This Week They Really Spyced Things Up

Release the Spyce Episode Review Title

Release the Spyce Episode 10 Review

Reminder: the poll is now open for you to vote on the best and worst anime of the 2018 Autumn Anime Season. Be sure to jump in and have your say.

I don’t know if I’m ever going to remember how to really spell ‘spice’ after this. It is almost like ‘Parasyte’ all over again where it took months to retrain my brain to actually spell int correctly.  Whichever way, episode 10 of Release the Spyce decided to take the position of killing off crucial characters and having the rest of the cast either betray their friends or get captured in order to plunge us into what I assume will be the climax next week.

Release the Spyce Episode 10 Momo

And while it is all well and good to go for super dramatic and embrace the usual scenario with spies, Release the Spyce hasn’t proven itself all that capable of delivering on the actual spy elements so given it leans heavily on teamwork, friendship, and cute girls, I kind of suspect everyone is actually fine and we’ll realise this is all a ruse to get access to the enemy headquarters. Which kind of takes some of the cliff-hanger anticipation out of the wait for next week.

Release the Spyce Episode 10

I could be wrong. Maybe characters really are dead. In which case, I’ll be pleasantly surprised that the story took it that far and will enjoy where-ever it goes with that. Still, far more likely it is all just part of the plan.

As to who the traitor is, well I’m wondering if we were given any hints earlier only I’m not quite interested enough to go back and look. I certainly hadn’t guessed it. 

Release the Spyce Episode 10 Mei

One thing I do respect is they didn’t try to create some angst ridden story as to why she betrayed them. While it might seem like a weak motive, it kept things simple and fairly believable, even if I don’t believe it.

Guess we’ll find out next week how real any of this was.

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Karandi James
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RELEASE THE SPYCE (TV ANIME) ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
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The Disastrous Day The Mentor Character Died

Release the Spyce Episode Review Title

Release the Spyce Episode 9 Review

This week, Release the Spyce turns its attention to the driven Yuki Hanzomon as she attempts to convey to Momo the story of her mentor. I guess timing wise this makes sense given Hanzo slapped Momo last week for being rash and they never have revealed the story behind Hanzo’s scar so with only a handful of episodes to go, this one feels purposefully placed.

Release the Spyce Episode 9

The problem, I feel at least, is that we really could have skipped a whole bunch of steps between episode one and here without appreciably being any worse off. It just makes some of the episodes earlier really feel more fillery than they did while watching, and some of them felt very fillery while watching.

Release the Spyce Episode 9

I don’t really like to review by comparison, but I can’t help but feel Princess Principal took this basic idea of team of teenage female spies and did a much better job of building them up as characters while continuing to draw the main plot together.  Release the Spyce has a more modern setting but otherwise comes off as a fairly pale imitation, and that may not be what they were going for and it may not be how others see it, but that’s more or less how it has settled in for me.

Release the Spyce Episode 9

Still, that doesn’t really review this episode and to be honest, once we got into the flash back and actually saw the girls and their old mentors parachuting in and doing spy things, it was actually really fun. There was some genuine drama around revealing how Hanzo got her scar and what happened to her mentor and it was perhaps one of the better sequences this anime has given us since its first episode.

However, as a whole, Release the Spyce hasn’t quite packed the punch I’d really have liked from it, and even looking at it from the perspective of a cute girls show where they just happen to be spies, it isn’t overly great.

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Karandi James
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RELEASE THE SPYCE: YUKI HANZOMON
 RELEASE THE SPYCE: YUKI HANZOMON

Snakes? Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?

Release the Spyce Episode Review Title

Release the Spyce Episode 8 Review

Following the lead from the flower, the trainees and Hanzomon travel to Okinawa where they pretend to be tourists, meet up with a nearly wiped out group, and then plan and carry out an infiltration of an enemy facility. It all moves rather quickly and on the surface works beautifully. However, looking a bit closer this episode is kind of a rush, there’s limited sense behind a lot of the actions, and much like every other episode ultimately the lead doesn’t pan out and the are back to square one.

Release the Spyce Episode 8 The Team

The first issue comes with the clear laziness of the tourist moments. The girls decide to act like tourists to keep suspicion away from themselves and we are then subjected to entirely still images with panning. They aren’t even low animation scenes, they are stills, and they are definitely pandering to fan service and servicing zero narrative purpose. On top of that, they just aren’t interesting.

Then we get the introduction of the viking girl that we all know is actually going to be working for the bad guys. She’s a fairly ludicrous character walking around in her viking helmet and her fighting against Goe and then making friends and helping them out is a character arc that is delivered with break-neck speed and while it might work on paper it has almost zero emotional impact. 

Release the Spyce Episode 8 Viking Girl
I’m sure they mean ‘precisely’ and not ‘preciously’. Then again, with this show, who could tell.

