Ok, so as I’m scrolling through my list of favorites on myanimelist, I suddenly start wondering, wait, what exactly is a “fighter anime?” That’s not a listed genre on any websites I know or use. Obviously, it can’t mean just an anime with a lot of fighting, because that’s like every anime in existence besides romance, drama, and SoL shows. I’d have hundreds and hundreds of options.
So I *think* what it means is an anime with a fight or a challenge for the main character(s) every episode. Something more structured in the way it presents fights. For example, Dragon Ball Z would be a fighter anime, but Black Lagoon would not. Akame ga Kill is a fighter anime, but Made in Abyss is not. What comes to mind, then, are what my generation call the classics; things like Dragon Ball series, Yuu Yuu Haskusho, One Piece, Bleach, and maybe Naruto? (Haven’t seen much of that, so I don’t know if it counts.) If those are what’s meant by “fighter anime,” then two of them come to mind immediately: Hunter x Hunter (2011) and a personal favorite, Kill la Kill.
I have to go with my heart this time and pick the latter. I’m not necessarily saying Kill la Kill is the “better” anime, because Hunter x Hunter‘s universe just has so much depth, but it’s the one I enjoyed more of the two. Maybe if I had watched HxH as a teen, or the 1999 version as a kid, I’d feel differently. But I wasn’t allowed to watch them. As it aired, I watched Kill la Kill because a significant other was watching it, and it turned out that I loved it more than they did!
I saw the show at an important part of my life, early in college, when I was breaking away from my family and the sexism of the religious movement I grew up in. So Kill la Kill was the perfect show for me. It’s about young women being badass and doing what they believe is right, with no f*cks given about what society thinks or what their crazy mother demands. (Ragyo is really freakin’ scary, by the way, at least to me.) If my definition is right, Kill la Kill should count as a fighter anime. And the fights are amazing, funny, epic, and well-animated.
When I watch Kill la Kill, I don’t see just a fanservice show. (And even if I did, the occasional fanservice show is worth watching.) When I watch, I see satire and parody of fanservice anime and hentai. Beyond that, I see layers upon layers of fascinating story, endearing and empowering characters, animation that makes my jaw drop, astounding and memorable music, and progressive and feministic themes. Many of the same minds and animators who made Gurren Lagann went on to make Kill la Kill. It’s always seemed to me like Gurren Lagann is about how to live with confidence as a man, and Kill la Kill is about how to live with confidence as a woman. Both promote messages of independence and believing in yourself.
So out of all the fighter anime I’ve seen, Kill la Kill is the one I enjoyed most, the one that felt like it was speaking to me. I watch it when I want to feel inspired and empowered. The fights are fantastic, as are many other elements that make up this beautiful and creative anime.