The Touhou Project (Known in Japan as 東方Project, Touhou Purojekuto, lit. Eastern Project; or simply Touhou), is a Japanese doujin game series and franchise focused on bullet hell shooters created by the one-man developer Team Shanghai Alice, known as ZUN.
In pixiv, all works related to Touhou are tagged with either "東方Project", or "東方".
See also : Touhou
The Touhou series of games started on 1996 where all games are released 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. By that time, the PC-9801 series of computers was already on the decline when these games were released (Replaced mainly by Windows95). Because of this, they are not well known among players.
The group making these games was called "Amusement Makers".
Touhou games that were released on PC-98 :
After the fifth entry of the game (Mystic Square), the Touhou Project became inactive for four years while ZUN began to develop several music scores for the Seihou games. He then left the group and made Touhou games for Windows under the group name, Team Shanghai Alice. The gameplay for Touhou series has improved tremendously compared to their PC-98 counterparts. The series was caught on by the fans and became popular since then. Most doujin works derived from the Touhou series are centered on these games.
Touhou games that were released on Windows (Highlighted titles are titles that are created under a joint production) :
In Touhou, the game is played like most other shooting games where 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 (shown in blue, with the kanji "点") to increase their hi-score. At earlier games, surpassing hi-scores at a certain point will gain you an extra life, which it is later replaced with collecting several amount of special items to raise an extra life. The player can use 'focus', the shift key by default, which slows down the player's movement, makes the collision box visible and focuses the player's attack to make it more powerful (though some characters are an exception). Touhou also focuses on the graze counter system (missing from Mountain of Faith and Story of Eastern Wonderland), which 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.
When cornered, the player can use a weapon called a 'spell card', which is similar to a 'bomb' in most other shooting games. When used, it makes the user temporarily invulnerable and uses a special magical attack that generally clears the screen, though limited in number. Each character possess two cards (or only one in some games) with different names and patterns. In additional to a normal spell card, the player can activate one during a short period of time after being hit by a bullet known as the "border between life and death" to avoid loss of a life, although the consumption takes two bomb counters instead of the normal one. 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 health bar by a certain amount or the time runs out, instead of a one-shot attack.
Each individual game of the main series after Embodiment of Scarlet Devil has their own unique, different gameplay or system. 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; games like Shoot The Bullet and Double Spoiler do not play like any normal shooter games but instead emulate a camera capture system to clear bullets and snap photos of your opponent to clear the stage, which is known as a "photography danmaku" game; while games like Immaterial and Missing Power, Scarlet Weather Rhapsody are 1 on 1 fighting games that utilize spell cards for additional attacks, combos and stat raising.
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 usually harder than the previous.
In addition to the four main difficulties, there is also an extra stage after clearing all main 6 stages on at least normal difficulty (except Perfect Cherry Bloosom and Imperishable Night) without using continues. Extra stages are usually long and extremely difficult stages in which players must play through hordes of enemies, bullets, and bosses. In Perfect Cherry Blossom, there is also a phantasm extra stage that is far more difficult than the Extra stage.
The plots of the Touhou Project revolve around the strange phenomena that occur in the fictional realm of Gensokyo (幻想郷) in Japan. It was said that long ago, Gensokyo was a desolate place haunted by youkai who preyed on lost wanderers in the area. Soon the exorcists were sent into the area to resolve the youkai problem, and they eventually settled in the area. As human civilization flourished, the power of youkai 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. In Gensokyo, magical and spiritual qualities prevailed over science and youkai and humans began coexisting with each other, although 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 began to weakened and more humans are able to wander into Gensokyo from the outside. Things disappearing from the outside world tend to slip into Gensokyo and got introduced to the residents of Gensokyo.
With its focus on bishoujo characters, the Touhou series possesses a large cast compared to other shooting games. As of the 13th main game, Ten Desires, the series has spanned over 100 characters, the majority of which are females. Even with the mass array of characters, each of them are popular and even obscure stage bosses that appear only once in the entire game have a fanbase. Only 8 characters throughout the entire franchise are male: Genjii, Sokrates, Youki Konpaku, Myouren Hijiri, Unnamed Giant Catfish, Rinnosuke Morichika, Marisa's father and Unzan.
