Lycoris Recoil’s Yoshimatsu Is Among 2022’s Cruelest Anime Villains

The following contains spoilers for Lycoris Recoil Episode 12, “Nature Versus Nurture,” now streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lycoris Recoil‘s Shinji Yoshimatsu may have just become the series’ most hated character. In the world of Lycoris Recoil, the mysterious “Alan Institute” awards medals and financial support to those with exceptional abilities. These include Chisato Nishikigi, a “Lycoris” agent who would be the world’s best killer — if she hadn’t chosen non-lethal methods. Yoshimatsu is the Alan Institute representative who gave Chisato her medal, and he believes she’s wasting her gifts by using them to help rather than hurt people.

Many Lycoris Recoil fans had already come to hate Yoshimatsu after he allowed his assistant Himegama to deliberately sabotage Chisato’s artificial heart, but Episode 12 of the anime showed he was capable of sinking to even lower depths. Hacker Kurumi used her near-sci-fi computer skills to track down one more heart that Yoshimatsu had secured for Chisato, and Chisato and her partner Takina Inoue confronted him at the old radio tower. He then revealed that he had the heart implanted into himself, meaning if Chisato wanted to live, she would have to break her rule and kill him.

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Yoshimatsu Will Go to Extremes to Try and Turn Chisato Into a Killer

Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that Yoshimatsu is bluffing as this would contradict his motivations. It’s clear he isn’t lying about wanting Chisato to get the heart, so she can live to kill again. If the heart were still in the briefcase — like Kurumi initially thought — it would be an unnecessary complication of Yoshimatsu’s twisted plan because Himegama would have to tell Chisato about it after he died. Not only that, but the discovery that Yoshimatsu didn’t actually need to die for her to get the heart would probably make Chisato feel even more strongly that killing was unnecessary — the opposite of what Yoshimatsu wants.

If Yoshimatsu has truly replaced his heart with an artificial one, then, it draws attention to the senseless extremes he is prepared to go to enforce his single-minded plans for Chisato’s future. Yoshimatsu replaced his perfectly functional human heart with an artificial one which, as he pointed out in Episode 9, can only sustain a person for so many years even if it doesn’t get sabotaged. If he failed and couldn’t get Chisato to kill him, which indeed he couldn’t, he knew he would still be slashing his life expectancy by more than half. Yoshimatsu’s obsession with getting Chisato to use her skills the way he sees fit was already inscrutable, but this sacrifice makes it seem even more irrational.

Chisato stopped a desperate Takina who tried to shoot Yoshimatsu herself, adding, “If you can’t do it, I will.” This shows how Chisato isn’t prepared to accept any loopholes in her philosophy to get what she wants. She does want to share her ideals, and the way Takina non-lethally detained Majima in this episode’s opening scenes showed how Chisato’s methods were rubbing off. However, other episodes have implied that Chisato doesn’t necessarily mind letting Direct Attack get on with their lethal way of doing business, being friendly with other Lycoris agents for example. Perhaps she reacted so strongly in this instance because she felt she would have been indirectly responsible.

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Yoshimatsu’s Cruelty Pushes Chisato to Her Emotional Limits

Chisato’s philosophy in Lycoris Recoil seems to have developed in other ways, too. By threatening Takina, Yoshimatsu finally got Chisato to shoot him with a real bullet, albeit non-lethally in the chest. Chisato cried in anguish even at this, which may seem surprising given that even her own non-lethal ammunition is by no means painless. However, it’s possible that Chisato may have been so dismayed because she hurt the “savior” who gave her the artificial heart so many years ago, even knowing the harm he has caused her since.

This relates to the other way in which Yoshimatsu lost sympathy in Episode 12. After he tried to goad Chisato into finishing the job, she said, “I hate you, Mr Yoshi.” The nuanced way Chisato’s expression changed as she looked at him conveyed how the thought of hating him appeared reluctantly in her mind, and then how she could no longer deny that it was true. Chisato had so much love to give to her “savior” that he could have been another father figure to her, like Mika, but Yoshimatsu threw away that opportunity.

Ultimately, Chisato held Takina back as Yoshimatsu and Himegama escaped. A later scene had Chisato insist on imparting her non-lethal ways upon reluctant fellow Lycoris agent Fuki Harukawa, showing her resolve hadn’t wavered even after this considerable test. Lycoris Recoil may celebrate Chisato’s forgiving personality, but even so, a redemption arc seems unlikely in Yoshimatsu’s future after the meaningless cruelty he displayed in Episode 12.

Lycoris Recoil hits Crunchyroll in the West every Saturday.

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