For the Wikia dedicated to this see: Touhou Project
The Touhou Project (東方Project Tōhō Purojekuto?, lit. Eastern Project), also known as Toho Project or Project Shrine Maiden, is a Japanese dōjin game series focused on bullet hell shooters made by the one-man developer Team Shanghai Alice, whose sole member, known as ZUN, is responsible for all the graphics, music, and programming for the most part. The series was inducted into the Guinness World Records in October 2010 for being the "most prolific fan-made shooter series". The Touhou Project began in 1996 with the release of the first game, Highly Responsive to Prayers, developed by the group Amusement Makers for the Japanese NEC PC-9801 series of computers. The next four Touhou games released between August 1997 and December 1998 also were released on the NEC PC-9801. The Touhou Project was inactive for the next three and half years until the first Microsoft Windows Touhou game, The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, was released in August 2002 solely by ZUN after he split from Amusement Makers and started Team Shanghai Alice. The Touhou Project became a media franchise spanning a steadily increasing number of official games, in addition to commercial fan books, light novels, and manga.
PC-98 predecessor games
The Touhou series of games started on the Japanese PC-98 series of computers and its first five entries are native to that platform; standard PC users are only capable of playing them through an emulator such as Anex 86. Also, the PC-9801 series of computers was already on the decline when these games were released. Because of this, they are not well known among players. The group making these games was called "Amusement Makers".
- Highly Responsive to Prayers (東方靈異伝 Tōhō Reiiden?, lit. "Wondrous Eastern Legend")
- The 1st game of the Touhou series, released in 1996. It is not a vertical top-down shooter like most other games in the series, and is similar to Arkanoid instead. Reimu Hakurei, the perpetual protagonist, was introduced in this game. Reimu Hakurei enters through the gateway into another world, intent on locating and punishing the one responsible for destroying her shrine. Players direct a yin yang orb with amulets to break away blocks and the level is over once all of them are gone. If the player runs out of time on a level, bullets will rain down until the player completes the level or dies. Bosses are defeated by hitting the orb into them until their life is fully depleted.
- Story of Eastern Wonderland (東方封魔録 Tōhō Fūmaroku?, lit. "Recorded Sealing of an Oriental Demon")
- The 2nd Touhou game released in August 1997 at Comiket 52. This is the first danmaku game of the series, and also marks the first appearance of Marisa Kirisame (here as the second-to-last boss), the second major player character of the series. The resident shrine maiden Reimu Hakurei returns from a training session in the mountains only to find the Hakurei Shrine overrun by a contingent of ghosts and yōkai. Excited at the opportunity to test her fledgling abilities, she takes the powerful Hakurei Yin-Yang Orbs and takes off on the back of her turtle Genjii to seek out the source of the invasion. The gameplay is generally the same as Eastern Wonderland throughout the rest of the series.
- Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream (東方夢時空 Tōhō Yumejikū?, lit. "Oriental Dream Dimensions")
- A two-player versus-type shooter similar to Twinkle Star Sprites, the game is labeled as the 3rd Touhou game, released in December 1997 in Comiket 53. Reimu Hakurei discovers that some mysterious ruins have suddenly appeared just outside of the Hakurei Shrine. She joins in a violent competition with the other people who want to explore them—it is said that the one who reaches the heart of the ruins first will win a fantastic prize.
- Lotus Land Story (東方幻想郷 Tōhō Gensōkyō?, lit. "Fantastic Home Village of the East")
- The 4th game of the series, released in August 1998 in Comiket 54. This game introduces the focus mode, a staple of the series hereafter, that slows the sprite's movement to facilitate dodging bullets. Following the events of the previous games, the magical land of Gensokyo is once again at peace until yōkai begin to swarm the Hakurei Shrine and a tremendous power surges from beneath a lake high in the mountains. The shrine maiden Reimu Hakurei once again seeks out and eliminate the source of the disturbance, only on this occasion she is unwittingly joined by an old rival. According to ZUN, only 200 to 300 copies of the game were sold at the time.
- Mystic Square (東方怪綺談 Tōhō Kaikidan?, lit. "Fantastic Eastern Tales of Romance")
- The 5th and final Touhou game for the PC-98, released in December 1998 in Comiket 55. Mima and Yuka, final bosses of The Story of Eastern Wonderland and Lotus Land Story respectively, return as playable characters in this game. As so often is the case in Touhou games, something is amiss within Gensokyo. A massive quantity of demons are pouring from a cave high within the mountains. Seeking the source of this invasion, Reimu Hakurei and co. must travel through Makai to confront the one behind the problem.
