“Recoil of Lycoris”
The finale of Lycoris Recoil closes on an explosive note as Chisato and Majima isolate as many people as possible from their final battle. But as they duke it out and find some kind of equal footing, there’s plenty of action going on behind-the-scenes to save Chisato from almost certain demise.
What I found to be impressive about Chisato and Majima’s fight is how they share the kind of dynamic you don’t really see between protagonists and antagonists. They’re these odd kindred spirits, both molded by their environment as young killing machines and mutually see their paths as beneficial to society. While Chisato aims to keep the peace by working alongside the Lycoris to make lives better for those around her, Majima aims to reform a corrupt society that pits its secret police against its citizens without any knowledge of their existence.
The only wedge driving them apart is their methodology. Chisato working with the Lycoris and Majima committing acts of terrorism work against one another, and should reinforce their disdain for one another. But they share a mutual respect that comes through with both their comfort with talking with each other and their insistence on fighting as equals.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the same for Mika, who wound up taking on Chisato’s place as the one to kill Yoshimatsu for his heart. It’s a devastating scene that takes in just how much of an empath Mika had become as he assumed responsibility as Chisato’s main father figure. By taking on Chisato’s burdens to protect her and save her life, he had to work against his lover’s best wishes and ultimately choose between him and Chisato.
It’s tragic, but also explains the kind of sorrow that Mika has carried over the years, especially because of the lengths he’s had to go just so that she wouldn’t have to kill against her will. Killing Yoshimatsu might have saved Chisato’s life, but Mika still has many more burdens to shoulder as a result. Because Chisato still believes in Yoshimatsu as her misguided father, Mika deliberately rips out the birthday message celebrating her new life so that she’ll never have to know Yoshimatsu still had to be killed for her sake. It would be difficult to explain any of it away if Chisato finds out that Yoshimatsu is dead and his heart is what saved her.
As for what this whole ideal means for society, chances are it won’t be good. People’s deaths are still brushed under the rug and resold to the general populace as entertainment. Majima survived, but now he’s aiming to hide the remaining weapons across the city to convince others to help him continue his mission. Aside from that, it’s like none of this had ever happened even with so many casualties from both Lycoris and civilians. LycoReco is fine enough as it is since they’re in Hawaii, as far away from all that Lycoris nonsense as they can be. My best guess is that the next step would be to make Lilybell a more prominent adversary in future installments, if they choose to continue Lycoris Recoil.
Lycoris Recoil was one of the most anticipated anime of the season for good reason. It bottled up the fun, chaotic energy of a buddy cop action film, but with the intrigue of a spy thriller. Hot Fuzz would grab easier comparisons with Takina finding out a grander conspiracy with the DA after being demoted. But to me, it also reminded me of what made the Police Story films impressive with their huge skyrise setpieces, grand chase sequences, and imposing syndicates.
Aside from the action sequences, the show’s greatest strength is how they managed to have Chisato mingle smoothly with just about anyone on the show. Her bond with Takina is great because, not only has she helped Takina become more comfortable with seeing the good in others, but she also helps her come out of her shell with her infectious enthusiasm. Her connection with Majima was great too because it humanized an otherwise blank slate terrorist character and aided the both of them in having them feel like normal people who aren’t too weighed down by their genetic powers to unwind or have casual conversations together. I do feel a little robbed though since I loved it whenever Chisato and Fuki got on each other’s cases. Their chemistry was perfect since you had someone stuffier and more pompous than Takina to trade barbs with Chisato’s cheeky and rude sense of humor.
Also, as much as I liked the connection between Chisato and Takina, I wish there was a little more than just the vaguest subtext in the universe if the intention was for them to come off like a potential couple. With the way they were pretty forward with Mika and Yoshimatsu’s relationship, it seems like it was purposefully vague because they DIDN’T want everyone to recognize Chisato and Takina as a couple the same way that they did for Mika and Yoshimatsu. I can see a lot of people being misled into having lofty expectations about Chisato and Takina’s relationship when it’s geared towards ship teasing.
The DA and Radiata’s stranglehold on society is rather odd as well. There are instances where we’re supposed to see them as being in the right, especially with Chisato and Takina’s noble stance on believing in law enforcement. But even from the first few minutes, it’s clear that having the Lycoris act as judge, jury, and executioner would fare poorly as one major human rights violation after another is exacted so that everyone could think that crime never existed. Sparing Majima was an obvious move because frankly, he’s far more understandable by wanting to force society’s hand in acknowledging that they’re all living under a police state where people are removed from existence the moment they do anything inconvenient for their narrative.
People’s deaths are just brushed under the rug or resold to the general populace as propaganda, and we’re supposed to be cool with the ideal outcome being “Yay, Radiata successfully suppressed its dissidents’ thanks to our brave heroes”. The show tries to walk back on it by having Fuki bitterly reflect on the propaganda film created to reflect their battle with Majima, but only vaguely criticizes their society because “Lycoris” is in the name of the anime. It’s easy to accept that Hollywood police or spies are inherently meant to be nobler than the real deal, but when this show’s police are equally horrible, the main takeaway is that Majima had a point by exposing the city’s efforts to keep its citizens ignorant and uneducated about their city’s underground murder squad.
Lycoris Recoil operates best as a visually-impressive action anime with an engaging cast of characters. But its Hollywood action flick fun can only do so much to cloak its lack of conviction towards the story developments that occur. It presents an ugly world where young girls and boys are indoctrinated and trained to murder the general populace, and rarely confronts this idea aside from explaining Majima’s motives and adding extra tension for our protagonists. On top of handling terrorist attacks (that will be covered up) and wanton Lycoris murders (also covered up), they work under a system that would have had them all systematically murdered by ANOTHER death squad if they didn’t operate quickly enough to call off their own agency’s extra attack dogs.
Its narrative might not stand up to scrutiny, but if you’re able to overlook a lot of that, Lycoris Recoil should still prove to be a good time. Its fight sequences are genuinely neat with Chisato’s gun-fu and pacifism providing a fun, unique angle the show approaches its fights with. Similarly, its characters are handled with great care as the relationships that are nurtured by the members of LycoReco are as endearing as they are engaging. With all of the hints they have for their future endeavors, I’d look forward to seeing if we wind up seeing Chisato and Takina again soon.