Release the Spyce
Episode 12

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 12 of
Release the Spyce ?

It was only about five minutes into this finale that Release the Spyce decided to spill the beans on the big shakeup: Mei's betrayal was indeed a part of Tsukikage's plan all along, and every one of the fallen spies is alive and ready to jump into the fight. Despite how well I thought the show kicked off Mei's turn back in episode 10, it was easy to predict this possibility – after all, the great recurring lesson the mentors are constantly trying to teach their apprentices is that a spy's greatest weapon is her mastery over truth and deceit. Every spy must lie, and it was a doozy of a lie that ended up giving the girls the upper hand against Mouryou.

Mei's infiltration of the nefarious organization was planned months in advance, and after she poisons Tendo's investors, she's more than happy to explain the many steps it took in order to successfully pull off Tsukikage's longest con. The scheme involved setting up fake corpses and escape plans well ahead of time, gaining Tendo's trust while sneakily helping out the apprentices whenever possible and hoping that Yuki was able to survive the decidedly unplanned slash to the chest she took in the heat of battle. Of course, in order for all of this to work, Momo, Fu, and Goe had to be kept in the dark, though everybody quickly gets up to speed in time to take down the Mouryou-bots and give Momo a shot at paying Tendo back for spilling her master's blood. Naturally, Momo wins the day, and Sorasaki City is once again saved.

I was honestly glad to see the gang pull through like this, especially Mei; as cheap a shot as it may be, her relationship with Fu was one of Release the Spyce's greatest strengths, and I'm all for giving the pair an ending that doesn't involve them having to kill each other. The main issue I have with the resolution to the Mouryou plot is just how neat and tidy it all feels. If we had gotten twice as many episodes to spend with Release the Spyce and its characters, the buildup to this ending, along with the challenges it presented its characters, would have felt much more immediate and suspenseful. With only one cour to cover so much ground, much of RtS felt like a Greatest Hits collection of famous spy fiction tropes.

As such, the twists and climaxes we get at the end feel more perfunctory than thrilling. Of course, Momo gets to take on Tendo and win the day, and of course every one of the girls gets their moment to reunite with their mentor and kick some Mouryou butt. These are good scenes, don't get me wrong – Momo's battle with Tendo is exciting and fairly well-animated, and I'd be lying if I said seeing all the Tsukikage girls back together again didn't get me to smile. It's just that, by the time “Tsukikage is Forever” began to wind down, I couldn't help but feel underwhelmed. The series' one big surprise ended up folding back into itself to lead to an altogether more conventional kind of ending.

Speaking of the ending, it's just as pleasant-but-predictable as the rest of the finale. With the city safe and Tsukikage back in action, Yuki decides she's ready to move on to a normal life and tasks Momo with injecting the memory-erasing bullets that will send her on her way. There's plenty of bittersweet crying, but Yuki was arguably the weakest cast member, and this conclusion to her arc didn't feel especially organic; the decision to erase her memory strikes me as mostly a ploy to get the audience to feel something, and it would have hit much harder if we'd grown to care about the Momo/Yuki dynamic as much as the other two core partnerships. Besides, one of the episode's final shots shows Yuki smiling knowingly as she passes by Momo on the street, suggesting that her amnesia isn't necessarily complete, which makes this element feel even more arbitrary.

After Momo says goodbye to Yuki, the conclusion is more or less a checklist of happy endings that brings the whole story full circle. Fu and Mei are back together, a surviving Theresia is growing closer to Hatsume and Goe by the day, and Momo has taken on her mentor's role in recruiting another hesitant but dedicated girl into Tsukikage's fold. The show ends with Momo and her new apprentice joining the other spies in diving headfirst toward danger, because Sorasaki City will always need protecting.

Whether or not Release the Spyce gets a second season, I'm fairly content to know that the girls will always be around for those who need them, which makes this low-key ending work for me, despite how much it revels in its saccharine instincts. While I can't say this show ever lived up to its full potential, it also never aspired to be much more than a moderately entertaining piece of pulp fiction, and it succeeded more often than not.

Rating: B-

Release the Spyce is currently streaming on HIDIVE.

James is an English teacher who has loved anime his entire life, and he spends way too much time on Twitter and his blog.

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