Why Chisato is the PERFECT Mentor for Takina | Nerdy Sermon [No Spoilers]
If I’m honest, I wouldn’t have started Lycoris Recoil without Hideo Kojima tweeting about it. But hoo boy, am I glad that I did! If I hadn’t taken that first step into the world of the Lycoris, I would have missed out on perhaps some of the best spy world-building of this anime season. Plus, it’s essentially John Wick, but cute.
Not to mention Chisato’s ability to singlehandedly takedown Goku, more than likely. She’s kind of my hero right now. But more than anything, this anime presents us with one of my favorite stories - balance. Takina and Chisato are opposites, or are they? Let’s talk about it.
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1 John 2:9-11; 15-17 (NRSVue)
Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister abides in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates a brother or sister is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness. … Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world, for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God abide forever.
For starters, what is Lycoris Recoil?
Btw no spoilers in this one; really, just the synopsis of the plot is more than enough to analyze for this sermon.
Lycoris Recoil is not just a difficult word to say; it’s also a reference to the main characters in the show. This anime puts in a seemingly utopian world where there is a covert secret agency that uses orphan girls to keep the nation of Japan safe.
These girls are called Lycoris, and they are all pretty much the most extraordinary people you could imagine.
But there are two even cooler than cool - Chisato and Takina.
Takina is a level-headed and almost unconcerned agent who is so distant from her feelings that she is willing to do anything to accomplish the mission's goal. She is so calculating and desiring perfection that she risks one of her teammates' lives to take down the baddie during a drug bust. This kind of risk-taking gets Takina in trouble with the top brass and essentially ‘fired’ from working for the central agency that all of the Lycoris dream of working at.
Takina gets ousted and placed into a specialty assignment at LycoReco, where she will get partnered with one of the coldest, cruelest, gnarliest, and most menacing Lycoris that there has ever been - this leel cutie (Chisato)
Chisato is a bit of an enigma to us in this show - we learn that she is the John Wick of the Lycoris, the best of the best that no one wants to mess with; she seriously makes for the best moments of the show, and is 99% of the reason I am watching, but also she seems to have it all together.
She’s confident in herself and who she is; she likes the work she is doing for LycoReco, the covert maid cafe that Takina and her work for, and she knows what she brings to the table and her limits.
She also differs from her peers in that, while most Lycoris use real bullets, she exclusively uses rubber bullets and prefers to hire cleaners for her victims, not morticians.
Confidence is king, and whether it was the intention of the higher-ups or not, this couldn’t be a better relationship for Takina to learn from.
I have always been a fan of this trope in anime - the calm and collected mentor for the way-too-focused student. Yoh Asakura, Satoru Gojo, Kakashi, the list goes on and on, and it makes for some of the best stuff.
When it’s done best, the reader sees the student learn from the calm of the master while discovering that the secret of the master is that they essentially have a slight bit of chaos within themselves to provide the right balance.
This evokes an image of yin and yang, a familiar religious symbol that only loosely applies to this idea.
But I want to touch on a conversation that Takina and Chisato have in episode four while they are out on a day off.
By this point in the story, Chisato and Takina have had just enough time together to start to learn the other’s quirks but are still budding friends enough that they have questions for each other.
Takina wants to know more about why Chisato is the way she is - what drives her as a person. For Takina, she is driven by her goals. Her purpose is whatever the mission docket is that is handed to her. Eliminate the target? Boom - that’s her drive. Steal the thing? Boom - she’s on it.
For Chisato, the rules are entirely different. Her mindset is to simply do whatever she wants to do. This sounds innocent enough, but it’s not a complete answer. For anyone who has ever had too much free time in the day, we don’t know what we want to do. There must be a drive.
In so many words, which I’d instead let Chisato say for herself, that which drives her is her feelings behind what she does. For instance, she uses rubber bullets. Why? Because she doesn’t feel right about taking someone’s time from them. She doesn’t like the responsibility of being in control over how much time someone has left in life.
The truth of what drives Chisato is that she is making decisions for herself and not letting someone else decide for her. She’s consulting her feelings on the matter and working towards the next thing.
But even still, I wonder if that doesn’t quite cut it. There is more to Chisato than meets the eye, and I think we will learn more about her as the season goes on. I believe that, whether she realizes it or not, Chisato has learned some universal truth that drives those feelings.
And that brings us nicely to our scripture for today.
1 John is one of the epistles written by John the gospel writer and revelator and deals majorly with the relationship of the members of the early church with God - it does a lot of work with how we relate to God and how a relationship with God through Jesus should shape a change in the lives of those living in that light.
