Wrist-Slitting Doesn’t Need To Be Glamorised

Wrist-Slitting Doesn’t Need To Be Glamorised
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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 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.


  • Garbage. I seriously don’t understand how this site maintains its dignity. Is everything “troubling” to Kotaku? Why do you people believe you have – not the right – but the ability to actually judge creative work according to… Well… What moral standard? They read minds like crazy, accusing everyone who touches on gender issues, sexuality, depiction and now suicide of including these things for only nefarious reasons and lamenting about how awful this would be for all of us, morally. Reeks of ignorant knee-jerk sensationalism and legitimately saddens me.

    There are very few writers in this industry who i would actually trust to tell me the truth, whatever they believe that is. Good writers try to incite discussion, hack writers try to incite rage.

    • And this isn’t even a Hernandez article! 😉

      (For the record, I like Hernandez’s work, but _this_ is even ridiculous.)

    • I agree with Kotaku on this one, although I admit my bias because anything with wrists generally tends to freak me out (don’t ask). I can see where you are coming from though, although I don’t think that this particular article was meant to “incite rage”. It is simply Richards (the writers) opinion on a subject. I happen to share his opinion, I don’t like wrist slitting in my anime. You obviously don’t mind the subject matter, so why not start a discussion about why you don’t see what is wrong with it instead?

      • I don’t mind it because I don’t attribute it to suicide or anything like that…After all nobody attempts suicide or causes self harm by cutting the top of their wrist anyway

        • I can see that. I don’t think that she is trying to kill herself either, it just happens to be a convenient spot / a spot where it’s clear that she is drawing blood. The only issue I have with this is my issue with wrists, haha! Even this conversation is making me queasy! Anything to do with wrists, anything, and I freak out! I can’t even touch my own wrists!

          • I’m glad I am not the only one who feels this way. Everything down to a T except I can’t even look at my wrists just seeing the veins freaks me out LOL.

    • It’s haphazard, I mean what we got on Attack on Titan was self harm when he would go titan. Why wasn’t that reported ? When its fully visible.

      • Because this site treated AoT as “the greatest animu EVARRRRRR!” So of course the self harm aspect of the show is overlooked. Richard probably doesn’t like this anime so it’s ok to attack it.

      • More than likely because Eren the character that does it is explained that he doesn’t need to do that to bring out the Titan. That was something that only Eren does, no other Titans do the self-harm thing and neither does Eren later on. So kinda moot when it gets explained away.

        • Somehow I don’t think you realise you just proved my point so I’d better explain. He linked a string of things together via a pathetic argument and my point was mocking it. Now go to bed.

    • Calm down.

      Re-read what you said and re-read the article. It just says a show makes slitting your wrist look cool and that that worries the author a bit. In my book, that is the beginning of a discussion, not trying to incite rage? Where do you get that from? That goes for all the topics you listed, too. You don’t think valid discussions come from talking about gender issues, sexism or suicide? Geez. Just because you find them annoying, don’t misconstrue that as invalidity or dishonesty from the author.

    • I feel as if they’re missing how Kill la Kill is so heavily laden with (perhaps not so) subtle references to Japanese culture, politics and lifestyle that to merely point out the ‘glorification of wrist cutting’ shows the author is only seeing this show on a very superficial level.

      The very fact the Godrobe is awakened by blood and that she cuts her wrist is commentary in itself. It is not glorifying or making suicide out to be ‘cool’. The device works more like a key than a razorblade.

      • “The device works more like a key than a razorblade.”

        That sounds a lot like Caboose from Red vs Blue, talking about a sword.

        Caboose: “Or it’s a key all the time, and when you stick it in people, it unlocks their death!”

  • Sometimes I don’t understand our quest to get games and anime to be seen as valid forms of art. Not because I don’t agree, I do, but because we seem to be for and against it at the same time. We ask that games, anime, comics and such should be seen as art in the same respect as TV Shows, Movies, Operas, Paintings and so on, but then we ourselves add criticism to it that we wouldn’t add to other mediums

    Do we talk of paintings being too sexist? Sculptures appealing to the populace? Operas portraying women as needing to be saved? I don’t remember seeing commentary about how Burn Notice or Dexter shouldn’t be glamorising murder.

