An Idiot’s Guide to Touhou – 01

The good, the bad, and the badass.

Touhou is one of those things that I stumbled upon about 3 years ago and got hooked on even though I never played any of the games. …And then I played the games and suffered from having my eyes bleed, but it was a good experience nonetheless. I still can’t play for long periods of time without making my eyes bleed (I admit to never actually finishing a game), but I figured I would let you all in on the franchise by explaining the basics and going into a bit of the characters.

Just like how you can’t be on Nico Nico for more than 5 minutes before running into SOMETHING Vocaloid related, you’ve more than likely run into something Touhou related in your Internet browsing before. The fan base THAT ridiculously large and dedicated. You’ve seen “Bad Apple!!”, right? … If you haven’t, then I refuse to continue this one sided conversation until you do. WATCH THE VIDEO.

(and then for good measure, listen to this)

Now do you understand the frighteningly dedicated these fans are? The fan base has even created Manzai (stand up comedy) routines for the characters (they’re actually hilarious), countless song remixes, animations, figurines, spin off games and about a million and one pictures on Pixiv. If it exists, there is a Touhou crossover with it. This is pretty impressive. Why? Because 90% of the characters that people adore have maybe 4 lines of dialogue in the game they appear in, a short character summary and then if they’re lucky, a 10 minute battle where you can’t even see the character sprite half the time due to all of the other crap covering the screen. Are you interested yet? Well too bad, because I’m going to start explaining things now.

What is Touhou?

Touhou is a series of shooter games made by one guy named ZUN (I’ll get to him later). What is a shooter game? …. It would probably be easier if I just showed you.

Still Confused? Well, basically you’re a little white dot (called a hitbox) on a character sprite (…you can patch the game so the hitbox is visible) and you have to avoid everything that comes flying at you. Also, while you avoid everything, you shoot back at your opponent. Yes, there’s more to it then that, but that’s the gist of it. Here are a few terms that confused the crap out of me when I first started:

Touhou Project– Literally ‘Eastern Project’. Okay, this one wasn’t that confusing of a term, but still good to know.

Danmaku– A barrage of bullets. Or as some people call it, ‘bullet hell’. Touhou is known as a danmaku game. If you bothered watching the video I linked, then you probably understand how fitting this term is.

Spell Card– A name for the unique complicated bullet patterns that the enemy throws at you that the game expects you to dodge. capturing a spell card (which increases your score) involves not dying while the card is activated.

Passive/Pacifist Run– Believe it or not, flying around shooting things isn’t the only way to defeat an opponent. Spell cards have time limits so a passive run involves dodging everything without shooting back. Really all shooting back does is make it easier since you have to dodge for less time. Some people call this stupid, some call it admirable. I call it a headache waiting to happen.

Graze Points – Points you get for danmaku making contact with the character sprite, but not hitting the hitbox and killing you.

Bomb– You get a limited amount of these for each level. It basically wipes out everything on the screen for a second or so, making it significantly easier to maneuver around things.

Where do the games take place?

The Touhou stories happen mainly inside some place called Gensokyo (translates to Land of Illusion). Where shrine maidens fly, youkai exist and everyone either carries a ridiculous amount of projectiles on them, or can summon ridiculous amounts of projectiles. It is cut off from the outside world and kind of resembles ancient Japan.

When?

The first Touhou game came out in 1996. As for when the games take place, hell if I know.

How:

Everything in the Touhou franchise was created by one Japanese man who goes by ZUN. That’s right, characters, art, music, scripting, bullet patterns and game programming is allllllllll him. Insanely talented or just plain insane, I’ll let you make the call.

Why?

Because he can. That’s why.

Who:

Finally, the bulk of the Touhou franchise. Now if you expect me to fit all of the Touhou characters into one post, then you’re insane. There are close to 100, if not more of them (I don’t feel like counting) and each have their own titles, theme songs and countless other pieces of information that a character who appears for 5 minutes and says 10 words probably doesn’t deserve (but ZUN gave them anyways, which is probably why they’re so popular). Since splitting up the characters by game seems like the simplest thing to do, I’ll go with that. So first up are the characters of the 6th game: Embodiment of the Scarlet Devil (aka EoSD if you’re lazy and don’t feel like typing the whole title out). I’ll get to the pre-2000 pre-Windows stuff eventually, but I thought I would start off with one of the better known games. …Plus I’ve actually half-played this one. However, before we go into any of that, I should probably introduce the heroines of Touhou…

Hakurei Reimu (博麗 霊夢)

