“Lycoris Recoil” is a concoction made of ingredients you’ve almost certainly seen before. Its heroines Chisato and Takina are high school girls with guns trained by a secret police state to incapacitate criminal actors before they register in the public eye. Chisato is a warm and bubbly presence with a strict policy of nonviolent takedowns. Takina is a brutally efficient marksman ejected from the upper ranks for her willingness to put the lives of her squad at risk. When they aren’t knocking out hitmen with “non-lethal” bullets, they work side by side in a cafe and slowly grow closer to each other. Chisato and Takina individually could have been borrowed from any other popular anime made in the past few years. But together, their chemistry is off the charts.
Shingo Adachi, a popular animator and character designer, directs “Lycoris Recoil” with deceptive ease. The show has its share of exciting action sequences, but it always puts the characters first. Chisato and Takina are distinguished from their boilerplate stereotypes by energetic vocal performances and lively movement. For those tired of anime about high schoolers, there’s even a messy romance between two older men at the heart of the story. Not everything in “Lycoris Recoil” works; its attempts at political commentary, for instance, come to nothing. But there’s a reason why the series has dominated the fan art scene this summer, as well as the brain of Hideo Kojima. Few other anime from this year (much less original projects) have been as successful at giving audiences exactly what they want. (Adam Wescott)
Streaming on: Crunchyroll