|Main pair of characters were great, a standout visually, and character arcs that make you care||Character durability is a bit excessive, story has ups and downs|
I love it when shows surprise in a positive way. Lycoris Recoil wasn’t a show that I expected a lot from before it started. Part of that was that it was an original show so there wasn’t much to base expectations on. But the trailers didn’t immediately grab me either. That left me taking on this show without serious interest and mostly looking to see what it might really be about. The first episode grabbed me right away and that continued until the very last episode. This was easily my favourite show of the Summer 2022 season. Not that this is a show without flaws as the review will cover. But it was a show that I looked forward to every week.
The story for this one is interesting in a few ways. There is a solid setup for the world itself. You have a few major forces at work in Japan. There is the Direct Attack (DA) who are pretty much a secret police. They take down criminal elements and terrorists while trying to draw as little attention from the public as possible. Their agents are young women (called Lycoris) and men (Lillybells) who work in separate organizations but taking the same kinds of missions. They dress up as students and are extremely deadly assassins.
Another major organization is the Alan Institute. This one is a bit less clearly defined in the series. But the general idea is that they are a super influential and powerful group that support “special talents.” We’re talking about giving all the financial backing possible to extremely talented athletes, scientists…or other things. It’s worth getting into the show in order to fully grasp their presence and role in the story.
The main cast somewhat belong to the DA. They have connections to it and the main girls are themselves Lycoris. But they effectively work outside the organization and take part in various missions. And there is absolutely fun to be had in seeing these characters take part in things that normal Lycoris wouldn’t do or would take care of in far more…hostile ways.
I will say that the story can be a bit iffy at times. Logic can be thrown out the window sometimes to keep characters alive. Yes, these characters are incredibly good at what they do but the show doesn’t establish them being superhuman in terms of what they should be able to withstand. The show brings up some interesting commentary on the existence of the DA, but the cast themselves don’t really try to logic their way through it. In a sense the world is spinning as usual and the characters are much more focused on their own stories and events directly involving them. It sets up some things, but doesn’t necessarily explore what it would mean to pay them off.
Honestly, that didn’t outright bother me. I was always more interested in what the characters were doing and how events would impact them. If the overall story was really strong then I’d have been fine with that. But so long as the characters were handled well then I could forgive quite a bit. Lycoris Recoil built up a solid enough universe that I think there is plenty for future series or spin-offs to explore if they so choose. All I can say though is that people should be prepared for some shakiness when it comes to the plot and setting.
The strength of this show was the characters. One could criticize elements of the story and world-building, but there’s no question that the cast made this a show worth watching. It wasn’t simply about the leads. The personalities and actions of the characters helped create investment in finding out what would happen to them. It wouldn’t matter how the world was after this show was over if things ended poorly for the major characters in it. That does make it a difficult thing to talk about without spoilers. But it is worth discussing the cast for those reasons.
Chisato Nishikigi is absolutely a star of 2022. Calling this girl a bundle of energy would probably be selling her short. She is part of the reason that this show was absolutely irresistible to me. Chisato is the kind of person that is absolutely living her life to the fullest. There are very few things she’ll hold back over and outright states that she prioritizes her desires. Chisato just has a brightness to her that pulls people along and helps make them better people. Seeing someone living as much as they can has an impact and that’s shown just on side characters that enjoy having Chisato around.
That’s not to say she’s perfect. Chisato has some strict restrictions on her own actions as a Lycoris and that’s apparent even in the first episode. She is absolutely terrifying in a fight, but because she refuses to take any lives that means she has to make due with non-lethal means. And that also means that she won’t just turn a blind eye to injured enemies that weren’t even shot by her. Chisato also can be incredibly reckless and takes dangers to herself lightly. That might be because of her extreme skills or other deeper reasons. But it does create worries for others. Chisato both was a highlight of Lycoris Recoil for me but also gave me much anxiety at times.
Now while Chisato is a major draw, the same can be said for Takina Inoue. In a lot of ways Takina is probably the character that is my favourite of the cast. This girl gets a really good arc throughout the show and it is worth watching just to see it. It’s not an inconceivable arc, but it is handled really well and the character is one that I found it easy to get attached to. This girl is really passionate and can be direct to a fault. When she sees something wrong then she immediately takes action without considering how people might react to that. And when she cares about something…she will do whatever she possibly can for that thing. She may look like a cool beauty, but she can snap like no one else in the show.
