Kids operating as behind-the-scene military operatives specialising in counter-terrorist warfare and even assassinations. Such a premise felt so familiar but I just couldn’t think of any other story that was similar, which then led me to Google and saw this film title only to go, “I didn’t really see this.” Said online search also led me to an interesting Newsweek article about orphans being trained by MI6 during WW2 but I digress.

I have to say I was a bit despondent on what to watch this summer (says the person who has a backlog of previous seasons from other series to complete) until I saw Lycoris Recoil being bandied around as one to watch. The first episode caught my attention to the fullest and that was to my surprise, as I was expecting this to be another run-of-the-mill schoolgirl with guns series.

The premise of Lycoris Recoil (stylised リコリス・リコイル) is about how peace in Tokyo (unsure if it’s Japan as whole) is kept in which any manner of threat to the peace and wellbeing of the people is quietly dealt with by a team of Lycoris (Lycoris is the scientific name for the red spider lily/L. radiata, which is essentially associated with death in Japan) comprising orphans trained in secret by a government body named the DA (Direct Attack). Inoue Takina (cv. Wakayama Shion) was dismissed from DA operations for insubordination following a mission incident where a vital member of the enemy group was taken out, and a member of her team, who was at that time held hostage, was nearly killed in the process. Takina was sent to LycoReco, a café located close to the ruins of (what looks to me like) Tokyo Skytree, run by Mika, an ex-DA operative, and his assistant, Mizuki (also ex-DA), as well as our blonde lead character, Nishikigi Chisato (cv. Anzai Chika). At LycoReco, Takina is then paired with Chisato to undertake similar DA-like missions, but with a twist.

Five episodes in, I think the series is well written. I like Takina’s arc thus far, from her insubordination in that fateful mission that led to her dismissal, to that ever-so-fantastic mock battle in the training facility at the end of the third episode. Takina is still that stoic girl we know at the beginning, but Chisato’s bright and cheerful approach to everything is obviously rubbing off on Takina in a good way. As for Chisato, I like how layers to the story is gently peeled off and by episode 5, we get to learn more about her. We also get to know that Chisato is linked to the incident that led to the destruction of the Skytree, but the pacing of her character’s revelation keeps Chisato enigmatic enough for us to wanting more. And what is TV anime without fan service, although I have to admit Lycoris Recoil‘s yuri leanings are somewhat subtle. I guess we’ll soon see the dōjins on Toranoana soon enough. Oh, they are selling a dakimakura already…?

Lycoris Recoil is an anime original by A-1 (known for Saekano, SAO, and Fate/Apocrypha to name three) which explains the fantastic visuals and character design. The story is written by Asaura アサウラ, a creative who is (like many in Japan) keeping his image incognito, and past works include Knights of Sidonia and Sabage ni GO!. The director is Adachi Shingo whose previous works include big A-1 anime titles like SAO and Working!!.

I am enjoying Lycoris Recoil enough to score this as 8/10 on my MAL account. Whether or not I should be wary of how the story will go, I think it’ll be all right. By the second episode, we are introduced to the “hidden hands” element and we are now introduced to a bunch of terrorists who are onto the DA/Lycoris despite their clandestine nature. At the moment, it is not known how long is this series going on for, and whether there will be a follow-up season.

On a final note, I was surprised to hear ClariS again as they sang 「ALIVE」as the OP for the anime:

But I think the ED of 花の塔 by さユり is banging: