Release the Spyce Series Review


Spies Eat Spices And Look Cute Doing It!

Release the Spyce was an anime that from its first episode grabbed my attention with its cute girls doing spy antics but even then there were a few warning flags that made me wonder where this would go. What followed was a series that awkwardly attempted to balance high stakes spy scenarios with a story about cute girls doing cute things at school kind of story and the mix just didn’t work. It isn’t that it couldn’t have worked, however Release the Spyce didn’t have the strength of writing or characterisation to pull it off.

Release the Spyce Episode 5 Mei and Hanzo

Not to mention the logic in the story just never worked no matter how you looked at it. While I get anime, and fiction in general, doesn’t need to be totally true to life (in fact as a fantasy/horror fan I prefer it when it isn’t), I do need to be able to suspend disbelief. Between a training sequence that utterly turned the main character into a nearly unstoppable powerhouse in a matter of weeks, the ‘spyce’ only working on teenage girls for reasons that will never be adequately explained, the villains targeting the one city where they know the opposition are hiding despite being able to carry out their plan more or less anywhere, and the really terrible explanation that the words spy and spice are somehow related (solid no on that one), this anime really worked hard to push me out of the narrative at pretty much every opportunity.

Release the Spyce Episode 3

Persevering in the hopes that we’d get to some decent spy and espionage kind of moments, the results are kind of mixed. On the one hand, the visuals are pretty good. Bold and bright colours dominate and it is all a bit sharper than a lot of the pastel colour palettes that seem to be dominating a lot of the anime I’ve been watching. Every screen cap really stands out in the folder and it isn’t garish (outside of the OP).

Release the Spyce Episode 12 Momo

The action also works reasonably well with fight sequences being pretty tightly controlled in time and scope. There’s a few too many girls fighting hordes of mindless robot fights, but for the most part the actual action sequences deliver decently. Now, I’d like to know why our spies spend so much time in direct combat rather than sneaking about, but that’s probably another one of those questions I just shouldn’t ask.

Release the Spyce Episode 4 Mei and Fu

Interactions between each of the apprentices and their mentor are fairly solidly constructed. Now, this is a blessing and a curse. It means in the episode focusing on that pair, the two get great moments to shine and there’s some solid character work. On the other hand, that pair may not necessarily interact well with the others (or in interesting ways) and in episodes where they aren’t the focus sometimes it is difficult to remember if they actually have a personality. This anime didn’t balance things very well and couldn’t move the spot light from one pair to the next without totally sidelining the rest of the cast. Then it had to awkwardly transition back to the whole group facing a threat and it just didn’t do a very good job of it.

Release the Spyce Episode 10 Momo

Finally, the season ending. It ends. It hits all the usual notes for spy stories. It just isn’t compelling enough. I have nothing against generic stories that follow their genre beats. But you have to give me something and here we had average characters going about an average final mission with no surprises because all the twists were exactly what you were expecting and delivered with very little fan-fare or anything else.

Release the Spyce Episode 1

As I said, not bad, just not really worth the time or effort. Still, you could certainly do worse than this piece and provided the opening song doesn’t give you a headache (it really is flashy for those with light sensitivity), there’s not a lot that this anime does that is actually worth criticising. It just doesn’t manage to do anything particularly well either and given it potentially could have been so much better there was definitely a sense of disappointment as week after week this one seemed determined to be at best average.

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And With This Monologue I do Progress the Plot

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During the Autumn 2018 anime season, it occurred to me that there are some narrative devices I just don’t take seriously anymore. They may have at one point served a valuable narrative purpose or been written with thought and care, but now it seems as though every example I run across is either tongue-in-cheek satirising itself or is just an example of lazy writing. That isn’t to say there aren’t good examples of them, but the problem is that when a narrative device is used well it almost seamlessly fits into the story in such a way that you barely notice its existence.

Some spoilers below.


