Kill La Kill, the newest anime by the creative minds behind over the top mecha hit Gurren Lagann, is all about a girl searching for the person who killed her father. To do this she has a giant scissor-blade and a transforming school uniform. That's where things get troubling.
In the series' lore, she
slits [seems to slit] her wrist to transform because the living uniform feeds on her blood. Thus the time limit for her transformation is until she passes out due to blood loss.
That explanation, however, doesn't change the fact that slitting one's wrists is one of the most common ways to attempt suicide (or at the very least self-mutilation) and the anime purposely evokes that image. This is all the more shocking considering that, according to the latest reported figures, Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world—21.7 suicides per 100,000 people. (For comparison, the last measured US suicide rate is only 12 suicides per 100,000 people.)
Yes, Kill la Kill is an action-comedy and of course, it is far from the only popular Japanese property to use suicidal images for shock value—Persona 3 and it's pistol-like evokers comes to mind, for example. But just because it's been done before doesn't make it any less disturbing when you remember that, by associating the images with awesome, action packed fights, Kill la Kill is basically making slitting your wrist seem like a “cool” thing to do. And I admit, that worries me a bit.
To see the wrist-slitting transformation in action, check out the videos bellow.
[Update: It's revealed in the third episode that the dagger-like key she slides back and forth across her wrist doesn't actually slit her wrist—it just looks like it does from an outside perspective. Rather, pulling out the key causes a needle to drop down in the glove and puncture her wrist. It's also shown in the third episode that she doesn't need to even do the slicing motion as the key can be pulled directly out. So it looks like she just does the wrist-slitting gesture for the sake of style... which is still a bit troubling.]
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