Never would I thought to see the day when I’d see ninjas, spices and miniskirts all wrapped up in the same sentence! But that was the premise for RELEASE THE SPYCE! The first episode of this exciting action-packed twelve episode anime definitely didn’t disappoint and was definitely not what I was expecting just from the synopsis below:
The series is about a girl named Momo who attends high school at the city of Sorasaki. However, she is secretly a member of Tsukikage, an intelligence agency that protects people. As a new member of the agency, she works alongside her colleagues including her senior Yuki and friends. Together, they work to establish peace in the city.(Source: MyAnimeList: MAL News)
But then again, I never imagined that this delectable anime would take the word “Spyce” or rather “Spices” to a literal level!
Golden Spirits begins with a group of girls wearing ninja gear sneaking into a heavily secured factory on a moonlit night. Utilizing the latest high-tech spy gear, they manage to break into the facility. From a van on the bridge, a slight distance away from the factory, one of the girls hacks her way into the factory’s security systems and warns the girls through their communicators about the guards patrolling the area. Removing their hoods, the girls address each each other by their first names, as Chiyome, Fuma and Goemon and report that they are ready and in position. At the same time, another girl addressed as Hanzo breaks into the systems room and reports that she is ready to begin the mission.
On the other end of the communicator, a blond-haired girl tells Hanzo to go ahead and start, but warns her to get out of there immediately after she’s done because the alarm will sound soon after. Acknowledging her orders, Hanzo orders Tsukikage to start the mission and begins secretly downloading data from one of the factory’s servers onto her terminal. The alarm immediately sounds and alerts the owner who starts calling for backup. From his bedroom, the owner’s lover walks out and starts heading for the door addressing the owner as “my honey,” while the owner calls the guy “his knight.” Activating the security system, the owner starts shutting the doors, but Goemon manages to keep the door open while Chiyome and Fuma have to blow up the doors to escape. Leaving the entrance of the factory via the door which Goemon managed to keep on, the alarm stops and Chiyome informs Goemon that she took the opportunity to turn off the alarm too as Hanzo and Fuma go through the door.
Fully exiting the building, Hanzo informs everyone that they must rendezvous with the car in three minutes. The girl on the other end of the communicators, Tsubone, copies that, but as the girls raise their heads and look around the room, they find themselves surrounded by mechanical puppets. Hanzo sarcastically states that this factory really isn’t up to no good and orders everyone to get ready. Suddenly all of the girls pull out different spices (e.g. basil, cinnamon, mint etc) from the pocket devices attached to their legs and devour them, causing their eyes to glow. Tsubone explains that Spyces are chemically augmented spices that “increases chemical activity in the brain and elevates physical activity,” before ordering the girls to release their limiters. Releasing their limiters, the girls stylishly wipes out the robots.
Immediately after that, Tsubone informs the girls that there is a person approaching them, so Hanzo leaps up into the sky and declares that she will take care of them. Meanwhile, from the sky, the girls’ pet owl fires feather bullets from the device its holding and strikes the robots on the roof, allowing Tsubone to take control of them. Suddenly, the “knight” appears on the roof and fires at the robots, while trying to make a cool dramatic speech. However, before he can get a shot in, he gets instantly shoved to the ground by Hanzo and has bullets fired into him. Across the water from the factory, a pink haired girl, Momo Minamoto (Yukari Anzai) is walking with her mother on a bridge and gazing at the scenery when Momo spots the girls leaping from rooftop to rooftop. Pointing them out to her mother, her mother remarks that she can’t see anything, but Momo still thinks that its suspicious and reports it to her mother while acting like a policewoman. Her mother is delighted by this and proclaims that Momo is like her father, which causes Momo to giggle. Back at the factory, both the owner and his lover are knocked out while the girls celebrate the completion of their mission as they rendezvous with the car. However, Hanzo stops in her tracks and spots Momo walking away in the distance, as Momo turns and looks back at her.
The next day, Momo is getting ready for school. As she heads out, she says goodbye to the family photo of her and her father. Running to school, Momo sees two punks talking while dropping their cigarette butts on the path. Wanting to tell them to pick them up, Momo goes to call out to them, but relents out of fear. At that same moment, however, an old woman appears and tells the punks off. The punks apologize and pick up their butts before leaving. Relaxing, Momo calls out the old woman who greets her back and asks how the new school year is going for her. Momo says that everything is going well except for the fact that she is in a different class from her friends, but she’s making it her goal to make new friends with the people in her class. Hearing this, the old woman laughs and reassures Momo that she will make new friends sure enough. Thanking her, Momo says goodbye to the woman and rushes off to school.
