***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Assault Lily: Bouquet. Reader discretion is advised.***
Fifty years ago, humanity was threatened by the arrival of monstrous creatures known as the Huge. Conventional weapons proved useless against these monsters. However, a new source of energy, dubbed Magie, was discovered. The only ones who can wield such tremendous power are teenage soldiers known as Lilies.
At the Yurigaokao Academy, the current Lily force is trained to master their abilities and their Counter Huge ARMS (CHARMS) weapons. However, with a life dedicated to fighting, pain, sadness, and loss are never far away.
This is the story of Lilies Riri Hitotsuyanagi, Yuyu Shirai (voiced respectively by Hikaru Akao and Yuuko Natsuyoshi), and their friends. Together, they work to defeat the Huge threat once and for all.
On the one hand, Assault Lily: Bouquet (Assault Lily) was watchable, at times enjoyable, and not a train wreck. On the other hand, I have already forgotten everything about it; this series left zero impact.
That second point is hyperbole on my part; I remember enough of Assault Lily to get through this review. Ask me about this show in a week, then yes, I suspect nothing will remain.
But let’s focus on the positive aspects of this series for the moment. After all, Assault Lily wasn’t a disaster; it had commendable elements. For starters, its animation was pretty damn good. I fully expected it to be too since this show came out of Shaft Studios, which has given us visual marvels such as Madoka Magica and the Monogatari series.
To that end, though, Assault Lily wasn’t as appealing to the eyes as Shaft’s more iconic works, and this show wasn’t anywhere close to 2020’s best examples of animation. Nevertheless, the action scenes were swift and fluid; they were flashy and exciting; plus, they were ample amounts of fun. At nothing else, much of this series’ punch was a direct result of its visuals.
One of my favorites scenes came at this show’s climactic battle where the entire Yurigaoka student body banded together to take down the enemy. What enjoyment I got out of this encounter had nothing to do with the characters involved since (and spoilers for what’s coming in the Series Negatives section) I couldn’t have cared less about any of them. Instead, it was the high-paced animation, combined with a well-done musical score, that provided the fuel that made this battle quite thrilling to watch.
In terms of story, the plot did have my attention. It certainly wasn’t something you could skip through without consequence; there were details that made the series suitably engaging. For example, Assault Lily did a decent job establishing why some people, particularly those in government, would distrust the Lilies’ supernatural abilities. When outside forces tried to make a power play against the will of the Yurigaoka Academy leadership, it was neat exchange of political maneuvering that didn’t feel inconsequential or irrelevant.
Getting to the heart of the matter, I was afraid Assault Lily would be a test of my patience. Despite coming from one of my favorite animation studios, certain factors, which we will get into, made me think sitting through this series would be a dull slog. My worst fears never manifested; this show, like I said, was watchable.
However, I would be lying if I told you Assault Lily was even the least bit satisfying.
Although Assault Lily was a Shaft anime, it is essential to note that it wasn’t an Akiyuki Shinbou directed Shaft anime. Mr. Shinbou gave us the Monogatari series, Madoka Magica, and many of Shaft’s other iconic productions. It is almost impossible to mistake a series helmed by Mr. Shinbou as anything else; his style is so unique.
I’m not saying Assault Lily was doomed to fail because it was directed by someone else. What I am saying is that despite being a Shaft anime, this series does have a very different feel. Additionally, it was a tad annoying when this show half-heartily threw in some Shinbou-isms; it was nothing but a crude reminder that we were not watching a typical Shaft production.
If you are not familiar with Mr. Shinbou’s work, then this point will have little meaning to you. Still, it was something I simply couldn’t ignore.
Aside from that, Assault Lily had a much bigger problem. This show might have had a reasonably interesting plot on paper, but it was a narrative fueled by its characters. This would have been fine had the characters been worth a damn. And they weren’t.
Ignoring the fact the Assault Lily franchise began as a figurine line in 2013, hardly anyone in this show had anything more than a one-note personality, and even then, it was hard to tell one person from another. I’m not sure the reasoning behind it, but every time a character came on screen for the first time in an episode, they were accompanied by a title card with their name and school year. This included Riri Hitotsuyanagi and Yuyu Shirai, this series’ two most prominent protagonists.
Perhaps it was just a stylistic choice, but it had a severely adverse effect. It was like this show admitting no one was memorable. Since characters’ actions and personas were so bland and unremarkable, Assault Lily needed to keep reminding the audience who everyone was.
There is no way this was the intention. However, it was like shining a spotlight on a pile of fresh manure; trust me, I can smell it without any help.
And this problem could have been alleviated had Assault Lily focused more on its action scenes. Yeah, the series would have been blatantly hollow, but at least it would have been entertaining. Unfortunately, this show felt it was necessary to spend half its time doing average slice-of-life activities with its characters.
Assault Lily’s highs weren’t impressive enough to wash away its many, many lows.
This show was a net negative. Whenever it took a slight step forward, it took several bounding steps back.
Although this series could be quite flashy and exciting in short bursts, it was, ultimately, burdened with an unshakable amount of forgetability. Nothing about it stood out; nothing about it left an impression. The more time that passes from this review’s publishing, the less I will remember about this show.
And it has already pretty much gone from my mind.
Assault Lily: Bouquet can be skipped.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Assault Lily: Bouquet? 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.