Other titles: Heroine, Shrine Maiden who Protects Dream and Tradition, Shrine Maiden, Eternal Shrine Maiden, Wonderful Shrine Maiden of Paradise, Shrine Maiden of Paradise, Sunny Shrine Maiden, Flying Mysterious Shrine Maiden, Freewheeling Human, Shrine Maiden of the Five Desire


Character Songs:

Mystic Oriental Love Consultation (東方妖恋談)

Mystic Oriental Love Consultation (Immaterial and Missing Power remix)

Maiden’s Capriccio (少女綺想曲 ~ Capriccio)

Maiden’s Capriccio (Immaterial and Missing Power remix)

Maiden’s Capriccio ~ Dream Battle (少女綺想曲 ~ Dream Battle)

Spring Lane ~ Colorful Path ( 春色小径 ~ Colorful Path)


ZUN’s description of her character: So if you couldn’t guess from her plethora of titles, Reimu is a human shrine maiden. She lives by herself at the Hakurei shrine and keeps the Hakurei Barrier (the thing isolating Gensokyo from the rest of the world) in place. She’s also the one who beats the crap out ofpunishes any youkai who make trouble… which is pretty much all of them. ZUN originally described her as an easygoing, optimistic and dutiful girl, but now he seems to describe her as someone who drinks tea, watches clouds and beats up youkai with the least amount of effort possible. Despite being human and not doing her training, Reimu is insanely talented and can get by with that. She’s also described as simple minded and she has a Nanoha-like tendency to make friends with anyone she defeats in battle. …It’s also canon that she’s never lost a fight. Oh and she can fly. Somehow.

Fanbase’s take on her character: Thanks the her obsession with treasure in one of the more recent games, Reimu has become rather money obsessed in recent fan culture. That, and she’s generally depicted as lazy. …And of course, there’s always that armpit meme (since she wears detached sleeves) and “Yukkuri shiteitte ne“.

 

Games involved in: Uh, all of them. She’s the main character. (Though not always playable (and sometimes as a secret character))

————————————

Kirisame Marisa (霧雨 魔理沙)

Other titles: A Being made of Magic and Red Dream, A Magician, The Strange Magician, Ordinary Magician, An Ordinary Black Magician, Magician of Misty Rain, Boldly Timid Human, The Magician Passing By, Greedy Magician


Character Songs:

Love-Colored Magic (恋色マジック)

Love-Colored Magic (Immaterial and Missing Power remix)

Dimensional Dream (Dim. Dream)

Selene’s Light (Selene’s Light)

Vessel of Stars ~ Casket of Star (星の器 ~ Casket of Star)

The Witches’ Ball (魔女達の舞踏会)

Love-Colored Master Spark (恋色マスタースパーク )

Oriental Dark Flight (オリエンタルダークフライト)

Magus Night (メイガスナイト)

The Witches’ Ball ~ Magus (魔女達の舞踏会 ~ Magus)

ZUN’s description of her character: 5 guesses as to what Marisa is based on her titles (oh and she’s human). Unlike her close friend Reimu, Marisa has average talent and her ability is 100% hard work and effort. She’s described as having a disagreeable, straightforward attitude and she likes to isolate herself from most humans to do her magic research. …ZUN also likes to decribe her as having a ‘collecting obsession’, which is a nice way of saying that she’s a kleptomaniac (though she collects things that nobody owns as well).

Fanbase’s take on her character: As expected, the fanbase reallylikes to depict Marisa as a huge kleptomaniac. Oh that, and she generally has a harem consisting of Alice and Patchouli. Fans also like to have her add ‘ze’ at the end of her sentences for whatever reason. Fun Fact: Jessica from Umineko no naku koro ni cosplays as her in episode 6.

ames involved in: Again, all of them. She’s the OTHER main character. (Though again, not always playable)

————————————

…And there you have it. As the games go on, there are more characters you can play as, but these two have been there since the beginning. So on to the Scarlet Mansion characters. So the story behind this game is that a mysterious red mist blocks out the sun in Gensokyo and so Reimu and Marisa go and investigate. I should also mention here that Touhou is 99.9999999999% made of female characters, so if you’re looking for bishies, look elsewhere.

Rumia (ルーミア)

Other titles: Youkai of the Dusk, Youkai Hiding in the Darkness, Youkai of Twilight


Character Songs:

Apparitions Stalk the Night (妖魔夜行)

Soul as Red as a Ground Cherry (ほおずきみたいに紅い魂)

ZUN’s description of her character: A youkai who is always surrounded by darkness because that’s her power. She just attacks the protagonists for no real reason, but according to ZUN, she’s simple minded. Also according to ZUN, her hair tie is actually an amulet and she can’t take it off. Not that this information is plot relevant. Also, she looks innocent, but she eats humans.