At school, however, the story is different. Momo has a hard time talking with the others in her class and after four period breaks have gone by, has yet to make any new friends. Depressed, Momo slumps over the top of her desk until she gets tapped on the shoulder and called to by someone. Looking up, Momo is happy to see that its her friend, Yua who waves to her while stuffing some food into her mouth. Greeting her friend, Yua slightly brags that she has already made some friends in her new class, which Momo congratulates her for it. Yua then notices the future plans after graduation slip on Momo’s desk and concernedly asks why Momo hasn’t put policewoman down yet. Momo nervously replies that she doesn’t have the confidence she can do it yet. However, Yua encourages her friend on and reminds her about all of her amazing qualities like her sense of smell and great eyesight. Momo laughs and remembering about last night tells her friend about the strange sight she saw last night, triggering the attention of two certain girls. After break is over, Momo sees her friends off and turns around to be greeted by Goemon and Chiyome whom Momo recognizes to be Goe Ishikawa (Yuri Noguchi) and Mei Yachiyo (Aya Suzuki). The two of them remark (well nod in Goe’s case) that they overheard Momo and Yua’s conversation and were wondering if they could be friends. Momo happily declares “Of course!” and the three of them starts talking.
Later, after school is over, Momo, Mei and Goe are walking through the corridors, heading towards Goe’s part-time job when they bump into Hanzo and Tsubone whom Momo recognizes to be Yuki Hanzōmon (Manami Numakura) and Hatsume Aoba (Aya Uchida). Starstruck by Yuki, Momo gets nervous and awkwardly greets the pair which Yuki casually returns. Momo blushes like a tomato as the two walk by them. A few minutes later, Mei tells Momo that they are gone and Momo heavily sighs and flops over. Mei naturally asks if Momo admires Yuki and Momo goes on a frantic tirade over how much she has idolized and admired Yuki since the start of high school and wants to be like her, while spouting all the qualities which she admires about Yuki. Goe nods and remarks that she understands too because she thinks Hatsume is amazing which causes Momo to talk about how they (Hatsume and Yuki) are childhood friends. Mei cheerfully compliments Momo on her knowledge and Momo remarks that she looked into some of the seniors before entering. Panicking, Momo asks if that is weird. But Mei replies that its great how she looks into the things she is curious about, causing Momo to sigh in relief.
At the Wasabi curry and cafe shop where Goe works, Goe explains about the shop and Momo remarks that she never knew that there was one here. Grabbing Momo into headlock, Mei declares that they should enter. Though, on the way, the trio encounter a quiet purple haired girl named Fū Sagami or rather Fuma (Akane Fujita). Although Momo goes to introduce herself, Fuma runs away to hide so Momo asks Mei about her. Mei confirms that she is a first-year student, but as they turn to look at her, a furious Fuma starts shoving terrifying death glares towards Momo from her hiding place, which naturally freaks Momo out. Inside the store, the trio are greeted by the owner as they go to sit down, so Mei and Goe start ordering curry. Taking a look at the menu, Momo orders a hamburger curry and takes a look around the almost empty store. Noticing the pets, Momo asks about them and Mei explains that they are sort of like mascots. Muttering an ‘I see,’ Momo soon starts smelling curry and compliments it while identifying some of the spices in it. Hearing her joyful compliment, the owner praises Momo on her sense of smell as she delivers the curry to their table. Immediately diving into the curry, Momo takes a couple of bites and happily shouts out how much she loves spicy food. Goe remarks that she sure looks happy, but Mei scolds her on being so formal and insist that they start using first names. Mei then introduces herself as Mei Yachiyo but insists that Momo calls her “Mei.” Goe likewise does the same and Mei insists that Momo call her “Goe-chan!” Momo does the same too, but insists that the two call her “Momochi” which Mei and Goe agrees too. Hearing the birth of a new friendship, the owner offers the trio a drink on the house, so Mei orders a Squash “with lemon not lime.”
After the trio finish eating, the trio starts talking about their hobbies and Momo finds out that Mei sings and plays the guitar in front of the station. Delighted, Momo offers to come watch her play some time and Mei hugs Momo in gratitude. Only this causes Momo to lick Mei’s neck who naturally pulls back in fright. Naturally unperturbed, Momo asks Mei if she is getting enough sleep and Mei surprisingly says that it’s true, but wants to know how she knows that. Momo explains that whenever she licks someone, she naturally knows their physical condition. Excited, Mei insistently demands that Momo do it to Goe and Momo does it with Goe’s approval. Licking Goe’s hand, Momo immediately senses that Goe has some muscle soreness, so Mei does the same to Goe’s cheek to see if she can too (though naturally to no effect). Goe once again cheerfully praises Momo’s tongue, which causes Momo to happily brag about her other senses before letting slip about what she saw the previous night. Out of interest, Mei asks about what she saw and Momo replies that she saw “Flying humanoids……?” Hearing Momo’s guess, Goe and Mei immediately start laughing as Momo panics and asserts that they really exist because she saw it on TV. Mei declares that she is glad that they became friends and suggests that she show Momo her hidden side some time. Momo asks if she has one and Mei asserts that every girl should have one or two secrets.