After Mystic Square, the Touhou Project became inactive for four years while its creator ZUN began to develop several music scores for the Seihou games. He then left the group and made Touhou games for Windows under his own group, Team Shanghai Alice. The playability of the Windows games was substantially improved compared to their PC-98 counterparts. Most dōjin works derived from the Touhou series are centered on these games.
- The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil (東方紅魔郷 Tōhō Kōmakyō?, lit. "Eastern Lands of the Scarlet Devil")
- This is the 6th Touhou game and the first on Windows. It greatly exceeded the PC-98 games graphically, switched from FM Synthesis to synthesized PCM music (with simplified midi as a fall-back), and was the first game to gather a substantial Western fanbase. The story, told by conversations between characters during interludes in the action, goes as such: the land of Gensokyo (setting of all the Touhou games) has been engulfed by a red mist, and its inhabitants no longer see the sun. As the miko Reimu Hakurei or the witch Marisa Kirisame, the player attempts to deal with the source of the mist, a mysterious figure called the Scarlet Devil.
- Perfect Cherry Blossom (東方妖々夢 Tōhō Yōyōmu?, lit. "Bewitching Eastern Dream")
- This is the 7th Touhou game. It is unusual among the recent releases in that the English and Japanese titles are not similar in meaning; its Japanese title could be rendered as Bewitching Dream. As the month turns to May, winter has lasted far longer than normal in Gensokyo, and the denizens begin to suspect foul play. As Reimu, Marisa or the new arrival Sakuya Izayoi, the player embarks on a search for those who are working to prevent spring's coming. Perfect Cherry Blossom continues the tradition of the Touhou games, the reappearance of former bosses as playable characters. Sakuya was the maid of vampire Remilia Scarlet, better known as the Scarlet Devil, and the player fought her three times in Embodiment of Scarlet Devil.
- Immaterial and Missing Power (東方萃夢想 Tōhō Suimusō?, lit. "Gathering Dreams in the East")
- This game was produced in collaboration with Twilight Frontier, and is the 7.5th Touhou game in the series. Despite being released after Imperishable Night, it is numbered 7.5 because the events in this game took place before those of Imperishable Night. Immaterial and Missing Power is a 2D fighting game instead of the usual scrolling shooter. Though Team Shanghai Alice was only responsible for the storyline and some of the music, the game was listed as one of the team's official works.
- Initially playable characters in this game include some of the characters from previous Windows games, such as the two protagonists Reimu Hakurei and Marisa Kirisame, Alice Margatroid, Youmu Konpaku (both bosses from Perfect Cherry Blossom), Sakuya Izayoi and Patchouli Knowledge (both bosses from Embodiment of Scarlet Devil). More characters become playable as the player finishes the story mode with the initially playable characters, and so on. An official patch to the game adds Hong Meirin (from Embodiment of Scarlet Devil) as a playable character, but she is not available in the story mode.
- Imperishable Night (東方永夜抄 Tōhō Eiyashō?, lit. "Eternal Night Vignette from the East")
- This is the 8th Touhou game. It was released at the Comiket 66 Convention in August 2004. This story's focus is on a rather more insidious evil than past games. Gensokyo's yearly event, the Moonviewing Feast, is only one dawn away, but someone seems to have replaced the moon with a fake that will not grow full. A team of human and phantom set out to remedy this before the night is over—the story says that the team the player selects is the only team heading out to investigate.
- Each of the usual playable characters gets a teammate from the non-human side of Gensokyo; in this entry. Reimu Hakurei allies with Yukari Yakumo, Yōkai of the Boundary; Marisa Kirisame with Alice Margatroid, Seven-Colored Puppeteer; and Sakuya brings her mistress, Remilia Scarlet. The new team is half-ghost Youmu Konpaku and full-ghost Yuyuko Saigyouji, end-bosses of Perfect Cherry Blossom. All the other characters (except Remilia) appeared in Perfect Cherry Blossom as well.