However the villain’s monologue is a device that you just have to wonder if it has outlived its usefulness. Or perhaps it is more the case where you have to wonder if writers even try anymore. It is almost as though we get to that almost climatic moment and in order to just get to the smack down as fast as possible they have a character just narrate and vomit exposition at the other characters to tie everything together.

It almost reminds you of that moment in Space Balls where the characters after explaining something to one another turn to the camera and ask the audience if ‘everybody got that’.

Spaceballs (movie) - Everybody got that.

Though, I will make one correction to what I said earlier. It wasn’t actually a villain who decided to monologue and exposition dump that really got my attention last season (mostly because I stopped watching Index and to be fair every character in that show is prone to lengthy exposition). No, it was Mei from Release the Spyce.

Yes, Mei had revealed herself to be a traitor to the rest of her posse of adolescent female spies and gone to the enemy. And then – here’s the big reveal – it turns out it was all part of a plan to double-double cross and actually bring down the bad guys (like we didn’t all see that one coming given the strong themes about the power of friendship and the like).

Release the Spyce Episode 12

However, despite this being revealed in about two lines of dialogue, Mei then proceeds to explain how it came about and was planned and executed, eating up valuable screen time, giving the villain time to prepare her next move, and more or less killing any pacing the episode may have had (so the theory that a monologue gets you to the fight faster doesn’t hold weight in this example). It was a disappointing choice in a series that had great potential early on but never could figure out its tone or characters and then didn’t manage to deliver a climax memorable for anything other than this particularly poorly delivered monologue and a villain whose kimono like outfit was strategically slashed mid-battle.

Now why this particular monologue isn’t necessary comes down to a few points. Firstly, Mei’s motives and actions aren’t that complicated. There’s nothing revealed that is actually necessary to understanding the plot or gives more insight into the character. Sure we get some particulars about when the plan started but that’s largely unnecessary noise and could have easily been left out or revealed later. Secondly, these characters all the way along were about not making stupid choices in battles. And gloating to the villain rather than actually doing something is a stupid choice. It just doesn’t make any practical sense.


Now, if we were to compare that to something like Death Note where both Light and L get numerous monologues (both internal and external) we can see why the ones in Death Note work better. Firstly, it is a consistent narrative device throughout the whole series. Secondly, the information revealed and the insight it gives to the characters is usually not something the audience could determine otherwise. I mean, realistically L doesn’t give a lot away with his actions or facial expressions. His expository moments are highly necessary to provide some context.

And finally, Death Note uses the monologues and exposition to really push the tension and drama of a scene. It isn’t a delaying tactic nor does it break the mood of the piece. It sets the tone and drives the scene rather than hindering its progress.

The Incredibles (movie) - "You Sly dog! You had me monologuing!

Basically, monologues get mocked, a lot, in stories. And a lot of the time they should be. They are intrusive, poorly conceived and barely useful. Ready Player One is jumping to mind right now given the sheer amount of internal monologues we are subjected to as the world is explained to us as if we couldn’t just see it on the screen – fully understand why they were needed in the book but they certainly weren’t once the story was moved to a visual medium.

However, it is important to remember that occasionally when a character starts a monologue, there’s a real reason behind it and there might be a solid narrative purpose. Just because we see this device misused so often doesn’t mean we should throw it out altogether. It just means we need to think about how it’s being employed and whether or not it is doing its job.

And let’s remember: if it’s in an anime, the main job is to entertain us. So I ask, are you entertained? What anime monologues have stuck with you? Were they good, bad, or somewhere in-between? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Karandi James

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What Were The Worst Anime of Autumn 2018?


I’m going to say, this is the last Worst Of the season list I’m going to do. While I do like looking at the other side of the coin, I made my blog to celebrate anime and I kind of feel this particular vote and round up doesn’t really contribute to that all that much. Still, it is fun sometimes to look at the mis-fires of the season so perhaps I’ll just need to figure out a different way to go about it.

In the meantime, here are my picks for worst of the season and at the end you will see the results of the poll and the reader’s choice. The rule is really simple, I have to have watched the anime without dropping it to declare it the worst. I don’t make judgements about shows I don’t finish.