Fanbase’s take on her character: Fans gave her the catchphrase “Is that so?” since she says the line once in one of the side games. Also, fans speculate that her ribbon is actually a seal and that she’s actually really powerful. …Though she’s normally grouped as an idiot with Cirno.

Games involved in: Embodiment of the Scarlet Devil, Shoot the Bullet

—————————–

Daiyousei (大妖精)

Other titles: None


Character Songs:

Lunate Elf (ルーネイトエルフ)

ZUN’s description of her character: This is where Touhou gets ridiculous with it’s characters and popularity. All ZUN has to say about Daiyousei is that she’s more powerful than a normal fairy, but weaker than a human. Also like other fairies, she’s cheerful, mischievous and simple minded. No really, that’s it.

Fanbase’s take on her character: Well seeing how there’s nothing really to work with, people mostly just make her friends with Cirno.

Games involved in: Embodiment of the Scarlet Devil, Fairy Wars

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Cirno (チルノ)

Other titles: Ice Fairy of the Lake, Youkai of the Ice, Small Ice Fairy, Unnatural Chill, Ice Fairy, Fairy of Ice, The Strongest


Character Songs:

Beloved Tomboyish Girl (おてんば恋娘)

Adventure of the Lovestruck Tomboy (おてんば恋娘の冒険)

ZUN’s description of her character: Cirno is a fairlt strong fairy who has control over ice. ZUN describes her as mischievous, playful, childish and pretty instinctive since she first attacks the heroines just because they were there. …ZUN also likes to mention how she’s a complete moron (but this doesn’t hurt her popularity whatsoever). …She also has this slightly sadistic hobby of freezing frogs and occasionally killing them by accident, but this is more of her idiocy rather than ill intent.

Fanbase’s take on her character: Due to a screenshot in a Touhou guide labeling Cirno as “9” and “Moron”, she has forever gained ⑨ as her symbol (also, ⑨ became the symbol for idiots in general). Hell, September 9, 2009 (9/9/09) was named her day in the fanbase. “I’m the strongest” (Or in most cases, “Aye’m the strongest” since she doesn’t say the Japanese properly) is her catch phrase since she says it in Phantasmagoria. …She’s insanely popular as a character.

Games involved in: Embodiment of the Scarlet Devil, Perfect Cherry Blossom, Phantasmagoria of Flower View, Shoot the Bullet, Touhou Hisoutensoku, Fairy Wars

————————————

Hong Meiling (紅 美鈴)

Other titles: Chinese Girl, Colorful Rainbow Gatekeeper


Character Songs:

Shanghai Teahouse ~ Chinese Tea (上海紅茶館 ~ Chinese Tea)

Shanghai Alice of Meiji 17 (明治十七年の上海少女)

ZUN’s description of her character: The gatekeeper to the Scarlet Mansion (not that she manages to keep the heroines out) and also a youkai, but ZUN has never specified what type. She has mastered martial arts and that’s all that ZUN cares to inform us about her character.

Fanbase’s take on her character: Okay, before I go into any detail, I’ll mention that some fans like to call her “China” since A.) the clothes and B.) the fact that there was some confusion with how her name was read, so they just decided to call her China. Well since she couldn’t defend the gate like she was supposed to, people like to joke that Meiling is sleeping on the job (plus there’s some obscure tie in with the fact that China’s goods aren’t always top quality).

Games involved in: Embodiment of the Scarlet Devil, Immaterial and Missing Power, Touhou Hisoutensoku

———————————–

Koakuma (小悪魔)

Other titles: None


Character Songs:

Viole, the Secret Library (ヴワル魔法図書館)

ZUN’s description of her character: Koakuma is a midboss with absolutely no dialogue, so really nothing is known about her. ZUN didn’t even make a proper profile of her, though he does say that Koakuma is actually the name of the type of youkai she is and that they’re a superior race, bu still weaker than magicians or vampires. He also says that the race is kind of like fairies being disobedient and rash.

Fanbase’s take on her character: Well since she appears before Patchouli, people assume that she’s her assistant or something. They also tend to give her a calm, obediant and helpful personality as opposed to the one ZUN gave her since that was the canon before he talked about her.

