This show’s flaws are easily overlooked when it’s a CGDCT SoL show. Unfortunately, it is only that half the time. When it attempts to be a fast-paced action gunslinging anime, we see the cracks forming. This is especially so towards the end of the show.
The biggest point of contention I’d imagine to be the quality of Chisato as a character and so I’ll focus on her. I argue that Chisato is more problematic than what she appears first glance. Her personality is quite a typical cheery, energetic, manic pixie dream girl, and she’s given substance through her moral code which she adheres to very strictly. We are given a lot of information as to what Chisato is NOT willing to do (ie not killing), but not a lot as to what motivates her. Her purpose, as she states many times herself, is to save other people like how the Alan Institute saved her, but this just doesn’t amount to much.
Chisato has the potential to be an interesting character, but her presentation in the show severely lets her down. She is presented as one-dimensional, even selfish. This is a problem because a significant portion of this show is dependent on how much you, the viewer, wants Chisato to live. If you find Chisato compelling as a character, you want to retrieve that artificial heart, you want to trust in Takina.
So when Chisato herself steps in to act against the goal of the rest of the show, it’s difficult to swallow. Not that it’s unrealistic, but it puts a heavy damper on how compelling you find Chisato (and therefore the show) to be. When you see Chisato‘a indifference towards the people who care about her (Takina) and selfishly putting Takina’s life in danger, you start to wonder what the heck we spent the last 3-4 episodes doing. Is that it? Is Chisato really just going to be Takina’s MPDG and not nothing else in terms of plot importance? It sure looks that way from where I’m standing.
This is likely the most contentious review point for most people, but not the only one. I’ll rapid-fire off a few more issues the show has here:
Plot points only happen because people are stupid (Kusunoki)
Plot armour is absolutely ridiculous (Majima, Yoshimatsu, his assistant, and to a lesser extent Chisato)
Kurumi deus ex machina of covering up the existence of the Lycoris has to be the single most ridiculous and laziest thing I’ve seen in anime of this calibre.
The last 2 in particular are symptomatic of the show being absolutely unprepared and unwilling to write scenarios in which actions have consequences. Too many things in this show happen due to magical writing sorcery that the victories feel unearned. The weaknesses of the plot place further emphasis on the audiences’ attachment to Chisato as the driver of the plot and what was discussed above.
It annoys me especially because this was an amazing CGDCT slice-of-life show, with just the chemistry of the main cast and implied romance pushing us through. This show’s flaws would be so easy to gloss over and forgive if it were just a slice-of-life, but it wanted to be an action show when it wasn’t ready to be.
A Buddy Cop Story that Implodes from Unrestrained Ambition
Best Original Anime, Crunchyroll Anime Awards 2023, I am not joking about this!
A hilarious and overwhelming blend of action, thriller, comedy, mystery, and cute slice of life that breaks itself with scatterbrained writing and uneven execution.
In a dystopian Japan, secret police called Direct Action (DA) safeguard society through assassination. The DA's weapons are Lycoris, orphan girls trained as assassins who execute anyone believed to be a threat. When Takina, a cold and calculating Lycoris, endangers the life of a fellow agent, Takina is expelled from the DA. Takina is adopted by the DA agents at LycoReco, a coffee and sweets shop acting as a DA base. The crew are Chisato, the most effective Lycoris ever trained with an aversion to killing; Mika, the café owner and handler for Chisato; Mizuki, a romantic alcoholic; and Kurumi, a lazy hacker. The crew of LycoReco are caught in the middle of terrorist attacks against the DA, with Chisato at the center of a deadly conspiracy. Will Chisato confront her past?
Action-Thriller-Comedy-Slice of Life-Mystery Genre Blender
Imagine that an anime studio received scripts for: a dystopian mystery-thriller; a girls-with-guns action story; a slice of life comedy about a café; and a few pages from a lesbian and gay romance. These scripts were mixed in a box, with sections of pages stapled together in random order and animated after minimal name changes. If that sounds disjointed and confusing, you are right. Lycoris Recoil (LycoReco) is baffling.
I wish I could enjoy LycoReco on its own merits. There are parts of it that are enjoyable, interesting, sometimes funny. The problem is the anime clashed against itself so violently that I was pushed out of the experience. I came to LycoReco expecting a breezy café anime with cute girls helping people with their special skills. What I was not expecting was a directionless fiasco.
LycoReco is a mess, from beginning to end. Describing this anime is difficult because I do not understand what LycoReco is trying to do. The writers forced too many elements into a story without editing their ideas into a cohesive work. LycoReco has plenty of ideas, some thought provoking, but does not pursue any of them in a logical manner. None of them are edited to create a coherent identity. Instead, these elements feel stitched together.
