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Lycoris Recoil

Entry updated 14 November 2022. Tagged: TV.

Japanese animated tv series (2022). A-1 Pictures. Created by Spider Lily and Asaura. Directed by Shingo Adachi. Written by Asaura. Voice cast includes Chika Anzai, Ami Koshimizu, Misaki Kuno, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Kosuke Sakaki, Yōji Ueda and Shion Wakayama. Thirteen 24-minute episodes. Colour.

The Spider Lily is a plant grown around rice fields to poison pests: its Latin name is Lycoris radiata.

Japan is free of the terrorism and major crime that blights the rest of the world: "Peaceful, safe, beautiful Tokyo," (see Utopia) rhapsodizes Chisito Nishikigi (Anzai), before she shoots several perceived threats to this status quo: "We cannot allow the existence of people who disrupt our society ... erase, delete, eradicate and beautify." (see Dystopia). She is part of DA (Direct Attack), a government organization that trains executioners called Lycoris ... this being an Anime they are, naturally, teenage girls. DA also has Radiata, an "AI" super-Computer (though there is no indication it is actually self-aware). Chisito's bad health led to her heart being replaced with an artificial organ that boosts her reaction rate (see Cyborgs), enabling her to dodge bullets. It was provided by Shinji Yoshimatsu (Ueda) of the Alan Institute, an apparent philanthropic body which finds and supports geniuses from poor or otherwise challenging backgrounds, as they believe she has the potential to be a top assassin.

When another Lycoris, Takina Inoue (Wakayama), is deemed to have overstepped the mark by using a machine gun and ignoring orders, she is transferred to the Lyco Reco cafe, where she finds Chisito. Chisato is in disgrace, as she refuses to kill, using only non-lethal bullets. There are also two ex-DA employees: the cafe manager, Mika (Sakaki) who is Chisato's instructor and Shinju's former lover – Chisito considers the pair to be her fathers – and Mizuki Nakahara (Koshimizu), who grew sick of the "creepy syndicate gathering orphans and making hitmen like you"; later they are joined by Kurumi (Kuno), a young hacker (see Internet) who hacked Radiata. The group gradually form a found family.

Aside from the growing friendship – with hints of romance – between the bubbly Chisito and the serious Takina, the plot concerns an organization run by Majima (Matsuoka), who wishes to expose and destroy DA – philosophically opposing the "mythology" of a peaceful Japan that relies on DA's clandestine and above the law actions (3,000 people go missing every year); nor does he like the manipulations of the Alan Institute. The unhinged Majima argues that he is a balance, siding with the weak. Meanwhile, in an attempt to overcome Chisito's refusal to take life, Shinji deliberately damages her heart so that it will shortly fail – and the only replacement is the one inside his chest, so she must kill him to get it: she refuses. Majima is defeated, but survives; Shinji does not, shot by Mika to get his artificial heart so Chisito can live.

Despite the action-packed (though with much Humour) girls-with-guns set up and some plot idiocies – for all DA's supposed competence, they repeatedly walk into Majima's traps – the series is reasonably thoughtful, contrasting Chisito's compassionate, living-for-the-moment worldview with Majima's self-justifying broad-sweep philosophy that, for all its noble sentiments – like those of the Alan Institute and DA – sees people as pawns to achieve some supposedly means-justifying end. [SP]


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