RELEASE THE SPYCE #3 – First Mission Review

Episode Screenshots

Hey guys!

Welcome back to Anime Asterisk! For today’s episode of RELEASE THE SPYCE, Episode 3: “Moryo,” this episode will cover Momo’s first day on the job and the important message of learning from one’s own mistakes. Additionally, today’s episode comes with a warning:

Today’s episode will cover dark themes like drugs and prostitution, so please bear that in mind when reading through the recap.

Okay, so with that in mind, I hope that all of you viewers will enjoy today’s episode! Now, onto the recap!

Episode Recap

Okay, so the episode starts off with Momo walking to school with her friends, Nagi and Yua, chatting about the hardships of studying in the bedroom.  Suddenly, Hatsume comes running up to Momo and cheerfully glomps her. Greeting Momo, Hatsume whispers in Momo’s ear informing her that duty calls as Tsukikage has a new mission. Detaching herself from Momo, Hatsume greets Momo’s friends who return the greeting as Yuki approaches the group and scolds Hatsume for getting too close to the girls and freaking them out. Turning to Yuki, Hatsume apologizes and tells Yuki that she just wanted to make some new friends. But, Momo just quietly thinks to herself about her first mission and gets herself psyched up for it.

Later that day, Momo finds herself tied up and strung above a boiling pot of tempura (I think?) as the chef is sharpening his kitchen knife. Focusing on his knife, the chef declares that Momo has some guts sniffing around his shop and Momo flashes back to how she got in this position in the first place. In the flashback, Momo is told that she will be a decoy by Hatsume and that her top priority is getting information out of Katsuya Kawakami (the chef), who is the owner of a restaurant which has possible ties to Moryo.  Muttering the name, “Moryo,” Momo is calmly informed by Yuki that Moryo is a large-scale criminal syndicate whose founder had lived in Sorasaki ages ago, which is also why they are so fixated on controlling the city.

Back in the present, Momo starts trying to get information out of Katsuya about his slipping drugs into people’s food, which he doesn’t deny and boldly proclaims that his ramen is famous for being addictive. Asking why he would do such a thing, Momo is instead told by the restaurant manager that a woman had passed the drugs onto him when he won big at the bike races (basically a crime of opportunity)  Thrusting his knife in Momo’s face, Katsuya threateningly asks her if is ready to become ramen now, when all of a sudden, Kamari, the ninja frog jumps out from Momo’s t-shirt and jumps onto Katsuya’s face. Tsukikage then busts into the room and easily takes Katsuya down with Mei loudly kicking and shouting, “My name is…..Bond!” as an obvious James Bond reference (Haha.)

Landing on her feet, Mei goes up to Momo and points to the badge on Momo’s shirt. She then tells Momo that she got Katsuya’s confession loud and clear over the badge radio. Hatsume reports that the audio quality is great from the other side of the radio and as Mei unties Momo, Momo replies that she was so scared. Fu reminds Momo that they were nearby to back her up, but Momo replies that her heart was still pounding regardless. Irritated, Yuki asks Momo if she was dissatisfied with the job that she was given and Momo denies it. Yuki then scolds Momo on her attitude, stating that it was the reason why she couldn’t get as much information out of the restaurant manager and that she should’ve been able to get more out of him. Calming down, Yuki reminds Momo that each small step will lead to a greater payoff and suggests that they continue with the interrogation before making sure that he is dealt with appropriately. A little while later, the police arrive and find Katsuya tied up with his recorded confession and evidence next to him.

At the next location, Momo is instructed by Yuki to watch the back door while they deal with the woman and capture anyone who comes through it, in case, the woman and her partners come running through the back door in a attempt to escape. Fixing her bag, Yuki also cautions Momo about getting carried away and then leaves to go to her station. However, as the mission gets underway, Fu accidentally lets the woman escape because the woman has a removable prosthetic arm. As the woman runs toward the front gate where she is captured by Goe, Momo makes the mistake of leaving her post and almost letting the woman’s accomplice almost get away, if not for Yuki capturing him. Returning to the van, Momo is immediately scolded by Yuki who sternly reprimands her for her crucial mistakes.

Back at headquarters, Goe is trying to cheer up Momo by telling her that all apprentices will make mistakes and get chewed out by their mentors. Thanking Goe, Momo gets fired up again as Fu teasingly warns her about spinning her wheels again. Goe tells the dejected Momo that Fu is just trying to cheer her up in her own way and Momo thinks to herself that she must act more thoughtfully as Yuki watches over her from on top of the elevator. A few minutes later in the briefing room, Yuki informs the group that the woman from the bike races has made a confession and that they are going to infiltrate the establishment that she runs. Raising her hand, Momo excitedly volunteers for the next mission and Yuki allows Momo to join the team infiltrating the brothel which makes all of the apprentices blush.

