Nothing says fun like taunting the high school assassin girl, right?
What They Say:
Yasuna Oribe isn’t your typical Japanese high school girl. For one thing, she’s a little slow on the uptake, and for another, her best friend, Sonya, is actually a highly trained foreign assassin who’s in Yasuna’s class as part of her assignment. Though perhaps Yasuna’s definition of “best friend” is a bit strange, as Sonya has the habit of regularly attacking Yasuna, especially when startled.
However, as noted, Yasuna isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, and while Sonya knows precisely what to do with every one of those sharp objects, even she is hard pressed to deal with the day to day oddities that seem to fill their class schedule. Things like: escaped bears, voodoo curses, juggling and killer mosquitoes. And puppet shows. And just in case Yasuna’s life wasn’t weird or hazardous enough, there’s her ninja classmate, Agiri, swarms of bees and assassins targeting just about everybody, a mysterious red-haired girl with a personal vendetta and the perils of slipping in the public bath.
Contains episodes 1-13.
The audio presentation for this series is solid throughout as we get the original Japanese language in track as well as the previously created English language dub, both of which are encoded using the lossless DTS-HD MA codec, which is an obviously good bump over the 224kbps DVD releases. The series is one that’s got some action and wacky moments to it where the forward soundstage is well utilized and has a full feeling to it with some decent placement. A lot of the show is all about the back and forth dialogue and banter between the three main characters and that’s generally center channel based, which is well handled. There’s occasionally some noticeable placement that’s worth doing and occasionally a bit of depth when various characters get flung into the distance. But mostly it’s just a straightforward series without anything that stands out on a regular basis but it’s a clean and clear presentation without any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2012, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes that comprise this series are spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second, which is standard approach these days. Animated by JC Staff, the show is fairly simple with its design as it works with young looking characters without a lot of detail in fairly standard settings. The show has a good look to it with the way the transfer captures the original source material where the colors are vibrant and bright with a mostly solid feel to it overall. While we had some noticeable noise on the DVD releases, this one feels a good bit more vibrant overall with its color palette and the result is a sharper and more appealing series in some ways because of how it pops off the screen. Detail is still roughly the same in a way as it’s not a hugely detailed show, but it captures the animation and designs quite well while giving it all a little more weight and impact.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs against the interior walls while the rest of it essentially mirrors the DVD edition in design. The front cover gives us a cute shot of Sonia riding on top of Yasuna while Sonia has her weapons out looking all serious and intense. The other two girls that have roles in the show get much, much smaller shots here and the cover as a whole just has a slightly odd feeling to it with the sparseness and color design, especially since it goes with a lime green and yellow now surrounded by the blue of the case. The back cover goes bold with lots of red for the background with a dash of yellow for part of the alphabet tagline along the top. The premise is well covered with a good bit of information here and some cute shots from the show arrayed around it. The discs features and episode count is clearly listed and we get a good rundown of the production credits and the technical grid which covers it all cleanly and clearly – but most importantly accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this series is pretty bold and colorful where we get something that definitely pops off the screen. The right side has our two leads caught up in each other – upside down – with a blue background to it. The character artwork has some nice color to it and with the big yellow text logo along the top combined with a few splotches of blood, it’s a pretty vibrant piece overall. The left side of the screen goes for a lime green background as a big speech bubble from Yasuna that has the navigation itself. That’s done with orange and white blocks with blue text that gets highlighted in green when you hover over it with handguns on each side. It’s not exactly complex but it has a kind of odd feeling that works with the show overall. Submenus work well here as they load quickly both as a main menu and during regular playback as a pop-up menu.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name by Kaduho, Kill Me Baby is a thirteen episode series animated by JC Staff. The original manga is one of many four panel comics that have been adapted into anime form and it takes that kind of flow and works it fairly well here. With five volumes released since the book began in 2008, there’s a fair number of gags and mini arcs to work with and the show spends its time where each episode has a number of shorter story runs through it. Some shows try and pad out an episode while others keep it very short, but Kill Me Baby manages to find a decent balance in what it does.
The premise of the series is simple and definitely works in the original four panel format where we’re introduced to Sonia, a cute foreign girl who is going to high school in Japan. Sonia claims to be an assassin and is just spending time in the country for awhile, but we don’t see her doing any jobs during the series. What we do see is that she has a lot of good skills and reaction times in dealing with all sorts of events, which makes it clear that she does have some training. Sonia is very much the straight man of the show and one that gets easily frustrated at times with the way that her main and seemingly only friend causes her so much trouble.
That friend is Yasuna, a classmate who knows all about Sonia and what she is but just has fun with it. Yasuna is pretty much the kind of character that’s not all that swift in a lot of ways and it gets her close to being in some serious trouble at times because of it. She wants to hang out with Sonia a lot and and enjoy the way she’s so dangerous since it can lead to a lot of hilarious moments for her. She’s constantly trying to get Sonia to show what she can do with all her assassination skills, but she also just gets caught up in weird things and draws Sonia into it against her will. Yasuna is that kind of overall good-natured kid who has her quirks but also doesn’t quite understand how the world works in some ways simply because she doesn’t think things through.
Though not quite as much of a regular, the show also includes another girl in the class named Agiri. She’s the resident ninja character who works in the same organization as Sonia but she’s more interested in selling ninja goods to rubes than anything else. And with Yasuna around, she’s regularly trying to sell her regular items and claiming that they’re ninja goods. Agiri does have some skills but she also has a certain lazy side to her that lets her get away with some hilarious little quirks as she sets up all sorts of gimmicks. Agiri has a light feel about her as she’s kind of just gliding through life and enjoying it with the kinds of impacts she has on others. You can pretty much watch her with the idea that she’s just messing with everyone in different ways in order to simply enjoy it.
The series works the multiple stories per episode idea pretty well so that any particular story doesn’t get run into the ground. The banter between the characters is what makes it fun since they have such a cute relationship at times, but there’s just not a lot really there in terms of meaningful story ideas. A lot of it is just Yasuna trying to get Sonia to do things with her skill set and Sonia not falling for it. Though there are times that you can see Sonia wanting to just take Yasuna down outright. When Agiri gets involved, it just kind of spirals into stranger directions which fits with the way the cast works and it even plays occasionally with an amusingly named “unnamed” character that is just frustrated by her lack of appearances in the show.
Having watched the DVD release previously, I was curious to go into the show a second time around. Sometimes when it’s a first time experience, it’s something that you overthink or overanalyze, especially when you write about it. Going into it this time knowing what the dynamic is, I found myself enjoying it a good bit more. Not by a significant degree, but it worked better for me both in smaller doses and longer runs of it. It’s the kind of show where you laugh at the silliness of it but it’s without any real meaning to it, no connections to the characters beyond their archetypes and cliches. It works for what it is, but I kept finding myself wanting to know more of them and who they are, and just to see Sonia actually hit a few missions to see if there’s more to it than just the talk. The series is one that I’m still somewhat surprised that it got a dub the first time around, but that in turn makes this new Blu-ray release a bit more appealing since it’s not just a monolingual port. There’s definitely some upgrades to be had here in terms of the visuals, but the show is also one a bit constrained by its origins. For those that were hoping for a high definition version, it’s here and it’s definitely worth it if you waited.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 14th, 2013
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.