Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Nine Hells of Anime Podcast Episode 16: Macross II

In this episode, the crew tackles the single worst Macross show and one of the most disappointing anime sequels ever: Macross II. What makes this so unworthy a sequel to “Do You Remember Love?” that it was purged from Macross canon? Not much, aside from absolutely everything.

Macross II Image 1

Hosts: NoMachineGunForHim, Zaburai, and Ace.

Biggest face, least screentime.

Biggest face, least screentime.

Direct Download (Right Click/Save As)

Introduction to Touhou 5: Marisa

Marisa Banner
Reimu may have been there from the very beginning, but she has an equally ubiquitous friend: Marisa Kirisame. An ordinary witch by her own description, Marisa is only mundane if you consider shooting giant laser beams normal.

Marisa is a rather fascinating figure in Touhou canon. Despite being clad in a black and white, but otherwise stereotypical witch’s outfit, there’s more to her than meets the eye. Her role is that of a scholar and spends much of her time in the pursuit of power. In the very beginning, she studied under Reimu’s greatest enemy and honed her skills as her rival. She isn’t above thievery in her studies and has stolen (“borrowed”) books, relics, and even others’ abilities. She’s something of a genius and can even remember the number of times she’s eaten bread off the top of her head.

Personality-wise, the nosy, boyish, persistent, and self-centered Marisa often annoys her peers (even beyond stealing their shit). She’s portrayed as extremely hard-working and, consequently, more than a little jealous of the lazy but naturally talented Reimu. She also possesses questionable sanity as she’s a pack rat whose house is filled to the brim with (likely stolen) magical artifacts including a sentient ICBM (it’s a long story and a continuity clusterfuck, so don’t think too much about it). More troublingly, she stares directly at the true full moon which drives people insane (another long story) but doesn’t even bat an eye, suggesting she was already crazy.

Intro Marisa 2

Something went horribly wrong in Marisa’s transition from canon to fanon. Gone are the questions of sanity and jealousy, replaced by one thing: sex. Indeed, Marisa is probably the most sexually charged character in the fandom and has quite the harem including a large chunk of the female cast and/or the only man with a face in the entirety of Touhou.

ef2c63c3b1c00d4422906a1b0011e40c

I for one blame Marisa Stole the Precious Thing for popularizing the concept of Marisa as a heartbreaker, which has virtually no basis in canon.

Another popular fanon idea is that she draws her powers from magic mushrooms, with obvious implications. Her thievery also gets taken up a notch and escalates into full-blown kleptomania and even takes on a violent aspect, making her more of a comical highwayman than a ruthless scholar.

In the most elegant words I can muster, the typical fanon Marisa is a playa’ who fucks whatever she wants, steals whatever she wants, and lasers anything that gets in her way. This simple perception of her isn’t much of an obstacle though, as she consistently ranks near the top of Touhou popularity polls, and this popularity spills over into other media. This includes a laser-shooting and spell-stealing Demacian by the name of Lux in League of Legends and a scene in the Umineko no Naku Koro ni visual novel when Jessica dresses up as Marisa and sings Tsurupettan, which itself is a Touhou-related song with references to Higurashi.

I must confess that I’m not especially fond of Marisa’s fan depictions as she embodies the worst vices of fanon, namely stripping away complexity in favor of one-note personalities and defining characters primarily by their romantic interests. If fanon’s great strength is fleshing out weak characters (like Daiyousei), it’s greatest weakness is dumbing things down and Marisa suffers tremendously in the transition.

Come back next time when we look at the world of Gensokyo.

The Nine Hells of Anime Podcast Episode 15: Hades Project Zeorymer

Once upon a time, there was a robot that got nuked, but survived. It’s pilot got killed, but was revived. And the evil organization that wanted to irradiate and conquer the Earth most certainly cried.
dcfe360f7a750bbcbd9227675a9a8d2b

Hosts: NoMachineGunForHim, Zaburai, and Ace.

Even Nanoha is getting in on the action.

Even Nanoha is getting in on the action.

Direct Download (Right Click/Save As)

Introduction to Touhou 4: Touhou Anime

Touhou Anime Banner
There is no true Touhou anime. You’ll often see people in the comments of Touhou-related videos asking “What anime did this come from?” Indeed, it’s easy to mistake Touhou for an anime given the character designs and limited exposure of the games, but in the strict sense of having a TV series or 20+ minute OVA produced by an established animation studio, no such thing exists.

There are, however, fanmade anime of varying length and quality that are most impressive for the simple fact that they exist. The first of these is Summer Day’s Dream, a series consisting of three twenty-minute episodes which is still being released and tells the story of an unfolding incident involving vanishing objects. This plot obviously isn’t impressive and neither is the animation, which beats out Mars of Destruction, but still looks behind the times with character designs and coloring that’s uncomfortably close to the less than appealing game sprites. What’s far more interesting is the talent mobilized in this anime’s creation. Either the production circle MAIKAZE is very well-funded or very well-connected as Summer Day’s Dream features a cast of professional, known voice actresses including Mai Nakahara (Rena in Higurashi) as Reimu and Rie Tanaka (Lacus Clyne in Gundam Seed) as the maid Sakuya. As intriguing as these details are, the work itself is hardly worth toting as the definitive Touhou anime.

Reimu Ryuugu

The comparison was inevitable.

Touhoupedia

A print version of Wikipedia? I’m not sure if Patchouli is ahead of the game or behind the times.

