What will you do next, Yasuna Oribe? That’s the question asked at the end of each episode of Kill Me Baby, and the answer is generally get beaten up by her best friend. It’s cartoonish violence, the kind that has no consequences beyond a comedy giant lump on the head, and I don’t generally like that kind of thing, but I did find this a very funny series at times, and the moeblob characters take on the same kind of cosy familiarity as a slice-of-life series such as Lucky Star or K-On!, but with added knife crime. It’s a bizarre combination, that somehow works.
Yasuna is a normal schoolgirl, and she is there to provide contrast to her best friend Sonya, who is a schoolgirl assassin. We rarely see her on missions, and this is definitely not a series that is about showing us Sonya going out and killing people, but the humour springs from her no-nonsense attitude and her assassin skills, while being basically pestered by her annoying friend, who seems determined to wind her up all the time, despite that being clearly a very dangerous thing to do.
Making up the trio of main characters is Agiri, a ninja from Sonya’s organisation, who is also very funny. She makes a big deal of her ninja skills as if they are magical, and at times she almost appears to have super powers, but mostly they turn out to be cheap tricks. The writers have great fun playing with the question of whether she is a complete fraud or not.
The series has a tight focus on those three main characters. Nominally there is a fourth, who only appears in a couple of episodes, and the only name she gets is “Unused Character”. When we see her she is trying to get in on the action of the series while always failing to get involved in any way. She is very angry with Yasuna and Sonya for not getting a proper role in the series. It’s a very modern and meta approach to a character, and it’s hilariously funny and clever. Ironically I wanted to see more of her, but I supposed she wouldn’t have been so “unused” if the writers had given in to the temptation to include her more. Most episodes play out with just Yasuna and Sonya on the screen, with regular and generally brief appearances from Agiri, and I think that’s why I felt that I got to know the characters so well over the course of only thirteen episodes. It’s all about them, with no distractions from Yasuna and Sonya’s shenanigans, beyond the occasional cameo appearance from an amusingly senile old man.
There are no big dramas here, with plot lines tending to focus on whatever silly thoughts come into Yasuna’s head, such as who can hold their breath the longest, and then the comedy springs from there. Yasuna is bizarrely competitive, despite being bad at everything.
Highlights of the series are the second episode, with an escaped bear in the park, the eighth episode, where Yasuna gets a bin stuck on her head, the tenth episode, which is set in the snow at Christmas, and in one very funny sequence Yasuna and Sonya make far too many snowmen and then Sonya has to destroy them trying to find her lost wallet. The eleventh episode is a break from the style of the rest of the series, focussing on some dream sequences that take inspiration from Japanese folklore legends, some of which will be familiar to viewers who have watched enough anime. The last episode of the series finally adds some meat to the bones of Yasuna and Sonya’s relationship, acknowledging for once that it is actually a genuine friendship and Yasuna does worry about the life Sonya leads. It’s momentarily emotional, and a moment is enough for a series of this nature.
I realised that a lot of what I was watching was deeply silly, but I ended up loving all the eccentric quirks of Kill Me Baby: the long episode titles (“Bath Kite Rice Cake New Year’s First Dream”), the narrator monologues at the end that make the series sound like something deep and meaningful, the silly voices the narrators put on and the way they unnecessarily read out the on-screen captions. The opening titles and music are ghastly, but the ending is a huge amount of fun, with a quirky earworm of a song and the two girls doing some very entertaining funny dance moves. That contrast between the two title sequences, one annoying, one sublime, sums up Kill Me Baby rather neatly. RP