Games involved in: Embodiment of the Scarlet Devil

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Patchouli Knowledge (パチュリー・ノーレッジ)

Other titles: The Girl of Knowledge and Shadow, The Unmoving Great Library, Enigmatic Source of Magic, Witch of the Spring Haze, Unmoving Great Library


Character Songs:

Locked Girl ~ The Girl’s Secret Room (ラクトガール 〜 少女密室)

Locked Girl ~ The Girl’s Secret Room (Immaterial and Missing Power remix)

Viole, the Secret Library (Immaterial and Missing Power remix)

ZUN’s description of her character: As ZUN describes her, Patchouli is an extremely powerful magician with an asthma problem. …She’s also technically a NEET since she’s spent about a hundred years in her library since she doesn’t like to go outside. Being a witch by birth, she can control 6 elements (fire, wind, water, earth, sun and moon) with ease, but often can’t recite spells properly due to her asthma. She’s also pretty smart and loves books.

Fanbase’s take on her character: Since the elements of her spells coincide with the elements in a week on the Japanese calender, Patchouli is sometimes known as the Magician of the Week or the One-Week Magician. Fans also consider her a hardcore hikkikomori since she doesn’t leave the library. They have also given her the catchphrase ‘mukyuu’ since she said it once in some game. …She’s also usually a part of Marisa’s harem.

ames involved in: Embodiment of the Scarlet Devil, Perfect Cherry Blossom. Immaterial and Missing Power, Imperishable Night, Phantasmagoria of Flower View, Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, Subterranean Animism,  Touhou Hisoutensoku

————————————

Izayoi Sakuya (十六夜 咲夜)

Other titles: Maid of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, Perfect and Elegant Servant, Perfect and Elegant Maid, Dangerous Illusionist, Maid of the Evening Storm, Scarlet Devil Mansion Maid


Character Songs:

Lunar clock ~ Luna Dial (月時計 ~ルナ・ダイアル)

Lunar Clock ~ Luna Dial (Immaterial and Missing Power remix)

The Maid and the Pocket Watch of Blood(メイドと血の懐中時計)

The Maid and the Pocket Watch of Blood (Immaterial and Missing Power remix)

Flowering Night (フラワリングナイト)

ZUN’s description of her character: The head maid of the Scarlet Mansion and also the only human working there. However, Sakuya is extremely loyal to her mistress. She also somehow has the ability to stop time which helps not only with her knife proficiency, but also helps with her maid duties. If she runs out of knives in battle, she can stop time in pick them up. …Though why she doesn’t just stab her opponent is beyond me. She’s pretty mysterious and Sakuya isn’t even her real name, but a name given to her by Remilia. There have even been hints that she’s not actually human, but nothing has been confirmed.

Fanbase’s take on her character: Well due to one of her images having much larger breasts than her other ones, fans now speculate that Sakuya pads her bra. …Yeah. They’ve also made her pretty sensitive about the subject, so mention it and end up with a knife in your forehead.

Games involved in: Embodiment of the Scarlet Devil, Perfect Cherry Blossom, Immaterial and Missing Power, Imperishable Night, Phantasmagoria of Flower View, Shoot the Bullet, Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, Touhou Hisoutensoku

——————————–

Remilia Scarlet (レミリア・スカーレット)

Other titles: Eternally Young Scarlet Moon, The Eternally Red New Moon, The Scarlet Devil, World of Crimson, Vampire of the Heavy Fog, Eternally Young Red Moon


Character Songs:

Septette for the Dead Princess (亡き王女の為のセプテット)

Septette for the Dead Princess (Immaterial and Missing Power Remix)

ZUN’s description of her character: The (approximately) 500 year old loli/mistress of the Scarlet Manson. Remilia is a charismatic and reputable individual despite her appearance and she’s also a vampire. Now vampires aren’t native to Gensokyo, so who knows how she got there, but most people like to avoid her since she’s a bit bratty and extremely powerful. She’s also the one who started the whole red mist thing this game since she doesn’t like the sun. ZUN also says that she’s a light eater, so humans don’t normally die from her. …Apparently she can manipulate fate too, but who knows how that even works. Remilia is the final boss of the game.

Fanbase’s take on her character: Not much to say here other than the fact that fans call her Ojou-sama for obvious reasons. Also, there’s speculation that she’s actually from Europe since her name and appearance. Charisma Break is a term that originated when Remilia became embarrassed since it breaks her charismatic appearance.