    If pop culture is art, then we need to stop saying what it should or should not be doing. What is or is not right to be made. Art is an expression, not something that has to fit into what we consider normal or good for us

  • Cutting that way certainly wouldn’t cause her to kill herself. It’s down the road, not across the street.

    Of course, nothing glamorises like finding an anime none of us had heard of before, writing an article saying “tsk tsk, down with this sort of thing” and leaving looping gifs of the action itself. Real sensitive, Richard. [only slightly sarcastic]

    • “It’s down the road, not across the street.”

      I found that quip darker and more troubling than anything in the article.

  • I fear for what the media will be like a couple decades down the road when this kind of thing continues to escalate until we’ll see this exact same kind of article but on something like anime characters drinking alcohol with wild abandon and glorifying it by showing them actually having a good time as a result, which is very worrying because there are countless alcohol related deaths/crimes a day.

  • The second video actually shows how she doesn’t cut her wrist, but pinch other parts of her body.
    And this article came from the same site that Hates when people blame media/video Games for violence acts?

  • This is a joke right, nobody normal would watch Kill La Kill and think anything about wrist slitting being glamorised. Because thats just stupid

  • Just looks like she’s pulling a ripcord on a Beyblade to me. I wouldn’t even have known she was slitting her wrist if the article didn’t mention it.

  • Wait. Wait. WAIT.
    Isn’t this girl about to try and CUT SOMEONE IN HALF? With a SWORD?
    And you’re getting upset because she cut herself first?

    Self harm is bad, OK I get that. But attacking people with a sword is bad too, even if they did kill your father. The “correct” form would have her hand evidence to authorities, go through a court case etc. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t touch a cartoon like that with a 3-metre stick.

  • I’m normally at the front of the charge to have a go at Kotaku articles (eg anything by Ashcraft), but wow, these comments are so hostile. 😐 Japan had 30,000+ suicides a year for like 13 years straight, with some of the highest suicides in the world for teens and middle aged men. It’s kind of a big issue and I don’t see how abusing an article writer for having concerns about it helps…

    • Probably because he’s completely abandoned all context. This thing is shock-value absurdism on speed, the likes of which we haven’t seen since FLCL, with half the quiet/relatively-sane time. They could have (and still might) go much darker yet and it would be in keeping with the tone/direction they’re very clearly, openly going for.

  • This is on the same level as the jokes made at the expense of emo kids, and it’s not like it’s the first time a mass media product from Japan has made the joke: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZt2_kqoqqI
    Should the jokes get made? Not really, but society as a whole does it anyway because the status quo is in favour of the socially “well adjusted”.

    • Actually I don’t think many people would associate it with emo’s or suicide unless it was pointed it out like this. It’s been taken out of context here, which is why there’s been such negative comments.

  • The thing is though….Ryuko doesn’t slit her wrists to transform. See, Ryuko makes a sweeping motion horizontally and while it may look like wrist silting, the glove acts like a key if anything (it actually is described as a key later in the anime by the teacher who made the glove in the first place). What actually activates her power is a needle inserted into her skin that takes the blood and sends it into Senketsu (I think it’s shown in her transformations plus Satsuki and Junketsu have the same format of transforming except it’s on the arm).

    Now the reason why Ryuko passes out is also explained in her fight with Satsuki. Ryuko’s so embarrassed with wearing Senketsu that she rejects him and they can’t be in sync which leads Senketsu to ingest more blood than he needs because he’s trying to establish a bond with Ryuko yet all of that blood ingesting leads to her passing out in seconds.

    Not to mention that after battling Satsuki and Mako’s epic friendship speech, Ryuko and Senketsu connect with each other and uses significantly less blood than that of the first 3 episodes plus Ryuko doesn’t always uses a horizontal motion to activate the needle (most of the time she just yanks the pin of the glove off)

    idk like I know KLK is full of problematic stuff (RAYGO OH MY GOD SHE NEEDS TO GO) but yeah I don’t like inaccuracy with articles because then people can take that to heart and it becomes Chicken Little.

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