Mako in Episode 23 of Kill la Kill gives a speech where she exclaims, “But I can’t be beaten here! I have to protect this ship!” The visual accompaniment actually consists of a rapid-fire sequence of puns, which I thought I’d break down here.

1) “But I can’t be beaten here!”

Koko de taoreru wake niwa ikanai mon!


Taoreru can mean ‘”to be defeated” but it’s also used when saying someone has fallen ill or worse. Mako is posed as if she were a corpse.



Wake is broken up into its syllables: wa (輪) means ring, hence the loop made with her fingers, ke (毛) means hair.


Niwa is represented by Mako dressed as two birds because niwa (二羽) is how you count two birds.


Ika means squid (烏賊), a familiar pun for all you Squid Girl fans.


Nai is used as a negative conjugation in Japanese verbs, so we get the familiar image of Mako shaking her head. Ikanai means cannot, but more in the sense of “I musn’t.”


Mon is a way to emphasize one’s emotional investment. Mako is posing in the shape of the kanji 門, pronounced mon, which means gate.

2) “I have to protect this ship!”

Kono fune mamorenai to


Kono means “this,” Mako is pointing down at “this.”


Fune means boat, Mako is in a sushi boat, simple enough.



Mamorenai to means “have to protect,” which is split up into mamore, “protect,” and nai to, which is also how you pronounce “knight” in Japanese.

Hope you learned something!