Save for a few attempts, I haven’t been covering seasonal anime for a long while now. I can’t say if I’m back at it permanently or if this season will be a one off thing but you know what? I’m on vacation, I’m feeling motivated, and there’s a few shows that’s tempting me right now, including this one right here.
Lycoris Recoil appears to be a new addition to the subgenre of cute girls doing cute things where one of the cute things is a rather violent profession. The show takes place in a fictionalized version of Japan where public safety is monitored by a secret organization called “Direct Attack” or “DA” for short. The agency deploys “Lycoris”, highly trained teenage girls who fight crime behind the scenes with lethal force. At the start of the show, Lycoris agent Takina Inoue (Shion Wakayama) is transferred out of her team after disobeying orders and acting recklessly during a mission. She now reports to Café LycoReco, one of DA’s front operations. The café consists of owner Mika (Kosuke Sakaki), former DA agent Mizuki Nakahara (Ami Koshimizu), and top-tier Lycoris Chisato Nishikigi (Chika Anzai). Partnered together, Chisato and Takina perform their regular duties as Lycoris while also waitressing for the café and performing community service.
At least with the first episode, the tone of Lycoris Recoil is pretty odd. Obviously, having orphaned teenagers do a government’s dirty work is messed up and it’s not like the show completely skirts around that. There’s a montage at the beginning where you see a bunch of Lycoris ruthlessly murder all sorts of criminals while Chisato explains what they do in narration. Mizuki admits in a conversation with Takina that she left the DA because she got sick of them recruiting orphans for the Lycoris program. Takina feels she messed up during her last mission but Chisato explains that if she really did mess up, the DA would’ve done something more extreme to get rid of her. The show does acknowledge the darker undertones of its plot. Whether or not it fully goes in that direction however remains to be seen.
Thing is, the first episode is rather lighthearted as it progresses. The middle act has Chisato showing Takina the different things she does outside of her regular Lycoris duties such as assisting various schools and performing deliveries for the LycoReco. Along the way, they meet all sorts of folk, including a group of Yakuza whose leader is a regular customer of the café. The third act is where the action kicks back in as it has Chisato and Takina accepting a request from the police to bodyguard a woman from a stalker. However, the odd job does comically connect to the main plot as it turns out that the woman just so happened to have taken a picture right around where Takina’s last mission took place, making her stalker a much more serious threat. The fight scene itself comes across as “fun”, what with the upbeat music that plays as Chisato makes short work of the enemy. The overall tone of the first episode is strange but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t help keep me engaged.
What really carries the premiere is the two main characters. Chisato is full of energy while Takina is considerably more reserved by comparison and the show manages to get fun good chemistry out of these personalities. Chisato is excited to have a new partner and gets a bit overboard with her excitement, leaving the stiffer Takina feeling overwhelmed or awkward. Being a no-nonsense agent, Takina gets puzzled at what her new job entails and is astonished at how much fun someone as top tier as Chisato is having with these tasks. Meanwhile, Chisato is taken aback at how recklessly Takina can act, particularly when the latter deliberately leaves behind the woman they’re protecting to lure out the enemy. The chemistry also works in more dramatic moments. In one scene, Chisato explains to Takina why she deals with the smaller problems in the town and manages to convince her to lend a hand. In another, she converses with the younger Lycoris over her transfer, giving some advice along the way. While joyful around Takina, Chisato does take the role of senior Lycoris seriously.
There’s a lot of intrigue surrounding Chisato. When asked by Takina regarding why she’s assigned to LycoReco, Chisato explains it’s because she’s the DA’s “problem child”. As the episode progresses, you start to see why she refer to herself as such. Despite working as a Lycoris, Chisato seems happier and prouder with the lower stake stuff she does for her community. The fight scene reveals Chisato prefers to use non-lethal methods and that includes the type of ammunition she uses for her gun. Evidently, Chisato follows the beat of her own drum. As to how she came to be this way, that remains a mystery though one bit of backstory mentioned in the episode is a great battle between Chisato and a group of terrorists that took place in a radio tower, the remains of which can seen in the background of several shots. Apparently, the tower’s remains are a symbol of peace but I’m convinced that it may also speak of Chisato’s character, suggesting that she chose to turn a new leaf after what happened in the tower.
About the only thing that didn’t work for me is the overarching plot. I don’t know. There’s something about an arms deal and something about the contraband going missing. The DA’s systems get hacked by someone under the alias of “Walnut” but at the end of the episode, Walnut gets murdered by the man who hired them. That man then stops by LycoReco and he seems to know of Chisato while Mika knows of him. I don’t know want to say none of this wasn’t interesting but they surprisingly weren’t where my attention gravitated towards. Perhaps as the show continues and I get better grasp on it, these threads will click for me more.
ED: “Hana no To” by Sayuri
Thanks for reading!