Forum › Koumakyou discussion

joined Nov 11, 2010

Gotta respect Tohonifun's stuff. They really embody the spirit of Touhou doujin. This was a pretty damned amazing read, even if I wasn't quite satisfied with the ending/epilogue. To be able to spend 184 pages just digging into the heart of Reimu's character is an incredible blessing as a fan.

Also, just a minor note on the afterword, but damn, this mangaka gets it. Maybe it's because it also took me like a year after I got into Touhou to realize it but I just love it when I see others realizing how cute Patchouli is. It's like an awakening or something, from initially just one of the sub-inhabitants of the Koumakan to suddenly one of the best girls of the series. But anyway, that doesn't have much to do with the story this time so anyway, good stuff.

joined Apr 10, 2013

Well... There exists three sides of Touhou. The serious canon, the comedic canon & fanon, and the fanon. They have the same characters, personality that changes, and stories that differs. Why there are three sides, we look at it differently. But what really made my head flexible is that fact that TOUHOU AND GENSOKYO ACCEPTS EVERYTHING. I am jealous of the fact that ZUN creates this beautiful universe. Paru paru~

Be it ignoring the law of gravity, physics, or anything. After all, science denies the Land of Illusion. While we could accept Gensokyo, we could only accept it to a certain degree.

Anyways, whenever I find a Touhou doujin that has the world of serious canon, I expect everything. Through breaking the fourth wall, to just being plain badass and still ignoring the common sense. But doujin such as this, it gives a really large impression that Reimu is a monster. I hate it when characters are depicted (fanon or canon) as monsters. While entertaining sometimes, they become a pitiful existence whenever I think about it.

Otherwise ignoring my long rant about the portrayal of Reimu in this doujin, the one thing I have to say is that DAMN! THOSE ARE SOME DELICIOUS EXPRESSION THAT THE EOSD CAST ARE MAKING! Rumia is charismatic in this one so that make me happy~

joined Apr 10, 2013

Okay. I read the second chapter. I really love the fact that the author and I had the same line of thought with the "pitiful existence" of Reimu in this creation.

Other fact is that EX-Rumia was really awesome. She didn't have her usual "Is that so~" words so that felt kinda weird.

joined Feb 2, 2013

i always loved this circle, these were probably the first touhou's fan-works i read,
yukari vs ran is great, but this is the best, especially if one read wriggle VS SDM first

Sylphs are water elementals, why id sylph horn an earth card, just me nitpicking, but yeah, that grinds my gears on a 1:1 ratio.

joined Sep 15, 2014

Sylphs are water elementals, why id sylph horn an earth card, just me nitpicking, but yeah, that grinds my gears on a 1:1 ratio.

Actually Sylphs are wind/wood elementals. Undines are water elementals.

joined Jan 19, 2017

This is... it's rare to see doujins which tell a whole story. I've never seen such a bleak depiction of Reimu's role either. Major props for the artistic use of black boxes. When I went through those panels the first time, they gave me a weird feeling, like something wasn't quite right with the scene, but I didn't think there was so much being covered up.

I feel the ending was a tad abrupt and the shift in Reimu desperately trying to cope to accepting help wasn't conveyed well enough. But everything else, it made me really sad for her.

joined Oct 1, 2020

This is an interesting, complicated work. Reimu is one of Touhou's most interesting characters to be sure, a protagonist who's got the traits of a final boss and only grows more mysterious the more you learn about her. When ZUN himself admits that he's not always certain what goes through her head, you know you've got the perfect character for fanworks. This is a story fanatically dedicated to analyzing Reimu, and though I'm not a big fan of her characterization here, I must admit that it's intense as hell.

I love the way the metanarrative of Reimu as a videogame protagonist seeps into her position in Gensokyo at large, especially since even canon Reimu seems to be aware that she's the lead character in a story and will always resolve the incident, which is why she never really needs to work (although this contrasts with the endless deaths one shall suffer while actually playing a Touhou game, which could be described as the process of infinitely polishing yourself until you align with the ideal of the Eternal Shrine Maiden). Reimu is described as Taoist in her approach to life, always aware of a fundamental 'way' that guides her to victory, but perfect protagonists get boring very easily, and hence everyone who writes Reimu needs to give her some flaws. Where I think the fans differ from ZUN is that while ZUN gives Reimu personal failings, a lack of insight, bad impulse control or various other human flaws, the fans often critique Reimu's position itself, seeing what she represents as a restrictive, empty shell that stunts her personal identity and stops her from being a person (indeed, I recall reading a doujin that actually made her a machine).