Donning party dresses,  Momo gushes over how sexy Yuki looks in her dress, but Yuki just warns the girls that since the establishment that they infiltrating is naturally an illegal brothel, all of the male staff are armed and that they should avoid combat as much as possible. Yuki then issues commands to Goe and Fu to provide support while Mei and Hatsume infiltrates the office and obtains the clients name list. Yuki then tells Momo that she and herself will split up and investigate each of the rooms. Later at the brothel, Momo is doing her job with the raccoon mascot while Mei and Hatsume have successfully taken over the office. Looking at the passed out prostitutes and the drugs on the table, Mei comments that all of the women are from the missing persons list and it looks like they were drugged and forced to work at the brothel. Hatsume sadly turns to the women and appears to recall something terrible.

Back in the hotel room which Momo is in, Momo is furiously searching through the room when she hears two people (a man and a woman) coming to the room. Wondering what she should do, Momo looks around but doesn’t find any hiding places for her to use, so she decides to tranquilize the woman (Pine) and carefully stuff her in the janitor’s closet while she propositions the man (Yasue Murayama) and lures him into the room using the alias, “Peach.”  Inside the bedroom, Momo tranquilizes the man while his back is turned away from her and uses this opportunity to take photos of his driver’s license with her cellphone. Thinking about the good job she is doing, Momo wonders if her mentor will praise her for it when a siren starts ringing and the girls are forced to quickly escape from the brothel.

Back at Tsukikage HQ, Yuki informs Momo that the siren was rung because the Janitor had discovered Pine in the Janitor’s closet and had immediately sent out a call warning all of the staff about the intruders. Mei then tells Momo that the office was immediately flooded with armed gunmen, however, they somehow managed to escape the gun fire by using a smokescreen so that the employees couldn’t see their faces. Hatsume then chips in that she ended being grazed by a bullet, but admits that it was her fault for losing her concentration in the first place and that she is glad that the girls are alright.

Turning to Momo, Yuki scolds Momo once again and tells her that while she did have a good reason for hiding the girl, she picked a really poor place to hide her. As Momo apologizes to Yuki, Yuki turns to the group, bows and apologizes to all of them for her apprentice’s misconduct. Turning to Yuki, Katarina admits that it is Yuki’s responsibility in the end which makes Momo feel bad that Yuki took the blame for her. As Momo tries to apologize, Hatsume tries to blow off the situation by mentioning that they still completed the mission in any case while Mei adds on that they must take “appropriate action” now. Later that night, the police who were warned by Tsukikage commence a raid on the brothel and arrest everyone there. At the shopping district, the store owners gather and talk about the arrest as well as the rescued girls. As they are talking, the pharmacist mentions how strange it is for the cops to catch so criminals and the butcher informs her about the rumor about a group of secret champions of justice who secretly protect the city. 

Hearing that rumor, the old woman mentions that she would like to meet one of them as a depressed Momo passes by the group. Spotting Momo, the shop owners cheerfully greet her while the butcher pulls out a drumstick for her. Still depressed, Momo says that she is fine and walks straight pass them, worrying the owners. At Momo’s apartment, Momo is moping on her bed while lamenting on her failures and for forcing her mentor to apologize for her. As she buries her head into her pillow, Momo wonders if she is cut out for Tsukikage as Yuki stares up at her bedroom window from the street. Later on, Yuki gathers with the other mentors at Wasabi for a briefing and reports that the busted brothel was affiliated with Moryo and that it was being used to funnel money to them. Hatsume then adds on that the brothel owners used the girls to gather information from their clients which they then used to commit crimes and that some puppets are going to be smuggled in three days time. Hearing that, Mei declares that they should get ready for their next mission then and Katarina instructs Yuki to inform Momo about it. Yuki reaffirms her intentions to wipe out Moryo.

The next day at one of Moryo’s labs, Dolte and Byakko are getting ready to fight to determine who will get to fight Tsukikage first. Watching them from a distance, the silver haired girl informs their mysterious leader (the blonde-haired kimono woman) about the new intel that they received from the traitor in Tsukikage, but wonders if it is really okay to let Dolte or Byakko handle it. The blonde woman remarks that since it could be a trap, they are better off leaving the clean-up to the mercenaries that they hired. Calling out to Byakko and Dolte, the blonde woman suggests that they fight to determine who will get to fight Tsukikage first and both Byakko and Dolte declare that they are up and ready for it. However, Dolte additionally suggests that the loser becomes a drug test subject and Byakko readily agrees to it. Hearing that, the blonde woman automatically tells the two to start the fight, but as Dolte starts boasting, Byakko immediately knocks her out and wins the fight in one blow.

