Would you enjoy killing people if it were your day job, or would it be just a job?
Directed by Yugo Sakamoto and produced by Riku Sumida and Tsuyoshi Goto, Baby Assassins (ベイビーわるきゅーれ -; Baby Walkure) stars Saori Izawa as Mahiro and Akari Takaishi as Chisato, two young assassins that are thrown into society as soon as they finish high school and are told that they must get a part-time job (on top of their jobs as assassins) and learn to co-exist as roommates.
While individually are excellent hired assassins, they do make quite an odd couple as housemates, and even odder when working together. Killing for money is not an issue and they find no real joy in it – it’s just a job. But for the baby assassins, it’s trying to fit into the society part that is difficult. Mahiro is more introverted, restless, and deflated with the idea of getting a part-time job in society to blend in and interact with people. It’s not like they need the money. Whereas Chisato appears keener to give the normal working world a shot and learn what she can, making for some excellent scenes in a maid café.
If you’re expecting an expensive, punchy, and actioned-pack blockbuster, you’ll be disappointed. Baby Assassins is more a slow low-fi coming-of-age film than anything else. While there are fight sequences, the focus of the film is the relationship between Mahiro and Chisato going from colleagues and reluctant housemates to being friends, whilst still trying to find their feet in society.
Although I have no real complaints with the acting, and I enjoyed the chemistry between Izawa’s Mahiro and Takaishi’s Chisato, I found that all the characters felt quite one-dimensional. The stakes never seemed high as I felt the girls could handle themselves, given their profession. The cast do great with what they’re given to work with, and the fight sequences are well thought out and choreographed, but I found the film lacked any real depth. If anything, Baby Assassins is a character study and a magnifying glass onto Generation Z than anything else.
What I did enjoy about Baby Assassins was the clever camera work, from the fight scenes footage making us feel like we are there in the room with them, to the girls happily pulling cake from the fringe with camera from the perspective of the cake. I’m not one for shaky cam footage, but Baby Assassins shows passable footage that didn’t make me feel uncomfortable (usually due to my motion sickness), all the while providing audiences with an intimate look into Chisato and Mahiro’s lives.
The change in attitude with Chisato and Mahiro treating killing people for work and killing for personal reasons, are worlds apart. Like many of us, the pair complain about their job like it’s a day job, and it is. But when things take a turn, the two are on a different emotional stance when they have their own non-work related score to settle.
The more I think about Baby Assassins, the more I like it, and the more I believe I too would complain if killing people was my day job. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s definitely not a bad one either, with a nice indie feel. Despite its topics, it isn’t really meant to be taken seriously, and more just enjoyed for its passionate artistic flair and fun.
The 2022 Japanese Film Festival is on from November through to December and is screening Baby Assassins in Canberra, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney.
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