Normally, I would stop watching an anime with this level of poor writing. I kept returning to LycoReco because the experience was so intense. I could never grow used to its pacing, its attempts at worldbuilding were baffling, and there were too many moments where I laughed so hard that I was weeping and wheezing. I had to keep going.
The plot of LycoReco is difficult to explain. There are many contradicting ideas taking attention from a central story. The abundance of ideas pose two plot problems for LycoReco. The first problem is the lack of decision regarding a genre focus for the story. The second problem is the lack of needed information about the setting and characters.
My first impression of LycoReco was a comedic slice of life anime with two girls working at a cute café, solving neighborhood problems through their assassin training. This slice of life exists, but the café is not a focus and little activity with guests is shown. I learned that this anime is more about terrorists attacking the DA with a puppet master guiding everything. This thriller/action/mystery story is a surprise because the advertising does not indicate this would be the focus.
The bewildering part is that the genres listed above are mixed without any predictable patterns. Episodes shift from the characters fighting terrorists, then working at the café, then learning about Chisato’s mysterious past, then having cute moments of friendship between Chisato and Takina, often in the same episode. The tonal whiplash between these scenes was often exhausting.
One effect of the genre shifting is confusion about comedic and serious scenes. Many serious scenes are presented in ways that deflate their impact or become unintentionally hilarious. LycoReco’s broad comedy approach hurts the dramatic scenes because there was no clear transition between comedy and drama.
Imagine a scene with Lycoris approaching a terrorist target. There is serious music and dramatic lighting, with Lycoris ready for the kill. Then the Lycoris are killed by a bomb in a clown shoe. This is not a real scene from the anime, but there were too many scenes with the same impact. It was too easy to laugh at emotional scenes. LycoReco’s bloated writing dulled the impact of emotional scenes and disrupted whatever cohesion existed. LycoReco attempted to juggle lighthearted comedy and serious conspiracy, but these two approaches cancel each other.
There are plenty of anime that bridge genres and use disjointed storytelling. These devices are tools and should be used with caution because careless handling can kneecap a story. The difference between those anime and LycoReco is that I have no feeling that these devices were used intentionally, nor needed for this story to work.
Setting and Characterization
The setting and characterization strain belief. There is a sense that the writers did not think about the setting with enough detail to make it feel complete. One example is the purpose and effectiveness of the DA. According to the first episode, the DA is a secret police so effective that Japan is the most peaceful society in the world. The existence of the DA would imply that Japan must have problems regarding crime, disorder, and terrorism. The amazing part is that we never learn why the DA exists! We do not see social disorder, no real crime, and the terrorism is committed for vague reasons. Terrorism is targeted against the DA, not against the government or Japanese society. I am not sure why the DA exists when normal police could solve most problems.
The effectiveness of the DA is uneven, bordering from efficient to pathetically incompetent. The DA is sometimes so inept that it must reach out to LycoReco, an outsider base of Lycoris, multiple times for help against terrorists. An organization of secret police cannot fight the terrorists it exists to kill. The gap in the DA’s performance is baffling because this organization is presented as the most effective policing force in history! How this situation could possibly exist is never explained. This unfortunate situation is the iceberg of LycoReco’s many plot holes. There are plenty of similar setting questions that are never answered.
The lack of genre decision creates an unintentionally disturbing tone for the setting. According to this anime, the secret police who brainwash orphan girls into merciless killers are the heroes! A police state that eliminates any resistance is presented as the good guys who strive to defeat evil terrorists. The terrorists are trying to reveal the existence of the DA to the public so the DA can be shut down. I do not agree with terrorism of any kind. I did not anticipate that the terrorists would seem more sympathetic than the supposed heroes of this anime.
Sometimes, LycoReco decides to indulge in bizarre ideas that do not advance the story or add anything to the characters. Ideas will be introduced in passing dialogue or in scenes that signal that these ideas are important. The odd part is that almost none of these ideas make a noticeable difference or make sense. If you pause to think about these ideas, they only make the characters sound foolish or make scenes feel hollow. These moments are so strange that I could not stop laughing at the screen.
The cast of LycoReco suffer from the slapdash writing. The characters range from undefined to incoherent. I was only able to figure out the protagonist was Chisato because the story paid the most attention to her. Takina is the most obvious character to suffer from this approach.
I first thought that Takina and Chisato would be the twin protagonists of this anime. Takina is the cold, ruthless agent who conforms to the DA; Chisato is the carefree Lycoris who helps people through LycoReco. Chisato guides Takina in her life outside the DA. Takina gradually learns that living outside the DA as an independent Lycoris like Chisato is possible, even preferable. After a brief character arc, Chisato becomes the main character, and everything revolves around her. Takina becomes a supporting character with no real change after her arc is complete. This shift from two protagonists to Chisato is jarring because there is no transition. Chisato suddenly becomes more important than Takina, and her story takes central stage.