Later, after the trio part ways, Momo is walking home when she is greeted by the old woman from earlier and some of the other shop owners. Just as the butcher asks if she has been eating well and Momo replies that she has, Momo suddenly hears a scream and sees a purse snatcher running up to her. Scared, Momo can only stand petrified as the purse snatcher just runs past her. Suddenly, Momo hears the sound of a thud, which causes her to turn around to see that two policewomen has arrested the purse thief. After one of the policewomen takes the purse snatcher to the station, the purple-haired policewoman, Ayumu, greets Momo and remarks how glad she is that Momo is safe. As Ayumu rubs her head, Momo thinks to herself about how great Ayumu smells before Ayumu removes her hand and informs Momo to be careful because a lot of weirdos have been appearing in town lately. Changing the subject, Ayumu asks Momo how school is going and Momo reports that she has made some friends, but she’s having post-graduation career problems about whether to pursue a career as a policewoman because she has no confidence in herself especially considering what happened just now. Thinking it over, Ayumu offers to talk to Momo about it during her break after her last patrol in Ogimachi. Super excited, Momo agrees and Ayumu leaves in her car after saying goodbye in the same manner as Momo’s father.
Later that night, Momo is chatting on her phone while fantasizing about Yuki and waiting for Ayumu to show up. Noticing the late hour, Momo wonders if something has happened and looks over at the family photo with her father in it again. Having flashes about her father’s death, Momo becomes concerned, so she sneaks out of the house and rides her bike over to Ogimachi. After searching for a while, Momo moans that she can’t detect Ayumu’s location despite being able to smell her. Suddenly, a breeze picks up and smelling her scent again, Momo rushes over to a nearby port cargo area where she sees that Ayumu and her partner has been tied up by a group of strong muscular women. As she watches the women figuring out what to do with the “Po-po” from her hiding place between the crates, Momo starts panicking and wonders what she should do. Grabbing her phone, Momo goes to ring the police, when one of the women pulls out her knife and suggests that they kill (cook) the cops while placing the knife close to Ayumu’s cheek. Hearing Ayumu’s life being threatened, Momo squeezes her phone and thinks to herself that this isn’t good. Rallying up her courage, Momo declares in her mind that she has to help her and not allow herself to freeze up like the previous times…..so she runs out and starts taking pictures of the criminals with her smart phone and declares that she has already called the cops and threatens them to stop.
Noticing the nuisance, the woman with the knife starts chasing Momo despite her cries of having already contacted the police. Escaping, Momo tries to run towards the pier, but winds up quickly captured by a mechanical puppet. Analyzing Momo, the woman with the knife grabs Momo’s phone and crushes it and the woman with the red hair and earring tries to toss Momo into the ocean. Just as Momo is about to hit the ocean, she wakes up and finds herself being rescued by Yuki. Landing back on the pier, Momo calls Yuki by her name, however, suddenly another voice calls out to women and a group of girls in ninja outfits appear. As Yuki orders the girls to take the thugs down, the girls devour their Spyces and use their newly enhanced abilities to quickly take down and arrest the enemy. Racing back to Ayumu, Momo asks them if they are okay, but before they can speak, Yuki knocks them out with a memory erasure bullet and reports that the police will be here soon.
Suddenly, a truck comes screeching by and recaptures the tied up thugs. Yuki announces to Momo that they are going to give chase and orders a panicking Momo into a nearby car. As our heroines give chase, Goe fires a bullet at them that rebounds off the truck. Naturally nervous (with Fuma holding a gun to her head), Momo asks if they are going to wipe her memories too. Turning to face her, Yuki declares that she’s been recommended to them by Mei Yachiyo, so it still hasn’t been decided yet while an obviously jealous Fuma tries to dig death glare holes into Momo’s brain. Wondering what Fuma’s problem is, Momo is informed by Yuki that they will decide on whether they’ll wipe her memory after their talk. Finishing the debrief, Hatsume and the others then start explaining about the ancient organization Tsukikage and their aged old mission to fight against evil like the global syndicate Moryo which have rooted themselves in their city and their flunkies through spy work basically.
Momo quietly remarks that they sure go about their secret business in a pretty flashy way though and Mei reveals that they use holo grams to disguise themselves. Yuki adds on that they also share a good relationship with the police and that they often cooperate with Tsukikage on their missions. Midway through the chase, the two vehicles start launching missiles at each other, causing Momo to compliment the cars. Happy by her comments, Hatsume (who is the driver) turns to Momo and starts ranting about the car’s stats with Yuki’s help. However, Momo doesn’t care about it and screams out to Hatsume to keep her eyes on the road. Upset and angry, Fu tells Momo to “Shut Up!” as the car gets pushed back by some bullets. As Hatsume regains control of the car, Fu wakes up to find Momo accidentally kissing her on the cheek. Freaking out, Fu pulls the memory gun on Momo while Momo thinks to herself that the taste was 2/3s anger and 1/3 jealousy.
