Monthly Archives: May 2014

Introduction to Touhou 57: Seija

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WARNING: This article contains partial spoilers for Impossible Spell Card. Reader beware.

“No matter who’s after my life, I have no reason to return this wonderful power!”

Seija Kijin is the contrarian mastermind behind the incident in Double Dealing Character and as of the newest game, Impossible Spell Card, a wanted criminal.

No one likes Seija. This isn’t an exaggeration. It’s completely intentional and Seija wouldn’t have it any other way. She is an Amanojaku, a particularly sinister type of youkai that drives people to commit wicked deeds by drawing out their darkest desires. Some Amanojaku, Seija included, revel in being hated and loving what others despise. Essentially, they’re supernatural hipsters.

While she has horns and is described as having a vaguely Oni-esque appearance, Seija is not an Oni and her deceitful nature would likely make the comparison quite insulting to Oni like Suika and Yuugi. Indeed, she made her entrance into Touhou by deceiving Shinmyoumaru into declaring war against the youkai of Gensokyo, simply to get her to use the Miracle Mallet to cause chaos.
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The Nine Hells of Anime Episode 62: Garden of Words

On rainy days, a student and an adult meet underneath a park gazebo to escape the troubles of their real lives. While they initially find comfort in conversation, their relationship becomes strained as they learn more about each other’s circumstances.

Taking a step away from the mediocrity of Children Who Chase Lost Voices, director Makoto Shinkai draws elements from the romances of his more successful distance trilogy in order to shore up Garden of Words. Has he learned anything from the experience or will Garden of Words simply become the fourth distance film?


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Introduction to Touhou 56: The Factions of Gensokyo

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Perfect Cherry Blossom and Imperishable Night established the world of Gensokyo as one where youkai reigned supreme and humankind eked out a bare subsistence, acting as cattle of sorts. However, the more recent games introduced rival factions and visionaries with plans to reshape the world. Though Hopeless Masquerade left most of these factions in an uneasy stalemate, the pieces are in place to shake the very foundations of Gensokyo. The question is when.

Here is a snapshot of Touhou’s power politics now that the dust has settled.
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The Nine Hells of Anime Episode 61: Kyousougiga

Kyousougiga is a very strange tale loosely based off Alice in Wonderland that follows a peculiar family in its trials and tribulations in a techno-magical version of Kyoto. In their musings, conflicts, and interactions with an interdimensional traveler named Koto, these siblings must come to terms with their own life desires and the transgressions of their parents. At the time of its release, Kyousougiga may have been overshadowed by Kill la Kill, but its distinct visuals made it one of the more notable anime of Fall 2013.

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Introduction to Touhou 55: Raiko

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“You are a drum, yes? How could you not want to be hit?” – Sakuya

When Shinmyoumaru used the Miracle Mallet to grow herself to human size, the Mallet leaked a massive quantity of magic into Gensokyo. This magic came into contact with mundane objects and several became sentient tsukumogami. Among these is Raiko Horikawa.

Originally a taiko drum used in performances, Raiko grew to enjoy her new freedom, but quickly realized that she would return to her original state once the Miracle Mallet’s power left her. Taking action, she found a source of magic in the outside world and transmuted her being into a new set of drums.

Her profile mentions that these drums came with their own drummer, though no information is given as to who this is. This is quite an abnormal state of affairs for a tsukumogami, which normally come to being when objects reach the hundredth anniversary of their construction, becoming (relatively) vengeful and obsessive like Kogasa if they are abandoned or abused during this time, or friendly otherwise. For a tsukumogami to become a separate (even if related) object is unheard of. Whether the magic Raiko refers to is inherent in the drums or provided by the unknown drummer is also a matter of debate, but the end result is that Raiko is far less restricted than other tsukumogami, who are behaviorally static. It’s worrisome exactly where in the modern, outside world such a source of magic would still exist, and I have little doubt this will come into play in later games.
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Introduction to Touhou 54: Shinmyoumaru

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“Now, won’t you join me and turn the world upside-down?”

Shinmyoumaru Sukuna is the princess of the Inchlings (kobito), a race of tiny people roughly an inch in height. She resides in the Shining Needle Castle, which floats near the base of Youkai Mountain, and plots against Gensokyo’s established order with her advisor, Seija Kijin.

Shinmyoumaru is the descendant of a mythological figure called Issun-boshi. Issun was only one inch tall and went on an adventure to make a place for himself in human society. With a soup bowl for a boat and a needle for a sword he struck out on his own and he was hired as a playmate for a certain princess. This princess was attacked by an Oni who swallowed Issun whole, but in gruesome retribution, Issun proceeded to stab it from within using his needle until it was forced to regurgitate him and flee. This Oni left behind its treasure, the Miracle Mallet. Through this artifact’s wish-granting powers, he grew to human size and married the princess. From this point onward, Touhou diverges from the myth. Fearing the potentially ruinous side-effects of Oni magic, he resolved to minimize his reliance on the mallet. While he lived the rest of his life without incident, this resolve didn’t persist in his descendants, one of whom wished for a magnificent castle from which he could rule the land.

Okami’s depiction of Issun-boshi.

Okami’s depiction of Issun-boshi.

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