Throw in a villain with trained snakes to protect him and all and all this is just one bit of silliness after another and I can’t even tell if Release the Spyce is asking me to take it seriously or not at this point. There is one more serious moment where Hanzomon realises that the time the spyce is working for her is lessening, indicating her time as a spy is nearing its end, but otherwise much of what happens here feels largely inconsequential in any kind of grand scheme. 

Release the Spyce Episode 8

Still, it isn’t as though it isn’t fun. It just doesn’t hold up when you think about it. Besides, dropping the floor out from under intruders and having them fall into a snake pit is such a classic move you just have to appreciate the audacity of anyone actually using it.

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Karandi James
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Klockworx Universal Mat Collection Vol.7 RELEASE The SPYCE
Klockworx Universal Mat Collection Vol.7 RELEASE The SPYCE

Victory For Power of Friendship; Complete Loss For Originality

Release the Spyce Episode Review Title

Release the Spyce Episodes 6 + 7 Review

Right, we can skip right to the end of this and just say, “Power of friendship, yada, yada ending”. Yeah, I don’t have high hopes for Release the Spyce anymore but I kind of want a little more out of a story about teenage spies than a mentor telling her student she’s wonderful being enough to snap her out of a drug induced rampage. After two episodes of eye-roll worthy moments, that one just capped the entire thing and left quite the sour taste in my mouth.

Release the Spyce Episode 6

Now in case you think I’m just jaded and mean, both of which might be true to a point, I will point out that I do not mind anime that pull the power of friendship card for a finale, particularly when it has been a well developed theme with characters who have overcome enough obstacles and rallied together enough that it feels earned. Sailor Moon season 1 is an awesome example and I will never fault that ending where Serena calls on the power of her most likely dead friends to defeat Beryl.

Sailor Moon 1990's Serena and Rei
They are good friends, you know it.

Yet here it doesn’t feel earned, it doesn’t feel rewarding, it doesn’t even make sense. I get that the whole way along the argument is that Aoba’s thing is she makes friends with whoever she decides to. The backstory with Teresia, her reaching out to Teresia even knowing she was likely spying on the spies, and all of the other characters endlessly telling the audience how nice she is and how persistently she pursues friendship, kind of hit us over the head with this idea that Aoba makes friends.

Release the Spyce Episode 6

Does that make it any more likely that she was going to succeed in hugging it out with someone who was drugged and crazed? Does it feel like she earned that happy ending when we’ve actually seen little of her friendship making abilities and simply been batted over the head with them for the duration of two episodes? I’m going to say no.

This feels very much like the same issue I had with Devilman Crybaby, in that the story endlessly felt the need to tell me how compassionate and kind the main character was and yet the never showed anything other than him occasionally crying to make that feel true. Though here it is worse because at least that show gave the one character a whole season to develop whereas here we have a character trying to present herself and resolve a crisis in two episodes because it’s an ensemble cast and they all need their moment to underwhelm us.

Release the Spyce Episode 7

Release the Spyce is at its best when it actually gets on with the spy training and shenanigans. It is at its worst every time it tries for one of these after school special moments between student and mentor. Other viewers may disagree and quite enjoy these ‘touching’ moments, but for me they simply feel cheap and I’m just not that interested.

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Karandi James
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Girls’ Last Tour Series Review: Don’t Let The Moe Characters Fool You

Overview:

Chito and Yuuri are maybe the only two people left in the world and they are travelling around without much of a destination looking for supplies. Along the way, they reflect on a number of fairly big questions about the world and life.

Review:

There’s something very special about Girls’ Last Tour. It is really hard to put into words because basically if you told me I was about to watch a slice of life anime with two overly moe girls as the leads and there wouldn’t really be an overarching narrative or any other real characters I’d probably start backing away before bolting from the room. It sounds toxically boring and unappealing to me. Yet having started episode 1 of this show, after the first few minutes of initial mis-givings having seen the characters for the first time (I went in pretty blind), I found myself captivated by this charming duo, their antics, the world they were exploring and as the episodes progressed I realised that this anime packed a lot of depth into a very simple looking package.

GLT8a

Girls’ Last Tour utilises its fairly simple setting, pleasant aesthetics, and adorable leads to delve into some pretty dark subject matter at times. The two leads regularly have opposing viewpoints or both lack understanding of an issue which leads to some really interesting exchanges and because of the choice of young and inexperienced characters the show is not interested in giving the audience an answer to anything but rather has the characters draw conclusions and leaves the audience to consider the validity of their underlying assumptions. Of course, an addictively cute opening and lighter moments scattered along the journey are welcomed as they provide a breath of fresh air preventing the story from getting bogged down under the weight of the themes it attempts to tackle.

