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Why You Should Watch Lycoris Recoil – This Week in Anime

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The girls-with-guns series features enough action movie tropes to keep the over-the-top fun rolling, just don’t think about the plot too hard.

These series is streaming on Crunchyroll

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.


Steve

Nick, I know it’s only been like a month, and I know my golf girls will return, but I’m really feeling those Birdie Wing withdrawals right about now. I’m just jonesing for my fix of action anime about a blonde girl and dark-haired girl who love getting caught up in crime and disobeying the laws of physics almost as much as they love being a hair’s breadth away from making out at any moment. Do you think you can help me with this?

Nick

Tell ya the truth I haven’t really been paying attention this season, but I think there’s one show with a blond chick and another one. I saw a gif of them on Twitter where they kick each other in the butt. I think they work at shop that sells licorice?

Well, beggars can’t be choosers, so let’s see what this is all about.




Ah I think this’ll do nicely.
Man, the later seasons of Sound! Euphonium got really wild while I wasn’t looking.

Actually, from what I remember, that’s basically what senior year of high school band is like. Lugging around an oversized instrument and trying not to die.

So yeah, this is Lycoris Recoil, the latest in the longstanding but recently dormant anime tradition of giving guns to anime girls and seeing what happens.
And turns out, it’s pretty fun! Ironically, I was primed for this throwback due to research I did in the Birdie Wing cinematic universe, which involved watching some of Madlax, an older entry the gals & guns genre. While Lycoris has yet to give us a scene with one of its heroines taking down an entire terrorist outfit while she wears a cocktail dress, it’s definitely on the right track.

I am certain that’s going to happen at some point. With the amount of excuses this show comes up with to put Chisato and Takina in cute outfits, there’s 0 chance they don’t come up with a way to get them into fancy dresses.


Oh yeah the little fashion show they have in the OP is peak content. Comfy concealed carry vibes.


If they have any artistic integrity, they’ll find some way to have one or both of them tear off an overly long skirt so they can run/shoot better. Though they’ll need to come up with an even better take on that than Engage Kiss.

A high bar to clear, but Lycoris Recoil certainly has the gumption to pull it off. By which I mean this show is dumb as hell and that’s exactly how it should be.

I’m still a little skeptical about whether the show can hit that goldilocks zone. There are plenty of moments where it hits that perfect peak of goofy action movie goodness, and it certainly has the production chops to pull them off, but also there are moments where it takes its story of government-trained orphans dressing like high school girls to assassinate people a little too seriously for my tastes.

It is, at the very least, extremely upfront about its intentions. Like, this is how it introduces the conceit of the Lycoris gun girls, basically slathered in violence and irony. And that’s also not to mention that the series happened to debut around the time of the highest profile political assassination in Japan in living memory. Not exactly a fortuitous coincidence, but it definitely made watching the premiere interesting for me lol.





If nothing else, I admire the fortitude to keep it airing without any interruption. They cancelled the second episode of that stand-up comedy anime seemingly for using the word “assassination” so the fact Lycoris can get away with this Happy Tree Friends shit is pretty wild.

I mean I think a point in Lycoris’ favor, both for me and presumably for the TV censors, is that it’s plenty far enough removed from reality. It operates on over-the-top action movie logic. Look no further than one of our two leads, Chisato, who is an almost verbatim personification of these two dril tweets.




Exhibit A: here she is slapping a grenade out of a dude’s hand.


Hey now, she’s not ENTIRELY that second one. She uses “non-lethal” bullets that just happen to make big red explosions on impact and can pierce through the side of a car door at close range.

Honestly maybe the single most buckwild thing Lycoris tries to pull off. Pure nonsense. You gotta respect the moxie of it. Or you can just laugh at it, which is what I do.

I am left to assume either cars are made out of tissue paper or humans have adapted titanium-strong ribcages in this world.

And given this week’s revelation that Chisato is also rocking a mechanical heart, maybe that’s not too farfetched! Some of these dudes are tanking point-blank shots, and rubber bullets be damned, that’s gonna smart.

It’s definitely one of those things where you have to just roll with it. Like how they can just say anything is “bulletproof” and that allows people to shrug off getting picked off with a Glock. Or how Vaseline and duct tape can treat a gunshot wound.




Frankly I’m surprised they didn’t have her put a cartoonishly large Band-Aid over it.
I would point out too that Chisato cannot be hit by bullets. This is seen and explained in the show. She’s so good at seeing projectile trajectories, she can simply, per the dril tweet, “body spin” away from any incoming bullet. In fact, the better the shooter, the easier it is for her to dodge. Deliciously dumb.




She’s basically a gimmick Metal Gear Solid boss. And incidentally, Hideo Kojima has tweeted about enjoying the show.
Which isn’t that surprising since I’m pretty sure they just borrowed a MGS villain for episode two.

No, that’s just Mr. Robot from the show Mr. Robot.

At least he wasn’t voiced by Heybot!.
I’m going to selectively ignore the previous comment. But if we’re talking about hackers, I have more questions for Walnut, namely, “why walnut?” and “why use a quotation from James Joyce’s Dubliners on your logo?”

That’s just what being an Anime Hacker does to your brain, I guess. You spend too long looking at computer screens and sitting wrong in a gaming chair and eventually you just become side character in Cyberpunk.



Seriously how can he even see in that thing?
The same way Walnut can see out of her getup I guess.