While this is a natural, compelling and interesting way to engage with Reimu (particularly for dark or angsty fanworks), I feel like many of them, this one included, lean too much into Reimu as a symbol instead of her as a person. Time and time again, they reuse the hackneyed plot point of Who is Reimu Hakurei, the person? and strive to establish some kind of shrine maiden vs. regular human binary. It's a bog-standard setup used for internal drama across fiction- just swap shrine maiden with 'king' or 'superhero' or 'actor', and have someone exposit about performativity and appearances versus reality.

But what makes Reimu so interesting, at least to me personally, is that she doesn't fit into this simple binary, and that she rarely angsts about her role versus her personality. Most of her dilemmas are played for comedy, such as the classic yokai miko complaint, but Reimu doesn't lose her humanity or get ostracised or stoned by the villagers like so many fanworks depict- she's simply seen as eccentric, and is rather poorer than she'd like to be. She doesn't need to make any grand sacrifices or explain herself to anyone, but neither is she someone who's organized enough to lead a balanced life. The fun thing about Reimu is that she eludes definition in every sense, behaving in ways so immensely unpredictable that they can't even be called unpredictability, because you gradually start to see an odd sort of logic shining through. She's not deranged and she's not composed, not a conformist and not a contrarian, not trying to be rebellious, but not avoiding it either. The harder you try to assign an adjective to her, the more exceptions you'll find, and while fanworks are fundamentally subjective, Reimu is one of those few characters who would seem completely and totally different even when written by the same author (ZUN himself being the biggest example).

Fundamentally, you don't learn to write Reimu or draw up a list of traits or figure out her core appeal- you look at a piece of paper, stare up at this misty, ambiguous red-white entity, and strive to grasp some corner of her essence that you might oversimplify and whittle down into a clear three-act story arc. This story's take on Reimu is what you get when you try and cram every single one of her traits into a psychoanalytical profile and figure out what makes her 'tick'- a reductive, unrealistic caricature who's turned into the dreary snapshot of a system, a clumsy attempt to create a grand theory of Gensokyo and figure out where the Hakurei variable fits. But in trying to explore Reimu's hidden depths, the story misses out on one of the most obvious aspects of her character- as ZUN so neatly puts it, "She's carefree on the outside, but deep down, she's even more carefree."

Reimu is complex precisely because she's simple, fascinating precisely because she's plain- the homogenizing, unifying tendency to turn people into character profiles won't work on her, because she's random and capricious in a way that only a real person can be. And this is something that characterizes Touhou as a whole- ZUN doesn't write his characters as anime archetypes, but as people, who'll preach something in the morning, contradict it in the afternoon, forget about it by noon, dream about flowers at night, repeat the cycle next morning, and then do something completely different the day-after-tomorrow. They dodge tropes as easily as they dodge danmaku, laughing at your puny classifications while firing hundreds of contradictions back, and Reimu, whose very power is to float away from reality, has turned this into an art form designed solely to torment every artist who ever tries to paint a portrait of her.

In conclusion, what this story misses about Reimu is that she's not a faceless puppet occupying the role of the Hakurei miko who needs Marisa to constantly remind her of why she's her own person. Reimu is individuality itself, the very essence of uniqueness, who doesn't inhabit a position, but makes it her her own. She is the shrine maiden, but what other shrine maiden has befriended yokai, created the spellcard system, beaten gods and gone to the underworld because of food poisoning? Who could ever hope to imitate Reimu or embody her brilliance, both within the world of Touhou and in the wider cultural sphere beyond it? Reimu isn't a shadow- if anything, she becomes more fascinatingly multifaceted the longer the Touhou project goes on, because each page gives her a new memory, a new identity, a new photograph to add to the collection, endlessly complicating and expanding her legacy. In being so fiercely fictional and devoted to entertainment and fun, she embodies reality itself. "Who is Reimu Hakurei?" a thousand fanworks might ask, but the response, now and always, will simply be, "Reimu is Reimu." We can't imagine her being anyone else, even if it's a version of herself that she was five seconds ago.

This has been a pretty long post, but I hope I've been able to illustrate the appeal of Reimu's character (or anti-character), and how it represents the ethos of the Touhou franchise as a whole. Of course, that ethos also declares that every fanwork is legitimate, and this is a particularly good one, precisely because it makes you think. I could never have expressed my feelings about Reimu in a spontaneous debate or conversation, because there'd be way too much data to sift through, way too many examples to select and analyze. But by boiling her down to such a simple, compelling set of core traits and ideas, this story allowed me to craft clear counterarguments and develop my own stance. It helped me gain an understanding of a well-loved character precisely because it presented me with such a different, unique take on her, and that is something only doujinshi can do. They're fascinating precisely because they take risks, using the central pillar of a story or a universe to express a fan-author's individuality, and by moving away from the source, they help us go full circle, appreciating both the deviation and the origin. By that criterion, this doujin is a moving, brilliant, thought-provoking masterpiece, and I'm grateful I came across it.

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