Hey guys, I’m back! Sorry for the mega delays with RELEASE THE SPYCE, there’s been so much stuff happening these past two weeks that has put me on a bit of a backlog for now. But, I’ll try to catch up. But on this episode of RELEASE THE SPYCE, we follow Momo Minamoto (Momochi) as she trains to be a member of Tsukikage. So let’s head on to the recap!
Our story begins with Momo looking up at the sky from the school’s rooftop when she is suddenly called out to by Fu and asks if she wanted to talk to her. Pointing towards the hospital, Fu bluntly tells Momo that the hospital can turn into a giant robot and Momo excitedly asks if that is really true. Fu replies that of course she’s kidding, but being able to tell truth from lie is an important skill-set for an Tsukikage agent, so she should quit the idea of joining Tsukikage because she is not cut out for it. Suddenly, Fu stops her poking and reluctantly tells Momo that if she is still that set on joining Tsukikage, then she is to head to Wasabi and order “Original curry, without honey and with lots of garam masala” and leaves. Lowering her head, Momo sadly contemplates on Fu’s words, but then raises her head in defiance and declares that she’ll prove her wrong because she is going to protect this city!
Later, after school, Momo heads over to Wasabi and nervously places the order which Fu gave her to the manager. Hearing the secret code words, the manager guides Momo to a secret elevator, while her pet owl places a closed sign on the shop. Once inside the elevator, Momo properly introduces herself to the manager who introduces herself as Katrina Tobey. Katrina then pulls on the lever which sends the elevator down. Freaking out, Momo awes at the underground elevator while Katrina replies that she hasn’t seen anything yet and points Momo towards the temple on the other side of the cage bars. Once the elevator stops, Katrina lets Momo out and wishes her good luck, before heading back up to the shop.
Taking a look around, Momo is instantly awe-struck by the gigantic temple structures before heading deeper in where she is warmly greeted at the front gates by all of the members of Tsukikage. However, Momo can’t reply because she is shocked, which causes Hatsume to happily reminisce that Fu was the same way when she joined as well. Getting embarrassed, Fu denies it and remarks that she did a way better job at playing it cool than Momo. A few seconds later, the group lead Momo inside the building and welcomes her to the Tsukikage headquarters. As the group escorts Momo towards the center of the building, Yuki and the other girls begin to enlighten Momo with the story of the history of Tsukikage (which started as an vigilante group in a distant era), its founder (who was a spice trader), its connection to Sorasaki City and about Tsukikage’s parent organization.
Reaching the center of the building, the group guides Momo towards a huge golden Buddha statue and explains that their goal is to work as spies to uphold peace and justice of the city, while at the same time, not being loyal to any one nation. Suddenly the eyes of the Buddha statue flare up and Hatsume explains to a freaking out Momo that the statue is just registering her face. After the statue finishes scanning Momo, the platform beneath Momo starts moving down and Momo starts further panicking. As the elevator passes through a crack, Momo spots a huge operations command center and Yuki further explains that it because of these facilities that they can operate the way they do now. Surprised, Momo declares that this place is just like the ones in the movies (That’s a little bit of an understatement ~Hehe~). As the elevator stops, the girls show Momo the huge monitor and explains that the room is an operations center where they can get in touch with other private intelligence agencies around the globe and that they also formed good ties with the police in order to keep up with the constantly changing modern world. Leading Momo out of the room, Mei then informs Momo that the word “Spy” originates from the word “spice” and that its basically an abbreviation of it. Hatsume chips in that it is basically one theory about it though.
In the hallway, Yuki leads the group towards a wall which opens revealing a door leading to an armory containing their armor and lots of spy devices. As of on cue, Hatsume begins giving a lecture on the spy devices and some of their functions like the hand cream which can optically camouflage someone or the anti-gropping buzzer which shoots out a liquid that can blind someone (very James Bond~ey). Momo asks if Hatsume made it and Hatsume happily declares that she did. As Hatsume is about to start a rant on the various devices, Yuki stops her and quietly tells Hatsume that they should explain about the Spyces first. Pulling out her cinnamon stick, Yuki and Hatsume explain that the Spyces are a secret tool which has been passed down for generations and that it grants someone limited superhuman agility for a brief time by stimulating their brain through the consumption of it. Yuki then gives Momo one as a good luck charm and instructs her to always have it on her person at all times.
