Okay I know I've given Assault Lily Bouquet plenty of guff before about its limited selection of story-initiating options. But with a whole extra week off to brainstorm, the writer's room at SHAFT has in fact come up with a fresh impetus for kicking off a plot: Introducing a new character! You may ask if I mean actually naming and developing one of the dozens of other students lurking in the background of the school scarcely given a one-liner until now. You only posit this question because you lack vision, you rube, as no, what Assault Lily does here is just create a brand-new character out of thin air, and throw her in with the existing horde. She's a blank slate that doesn't even get a name until the end of the episode. Given what you already know about Assault Lily's conventions with nomenclature, I'll let you guess what they go with. I'll wait until the end of my review here for you to think about it. Take your time.
In the meantime, the new girl's mysterious origins – seemingly hatching from an egg that the team stumbles across among some Huge wreckage – lend the mysterious atmosphere posing as much of the plot through this episode. We're eventually informed that her ability points (absurdly termed ‘Skiller Value’) have all the earmarks of her being a new Lily, which lets us and the various characters ruminate on where that leaves her and how that speaks to the Academy's role in its world. The most tantalizing hints along these lines are dropped during the school Director's SEELE call with some government officials, revealing that relationships between the protectors and the nation they serve might not be as simple and cozy as we might have expected. There's also a pretty interesting piece of information dropped that the Director was apparently a member of the first-generation Lilies himself, leading me to wonder about the exact nature of his role here.
That's all background chatter (to say nothing of probably the most detailed and interesting world-building Assault Lily has yet deigned to give us) amongst the more pressing issue of the episode: Impressing the new girl's charms on us as hard as humanly possible. At the moment, I'm torn on whether the series is setting us up for some pathos-laden tragedy to befall her and draw out some angst from Riri, or if she's simply here as another cute entry filling out the gaggle of appealing action figures already in our main girl's collection. Her particular niche is easy to grasp, anyway: A near-infantilized hanger-on to the main character, serving as a foster-daughter to cloyingly coo over. She's fine in that role, I suppose, even as I recognize that her appeal hinges more on her clingy actions with Riri than any independent character elements for now. That's compounded by the obvious question of whether she imprinted on Riri because she's the one who hatched her egg, or if it's the effects of Riri's skill. The point is she's got another emotional dependent latched onto her, oh damn her incredible charisma!
I'm taking my time on long-winded analyses of background info dialogue and cute character-establishing interactions because, honestly, very little happens this episode. In a show with any actual density to it, the events of this whole episode would be but act one of the time-slot's story, setting the parable of the situation up before a more potent twist or tragedy could occur. But Assault Lily just drops this new girl in Riri's lap, then spends multiple scenes with the latter taking care of the former while making cute noises, and showing other characters discuss her implications in broad strokes or just chatter about what it means for the Legion's leadership dynamics. There are some interesting asides on Riri's empathetic excesses being what her team looks to in respecting her leadership, as well as kind of a cute gag regarding Yuyu and Kaede's amusingly mutual jealousy over Riri's new charge, but it's all very little fluff stretched out over the course of the entire episode. It's at least got the same enjoyably consistent feel as the show's last lighter, low-key episode, but there's far less of a plot progression to follow this time, or even a developed idea beyond the very beginnings of exploring what this new girl means for everyone else's barely-explored relationship dynamics.
So that means it's...fine? It's still pretty to look at and just cute enough that it didn't actually feel like it was dragging all that much. If anything the pacing contributes more to the “That's it?” feeling I got by the end, as we hadn't done much beyond an absurdly decompressed introduction of a new character in a show that already has too many underexplored characters. If they do end up going somewhere particularly intense or interesting with this new girl, I'll probably look back on this episode with more credit, since for all I know it could be setting me up with some padded pacing before it pulls the rug out. But for now, this feels like the first paragraph of a new character profile stretched out to fit twenty-two minutes.
Oh, it's “Yuri”, by the way. That's what they end up naming the new girl. “Yuri”. It's a wonder no one wants to take full credit for the writing on this thing.
Assault Lily Bouquet is currently streaming on Funimation.