Still, if you read my best of Autumn 2018 post you would have seen my rankings for the season already and know what my least favourite anime was.

Worst Story – Jingai San No Yome

Alright, I’ve watched all of this short anime and other than the premise I still don’t know what the story is with this one. It probably doesn’t actually have one and is meant to be a slice of life or something, but nothing is ever explained and things don’t really go anywhere. What was I expecting from three minutes a week? Probably about this, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is the most pointless thing I watched in Autumn in terms of story.

Jingai San No Yome Episode 6

Worst Visuals – Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary

Okay, I like Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary, but there is no denying it is ugly to watch and the animation is just this side of terrible, when it isn’t actually throwing hideous CG at us. Fights suffer particularly and given we’re watching a show about a war between the empire and rebels, the fight scenes kind of need to be solid. There’s not a lot more to say about this one other than wishing it had been given more attention and more of a budget because the story was actually pretty interesting.


Worst Opening – Release the Spyce

Don’t get upset with this one. This is my personal list and honestly when an opening is so flashy with its visuals I actually have to walk away from the screen or turn down the lid of my laptop until it is done to avoid a serious headache each and every week, I don’t care how good the song is. This one is an eyesore (quite literally) and well and truly became the thing I hated most this season (even more so than a certain show that took out my worst of the season). Honestly, this opening was nearly grounds for dropping at the mid-season but I was kind of curious about where the show would go. Knowing now where it goes, I wish I’d just dropped it.

Release the Spyce title

Worst Character – Mana

Considering I threatened this character with a paper shredder fairly early in the season, and I may have suggested using a nail gun on her (though I may also have sensibly edited that out of my rant review), I’m pretty sure I hate this character. The rest of Conception is at times slightly amusing, a little bit interesting, largely bizarre and unfocused despite setting up a potentially interesting plot, but Mana manages to make each and every scene a pain to watch. Forget worst character of the season, Mana may be the character I hate the most out of any character ever (and that includes Excalibur from Soul Eater who used to be the single most irritating character I could think of).

Conception Episode 11 Mana

Worst Anime of Autumn 2018 – Conception

Yes, no doubt about this one. Conception was the worst anime I watched this season. Part of that is because it isn’t exactly a genre I’m a big fan of. And it relies on fourth wall breaking comedy, which I’m not a big fan of. And it has the single most annoying character I can think of as a major character who is with the protagonist in almost every single scene. But, I did watch this show from beginning to end. Even when I decided A Certain Magical Index was boring me too much to continue, I kept this one on the list. So while it was the worst anime I watched, I think for people more into this genre, while it still doesn’t exactly stand out as particularly good, there’s probably a lot more entertainment to be found in it.

Conception Episode 9 Itsuki mad at Mana

Reader’s Choice

This one also had a clear ‘victor’ this season with one anime title being both fairly well watched and being riddled with problems. Yes, that was Conception.

Worst of

The rest of the votes were kind of scattered, though part of the problem is that I ask people to have actually watched the show they vote for and most people are sensible enough to drop anime that aren’t very good (I really should learn that skill at some point – I drop boring anime but not bad ones).

However, that wraps up the final ‘worst of’ anime post for the blog, but just remember the best of the year poll will open on the 1st of January and you will have two weeks to vote. The top three choices from the best of polls each season will be available to vote for and I’m looking forward to seeing what wins best of the year.

Previous poll results:

Sugar and Spyce and All Things Nice

Release the Spyce Episode Review Title

Release the Spyce Episode 12 Review

And so no-one is actually a traitor and no-one is actually dead, and no-one is actually surprised. This toothless ending fits the tone of the show and allows everyone to be all sweet and nice and become friends and trust in others and it is an utterly flat narrative. Given the characters never really went anywhere, I was hoping the plot would eventually pick this one back up but tragically that hope went unfulfilled as this final episode wraps everything into a neat little package.

