Lycoris Recoil Ep. 9: The Grace of a Friend

Human beings have two responses to anxiety and crisis situations: to freeze up and do nothing, or to get busy—and I mean really busy. Or as Brené Brown and other mental health professionals term it, under-functioning and over-functioning. Sadly, this fundamental difference in responses to stress is the stuff that often tears relationships apart, rendering even the most close-knit family and friends incomprehensible to one another. 

This is precisely what threatens to happen in this week’s episode of Lycoris Recoil as Takina is faced with a devastating crisis. While Chisato and the rest of the gang look on, Takina kicks into overdrive, achieving great feats of efficiency and productivity hitherto unknown to Lycoris—and risking alienating the one closest to her in the process. What saves the day, you ask? A little something called the grace of a friend. Needless to say, spoilers ahead.

Let’s get the hard truth out of the way: Chisato is dying. She’s been dying for ten years, but now her clock has been sped up and she’s down to her final two months. Takina’s immediate response to this news is to head for the door, gun cocked and bent on hunting down the ‘nurse’ who accelerated the demise of Chisato’s artificial heart. But a word from her friend brings her to a halt. Revenge won’t add any days to Chisato’s life.

As the LycoReco team comes to terms with cold hard reality, as well as Chisato’s backstory, they devise a plan to pursue the one possibility that remains for extending Chisato’s life: find Yoshi-san, the originator of both Chisato’s artificial heart and the order to render it non-functional. To do this, Takina needs to accept the DA’s offer to rejoin Lycoris HQ. She of course determines to bite the bullet right away and what follows is the most INTJ Takina-like montage ever as she plans and executes the most efficient, productive ‘fun’ day possible for Chisato before breaking the news of her imminent departure for HQ. 

The Guidebook for Fun Day-Off Program Created by Takina Inoue ushers the girls around Tokyo according to a strict timetable. First, there’s some clothes shopping, followed by a stop at the arcade for some video games and a duel with a crane machine. Next, more shopping, this time for accessories, and then time to refuel via the consumption of vast quantities of pancake, setting them up for a visit to the aquarium—which is closed. Err… Takina quivers on the verge of panic when… Chisato to the rescue! They go fishing in the park instead until it’s time to make the trek to the final destination on the day’s program, well outside the city atop an escarpment where a secret awaits at 9pm. 

The only problem? Takina is hardly present for any of it, so wrapped up is she in the interminable buzzing of her phone as the alarms she’d set to keep on schedule constantly interrupt to rush the girls on to the next activity. Talk about over-functioning! 

Takina and Her Phone on their Fun Day Off, with Chisato doing her thang in the background.

This is all heading to a reckoning you can see a mile off, right? 

I love it when the writers surprise me. And that’s exactly what happened with this episode.

I was certain that Takina’s montage of efficient fun would culminate in Chisato giving her a good firm talking to, calling her out on her anxiety, her denial of what was happening, her need to control, or maybe her misplaced efforts to win Chisato’s approval, to please her, or distract her from cruel reality. Something. I thought correction was coming for Takina, and that her friend was about to teach her a valuable lesson. Kindly and with characteristically light-hearted cheeriness, perhaps, but a lesson just the same.

But that’s not what happened. 

Instead of a lesson, Takina got…a giant smile. Chisato knows her friend. Knows her earnest, serious, problem-solving, action-oriented nature. And so she doesn’t roll her eyes or lose her temper with Takina and her robotic execution of the ‘perfect day’, but instead, she sees beyond the surface to the heart behind that annoyingly ever-present phone alarm. She sees to the heart that didn’t want Chisato to miss out on a single thing she might enjoy. The heart that didn’t want to leave things to chance, but which took responsibility to do everything in its power to make a good day happen. A heart that was misplaced in its efforts, perhaps, but a genuine one nonetheless.  

And so instead of reprimand or teasing, Chisato gives Takina affirmation and gratitude. She says the most heart-rending, compassionate words that one can ever hope to receive from a friend: “It’s fun when I’m with you…” She later continues, “Your plan was a huge success today. I had tons of fun today! Not bad!” Chisato offers the grace of a friend where I expected to see correction.

Is that a lip quiver? A crack in the genkii facade?!

Wow. So not every moment in life needs to be a lesson, huh? 

