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Anime / Release the Spyce

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Momo Minamoto is your average, everyday Ordinary High-School Student, who goes out for a walk one night and sees five suspicious figures running across the rooftops of the factory across the river. It turns out that her city is a secret battleground between Tsukikage, an organization of ninja spy girls dating back to the Warring States era, and Moryo, a Mega-Corp with sinister motives. Momo is scouted to join Tsukikage... the members of which turn out to be five of her fellow classmates, who welcome Momo into their group and recruit her in their battle against Far-East branch Moryo leader Kurara Tendo/Sparrow Woman.

The Tsukikage all use a performance-enhancing substance called "Spyce" to temporarily supercharge their bodies, but it only works on young girls.

An original production from studio Lay-duce, written by Takahiro (writer of Akame ga Kill! and Yuki Yuna is a Hero) and with character designs by Namori, Release the Spyce began airing in the Fall 2018 season. A side manga and a serial novel are being published since January and February of the same year respectively.

Compare to the Senran Kagura series, which also stars a cast of ninja girls going on secret missions, but with more focus on Fanservice.

This series contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: All of the Tsukikage, naturally. Ninja skills come with the job description.
  • Action Pet: Tsukikage has an owl, a frog and a raccoon in their base. They are ninjas too and can help during missions.
  • Action Prologue: The series starts with Tsukikage on a mission where they are seen by Momo, setting up the plot of the first episode while also establishing the tone for the viewers.
  • Alliterative Name: Momo Minamoto.
  • All-Loving Hero: Hatsume. Her dream is to be friends with everyone as if they are family.
  • Ambiguously Lesbian:
    • The anime never states that Momo's feelings towards Yuki are romantic in nature, but it does a good job making it look like they are. At the start of the series she acted like a stereotypical "smitten teenage girl" when talking about her, after joining Tsukikage she is always thinking that she wants to make her proud, and she blushed when they had their Indirect Kiss in episode 5.
    • Episode 4 frames Mei and Fuu's relationship in a very romantic light without explicitly stating they are a couple. Not only do several characters remark on how they are Like an Old Married Couple, their fight and the recovery of their relationship during the episode has all the narrative beats of a love story.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The final scene is Tsukikage, along with Momo and her new protege Magoichi, going off on another mission.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The anime ends with Project Gekkako stopped and all major characters except for maybe Tendo alive. However, Yuki retires from Tsukikage and chooses to have her memory erased, ending her mentorship of Momo. Momo then becomes The Mentor to a new Tsukikage recruit, repeating Yuki's advice to help her gain confidence.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Moryo tests out an airborne psychoactive drug that inflicts this on people. Goe gets caught in it and proceeds to go on a Spyce-fueled rampage, taking out a yakuza den singlehandedly. This was merely a test for Project Gekkako, where they plan to unleash the gas on the entire city, before using it to Take Over the World.
  • Brawn Hilda: Dolte is a huge, muscular and ugly woman that works as enforcer for Moryo.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In episode 2, one of the gadgets that Hatsume shows Momo is an anti-groping buzzer that shoots out liquid. In episode 11, it's revealed that the liquid is fake blood and Yuki used it to fake her death after getting slashed by one of Moryo's Mini-Mecha.
  • Colony Drop: Two years before the start of the series, Moryo had a plan to hijack satellites from several countries and drop them on critical sites. Tsukikage put an end to this.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Theresia and Hatsume are revealed to share one in Episode 6. Right after becoming friends, they were kidnapped. Hatsume was sold off first, leaving Theresia behind to be beaten up by her kidnappers until they could sell her too. When the time finally came, Theresia was told that Hatsume was actually ransomed by her parents and had abandoned her to her fate. In reality Hatsume's parents were unable to contact the kidnappers a second time, but the damage to Theresia’s mind was already done.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The voice actresses of Tsukikage sing the opening and ending themes.
  • Dumb Muscle: After becoming a guinea pig for Moryo's latest drug, Dolte is transformed into a huge mass of muscles with absurd strength and toughness, but her mind deteriorates to the point where she can't be asked to do anything besides hunting enemies and taking them down.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Tsukikage have one as their Home Base. In fact, it's so elaborate it's basically an underground town.
  • Evolving Credits: After finally showing her face in The Stinger of Episode 6, Sparrow Woman is no longer shown as a shadowy silhouette in the opening of the following episode.
  • Expy: Sparrow Woman has a very Ernst Stavro Blofeld vibe going on, complete with being the leader of a Nebulous Evil Organisation, The Faceless, The Stoic, punishes her subordinates when they fail their mission, and a pet animal (in this case, a bird) she’s shown constantly stroking.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Yuki has a prominent scar on her face and a missing eye.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Fuu doesn't like that Momo got Mei's attention so fast and doesn't hide it.