From a distance, the silver-haired girl (who is holding out a tray with a green yogurt pack) comments that its weird how Byakko could knock out Dolte so easily when they are both mercenaries and the blonde woman replies that it really shows Byakko’s Togen pedigree. Running up to the silver-haired girl and blonde woman, Byakko brags about her win as the blonde woman offers her the new dessert on the silver haired girl’s tray. Saying that the dessert looks weird, Byakko is informed by the woman that it is a sweet Kyuten gelatin dessert and guarantees its taste. Questioning the woman, Byakko still eats it anyway and as her eyes light up, happily remarks that the dessert is absolutely delicious. Fully devouring the dessert, Byakko swears to take down Tsukikage.

Two days later, Momo is running as part of her training early in the morning, when she suddenly stops on the bridge to catch her breath. Looking out over the river, Momo starts reflecting on her mistakes when she is suddenly wished a good morning by Goe who comes running up to her, while doing her own training. Greeting Goe, Momo is asked by Goe if something has happened and Momo replies that she is worried about whether she will do a good job on tomorrow night’s mission. Slightly thinking on it, Goe invites Momo to come with her somewhere after school and later that day, Goe takes Momo to a cat themed cafe.

Inside the cafe, Momo is shocked to discover that Fu (who is dressed up in a cat maid outfit) also works there. Asking her why she is here, Fu brags to Momo that she has her reasons and that one of them is that she can practice the art of disguise here.  Momo comments that its admirable for her to do that, but Fu just suggests that they get their apprentice get-together started now and leads Momo and Goe to a table. Sitting down, Goe explains that she thought that they could all do their pre-mission prep work here and Fu adds on that since she works here, it was more convenient for them to meet here as she is free to talk to them during her break.

Hearing this, Momo gets happy by Goe’s thoughtful suggestion, while Fu asks her if she is still feeling blue. Getting nervous, Momo explains that she thinks that she isn’t cut out to be a spy and Fu scolds her for being so half-hearted. As Momo goes to rebut, Goe interrupts and replies that she also messed up after becoming an apprentice and that her mentor did too. Goe then whispers into Momo’s ear that Fu also messed up too, causing Fu to get embarrassed and yell at Goe not to talk about that. Apologizing, Goe tries to shake it off as Momo realizes that its the same for everyone. Taking Momo’s hand, Goe informs Momo that Tsukikage is a team and all of them are one unit, so she shouldn’t worry as all of them can cover for her if she makes a mistake. Repeating Goe’s words, Momo is also told similar expressions by Fu like “What’s yours is mine. And what’s mine is yours” and Goe quotes the three musketeers motto “One for all, and all for one.” Finally getting it, Momo gets motivated and starts chatting with the other two members as Yuki watches them and smiles through the cafe’s air vents.

The next night, everyone is getting dressed and stocking up for their mission as Yuki explains the details of the mission to them. Issuing orders, Yuki orders herself, Hatsume and Mei to gain supremacy over the enemy in the central area of the harbor while Fu makes hit and run attacks, Goe acts as the sniper and Momo defends their escape route (basically support tactics). Yuki also adds that Goe will issue support orders as well. Issuing their rogers, the group heads to the harbor.

At the harbor, Yuki, Hatsume and Mei bite into their Spyces and easily take down the workers there. However, as the group examines the workers, Yuki notices that the take-down was almost too easy and discover that they have fallen into a trap, while Momo is laying bombs along the escape route. Suddenly, the weaponized puppets activate and the group gets ambushed by them. Suddenly, a voice calls out to Tsukikage and Byakko appears on top of one of the crates. Greeting Tsukikage, Byakko introduces herself as “Byakko from Togen Village, an unbeatable warrior!” Hearing the name Togen Village, Yuki recalls that it is a famous mercenary corps and village where everyone there is trained to be a warrior and that they previously beat one of their members. Hearing Yuki’s explanation, Byakko boastfully declares that Yuki is correct and explains that is why she is pissed off by them.

