Sometimes a new season throws you a fascinating looking new anime, with shiny graphics, intriguing synopsis and a hugely talented crew behind it. Other times, it decides to vomit dead babies on your lap. Kill Me Baby is the latest offering by esteemed animation studio JC Staff (and by esteemed I mean “haven’t produced anything of worth since Nodame Cantabile”) in a season where they are also producing 5 other anime. 4 of which are sequels, which have proved popular enough to warrant them in the first place, and the ambitious anime original romcom Ano no Natsu, all of which obviously are getting more budget than Kill Me Baby. Better yet, it’s adapted from a 4-koma. With my excitement reaching fever pitch, I dove into this pile of feces.
First thing that is made abundantly clear is that Kill Me Baby’s animation budget is possibly even lower than I originally expected. Backgrounds are rarely more than a child’s drawing of shapes and squiggles. Sometimes they’re not even fully drawn, having that old trick of fading the corners away to reveal the blank background that’s probably used for the bottom layer on their photoshop files. As for the foreground, the character designs are rather unusual. They’re apparently meant to be 15-year-old girls, but their designs combined with the childish background drawings make them look 6 inches tall.
The background music is also unusual: there isn’t any. Jokes are done in complete silence, occasionally with a few sound effects. There was one track they played for about 5 seconds or so, but even this song sounded like it was less instruments and more somebody on the staff discovered he could make a groovy track if he hit the right sound effect buttons in the right order. Speaking of music, the original band choice must have rejected their offer to play an OP for the anime, the pay being higher if they played for their friend’s grandmother (and she even gave them some home-made mince pies). So instead the crew recorded the sound of a colleague having an epileptic fit on the soundboard and used that instead.
The story is about an assassin and her friend in school. That’s largely it for the first 10 minutes or so. Neither character expresses much in the way of depth to their personalities. Eventually though, someone on the production team remembered the first law of 4-koma adaptations: Thou must have more than one joke in your repertoire. So they introduced a ninja halfway through. OK fine, spread the load a bit, but we’re still lacking in variety. I’m not going to write a first impressions post of Recorder and Randsell because it’s only 3 minutes long, but at least keeping 3 minutes long there’s no time for the single joke it has to get stale (not that its single joke was funny or anything, but it certainly didn’t get enough airing to become stale).
While I’ve basically been mocking the ever-loving shit out of Kill Me Baby for this entire post, it’s honestly nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. Its stubborn refusal to budge from its pure gag roots means there’s no time for horrific crowbarred attempts at heartwarming or melodramatic scenes. It also follows the second law of 4-koma adpatations: Thou shall not be just cute girls doing cute things. It’s a damn sight better than the likes of A-Channel for these reasons, and some of the jokes are even quite funny. A fleeting grin spread across my face when the doofus character pretended to be compelled to follow the piece of chicken dangling in front of her face.
Ultimately though, Kill Me Baby fails because it didn’t follow the third law of 4-koma adaptations: Thou must form some sort of cohesive narrative. This show is horribly directed. There’s no transition between the jokes. There’s an almost audible clunk when they’ve reached the 4th panel and have to move onto a new joke. It feels like you’re watching a clip show rather than a coherent production. And again, the jokes just aren’t funny for the most part because it only has this one joke, which isn’t funny in the first place. The best comedies have that weight behind their jokes that gives them their laugh out loud quality, such as Detroit Metal City or Arakawa. So Kill Me Baby is typical rubbis-wait a second…
Is that dancing in the ending song!?!
Best anime of the season.