Assault Lily Bouquet
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Assault Lily Bouquet ?
Okay, a few things to be addressed up-front going into this week's episode of Assault Lily Bouquet. The main conceit of this one is a sports festival, and while the way they described it initially made me think we might be heading into a tournament arc of some sort (hyping me up for a decent quantity of quality fights, at least), it turns out to be much more the anime standard. With that in mind, I'm kind of amazed the show opted to have the girls participate with their regular uniforms on, as opposed to dressing these action dolls up in some sort of PE uniform to show off their gams even more than usual. It also creates an opportunity to show off even more girls in more crowds than the series usually does, and at this point I'm definitely getting the idea that this element is more aimed at established franchise fans more familiar with other tie-in merchandise and media than piquing the interest of any newcomers to this series. That's fair, I guess, and if I can get by picking Aoba Moca out of the background in any frame of the BanG Dream anime, I can't begrudge the folks behind Assault Lily for loading things down with presumably established cameos.
I do have to qualify that as ‘presumably’ though, because while this episode is the closest to a toy commercial the show has felt in a while, I can't be sure exactly what they're selling or how well. There are several sections with gratuitous, never-seen-in-the-show-before characters popping in and demonstrating sweet new gimmicks like using two CHARMS at once or controlling a separated part of a weapon like a drone, but checking out the product list on the official website and upcoming pre-orders elsewhere, I can't see that these represent actual new toys incoming anytime soon. I'm used to Bandai's tokusatsu efforts, where Kamen Rider Saber is jamming a new plastic book in his belt the same week you can throw down an order for it, so it makes me question the effective enterprises of Assault Lily here. It means the staff behind it really may just be throwing this stuff in because they think it's cool, apart from any advertising agenda.
To their credit, this episode does succeed at simply having a bunch of cool stuff. There isn't really any direct combat as I expected (apart from some silly ineffectual attacks by an enemy target-shooting team that Yuyu effortlessly dispatches) but seeing the multicolored menagerie of girls just show off their weapons more or less devoid of context succeeds in that ‘cool thing go boom’ kind of way that I came into this show expecting in the first place. Special praise of course goes to Yuri's fight with the drone Huge at the end, showing off some real artistry in its sakuga in ways that we've only seen in snippets of prior to this episode. It caps off the episode in style and dovetails cleverly into the post-credits scene as we're informed just how ‘normal’ the girl we just saw demonstrating incredible power is.
For all the showing off, Assault Lily is making moves to get a real story arc going after this episode. I'd go so far as to guess it's the plot that will take us to the end of the series, but this show's pacing has made a fool of me too many times already to take that bet. Instead I'll at least hope the two-episode build-up of familiarizing Yuri to us so that she can be positioned at the center of this plot will prove to be an effective storytelling decision moving forward. Granted, part of that setup is the characters dropping infodumps about even more worldbuilding elements we'd never heard about before now. Case in point: We are eight episodes in and the show just now saw fit to let us know there's an enemy group the Lilies of Yurigaoka could come into conflict with. They've infiltrated the school and everything! I guess the audience not being privy to this information until it's really encroaching on the plot kind of works, the same way most of the girls of the school are also being shielded from the conspiratorial information, but I feel that's being overly generous to this series and how it's worked so far.
The potential for conflict beyond the Lilies fighting Huge, and possibly coming into human versus human battle, is the major conceptual tease this week. Working alongside the moving parts coming together for that potential upcoming arc, Riri is faced with the possibility that the true purpose of the Lilies might lie in them being groomed as child soldiers for various world governments. If that is the case, I can almost appreciate how it lines up with the sheer limitations and inconsistency we've gotten on details so far, like the definite man-made roots of the Huge or the apparent limits on their appearances and role. But the way Assault Lily leads into that possibility – by dropping the suggestion rather bluntly onto our laps on the eve of a big blowout of a storyline – makes me less impressed with its deployment and view it more as yet another disjointed element of the anime's storytelling. The post-credits revelation of Yuri being a Huge-derived synthetic human at least lands better, given she's still a new plot point and this is intended to be a sudden, surprising reveal. Overall, this episode has a lot of the same problems Assault Lily always has, but it at least did a more effective job of distracting me with cute characters and flashy action than it has in its other lesser entries.
Assault Lily Bouquet is currently streaming on Funimation.
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