Author Topic: What are the themes of Touhou? (And making a character who may be an antithesis)  (Read 2956 times)

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SeroVich

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I would like to know what are the themes of Touhou, so I could maybe (key word: maybe) make a Touhou Fan Character who is kinda similar to the themes of Touhou (like religion), yet be the total antithesis of that. Thank you in response.
"Thou art a genius." - Tomo Takino, Chapter 1; Page 38

The thing is that's probably outright impossible. One of the core ideas of Touhou is that "Gensokyo accepts everything". Namely stuff beyond common sense and collective memory, but pretty much anything can fall into it. "And that's a cruel, cruel thing", as Yukari says.

Even if you look at a more detailed level, Touhou has always been about clash of antithetical ideas. East vs West in EoSD era. Religion stuff from MoF to HM. DDC has Seija who wants to overturn society order just for the sake of it. LoLK has you fight lunarians and Junko, who go for power and efficiency rather than beauty in fights. Even latest games deal with stuff that has no business being in the series. Its flexibility is its strength.

SeroVich

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The thing is that's probably outright impossible. One of the core ideas of Touhou is that "Gensokyo accepts everything". Namely stuff beyond common sense and collective memory, but pretty much anything can fall into it. "And that's a cruel, cruel thing", as Yukari says.

Even if you look at a more detailed level, Touhou has always been about clash of antithetical ideas. East vs West in EoSD era. Religion stuff from MoF to HM. DDC has Seija who wants to overturn society order just for the sake of it. LoLK has you fight lunarians and Junko, who go for power and efficiency rather than beauty in fights. Even latest games deal with stuff that has no business being in the series. Its flexibility is its strength.

How about the antithesis of what you said? Like having a character that doesn't accept the way Gensokyo is.
"Thou art a genius." - Tomo Takino, Chapter 1; Page 38

How about the antithesis of what you said? Like having a character that doesn't accept the way Gensokyo is.

Seija

Felis-Licht

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Make an extremely edgy character. Like ridiculously edgy.

So, an average Walfas OC :meiling:

SeroVich

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Seija

She is a troll personified, what more do you expect?  :meiling:
"Thou art a genius." - Tomo Takino, Chapter 1; Page 38

williewillus

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I was meaning to ask this a while back, so here goes! I think Touhou's themes are too broad and complex to capture in a single character, but anyways here goes. Touhou broadly covers several central themes:

Dreams/Fantasy vs Reality/Science
If I had to pick the singular central theme in Touhou, this would be it. The world of Touhou is literally called the land of fantasy, after all, and the border that separates it from our world is both a physical one and a ideological barrier. In Gensokyo, fantastical is the norm, while in our world, we live in a scientific age where belief in fantastical things such as youkai is at an all-time low.

The sort of dreamy "is this fantasy or reality" trope is touched upon many times in the series, most notably in the lyrics of Innocent Treasures, which directly references the story of Zhuangzi and the Butterfly. The music CD's in general lean much more heavily into this theme, as they follow around the future Hifuu Club, which lives in a dystopian future where children don't smile and natural bamboo no longer grows. There, the harsh, advanced, and scientific reality is contrasted sharply with the fantastical, dreamy, yet unforgiving land of fantasy, Gensokyo. I would really recommend reading all the CD stories as it's some of my favorite worldbuilding and writing from ZUN.

Nostalgia, Culture, and Faith
Relatedly, Touhou as a whole is heavily driven by nostalgia and respect for "outdated" culture. ZUN famously declared EoSD "A 20th century shmup for the 21st century", and was his way of channeling his love for shmups, which even at the time were already starting to decline in popularity.
He loves respecting tradition and doesn't always believe that the modern or scientific way of doing things is the best way.

Gods, traditions, and legends, all cast away by our scientific age, find a new home in Gensokyo, as long as they have believers and thus faith.
The whole "faith" idea (that gods and beings in Gensokyo derive their life force from people's faith in them) is a pretty interesting concept introduced in MoF. It's sort of a meta-thing too, in that ZUN brings awareness to old and forgotten gods, legends, and stories through his works, thus increasing their faith and giving them a sort of "second life" in our world.

