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|Dissecting the Mysteries of Pseudo-Paradise|
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The purpose of this thread is to gauge current theories and opinions with regards to the story of the C62 version Dolls in Pseudo-Paradise. To that end, I’ll start things off by reiterating various facts and conclusions that are probably already pretty well-circulated.
1. To start with, Label Girl and Jacket Girl— the girls on the album’s label and jacket, respectively, as well as the associated discs (found here https://postimg.cc/gallery/Tb0G9h2 just in case). Probably the most obscure thing that’ll show up here, though that isn’t saying much, and I’m sure plenty of you know about them already.
I personally believe they are the Pierrot and Shrine Maiden spoken of in the story, though unfortunately little evidence exists to back up that claim besides their existence in of itself. The one point of interest here is a sprite set in the EoSD cutting room floor (found here https://postimg.cc/7GhpTTpp for the unaware) that seems to bear resemblance to Jacket Girl, which was later replaced by Rumia in the final version. This is also consistent with the C62 version of the DiPP story being replaced by the popular version, possibly implying that the C62 version is no longer canon, which would kinda render this discussion moot, but... it’s worth bringing up all the same.
2. All evidence points to the most cowardly being the pierrot, so that isn’t exactly earth-shattering. Her personality is a bit harder to parse. She seems to be deeply in denial about her actions as the pierrot even up to the point of her second suicide attempt, to the point where she doesn’t seem to remember her actions at all. Sometimes though, she openly admits to herself that her humanity is lost, only to revert back later. We’ve seen incomplete “baby” youkai in the form of tsukumogami and the unnamed kutsutsura, so could this be the human-turned-youkai equivalent? Or am I overthinking it?
3. The fact that the pierrot is seemingly able to leave freely at the end of the story would imply one of two things— that there are weak points in the barrier that youkai can travel through, or that the story predates its creation. The former seems incredibly unlikely, as the shrine maiden in the story is openly aware of it and doesn’t bother stopping her (a newly-born and violent youkai seems like the exact worst thing that you could ever let cross the barrier, after all). The latter would mean that the shrine maiden in question isn’t Reimu, which would otherwise leave the role open for Label Girl barring one big issue...
4. ”Seems like I saw a shrine maiden at some point. Was I just imagining it?
By the way, was her hair really that blonde?”
This quote is the biggest reason I have for making this thread in the first place. Was the shrine maiden a hallucination? If so, why dod the most beautiful see it too? Could it have been sort of illusion, maybe a deception on the part of the pierrot or some other youkai? Or was the shrine maiden of this time period really blonde, therefore throwing Label Girl and Jacket Girl out of the equation entirely?
5. Oh, and one more thing— the “mad” person the early riser accuses at U.N. Owen Was Her? may have been the most wary of the eight, since he prepares the food/drink and seems pretty off. If the original text didn’t use gender-neutral pronouns, that would explain the misgendering pretty well (though I can’t read Japanese so I can’t comment on that).
That’s everything I’ve got so far. What are your guys’ thoughts?
My view on the story of DiPP, putting aside DiPP's lack of relevance canon-wise :
Let's sum thing up a bit :
Curious one : seems like he was going to be handed the jewelled branch of hourai, died
Earliest riser : sees shrine maiden dancing, shrine maidens eventually disappears, rain falls
Beautiful one : rain becomes storm, went away with the pierrot, not mentionned if dead
Youngest one : snuck away from the party, died
Cowardly one : ran away, he wasn't expecting to see his loved one anymore, hanged himself, didn't die, says he was reborn & still going to pretend to be human
Wisest one : the group has been captured by the pierrot, the 4 others planned to escape and succeded, died like a dumb dumb
Remaining 4 : escaped into an western style building in the forest
Most mature one : drink his tea which seemed to taste different from usual, died, falling in love with a beautiful clown
Most wary one : heard noises of a spike being pounded into a tree, then realised later he was nailed to the tree, died
Earliest riser : on his last moments after eating suspicious food, dies
The one who was reborn : hang himself again
Various comments regarding the soundtrack themselves were put aside, cuz it's not certain if they are relevant to the story or not, and may only add confusion
So, basically, It's the story of a bunch of "honest men" who were formerly thieves trying to start a new life in a paradise-like place, but they get picked of one by one by a suspicious pierrot
The number of honest men still decreases when the beautiful one goes away with the pierrot, despite there being no mention off them getting killed by the pierrot or not
But putting that aside, here's the thing : all of the stories seems to be told from the point of view of whoever is experiencing them, until they die anyway, and they're expected to be true because they're being told by honest people ... but by the end, it becomes quite clear that the pierrot, who killed everbody, was part of the group to begin with ... in other words, one person is not honest, and one story is therefore probably wrong, a lie. The story of the beautiful one sticks out as it is not mentionned that the beautiful one was killed or not, just that they went away with the pierrot ... but what if this was the lie and the beautiful one did not go with the pierrot but was the pierrot and just went away from the group before picking them off ? Latet in the story, the earliest riser mention that one of them should have killed X when they went mad ... if X was the beautiful one and was indeed mad, then their story about going away with the pierrot holds no credibility whatsoever ... long thing short, the beautiful one's story is a lie, and the beautiful one is the pierrot.