Finally calming down, Momo asks why they are scouting her and Mei re-lists all of her great qualities including her sense of taste and adds that its also because she tried to help the policewoman back there. Mei then tells “Kamari” to come out and a ninja frog pops out of Momo’s pocket. Mei then informs Momo that they were the girls at the factory that night she saw them and that when Momo said that she saw them, they immediately put her under surveillance which is why they able to rescue her as quickly as they did. Yuki then points out the microphone on Kamari and Momo freaks out because she realizes that they were listening in on her fan rants about Yuki. Giggling, Hatsume informs Momo that Yuki doesn’t have an apprentice right now and asks if she wants to join the group. Fu chips in that if she refuses then they will erase her memories and asks for her decision now. Thinking on it, Momo quietly tells them that she wants to, but mentions her confidence problem again despite Mei’s reassurances and Fu declaring that she and her master are just ordinary girls.
Suddenly, the car launches grappling hooks on the truck. As the car lowers its roof, Yuki stands up and tells Momo that “It’s only natural not to have confidence at first. The efforts you make and the results you achieve…..lead to confidence,” before readying her blade. On the enemies side, the red-haired thug activates ‘Destroy Mode’ which blows out the back of the truck and reveals an automated mech puppet. Attacking the car, Yuki leaps over its mechanical arm, bites into another Spyce and slices the mech into two, which flies off the vehicle onto the road. Flipping back to the car, Yuki whispers the continuation of her speech, “And then a pinch of Spyce” as the truck crashes near the edge of the incomplete highway and the car stops. Getting out of the car, Momo collapses to her feet. As she repeats Yuki’s words, Momo realizes that she hasn’t done anything yet. Turning back to Momo, Yuki informs Momo that what’s important is her will and if she agrees to join them then they’ll train her to have that confidence in herself. Hearing those words, Momo begins to feel something welling in her chest and Yuki tells her that its a surge of emotion. Repeating Yuki’s words, Momo confidently asks to join Tsukikage so that she can protect this city which she loves. The episode ends with Yuki and the other girls smiling.
After the ending credits, the scene switches to later that night at a mysterious lab where the owner of the factory and his lover are strapped up to weird chairs with drugs injected into their system. A blonde woman wearing a black kimono berates the two and suggests that they will be at least more useful as test subjects for their new drug. From behind her, one of the magnanimous figures on the screens behind her asks about the stolen data and the woman declares that it’ll be fine because they (the thieves) won’t be able to figure anything out from it. The figure asks if it was Tsukikage. However, a short-haired girl appears and informs everyone that a member of Tsukikage has just contacted them asking to join Moryo which surprises everyone. The woman mysteriously declares that they will destroy Tsukikage and the city with their next plan.
RELEASE THE SPYCE is a really impressive and exciting anime so far. The animation is cute and colorful, and yet, does an excellent job of blending the slice of life high school elements with the dark secretive nature of their spy missions. The transitions between all of the scenes were also really smooth and flowed, creating a really solid pacing. The plot was also intriguing and the way spices were incorporated into this a tool to augment their physical abilities and reflexes was really intriguing and well-thought out. While the secret traitor trope at the end is a cliche, it makes me really excited at this point because I have no clue who the traitor could be.
Character-wise, I love all of the main girls so far. I have no particular favorites thus far, but I love how each of them have their own unique personalities, quirks and skill sets. I haven’t found one particular thing that is unlikable about all of them. Fu’s jealously over how Mei praises Momo was pretty funny and Momo, the main protagonist is also pretty relatable in how her fear and lack of confidence has always prevented her from chasing her dreams of being a policeman. I’m looking forward in seeing her growth over the course of the series. Now the idea of a curry shop being their secret headquarters is a unique feature, its original and intriguing and I like how even the shop’s mascots contribute in some way to the battle. The frog ninja was rather cute, but I honestly prefer the owl! With the criminals, one thing that I gotta say that I love about them is how all of villains are universal types. There’s the stereotypical male and female villains and as well as a variety of LGBTQIA types and the way the show portrayed makes for some very interesting and humorous scenes.
With regards to the music, unfortunately, there was no opening theme song for the first episode, so I can’t really talk about it. But the ending theme song was really nice. It was one of those gentle, cheery melodies that fills the viewer with energy and the animation really showed the relationships between the masters and apprentices. Regarding the ost, the everyday music was generally nice and the battle music was really cool and edgy especially the techno spy music.
Overall, I highly recommend that people watch this series and I look forward to your comments as the show goes on!