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Release the Spyce

Entry updated 3 May 2021. Tagged: TV.

Japanese animated tv series (2018). Lay-duce. Created by Sorasaki F, Takahiro and Namori. Directed by Akira Sato. Written by Aoi Akashiro and Takahiro. Voice cast includes Yukari Anzai, Akane Fujita, Shizuka Ito, Yuri Noguchi, Manami Numakura, Aya Suzaki, Risa Taneda and Aya Uchida. Twelve 25-minute episodes. Colour.

The Tsukikage crime fighting team comprises six ninja schoolgirls whose enhanced skills come from a Drug called Spyce, which only works – in an Anime-obliging example of Imaginary Science – on teenage girls (there is some Fan Service). "Spyce" is probably a nod to the "spice" in Frank Herbert's Dune (fixup 1965), though it is non-addictive.

The current Tsukikage team comprises Momo Minamoto (Anzai), who can tell a person's physical and mental state by licking them; Yuki Hanzomon (Numakura), leader and Momo's mentor, scarred and smart but, at eighteen, finding the Spyce becoming less effective; Hatsume Aoba (Uchida) a good-hearted Scientist and gadget maker (see Invention; Technology) who wants to befriend everyone; her apprentice Goe Ishikawa (Noguchi), shy but strong; Mei Yachiyo (Suzaki), the laid-back mentor to the overeager Fu Sagami (Fujita) – everybody remarks how they are like an old married couple (the other apprentices also have crushes on their mentors, but unreciprocated). There is a large supporting infrastructure, staffed mainly by ex-members.

They fight the criminal corporation Mouryou, whose far-eastern representative is Tendo-kun (Ito) who plans to turn the City's population into puppets with a gas disbursed using a giant mechanical orchid, as a trial run for the rest of the world. Her right-hand woman is Theresia Ray (Risa Taneda), a childhood friend of Hatsume who was sold to Mouryou and wrongly believes Hatsume deserted her.

After a run of enjoyable but light episodes, with frequent references to James Bond (see Ian Fleming), the series takes a surprisingly dark turn in episode ten, when Mei is revealed as a traitor, betraying Tsukikage – resulting in the bloody deaths of Yuki and Hatsume, with the rest captured and taunted by a sadistic Mei. There is also a smiley-faced Torture Robot that speaks like a child.

But by the end of episode twelve Mouryou has been defeated, with Tendo seemingly fallen to her death: Mei is revealed to have been a double agent, Yuki and Hatsume's deaths faked, whilst Theresia has been swayed to join Tsukikage. This could be seen either as a failure of nerve, or as a fun anime prepared to go dark before delivering the expected happy ending; nonetheless, pleasant as it is, the resolution is probably too comfortable. [SP]


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