Assault Lily: Bouquet
Based on a toy figure franchise weirdly enough, Assault Lily: Bouquet is the latest anime from studio, SHAFT, who are well known for previous shows such as the Monogatari series and Madoka. This new series, featuring an all-female cast of girls training at an academy to become fighters looks to be more in the vein of the latter series however – indeed the protagonist is a pink-haired girl too with a similarly optimistic attitude!
The first episode gets straight into the action as we watch our protagonist, Riri, as she’s rescued from a terrifying monster by a tall girl with long dark hair. We then move forward in time two years later to where Riri herself is en route to her new school – the Yurigaoka Academy to train as a Lily – female fighters of around the ages of 16 and 17 who battle against monsters called (rather unoriginally) ‘The Huge’. These girls fight using weapons called CHARMS. So far, the whole thing is giving me Evangelion and Mai Hime vibes with the fate of humanity resting on the shoulders of teenagers who are perhaps not yet mentally able to handle such a job. Again the Madoka vibes are fairly strong here, and whilst there are genuine similarities between the shows such as the cute character designs, so far this feels like a show which is going to rely less on metaphor and psychology and more on the action and relationships between the cast.
The main protagonist, Riri (which rhymes with Lily, prompting some jokes at her expense by the rest of the cast), is fairly likable, introducing herself in a breaking-the-fourth-wall way directly to the audience. She’s very fun and charming although comes across as rather ditzy at times and happy go lucky. We’re introduced in quick succession to a posse of other girls, many falling into various archetypes – too many perhaps to really take them all in but thankfully the series spotlights a few whilst mainly focusing on the core trio of Riri, the mysterious black-haired senior Yuyu, and rich girl, Kaede. The three are drawn together through this episode and whilst Yuyu comes across as a rather stereotypical ‘Homura’ type, Kaede is refreshing. Initially coming across as the haughty rich girl, she’s actually quite nice and by the end of the episode has grown rather attached to Riri. Judging by the animation sequences in both the opening and ending, however, it’s very clear that Riri and Yuyu will form a partnership, with Kaede perhaps being unfortunately left out.
As to be expected from SHAFT, the animation and character designs are beautifully done, with bright colors and design choices ensuring that every character seen stands out in their own individual ways. Whilst this series may suffer from the weaknesses of many ensemble cast animes, where there are simply too many characters to really develop any, for the first episode at least there are enough hints of personality from all the ones we have seen to make them interesting. There’s some use of CGI as well throughout but overall it’s blended in quite well and doesn’t become jarring as I’ve seen in other series. The music is well done too, with the opening and ending songs especially being very strong catchy songs which might easily be the best of the season!
Despite the relatively light nature of the events in the first episode, there are some hints however that there are much deeper emotions and plot going on beneath the surface. Yuyu is clearly very different from when Riri first met her two years earlier, prompting her to ask what’s changed and there are obvious hints of trauma and sadness within the ending animation also. Whether this series also delves into similar ideas explored in Evangelion and Madoka, as to the government making teenagers fight in wars remains to be seen but there’s certainly enough scope for it if the series chooses to lose some of the lightness in tone. Whilst the story in the first episode is rather generic and much like seen in other animes similar to it, the execution is very well done which suggests this anime could well be a highlight of the season!
Assault Lily: Bouquet
A strong start from the new anime from Shaft featuring warrior girls at a special academy. Gorgeous animation, exciting action, and an interesting cast make this an anime to watch this season!