Glomping Momo, Mei chips in that Spyces can only work on young girls and that’s why all of the Tsukikage members are teenagers. Taking back over the lecture, Yuki explains that when the effectiveness of the Spyce drops, that member graduates from Tsukikage by either becoming a collaborator or having all their memories of Tsukikage erased so that member can return to normal life. Hatsume also chips in that Katarina (the owner of Wasabi) was also a former member and was her mentor in the past. Curious, Momo asks about the “Mentor-Apprentice” system. So Yuki explains that since Tsukikage is a small elite force, once a member has enough experience, they must take on apprentice to pass on their skills and spirit to before the effectiveness of their Spyce run out. Mei happily and quickly adds that Fu is her apprentice. Hatsume then follows by explaining that Goe is her apprentice. Hearing that explanation, Momo gets excited and asks if she will be Yuki’s apprentice. Yuki doesn’t deny it, but insists that Momo call her “Mentor” and that she’ll need training first. Hatsume then ends the lecture by explaining that if Momo trains hard and passes the test, then she will be an official member of Tsukikage. Fu wonders if Momo will be able to pull it off and Momo determinedly declares that she will. Goe and Meir then cheer Momo on as Yuki informs Momo that training will begin tonight at her house.
Later that night, Momo rushes over to Yuki’s place where she is greeted by Yuki who while acknowledging that Momo made five minutes early, insists that she will be half-an hour early next time. Pulling out a stamp, Yuki stamps Momo on the cheek and informs her that in the world of spies, spies are always on the battlefield. Yuki then informs Momo that she will attempt to stamp her from now on to determine whether Momo can react and guard against it. Yuki then leads Momo inside to her lounge room and goes to fetch some tea for them. Coming back with tea in hand, Yuki tells Momo that she is proud of her tea and reassures that it is delicious. Following Yuki’s recommendation, Momo drinks the tea only to discover that it has been drugged and Yuki rips her off mask to reveal Fu underneath it. Arm-locking her, Fu scolds Momo and tells her that she should’ve noticed the height difference between her and Yuki.
Yuki enters the room next and tells Momo that she must be prepared for lies, poisoned items and disguises because they are commonplace in the spy world and that she must always make it a habit to always test her food and drink for poison. Momo passes out straight after that and wakes up to find herself near the harbor with Yuki next to her. Rising up from her seat, Yuki informs Momo that since they are mentor and apprentice now, it is most necessary that they understand what each other’s motives for fighting are. Going up to the lookout point, Yuki gazes at Sorasaki city in the distance and tells Momo who follows her that her main reason for fighting is because she really loves this city which generations of Tsukikage have fought for and even after it became a major industrial zone and one of the country’s main arteries. Yuki continues that she loves this city and this view of it and that’s why she is proud to be a resident of this city.
Momo happily agrees and remarks that the city is so lively. Yuki agrees and says that it is because of the thoughts and feelings of its residents. Hearing that, Momo starts explaining about how she lives near the shopping district and everyone there has always been so kind to her, so she really wants to protect them. Becoming sadder, Momo also explains that her father was also the one who first showed her this view, but she is excited that Yuki also knows about it. Getting sad herself, Yuki sadly explains that someone dear to her also showed her this place once, a long time ago. Moving away, Yuki replies that the two of them fight for the same reasons and asks that Momo comes with her. Momo replies that she looks forward to training with her and Yuki returns her words.
The next morning, Yuki and Momo begin their training with a program of running, kendo and swimming with Yuki giving Momo constant instructions and stamping. At school, an exhausted Momo complains about her training to Mei and Goe while Goe massages her arm. Mei asks Momo how her training has been going and Momo happily replies that while its been super tough, she thinks that she will be able to cope with it. Three days later, an exhausted and fully stamped Momo declares that she was wrong to Goe and Mei and mentions how much her body hurts. Suddenly, Momo gets a phone call from Yuki, asking her to meet her on the roof. So Momo goes there. In the classroom, Goe wonders if she will be alright and Mei replies that she will be fine.
On the rooftop, Yuki remarks that Momo is late and that she should have been able to get here 30 seconds ago. Momo reasons that her body hurts, but Yuki scolds her by saying that the enemies won’t stop attacking her just because she says that her body is aching. Yuki then explains that the password “without honey” is a reference to the harshness of a spy’s life and that is the world that she is trying to enter. Yuki then states that if she doesn’t like it, then Momo can always quit before giving her a full hardcore training schedule. Later that afternoon, Momo and Yuki go running again when Momo falls over. Looking at Momo, Yuki tells her to get up and starts running off as Momo slowly gets up and wishes that Yuki would worry about her a little.