Release the Spyce Episode 12

What that means is Release the Spyce has managed to be competent. Nothing more or less. The ending defeats the bad guys, sees the heroes wrap things up, and if the story was primarily Momo’s journey (or at least that is how the series has been book-ended), then that narrative at least is brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

Release the Spyce Episode 12 Momo

Still, there was a lot more potential in this series and these characters. So while what is here wasn’t particularly bad it was a little disappointing that the show could never rise to be more than what it became.

Release the Spyce Episode 12 - Villain

However, brainwashing machine go boom, the city gets a new pretty flower, and the girls all get on with their lives or with spying. Can’t really argue with it even if I wanted more.

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Things Are Getting Spycy As Time Runs Out

Release the Spyce Episode Review Title

Release the Spyce Episode 11 Review

For all that this anime hasn’t really gone as well as expected from its premise, I do have to compliment its sound design this week. That was actually a thing of beauty and the whole series has actually had remarkably good sound effects and a pretty awesome soundtrack. However when I’m reviewing the penultimate episode and my major compliment goes to sound design that probably spells trouble for the rest of the episode.

Release the Spyce Episode 11

Firstly, Hanzomon isn’t dead. Which I guess we all knew. And given Goe hasn’t accepted her mentor as being dead either I’m guessing she’s going to make an appearance soon. So all the dire outcomes of last week are more or less swept away. Particularly if we consider the apprentices escape in about three minutes without all that much effort because the villains are dumb enough to try torturing and breaking their spirits rather than just killing them (and they don’t even hang around to do it themselves but leave it to an underling taking any potential suspense right out of the scene).

Release the Spyce Episode 11

About the only thing that stuck from episode 10 to this one is that Mei is still working for the bad guys. Only I’m still not convinced it isn’t some kind of ruse or that she won’t change her mind again. Given they backed out of every other major plot point I’m pretty sure this isn’t the kind of story where she’s actually going to betray them and that is going to stick.

Release the Spyce Episode 11 - Brainwashing device

And therein lies the problem. Release the Spyce isn’t exciting enough or cute enough or anything enough to be the kind of story that doesn’t commit to its plot on top of that. What we’re ending up with is a fairly watered down affair that has zero tension or stakes and I’m not attached enough to the characters to just buckle in for the ride. While it isn’t bad, not even close, it has become one of the least interesting stories I followed this Autumn.

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This Week They Really Spyced Things Up

Release the Spyce Episode Review Title

Release the Spyce Episode 10 Review

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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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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Autumn 2018 Week 8


Another week in paradise… well not really but we can all hope and dream. And even if I’m not then at least I am nearing the end of an anime season that has been thoroughly enjoyable. The quality entertainment available this season has been amazing and I am genuinely enjoying the ride. Though, we are now perhaps only four weeks off the end of some of these ending so next week I will be launching the poll for best and worst of the season and letting that run through until the majority of the shows finish airing. Of course, immediately after that we need to get into best of the year and that is going to be a tough choice in 2018.

As always, I would love know your thoughts on the anime this season and even what you think might be in the running for anime of the year. Be sure to leave a comment below.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 8

Episode 8

This one is apparently 26 episodes, like the previous seasons, but right now I’m seriously thinking of bailing at the mid-season if enough new shows start that I’m interested in. It seems the magic has left A Certain Magical Index, or I’ve moved on from it. Either way, I’m just going through the motions watching it at this point. It doesn’t help that the anime itself gives me so little reason to care.

Banana Fish

Banana Fish Episode 21 Ash and Eiji

Episode 20 – Not Reviewed

Seems we now have an entire mercenary troop hunting Ash and the others down. In the streets of the city… Okay, plausibility was never a big part of this show and I love how they balance real character drama with ridiculously overblown plot points, but this one was perhaps a stretch too far.