I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency toward introspection and self-reflection, with a mind to identifying the lessons that life and God are teaching me. I have a penchant for looking back over my life—be it long-term, or just recent days—searching out the places where I need to grow, need to improve, need to learn something, grab ahold of some truth or grasp some new freedom; places where I need to confess and repent and do better. I’m always looking to learn, and learning, to grow into the person I know God made me with the potential to become. I tend to look at life with an eye for its lessons. 

And in so doing, sometimes I miss the grace. Sometimes I miss the friendship and the simplicity of a companion who thinks it’s fun to be with me. I miss the fact that this is the kind of friendship that God is offering me. I forget his compassion, his mercy, and the fact that he actually loves and enjoys humanity and is not just constantly trying to get us to be better and do better and think and speak better too. I forget that before correction, comes adoption: that God corrects those whom he has first made his children. That I am a precious child to him first and foremost, and the lessons come after. I forget that sometimes, he just really enjoys being with me. No, that’s not right—not sometimes, but always, he simply enjoys being with me. And with you too. All of us, together and separately. He’s extraordinary and unexpected that way.

My favorite verse in the Bible gets at this very truth, as Jesus says to his disciples:

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”

John 16:12

In other words, Jesus—who was literally hours away from his death when he said this—prioritized extending compassion to his friends over his own agenda as a Teacher with Important Things to Say. He did not seek to cram everything into those last minutes or fill them with the most epic infodump the world had yet seen so that at the end of the day he could dust off his hands with satisfaction at another job done. “Well, I told you, remember? That day when you were emotionally, intellectually, and physically exhausted but I still had things for you to learn?” Nope. Good friend that he is, Jesus recognized the disciples’ limits and chose to extend to them the grace of a friend. 

He does the same for us, whom he also calls his friends. He waits. Sometimes days, sometimes decades. He waits until we’re ready—whether we realize we are or not!—and in the meantime, he extends to us the grace of a friend.

This is what Chisato offers to Takina. And it’s also what God himself offers to Takina as well. 

You see, that final secret event outside the city at 9pm? It was meant to be a snowfall. Takina planned the perfect spot from which to view the wintery beauty cascading to the earth. But nine o’clock came and went and there was no snow. “God is whimsical, after all,” consoles Chisato. “Of all days,” replies Takina with a hangdog expression, “I wish He wasn’t today.” God let Takina down and failed to support her perfect plan. 

Or so it seemed. Because seconds after the two part, He shows up with the most sparkling, shimmery golden snowfall to ever grace the air. And He does it in time for the two friends to catch each other’s eye and share the moment, despite the distance now between them. 

Takina’s plan was full of the stress she was carrying, colored with the urgency and disquiet wracking her heart and mind as she struggled to process the shocking prospect of soon losing her friend. She tried to do too much in her own strength. She risked ruining the day with her anxiety to make it a good one. But in the end, she didn’t ruin it. And she didn’t ruin it because her friends—Chisato and the God who blesses us even when we haven’t thought to include Him in our process—extended grace to her.

So to all the Takinas out there who over-function when stressed, and all the anti-Takinas who under-function: don’t worry. Not every crisis in life is about learning a lesson. Sometimes, it’s about receiving grace from a Friend, knowing that when the time is right, you’ll process it all together. And in the meantime, He enjoys being with you.  

Lycoris Recoil can be streamed on Crunchyroll. And you should definitely do it. It’s awesome.


7 thoughts on “Lycoris Recoil Ep. 9: The Grace of a Friend

  1. I really enjoy the journey Takina has gone on during the series, and the fact that even though she’s changed, she and Chisato are still fundamentally different people.
    Also, when they separated while waiting for the snow, I was super stressed because I kept expecting something bad to happen to one of them.

    1. Agreed! Takina’s character growth has been handled so subtly. Although I was wary of all the twists and turns and hints and foreshadowing in the first episode (they couldn’t have crammed in any more), I’ve been really impressed with the writing, largely because despite all the craziness of the plot and constant ‘revelations’, the focus, at the end of the day, has remained on character development. Now, the question is, will we see the same from Chisato in this final arc?
      Apparently the final episode has been completed and is locked away in a vault somewhere, pending air date, so literally only a handful of people on the planet right now know the answer…

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