- Phantasmagoria of Flower View (東方花映塚 Tōhō Kaeizuka?, lit. "Oriental Flower Viewing Mound")
- This is the 9th Touhou game. It was released in August 2005 at the summer Comiket 68 convention. This game is a versus-type shooter like Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream, and has very different gameplay from the past three entries in the series. The story puts the characters in an investigation on why the flowers of Gensokyo are blooming out of season and more than usual. Initially playable characters include Reimu, Marisa and Sakuya as usual (as well as two other characters from previous games), but the list adds on as the player progresses in the storyline of each of the players.
- Shoot the Bullet (東方文花帖 Tōhō Bunkachō?, lit. "Oriental Cultural Album")
- This is the 9.5th game in the series. It was released at the Comiket 69 convention in December 2005. The game is meant to be the game version of the official fanbook, Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red. The player, as tengu reporter Aya Shameimaru, is tasked with taking pictures of bosses for her newspaper to clear successively more difficult stages. The game is unique in that the player has no standard shot or bombs; rather, the camera is the main method of offense and defense as it clears bullets from the screen. Scoring is based on the contents of each photo, boss location, number of bullets, and Aya's position. Notably, this is one of only three games in which Reimu Hakurei is not a playable character—in fact, she does not even appear as an enemy.
- Mountain of Faith (東方風神録 Tōhō Fūjinroku?, lit. "Eastern Wind God Chronicles")
- This is the 10th Touhou game. It was announced in early May 2007, and a trial version was released at the Reitaisai 4 convention on May 20, 2007. The full game was released on the first day of Comiket 72, August 17, 2007. Reimu receives an order to close down the Hakurei Shrine, or it will be torn down and the god of Yōkai Mountain will take it over. As either Reimu or Marisa, the player has to ascend to the top of Yōkai Mountain to find the god behind the happenings and prevent the shrine from being taken over.
- Scarlet Weather Rhapsody (東方緋想天 Tōhō Hisōten?, lit. "Eastern Skies of Scarlet Perceptions")
- This is the second versus fighting game similar to Immaterial and Missing Power and the 10.5th Touhou game by Team Shanghai Alice and Twilight Frontier. It was released on May 25, 2008. The storyline in the game revolves around the strange weather patterns occurring around Gensokyo and as the characters are chosen in the game, they must find out who is controlling it. This is the first game to introduce the card deck system and changing weather conditions that affects the gameplay during matches.
- Subterranean Animism (東方地霊殿 Tōhō Chireiden?, lit. "Eastern Palace of the Earth Spirits")
- This is the 11th Touhou game. It was announced on May 1, 2008. A demo was released at the Reitaisai 5 convention alongside the full version of Scarlet Weather Rhapsody. The full version was released on August 16, 2008 at Comiket 74. A mysterious geyser appears one day near the Hakurei Shrine, which also seems to spout evil spirits from underground. Reimu or Marisa go underground with the help of one of three yōkai (Yukari Yakumo, Suika Ibuki, or Aya Syameimaru for Reimu; Alice Margatroid, Patchouli Knowledge, or Nitori Kawashiro for Marisa) and stop the source of the geyser before things get far too out of hand.
- Undefined Fantastic Object (東方星蓮船 Tōhō Seirensen?, lit. "Star-Lotus Ship of the East")
- This is the 12th Touhou game. It was announced on February 26, 2009. A demo was released at the Reitaisai 6 convention on March 8, 2009, and the full version was released on August 15, 2009 at Comiket 76. Spring has come to Gensokyo and a magical flying ship that is said to bring good omen has appeared in the sky. The player assumes the role of either Reimu, Marisa, or Sanae Kotiya, who returns from Mountain of Faith, as the three girls race to board the vessel. While the separate bomb counter is back, the scoring system gets complemented by the "Undefined Fantastic Objects", or UFO's, that appear as traditional unidentified flying objects in three colors (green, red and blue) and must be collected in groups of three in order to get different bonuses.