About the beautiful one ... in his last moments, the earliest riser asks himself if she was always this blonde. By this point everyone's gender is uncertain, and there is an assumption that he was refering to the shrine maiden since he was reminiscing of her quite a bit before (to which I disagree for the following reason), and the shrine maiden herself notes in her diary that from the neglected western-style mansion in located in the forest came out a beautiful blonde girl, and that from the group of 8 honest men, 1 was actually a girl. So what I'm saying is that aside from being the pierrot, the beautiful one is the blonde lady that the earliest riser saw in his last moments.
So we have this beautiful blonde girl who came out from a neglected western-style mansion located in the forest, who seemed to have been compared to a doll at one point, and having killed someone with some kind of voodoo technique at another point ... that's like the perfect profile for Alice Margatroid ...
A few additionnal point could be added to further conciliate Alice Margatroid and the beautiful one, for example their familiarity with outside world stuff, as the beautiful one's "friends" (and herself since she's part of the group) as they would have tea and eat not-so japanese food such as eggs and ham, while Alice's dolls seems to be named after outside world locations. There is also the regular mention or even the presence of a hanged doll by Alice's side, quite reminiscent of the cowardly one / the one who was reborn's end : as the only honest man who wasn't killed by the pierrot (and probably even saved from the first hanging), maybe there's a certain sense of fondness for this one or something ? And there is also Alice being quite comfortble around Marisa, who is a thief (quite a prevalent part of the setting back in the time)
Now, the album being from 2002, which was a time where ZUN would say that "Touhou is not a series" and where Touhou still had a bunch of PC-98 influences (rank system, Sakuya, Alice (duh) & her Reimu dialogue, PCB extra stages final sections, Yuuka), it is not unconceivable that ZUN would feature a tie-in or a shout out to PC-98 stuff. Alice and Reimu's dialogue from PCB from exemple (the trial of which probably came around close to PiDD's being released) indicates that ZUN had a particular setting for Alice in ming ... and since we're talking about PC-98 influence, I suspect that even back at the time, the "exit of paradise" that the beautiful one was moving towards to was not actually someplace that lead to the outside world (which also seemed absolutely impossible to reach at least before modern touhou stuff like 14.5), but probably Makai for example ... (although it may not necessarily make sense chronology wise)
So yeah, long thing short, Alice is probably the beautiful one, and PiDD story may probaby be used to deduce a backstory of sort for her, if you stretch it quite a bit ... the more bizarre / confusing part for me would be the cowardly one / the one who is reborn parts
But at any rate, this is a story I would not take super seriously, speculations aside : there are a bunch of stuff from far back in the past that you can see now, but a self-containing story that was never expanded upon, received mention further down the line, or had any relevance in current or not-so current touhou cannon is definitely not something I'd put on the same level as stuff like the Hifuu club stories or any other official book. A bizarre and curious story DiPP is, but for something super old from 2002, probably irrelevant to canon.
Hmm... somehow I hadn’t considered every anecdote to be worthy of suspicion. That’s a very interesting perspective on it; it’s reminiscent of Ryūnosuke Akutagawa‘s short story “In a Grove.” A major influence on both eastern and western storytelling, so I’ve no doubt ZUN’s read it before or is at least familiar with its themes. Of course, if none of the thieves are to be trusted even at their word, that means that only ZUN himself has all the answers, which... is par for the course, really.
That actually brings up an interesting point. If anyone who can read japanese sees this, what pronouns are used to refer to all of the eight honest men?
Alice as the pierrot seems like a bit more of a mixed bag. Surface-level knowledge of outside world locations and cultural fixtures would in all likelihood be pretty accessible to most people in the human village, and the story seems to be pointing towards the most cowardly as the pierrot pretty heavily. I also think it’s strange that the shrine maiden or the other thieves wouldn’t allude to Makai being accessible through the hole in the tree— though “exit to paradise” is admittedly vague, and I wouldn’t put it past ZUN to plan something that far in advance— and this as a backstory would also imply that Alice isn’t actually a magician, so you’d need to justify that as well.
