Should You Pull?
Maybe. This Prayer may be listed as a General Prayer, but it is actually the return of prayers that include a new General Friend with a returning Festival Friend, in case you were keeping a count of that trend. This time, the Prayer is Touhou 12 (Unidentified Fantastic Object)-themed, introducing the new General Friend Ichirin Kumoi along with bringing back A12 Byakuren Hijiri. While she is one of the weaker A-Type Friends, that does not mean that she is unusable, and even Ichirin is very practical, being one of the few Friends who can reach 3P on turn 1 by herself!
What really holds this prayer back is its competition and runtime. Lasting for only a week, until August 12th, makes it very hard to truly devote yourself to this prayer, especially when the rest of the prayers are just as good or stronger. Mainly, C3 Yukari Yakumo is definitely a stronger pick, even if part of the elusive Epic-type Friends. E1 Hong Meiling is also a great pick, providing a lot of support to allies while hitting even harder than the Friends here. There is also R2 Yuyuko Saigyouji to go for, another Ultra Festival that has Descending God Crystal Step-UP to make it easier to obtain that rarer Friend. Since this prayer is only around for a week, you should prepare your resources to try obtaining either Ichirin or Byakuren sooner than later.
Something that doesn’t hold this prayer back is the Ascending God Crystal Step-UP, returning after a brief absence in the past two weeks. This deal allows for an easy and non-committal 10-pull for only 60 God Crystals. Additionally, for those who go the extra mile and do all of the steps, 2 Friends will be guaranteed on the final step, which gives a good chance to obtain at least one of the two Friends featured. As usual, Ichirin, the General Friend, will cost 100 Exchange Points to obtain while Byakuren, the Festival Friend, costs 150 Exchange Points.
+ 0P Metal on Spread shot
+ Fair balance of Water and Wood breaks on spells
+ Very high CRIT ATK buffing
+ Reaches 3P immediately thanks to third skill
- Will somewhat rely on critical hits for great damage
- Selfish attacker with very little team buffs
+ 0P All-target Sun Focus Shot
+ 6/6 Sun on All-target Last Word with great damage potential
+ Good amount of Spirit Power restoration on spell 2 and skill 2
+ Spammable Burn anomalies on skill 1 can be broken with 2P Focus shot
- Backloaded LW; though slightly mitigated by Spirit Power restoration
- Little team utility outside of Accuracy support and Yin DEF debuffs
- Here for damage and not much else
Ichirin Kumoi was formerly a human who became a youkai in a method similar to magician youkai. After hearing rumors about Unzan, a nyuudou (or youkai that has a bald head similar to a Buddhist monk), she attempted to search out for him. Once discovered, Unzan gained admiration for the girl and became her ally. This led to Ichirin no longer fearing youkai, but humans instead fearing and hating her as she eventually became a youkai herself. Since then, her and Unzan have joined the ranks of youkai-accepting nun Byakuren Hijiri and the Myouren Temple, serving as physical workers due to Unzan’s great strength. Ichirin herself trains hard as a priest within the temple and is very protective of Unzan, although she has been seen lending his strength to others at times...
Unzan allows for Ichirin to go for a very oppressive and fast offense through her Last Word, Traditional Era of a Splendid Old Man. As a Destroy-Type Friend, Ichirin goes all out on CRIT-based buffs, specifically buffing her CRIT ATK by 3 levels (3T) upon using the attack. She doesn’t really reach her best Killer Bullets, Human-Killer, until 2P, but that doesn’t matter when her third skill, Enlargement (Unzan), gives her 2.00 Spirit Power to give her 3P on turn 1! This gives Ichirin a very easy way to perform heavy damage immediately, and even then she has plenty of time to set up for even more damage when necessary.
When fighting in extended battles, Ichirin mainly improves her CRIT-based offense while having a bit of extra utility. Her second spell, Fist Sign: Heavenly Net Sandbag, is especially good for both, as it decreases all foes’ CRIT DEF by 2 levels (3T) to help out everyone’s CRIT damage. For even more CRIT ATK as well as self-Charge, her second skill, Divine Power Focus, does so with 3 more levels of CRIT ATK UP (3T). She does come with CRIT Accuracy buffs to assist in landing these heavy CRITs, mainly from her first skill, Golden Ring. While the 2 levels of CRIT Accuracy UP (3T) is nice, it is unfortunate that the 2 levels of Accuracy UP (1T) only lasts for 1 turn, which might not be long enough to support her in a longer fight. Another slight flaw with Ichirin is her lack of team support. Outside of Fist Sign: Heavenly Net Sandbag’s CRIT DEF debuff, her only other sources of support are from her first spell, Iron Fist: An Unarguable Youkai Punch, which buffs the party’s Yang DEF by 3 levels (2T) and partywide CRIT ATK UP for every Boost she does on a turn. It can definitely help certain teams, but her range of team utility is definitely limited.