- Touhou Hisōtensoku (東方非想天則 ～ 超弩級ギニョルの謎を追え Tōhō Hisōtensoku ~ Choudokyuu Ginyoru no Nazo wo Oe?, lit. "Lacking Perception of the Rule of Heaven in the East ~ Chase the Enigma of the Superdreadnought Guignol")
- The third versus fighting game and the 12.3rd Touhou game done by Team Shanghai Alice and Twilight Frontier. It was announced on July 23, 2009, and was released at Comiket 76 on August 15, 2009. The game introduces new spell cards and weather conditions as well as improved gameplay. Characters from Scarlet Weather Rhapsody can be played in versus mode if that game is installed. The story mode, which is playable with Sanae Kotiya, Cirno, and Hong Meirin, revolves around the silhouette of a giant creature, which piqued the interest of the denizens of Gensokyo. Both Sanae and Cirno's scenarios involve the investigation of the strange being and to find out who is controlling the strange giant. Meirin's scenario involves fighting a strange being in a dream who wanted to destroy the world. This is the only Touhou game in the series to not have an official English subtitle.
- Double Spoiler (ダブルスポイラー ～ 東方文花帖 Daburu Supoiraa ~ Tōhō Bunkachō?, lit. "Double Spoiler ~ Oriental Cultural Album")
- This is the 12.5th game in the series announced by ZUN on March 3, 2010. The game was released on March 14, 2010 at the Reitaisai 7 convention. The game focuses again on Aya Shameimaru and is meant as a sequel to Shoot the Bullet as it has a same gameplay style but adds new characters and spellcards.
- Fairy Wars (妖精大戦争 ～ 東方三月精 Yōsei Daisensō ~ Tōhō Sangessei?, lit. "Great Fairy Wars ~ Eastern Three Fairies")
- This is the 12.8th game in the series announced by ZUN on July 23, 2010. The game is the continuation of the Touhou Sangessei manga series and was released at Comiket 78 on August 14, 2010. Cirno is the main character of the game and the gameplay is focused on vertical shooting with the inclusion of the ability to freeze bullets.
- Ten Desires (東方神霊廟 Tōhō Shinreibyō?, lit. "Eastern Divine Spirit Mausoleum")
- This is the 13th game in the series. It was announced on February 28, 2011. A demo was slated for release at the Reitaisai 8 convention on March 13, 2011. However, the trial release was temporary canceled due to the Tōhoku earthquake. Reimu, Marisa and Sanae are once again playable as they were in the latest main installment in the franchise Undefined Fantastic Object joined by Youmu Konpaku as a fourth playable character.
In the shooting games, the player's bullet power increases on a linear scale as the player collects power-ups dropped by enemies, and eventually maxes out. The player can also collect 'point' icons to earn extra lives; the number needed grows exponentially as the player gains lives. The player can use 'focus', the shift key by default, which slows down the player's movement, makes the collision box visible and (generally; some characters are reversed) focuses the player's attack to make it more powerful. The graze counter, missing from Mountain of Faith and Story of Eastern Wonderland, tracks how many bullets entered the character sprite but avoided the collision box, and rewards the player with a score bonus for living on the edge.
The player can use a weapon called a 'spell card', which is similar to a 'bomb' in most other shooting games. While the player has a limited number, using one makes the user temporarily invulnerable and uses a special magical attack that generally clears the screen. Each character has two cards with different names and patterns. The player can use one during a short period after being hit by a bullet (known as the 'border between life and death') to avoid loss of a life, the amount of time the player has available to use the border is usually around 0.3 seconds. Bosses also have spell cards, but with bosses the term applies to a prolonged pattern of movements and shots that lasts until the player depletes the boss' health by a certain amount or the time runs out, not a one-shot attack.
Each individual game of the main series after Embodiment of Scarlet Devil has additional items that affect some aspect of gameplay, such as scoring or gaining extra lives/bombs. For example, Perfect Cherry Blossom has "cherry points", which are used mostly in scoring, but can grant temporary invulnerability (known as 'supernatural border'); Imperishable Night has "time points", which are essential to advancing to later stages, and also determine if the player gets to challenge a boss's 'final spell' on normal or higher difficulties; Mountain of Faith has 'faith' points, which help tabulate the score the player receives upon gathering point items and bonuses for clearing spell cards without dying or using a spell card.
Each Touhou game has four difficulty levels—easy, normal, hard, and lunatic—with each one being harder than the previous one. Regardless of difficulty choice, there are six stages in each game and each one is harder than the previous.