Bloom Into You

Bloom Into You Episode 8 Yuu

Episode 8

While I was a little less enamoured with episode 8 than I have been of previous episodes, it was more that this episode seemed to be setting up future events. And if past experience with this anime is anything to go by, the payoff will be worth it if I can just be patient. In the meantime we had some excellent writing and character work to pay attention to in this week’s episode. Patrons can access the post using the link, password on Patreon.


Conception Episode 8 Sue

Episode 8

Yep, the cringe factor continued in episode 8. Actually it got worse as the show mimicked an episode from The Bachelor and literally set my teeth on edge. This was borderline unwatchable for me, though I am told through fairly trusted sources on Twitter that it was actually amusing. Clearly I missed that because I found this episode to be the most painful yet.



Episode 8 – Will be reviewed with Arthifis

Alright, episode 8 was pretty much filler, and not good filler. Hopefully episode 9 picks this one back up because I’ve quite enjoyed the season up until now. If you missed it, Arthifis and I had quite the conversation about the progress Dakaichi has made so remember to go and check out the post if you haven’t seen it yet.

Goblin Slayer

Goblin Slayer Episode 8 Goblin Slayer and Priestess

Episode 8- Will be reviewed with Arthifis

As Goblin Slayer and Priestess recover from their injuries and have equipment repaired, the rest of the team search the sewers so they are ready for their next encounter with goblins. While we do end the episode with a bang, this one is more about seeing the characters and how they deal with a defeat before prepping for a second round. Good fun and we’re getting more insight into Goblin Slayer as a character.

Jingai-San No Yome

Jingai San No Yomu Episode 9 Flu Scene

Episode 9- Not Reviewed

I may have finally solved part of the question of why this exists this week. Honestly, three minutes is the longest a flu sequence should last. By using the short run time, this anime is actually able to get away with these cliche vignettes because they don’t out stay their welcome. Now the story as a whole is going nowhere, but at least this was kind of cute.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 9 Sakuta

Episode 9

Futaba’s mystery is solved relatively simply, but perhaps simple is good. Certainly the episode is and we continue to get some excellent character performances from a cast that just keeps getting stronger. Also, the preview for the next episode looks fantastic so I’m looking forward to it.

Release the Spyce

Release the Spyce Episode 8

Episode 8

Well, at least this felt like a spy adventure this week. It wasn’t a particularly good one because it felt overly rushed and nothing really had time to have any emotional impact, but at least we had the girls infiltrating somewhere and getting into fights. There were also some cool gadgets. This one remains better sounding than it is and while it remains watchable it is very much average.

Run With The Wind

Run With The Wind Episode 9

Episode 9

Kakeru’s being a jerk to Prince, Haiji is playing mother hen, another character is not eating enough, and the next track meet is fast approaching. All and all, you could say things aren’t going well, or you might think this is just the mess before they all come together. That said, drama is the name of the game this week and there is a lot of it.

Skull Face Bookseller Honda-San

Skull face Book Seller Honda San Episode 8

Episode 8

Average remains a fairly good descriptor of Skull Face Bookseller Honda San. This week we return firmly to the goings on in the book shop and dealing with a range of customer types. Still, there’s little to remember once the episode is done so while these are fun enough short moments there’s nothing that really sticks out.

Sword Art Online Alicization

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 8 Kirito

Episode 8

Episode 8 of Sword Art Online Alicization did an excellent job of reminding me exactly why I love SAO. And I know that some people found the moment Kirito ‘believed’ in himself eye-roll worthy, however I felt it took the story right back to its roots and what it originally tried to capture in Aincrad. Really enjoyed the episode this week.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 9 Rimuru in the cave

Episode 9

Another good enough and fun enough episode but still just keeping me on the edge of really enjoying it. I find this to be a fun casual watch but there just isn’t enough of really anything to draw me in. The emotional moments with Shizu were great but then they immediately diffuse them. Same with the threat we meet this week. Dangerous for about five minutes and then we’re going to dinner together.


