We’ve been thirsting for an exceptional magical girl series with a combination of fantasy, heart and action. And in the midst of 2020’s chaotic year, ASSAULT LILY BOUQUET came out of the unknown to bless us with SHAFT magic. Did Assault Lily Bouquet save 2020 anime from its hits and misses?
Directed by Shôji Saeki and Hajime Otan, the world of Assault Lily Bouquet is set in the near future where humanity is in constant danger from mysterious creatures called the ‘Huge’. In the war against the Huge, only teenage girls known as ‘Lilies’ can defeat such monstrosity with the assistance of weaponries called ‘CHARMs’. In order to be fully trained Lilies, they must attend the prestigious Yuigaoka Academy, and this is exactly what Riri Hitotsuyanagi has done after she got rescued by Yuigaoka Academy’s sophomore, Yuyu.
Featuring a pink-haired, goody two-shoes protagonist in conjunction with the dark-haired, cold-hearted deuteragonist, Assault Lily Bouquet is essentially a stale, duplicate series of Madoka Magica. From the moment the story kicked off, it immediately introduced a bunch of unique female characters to the audience. From eccentric nerds to overly-crazy seniors, we couldn’t wait to learn more about their sisterhood and embark on this adventure with Riri, Yuyu, and the girls.
Hoping to surpass its predecessors including Madoka Magica and My-Hime, Assault Lily Bouquet initially presented itself as a serious contender for the magical girl genre. However, the anime ended up disappointing us with its poorly structured storytelling and rushed world-building concept. For a series that is apparently focussed on Riri’s adventure of becoming a Lily, we don’t see much action and learning happening at the Academy. And despite seeing a battle with the Huge every now and then, there is no tension or grit in the actual fights; let alone danger that happens beyond the school.
For us, Yuyu’s backstory was our personal motivation to watch the anime, and the story sure likes to tease and build hype towards the revelation of Yuyu’s dark past. However, the hype literally stomps on our parade in a matter of several episodes when Riri *magically* melts Yuyu’s heart.
As if unsure of their direction, the writers tried too hard to please viewers with interesting content. This blinding vision is undeniable when the writers throw spontaneous fillers and comedic relief to drive the story forward. For instance, Yuyu finding the perfect birthday present for Riri? The girls trying to find Riri’s hairpin out in the sea?
This is definitely not what we wanted or expected. Although such arcs may be befitting of the high school-esque setting, it is disheartening to see the story switching gears from so-called life-threatening fights to cheesy shoujo-ai fillers. Every time we think the story was going to turn a corner, it chooses to disappoint us instead with its short-lived character development and storytelling arcs.
Where was the direction of this anime? What was its purpose? Where is the promising action and drama?
Despite our harsh criticisms, there are some likeable aspects of Assault Lily Bouquet. The opening and ending theme songs are solid; character designs are above average; and the rare animation are always something to look forward to… but at the end of the day, Assault Lily Bouquet is very underwhelming.
Perhaps we have high expectations, especially when we already have magical girl favourites such as Card Captor Sakura, My-Hime and Madoka Magica. As a viewer, we want heart; real emotions; character development; action; boss-lady attitudes; and pumping adrenalin that makes a magical series … a ‘magical girl’ series.
Overall: ASSAULT LILY BOUQUET isn’t amazing but it is also not terrible at all. We may have spent most of our time critiquing the confusing direction of the story but we were still keen to watch from the beginning to the end.
For a studio who has a strong reputation for its stylistic art direction and animated sequences, SHAFT could have done better than this. Assault Lily Bouquet had so much potential as a series — we’re not so sure if we would watch it again if it gets a reboot of some kind.
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