Release the Spyce
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Release the Spyce ?
In “Intelligence on Organization N”, Fu, Goe, Momo, and Yuki get the opportunity to head out to Okinawa for a beach vacation, though their real mission is to rendezvous with local intelligence agency The Shisa and continue their pursuit of the mysterious flower at the center of Moryo's evil schemes. Along the way, the gang sneaks into a booby-trapped island fortress run by the insidious Nirai Kanai syndicate, Momo fights a man who uses literal snakes as weapons, and Goe battles (and subsequently befriends) a Viking. In other words, it's just another day at the office for the Spyce Girls.
While this is the first time the story has departed from the familiar streets and alleys of Sorasaki City, and despite the strange characters and plot elements the girls encounter in their assault on the Nirai Kanai base, this eighth episode really is business as usual for Release the Spyce, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The past few episodes have been heavily indulging the group's interpersonal drama and the more big-picture plans that Moryo's been cooking up. While that's all well and good, it feels like it's been a while since we've gotten to see a core team of Tsukikage pull off a mission together, and this episode's relatively straightforward plot presents the perfect opportunity. “Intelligence on Organization N” is one part silly beach episode and one part 60s-era Bond flick, with a dash of “Enter the Dragon”-style martial arts exploitation to round things out. It's unabashedly goofy from the moment the girls' swimsuit antics lead to them meeting the Friend of the Week, a spunky young girl with auburn hair and a dark complexion named Ouka who sports a horned helmet as proof of her proud Viking ancestry. She's also working for the Nirai Kanai because they've kidnapped her grandfather, and she uses their sound-wave technology to control an army of snakes.
It's such an idiosyncratically goofy character to drop in the middle of this otherwise suspenseful mission, but it's just charming enough to work. The same could be said for the rest of the episode, which doesn't go out of its way to break new ground in the show's storytelling formula, but we do see Momo go toe to toe with a man who punches people with snakes while Yuki beats several people up with a selfie-stick, so I'm not too concerned about this episode's relatively carefree approach to tone. Goe and Ouka's fight is well-done, and the scene even takes a moment to call back to Goe's berserker rampage from last week, which I appreciated.
Yuki also seems to be losing her affinity for the superhuman boost provided by the spice, which ties directly into her emotional confrontation with Momo late in the episode. Our plucky pink go-getter is proud to have taken on the villain of the week all on her own, but Yuki tempers Momo's enthusiasm with a sharp slap to the face. Despite the fact that Momo technically disobeyed orders again to take on the snake man, she also proved her own capabilities when she won the fight without needing any help. When Yuki punishes her, it feels like the first time we've seen her truly lose her cool, because her admonitions over Momo disregarding her safety are clearly coming from Yuki's own anxieties about losing her place in the Tsukikage. It's a good scene that displays the kind of solid drama between Momo and Yuki I wish we'd seen more of – Momo and Yuki's relationship has fallen by the wayside in Release the Spyce's middle section, and I feel like this climactic moment would have played better if we'd had the chance to invest more in their dynamic.
Thankfully, outside of those hiccups and some occasionally middling animation, I was quite pleased with Release the Spyce this week. My only other issue would have to be with the cold-open, which featured Hatsume and Theresia dropping all pretense and duking it out. Hatsume removes the Moryo drugs from Theresia's system, and I'm sure the next episode will catch us up on what she and Mei were doing when the Okinawa mission went down, but otherwise this opening scene felt completely ancillary to the rest of the episode. Also, a friend of mine got her Masters studying Norse culture, so I would be remiss if I didn't inform folks that, unfortunately, real Norse warriors probably never wore those nifty horned helmets. The more you know!
Release the Spyce is currently streaming on HIDIVE.
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