Tsurune Episode 6 Masaki

Episode 6

Another great episode in building on these characters and slowly having the story naturally unfold. It isn’t quite languid enough to be slice of life, nor is it all that dramatic at this stage. Tsurune is finding its own place as a sports anime by telling the story it wants to tell its own way and the result is so far a relaxing and interesting affair. I suspect we may be in for some tension next week but even if we aren’t, I’m enjoying the pace and tone of this.

Voice of Fox

Voice of Fox Episode 7

Episode 7

Well, if we thought things had hit rock bottom last week, watching the fallout this week was pretty painful. If you can think of anyway to kick Hu Li emotionally this episode did it. What’s worse is that the damage is radiating outward from him hurting the few friends he has and his family (though clearly things were strained their from the beginning).

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 7 - The Rebels Meeting

Episode 7 – Not watched this week

I didn’t get around to this one this week, so I’ll either do a catch up or just be a bit behind for the rest of the season. I haven’t dropped it though.

Episode of the Week

Tsurune Episode 6 Opposition
It is hard not to enjoy Tsurune as it brings some quiet time to an otherwise hectic week. I really like the focus on character and there’s enough going on in preparations for the tournament to keep it from getting dull.

Character of the Week

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 8 Kirito
I don’t try to hide the fact that I really enjoy Kirito as a character and I felt this week he was very Kirito (if that makes any sense). I really enjoyed watching him in Sword Art Online Alicization this week and I hope to see more of him like this.

Dropped or On Hold

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Karandi James
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Release the Spyce B2 Tapestry
Release the Spyce B2 Tapestry

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.

Why Does Teamwork Serve as an Excellent Story Cornerstone?

Friday's Feature Banner Image

We’ve all heard the groans, and probably groaned ourselves when an anime pulls out the power or friendship/teamwork finale and characters overcome all obstacles just by working together and recognising each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It is a little twee and a lot overdone and when done poorly, groaning is the appropriate response to a trite conclusion. 

However, and this is a big however, many fantastic and emotionally moving stories continue to embed teamwork as the central concept around which the characters and narrative develop. These are stories that move the audience and inspire. They offer little new in an already saturated field and yet they take the idea of teamwork and manage to fill the audience with a sense that what they are watching is worth it and rewarding.

So how does this work?

Haikyuu Kurusu Team

Firstly, through having a team, the anime instantly creates a cast of usually diverse characters to focus on within a confined context. If it is a sport anime like Haikyuu or the more recent Tsurune, we have a set number of participants with their own strengths and weaknesses, different levels of experience, and different attitudes. This inherently means the story gets to work on bringing these characters together to better understand one another, and conveniently help the audience get to know them as well, and it also comes with built in conflicts that make sense within the context before any external threat or problem is introduced allowing the story to feel like progress is being made even when not very much is going on in the wider narrative.

For some, this won’t appeal. They’ll feel they’ve seen these basic relationships play out before and they’ll be right. But what it does mean is that if a particular group or team happens to contain personalities and character types that appeal to the individual, the anime as a whole is instantly going to seem a whole lot more attractive.

Tsurune Episode 4 - Onogi

This is something Tsurune gets right from the beginning. While Onogi in Tsurune is a bit of a downer, I kind of see where he’s coming from and he isn’t so over the top in his spitefulness or annoyance with the other characters that he’s irredeemable. It is quite clear that in not so many episodes the boys on the team will come together even if they’ll later have a falling out. And each of the other boys in the team I quite enjoy. They aren’t larger than life characters so for some viewers they might find them too subdued or dull, but I am enjoying the calm they bring even while they each have enough individual personality and drama to bring something to the table.

Run With The Wind Episode 3

Run With The Wind on the other hand has at its centre Haiji and Kakeru who are both problematic characters in their own way early on but develop beautifully toward the end. Haiji rubbed me the wrong way right from the start, even being called a ‘master manipulator’ by me in an episode review, and yet seeing the finale and seeing how far these characters had gone was a truly moving experience. Where Run With The Wind really works is that it has ten characters in the team to develop and while some don’t get as much screen time as others, by the end of the show each one has had their moment to shine and the are thoroughly entertaining.