Acceptance and Social Order
As mentioned by Cyber, another theme in Gensokyo is that it is all-accepting. Major troublemakers settle down and just join in on regular life after their incident/game is over. What's interesting about this though is that Gensokyo is actually bound by a pretty strict social order where everyone has a role to play -- youkai and humans have a special relationship where humans actually supply youkai with the faith necessary to keep them alive, and humans native to Gensokyo are actually off-limits to the youkai. The protagonists (mostly Reimu) are the ones responsible for resolving youkai disturbances, and all battles are bound by the honor system of rules that is the Spell Card Contract.

Kind of rambly and not what you were looking for but that's my thoughts.

Dreams/Fantasy vs Reality/Science

Note that this is does NOT mean magic vs technology, as evidenced by kappa, tengu, Kanako and even lunarians.

SeroVich

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Note that this is does NOT mean magic vs technology, as evidenced by kappa, tengu, Kanako and even lunarians.

So, it is moreorso like Old Traditions of the Past VS Modernity, since Gensokyo is basically the land where the beliefs of the past reside, right?
"Thou art a genius." - Tomo Takino, Chapter 1; Page 38

That and unrealistic fantasies, like Okuu's nuclear fusion reactor. Basically anything that falls into obscurity, y'know, beyond the "border of common sense". And thing is, line between than and modern/relevant stuff is pretty fragile. An old mobile phone and (in retconned CoLA chapter) a handheld console are mentioned as objects that fell into Gensokyo. I feel that's what Yukari means in that "cruel, cruel thing" quote.

SeroVich

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That and unrealistic fantasies, like Okuu's nuclear fusion reactor. Basically anything that falls into obscurity, y'know, beyond the "border of common sense". And thing is, line between than and modern/relevant stuff is pretty fragile. An old mobile phone and (in retconned CoLA chapter) a handheld console are mentioned as objects that fell into Gensokyo. I feel that's what Yukari means in that "cruel, cruel thing" quote.

So that means, if something was the cutting edge of technology in the past (for example: PlayStation 3 in 2006) that's now seen as an old thing of the past, it will then disappear from the real world and be in Gensokyo, more specifically; in Muenzuka and/or the Road of Reconsideration. Am I getting what you're saying?
"Thou art a genius." - Tomo Takino, Chapter 1; Page 38

Pretty much. That's how we got lootboxes in the latest games :meiling:

SeroVich

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Now that I remember, I think, in my opinion; that one of the themes of Touhou is about keeping the things of the past a place to live on, to have things the way they are like the good ol' days of extreme superstition. Where yokai can live peacefully in a land where the beliefs of the modern world doesn't exist. That's what I think.


Pretty much. That's how we got lootboxes in the latest games :meiling:
Oh dear gracious... Them lootboxes... (¬_¬;)
"Thou art a genius." - Tomo Takino, Chapter 1; Page 38

You know who has been the biggest existential threat to Gensokyo? Dandelions. Namely an invasive western species that made the native one extinct. They got accidently brought in by someone in WaHH, and Yukari took such a big offense to them that she manipulated people to devour them as connoisseur food.

Suspicious person

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Recent Touhou works tend to have a more central  and relatively clear themes, especially in the newer CoLA releases, where there's pretty much a new theme per chapter.

At any rate, as far as modern 2hu themes from current times go, we have :
- Immigration for AFiEU, more specifically the changes new stuff may bring : good or bad ?
- Dehumanization in TH 17, which presents the extreme of two bad versions of the modern world : one where humans are just ressources, and for whom living is just nothing but being exploited ; or another one where they blindly submit to a superior authority that takes away their agency from them (AI to a lesser extent here, one of ZUN's biggest worries)
- Touhou 18, prolly 18.5, but mainly CoLA 36, which talks about value in the economic sense (or rather, ZUN's critique of it :) is it appropriate for financial value to translate to real physical goods that are practical for one's livehood, especially if said financial value can be freely controlled by someone else ? Plus how work should be viewed
-CoLA 37 : AI, and transhumanism to a lesser extent

(There's plenty of others, but these are the big ones that I can identify for the more recent works)

It's worth noting that ZUN's writing is more topical, and tend to have referrences to some ongoing current things of concerns to him : some of his work have referrences to popular stufc around the time they came out, for example a Shingeki no Kyojin reference in a DDC Shinmyoumaru spell, clear allusions to the big cough in Detective Satori, allusions and parody of a certain meme country in AFiEU ... heck, even the latest chapter 37 if CoLA (and prolly Hatate's internet-like-thingy is probably an excuse for him to try to give something that's like social media more presence so that he might comment on it eventually.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2024, 07:33:31 PM by Suspicious person »