Games involved in: Embodiment of the Scarlet Devil, Perfect Cherry Blossom, Immaterial and Missing Power, Imperishable Night, Phantasmagoria of Flower View, Shoot the Bullet, Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, Mountain of Faith, Touhou Hisoutensoku

————————————

Flandre Scarlet (フランドール・スカーレット)

Other titles: Sister of the Devil, Diabolic Wave


Character Songs:

U.N Owen Was Her? (U.N.オーエンは彼女なのか?)

ZUN’s description of her character: Remilia’s much more destructive and insane little sister. So much so that she’s been confined to the basement and isn’t allowed to leave the mansion. Also a vampire and about 495 years old. Flan is the secret boss of the game and is probably more powerful than her sister.

Fanbase’s take on her character: …I think I read somewhere once that ZUN said that her wings were homemade, but I’m not 100% sure, so I’ll just put it in here. Her character song is extremely popular and was even used in a McDonald’s commercial in Japan (…though that might be why it’s popular now). It’s also a homage to Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” novel. Flan is usually depicted as bipolar to go along with her destructive tendencies.

Games involved in: Embodiment of the Scarlet Devil, Shoot the Bullet

————————————

There you have it. Obviously this isn’t anywhere close to being all of the characters, but those will come up in later posts. Hopefully this was enlightening (or at least distracted you from boredom for a short period of time). What are your thoughts on Touhou? Favourite characters? Favourite, er, spellcards? …Song remixes? Anyways, the next one will be about Perfect Cherry Blossom.

About

University student and the one at Metanorn who's known for wearing glasses. Likes blood, insanity and plot twists, but also plays otome games and adores cute romance anime. It balances out... somehow.
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62 Responses to “An Idiot’s Guide to Touhou – 01”

  1. Kitty says:

    NANI?! I love you!! Here I thought the Touhou were just a vocaloid with a different brand name. Like UTAU. First person shooter interesting! Loved Bad Apple btw. Totally learn something new everyday. Awesome post thank you!

    • Karakuri says:

      Er, it’s not actually a first person shooter, I messed up on that (it’s changed now). But yeah, you’re welcome!

  2. Balloon Thief says:

    Wow this is interesting. Five minutes ago I had no idea what Touhou but after that Danmaku of information I feel so much less nooblike. Also these games make shoot-em-up look positively easy. Plus the bullet hell could probably cause some people to have a seizure. Anyway… thanks for the info dump.

    • Karakuri says:

      Ahaha I did this for the noobs xD … yeah. I have a healthy amount of respect for anyone who can play hard mode or higher. I can barely manage normal without a severe headache. You’re welcome!

  3. Mushyrulez says:

    I DO NOT SEE NAMELESS MIDBOSS FAIRY HERE

    RE: Shooting games, maybe adding a ‘side-scrolling’ would clarify considerably. Considerably clarify. I like how you separate ZUN/fanbase comments, but (now I’m not one to speak here) maybe… shortening this up a tiny (read: major) bit would be nice? More of an introduction to the whole fanbase itself in one post rather than proceeding instantly to the characters. And honestly, who cares about Koakuma, anyways? :b

    Here’s what I would write:

    ‘Touhou is a side-scrolling shooter game made completely by one person, ZUN. Every character in the 18-game series is female except for a flying turtle and an angry cloud. The fanbase is fucking insane, which is good, because ZUN fucking sucks at drawing. The end.’

    P.S. should probably check up on those eyes, eyes bleeding is GENERALLY not a good thing to have be happening

    P.P.S. Actually I’d probably not write that

    • T.K. says:

      You mean Lily White?

    • Jrow says:

      Isn’t Top-Down Shooter the more appropriate term for this type of game given the viewpoint? I’ve only looked at the video and know as much as is written in Kara’s post.

      • T.K. says:

        Yes, the accurate genre names would be “top-down shooter” or “shoot ’em up” game. It’s quite fun and the best reason to play the games is for the BGM, some can make even the hardest boss fight survivable through rhythm alone.

        • Karakuri says:

          I think I read that it was described as a vertical scrolling shooter… Though I’m not exactly an expert on shooting games in general.

    • Karakuri says:

      … Who?

      Well I know when I first got into the series, I wanted to find out more about who the characters were more than watch 17 different versions of “Marisa Stole the Precious Thing”, thus the emphasis of the characters. Plus I’m not a huge expert on the fanbase, I just know the general info.

      LOL yeah. as much I respect the guy, I’m not a huge fan of his artwork.

  4. AsteriskCGY says:

    I met a friend who sets up these Touhou intro panels at conventions. He doesn’t go into much detail about the characters, but covers more about the fanbase itself.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV_pXtNnpuA
    He also has an awesome costume.