In addition to the four main difficulties, there is an extra stage which is a long and difficult stage in which players must play through hordes of enemies, bullets, and bosses. In order to reach the extra stage, one must beat the game on normal difficulty or higher without the use of a continue. The only games that allow players to reach the extra stage by completing the easy difficulty are Perfect Cherry Blossom and Imperishable Night. In terms of difficulty, the extra stage is around the normal or above difficulty levels. In Perfect Cherry Blossom, there is also a phantasm extra stage in which the enemies that were already once difficult in the extra stage have become even more challenging. Although the phantasm stage is aimed for the most experienced players, the difficulty is somewhere in between hard and lunatic. The phantasm stage is accessed by beating the extra stage and capturing at least 60 spells with any of the characters and weapon types combined.
The plots of the Touhou Project revolve around the strange phenomena that occur in the fictional realm of Gensokyo (幻想郷 Gensōkyō?, literally Illusion Village or Fantasy Village) in Japan. Long ago, it was a desolate place haunted by yōkai who preyed on lost wanderers in the area. Soon exorcists were sent into the area to resolve the yōkai problem, and they eventually settled in the area as a check on the yōkai. As human civilization advanced elsewhere, the power of yōkai began to diminish and they chose to seal Gensokyo away from the outside world as a haven for themselves.
As a result of the seal, the isolated community developed its own civilization. As opposed to the outside world, magical and spiritual qualities prevailed over science and while yōkai and humans coexist, they still fight with each other. The only known gateway from the outside world into Gensokyo is the Hakurei Shrine on the border of Gensokyo. However, the seal has weakened and more humans are able to wander into Gensokyo from the outside. Things disappearing from the outside world such as extinct animals and vanishing traditions tend to show up in Gensokyo.
With its focus on bishōjo characters, the Touhou series possesses a large cast compared to other shooting games. While they aren't developed nearly to the standards of a story-based game, many players love them, and even obscure stage bosses who only appear once have a fanbase. One example is Hong Meirin, affectionately known as Chūgoku (China), the stage 3 boss of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, who won a popularity contest in Japan out of all Touhou characters. Among the vast array of characters, only six named characters are male. One (Genjii) is a turtle, one is a cat (Sokrates), two (Youki Konpaku and Myouren Hijiri) are only mentioned in passing, one (Rinnosuke Morichika) is only featured in the serialized novel, and the last (Unzan) is a cloud-like entity.
Though each game features a collection of different characters, the main character of the games is always Reimu Hakurei, joined by Marisa Kirisame after the second game. The only games where this is not the case are Shoot the Bullet and Double Spoiler; Aya Shameimaru is playable on both, and Hatate Himekaidou can become playable in Double Spoiler. The same thing applies in Fairy Wars, which has Cirno as the main playable character.
The Touhou Project is a one-man project by a Japanese game maker, ZUN, who does all the graphics, music, and programming alone, with the exception of the dual effort with Twilight Frontier in Immaterial and Missing Power, Scarlet Weather Rhapsody and Touhou Hisōtensoku.
The idea of Touhou first came to ZUN during his high school years, when shrine maiden-themed games were in the minority. "It would be nice to make shrine maiden games," he thought, and often imagined the music that would go with such games. He went to college, hoping to compose music for fighting games, since they were popular at the time due to Street Fighter II. However, he decided that in order to put his music into games, it would be easier to make his own game to go with it, thus the first Touhou game, Highly Responsive to Prayers, was released in 1996. The first game was originally intended as a practice in programming. Touhou only became a shooting game series starting from the second game, because the popularity of shooting games had revived due to RayForce and ZUN had long been a fan of such games. ZUN remarked how the general theme and direction of Touhou only started coming together in the sixth game, Embodiment of Scarlet Devil.
ZUN develops his games with Visual Studio, Adobe Photoshop, and Cubase SX, according to his interview in Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red.
In addition to dōjin games, Team Shanghai Alice has also expanded the Touhou universe into other media.
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Books, manga, novel
- Curiosities of Lotus Asia (東方香霖堂 Tōhō Kōrindō?, lit "Eastern Hall of the Perfumed Rain")
- Written by ZUN himself, Curiosities of Lotus Asia is a story published in installments. First it was published in the Colorful Puregirl magazine, but was moved to Magazine Elfics of the BiBLOS company after the discontinuation of the former. However, as BiBLOS went bankrupt, the series was moved again. Finally, it was published in the magazine Dengeki Moeoh between the August and December 2007 issues. In addition, some installments of Curiosities of Lotus Asia were published on the Elnavi website. A compilation was released on September 30, 2010 by ASCII Media Works. The protagonist Rinnosuke Morichika is the only humanoid male character shown in Touhou.
