Two years ago, Yugo Sakamoto’s (Hangman’s Knot, Yellow Dragon’s Village) quirky action comedy Baby Assassins came out of nowhere and blew me away with its story of Mahiro (Saori Izawa, A Janitor, Re:Born) and Chisato (Akari Takaishi, My Happy Marriage, Distant Thunder) two high school girls who live secret lives as assassins.
Now the girls are back in Baby Assassins 2 Babies, and they haven’t gotten any better at dealing with day to day things like paying their bills. A gym membership that’s been collecting late fees for five years and their insurance need to be paid immediately. But when robbers strike the bank as they’re trying to, they intervene, and get suspended from the Assassin’s Guild for using their skills off the clock.
But finding another job to pay the bills is the least of their problems. Makoto (Tatsuomi Hamada, Ultraman Geed: Connect the Wishes!, Death Office) and Yuri (Iwanaga Joey, Lion-Girl, Tokyo Vampire Hotel) are looking to move up from subcontractors to full members of the Guild. Their manager Mr. Akagi (Junpei Hashino, Almost People) suggests they kill a couple of members to create a vacancy. And how hard could killing a couple of schoolgirls be?
While Baby Assassins 2 Babies brings back action director Kensuke Sonomura (Godzilla: Final Wars, Bad City) the sequel has more than just action on its mind. There’s more comedy this time around, we have both the interplay between Mahiro and Chisato that we had in the first film. But this time we also have the relationship between their antagonists to provide more of that kind of humour. That includes a running gag about Makoto working up the nerve to ask a waitress at their favourite restaurant out. Just because they kill for a living doesn’t mean they’re that different from you and me.
It’s also hard not to see Baby Assassins 2 Babies as a not so subtle poke at Japan’s changing economy. As Mr. Akagi tells the boys, even the Assassin’s Guild is hiring fewer full-timers and relying more on part-time killers with no benefits or protections. A far cry from a country formerly known for having plenty of opportunities for stable employment. At its most basic level, it’s a story about young people getting out of school and struggling to get by in a world of part-time jobs. The completion for the good jobs in their field is just a little more cut-throat than in others.
Fitting in with this to a certain degree is Sakamoto’s decision to give bigger roles to a couple of the first film’s supporting characters, Mr. Tasaka (Atom Mizuishi, Fullmetal Alchemist: Final Transmutation, Kamen Rider Zi-O) the Guild’s crime scene cleaner and the girl’s boss Mr. Susano (Tsubasa Tobinaga, In the Next Life I Will Be Serious, Touken Ranbu 2). The asinine bureaucracy and petty workplace rules they spout, at one point the girls are told they can’t go after the people trying to kill them because they’re suspended, will feel familiar to anyone who’s been micromanaged.
Thankfully, none of this is delivered in a particularly heavy-handed way. It’s usually quite funny and is well integrated into the film’s flow. In fact, there’s so much of a humorous nature going on that the film’s action scenes almost feel like they’re intruding. Despite that, the fights we do get, especially the ones that open and close the film, are still fast-paced and fun. If you liked the first film’s action scenes, then Baby Assassins 2 Babies’s fight choreography should satisfy you, even if the script leaves you wanting more of it.
Baby Assassins 2 Babies (2023) played as part of this year’s Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival. Well Go USA, who released the original also has the North American rights to the sequel, a release date has yet to be announced.