Odds are, you’ve encountered Touhou in one form or another if you’ve browsed the internet to any significant degree. Maybe you’ve seen a cute flash music video or game footage of a screen filled with hundreds of projectiles. Today, you’re going to find out just what the hell Touhou is before diving head first into one of the most versatile fandoms around. It’s like getting to know someone before asking them out.
In the strict sense, Touhou Project is a series of indie (doujin) shoot ’em up games by a man who calls himself ZUN. These games are known for three things:
- Being a signature bullet hell game, in which the goal is to evade a barrage of screen-filling projectiles using precise movements.
- Featuring some of the best original music in any indie series.
- Having badly drawn, if distinct, characters.
Curiously enough, these last two points form the core material of the Touhou fandom.
Just given this information, you may wonder what the hubbub is all about. Sure, all this may seem cool for some indie game, but it’s hardly notable. This is where Touhou’s fandom comes in.
Touhou fans include, among others, very talented musicians and artists that reinterpret and re-arrange songs or redesign characters from the games while adding their own unique twists. Fanworks such as these are the true reason behind Touhou’s popularity.
The scope and variety of these works are so vast that it’s impossible to cover them all, or even introduce them, at once. As such, in future installments of this series, we’ll scratch the surface of Touhou’s myriad branches.
It wouldn’t do to leave you empty-handed, so to end this introduction of introductions, I present to you one of the most accessible fanworks: Bad Apple.
Bad Apple presents a synthesis of music, animation, and character-centrism that is representative of the most viral Touhou fanworks. The video itself is best thought of as an introduction to the series’ immense cast without a troublesome bombardment of names and faces. Rather, Bad Apple uses silhouettes and movements to capture the general feel and personality of each character.
It speaks to the fandom’s reach that an English language version of Bad Apple by voice actress Cristina Vee exists. I’m not crazy about this version, as it emphasizes the video’s weakest element: the lyrics, but it is an option for those interested.
Next time, we’ll introduce the most well-known Touhou fangroup, IOSYS, and cover their most popular flash music videos.