  5. tatsuya says:

    thank i’ve been searching for this ” Lunate Elf (ルーネイトエルフ)”

  6. The_Magus_Killer says:

    This was very informative. I’ve only brushed with Touhou lore when I read doujinshi about them (both SFW and NSFW, usually about Reimu and her armpits hehehe), and crossover fanfics on the net. XD

    • Yippy says:

      I’ve read a few Touhou doujins myself. Any interesting ones to recommend? SFW, of course…XD

    • Karakuri says:

      So it was useful? That’s good. …Lol 99% of the doujinshi I find are NSFW. I second the recommendation request!

      • The_Magus_Killer says:

        Let’s see:

        1. The King of Gensoukyo vs. Cirno (SFW doujin of evil!Rinnosuke being humiliated by Cirno)
        2. Yuuka vs. Byakuren (dunno what the story is all about, lots of fighting)
        3. When the wind blows (about the Moriya shrine or something, I think)

        These are the only SFW ones that are in my hard disk drive now. XD

  7. Raine says:

    I’m waiting till you get to the memes that the Touhou franchise has spawned. (them flash videos). And as for the characters, the tvtropes page can help. :)

    Addenum: There is but ONE guy in the Touhou franchise, the shopkeeper of Kourindou Rinnosuke.

    • Karakuri says:

      Ahaha I’ll get to that eventually xD … Though I think I’d die from old age before I finished if I went through all of them.

      Rinnosuke is the only human one (unless you want to count Byakuren’s dead brother) but like someone said above, there’s also a turtle and an angry cloud.

      • Raine says:

        Marisa is also human, only with magic. She even advertises herself as such. Alice is formerly a human before she opened the Grimoire.

        For the memes, just skim the notable ones IMO. Marisa Stole the Precious Thing, Overdrive, Cirno’s stupidity, the Ran Ran Ru phenomena, etc.

        Appreciate your post on the Touhou fanbase! (this of course coming from a fellow Touhou fan) :)

  8. T.K. says:

    Great tutorial post. Starting with the characters is a good idea since whatever content they spawned can be googled later with even more ease.

    The Touhou fanbase is great in terms of creative content but it has it’s ugly sides. The ironic part is that 80% of the present Touhou fans all became fans through these creations instead of through the games. I know I did.

    ESoD was ridiculous since you’re not allowed to fight Remilia in “EASY Mode”. The rest are much more forgiving, I suggest trying Perfect Cherry Blossom and Imperishable Night.

    • Yippy says:

      Count me in, I found out about Touhou from the fanart too. I thought it was some kind of anime or manga. A quick Wiki search dispelled that thought…

      Most of the games are for the PC, right?

      • T.K. says:

        Yes, all of them are for PC. Until now, there’s a total of 13 Touhou Project games by ZUN, but I’ve only managed to finish 3….

        • Yippy says:

          I see. Maybe I’ll try picking them up someday when I have the moolah. Not sure whether my dinosaur-era PC can handle them though. XD

    • Karakuri says:

      Ahaha thanks. I know that I had a hell of a time finding this stuff when I got into the franchise, so I wanted to make it easier for others.

      …Yeah, I fall into that category too. I came here through the music xD.

      AHAHAHA yeah, I’m not even past Patchouli yet so Remilia is out of the question. Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll try them out.

      • T.K. says:

        Try Mountain of Faith too, it is by far the prettiest Touhou game I’ve seen. (Autumn theme) Difficulty wise it’s between ESoD and PCB, I can’t beat Kanako Yasaka. XD

        Phantasmagoria of Flower View (9th in the series) is a 2-player based shooter so it isn’t as fun, and it is the easiest in the difficulty curve.

  9. Namika says:

    I didn’t really know a lot about the Tohou Project, even though I discovered something around a year ago. I really enjoy the music, it’s nice, intense and sometimes even epic :3 My absolute favorite track is “And then there were none”

    • Karakuri says:

      Yes, the music is quite awesome. I wish I could include all of the remixes and arrangements in here, but alas, space. Do you mean “U.N Owen was her?” that’s how I came to find out about touhou, so it’s one of my favourite tracks as well =3

      • Namika says:

        Yeah, that’s the one. I’m still confused about the name, so… >.> But that mix is great! *0*

  10. Fadeway says:

    I knew the gist of what Touhou was, including them being bullethell sidescrollers, but had never involved myself with the game or the franchise. I intended to, thinking it had some awesome backstory to go with the games, but from what I understand from the article it’s just a big fanbase with some interesting creations of its own and a game that, while perhaps good for its genre, lacks staples like complex plot or great characters. Not that those aren’t great on their own (and it looks like I can jump into some of the fanfiction without knowing the source material, if there really isn’t much info about the characters to be found in it), they can’t draw me to the franchise.