That night, Momo arrives at Yuki’s place after the run and heads over to the dojo where she sees Yuki still training with her sword. Noticing the weights, Momo is suddenly hugged and greeted by Hatsume who brought over some healing items for them. Seeing that Yuki is still training, Hatsume waves them goodbye. But as she is about to leave, Momo stops Hatsume and asks her if Yuki always trains like that. Hatsume gently replies that Yuki has always trained like that ever since she was little. Inspired, Momo grabs a wooden sword and starts swinging it next to Yuki. After apologizing for taking her for granted, Momo is forgiven by Yuki who asks her to keep up while a smiling Hatsume watches on.
Six days later, Momo is having lunch with Goe and Mei who congratulate her for keeping up with Yuki. Getting fired up for her training, Momo is happily informed by Mei that the final test involves playing a game of tag with her. Standing up, Mei offers to give her a test run through before the final test and claims that the goal is to catch her. Getting ready, Momo and Mei go at it, but Mei easily escapes from her by leaping from rooftop to rooftop. Seeing Mei’s acrobatics first hand, Momo thinks to herself that she has got to train more and pass that test.
A day later, Momo is with Yuki at a cafe who challenges her to get the contact details of someone who she doesn’t know as part of the second stage of her training. Panicking, Momo has trouble over who to pick and ends up picking a girl from her high school. When she tries to talk to her, however, Momo succeeds in getting the girl’s (Nagi Hokuto) contact details but blows her challenge by being too slow and obvious about it. Later that afternoon at Wasabi, Yuki gives Momo her next challenge which is to not be surprised by anything she does. Momo immediately fails this right away when she freaks out at seeing what she thinks is the raccoon eating the frog.
Later that night, the girls gather together at their HQ and hold a meeting about the data that they retrieved in Episode 1. Showing the data on the screen, Hatsume informs the group that she managed to decode a portion of the data. Mei suggests that the image is of a flower, but Hatsume informs her that it is an actually a blueprint of a flower-shaped building, however, they have no details on it or its location. Mei remarks that they scored some big info on Moryo, but Fu just wonders what they are scheming this time, so Mei asks if there was any other data. Hatsume says that there is none.
Meanwhile, in a car driving along the freeway, the mysterious blonde woman from Episode 1 is talking with her associates. While driving, she asks how the tuberose (or Gekkako) is coming along and her silver haired female associate replies that it is currently being made in Vietnam and will be completed by the Summer. The blond woman replies that this fine with her. The silver-haired female associate then asks if they have received anymore information from their Tsukikage spy and the woman replies that she gave just various bits and pieces, but their intel checks out and states that their spy wants cash in return. The silver haired girl cautiously questions whether they can trust the Tsukikage spy yet, but the Chinese female martial artist besides her (Byakko) tells the silver-haired girl that there’s no problem because she is the invincible Byakko and kicks and nags her to let her do her job already. Dolte (Saori Hayami (Shinoa Hiiragi (Seraph of the End)) the muscled woman who is sitting in the front seat gets irritated and tells Byakko to cut it out. As a fight is about to break out between them, the blonde haired woman tells Byakko that it will be her time soon, but first they must talk with their collaborator. At midnight, Yuki sneaks into Momo’s room and stamps her before punishing her with a lap around the neighborhood and escaping through Momo’s window.
Over the course of a two month training regiment, Momo changes from a fledgling agent into a blossoming covert ninja. One day, after a harsh training session, Yuki informs Momo that she is ready for her final test to determine whether she will join Tsukikage and that she will have to catch Mei within the school grounds within a set amount of time to clear the test. Yuki then informs her that they will let her know when it is time to start before trying to stamp Momo one final time. However, Momo manages to block it which earns her praise from Yuki who then tells her to go and prepare for the test. The two then part and Momo heads for home. On her way through the shopping centre, Momo wonders how she should prepare for her test, almost missing the butcher who is calling out to her.
Greeting Mr. Moroboshi (the butcher), Momo apologizes and replies that she was lost in thought. Mr Moroboshi mentions that she is probably working very hard since joining the Hanzomon’s dojo and gives her a freebie croquette. Momo gratefully accepts the freebie and bites into it after sniffing it. Enjoying the croquettes, Momo squeals in delight and praises Mr. Moroboshi for the awesome croquettes. Mr Moroboshi mentions that the reason is probably because they have different preparation methods from other shops which gives Momo an idea, causing her to suddenly run back to school after thanking Mr. Moroboshi.