Speaking of light, that’s the rhetoric that John uses for this passage, and it serves as a kind of warning: if you say that you are living in the light, which is to say in a relationship with Jesus, but there are caveats.
If you hate one of your brothers or sisters, that is to say, fellow believers, you aren’t actually in the light.
You are liable to stumble (which is a term I kind of loathe thanks to problematic church experiences) metaphysically in the dark because you are blind to the things around you.
Why? What leads to this hate?
To John, it is a love of the world and things of this world.
Now - I hear you already! Checkpoint Church is all about things of the world. You watch anime and play games and talk about movies… worldly.
Well, let’s dive into that because John isn’t done. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world because these things are not from the Father. What things? He lists the desire of the flesh (sexual immorality, lust), the desire of the eyes (envy, avarice), and the pride in riches.
These things are made from the world and will inevitably pass away, whereas the will of God will abide forever.
So what do we know about these ‘things of the world?’
1 - they lead to hate (which leads to the dark side)
2 - they spawn from desire and pride
3 - they are not from God at all
What on earth does this have to do with anything? What can we actually take from what John is talking about here?
Well, I think it has a good bit to do with what Chisato is getting at with the difference between living life by others' demands or by your gut feeling on the thing.
See - when it comes to what we consume here at Checkpoint, I see the act of watching anime, playing games, etc., etc., as an art form. You can watch our Can Christians Watch Anime video for a deeper dive here, but it gets at this: we can be shaped by something, or we can interpret something.
When we approach an anime like Lycoris, we can get so obsessed with the character's designs, the world-building, and the gunplay that we allow our lives to be shaped by it. We can lean into our desires and carnally obsess over the thing. These are options on the table.
OR we can choose to interpret the art created through the lens we’ve formed through study. We can look at the relationship between Takina and Chisato and find the kernel of truth within it. We can explore the ramifications of a government entity that creates a false utopia. We can explore these things in the light brought to us by our faith and our relationship with Jesus.
It’s not about the media but how you approach the thing.
It’s the light versus the dark.
Chisato has found the light. Now, I’m not saying that she has found Jesus, although that would be a delightful story; I am saying that the clarity she has experienced is the same as the one we find in our relationship with Jesus. She’s not approaching things just with her feelings; she’s approaching things with a light that allows her to see and explore the nuance in the situation.
Why shouldn’t we kill?
It’s not just because a book tells us it’s bad or because a law says no.
It’s because we’re taking control over someone’s life and making a choice for them that we shouldn’t be allowed to make. Chisato isn’t a mindless assassin like Takina, who is simply following orders; she is actively interpreting the decisions she’s making within the lens that has been opened to her.
And this is precisely what John is saying.
If you say you’re interpreting the world through the eyes of Jesus, the lens of Jesus, seeing in the light provided by that path, but you are also actively hating someone - then you’re a liar. You aren’t interpreting all of the things via the lens of Christ. You might think you are, but either you’re out of practice or not taking it seriously.
A serious practitioner of viewing the world through the eyes of Christ cannot hate. It’s impossible. Your lens is scuffed, bro. You just can’t. So you’re in the darkness, and odds are seeing things through another mischievous lens. You’re interpreting life through another methodology, and these methodologies are of the world.
So what does all of this mean for us today?
Anime isn’t of the world. That’s why I’m not afraid to analyze it as a piece of art as it is.
Gaming and games aren’t of the world. That’s why I’m not afraid to analyze them as the art that they are.
Pride is of this world. I refute it and boast only in my relationship with Christ. Violence and wrath are of this world. I rebuke it and claim my pacifism, laying the sword down and picking up the plowshare. Desire is of this world. I reject it and only want that which can bring about more relationships built with Jesus.
Case in point: I’m not in Checkpoint Church for the games, anime, or stuff - I’m in it for you. I’m using the art to reach and extend the love and grace of Jesus to you. You’re what I care about.
It’s why we say what we say in every one of these videos. It’s why I make these every week. I care about the nerd, the geek, and the gamer. My desire, through and through, is to use the media that you and I are drawn to most for the improvement and purpose of sharing my relationship with Jesus.
I make no bold claims to be as cool or calm as Chisato, Kakashi, Yoh Asakura, or Satoru Gojo, but I’m here for you. And the LVL2 members of Checkpoint Church are here for you.
If you’re looking for a community to welcome you in, like Takina, trying to figure out where you went wrong or how you can live a more fulfilling life in nerd culture, you’ve found the right place. And you’re always welcome here at Checkpoint Church.
God loves you.
We love you.