Now, we get to a completely different beast: Fantasy Kaleidoscope ~ The Memories of Phantasm. This anime project is by Manpuku Jinja and retells the story of the Touhou games (Perfect Cherry Blossom thus far) with some deviations and abridgments for the sake of flow. Unlike our previous example, Memories of Phantasm is drawn and animated much more like something you’d expect from the new millennium. Indeed, if Memories of Phantasm were released today, it could pass as a contemporary studio anime. One of the series’ trailers:

Interestingly, the version of this anime below was not the original release, which did not have a voiceover. This fanmade anime was separately fandubbed and while the voicework isn’t up to par with Summer Day’s Dream, it stands out for being passable/competent in a sea of atrocious fandubs. Even more impressive is the possibility that all the voices were done by a single person, though the evidence for this claim isn’t particularly reliable given the precarious nature of amateur translations of Nico Nico Douga (Japan’s Youtube equivalent) descriptions. In many ways, Memories of Phantasm represents the pinnacle of the passion, talent, and perhaps affluence of the Touhou fandom. If someone came up to me and asked, “What’s so special about Touhou?” I would show them this and note that it was entirely fanmade.

There is one final Touhou “anime” and this one was done by an actual animation studio: ufotable. This curiosity is called Anime Tenchou x Touhou Project and those familiar with Lucky Star may recognize the former as the hot-blooded storeowner and mascot of the AniMate retail chain. If this sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. What little information that exists on this 10-minute animation suggests that it was shown on precisely one day in a single theater, leaving no indication that it even existed save for a trailer. At present, there’s no way to watch the damn thing, not even a handcam version.

A probable reason for Anime Tenchou x Touhou’s nonexistent availability and the general lack of mainstream Touhou anime is ZUN’s resistance toward the commercialization of Touhou. Whether this is for the sake of preserving indie cred or to avoid canonizing what has essentailly become fanon, I can’t say for sure. Either way, the chances of a high-budget adaptation are slim to none, though if by some miracle one were to exist, I wouldn’t be opposed to a Ninja Scroll-esque, ultraviolent adaptation of Imperishable Night directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri and animated by Madhouse. That however, is a personal pipe dream.

Be sure to come back next time for a look at Reimu’s partner in crime: Marisa.

The Nine Hells of Anime Podcast Episode 14: Denpa Teki na Kanojo (Psychotic Girlfriend)

Stalkers, serial killers, and general insanity abounds as the delinquent Juu must figure out the secrets of his long-haired stalker who thinks he’s her king from a past life and of the “happiness points” that people are willing to kill each other over. Ever wondered if your arm was properly broken? This podcast has the answer.

Denpa Teki na Kanojo Preview

Hosts: NoMachineGunForHim, Moonhead, Zaburai, and MexicanAnime.

Most of the anime's cast with two light novel characters in the center.

Most of the anime’s cast with two light novel characters in the center.

Direct Download (Right Click/Save As)

Introduction to Touhou 3: Reimu

Reimu Banner
There comes a point at which you may get tired of just watching random Touhou videos on Youtube and want to delve deeper and figure out where all the strange things in those videos come from. Because fanon draws from canon but simultaneously overshadows it, it can be quite difficult to figure out where to start. Touhou is best understood through its characters, but the sheer volume of them can be overwhelming. As such, this introductory series will periodically cover the most critical personalities, starting with the most pivotal and one of the most popular ones: Reimu.

Reimu Hakurei is the shrine maiden (aka. miko or Shinto priestess) of the Hakurei Shrine and is primarily responsible for maintaining order in the feudal Japan-esque world of Gensokyo. She’s quite indolent in most other respects and spends more time lazing about than performing her religious duties, not even knowing the name of her shrine’s deity. Even the term “maintaining order” can be misleading as Reimu likes to play bad cop and indiscriminately unleashes violence on everyone (human or demon, guilty or innocent) until an incident is resolved. There’s one hilarious display of aggression when she ambushes an unsuspecting demon for the heinous crime of reading, steals her books, and pawns them off for some quick cash. Hell, sometimes she doesn’t even stop with restoring order, as shown when she picks a fight with a Buddhist nun after she explains her reasons for creating a disturbance and her goal of peaceful relations between humankind and youkai (demons or spirits).

Even more curious is the fact that she befriends most of the people she brutalizes, to the point where quite a few demons reside within and around her shrine. Apparently, they find the fact that she beats the crap out of everyone regardless of status to be an attractive quality. Her brutal honesty might be a factor too.

Reimu serves two roles aside from peacekeeping, but we won’t cover either of them at present as one relates primarily to game mechanics and the other won’t make much sense until we introduce another character down the line: Yukari Yakumo.

Appearance-wise, Reimu is almost always clad in a red and white outfit with exposed armpits. Whether this is a particular fetish of ZUN’s, I can’t say.

Fan depictions of Reimu vary wildly, but a few common ones stand out. One of these portrays her as severely impoverished and desperate for food. Two examples come to mind. The first of these has Reimu reduced to eating dirt (vigorously, I might add) and uttering the phrase “You’re making the dirt inedible!” The second is about tongue twisters, but ends with a very quotable and very true line:

Another popular portrayal depicts her as the straight man in comedic situations or the only sane person in a world full of lunatics, idiots, and generally uncouth people.
Reimu1
The last depiction we’ll cover is the money-obsessed Reimu. On one hand of the spectrum, we have Scrooge McReimu, the ruthless and mercenary Reimu who will betray or kill anyone for the right price.
Greedy Reimu
The other end of the spectrum connects to the poor and hungry Reimu and shows her in a losing battle against an empty donation box (her only source of income). Indeed, the donation box is an object you’ll often see with this shrine maiden.

“You’ve failed me for the last time, donation box.”

“You’ve failed me for the last time, donation box.”

Come back next week when we discuss the fanmade Touhou anime.