And given what I know about the overlap between computer programmers and the furry community, this may be the most true to life component of the series.
Lines you hear in after a life-threatening firefight in a fursuit AND in an Anthrocon hotel room.

And look, I know that episode does the fake-out with the kigurumi decoy, but you know this little closet gremlin has a tiny squirrel costume of her own squirreled away somewhere.

Of course she does. She likes to live dangerously after all.

The Poster’s Dedication

I get nervous using my phone over a running bathroom sink. This little cybercriminal has nerves of steel.

Well where else is she going to do her dark web shopping on [squints] www dot black-market dot orion? Now that’s a top secret feds-free site if I’ve ever heard one.

Turns out you can just put a “You Must Be 18 or Older” age gate and the feds can’t log in because all their agents are in high school.

Oh that reminds me of another excellent and extremely ridiculous line of dialogue.




Man, you’d be dumb NOT to turn high school girls into your own private army.

What’s the worst that could happen? You make some of them emotionally dependent on their supposed duty until they’re left totally rudderless once you kick them out to cover up the higher-ups’ own mistakes? Pshaw.

And what, like that’s going to lead to the inception of an unlikely set of partners with contrasting personalities, who butt heads to begin with, but who eventually overcome their superficial differences and learn to lean into the deeper connection they have as people, friends, and gunslinging prodigies?

Sure, and next you’ll tell me they’ll spend an entire episode talking about their underwear. Get real guys.


What Takina really needed was someone to proselytize to her about the wonders of boxer-briefs. But Chisato takes her on a date to buy panties instead. Alas.
More casual fashion choices tho. That’s always a plus.


I do love that Chisato postpones the underwear shopping just so she can get Takina in a more marketable outfit. You think we’re gonna sell a bunch of figures of you wearing THAT? Not without at least one cute hat to bring the price up.

Over the course of the show, they’ve also covered a lot of the other standard anime lesbian courtship rituals, such as “the aquarium date” and “wiggling your ass in your partner’s face.”


And the ever popular “help your girlfriend beat her rival in Fortnite” trope.





The interpretive fish dance, on the other hand, is a nonstandard ritual, but one I think the yuri committee would be willing to add to the list.


Though it’s funny that these two spend all of episode four screwing around at the mall while two blocks over an entire train of Lycoris is getting mowed down by terrorists.




Okay maybe not “haha” funny.
Right, I guess there is technically a plot or two going on. Something to do with bad guys wanting to expose the Lycoris. There’s also a conspiracy brewing with that owl organization, especially between that one guy and Chisato. It’s all been pretty nebulous so far—at least up until the point that nameless Lycoris gets turned into swiss cheese at the end of this week’s episode. But this hasn’t been the main draw of the series for me by any stretch.

It hasn’t so far, but we both know the plot’s going to rear its head at some point, and that’s where I have my doubts about Lycoris right now. It’s batting a thousand when it’s doing ridiculous action movie stunts with its cast of school girls:




But the moment it starts trying to make me take its secret school of orphan killing machines seriously it’s inviting a whole lot of scrutiny that I don’t think it can hold up under.
It’ll be a tough tightrope to walk, but given how much I’ve enjoyed Lycoris’ highs so far, I’m plenty willing to see it through. While giving these girls’ real pathos might be too tall an order, showing them a path towards bigger, dumber, and gayer gun stunts…that could work.




And worst case scenario, we still got some kickass eyecatches out of it.
Also I just get some weird vibes sometimes. Like this bit where Chisato’s cop friend is like “maybe government coverups are a good thing if it means those girls can smile!” that I’m still not sure how I’m meant to read.



Like the most immediate interpretation is that it’s darkly ironic, seeing as Chisato and her peers are the ones doing all the dirty work that’s being kept out of the public eye. But without a narrative voice of some kind to challenge it there’s a lingering impression that covering up the terrorist attack that killed dozens of teenage assassins is a genuine net good in the story’s eyes.

I think the deliberate irony comes through, though I certainly hope the series follows that line to its logical, radical conclusion. Frankly, I’m more annoyed that they’ve tried to pull the decoy body twist twice in five episodes. Don’t tell me you’ve run out of ideas already! There are plenty more action film ideas and set pieces you can pull from, trust me.

They’re setting up The Joker to be the next villain, so I expect some wild shit in the upcoming episodes.


You can’t spell “Lycoris Recoil” without “society.” And no, I’m not going to double check if that anagram actually works.
Editor’s note: it doesn’t.

I guess I just hope that the show can stick to its strengths of being a ridiculous action story, because it can still have some solid emotional hooks inside that framework. Easily the best episode so far was Chisato helping Takina show up her old partner from Schoolgirl Murder Academy.


Yeah! It veers into that good Dear Brother-esque girls’ academy drama and pettiness that really helps sell the sheer absurdity of the DA. Like, seeing all these prim schoolgirls running to spectate a paintball fight was exquisite.


I assume Dear Brother didn’t have quite as many instances of holding people at gunpoint. Those girls seemed more knife-y IMO.




Also I like how Chisato gets genuinely petty here. Most of the time she’s a ball of sunshine but she’s also capable of bullying the hell out of anyone who hurts her girlfriend.
I also love that her response to the hugging heckling is to just lean into it and cop a feel of Takina’s buttcheeks. Legendary move.


That right there? That’s your sweet spot, Lycoris. Keep your sights right there, throw in some cool car chases and maybe some rocket launchers, and you’re golden. Also some more Mizuki content, please.

You know, I’ll drink to that.


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