When I called out for help and inspiration on anime characters to write about, Kill la Kill’s Ryuko was one of the top contenders. She doesn’t exactly fit the underrated/underappreciated theme I’m trying to go for. In fact, she’s one of the few characters with her very own TV tropes page I have now wasted an afternoon going through. Wasted isn’t the right word.Properly employed an afternoon. Point is, girl is great and has inspired a myriad of pages who do a better job than I would assessing the character.
This said, Kill la Kill is one of my favourite animes and I was honestly flabbergasted that none of the characters have been the subject of one of my profiles yet. On deeper reflection though, I can clearly see why.
Let me reiterate here, Kill la Kill is one of my favourite animes. BUT it is clearly plot driven. It’s a beautiful layer cake of allegories held together with pure style. The characters within are more personifications than people. That’s simply the nature of this particular narrative. Which means that although character studies of Kill la Kill are truly fascinating and can delve into the ethical and political interpretations of each representation, they do not lend themselves well to my particular brand of character studies.
Examining the inhabitants of the Kill la Kill universe on a personal level with regard to their relatability and realism would be missing the point, in my opinion. So that leaves me with a look at their plot significance or lack thereof.
When I first watched the series, I remember being very excited for the introduction of Inumuta. Narratively, he was a character perfectly suited to inject variety and a new type of conflict. Mind you, Kill la Kill is already pretty chock full of themes and just plain old action that it didn’t really need anything more, but he still caught my attention and I was eager to see what he could do.
Inumuta was visually striking and seemed to stand apart from the other elite four. Not that anyone in Kill la Kill isn’t visually striking mind you but his design was meant to telegraph his characters traits and he represented a departure from what we had seen so far in the series.
A lot of Kill la Kill is concerned with physicality on all levels, right down to the genetic. Conflicts are solved through combat and both heroes and villains are volatile and prone to action. Not so much for Inumuta. His skin tight fight suit and similarly longline uniform, emphasize his slim physique. The glasses and light blue hair are all traditional pointers of an “intellectual” character. He’s almost a parody of the nerd character – again par for the course in this series.
This assumption is further supported by the fact that he is a talented hacker more interested in his computer than anything else really and the head of analysis and research of the Goku uniforms. Moreover, compared to everyone else, he seemed relatively detached from everything that was happening. Greeting new events with mild amusement and open sarcasm.
Of the members of the council, he was the one most primed for dissent and most logically likely to betray Satsuki, or at least to have his own objectives in mind. See what I mean. He could have been used to inject a bit of mystery, a puzzle solving dynamic rather than head on confrontation. He could have thrown a wrench in the works or muddied the waters without ever ruining anyone’s plans.
The possibilities were innumerable. And the narrative chose to…have him fight Ryuko in hand to hand combat and quickly loose. I mean he throws a bit of exposition around here and there but for the most part, he’s pretty much dispensable. Let’s face it, all of the elite four are.
I’m of two minds on whether this is truly a shame or not. I do believe Inumuta could have been a very interesting foil to the traditionally “strong” and straightforward characters that make up the majority of the cast. I would have loved to have seen him interact with Ragyo, as I think it would have brought up different facets of the issue.
However, Kill la Kill is already a pretty tight narrative and I’m not sure it would have been viable to pack anything more into it. Heck, we only got to skim over Nudist Beach’s involvement in the story and they definitely should get a bit more development.
As it stands, Inumuta is an interesting character with a lot of potential in a story that just doesn’t need him to realize that potential. This is why, I figure we can just take a minute to appreciate him for what he is, not what he could have been. A relatively minor main character, that brought a bit more flash to an extremely stylish anime. Sometimes, you can’t live out your own story to the fullest. You just have to be make do with a guest spot. But at least, we can remember the character existed.
His name was Hōka Inumuta. He really cared about data. I’m sure he’s doing something terribly interesting right now but that is a story for another day.