10 Things You Didn’t Know about Touhou Project

Touhou Project is centered around a series of bullet hell games created by a one-man team called Team Shanghai Alice. Over the course of its existence, it has managed to build up an impressive fan base, which has spurred on the creation of countless official and un-official products. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about Touhou Project:

1. Core Touhou Games Are Bullet Hell Games

The main series of Touhou games are bullet hell games. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, bullet hell games are shooters in which the player has to dodge a huge number of projectiles on the screen. Part of their charm comes from their difficulty and part of their charm comes from the spectacle created by the sheer number of projectiles packed into the same screen.

2. Fighting Game Spinoffs

There have been more than one Touhou spinoff. However, the most prominent might be the fighting games, which make perfect sense because Touhou has a colorful cast of characters that are natural fits for fighting games.

3. Creative Fan Base

Touhou has a very creative fan base, which has produced a wide range of Touhou products. Examples range from full-fledged albums based on the series’s music to a remarkable number of Touhou fan-games that cover a much wider range of genres than their official counterparts. At one point in time, a particularly enthusiastic group of fans even released an un-official Touhou anime.

4. Created By ZUN

As stated earlier, Team Shanghai Alice is a one-man team consisting of ZUN, which would be the pen-name of Jun’ya Ota. For the most part, ZUN is a rather reclusive individual. However, it is known that he is very fond of beer, which is something that he shares with more than one of the characters that he has created.

5. ZUN’s Art Isn’t As Good As His Music

Since he is a one-man team, ZUN is the one does everything from programming the Touhou games to doing the art and writing the music. Unfortunately, while ZUN’s music is considered to be quite good by the Touhou fan-base, his artwork tends to be regarded with more of a sense of amusement because, well, suffice to say that everything will become very clear once interested individuals see it. With that said, some have suggested that Touhou’s artwork has actually spurred on the fan-base’s creative efforts because they see it as something that they can improve upon.

6. Set in Gensokyo

The setting for Touhou is a place called Gensokyo that was separated from the rest of the world to serve as a home for supernatural entities that are struggling to maintain themselves outside. Due to this, the bulk of Gensokyo’s inhabitants are either humans or youkai, which is a term that refers to a wide range of Japanese demons, spirits, and monsters. However, there are other supernatural entities as well, which include but are not limited to deities, vampires, and even a local Yama.

7. The Main Protagonist Is Reimu Hakurei

Touhou’s main protagonist is a shrine maiden named Reimu Hakurei, who is responsible for maintaining the barrier that separates Gensokyo from the outside world. Character-wise, Reimu treats everyone from normal humans to Shinto deities with the same lack of particular respect and particular disrespect. She is dutiful when she is on the job, but she has been known to show signs of disgruntlement from time to time, which is unsurprising when the shenanigans pulled by the other inhabitants of Gensokyo often means more work for her.

8. The Deuteragonist Is Marisa Kirisame

Numerous characters have been playable in Touhou games. However, if there is a deuteragonist, it would be Marisa Kirisame. In short, Marisa is a human magician who is diligent, rowdy, and more than a little bit impulsive. Magic-wise, she is all about flashiness, which explains why her signature attack is a huge laser called the Master Spark.

9. Disputes Are Settled Through a Formalized Dueling System

For the most part, disputes in Gensokyo are settled through a formalized dueling system that makes it possible for the weak to win against those who are much stronger than them, which was essential for securing buy-in from a wide range of entities. Moreover, said system is a way for participants to show off their magic, their science, or whatever other capabilities are responsible for producing the torrent of projectiles that can be found in Touhou games.

10. The Lore Can Get Kind of Dark

With that said, the lore for Gensokyo can get rather dark. Official materials never delve into the matter in extensive detail, but they have never shied away from the fact that a lot of youkai are not exactly very friendly towards humans. For example, there is a truce in Gensokyo that youkai are not permitted to kill inhabitants of the main human settlement while said individuals are forbidden from turning themselves into youkai. However, humans from the outside who wander into Gensokyo are explicitly not included in the truce, meaning that they need to count on the luck of running into someone friendly rather than a man-eating monster.


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