Run With The Wind Episode 5

Prince for best character of the season, please?

However, neither of these shows can really stand up when compared to previous sporting anime just in terms of the team dynamic. I’ll admit, I don’t watch a lot of sports anime, but when I finally gave in and watched Haikyuu I was blown away. They managed to bring in fairly flawed characters who individually would have been quite painful to endure and yet balanced the dynamic between the different cast members fairly beautifully to create a team that really made you want to get behind them.


Secondly, where there is a team there is some common purpose, goal, direction. There’s something driving these people to come together and even if they don’t seem that driven in the beginning it is easy to give them an obstacle to work together to overcome. It might be simple story telling, but it works. In sports anime the goal is usually make it to some final or win some competition. Endlessly we get the ‘this is our last year’ routine, which somehow Run With The Wind managed to shove in their even though the characters are all different ages at university (thanks for that Haiji, we just needed time pressure). But outside of sports anime, we are seeing this a lot in some of our cute girls doing spy things offerings.


I say that like it is a common genre, and it isn’t… yet. Watch this space, once anime realises it is on to a good thing we’ll see the plethora of shows following along and while that isn’t a problem, it does mean the quality of said anime will vary wildly and if the isekai genre is anything to go by, it means that those that dismiss anything that is popular or common as trash by default will definitely steer clear. Still, with Princess Principal and now Release the Spyce, cute girls doing spy things is a genre with a lot of potential and we could even throw something like Izetta into the mix, though technically they weren’t really doing spy things.

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Now I would be the first to admit I am not the biggest fan of cute girls doing cute things. But cute girls doing spy things is a different story and Princess Principal showed us beyond any doubt that the idea can work. Outside of the context, the group of girls could have been any group from any high school anime ever, and yet with the context they were given, it allowed for the plot to have some drive and a sense of urgency even as the girls went about their ‘daily’ lives (you know, infiltrating, gathering evidence, running for their lives). And while that might miss the more relaxed motifs of the general cute girls genre, for those of us who don’t actually mind the relationship dynamics but kind of feel sleepy while watching something without a clear plot, it is an excellent path to take.

Princess Principal Episode 10

Once again, the core of this is the team. Cute girl stories live or die by how the personalities bounce off one another and how relationships are formed and maintained throughout the series. While Princess Principal had the overall narrative with the Princess and the wall and lots to pay attention to, each episode was ultimately driven by the girls themselves and individually, while interesting enough, they couldn’t have carried the story. But together they were fantastic and together they could overcome obstacles in the plot that individually were insurmountable.

Release the Spyce Episode 4 Mei and Fu

Release the Spyce is more problematic because the overall plot is a lot weaker and the team dynamic is less interesting or engaging (at least that’s how I’m finding it) so while all the elements are there the execution has been a little lacking. Shame, because this bright pink spy story could have been really fun and instead I’m just kind of hoping they would focus on one aspect or another because at the moment they are juggling too many things and not really succeeding.

Lastly though, I’ll bring teamwork back to relatability. Even though many of us aren’t exactly team players by choice, in life we have to deal with others and work with them at times. We’ll butt heads, have misunderstandings, dislike someone on first meeting for some arbitrary reason, feel like someone is holding us back, or even just be the person who is holding people back just because. However, teamwork is a vital skill and it is a situation we’ve been in over and over again throughout our lives. So seeing characters forced into a situation where they need to get on with someone or work together or just play their part, all of that is something that on some level we can understand and empathise with.

Tsurune Episode 5 Minato and Onogi

So while I’ll probably not stop rolling my eyes at power of friendship/teamwork conclusions that feel unearned, I did feel it was time for me to express why teamwork isn’t a concept that should be dismissed out of hand. When used appropriately it can form the cornerstone of something well worth watching and something that can have a real impact on the viewer.

However, I’d love to know your thoughts on teamwork in anime and who some of your favourite anime teams are and why so please leave me a comment below.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
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Karandi James