Release the Spyce – Mid Season Anime Review
Synopsis: Momo may be a quiet student at school, but she’s the newest recruit of the private intelligence agency, Tsukikage. Now she must survive both her training and missions to fight against a global crime organization. (Official HIDIVE Synopsis)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Release the Spyce started off strong, at the very least intriguing with its quirky and fun vibe. Featuring a cast of kick ass girls and some goofy, playful action added to the appeal, topping it all off with a protagonist whose sense of taste helps her find out about people’s feelings simply by licking their skin, and powers that activate by biting into what looks to be cinnamon sticks and bay leaves. Together these elements form a show that forces you to suspend your disbelief regularly in exchange for entertaining, silly hi-jinks and showdowns.
Tom: Whimsically silly, yet appealingly bizarre, Release the Spyce had a lot going for it. Indeed even after the first episode the series nails its immediate follow up episodes. But after Episode 3 Release the Spyce starts to fall apart. Its strengths included Momo, our budding hero, and her journey to become as strong as the other ‘Spyce’ girls. An overarching narrative was hinted at, but rather then delve into the girl’s battle with a shadowy, evil organization, we stop to explore the rest of the team. Trouble is the rest of the Tsukikage girls just aren’t that compelling. We’re treated to a couple one off episodes, mostly built around interpersonal drama, or focused on delving into character’s pasts. This pushes the overarching battle back as we linger on these shorter narratives that feel lazy, sloppy and uninteresting. What drama is presented just doesn’t have the chops to hold the show up, sometimes even coming from set ups built around extreme contrivance.
Linny: The problem seems to lie specifically when Release the Spyce decides to go with more ’emotional’ story lines, such as exploring the relationship between the mentor and mentee girls in Tsukikage. Episode 4 goes all in with this and ends up feeling forced rather than a sincere exploration with believable character development. The flashbacks offered as emotional revelation for when Sagami Fuu, one of the trainees, and Yachiyo Mei, her mentor, realizes all the good times they had together come off as borderline cliche, making it a strange contrast with series that felt so whimsical and weird early on. To make it all the more bizarre, the episode features a masochist pervert villain for Fuu and Mei to defeat now that they’ve grown closer, which feels like yet another awkward, cliche addition to the already mixed tone of the episode.
Tom: The emotional elements never seem to land, largely I think because characters like Fuu and Mei feel uninteresting, with not enough meat to their personalities to make them feel like true individuals. None of this is aided by Release the Spyce’s troubled comedy. Early on Release the Spyce does a good job of straddling the line between action and comedy, but later the series seems to run out of comedic steam. Gags get repetitious, or take a backseat to the character drama, which again feels weak thanks to everyone outside of Momo lacking that special something that makes them more interesting than existing as just another moe blob.
Linny: I’d give props to Release the Spyce for featuring female characters of all sizes and shapes but in yet another tired move, all the non-traditional looking women are villainous characters.Specifically the more unique designs are left to low-level goons and thugs, with all the ‘attractive’ female designs saved for our heroes or our top ranked, evil baddie. I had high hopes for Release the Spyce and really wanted to love it thanks to its unique take on super skilled, female spies but its attempts to have ‘deeper and emotional’ plot lines falls flat. Its humour and action also end up feeling underutilized or repetitive and cause all its initial charm to seep away. Release the Spyce could still be a fun watch for anyone particularly fond of cute, high school girls kicking butt and saving the ‘world’ but it’s definitely going to be one of the more average shows, even for such an audience.
Tom: It’s only as we hit the Mid Season that Spyce seems poised to finally shift its attention away from exploring its cast of cute girls and to the main narrative. There’s talk of double agents, dangerous evil organizations running amuck, strained relationships and such, but it all feels too little too late. Many of these elements should’ve hit home sooner, but were pushed back in favor of all the character work that just, well, doesn’t work. Ultimately if all you really want is cute moe girls with super powers Release the Spyce does okay. But I think in order for the series to really hit home, and for audiences to appreciate it despite the forced drama, poor writing, and more contrived elements, you need to love the girls more for their visual designs rather than anything else.
Release the Spyce is available for streaming via HIDIVE.