Reviewby Theron Martin, Jul 5th 2013
Kill Me Baby
DVD - Complete Collection
Brown-haired high school girl Yasuna Oribe is (mostly) an idiot. Her classmate and closest friend, the blond-haired Sonia, is an assassin by trade who tends to react violently when touched or when Yasuna tries to draw her into one lame-brained scheme or another. That, of course, never discourages Yasuna for long from regularly attempting to do so. On occasion they also cross paths with black-haired Agiri, a girl from another class but the same organization that Sonia belongs to who may or may not be a ninja. (Many – but not all! – of her supposed ninja techniques are of dubious merit.) Together they get involved in all sorts of crazy antics or merely mundane ones gone wrong, while a fourth girl frets about being an Unused Character.
As one might expect from the Synopsis, this Winter 2012 series is based on a 4-panel manga series, a feel which is inescapable as one watches the show. Its 13 episodes play out almost entirely as collections of gag bits, with each episode having a handful of major ones that are typically organized according to some kind of loose theme; one of the late episodes primarily involves weird dreams that Yasuna has concerning Sonia, for instance, while one of the early ones focuses on Agiri's (largely fake) ninja tools. Interspersed amongst the scenes are regular shots of an old man whose entire rasion d'etre seems to be just to randomly pop up and make random comments that are not necessarily even jokes. (He also sometimes pops up in the backgrounds of regular scenes.)
The only thing approaching a plot or real character development in the series is Yasuna's genuinely earnest attempts to prevent Sonia from continuing her life as an assassin, which every once in a while produces a somewhat serious note. Thus the entertainment value comes entirely from its comedy aspect, and at that the series milks its set-up for all it's worth. Many of the gags come down to Yasuna getting drawn into some new belief based on something she has seen on TV or dramatically misinterpreted from something she has done (such as thinking that she has extraordinary luck just because something lucky happens to her once) and scheming to get the much more skeptical Sonia involved, too, or Sonia's skewed view of the world due to her profession and her incongruous timidity around animals. How funny these jokes are varies dramatically over the course of the series, with the heaviest concentration of laugh-out-loud moments being early on and a dearth of them being in the high-single-digit episodes. Many of the others involve Sonia inflicting some degree of physical abuse on Yasuna when she steps out of line, which are funny at first, but even the creative ways that Sonia does this do not prevent that shtick from getting old after a while. The most consistently funny bits involve Agiri's appearances to show off her very random-seeming ninja skills and tools, such as a secret technique for keeping her skirt and hair in place when hanging upside down or a “fire summoning technique” scroll that is really just a big lighter. Perhaps the best running joke in the series is that most of what Agiri does seems fake (and her mercantile inclinations help support that), but every once in a while she pulls off some stunt which makes the viewer wonder if she might not have some actual ability.
And that's really about it for the series' content, beyond the usually-not-that-funny scenes involving the Unused Character. If the first episode does not sufficiently entertain you then watching any further is a waste of time, as the entire series is just more of the same.
This being a gag comedy apparently convinced J.C. Staff that nothing more than a basic artistic and animation effort was needed, as the visual elements are done just well enough to pull off the visual side of various gags but no better than that. The three main girls, plus Unused Character and the old man, exclusively appear in semi-chibi form, ones which give more the impression of the girls being in grade school, while nearly everyone else except a recurring dog appears as undefined outlines. These designs do allow for very distinct appearances and a good range of comic expressiveness but do not use great detail. Background art and props are just rudimentary, flat-colored efforts, and the most robust animation is actually in the opener and closer's visuals. Otherwise it animates just enough to get the job done with each joke. Nothing even approaches fan service in the series, and the violence is on a cartoonish level, so only a TV-PG rating is given and warranted.
The musical score shows a bit more effort. It provides a wide range of fun little ditties to pump up or back various gags without ever missing the mark or overstepping its place. It also serves up winners on both its opener and closer, both of which are sung by lead seiyuu Mutsumi Tamura and Chinatsu Akasaki. The opener has a frenetic musical style reminiscent of some of Weird Al Yankovic's lyrical mishmashes, while the latter uses more of a low-key dance beat as Yasuna and Sonia dance on-screen.
Sentai Filmworks is only offering this title on DVD, with the 13 episodes spread across three disks in a single case. Extras only include clean opener and closer, but an English dub is provided. Curiously, only two of the four named characters are actually credited in the English credits; Brittney Karbowski, who plays Unused Character, isn't credited at all, and Jessica Boone is only credited as “Additional Voices” instead of also as Agiri. She does a great job of giving Agiri a dippy, lilting voice that is probably the best English equivalent of the speech affectation original seiyuu Ai Takabe used, while Luci Christian turns in a suitably droll performance as Sonia and Hilary Haag is in manic mode as Yasuna. They and the other minor voices also seem to have a lot of fun with creative ways to say “kill me, baby” and “baby, please kill me” during the eyecatches. The English script tosses in a couple of topical references more specific to American audiences, but not at the expense of existing content.
Kill Me Baby is a series probably best-enjoyed one or two episodes at a time; trying to marathon it can be a brain-melting experience and is so not recommended. Keep it to smaller doses, though, and it delivers often enough to make a reliable comedy diversion.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : B
Animation : C+
Art : C
Music : B
+ Agiri's ninja-related jokes, some other very funny content, solid English dub.
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