Assault Lily Bouquet
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Assault Lily Bouquet ?
I can't really say that Assault Lily Bouquet is one of the worst anime I've watched, but it's definitely been one of the most consistently baffling. Here's a show, ostensibly about showing off action figures doing cool swordfights, which ended up having some of its few strong moments be tied to simple slice-of-life shenanigans, yet still was barely able to back up any of its interactions with effective character work. It's a series that went through what feels like half a dozen arcs that could have culminated in a season finale, even repeating a couple of those beats, but stacked them in such a rigid, disconnected way that none of the intersecting ideas got to gel. I feel like all the ingredients were here for it to function ‘fine’ as a decent ad for toys and character goods, but it deployed everything it had in such off, amateurish ways that the resulting product was hardly entertaining to watch, regardless of from a critical or even ironic angle.
So goes the same for this finale. If Yuyu and Riri did still have any pending issues apart from Yuyu still being stressed out by the memory of Misuzu, they're not pressing for the battle with this big super Huge. I could question the necessity of details like this enemy having a version of the Lunatic Trancer skill in addition to the elements of Charisma that were mentioned last episode, but at this point I get the feeling that I'm really supposed to relax and enjoy the show. It's easily the most ambitious combat scene SHAFT has tried to pull off with this show, and to their credit they make a solid spectacle out of it. One bolstering element is that they finally figure out how to work a functioning Chekov's gun into the proceedings, bringing back the Neunwelt Tactic from episode six (which you might have thought then would go on to become a consistently-deployed finishing move, but no) and even setting up that Riri had previously passed Kaede the bullet to pull it off. So there's just the smallest sense of cumulative narrative satisfaction at this point in the show.
I'm actually trying not to come off as glib about this inclusion, since it works even better than I would have given a series like this credit for. It's incredibly easy for anime like Assault Lily to give just one or two main characters the honor of beating the final baddie while the rest of the ensemble is reduced to cheerleading on the sidelines. So to have most of the quite vast cast contribute somehow makes it feel much more engrossing. They even come up with some novel final-boss-battle complications partway through that keep the maneuver interesting as it goes on for a longer-term than previously seen. Even as this is ultimately everyone playing a magical version of that game where people try to keep a beach ball from hitting the ground, we get some dynamic action and movement shots and a proper big finish out of the deal. This is that functional ‘fine’ threshold I mentioned Assault Lily could hit, and as with the previous episode, at least makes a case for a version of this show out there somewhere that would have worked better.
So then of course there's an immediate hard-cut to yet another bath scene, followed up by the characters entertaining still more exposition onto the state of the world and their battles with the Huge. The narrative pacing here confused the heck out of me, as it felt like a setup for a potential second season despite the episode still having quite a bit of time left (but not that much time). The feeling of any kind of arc to the storytelling was simply not there, leaving viewers without the satisfying denouement one expects to enjoy for a show's big finish before confirming yet another of the show's incredibly ill-advised choices: A whole second Final Boss Battle before the episode and series ended.
Assault Lily's no stranger to outlandish structural choices, but this really does end up coming off like two rushed episodes welded together for the sake of a sense of closure that could have been achieved elsewhere. Even the mechanics are laughable, as after the culmination of techniques and squad support that carries the penultimate battle, this last assault sees Yuyu and Riri abruptly dumped off by themselves, carried down by a parasol(!), with just a single sword between them. The entire purpose of this segment's inclusion seems to be definitively finishing off the extra-crazy-mind-controlled Huge, which could have been attributed to the previously-beaten Big Bad, then isolating Yuyu and Riri inside a bubble in their underwear afterwards so they can talk more seriously about their feelings than they've managed to all season. It's overt for all that, and anticlimactic besides given that the two basically one-shot the ultimate Huge while it's sleeping.
And I can't say it was even worth it for the emotional efforts made at the end. All the interesting points about the truth of Misuzu's feelings and relationship with Yuyu that were referenced last episode are seemingly ignored, handwaved away with the suggestion that she couldn't accept the part of herself that loved Yuyu. Given the fallout, that's not the most appreciable assessment of such feelings in a show that's already spent way too much time towing the hypocritical lines of ‘purity’ endemic to these advertainment yuri-bait shows. As with the true nature of the Charisma skill, the series just kind of moves on without properly telling us what was going on there (speaking of Charisma, by this point we're just supposed to accept that it does basically whatever the plot needs it to at the moment). Those platitudes sweep any heavier implications of Misuzu's haunting of Yuyu under the rug, in turn asking us not to worry too much about the possibility that Riri has her own ghost version of Yuri keeping her company now. My expectations for a show like this handling any exploration of loss were torpedoed weeks ago in the immediate aftermath of Yuri's death, but this sees them going above and beyond in that continued misfire. But I think that's ultimately the story of the whole of Assault Lily Bouquet, then: A show that felt aimless and misguided all the way through.
Assault Lily Bouquet is currently streaming on Funimation.
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