  • Image Song: Each of the Tsukikage's mentor-apprentice pair gets an image song album that features an image song sung by each member and a duet version of the opening theme sung by both of them.
  • Improbable Age: The Tsukikage are highly-trained secret agents, and they're all still in high school. It's stated that the Spyce only works on young girls; once they get so old that it stops working on them, they'll have to retire. In episode 8 Yuki, age 18, notes that Spyce is now working for her for less time.
  • Indirect Kiss: When Momo is attacked by Dolte her bag of Spyce falls, so Yuki shares one of her own with her.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The Tsukikage use special bullets to wipe people's memories of their faces and presence. By episode 3, Moryo has developed an edible gelatin that does the same thing whenever the subject feels fear.
  • Last Episode, New Character: In episode 12, Momo gets an apprentice who is codenamed "Magoichi."
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Mei and Fuu, who even live together. They split the domestic chores, Fuu is frequently nagging Mei for spending too much of their money with small things, and they somehow manage to take discussions about their jobs as spies to a personal (and domestic) side. This is commented on by several characters.
  • Little Miss Badass: All six main characters count, being highly skilled spies still in high-school, but Byakko beats them in this regard. She looks like she is half their age, yet it takes the combined efforts of Momo, Fuu and Goe to take her down.
  • Master of Disguise: Fuu can easily disguise herself as someone else and even change her voice.
  • Mini-Mecha: The "puppets" used by Moryo are remote-controlled mecha of varying sizes.
  • Mission Briefing: Several actually. Tsukikage seems to do this for every mission, unless it's an emergency. In those cases the "run through a series of slides" formula is abandoned in favor of delivering the briefing to the agent with some device that self-destructs afterwards.
  • The Mole: Moryo claims to have one within Tsukikage.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: Moryo. Details of their objectives aren't given, but they definitely have put their fingers on a lot of crimes, and the dialogue of their leaders (who are a complete mystery themselves, obviously) imply they do have a bigger goal in mind.
  • Offhand Backhand: Yuki does this to a mook in episode 8.
  • Oh, Crap!: After Momo, Fu and Goe escape Moryo's capture in episode 11, Momo suddenly realizes that Moryo will go after their families when they find out that their prisoners had escaped. Luckily, the trio manage to rescue their families in time and hide them in Tsukikage's headquarters.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Moryo opts to wipe Byakko's memory rather than kill her, since they don't want to sour their relations with Togen.
  • Race Against the Clock: In the final episode, Tsukikage has over 30 minutes to stop Moryo's drug-spraying machine before all the residents of Sorasaki get brainwashed. They succeed with just 0.7 seconds to spare.
  • Schizo Tech: Ancient ninjutsu techniques freely intermingle with high-tech spy gear, military-grade weapons, and Mini-Mecha.
  • Shout-Out:
  • The Stinger: In Episode 6, Sparrow Woman kills her subordinates, and her face is finally revealed.
  • Super-Senses: Many characters remark on how talented Momo's nose and tongue are, but that's a big Understatement. She can identify health problems the other girls are having by licking them.
  • Super Serum: The Spyce that gives the Tsukikage their powers.
  • This Page Will Self-Destruct: This happens with a phone card after Mei received her Mission Briefing from it.
  • Title-Only Opening: Episode 12 skips the usual opening sequence, and instead just shows the title briefly.
  • Token Mini-Moe: Anime Chinese Girl Byakko is a pint-sized martial artist for Moryo temporarily.
  • Tsundere: Fuu frequently mocks Momo in a passive-aggressive way, but Goe ensures that is just her way of providing advice.
  • Weaponized Car: The Tsukikage's Mini has enough weapons and gadgets to rival a James Bond car.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Hatsume and Theresia. After their kidnapping Theresia was convinced that Hatsume had abandoned her, and grew to be an extremely bitter person.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 10. First, there is the reveal that Mei is the traitor. After that, Mei and Tendou quickly turn the tables in the most important mission in the show, capturing most of Tsukikage and leaving Yuki and Hatsume for dead.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Episode 6, which reveals Theresia and Hatsume's Dark and Troubled Past, and Episode 9 is, for the most part, a flashback to the time Yuki was still an apprentice in Tsukikage, culminating in the mission where she lost her mentor.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Episode 8 is this to Dr. No. Both have the main characters go to a tropical island note  to meet local agents. Both have the villains try to kill the heroes by sending a poisonous animal to attack them while they sleep. Both have the villains' lair be located in a smaller island close by, protected by a mystical being that turns out to be just a machine with a flamethrower. And both finish with the lair being destroyed.
  • World of Action Girls: The Tsukikage are all female.
  • You Have Failed Me: By episode 6 Byakko is essentially cut loose from Togen in an attempt to save face. As Yuki explains, Togen is known to have a perfect record because those who fail aren't associated with them anymore. Byakko does not take it well.