OP: 「Alive」by ClariS
“Easy does it”
COPPING A TUDE
Getting overloaded is like a fact of life by this point. It’s why this post is coming out in a four-episode bundle. At first, I overlooked Lycoris Recoil because, when I was snarked at about how the bait-and-switch is that it’s actually a cop show, I was worried it’d would either dip into the same edgy nihilism that many cop shows roll with. The whole “our systems are broken and we’re all broken for it, but because society is also broken, get used to everything being broken,” gets a lot less poignant when you could get the same message from reading the news with less blinky lights and foldable guns.
Nonetheless, I’m always skeptical about what most spy and cop shows mean when they say they hunt after “criminals and terrorists”. Minority Report and Psycho-Pass had already explored the idea of living in a surveillance state society where you could get shot dead for whatever reason the state deems to be a good enough reason.
To Lycoris Recoil’s credit, they aim to avoid these kinds of pitfalls by focusing on a more altruistic wing of the world’s law enforcement. As one of the top agents of Café LycoReco, a subsection of the DA that’s tasked with quietly subduing criminals with the help of orphaned child soldiers, Nishikigi Chisato enjoys solving private-sector problems that would’ve otherwise been overlooked because it doesn’t involve shooting people in the face.
Chisato is absolutely the reason to watch this with her infectious can-do attitude being applied to being helpful and happy to assist anyone who needs it. Whereas Takina is constantly looking for a reason to go trigger-happy and start blasting without a second thought, Chisato approaches each situation with a clear and humble mindset. Chisato sees the bigger picture where she would rather use her abilities as an officer to make life easier and safer for her community without exploiting or victimizing them for corporate or bureaucratic purposes.
From the first episode, I can see why so many people requested this one. It has the same kind of charm that “Hot Fuzz” had as a fish-out-of-water story about a hard, straight-laced cop having to deal with finding a deeper purpose while doing low-stakes operations. They even do what “Hot Fuzz” does by getting caught into a deeper rabbit hole by finding an even bigger conspiracy underneath the average do-gooder tasks they have to do. For the time being, it looks like it’ll be interesting to see how they handle the massive arms deal they uncovered and how it will affect them with a member of the Alan Institute showing up at the cafe.
“The more the merrier”
DR. JELLY, DA!
This was a pretty solid episode for Chisato and Takina to become better acquainted with their preferred ways of handling a hot situation. Although Takina was swearing through his teeth about having to spare people, Chisato’s pacifism proves to be a valuable asset as she works with the other members of LycoReco rather efficiently.
But first, I need to call attention to how much of a joy it is to follow Chisato and see how she handles both Takina and the gunmen in the supermarket. The chemistry between Chisato and Takina is pretty fun, but it does feel like at this point, Chisato is doing a lot of the legwork in getting Takina out of her shell. The first seedlings of their friendship come when she shares a piece of food from the specialty train bento with her. It’s pretty cute to see Takina actually enjoy herself, but as with most of their bonding moments, Takina’s logical side always comes creeping in to throw a wrench in things.
A CHANCE WE’RE WILLING TO TAKE
With the arms deal taking up a larger chunk of the overarching plot, it forces the girls’ hands to have to handle a crisis on their hands. The arms deal section of the plot opens the door for many of the show’s more animated action pieces like the grocery section and the car shootout. They built a really neat sequence where they have to think on their toes and fire at Robata’s drone to avoid crash-landing into the ocean.
And while jelly drinks might prove to be more practical as a meal supplement for that moment in time, Chisato’s pacifism seems to be exactly what allowed them to secure Walnut, or Kurumi since it gave her a way to both reduce the amount of fatalities, and even befriend one of the gunmen so that they could warn them about the ambush that got the decoy Walnut lit up.
Above all else, it can’t be said enough that the action sequences are so good for this show. When I saw the gunfight in the grocery store, I knew I couldn’t just watch one episode and leave it at that. There were a couple of times this season where I’d pick up dropped shows and not be pulled in enough to pick it up, but this is by and far an exception. It was really cool to see all of the acrobatics that Chisato did to take out all those guys with non-lethal rounds. I think the fact that they are non-lethal makes it even cooler because it means that she has to sometimes knock out a guy twice just to avoid them getting back up. So far, so great!