    • Karakuri says:

      Yeah, there’s no real complexity to the actual games (minus the bullets) as its popularity is pretty much due to the fans (and most of them probably haven’t even played the games). As long as you have a bit of background knowledge, I’d say that you wouldn’t even need to play the games to get the fanfiction.

  11. Jrow says:

    Bullet Hells are pretty fun to play when I go to the Animazement convention. iOs has a couple of Dodanpachi (sp?) games from Cave. I’d much rather play on iPad instead of a tiny 3.5″ iPhone screen.

    Do the girls have their own abilities, or is it just added lore to the Touhou games?

    • Karakuri says:

      Bullet Hells are fun~. Oh they have stuff like this for the iOs? I’ll have to check that out…

      Er, well the girls all have their own abilities that ZUN says they have, but that doesn’t really come into play. It’s only the rare case like with Sakuya, where she freezes time occasionally and your sprite along with it. …Or the bombs and bullet spread that the girls use change with who you’re playing as. It’s mostly just lore though.

    • Raine says:

      Yes they do have their own abilities, albeit it’s not as visible in the shooter games than in the fighting games. But play Immaterial and Missing Power, Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, and Unthinkable Natural Law and you’ll see their abilities come into play. (Sakuya throwing knives, Remilia throwing blood-colored spears, Patchy casting multiple element spells, Reimu being Reimu, etc.)

  12. Overcooled says:

    I knew most of the the basics already (that it’s bullethell, made by one guy, and full of dedicated fans that make amazing things)…but I knew next to nothing about the characters aside from their names before reading this. Awesome! Why do you think the fans are so dedicated to what seems like just an average game with characters who only say a handful of lines? o.o

    I don’t like the idea of dodging bullets all day, so I’ll probably never play it.

    • Karakuri says:

      I have absolutely NO idea why the fans are this dedicated. I read an explanation somewhere that said it’s because he gives the fans so much freedom with the characters (like in some cases, some of the unnamed characters have been named by fans and ZUN okay’d it).

      LOL yeah, I’d say that this game would give you a massive headache. I know it does that for me.

    • Raine says:

      There are the fighting games if the shooters are not your cup of tea, which play more or less like your typical doujin fighters.

  13. Alynn says:

    Everything I wanted to know about touhou and more. I never actually spent the energy to look up what touhou was exactly; I only knew that it was a bullethell with a lot of a characters. Dodging bullets kind of reminds me of Knights in the Nightmare. Maybe I’ll give touhou one day.

    • Karakuri says:

      Knights in the Nightmare? Is that another bullet hell? To tell you the truth, this is the only game series like this I’ve ever played. Yeah, give it a try.

  14. BlackBriar says:

    This is really interesting. Everything about the franchise was done by one man? I say he’s insanely talented. You’d rarely find someone who can cover most of anything at all (characters, art, music, scripting and game programming).

    My favorite characters based on your descriptions would be:

    Hakurei Reimu.
    Kirisame Marisa.
    Rumia
    Patchouli Knowledge.
    Izayoi Sakuya.
    Remilia Scarlet (I like her title: “Vampire of the Heavy Fog”).
    Flandre Scarlet.

    Rumia sounds like someone who would be fun to be around if it weren’t for the facts that she randomly attacks people for no reason and eats humans.

    We need to see more characters like Sakuya with skills like her knife throwing and time manipulation. They would double as body guards.

    More vampires?! *head desk* Nice. Today is a good day. And there are two of them. I was so happy that I nearly squealed.

    Remilia is a light eater? No way!! I find it hard to believe that any vampire can be a light eater. They’re addicted to the taste of blood and couldn’t stop feeding unless they’re full or they’ve drained their prey dry and are still hungry. In the anime version of Fortune Arterial, the vampire girl, Erika Sendou emptied a refrigerator full of blood packs and it still wasn’t enough to satisfy her thirst. She still (unwillingly because of her vampiric nature) wanted the blood of the guy she likes. Based on her name, which isn’t Japanese based and her appearance, Remilia is definitely European.

    Flandre looks like the deceiving type, the one who likes to work behind the scenes and watch the show from a distance. In anime and games, it’s mostly the younger sibling who is more destructive and insane. The yandere types. And this is funny because I recognized Flandre before knowing this game and her name due to crossing a bunch of random wallpapers and her homemade wings were what brought back the memories.