What isn’t as limited is Ichirin’s Barrier break potential, as she serves as a decent Water and Wood breaker. All of her spells have a balanced mix of both elements, with Iron Fist: An Unarguable Youkai Punch and Traditional Era of a Splendid Old Man having 3 of each element while Fist Sign: Heavenly Net Sandbag only has 2 of each. This gives her a decent way to break foes weak to either element. Furthermore, her Spread shot, Gliding Treasure Rings, has versatility in elemental breaks and even anomaly breaks. It both has 0P Metal access to allow for spammable Metal breaks as well as Discharge, or Paralyze anomaly breaks, at 1P and 2P. Ichirin’s only way to Paralyze enemies is a start-of-wave passive that only works 30% of the time on one target, but the coverage is still useful if another party member can Paralyze.
Overall, Ichirin is just a solid Friend to have, especially when it comes to burst damage thanks to her easy turn 1 3P. As a CRIT-based Friend, she holds very powerful self-buffs regarding critical hits, but doesn’t do much to pass that on to the rest of the team. She can still give out a small amount of support, but her main focus will be powering up Unzan to deal a devastating blow. And honestly, don’t we all want to see that anyway?
Byakuren Hijiri (Fantastic)
Byakuren Hijiri was not initially born as a youkai, but instead became one from learning more and more about the magical arts. She is defined as a magician youkai, as it is possible for humans to become youkai from studying magic. This is the reason why Marisa Kirisame does not live in the human village despite being human, as the villagers fear that her magical studies will convert her to a youkai. After becoming a youkai, Byakuren feared for her longevity, as becoming a youkai paused her aging, but she still worried that she would expire without other youkai. This is why she began to protect youkai while acting like she was exterminating them from the human’s perspective. At first, it was for mutual benefit, but soon enough Byakuren started to sympathize for youkai and genuinely cared for them.
Byakuren would continue to protect youkai lives, such as freeing the phantom Minamitsu Murasa from her curse of sinking ships and gaining the trust of Ichirin Kumoi and her nyuudou Unzan. Shou Toramaru was recruited by the monk due to inhabiting the area around her temple, and the youkai around the temple came to enjoy Byakuren’s presence. Sadly, when humans discovered Byakuren’s exterminations were an act, they feared Byakuren as a demon and decided to lock her in Makai within the fires of Hokkai.
Byakuren would stay sealed for many years, until she found herself in Gensokyo. Her youkai crew has been trying to enter Makai to save their religious leader, a plight that Reimu Hakurei, Marisa Kirisame, and Sanae Kochiya indirectly found out when seeing Murasa’s flying ship in the events of Touhou Seirensen ~ Unidentified Fantastic Object. After following them and eventually entering Makai, Byakuren’s seal is unintentionally lifted and the youkai magician could spread her teachings once more.
In LostWord, A12 Byakuren takes a more “rowdy” approach than her defensive L1 self and acts more as she did as the final boss of Unidentified Fantastic Object: aggressive. Her shots and spells have many secondary effects, from Yin ATK UP on her focus shot, Name-Reciting Chant, to Agility UP on her spread shot, Resurrecting Light of Dharma, and second spell, Superhuman: Byakuren Hijiri. That doesn’t even go into her pre-attack effects, raising her Yin ATK by 2 levels (3T) on her first spell, Great Magic: Devil’s Recitation, and giving herself 1 Burn anomaly with a 80% chance for another with Superhuman: Byakuren Hijiri. Thanks to her character ability, each Burn anomaly inflicted on herself grants her Yin and Yang ATK UP alongside CRIT ATK and Accuracy UP, only further boosting her power. Finally, Mantra of Truth is her fully-sun, Yin-only All-target Last Word that buffs her Yin ATK by 2 more levels (2T) and debuffs all targets Yin DEF by 2 levels (2T). The first line even has Sure Hit to ensure hits despite Accuracy and Evasion.
Her skills are mostly there to make her better at what she’s already doing. Her first skill, Fires of Hokkai, gives herself 2 more Burn anomalies while also inflicting 2 layers of Burn on all opponents. Name-Reciting Chant has Incineration, or Burn anomaly breaks, at 2P and Mantra of Truth has the same at 3P, meaning Byakuren can break 2 Burn barriers every 4 turns if you are patient. Persecuted Hersey primarily serves as a Spirit Power boost of 1.00, but it also gives herself 1 layer of Barrier Restoration, which is rather good with a 4 turn cooldown. Sorcerer’s Sutra Scroll is this Byakuren's main form of team support, giving all allies a CRIT ATK and Accuracy buff by 2 levels (2T), along with granting herself Charge to be supported by debuffs.
Outside of that and the heavy damage, Byakuren is unfortunately not doing much else. Her breaking potential is pretty underwhelming when looking past the Incineration and 0P Sun on Name-Reciting Chant, as Great Magic: Devil’s Recitation is just 2 Star, Moon, and Sun breaks and Superhuman: Byakuren Hijiri has no elements at all. While no elements might assist in doing more damage and ignoring elemental resistances, it doesn’t leave Byakuren with much else to show off. However, the damage Byakuren can pull off is still very strong, and she is even known to farm 2 story card stages at the moment (with one of them being future content). Join Byakuren as she releases her inner youkai rage for being sealed away for so long!