As a self-proclaimed fan of any Bushiroad project, I am always ready and geared up for the next mix-media they throw at me. Then in January 2020, there was a stage play of Assault Lily, a property that started as toy franchise created by Azone International and Acus, that kicks off another Bushiroad line of mixed-media franchise. The anime adaptation was also planned to be aired in July, though it was delayed due to the pandemic until finally in October, the anime adaptation titled Assault Lily: Bouquet aired. With the anime airing, I began to wonder if this anime could be another starting point for those who want to dive into the franchise.

Hitotsuyanagi Squad, the main characters of the series. From left to right: Miriam, Yujia, Shenlin, Fumi, Yuyu, Mai, Kaede, and Tazusa. (© AZONE INTERNATIONAL – acus / Assault Lily Project © BUSHIROAD MEDIA)

Assault Lily: Bouquet set in the near future of Earth, where humanity is on the verge of destruction by the invasion of a mysterious life form called HUGE. To fight against this threat, the whole world united and created counter weapons called CHARM (Counter Huge ARMS), using both science and magic, which are more effective when used by teenage girls. CHARM users are referred to by the name of Lilies. They are trained to wield this weapon and are raised in various military institutions around the world known as Gardens. The story follows Riri Hitotsuyanagi, a girl who barely manages to pass the exam to enter a prestigious Garden called Yurigaoka Girls’ School in an attempt to find a girl named Yuyu Shirai who has saved her from a HUGE attack in her past.

At first, the story of Assault Lily: Bouquet actually feels very interesting. There are so many mysteries left out in the first episode for the next one to unfold. The origins of HUGE, the characters’ backstories, and even how the world works. Unfortunately, the following episodes do not fulfill these expectations because of messy execution. It is very unclear where the series wants to go in terms of the plot, making the focus jumbled. Will the story focus on Riri? Or maybe it is going to focus on Yuyu’s recovery from trauma? Or is it going to be a story of saving the world? It is confusing because the series throws so many plot points without clear goals or resolving them quickly. This makes the plot resolution in the last episode feels very anti-climatic and left me with a “just that?” feeling.

It also does not really help since the characters are not Assault Lily: Bouquet‘s strong point. We are introduced to so many characters yet those characters don’t get much attention. The side characters are sidelined without any major development as the anime is too focused on the two major characters, Riri and Yuyu. It is sad because I found the rest of Hitotsuyanagi Squad interesting. They have interesting traits with hints of background story that should be explored further so we could understand what happened in the world of this anime.

On the contrary, we got a great character development arc for Riri with Yuri on her side. As a character, Yuri is like a loving sister for Riri. She understands how it feels to step in the same shoes as her Schutzengel (or oneesama, so to speak), Yuyu. It makes Riri understand how to become more selfless because selfishness is one of her worse character traits. Yuri also becomes a reminder for the happy-go-lucky Yurigaoka lilies that death is very close to their line of work while becoming a beacon of happiness for them at the same time.

Yuri, a character introduced in the later episodes, turns out to be the best character for all others to develop further. (© AZONE INTERNATIONAL – acus / Assault Lily Project © BUSHIROAD MEDIA)

There is also a very interesting plot point in this anime which is related to how normal people look at Lilies and their overwhelming powers. Characters in this anime continuously wonder what will happen if humanity wins the war against HUGE. People doubt that true peace can be obtained and fears the Lilies will become the next threat because they have the ability to control magic. Because of that, the world governments has been keeping very high surveillance on Lilies and their activities. It is very interesting because at the same time, Lilies also want to live like normal girls, with the acting director of Yurigaoka Girls’ School trying to keep this concern on the table. This theme drives many events in this anime and hold together the unfocused storyline.

While suffering from messy plot execution and unbalanced character development, Assault Lily: Bouquet managed to amaze me with the outstanding animation work courtesy of Shaft, the studio behind many major anime hits such as Puella Magi Madoka Magika and Bakemonogatari. They put very beautiful and mind-blowing sakuga in the anime’s fighting sequences especially with their lightning and shattering effects. 

Not just that, Assault Lily: Bouquet also did a very great job of combining 2D animation with CG animation. It makes the fighting sequence more alive and intense. I would say that this anime is a haven for those who really love animations and it is really worth waiting for Blu-Ray version to come out and bring the real quality of these beautiful animation sequences.

Next page: Assault Lily: Bouquet soundtrack and conclusion

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