Chisato, the character most likely to become popular with fans, is a continual frustration. Her character motivations and actions often clashed, with this strange friction that did not seem necessary for her story.
Chisato is the most powerful Lycoris the DA has ever found. She has superhuman abilities that defy the laws of physics. According to the DA, Chisato has the potential to be the most powerful assassin in the world. The problem for the DA is that Chisato does not believe in killing. Chisato has an independent attitude, believing that she can use her powers to help people instead of killing people. She styles herself as a different kind of Lycoris, a killer who restrains herself and can make her own way.
This is an attractive idea for a story: the most effective killer does not believe in killing. This idea is not executed effectively because the writing makes Chisato incoherent. An example of Chisato’s incoherence is her bizarre approach to violence. Chisato may not believe in killing, but she does believe in violence. Chisato uses rubber bullets and inflicts wounds on her opponents but refuses to kill them. I am not sure if there is a word that describes this attitude. Chisato is not a pacifist because she freely uses violence, sometimes cruelly. She often quips while fighting and visibly expresses excitement at shooting people. This could have been an interesting comment on the use of violence and the limits of killing ethically, but that is never presented as a character issue. Instead, Chisato’s restraint is a continual liability for her allies. She is not fighting common criminals; Her enemies are terrorists bent on killing Lycoris and destroying the DA! This is one situation where killing could be excused as a necessary evil. The strangest part of Chisato’s restraint is that it comes from a childish delusion she made as a child! The scene describing this must be seen to be believed.
Chisato can be interpreted as the personification of the genre indecision that hampers this anime. On the outside, Chisato is a cheerful and bubbly woman that would gladly serve coffee and play games with guests as much as using a gun. She could easily be the whimsical character in a café anime. But her story clashes with her character. She feels like a slice of life character who has become the center of a dystopian thriller/mystery/action anime. This combination could have worked in the right hands but feels incomplete in this anime.
There is a current of queer baiting in LycoReco, most often with Chisato and Takina. There are displays of affection between the two, but do not think that this will evolve into any romantic feelings. There is no romance in this anime. The baiting is an excuse to have the pair act creepily around each other in uncomfortable scenes. The plot had enough problems with handling its main story, adding romance would only make this situation worse.
The best parts of LycoReco may be the animation and the opening and ending credits. The cast does not have a cohesive style, with some characters neatly designed, some generic, and some ugly. The animation is smooth and sometimes impressive. A-1 Pictures put plenty of money and effort into presentation for this anime. I did not notice many shortcuts, though I may have been distracted by the plot. The opening credits are moody, suggesting an action show with a mystery element. The ending credits are cheerful with bright colors and whimsical visuals. I wish that the same amount of effort could have been placed in the anime sandwiched between these credits.
Lycoris Recoil is a frustrating experience. As a story, the plots feels flabby with ideas that are not executed well, contribute little or nothing, or actively work against any sense of cohesion. The characters are undefined or have such confusing characterization that they are hard to believe. The setting feels incomplete, with important information either missing or told in contradicting manners. The continual genre shifting is confusing and reduces any impact that this anime had for creating an identity.
There are aspects of LycoReco that entertained me. I like some of the characters, some of the café sequences, some of the action. There were interesting and fun ideas that could have been good material for an entertaining anime. All throughout the series are bright spots surrounded by mediocre execution.
The most entertaining aspect of this anime was that it is an unpredictable watch. I could never be prepared for the next episode. That same unpredictability that was frustrating me was entertaining, like watching an overly ambitious writer try to fit everything he wants into a book without any sense of discipline. There is an infectious enthusiasm that kept me afloat in episodes that were confusing or boring. I was willing to continue watching this anime to see where it would go.
Objectively, LycoReco is bad. This anime does not know what is trying to do and does not accomplish what little it can. For entertainment, this anime was stimulating. I felt excited for what bizarre directions and tangents this anime would introduce. Some of the most random moments left me crying from laughter.
Is Lycoris Recoil Worth Watching?
Lycoris Recoil is a difficult anime to recommend. This anime is not meant for the faint of heart. Expect to be confused, bewildered, and your brain left overstimulated. If you like anime with ambitions that are not reached, you may be entertained by Lycoris Recoil. Everyone else should stay away.
Overview : I was baited by the action-yuri packed trailer into believing this was something as close to jormungand as we're gonna get in the 2020s , i was jebaited along with so many others.
