Matoi Ryuko is a girl who was raised by her father, not knowing who her mother is. There are hints in the series that she didn‘t get along with her father, and it is obvious she doesn’t have any friends or connections. One day Ryuko is called home only to find her father dying, having just missed his killer.
Ryuko sets out on a journey to find her father‘s killer, and actually on a journey of self discovery. In case we didn‘t realize this ourselves, Ryuko is looking for ”the woman with a scissor blade“ – coming home she saw a woman with one half of a giant scissors running away, and found her father with the other half of the scissors stuck into him. But who is ”the woman with a scissors blade“? Ryuko took the blade which killed her father, and is going around carrying it, so she herself is ”a woman with a scissors blade“.
Wandering around Japan Ryuko comes to Honnouji Academy. Honnouji is a name rife with meaning to anyone familiar with Japanese history, and certainly Japanese viewers recognize it. At Honnouji Ryuko discovers her rival – the school council president, and real ruler of the school, Kiryuin Satsuki.
Satsuki and Ryuko are opposites in every possible way. Ryuko is a homeless vagabond, while Satsuki is the daughter of an extremely rich family. Ryuko was raised by her father, while Satsuki was raised by her mother. Ryuko is all emotion and has only herself, Satsuki is the epitome of cold reason and rules Honnouji with the help of the student council and the approval of her mother. Ryuko didn‘t get along with her father, Satsuki is apparently a dutiful daughter who behaves just as her mother expects – treating everyone as being below her, and ruling with an iron fist.
At Honnouji Academy Satsuki gives out uniforms which endow their wearers with superhuman abilities, and after Ryuko appears it turns out Satsuki herself possesses a so-called GodCloth, which is superior to any of the other uniforms – except the uniform Ryuko finds her father left her in secret. And just to make sure we understand the two girls are diametric opposites, Ryuko‘s GodCloth is black and red, and Satsuki‘s GodCloth is white and blue. Indeed, the only similarities between the girls appear to be that only Ryuko and Satsuki are capable of wearing a GodCloth, and they both walk around carrying giant blades, a katana in Satsuki‘s case.
At mid-series, during the climatic battle of Honnouji Academy all is revealed. Ryuko and Satsuki are sisters. Ryuko and Satsuki‘s mother sent her personal assassin to kill Ryuko‘s father. The only man, indeed the only person, their mother had ever feared, or at least considered her equal and therefore one who could interfere with her plans, was their father. She thought she had killed him already, but when a man who was also working against her surfaced, she made sure to kill him too – not realizing that was her husband.
Then it turns out that Satsuki had been planning all along on betraying her mother. She had been following her father‘s wishes this entire time. And Ryuko discovers the truth about herself. Her mother was right to fear her father, for he had created the ultimate weapon to foil her plans – Ryuko, who is the only being on Earth stronger than her mother.
It is only the middle of the series, and Ryuko‘s journey has culminated. She now knows everything – who her father really was, who her mother is, she even discovered she has a sister, and she knows who, or rather what, she herself is.
However, the real journey has only just begun. Ryuko knows everything, but now she has to decide on her path. Will she support her just-discovered mother? Will she go with her father‘s wishes and support her sister, who had been her enemy-rival until now? What is Ryuko‘s choice?
The decision and the continuation of the journey, both inner-mental and outer-physical, take place during the second half of the series. Sounds interesting? Find and watch Kill-La-Kill.
In part 2: Is Kill-La-Kill misogynist?