ANIME & MANGA - Review
10:59 - 12th July 2016, by NEO Staff

Kill Me Baby Collection

Based on Kaduho’s four panel manga, Kill Me Baby is told as a series of loosely connected vignettes, working together to pad out each episode title – a mismatch of words like Dogs, Ninjas and Cherry Blossoms, or Nunchuks, Bears and Balloons. It’s a slice-of-life in the truest sense; each day starts more or less the same, and every episode follows a similar structure. Within the confines of this everyday school life, Yasuna passes the time with petty adventure. She’s the archetypical ditz, accident prone and with a sixth sense for trouble, whose huge appetite covers both food and mischief.

Sonya’s unlikely friendship with Yasuna is made stranger by her extra-curricular profession. She’s a deadpan assassin always absent of a target, but there’s never a shortage of rivals trying to bump her off. Armed with anxiety issues, a punishing portfolio of finishing moves, and an apparently endless supply of knives, the abrasive relationship usually ends with Yasuna getting strangled, walloped or worse.

The duo gets wind of a ghost occupying an empty room that once housed the defunct Ninja Club. There they encounter the incompetent shinobi Agiri, and Yasuna, the wide-eyed and misguided wanderer, falls for her techniques and idolises Agiri out of all proportion. With their respective ninja / assassin affiliations, you get the sense that that Sonya and Agiri are Chunibyo, trapped in their respective imaginings for one reason or another.

The visual style is reminiscent of fellow four paneller (and SHAFT adaptation) Hidamari Sketch, in the long lines and sharp angles of the character models and bizarre use of music. The sketchy scenes and edgy inserts give it a punky feel, like a Flash animation from the Wild West days of the web, emphasising every joke and punch line. Despite the style, the animators find the odd moment to show off their chops in the falling peach blossom, the scruffy shades of the sunset, or Yasuna and Sonya silhouetted against a navy sky.

The voice acting is the series’ greatest strength; Mutsumi Tamura as the no-nonsense, hard-lipped Sonya, with Ai Takabe as the airy Agiri and, best of all, the manic and impish tones of Chinatsu Akasaki as Yasuna. The peripheral chatter sees a slew of goofy-voiced animals, and the narrator setting up the daily drudgery, providing some of the biggest laughs with just a well-timed word or phrase.

The whole show is framed as satire, though it can never quite settle on any consistent target. The fiery-haired hothead Unused Character, for example, is miffed that Yasuna ended up with all her personality traits, and has vowed revenge. It’s one of the least amusing aspects, coming across as try-hard at best. It anesthetises the rest of the infectious humour, drawing out pauses and using recurring gags and repetition for a great amalgam of east-meets-west. But switching between dubs reveals how much of the humour depends on the original Japanese.

The bombastic use of backdrops, pop art patterns and deliriously weird humour help counter the try-hard parts for an entertaining if mixed result.
SCORE: 3/5
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