Although Touhou has a massive amount of characters, the main characters of the games are Reimu Hakurei, as well as Marisa Kirisame as an alternative playable main character from the third game onwards. However, Reimu herself does not appear as a playable main character in every side story games. For instance, Shoot the Bullet and Double Spoiler features Aya Shameimaru being the main playable character on both, and Hatate Himekaidou can become playable in Double Spoiler. In Fairy Wars, the main playable character for the game is Cirno.
In addition to the main games, Team Shanghai Alice has also expanded the universe into other medias. However ZUN did not create them all but is involved in these productions.
The whole idea and concept, settings, programming, gameplay, music, and the characters for the franchise are created by ZUN. With the exception of Immaterial and Missing Power, Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, and Touhou Hisoutensoku, which is created with the association of Tasogare Frontier. Fairy Wars is the only game where ZUN did not involve in the illustration of the characters (The illustrations are drawn by Makoto Hirasaka).
The idea of Touhou first came to ZUN during his high school years when shrine maiden-themed games were in the minority. He thought it would be nice to make shrine maiden based games and often imagined the music that would go with it. Soon he went to college in hope of composing music for fighting games due to the popularity of Street Fighter II. However, he decided that it would be easier to make his own game to go with the music that he's trying to put his music into, thus the first Touhou game, Highly Responsive to Prayers, was released in 1996. Initially the first game was originally intended as a practice in programming, Touhou only became a shooting game series starting from the second game onwards due to the popularity of shooting games had revived at that time and ZUN had long been a fan of such games (As a reminder, While ZUN has worked for Taito before, he was not involved in the production for Raystorm 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.
Due to the extensive amount of games and their related franchise released, and still having its doujin status maintained, it has made into the Guinness World Record list as the "Most Prolific Fan-Made Shooter Series".
See Also : Touhou International, Yukkuri shite itte ne
Since the release of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, a massive amount of derivative works based on Touhou have been created. These include doujinshi, doujin music, MAD movies, doujin anime, and even doujin games. The vast scope created works has since spread not just around the local scene but also internationally, which attracted commentaries from all around the world about how Touhou Project became an unmissable aspect of Japanese consumer generated media.
ZUN himself had acknowledged, appreciated, and even encouraged these derivative works by imposing very few restrictions on the use of his works; which in return, it is recommended to give proper attribution to Team Shanghai Alice for any created derivative works. However, any unauthorized commercial distribution of his works are not allowed. ZUN also forbids any spoilers for the endings, and encourage the players to figure it out on their own. Due to the loose restrictions, the first recent publication of such works occurred during December 2003, following the release of Perfect Cherry Blossom where seven circles sold Touhou derivative works at Comiket 65 in December 2003. Comiket 74 (August 2008) saw a rise up to 885 circles having Touhou derivative works on display or for sale, out of a total of 35,000 circles participating at Comiket. As of Comiket 80 (August 2011), 2808 circles had participated, including ZUN himself.
The doujin games based on Touhou often borrow other game series' mechanics, some with the intention of parodying famous games such as Super Robot Wars or Mario series games with Touhou characters. Touhou's music is also very popular and many arrangement CDs can be found for sale at Comiket and anime merchandise shops. Among the most popular derivatives are the series of Flash videos created by the doujin music circle IOSYS, which their most notable arrangement, "Marisa Stole the Precious Thing", is arguably the most popular song on most otaku internet forums and Nico Nico Douga. Another arrange song, Bad Apple!!, which is created by Alstroemeria Records were so famous to the point it gathered 13 million views on Nico Nico Douga in the span of 2 years and even made its appearance on Animelo Summer Live 2010.
Aside from derivative works, Touhou is also responsible for contributing to a major internet meme, "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 won bronze for 2008's "Net Slang of the Year" in Japan. The bun-heads, which became known as "yukkuri", also appear in many Internet advertisements, anime works, 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, Touhou Project failed to win any awards.