It’s still a distinct possibility from a thematic perspective however, since DiPP comes off as something like a last hurrah to ZUN’s older work when looking at the music selection. I think it’s especially interesting if we look at the theory from the perspective of an early glimpse at the world before the skeleton of the Touhou canon was finalized; I doubt this fits the modern interpretation of Alice, but as a sort of precursor to it it leads to some interesting possibilities. Maybe the canon was somewhere “in-between” PC-98 and Windows at this point, or maybe magicians were originally meant to be more in-line with more standard youkai origins and personalities.
Let’s put Alice up on the shelf for now. She and Jacket Girl make for a very curious pair of suspects, but I’d like to hear more opinions.
Hmm, continuing a little bit on what I was saying to say stuff in favour of my interpretation and demonstrate how the cowardly one / the one who was reborn may be innocent
For me, process of elimination leaves the beautiful one (who could be alive as they're not explicitly dead) and the cowardly one / the one who was reborn & still willing to pretend to be human, towards the end.
Out of the 4 last honest men who reach the western-style building deep in the forest, after the mature one got poisoned, the wary one was very suspicious of one of two remaining honest men before he got nailed to a tree. Later, the earliest riser wakes up, realising that something suspicious was in their food, suspecting a certain someone whose blondeness just came to his mind, before dying by the hands of someone he expected to be the killer ...
By this point, the remaining one from the western-style building deep in the forest would be the cowardly one / the one who was reborn the day before. As the last one, they seem super suspicious, but as he is just in the middle of finding everyone else dead, he also remarks that there must have been something in his food the day before since he was assaulted by intense sleepiness after eating it. In other word, he was drugged to sleep, and was still asleep when the killings happened.
The cowardly one / the one who was reborn seems to me like they were sparred from the killings for one reason or another : why would he just get sleeping drug while everyone else get poisoned or killed ? Their "suicide" from before being "reborn" seemed also bizarre to me, but since they remarks for their last suicide that this time their feet didn't touch the ground, maybe they actually legit failed their first suicide ... I think that rather than just failing to hang themselves up, I suspect that they might have been saved by the beautiful one / the pierrot without them being aware of it.
Regarding the various people from the story, their "qualities" seems to be respected through and through : the curious one was pretty curious, the beautiful one is beautiful, the youngest one was indeed young, and so on and so on ... so the cowardly one being cowardly is also important. Would the cowardly one even dare to kill off all of his friends and be alone in this "paradise" he has already grown afraid of ? Seems unlikely to me.
My reading of the cowardly one becoming "reborn" and "pretending to be human" is that it's figurative speech rather than them literally becoming youkai. I think that the cowardly one / the one who was reborn is simply just a very, very unreliable narrator rather than a dishonest person. Besides, they would choose to kill themselves off rather than living in a world full of liars.
Now, if the person he loved but disappeared referred to the beautiful one, who disappeared at the end of her part of the story, then maybe him getting sparred at the various parts of the story have something to do with that.
Maybe the other "honest" men treated the beautiful one badly before they found the paradise-like place, and the cowardly one's cowardice plus love for the beautiful one led him to not treat her in a way that would led her to take bloody revenge against him in particular. If the person the cowardly one loved is indeed the beautiful one, who disappeared, and since the cowardly one never got attacked by the pierrot (who like I said previously might be the beautifil one), they were probably quite close, real friends at the very least ...
So, back on Alice being the beautiful one like I previously said
An additional something that could be mentionned to further conciliate the two of them is the fact that the killer (who I say is the beautiful one) apparently went mad sometime in the past according to the earliest riser ... Meanwhile, Alice Margatroid uses a Eirin's butterfly dream pill in order to sleep, a pill that was designed by Eirin (who is a super genius) to provide some form of mental care, aside from just giving nice dreams (in the BAiJR article) ...
Long thing short, I don't believe the cowardly one / the one who was reborn killed the other honest men for the pure and simple reason that he was drugged to sleep. The cowardly one / the one who was reborn is most definitely an honest man but not a liar considering their world view, right before suicide.
So yeah, that'd be my interpretation of the cowardly one / the one who was reborn's story, based on what the story gives for most part plus a bit of my own interpretation on him not dying (getting saved ?) from the first hanging.
My conclusion here would be the same as previously, plus saying that the cowardly one is probably innocent.
Wait, so before I answer... are you saying that this is Alice’s current backstory, or are you coming at this from the perspective of one last nod to the PC-98 canon?
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