change during production without the manga author’s knowledge. But at least as far as this first volume goes, , this is a pretty straight-forward adaptation of Trigger’s original. Ryo Akizuki adds the occasional extra scene and slightly reorders some events, but for the most part this will be familiar territory for any Kill La Kill fan.
The plot follows wandering Transfer student Ryuko Matoi as she arrives at the Honnouji Academy, looking for the murderer of her father. Honnouji is ruled over by a fearsome Student Council, with the help of special Goku uniforms that give their wearers incredible powers. Only Ryuko (and her unique Scissor Blade weapon) stands in their way.
The first volume comprises the first three episodes of the anime, one per chapter. Akizuki does an excellent job of capturing the appeal of the series on the printed page. The characters are all recognisable and true to their animated versions, without merely slavishly copying Sushio’s original character designs. There’s a pleasing chunkiness to the art, with strong black lines and a stylish look that – like the anime that spawned it – has a distinctly old-school feel at times.
Crucially, the artist does a great job at capturing the kinetic feel of the action sequences. Akizuki speaks in his introduction about a desire to present the manga at “full speed”, and he seems to have done just that. The style of the TV incarnation is also captured through the copious use of “onscreen” text. This is also a natural fit with the comic form itself, so the use of frequent sound-effects only adds to this atmosphere. Akuzuki does such a good job of distilling the series’ appeal in fact, that you shouldn’t be surprised if you hear the theme song ‘Before My Body Is Dry’ playing in your head as you read along.
Anyone put off by the fan service in the TV series should be advised that it’s no less present here, thanks largely to Ryuko’s revealing battle costume. If anything, it actually seems slightly more in-your-face on the page than on the screen.
The manga sticks so closely to the anime that (so far) there will be few surprises to anyone who has watched the show. If you were after an alternate retelling or a continuation then you’ll be disappointed. If however, you’re happy simply to revisit the world and characters of one of the most memorable anime of recent times then Kill La Kill the manga is a highly enjoyable way to do so.