As of August 2011, with the combination of both Touhou and Touhou Project tags, there are about 1,083,598 artworks submitted in pixiv so far. The massive submission of Touhou artworks also contributed to the popularity of pixiv, and is ranked no.1 in the most popular tags list, followed by Original then R-18; as for franchise related popularity, Touhou Project is also the first in the list, followed by Hetalia and then Vocaloid.
A large number of the veteran artists that submitted their art on pixiv became famous, and some even began drawing Touhou artworks for commercial purposes. Through pixiv, these artists have successfully marketed themselves to the public, gathering visitors to buy their work at various doujin events like Comiket and Reitaisai.
To celebrate the popularity, pixiv has released many Touhou related artbooks and sold them at both Comiket and Reitasai. As of Comiket 80 (C80), they have managed to publish 6 Touhou artbooks so far.
Maikaze, a doujin circle which focuses on producing animation and music related contents for Touhou, produced a derivative animation video called "Musou Kakyou: A Summer Day's Dream" (東方二次創作同人アニメ 夢想夏郷, Touhou Niji Sousaku Doujin Anime: Musou Kakyou) . This animation project is notable for its use of high-ranking professional seiyuus. It was originally called "Touhou Anime Project", but shortly before Comiket 75, ZUN expressed concern on his blog that using a high-profile voice cast could make audiences mistake the series for an official Touhou product instead of his games. The Touhou Project has never included the usage of voice casting prior to the creation of this anime. In response to ZUN's concern, Maikaze renamed it "Touhou Secondary Creation Doujin Anime" in order to avoid confusion.
Regardless, the reaction for the anime was majorly positive and it was sold out within an hour and half during the second day of Comiket 75.
Official Animated Works
Since Touhou Project is still under doujin status and has not completely went commercial, there isn't any officially animated works created for the franchise itself. The only known official anime produced so far would be the Anime Tenchou x Touhou Project (アニメ店長 x 東方Project), produced by Ufotable in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Japanese goods chain, Animate.
However, according to ZUN's Twitter, he does not know about the details of the project, neither he was actually involved in the production as well. But it is assumed that ZUN green-lit the production of this anime.
Database and Related Tags
Team Shanghai Alice
Touhou Old Works
Official released CDs
- Dolls in Pseudo Paradise
- Ghostly Field Club
- Changeability of Strange Dream
- Retrospective 53 minutes
- Magical Astronomy
- Unknown Flower, Mesmerizing Journey
- Trojan Green Asteroid
- Neo-traditionalism of Japan
Yougakudan no Rekishi ~ Akyu's Untouched Score
- Volume 1 (TH04)
- Volume 2 (TH05)
- Volume 3 (TH02)
- Volume 4 (TH03)
- Volume 5 (TH01)
- Gensoukyoku Bassui Touhou Suimusou ORIGINAL SOUND TRACK (Immaterial and Missing Power OST)
- Zenjinrui no Tengakuroku Touhou Hisouten ORIGINAL SOUND TRACK (Scarlet Weather Rhapsody OST)
- Kakunetsuzoushin Hisou Tensoku ~ Touhou Hisoutensoku ORIGINAL SOUND TRACK (Touhou Hisoutensoku OST)
- Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red CD
- Perfect Memento in Strict Sense CD
- The Grimoire of Marisa CD
- Silent Sinner in Blue CD
- Eastern and Little Nature Deity CD
- Strange and Bright Nature Deity vol.1 CD
- Strange and Bright Nature Deity vol.2 CD
- Strange and Bright Nature Deity vol.3 CD
- Oriental Sacred Place vol.1 CD
- Oriental Sacred Place vol.2 CD
- Oriental Sacred Place vol.3 CD
Characters that appeared in PC-98 version
Characters that appeared in Windows version
Hakurei Jinja Reitaisai (ZUN participates in this event as well)
Settings & Location
Forest of Magic
Scarlet Devil Mansion
Palace of the Earth Spirits
Derivative Creation Related
Touhou Project(Derivative Work)
Article in Other Languages