Clothing is sin. Original sin. For those who aren’t familiar with the story of Adam and Eve, this isn’t actually how it went down. Adam and Eve covered themselves, and from this God knew that they had eaten the fruit he told them not to. Wearing clothing and feeling shame came from gaining a knowledge of good and evil. But wearing the clothing was not sin, Adam and Eve breaking their promise was sin.
With that aside, let’s accept the premise that clothing is sin.
What does this make Satsuki’s mother? A merchant of sin. She sells sin and makes a profit off it. 90% of the world’s sin is her company’s responsibility. She’s a monster. Kind of like a drugs dealer or an arms dealer, profiting off other people’s wrongdoing.
What’s more, she’s proud of it. And she wants more.
But why is clothing a sin? Putting aside our (mis)interpretation of ancient myths, and given the show’s own narrative, what sin does clothing carry?
The issue is that clothing is tied, fundamentally, to power. The academy has an explicit caste system which is determined by a person’s clothing. The No-Stars, like Mako, live in poverty. Then come the One, Two and Three stars, with increasing power and prestige. And on top of the food chain is Satsuki, who wears her own unique clothing, a queen. This correspondence between clothing and power holds in the real world as well. The powerful wear suits, ties and fancy dresses. The middle and lower classes wear jeans and shirts of varying quality. And the homeless wear secondhand rags.
To wear clothing is to reinforce this power dynamic: to tell those wearing inferior clothing, “Look, I am better than you.” Clothing serves to alienate people from one another. The haves from the have-nots. The rulers from the ruled. Clothing, in the form of uniforms, determines who kills who in war, both in Kill la Kill and in the real world. To wear clothing is to alienate and oppress. An act of sin and violence.
Satsuki’s mother (presumably) sells the best clothing to the highest bidder. Her work reinforces and solidifies the existing power dynamics of the world. Satsuki herself is at odds with her mother because she does things a bit differently. Instead of giving the best clothes to those who have money, she gives them to those who “earn” the clothing. She doesn’t maintain the status quo using the power of clothing, but changes the status quo so that those who deserve the most power are set at the top. Clothing is Satsuki’s tool for a social revolution and upending of the existing hierarchy.
The problem is, even if Satsuki distributes the clothing as justly as possible, she still is creating a power hierarchy. This is where Mako comes in. Mako, a powerless No-Star (and deservedly so) can stand up to the Elite Four of the student council. They see her as an equal. This isn’t because she is remarkable among No-Stars. It’s because the hierarchy itself is inherently worthless. Its’ only purpose is to give some people power over others and to alienate people from one another.
One of my favorite stories is about St. Francis of Assisi. His father was a silk merchant (just like Satsuki’s mother). One day, he had a dream in which he heard the voice of Christ saying, “Francis, Francis, go repair my house, which has fallen into ruin.” He took this to mean the church where he had been praying, so he sold some of his father’s clothes and gave the money away to repair the church. His dad was pissed, and ended up bringing his son to court before the bishop. In court, his father pointed out that he had given Francis everything he owned, even the clothes on his back. So Francis stripped off all his clothes and skipped out of the courtroom, singing, and began to live the life of a beggar.
tl;dr St. Francis founded Nudist Beach.
For the most part, these episodes were some pretty standard anime storytelling. Ryuuko is upset that she turned into a monster. She is defeated. She regains her willpower and comes back stronger than before. Can’t say I was expecting the newspaper guy to transform into Nui though, hahaha.
Satsuki’s mother still sees Satsuki as a child. Even with how ridiculously powerful these schools are, we still get the feeling that these struggles are games played by children. Which is kind of confusing seeing as how the parents’ lifestyles completely depend on their children in Satsuki’s school.
Oh my that is a fearsome weapon. If they played that over and over and over again anyone would flee in sheer terror. I hate graduations.