Original Run: October 7, 2018 - December 23, 2018 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Action
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Release the Spyce. Reader discretion is advised.***
Momo Minamoto (voiced by Yukari Anzai) has always had a strong sense of justice. However, she has never had the confidence to back up her convictions; which has been a true shame. Momo possesses amazing eyesight, a keen sense of smell, and is capable of identifying a person’s physical condition with a simple lick. Such amazing talents would have surely gone to waste had Momo not spotted a group of shadowy figures fleeing off into the night.
It isn’t until Momo is confronted by those figures – a.k.a., her very own schoolmates – does she realize she had witnessed the Tsukikage spy organization’s latest espionage mission. The girls of Tsukikage take an immediate interest in Momo’s abilities, and she is placed under the tutelage of the team’s leader Yuki Hanzomon (voiced by Manami Numakura).
From nothing, Momo is transformed into an elite spy, and the once shy, quiet girl who loves her home now has the skills to protect it from evil. The problem is, the evil she and the rest of Tsukikage face has spread its influence far and wide.
Release the Spyce is the perfect anime if you are seeking an easy-going, no frills, but nevertheless, undoubtedly solid, popcorn-flick kind of series. Essentially, if you find yourself with a free afternoon and want to watch something fun, this one would sufficiently meet your needs.
I enjoyed this show because it kept my curiosity peaked. There was never a dull moment, and speaking for myself, I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. We can credit this high-level engagement to a move Release the Spyce pulled in its very first episode. And since this detail was revealed in that first episode, and since it also served as a defining element to the overall atmosphere of the series, I won’t be giving anything away when I say:
There was a traitor amongst the Tsukikage spies.
Release the Spyce made it crystal clear someone was working for the enemy. On top of that, this series did nothing which betrayed the turncoat’s identity. There was no obvious culprit. Everyone, and thanks to the show’s setup, I really mean everyone was a potential suspect.
This series kept emphasizing a spy’s greatest weapon was secrecy. A spy is a master liar, and due to Tsukikage being the most elite spy organization in history – according to Release the Sypce’s own story that is – the long-con approach, no matter how ridiculous it could have potentially been, wasn’t at all farfetched. Granted, this only worked because the show firmly established the Tsukikage spies were, indeed, at the top of their field.
I have seen plenty of spy and ninja stories – because let’s not pretend the Tsukikage girls weren’t high school ninjas – in which the supposedly best spies and spy circles were infiltrated because their enemies used the exact tricks the protagonists used themselves: creating false identities, emotional manipulation, basic misdirection.
To use Release the Spyce as our example, wouldn’t Yuki Hanzomon, Momo Minamoto’s teacher, have looked like the biggest fool in the world if she hadn’t instantly found the sudden reappearance of one of her comrade’s friends – a friendship which was forged during a particularly harrowing experience – a tiny bit suspicious? Yes, it would have been all kinds of frustrating had Yuki accepted everything at face value.
Fortunately, since Yuki was not incompetent, she didn’t do that. In fact, Yuki’s comrade, whose friend had returned, also saw the potential threat despite being overjoyed to be reunited.
If a story is going to have its high school characters be master spies, it needs to make sure those characters are master spies who just happen to be high schoolers; something Release the Spyce did well.
Thanks to this series establishing Tsukikage as a legitimate elite team, its narrative could jump between spy missions and day-to-day situations rather smoothly. It was great knowing there wasn’t any dead weight which in turn made it a lot easier to care when Release the Spyce took the time to develop its characters.
A huge element to this show was the bond Tsukikage emphasized between teacher and student. As per the group’s tradition, a more experienced spy needed to take on an apprentice before retiring and pass on their skills and knowledge. To do that effectively, Tsukikage believed it was crucial for teachers to connect with their students, and vice versa, on a deep, emotional level. Release the Spyce set itself up to successfully create those connections.
Whenever this series moved away from exciting spy missions to more low-key slice-of-life exchanges, those lulls in the action never felt like time wasters. They were the least interesting parts of the show, don’t get me wrong, but they weren’t bad either.
I would be lying if I said this balance wasn’t impressive to see.
However, the thing that allowed Release the Spyce to take one step forward was, again, trying to figure out who the traitor was amongst this seemingly perfect unity. Where was the deception coming from? I really can’t emphasize enough how such a small detail prevented this show from fully becoming a run-of-the-mill, albeit more than serviceable, spy story.
What I am about to say next is an attempt to clarify my true enthusiasm towards Release the Spyce.
I’m not going to deny how this show managed to impress me with some of the things it did. Still, I wouldn’t claim this series blew me away. Like I mentioned, this was a popcorn-flick in anime form; meaning it was entertaining, and luckily enough, entertaining for all the right reasons.
Hypothetically, should Release the Spyce receive a second season (and I certainly don’t think the chances of that are zero), this will be one of those shows I will remember liking and not much else.
The long and short of it is: This was a good series, but there is no need to rush it to the top of your must-watch list; impressive points or not.
This sentiment had to do with Release the Spyce never coming out from under the shadow of a premise that was as pointless as it was gimmicky.
According to this show, a person could receive a boost to both their physical and mental capabilities by biting into a spice. If a spy needed a little extra edge, they just needed to pull out a stick of cinnamon, and they had essentially won them a fight.
While this wasn’t an awful concept, it had no impact on anything.
The spies of Tsukikage often faced other spies who also knew about the spice trick. Therefore, since everyone was powered up, everyone still had to rely on their own individual skills. Thus, this made spices a moot point. Since we can remove Release the Spyce’s one unique element entirely from its story, we’re left with just a simple spy series.
I realize it’s the easiest thing in the world to hindsight together a better show, but let’s imagine what could have been if different spices had different effects. It already looked as though Release the Spyce had that idea in mind since the only spies who used the same type of spice were master and student.
Too bad nothing ever came of that.
Also, this series (if I understood it correctly) tried to justify the correlation between spies and spices by claiming the word “spy” originally came from the word “spice.” If it weren’t for the fact such a statement was flat-out wrong, that remained one hell of a stretch.
On the whole, Release the Spyce was an amalgamation of alright. There was alright action, alright animation, alright characters, and an alright story. The unfortunate part was, there wasn’t anything above alright. There was nothing worth more.
To be fair, though, while that may not be the most shining accomplishment, it is still an accomplishment, nevertheless.
After all, alright is just that: alright. And alright has never meant bad.
This was one of those shows which had my curiosity while it was having its original run. I think it is reasonable to say I was looking forward to the day I would finally get around to watching it. I wasn’t expecting the moon and beyond, but there was at least the hope of something decent.
And “decent” was precisely what was given.
This series stood firm in many key areas. The story built a reliable confidence in its characters which allowed for some good development alongside fun action.
In a way, this show was like eating a high quality sweet. It may not have been a proper meal, but it was satisfying all the same.
Release the Spyce is a series I see no reason not to recommend.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Release the Spyce? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.
Post Editor: Onions