Watch this anime if you
- want to watch an anime more focused on character development
- need a change from watching yet another isekai anime
Avoid this anime if you
- don’t like shoujo, or shōjo, anime that has female protagonists, like Sailor Moon
Lycoris Recoil Review
Released during the Summer 2022, Lycoris Recoil was ranked the second highest anime of the season, only second to the sequel to Made in Abyss. And for good reason: this shoujo anime series has a solid plot and fantastic character development along with plenty of action.
One aspect of Japanese animation is that characters tend to be fairly static. They have a fairly concrete set of values that they never compromise on, and their actions and behaviors are fairly predictable based on those values.
That’s where Lycoris Recoil differs from other mainstream series. The story begins with Takina, who is removed from active duty as a member of Lycoris, a top-secret group of orphan girls who are trained as assassins for the state. Takina is removed from duty for her insubordination despite being one of the top Lycoris members, and she’s reassigned to work at LycoReco, a cafe that is used as a holding station for disobedient members.
It’s at LycoReco where Takina meets Chisato, a famed agent of LycoReco, and perhaps its most skilled assassin. Whereas Takina is in a hurry to return to active status as a Lycoris agent in order to continue her mission of uncovering the mystery of the botched arms shipment mission, Chisato’s motivation is the polar opposite: to stay at LycoReco and protect others in her own way.
It’s the clash of these two opposing desires that results in the character development that makes Lycoris Recoil such a great anime series. Chisato gradually changes Takina’s idea of what it means to live and to protect, and Chisato should know about living. Her time is more finite than others.
As the story progresses, audiences learn of Chisato’s background. Why does she refuse to kill despite being considered one of the most dangerous and elite of the Lycoris organization? But Chisato isn’t the main protagonist of the story. Takina is, and in some ways, their relationship is much like the relationship between another famous fantasy pairing: Sam and Frodo in The Lord of the Rings.
While Takina tries to win her way back into the good graces of Direct Action, the organization in charge of the Lycoris program, Chisato and the slow way of life in the cafe gradually show Takina that there’s more to life than following assassination orders. The happiness of the clientele, the joy of enjoying desserts, and the simple serving of others provides a service to society that is just as important as stopping terrorists.
And there’s no doubt that the antagonists are terrorists. They deal in the trading of weapons to create chaos in society, and the main mystery of the series is what this shadowy, terrorist organization is planning to do with the weapons they’ve managed to get a hold of.
In the unraveling of this mystery, Takina’s worldview is slowly changed. Takina’s disregard for life is altered by the unswerving Chisato and her desire to preserve lives, even the lives of terrorists and at the cost of her own safety. Chisato uses rubber ammunition in all of her missions, and this decision vexes Takina.
The interaction between Chisato and Takina is what really makes this series shine. The slow but subtle changes in Takina’s character. Their days off relaxing in the city is a new world for Takina, a world that Chisato has introduced. It’s this world of desserts and shopping that the Lycoris girls are missing out on.
In fact, it’s not just Takina who’s values are altered by Chisato. The antagonist doesn’t escape unscathed from knowing Chisato either, and at the end of the series, it’s difficult to completely dislike the guy even if his goals have caused so much destruction.
There’s a lot to like about the series. Plenty of action to keep audiences in suspense. An emphasis on character development that endears audiences to Takina and Chisato. The longing to belong and the desire to know one’s purpose.
Lycoris Recoil is a must-watch for anime fans of any genre. The premise may seem a little weak—powerful, highly trained girls stopping an evil organization from running rampant. But in that premise is a thoughtfully told story about what’s important in life and perhaps even the dangers of shouldering too much of the world’s burdens without help from friends.
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