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I've been watching Kill La Kill.

So Honnouji Academy is an academy alright. Students go there.

But, why are entire families and neighbourhoods living in it? Is everyone in there a prisoner? What happens when a student is expelled?

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First things first, some background. In Japan, some high schools have dormitories for students who would otherwise live far away. The living areas of Honnouji Academy is an extension of that, a hyperbolic version of that if you will. Keep in mind that everything in Kill-la-Kill is an exaggeration of real life and a parody of older anime.

Now, there's a reason for all this in the anime itself however, as revealed in later episodes. As to the students being prisoners, some spoilers:

All the students there are originally going to be "cattle" for the life fibers. Life fibers require humans to operate without being connected to the original life fiber itself. We have to remember that Satsuki planned to rebel against her mother by training the academy's students to resist life fibers. She does this by making them wear one-star uniforms. As they get more resistant, more willpower to resist the life-fibers, they get promoted to two-stars and so on. Those who have no potential will not be permitted to wear the uniforms and it is likely that Satsuki would want to spare them from being involved in the her upcoming rebellion.

As for expulsion, expelled student are expelled normally in that, they are removed from the academy along with their family. Of course there are some exceptions. It's probable that the traitor in the first episode was killed so that Satsuki's plans would remain a secret as he stole an important piece of technology, but the traitor in episode 4 was spared because she would pose no threat as she has not stolen any of the uniform technology.

In other words, yes they are all pigs in human clothing, but not exactly, and when a student is expelled them and their family are kicked out unless they are a danger to Satsuki's plans.

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Honnouji Academy is a school that rules over and entire city with the hands of an all powerful dictatorship.

Is everyone in there a prisoner?

You could call that, but they can get out anytime they want.

What happens when a student is expelled?

His/Her family goes to the lowest social class or be killed, it depends on the cause of expulsion.

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    I don't think we've seen any evidence that students who are expelled may be killed. – senshin Jan 28 '14 at 8:48
  • The student who stole the Goku uniform in the first episode. – Wadapmerth Jan 28 '14 at 8:53
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    @Wadapmerth: Because he was explicitly conspiring against the academy. He's bound to have a worse punishment than other normal students. Take for instance the girl that stole Matou's uniform - she was expelled at the end, but not killed. Also, in the same episode we see several students who didn't reach the class in time, so they were expelled. They weren't killed. – Omega Jan 28 '14 at 9:12
  • @Omega, just what I said "it depends on the cause of expulsion". If a student has just a minor reason for expulsion: His/Her family goes to the lowest social class. If a student fought or rebeled against the student council: Be killed. – Wadapmerth Jan 29 '14 at 1:23

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