GLT6a

From a narrative point of view, this story doesn’t really have a beginning or an end. It doesn’t really need one either. While the final episode will give some information about how the girls began their journey, it isn’t necessary. They are travelling together and have been for some time when we encounter them in episode one. Their journey will continue on beyond episode 12. While we are with them, a momentary encounter between the audience and the girls much like their encounters with the few characters that do exist in the show beyond them, we see how their experiences affect them and their journey but there is no clear goal or end point in this story.

And really, what could there be?

GLT7b

This story isn’t about the girls trying to track down some signal promising refuge from whatever disaster has befallen the world or about them trying to connect with other survivors. It isn’t about them trying to undo the damage or save the world from further deterioration. It is simply their day to day as they try to survive and while that could be as boring as watching grass grow the execution of this very simple idea is nothing short of brilliant.

The two girls, as the only characters of note (they do have two episodes where they intersect with other survivors but these pass quickly), do a remarkable job. Mostly that is because of the fantastic chemistry between them as well as the audiences’ ability to relate to both of these characters. We may not be a Chito or a Yuuri but we certainly know one or the other (or both) in our lives, and watching these two characters explore their world is mostly a pure joy.

GLT7d

However, the darker undertones are what really sold this show to me. The world undeniably has gone through hell before we encounter these characters and we slowly get hints and clues as to what has occurred though never an exposition dump much to the shows’ credit. Over explaining is a trap that a lot of shows fall into and if you were trying to tell a story about saving the world you would definitely need more information. However, for the story this is trying to tell, we get more than enough and it is better because of the details we are able to fill in for ourselves.

GLT12d

But it isn’t just the setting that has some darkness in it. Chito and Yuuri have grown up in this hostile environment and have been on their own for awhile. Their morals and attitudes at times present some interesting conundrums. Yuuri’s early explanation to Chito as to why she should carry a gun doesn’t seem all that hostile while viewing the episode and yet Yuuri’s words could have undermined a fragile trust between the pair and a falling out over food isn’t that unbelievable an outcome. As Yuuri is the only one armed of the pair, you have to wonder whether Chito is concerned about this threat a number of times during the series.

GLT2a

Equally, Yuuri is often reckless whereas Chito freezes in situations where swift action is needed. Both characters could often have ended up in significant strife if left alone without the balance of the other.

Outside of this, we see their general lack of purpose and goals beyond feeding themselves. They see and compare their lives to a spiral staircase where they endlessly repeat the same actions. In later episodes, Yuuri’s reaction to an explosion is incredibly troubling and yet at the same time not so surprising.

GLT8e

Contrasting these darker moments with the lighter moments such as Chito getting drunk and dancing, or the girls creating something akin to music through the use of tins and raindrops, and what you have is a show that moves you emotionally and knows how to leave a lasting impact.

All and all, this show was a fantastic surprise from the Autumn season and one I fully recommend trying. While the slow pace and the absence of a strong overall narrative may turn some away, there’s more than enough going on here to recommend it. Definitely one to check out if you missed it.


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Karandi James

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Mitsuboshi Colours Episode 1: More Cute Girls

Overview:

The adventures of the Colors include struggling to be heard, playing games, solving puzzles, and outsmarting some adults, all before nightfall! What will happen to them when reality starts rearing its ugly head?

– From HiDive

Review:

I’ve probably already over-saturated my brain with cute girls this season and so in fairness, this one didn’t get much of a chance. Then again, it is cute girls being cute and running around trying to keep the town safe, have fun, and maybe tease the local police-man. It works well for what it is but I just found myself counting down the minutes until this one was done.

Misuboshi1b

The cat was adorably panda like, and the game obsessed girl was my favourite character, but even then there was just nothing really grabbing me about this episode. Not even bringing out the rocket launcher did much to engage me.

Mitsuboshi1d

So this one is a pass from me. There’s nothing overly wrong with the show and I’m certain some people will find the girls’ antics adorable but I’m just going to let it go.


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Karandi James.

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Laid-Back Camp Episode 1: Cute Girls Do Camping

Overview:

Girl goes camping and finds another girl sleeping outdoors. End up sharing camp site before older sister collects outdoor sleeping girl. Then outdoor sleeping girl transfer to other girl’s school.

Review:

This is another perfectly fine set up episode if you happen to like what it is setting up. If cute school girls who go camping together sounds like it will be great fun then this introduction to characters who are clearly going to join the club later works just fine.

Camp1c

This first episode did have the added advantage of some beautiful scenery with Mount Fuji featured prominently. Unfortunately, that was about it for things that caught my attention given I wasn’t particularly interested in their lesson on how to make a fire (given sneezing starts fires where I live it isn’t exactly something I struggle with).

Camp1d

That said, if you are into the cute girls do whatever kind of shows, this one seems like a fair enough candidate for the season. For me it isn’t a definite drop but it isn’t high on my priority list and probably won’t end up on my final watch list.


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