If your high school best friends were an assassin and a ninja, you’d probably expect the daily drudge to fall into anarchy, but Kill Me Baby, as adapted from Kaduho’s four panel manga, sets off in the opposite direction and blends it in with a happy normality. When the story begins, it’s been a good while since Yasuna latched herself onto Sonya, the killer with all senses on edge expecting the next assault. Her tightly wound wariness balanced by Yasuna’s everyday adventure-seeking, the series proves itself faithful to the slice-of-life step sheet, tracking classes and the walk back home while meandering with Yasuna’s whims.
Starting off quick-fire with slapstick clashes between Yasuna’s ditziness and Sonya’s short fuse, when the sketchy format mellows out to spend quiet moments with the two, Kaduho and the animators at J.C.Staff each get chances to show off their poetic flair. The simple honesty of their conversations beneath the evening cherry blossom, backed against the next day’s blunders, are separated by flash cards setting the tone of the time of day and peeking at wildlife with subtle wisdom or silly pop-up book voices. These are framed around how they meet and befriend the floaty ninja Agiri, the inspiration behind the legend of a ghost occupying an empty club room, set up with a magician’s kit of swizzy ninjutsu.
The trio throw western viewers lines of familiarity in their archetypes and running jokes, but more than that we feel close to them through Chinatsu Akasaki, Mutsumi Tamura and Ai Takabe’s sharp, perceptive voice acting as Yasuna, Sonya and Agiri. The only area the humour falls down on is its attempts to satirise, with a rejected character from the manga, determined to knock Yasuna off her perch, pushing it for meta laughs.
Putting ‘Unused’ to one side in favour of focusing on the central friendship taps into a far more rewarding warmth, as well as a strangely sad possibility. Very few other characters appear in the foreground of Yasuna’s life; her days with Sonya and Agiri have the air of a lonely girl’s daydream, perhaps imagined just to pass the time.
Extras: English and Japanese dubs; clean opening and closing animation; DVD review and also available from Sentai Filmworks