All of a sudden, one of the puppets fires it arm at Mei and wraps the cable around her, restraining her. However, just before the puppet tries to electrocute Mei, Yuki cuts her free and Hatsume informs the group that the puppets’ movements are different from before. Yuki replies that they are still capable of taking them down and the trio start taking the puppets down. Observing the group, Byakko notices that Mei, Hatsume and Yuki are pretty strong and decides to take out one of the weaker members first. Suddenly spotting Momo, Byakko decides to take her down first and leaps down to greet Momo, although Momo senses her and takes her Spyce first.

Greeting Momo, Byakko introduces herself, but then gets offended when Momo calls her a kid and has a tantrum. Stomping and cracking the ground, Byakko pulls out her tonfas and angrily asks Momo (who has pulled out her katana) to introduce herself, causing Momo to nervously introduce herself as “Peach.” Immediately after that, Byakko launches herself at Momo and starts trading blows with her, as Momo tries her best to guard and avoid Byakko’s blows. As Byakko is about to launch another assault, however, multiple shurikens come flying at her from nowhere and Fu enters the scene. Noticing Fu, Momo warns her to be careful as Byakko lashes out at Fu to wait for her turn. Flinging a couple more shurikens at Byakko, Fu drops to the ground behind Byakko as she throws one of her tonfas away.

As the tonfa explodes, Momo uses the opportunity to start slashing at Byakko’s legs. However, Byakko right away avoids and uses it to leap up and kick Fu in the back of her head towards Momo’s location. Worried, Momo runs up to Fu and suggest that they fight Byakko together and Fu immediately agrees that it would be more efficient to do that. Teaming against Byakko, Momo and Fu manage to push Byakko back. Leaping on top of a fence, Byakko pulls out a bottle of pills and swallows one of them which causes her eyes to light up like the chain reaction of Spyce. Panicking, Momo and Fu asks Byakko about the Spyce, but Byakko just comments on how powerful the stuff is and launches more fierce attacks on the girls who are sent flying away. 

Picking up her tonfas again, Byakko gets fired up to crush her opponents, but as Momo lures Byakko towards her pre-prepared mines, Byakko steps on one of them and causes them to explode. Surviving the explosion, Byakko gets restrained by Fu’s cables. However, not dismayed by the cables, Byakko sends Fu flying and leaps onto the knocked out Momo. As Byakko is about to kill Momo though, Goe fires a sniper bullet at Byakko’s tonfas and breaks them in two before pushing Byakko back with more gunfire. At Goe’s location, Goe reports to the others that she is backing up Momo and Hatsume acknowledges the message. Back at Momo’s location, Byakko gets frustrated by the constant interference as a recovered Momo prepares to fight her again.

In the central area, Yuki, Hatsume and Mei have almost finished taking care of the puppets when Mei notices Yuki looking worried and reassures her that Momo has Goe and Fu backing her up, so everything will be fine. Hatsume also chips in that they should probably focus on the enemies in front of them first though and Yuki smiles and gets ready to fight some more. Back at Momo’s location, Momo and Fu have pushed back an exhausted Byakko who admits that they are pretty tough and the girls brag that it is thanks to their strong mentors.

Irritated, Byakko angrily shouts that she has no need for a mentor.  But as Byakko goes to strike Momo, Momo shatters the other tonfa with her blade before whacking her over the head with the back of her blade as Goe fires cover fire at her and successfully knocks Byakko out. Collapsing to the ground, Byakko is checked out by Fu who asks Momo if she killed her, causing Momo to panic. Checking her pulse, Fu signals that Momo is in the clear, which causes Momo to breathe a sigh of relief.

The next morning, the cops arrive at the harbor and find the workers and the smashed puppets all tied up and ready for them. Seeing the display, Ayumu remarks that they have had some good catches lately. Back at Tsukikage HQ, all of the Tsukikage members are questioning Byakko who persistently tells them to go screw themselves and declares that they won’t get anything from her. Signalling Yuki, Yuki comes up to Byakko and declares that Byakko will spill her guts.

Sadistically smiling, Yuki ties Byakko to a rope before flinging her down a pit full of hot molten liquid. Freaking out, Byakko cries out that she’ll talk. As the other members sweat drop as they watch, Yuki quietly comments to them that while Byakko might be a warrior, she is still a little kid at heart. All of a sudden, Byakko passes out and Yuki notices something weird about her condition. So the group pulls Byakko out and places her on the table to rest. When Byakko regains consciousness, she doesn’t remember anything, so Yuki has Momo test Byakko by licking her to see if she is telling the truth or not. As Byakko freaks out by the lick, Momo replies that she thinks that Byakko is telling the truth about not remembering and Yuki replies that they have been had.