- Touhou Sangessei (東方三月精 lit. Oriental Moonlight Fairy Trio?)
- Touhou Sangessei is a manga being published in Comp Ace, a Japanese comic magazine. The story centers around three fairies and their daily mischiefs, adventures, and chance meetings. The base story is written by ZUN, and the art is drawn by selected dōjin mangaka. The first part, Eastern and Little Nature Deity, is drawn by Nemu Matsukura. Starting May 2006, Matsukura stopped drawing the manga for health reasons, and that responsibility was given to Makoto Hirasaka. Thus a second version of Touhou Sangessei is published, titled Strange and Bright Nature Deity. In January 2009, Strange and Bright Nature Deity ended and was replaced by the third part, titled Oriental Sacred Place in May 2009, still drawn by Makoto Hirasaka. The fourth continuation, titled Fairy Wars, was released as a game on August 14, 2010.
- Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red (東方文花帖 Tōhō Bunkachō?, lit. "Oriental Cultural Album")
- Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red is the official fanbook of the Touhou series. The book includes mock newspaper articles by Aya Shameimaru, an interview of ZUN, and a compilation of some dōjinshi. A CD-ROM is attached to the back cover, and in it are new music tracks by ZUN, a demo of Phantasmagoria of Flower View, and a wallpaper of the book's cover.
- Seasonal Dream Vision (東方紫香花 Tōhō Shikōbana?, lit. "Violet Flowers and Incense of the East")
- Seasonal Dream Vision is an anthology of dōjinshi published by Tora no Ana. Also included is ZUN's short story related to Phantasmagoria of Flower View and a CD of various rearrangements of his music.
- Perfect Memento in Strict Sense (東方求聞史紀 Tōhō Gumonshiki?, lit. "Desired Oral Histories of the East")
- Perfect Memento in Strict Sense is a guide and bestiary of Gensokyo, as told by Hieda no Akyu. It was released in late December 2006, published by Ichijinsha, but was originally slated for August of that year. A manga that uses the story's premise is published in the December 2006 issue of the Comic Rex magazine.
- Touhou Bōgetsushō (東方儚月抄 lit. Eastern Ephemeral Moon Vignette?)
- Touhou Bōgetsushō is a continuation of the story from Imperishable Night. It consists of a manga, a novel, and a yonkoma serialized in three Ichijinsha magazines. The manga Silent Sinner in Blue began serialization in the Comic Rex magazine in the July 2007 issue. Drawn by Aki Eda, the manga focuses on the human characters Reimu and Marisa. The novel Cage in Lunatic Runagate was serialized in the quarterly Chara Mel magazine, debuting on June 25, 2007. It is illustrated by Tokiame, and the plot being a deep submersion into the manga, taking a non-human perspective. Finally, the yonkoma The Inaba of the Moon and the Inaba of the Earth (月のイナバと地上の因幡 Tsuki no Inaba to Chijō no Inaba?), illustrated by Arata Toshihira, is a light-hearted discursion from the main story, featuring Reisen and Tewi Inaba. It debuted in the August 2007 issue of the Manga 4-koma Kings Palette magazine, which was sold on June 22, 2007.
- Grimoire of Marisa (グリモワール オブ マリサ Gurimowaru obu Marisa?)
- Grimoire of Marisa is a book purported to be Marisa Kirisame's notebook recording the noteworthy spell cards that she has encountered. It is written by ZUN and illustrated by Takeshi Moriki for the contents and Genji Asai for the cover. It was published in July 2009.
- Wild and Horned Hermit (東方茨歌仙 Tōhō Ibarakasen?)
- Wild and Horned Hermit is a manga which started serialization on July 24, 2010 in volume one of Ichijinsha's Chara Mel Fabri. Written by ZUN with art by Aya Azuma, it introduces the new character Kasen Ibara.
Reception and fanworks
A prodigious amount of derivative works based on Touhou have been created since the release of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil. These include dōjinshi, dōjin music, MAD movies, dōjin anime, and dōjin games (even though the Touhou games themselves are dōjin games). The vast scope of Touhou derivatives prompted commentary, noting that Touhou Project became an unmissable aspect of Japanese consumer generated media. ZUN, for the most part, had acknowledged, appreciated, and even encouraged these derivative works by imposing very few restrictions on the use of his works. The major restrictions are on unauthorized commercial distribution (as opposed to dōjin) and the spoiler of endings; proper attribution to Team Shanghai Alice is a recommendation.
