English Dub Review: Release the Spyce “The Rewards of Friendship”

Some crimes can never be forgiven — especially ones out of anyone’s control.

Overview

Cold open: Theresia — another child soldier of Moryo’s — and the Main Moryo Villain are nakedly bathing together while going over Theresia’s spy duties because it’s a perfectly sensible place to have a meeting about that. Hatsume’s identity as a Tsukikage member has been compromised, due to the double agent within Tsukikage who definitely isn’t Katrina. Theresia’s job is to go undercover and befriend Hatsume so that she can confirm her involvement in Tsukikage. Plot twist: Theresia and Hatsume already know each other from long ago.

When Theresia takes on the guise of being a transfer student, Hatsume immediately recognizes her at school and wants to reconnect. Theresia acknowledges their history together but remains mysteriously cold. All Tsukikage members are suspicious of her, but Hatsume recants their tale (flashback time!)

When Hatsume was a little girl, her parents moved to some vaguely poor, unnamed place “overseas,” and Theresia was a street rat who tried to steal from her. Despite Theresia’s actions, Hatsume wanted to befriend her, as there were apparently no other children around her age. Theresia eventually trusts Hatsume, but the two of them are kidnapped by a child trafficking ring and held for ransom. Hatsume’s family is decently well off, so her ransom was paid — but Theresia, who only had an abusive, poor, elderly figure as a guardian, is pawned off.

The Tsukikage are horrified by Hatsume’s story of child slavery, as they continuously hold Byakko captive to clean their base. Despite this, they find Theresia’s presence too coincidental, so the team keeps tabs on her while she tries to get close to Hatsume. Once she does, Theresia confronts Hatsume about why her family didn’t pay for her ransom as well, but Hatsume reveals that before her family could pay Theresia’s bail, she was already sold (to Moryo, unbeknownst to Hatsume.)

Theresia rebuffs this and won’t believe her, despite the fact that she wants to be friends again. She reports her progress to Moryo, waiting for evidence of Hatsume’s involvement in Tsukikage.

Our Take

Boy, with all this double-crossing, it’s a good thing that everyone in the Tsukikage is trustworthy and loyal. Hanzo may have been wondering how on earth Moryo got any of their intel, but it really couldn’t be seen as anything more than coincidence. It’s not like anyone in Tsukikage is a spy for them or anything — especially not Katrina, who would never reveal Hatsume’s identity. It’s a good thing there was an entire scene to emphasize Katrina’s dedication to Tsukikage, where she even brought up there could be a double agent in the group. What a laugh that would be, if the spy were Katrina (which, again, it couldn’t be — the writing would never throw it in our faces over and over again like that.)

Aside from plot twists falling flat before they’ve even fallen, it would be silly not to mention the gigantic, unnecessary build up to the main antagonist’s face reveal at the end. Half a season in and we see that the gargantuan chested anime lady’s face is…completely conventionally attractive. Seriously — if she’s not The Phantom of the Opera, or there’s no prior relevance to the plot, what’s the point in even keeping the face a secret? Reveals like this do nothing for the audience (except make them say, “Oh okay, she has a face.”)

Voice acting was weak when it came to the flashback — both Hatsume and Theresia’s child-selves sounded practically identical to their regular voices. The attempt to make them sound younger was nearly nonexistent — something anyone would have to actively listen for. The dialogue between the two felt awkward and odd — Theresia acted weirdly casual towards someone who she acknowledged was her long lost friend. (“Hey! Remember that time we were kidnapped and almost sold together?” “Oh wow, sure do! Anyway, see you later!”) The lack of reaction all around was unnatural.

With the introduction of more weaponized children in the cast (aka Byakko and Theresia), it’s a wonder if the Tsukikage will formally adopt these characters as their own (ala Steven Universe.) If such is the case, it would make for an interesting turn against Moryo — because one thing this series is lacking so far is the ability to execute a good plot twist. Half a season in and Release the Spyce still lacks major components to its dish — it’s (slightly) fun to watch, but not necessarily in the way the showrunners intended.

Score
5/10

Kayla Gleeson

Kayla Gleeson is an entertainment writer and media player, with work involved in shows such as Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown" and Chicken Soup for the Soul's "Hidden Heroes." In addition to her work on BubbleBlabber, she also has dozens upon dozens of published articles for RockYou Media. Aside from immersing her life in cartoons, she loves to write and read poetry, be outdoors, go to conventions, and indulge in Alan Resnick stylings of comedy.

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