The next day at school, Momo, Goe and Mei are in class when Mei suddenly raises her hand and claims that she needs to go the nurse’s office. The teacher allows her to go which cause Momo to be suspicious. All of a sudden, a scrunched up paper ball with a message in it is tossed to Momo by Goe. Opening the message, Momo reads the note to discover that her final test has begun. So, Momo fakes an excuse to leave and leaves the classroom to start the chase. After an exhausting chase which involves Fu trying to distract Momo by pretending to be Mei and Mei insisting that they uses their Spyces, Momo finally manages to corner and catch Mei with a pre-made trap. Confirming that she is the real one by licking Mei, Momo celebrates her victory as Yuki watches the race from a distance. Through her binoculars, Yuki confirms that Momo built a barricade the other day and then baited Mei into running into that space and declares that she has passed her test.
Later that day, at Tsukikage’s HQ, Momo puts on her official Tsukikage uniform as Hatsume explains its stealth functions to her. After finishing putting it on, everyone congratulates Momo on passing while Fu just snarkily informs Momo that she is going to be casual with Momo, seeing as she is her senior in the organization. Momo happily nods in agreement. Yuki then presents Momo with her own sword and Momo humbly accepts it as Yuki informs her that her mentor also presented one to her too and that if she masters the blade then she will be the strongest fighter ever. Momo happily nods. Later that night, Momo finishes her training run and reports to Yuki at her house. In congratulations for passing, Yuki presents Momo with a elaborate feast of Japanese food and Momo happily thanks Yuki for it. Yuki politely tells Momo to dig in and enjoy her food. At the docks, the Moryo members receive some information from the Tsukikage traitor. The blonde haired woman mentions that it could be a trap, but the info is worth taking the risk on and that they should get going. Getting psyched up, Byakko exclaims that it is her time now.
So how was that for an episode. It was a rather fun one for me too. It was definitely a lot more entertaining than some of the other training-sequence episodes which I’ve watched in other anime series and there some hilarious comedy sequences in it too. Plotwise, I kind of liked that it took over two months to train Momo rather than making her pass her training test in two weeks, because it felt more genuine and realistic and of course, spies have to go through loads of it before they are actually ready for the real deal. Momo’s naivete in this is also quite natural which heightens the realistic spy theme for the show and the bond between Yuki and Momo is also very touching. I’m also interested in Katarina’s past and at this point, I still have no idea who the traitor could be. However, Mr. Moroboshi does seem very suspicious since he knew that Momo was training at Yuki’s dojo, could he be a Moryo agent or a Tsukikage collaborator or just an average citizen?
Regarding the opening sequence, the opening theme song “Spatto! Spy and Spyce” is a very exciting pop theme song which is sung by all the members of Tsukikage. The song is, well, it’s a very cheery, peppy and a bouncy kind of song. But it is also very energetic, exciting and heart-pumping too, a perfect fit for a spy anime! The opening animation sequence is very colorful, but is also very action~ey and a huge shout out to James Bond (who gets referenced a lot in this series). But that last shot of all of the girls in their Tsukikage uniforms with their Spyce-lit eyes does send shivers down my spine in a great way! We also get to see the names of the spices used in the series to power-up each Master-Apprentice pairing with the Yuki and Momo pair getting cinnamon, Mei and Fu getting Laurel and Goe and Hatsume getting Sweet Fennel (which I didn’t expect ~I thought it was Mint~) .
Now, as for the animation, the Tsukikage headquarters has proven to be by far my favorite location in the series. The architecture and the extravagant interiors are extremely well-designed in immaculate detail and it is very hard to believe how a giant Shinto temple can so easily be found underneath a curry shop. All of the Tsukikage uniforms also look really great. They are really cute and powerful and the style and colours match the Tsukikage members very well. The spy devices were also very interesting to say the least, although I don’t think the hand cream will be effective in a real mission. There is just one thing that I did find odd though. While it makes sense considering Yuki is her Master, I still thought it was a little bit weird that Momo was given a katana to use instead of a tonfa. I honestly don’t know why I thought that, but maybe its because I felt that the tonfa fit with Momo’s policewoman image better, seeing as that is her future dream. Well, regardless, Momo still rocks with a blade and I like how she sneakily took down Mei by setting up a trap beforehand. The licking may have been a bit of an overkill though.
So that’s it for today, I’ll be back with my next review tomorrow! Net episode will be about Momo’s First Mission!