Takina is just a really fun character to watch. She will be naïve about a lot of things with how focused she’s been about being a Lycoris, but she’s good at what she does. I also worried about her at times since I didn’t want to entertain a conclusion where she would be left unhappy. But there was just no telling at times whether that would be the case or not.
The show is absolutely about Chisato and Takina at its core. But they are working from the café LycoReco and they aren’t alone there! One of their “recruited” coworkers is Kurumi. This girl is honestly a lot of fun. She isn’t much of a worker at the café and prefers either lounging around or spending time on her computer…in a closet. This girl is a source of a lot of comedy because she is extremely confident in what she can do. Honestly without her the show wouldn’t be the same. And if she wasn’t messing with the other supporting character I will mention next then the fun factor would have dropped a bit.
Mizuki Nakahara is honestly a pretty hilarious character in her own right. This woman just wants to find a good guy and the world is not letting that happen for her! She’s an important support figure who both gets teased by her friends and also is more than willing to fire right back at them. She is absolutely the focus of jokes more often than not. Her biggest flaw is that she’s rarely allowed to be serious or the focus of serious scenes. But the other characters have plenty of moments where they get serious, so I’m fine with that.
Another important figure that I have to mention is Mika. He’s basically the owner of LycoReco and without him Chisato wouldn’t have the flexibility she has to act in the ways she does. He’s a cool guy that gets a lot of solid character moments. I will say he represents how you can give characters good backstories and characteristics that add to the overall narrative in a smooth way. Mika gets more moments to shine than I’d expect and is important to the personal story around Chisato. He’s just a memorable figure and I’m glad he was handled well.
Heroic type characters are only going to be as good as what they are up against. And Majima definitely provides a solid threat level. The show builds him up nicely to the point where he could easily be some people’s favourite character. He wasn’t that for me, but I can appreciate his qualities. The guy very much has a Joker-vibe to him. He’s not quite the Joker, but there are times when I definitely felt similarities and I swear it has nothing to do with his hair! He’s a good contrast for Chisato and even Takina. Not the greatest villain of all time, but he’s good. I think the biggest issue people can have with him is that he reflects the odd durability that main characters (but not minor characters) tend to have.
I honestly think this is a good-looking show. That is definitely one part of why I like it. The character designs are really nice. Chisato and Takina grew on me in part because of their arcs, their excellent voice work, and yes because of their designs. Plus, the nature of the Lycoris put them into school uniforms which are usually a win. And yet they also have quite a variety of casual outfits. These two, look good and are allowed to look good in more than a couple outfits. But it isn’t just the character designs. The environments are well handled even when they go to more…outside of the city areas. I won’t act like I have an artistic grasp on lighting or anything. But the show knows how to set the tone and use the environment.
But the biggest win for the show is the action scenes. It is fun watching Chisato do her thing. Because that girl can do some amazing stuff. Takina gets her moments and same for Majima. There are some big moments in the show and they make sure those moments look good. It may not be the best-looking show of all time. But I think the action scenes are worthy of praise.
The voice acting already got praise for me, but I do think they did a good job. Chisato has a very energized personality. Takina can bring both cool along with being passionate. Even Mika has a really good voice that reflects his experience and how emotional his journey is. The action scenes (they are a highlight) get some good musical tracks that allow the visuals to flourish. And the show also has a good OP/ED combo. I enjoyed the music in general. But there were times when the OP/ED songs were used in the show and they were saved for the right moments. The ED especially has that kind of lead-in tune that makes the ED worth waiting for.
This show caught me by surprise and I’m happy it did. This show captures why I love anime original series. They can sometimes fall flat, but sometimes you get the best of anime. There’s no source material to work around and the ending can be whatever makes sense. That does make it a bit scary, but that’s also part of the fun. You never know how things will play out or how it will end. Although you can guess and hope for the best.
For that reason, I don’t want to comment on the ending. How this show ends is an important part of the ride. And it’s easy to tell how it ends from how people would be talking about that ending. What I will say is that this show kept me locked in for the whole ride. I wanted to see how it would end, how things would play out for the characters, and what the status quo would be after. I think if a show can manage that then it has done quite a few things well. So that’s why I can easily give this an A-. Lycoris Recoil is good and worth giving a shot.
Posted by FlareKnight
Posted on September 28, 2022 at 8:35 am
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