“More haste, less speed”
BEWARE OF PLASTICS
This was probably my favorite episode of the four I’ve seen for this post because of how it dives into the kind of comradery that Chisato and Takina will need to have if they want to rely on one another. While past episodes focus on the circumstances that they’re thrust into, this episode emphasizes the internal struggle that Takina faces as she’s shunned by her peers who robbed her of her dream job.
I found it to be interesting that they went directly to the DA Headquarters for a physical since it gave them and the audience a feel for the kind of culture that surrounds the Lycoris during their regular day-to-day. With Takina disgraced and demoted, the girls can’t help but spread rumors of Takina being a psychopath, and no matter how much she tries to fight it, she’ll still be seen as unwanted by the swathes of Lycoris who are more than happy to smear her name no matter how innocent she may be.
If I’m going to be honest, I think Chisato has more amusing chemistry with Takina’s former partner Fuki because of how abrasive Fuki is towards Chisato’s cocky banter. It makes it funnier when the next episode has them accidentally coming across each other in an online VR shooting game, and they both lament having to encounter one another. While Chisato’s bond with Takina is more wholesome, Fuki provides that perfect rivalry where, even though Chisato is mild-mannered, she runs her mouth just enough to set Fuki off. I’d almost say I’d watch a show where characters like Chisato and Fuki had to pair up.
TRIGGER HAPPY HAVOC
It’d be needless to say that, once again, Chisato is the best. Not only does she uncover traces of a vast conspiracy by dressing down Takina’s old partner, her replacement and the friggin’ commander of the DA, but then goes on to nearly solo Fuki and Sakura in a practice bout. Not to mention that the animation is still cool and sleek as Chisato flips, whacks, and pistol-whips her way around them.
But overall, it was nice to see how Chistato tries to work Takina through her pent-up feelings about returning to the DA. Much of Takina’s angst so far has been from wanting to leave and get back into the DA’s good graces instead of being stuck in LycoReco. However, that prospect is looking impossible by the minute, especially with how every Lycoris has the rumors attached to Takina memorized, etched in stone, and handed out in leaflets and tracts.
It’s why Chisato’s perspective is highly important for Takina. Whereas Takina is a realist solely because she prefers to do her job by-the-book, Chisato is a realist in the sense of understanding that there are new doors that open whenever an old one closes. If Takina’s old friends are just going to treat her like she’s a trigger-happy maniac or make lesbian jokes when Chisato sweeps her in for a big hug, then their company was never important or needed to begin with.
The old adage “Those Who Mind Don’t Matter, and Those Who Matter Don’t Mind,” comes to mind. While Takina solidified DA work as her dream job, it really wasn’t going to be an environment that will help foster her strengths and aim for her to personal and emotionally grow. It’s why it’s far more inspiring that, rather than sit back and take the abuse until she works her way up to her old positon where everyone hates her, Takina takes her destiny into her own hands and decks Fuki in the face as she proves to her old partner and her new replacement that she doesn’t need them anymore.
“Nothing seek, nothing find”
This episode was a pretty decent breather episode up until the big bomb drop at the end that cost the lives of many Lycoris. But despite the horror that came near the end of the episode and the hint that Yoshi/Shinji is invested in seeing Chisato develop as a weapon, it was still relatively light-hearted.
From the aftermath of their trip to the DA, Takina is finding herself opening up to Chisato far more. She still has her personal hang ups about wearing only functional clothes worn by her peers or counting every calorie, but Chisato helps to get her out of her shell. It’s pretty heart-warming and funny to see her try to recommend buying cuter underwear or enjoying sweets and aquariums.
I had a good time seeing Takina let her guard down and actually like the pastry that was ordered for her while Chisato helped out a French couple with the menu. With all the mayhem and gun smuggling that took over the plot, it not only humanized Takina, but also gave a better glimpse of the kind of person Chisato is without having to deal with such heavy cases.
Being just all-around helpful to the community has mattered more greatly to her than taking on bigger cases, so doing things like helping people navigate around a menu or taking Takina out to come out of her shell make for interesting material for her, on top of her opening up about why she clings to pacifism. I know I’ll have more to say about this when the next episode comes out so I’ll see y’all over the weekend.
ED: Hana no Tou「花の塔」by Sayuri