    • Raine says:

      Remilia claims to be the descendant of Dracula, coming as far as naming her spellcards with Tepes motifs. As for Flandre, she can’t control her abilities that’s why she has to be locked up. Not manipulative, just plain destruction. Imagine having the ability to see the “eye” of an object and crushing it with the mere closing of your fists. And not being able to control it. Yeah.

    • Karakuri says:

      ….LOL how did I know that you’d like the vampire sisters? Well from what I’ve gathered, Flan is a bit single minded when it comes to destruction, so I don’t think there’s any deep thinking there besides “KILL AHAHAHA”. …Though I think that’s what makes her appealing to me xD. Remilia would be more the type to plot and then watch from the sidelines.

  15. akagami says:

    First off, interesting post Karakuri! Arigato ^_^

    I first started to look up more on Touhou when I kept coming across lots of gorgeous fanart of Touhou characters, and was surprised to find out it was a shooter game.

    But wow, that video is crazy. I’ve played a couple of those shooter games in arcades and I always struggle to avoid enemy bullets (I would always fly into one, why didn’t I just stop flying around the screen?) The number of bullets flying around is insane. I would have last less than 5 seconds on that lunatic mode.

    But I just love all the fanart. Generally I follow certain artists and as a result don’t have many on any one specific topic/show (anime/manga/etc.) so Touhou is the one that I have from many different artists. Some of my favorites from the wallpaper folder I like are this one, this one, this one, and this one. At least now I know about some of the characters in my pics. Good art is good art, but it’s more meaningful when I know more about the subject ^_^

    • Karakuri says:

      D’awww thanks!

      No kidding. It’s hard to believe all of that came from a simple shooting game. …Well not so simple, but it’s a simple enough concept.

      …These games are insane. I can barely play medium OTL

      Yes, the fanart!!! That first one is gorgeous!!! And so is the third one. Agreed. I liked the art even more after I found out a bit more on the characters.

  16. Gecko says:

    This is a great tutorial post. I’ve been exploring the vocal arranges of Touhou for a while, but I’ve known about Bad Apple for almost two years.
    I’ve got to say, my favorite song from the fandom is “Four Seasons of Loneliness” by Tatsch (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsPTvCDOEuk). For some reason, it just stuck with me and I love it.
    Based on your descriptions of the characters, I think I would really like Marisa. I’m a hard worker like her. I’m not like BlackBriar, in love with the vampires.
    Now I just have to find those games. And play them.

    • Karakuri says:

      Oh yes, I love vocal arranges as well! I was thinking on doing a post based on them alone sometime in this series. I’m quite fond of Sakuya and Flandre, myself.

      Ahaha games are easy enough to find and good luck playing them!

  17. Amutofan123 says:

    Very informative post! I had the gist of what Touhou was, but never really delved into it. I knew it was a game, I’ve seen a bunch of art, listened to the music, and knew the names of some of the biggest characters, but that’s about it. Based on fanart though, I have to say… I enjoy Flandre.

    • Karakuri says:

      Yeah, that’s how I started too xD more information is always good though. Yeah, I like Flandre as well… Because she’s insane =3

  18. Rakuen says:

    I never really got into the fandom, but I’ve played all the Windows games and completed a few of them on Normal. I like the technical nature of the gameplay. I just wish I had the skills to keep up with it!

    This is literally the most I’ve read about Touhou in my life, and kudos to you to putting in all the time and effort to compile it. I’m looking forward to when you get to Imperishable Night. It’s the first one I played, and also my most played.

    As for favorite character, based on the descriptions so far, I think I’d have to go with Patchouli.

    • Karakuri says:

      You’ve completed some on normal? Waaay better than what I’ve accomplished on these games xD.

      Thanks~! I wanted to make something easy to follow for people. ESoD is my most played, but even now, I still can’t make it past Patchouli. Though maybe now that I’ve started playing them again, I’ll get better… in theory.

  19. Nate River says:

    “Her character song is extremely popular and was even used in a McDonald’s commercial in Japan”

    Actually, fans used the McDonald japanese commercial to make the touhou video. The original commercial had nothing to do with the touhou project.
    NOTHING.

    Sorry the fanboy in me just had a lil’ rage there.

  20. Moni Chan says:

    you can never go wrong with Touhou. I remember when I saw my dad playing it on the computer. It looked so awesome. ZUN is a genius

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