In terms of publication volume, there were no circles publishing Touhou derivative works at Comiket 64 in August 2003. The first recent publication of such works occurred during December 2003, following the release of Perfect Cherry Blossom; seven circles sold Touhou derivative works at Comiket 65 in December 2003. As of Comiket 74 in August 2008, a total of 885 circles were scheduled to have Touhou derivative works on display or for sale, out of a total of 35,000 circles participating at Comiket.
The dōjin games based on Touhou include adaptations of other game series' mechanics with Touhou characters, such as Super Marisa Land and Super Marisa World (parodies of the Mario games with the titles being a play on Super Mario Land and Super Mario World, respectively), MegaMari (based on the Mega Man series), and Touhou Soccer (based on the Captain Tsubasa games by Tecmo). Touhou's music is also very popular and many arrangement CDs can be found for sale at Comiket and other Japanese conventions.
These dōjin activities are mostly responsible for adding original attributes to characters that ZUN may not have intended. For example, Alice Margatroid is described in the original games as aloof and rarely caring much about others, while in dōjin she is a fragile and oversensitive girl who desperately seeks Marisa's affection. Yuri pairings are prevalent among Touhou dōjinshi. Japanese fans have a habit of giving their favorite characters nicknames, often based on in-references. Hong Meirin is "Chūgoku" (China), Yuyuko Saigyouji is "Yuyu-sama", Ran Yakumo is "Tenkō", and so on.
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The original "Yukkuri shite itte ne!!!" Shift JIS art.
Among the most popular derivatives are the series of Flash videos created by the dōjin music circle IOSYS. Many of them, most notable of which is "Marisa Stole the Precious Thing", are popular on otaku internet forums and Nico Nico Douga. A major internet meme that grew out from the Touhou fandom is "Yukkuri shite itte ne!!!" (ゆっくりしていってね!!!?, often translated as "Take it easy!!!"), involving Touhou characters as disembodied bun-heads, which originated from a disfigured attempt to draw the main characters Reimu and Marisa with Shift JIS art. They were so popular that the phrase "Yukkuri shite itte ne!!!" won bronze for 2008's "Net Slang of the Year" in Japan. The bun-heads, which became known as "yukkuri", also appear in Internet advertisements, the anime Natsu no Arashi! and Pani Poni Dash!, and most notably, the front page of 2channel, the largest Internet forum in the world.
The Touhou Project was nominated for the eleventh annual Media Arts Plaza awards held by Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs, under the Entertainment category. However, Nintendo's Wii Sports was given the Grand Prize award and Touhou Project failed to win any awards.
An animated project, Anime Tenchou x Touhou Project (アニメ店長 x 東方Project (working title)?), is being produced by Ufotable in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Japanese goods chain, Animate. It will combine the world of Touhou with Animate's mascot, Meito Anizawa, who has previously appeared in the Lucky Star anime series. ZUN posted on his Twitter account that the anime is a derivative so he does not know the details of it nor is he involved in the anime's production.
The Hakurei Shrine Reitaisai (博麗神社例大祭 Hakurei Jinja Reitaisai?, Hakurei Shrine's Regular Grand Festival) is the largest of the many dōjin conventions hosting only Touhou content. Although the coordinator of this convention has nothing to do with Team Shanghai Alice officially, the name "Hakurei Shrine Reitaisai" was given by ZUN himself. It first started in the year 2004 as a way for Team Shanghai Alice to publicly distribute the trial version for their upcoming games to the fans well in advance of releasing them on the internet; in addition, the 2004 Reitaisai featured a total of 114 participating circles. Since then, many Touhou derivative works are also gathered and sold there. Commencing every year in April or May, the convention has been hosted in Ōta, Tokyo in 2004; Naka-ku, Yokohama in 2005; Sunshine City, Tokyo in 2006 and 2007; and the Tokyo Big Sight in 2008 and after. The year 2010 saw the birth of Reitaisai SP, an additional Reitaisai to be held every autumn due to increasing popularity. The 2011 Reitaisai was temporarily canceled due to safety concerns after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. It was later rescheduled and held on May 8, 2011 with approximately 4,940 participating circles.
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