Meanwhile at Moryo’s HQ, the mysterious blonde woman is reporting to her superiors about the results of the new green dessert drug which is harmless, but is designed to erase a target’s memory once they experience fear. One of the superiors question the thinking behind it, suggesting that it would’ve been better to kill Byakko off, but the mysterious blonde woman rebuts that it would’ve caused a dispute with Togen Village and they still need them for the upcoming operation. Showing the contents of the box beside her (which has red vials in it), the woman also adds that while the smuggling of the puppets was a failure, they still managed to smuggle in the pharmaceuticals that they required, which took place at the same time but in a different location. The silver-haired girl also reports that the intel that they have been receiving from the Tsukikage traitor is looking more credible and the woman adds that they have completed work on a interesting new soldier which is revealed to be a super pumped up Dolte (who basically looks like Bane from Batman or Berserker from Fate/Stay Night).

Back at Tsukikage HQ, all of the members of Tsukikage are analyzing the evidence which they pulled from Byakko and upon further analysis discover that Byakko was recently at Sorasaki Marien which is a resort areas filled with beaches and hotels, and of course, Kyuten Science, a pharmaceutical company. Yuki hypothesizes that the lab might be a Moryo hideout and suggest that they investigate it. Looking up at the screen, Momo is approached by Yuki who praises her for a doing a good job in capturing Byakko. Smiling, an elated Momo is informed by Yuki that she has been constantly keeping an eye on her since the end of her first mission and is happy to see that she is starting to discover her true self. Naturally, hearing that Yuki has been following her, Momo panics as Yuki reasons that it is because she is her mentor after all.

Taking advantage of the opportunity, Fu also praises Momo in a tsundere~ish way and teases her using Momo’s new codename, “Peach.” Momo instantly gets irritated by this, but Goe brushes it off as Fu’s own unique brand of communication. Smiling, Momo thanks both Fu and Goe for their help during the mission and the two smile back at her. Turning back to the screen, Momo internally speaks to her deceased father in her mind and declares that she is going to become more driven as a member of Tsukikage.

Impressions

RELEASE THE SPYCE’S ‘First Mission’ was an exciting perspective in what life is like for novice spies. It was a lot more serious than the first two episodes as it delved into serious issues like drugs and prostitution with the girls even having to infiltrate a brothel. But while it wasn’t as good as Episode 2, plot wise, I think it did good job in exploring the themes that were presented and in the clear way that they presented the message that not everybody is automatically great on the first day of a new job, no one is fallible and it’s a learning experience where everyone will make mistakes at first, no matter how skilled or incredible they are. Momo’s mistakes were pretty much basic for an agent and I think even people like Yuki would also make those kinds of mistakes on the first day.

For now, the most interesting aspect of this show is the relationship between the mentors and the apprentices. You can really tell that each of the mentors have different styles of teaching and caring for their apprentices. Like with Yuki and Momo, Yuki is more strict and hands-off. She’ll keep her distance from Momo, but still watches over her and cares for her in her own way, while Mei is super close with her apprentice, Fu. We haven’t seen much about the bond between Hatsume and Goe yet, but Hatsume’s teaching style is probably the middle-ground between Mei’s and Yuki’s styles. There were also a couple of hints in this episode that there is a traitor in Tsukikage and Hatsume was presented as a little bit suspicious. It’s clear from the way that she was looking at those call girls that she might have some kind of terrible past back when she was little, which I’d like that anime to explore at some point. But its just a hunch for now, so I don’t really think that writers will give out any big clues until the big reveal for added shock value.

Animation-wise, I thought Yuki and Momo were absolutely beautiful in those dresses. Byakko is really cute and tiny and Fu, well, she looks absolutely adorable in that cat maid girl uniform! The comedic elements were also pretty funny especially with the obvious James Bond reference and I think that there will be definitely more in future episodes (maybe a Get Smart or an Austin Powers reference too hopefully!)

One of the things that I did find disappointing was that while I enjoyed Byakko’s character, I thought she was taken out a little too easily. So it was a bit of a let down. I thought that since she was a main villain and a strong martial artist, she would have at least lasted till episode 6 or 8, but I guess that the anime writers had different plans or something. For the villains, well, the minor villains were a lot more toned down for this episode, but I also really enjoyed Hayamin’s Dolte and I kind of wish that we could see the mysterious blonde haired woman’s full face, but the writers are probably saving that for a dramatic reveal later on.

Overall, it was a really fantastic episode and I hope that all of you enjoyed it too. I’ll be back next-time covering “Episode 4: Never Say Never Together!” Please feel free to comment on this episode in the comments section.

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