Story wise it's blend S with guns, but the character interactions pulling a hyper carry and somehow make it watchable for the first half .It's an excellent slice of life and packed with hot pockets of action.The action side was an excellent concept on its own , imagine john wick but in anime however its met with somewhat of a mediocre execution.The show loses a lot when it just builds up tension only to just let it go and say 'HAHA PRANKED YA" ,NO.
Between Chisato who can somhow can dodge a mag dump from an AK at point blank range no battle rattle 715m/s mind you and her magical madoka rubber bullets that are somehow armor piercing and being a strict believer of the geneva conventions the show sets up the parameters the characters can use/work with yet somehow characters just fake die and just ignore said parameters because of the cool factor idk
the comedy is decent for a slice of life does get cringey sometimes but uh yeah the kids will gobble it up like uh crayons?
So Lycroris i dont have any recoil from the Tactical cringe, Worth watching for the slice of life not for the pew pew,may not be the best but still beats the 10 other isekai we got this season,again...
Sweets & Cafe & Fascism
When I first heard of this anime, I thought for sure it was a light novel adaptation. It might as well be. Generic character designs, weird name, ect. But it turns out, it's an anime original. Which is disappointing on a number of levels. Anime originals should be free from the recent moefication of all anime caused in part by such light novel adaptations. But I digress. What I thought would be my problems with this anime did not end up being what amounted to my very huge, unavoidable problem with it.
The animation and soundtrack is good, super good even. It has excellent vibes, good animation on all its action, the lighting and everything are well-done.
What bothers me the most is the world this anime takes place in and how it handles that world.
Please just hit her already.
Let me preface this by saying; I know that this is just supposed to be a fun action series with a slice of life twist. I know what it's trying to be, and for that, I suppose it has succeeded, for many. But the problem for me is it presents so many themes and just has such... AWFUL takes on them that I just can't bring myself to enjoy the show overall. I can't ignore them.
This is an anime whose main characters are part of a secret, fully trained, armed, fascist shadow militia whose purpose is to silence the spread of information they don't like, kill people who dissent, murder anyone who does anything they dont like, censor things, and otherwise gut society like a fish in any way they possibly can in order to create a false utopia.
What does it do with that?
It justifies it. It tells us that group, the Lycoris, is on the side of justice, and the villain is on the side of evil.
The villain, is a man who wants to arm ordinary citizens and expose the truth of the iron boot of fascism everyone's living under.
And they want me to side AGAINST that kind of villain.
I REJECT the premise. And that's the problem. Whenever I see somebody in Lycoris doing something, I just hope man I hope that villain guy comes and kicks their ass. I don't care about the main characters because their point of view doesn't provide a nuanced take into the situation, they are simply oblivious to how evil their organization actually is, and do nothing about it.
I am actively rooting for the villain, but he's still treated like a villain. How can I having fun?
Thus exists my conundrum.
This is supposed to be a triumphant moment.
The other problem is Chisato. Just. Her entire character. From her fake genki personality, smugness, impossible to relate to morals ect, dumb obnoxious self, op abilities that make her even more unrelatable and not believable. Just an awful main character in practically every regard who doesn't have a single actual human emotion in her body, and while that wouldn't be bad on its own, they never address it or even pretend like it's a bad or unnattural thing.
They have basically created a completely unlikable, hard to take seriously, shitty version of Vash the Stampede from Trigun. That's all she is.
Takina is alright because she actually has human emotions, but she's still not great.
To some degree, I also acknowledge that this show was simply trying to tell a story about Chisato, her friend, and her cafe, whereas I wanted it to explore the nuance behind its premise and setting and be a social commentary, but that's just not what it was trying to do. It acknowledges this in the final episode, when Chisato is talking to Majima, that he isn't really evil, and that maybe Lycoris isn't perfect, which means it has some awareness of the potential it never lived up to.
It really just isn't for me, I suppose.
Now this is a show I was pleasantly surprised about. Now there is a Yuri tag. Just forget about that.
This is about the partnership of two high school age females who belong to a secret organization keeping Japan safe.
Chisato and Takina are the main focal points of the show where everything revolves around them, and it all started when Takina opened fire in a botched gun deal where an agent or "Lycoris" was held hostage. Takina was let go and was sent to Cafe Lyco Reco where she meets Chisato. Reluctant at this easy going girl and wondering how she ever became an agent, doubts soon dissapeared after seeing her skills out on the field.
From home invaders, rescuing a cyber terrorist, illegal guns, super abilities, medical miracles, etc this show was part comedy, slice of life, and action.
And by god the villian in this show was really well thought out and the comedic side kick actually had a major plot role as well and not just put in for a comedic pause between stressful scenes.
If theres one show to watch from this season I reccomend this.