Now we come to my personal favorite Touhou soundtrack. While Embodiment of Scarlet Devil has provided us with powerful character pieces that persist even today and Perfect Cherry Blossom’s haunting and otherworldly atmosphere likewise left their mark on the series, I will argue that Imperishable Night is the absolute high point of the series’ music. Imperishable Night possesses memorable stage themes, a comparatively consistent level of quality, and a synthesis of Windows and PC-98 styles to create an experience that none of the following games could even come close to matching save for the possible exception of Subterranean Animism.
Title Theme: Imperishable Night ~ Eastern Night
While the core of the title theme is the same across games, there’s always some twist tied to the specific game’s concept. In this case, there’s a sense of vastness that give the sense of the boundless night sky, which will return in later stage songs.
Stage 1 Theme: Illusionary Night ~ Ghostly Eyes
The night is the domain of nonhuman creatures and with the endless night in place, the youkai are out in force. Right from the start, there’s an immediate sense of danger as if monsters lurk just out of sight, waiting for the slightest sign of hesitation. This track’s threatening tone stands in contrast to the more adventurous opening stage themes from Embodiment or Perfect Cherry Blossom. Continue reading →
“The terror of immortality is eternal solitude. An endless reality tormented by the consciousness of one’s sins. The only one who could sympathize with that was my old immortal enemy.” – Fujiwara no Mokou
Of the princes tasked with Kaguya’s impossible tasks, there was one from the Fujiwara clan whose quest was to locate the Jeweled Branch of Hourai Island. His failure humiliated his clan and sowed the seeds of his daughter’s fate. This daughter was named Mokou and her life would be shaped by her bitterness towards the Moon Princess who gave such an absurd and dangerous mission to her father.
Before Kaguya returned to the Moon in the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, she bestowed the Hourai Elixir to the Emperor of Japan as a parting gift, but he had no desire to live for eternity without being able to see her again. He thus ordered his soldiers to destroy the elixir at the peak of Mt. Fuji in hopes of reaching her.
In the Touhou version of the story, Eirin bribed the humans aware of Kaguya’s existence into silence with the Hourai Elixir and one of these recipients was of course the Emperor. As in the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, he ordered the destruction of his elixir but this time the convoy was all but annihilated by a goddess who warned that burning it atop Mount Fuji would restart its volcanic activity. She told Mokou and one other survivor to bring it to a higher peak that would later become Youkai Mountain. However, Mokou stole the elixir and consumed it. This act ensured she could never return to human society as immortals universally draw suspicion and fear. For hundreds of years, she wandered the land in solitude, annihilating the youkai who dared cross her path. When even these foes could no longer entertain her, she found her way to Gensokyo. Continue reading →
“She’s a rare items collector. She gets happy showing people her collection. They’re all things I’ve never seen or heard about, I’m jealous.” – Marisa Kirisame
Kaguya Houraisan is a princess of unearthly beauty; appropriate considering she comes from the Moon. I covered the basics of Kaguya’s transgressions in last week’s Eirin article, but I’ll recap briefly. For the crime consuming the Hourai Elixir of perfect immortality, the Lunarian authorities attempted to execute Kaguya, which is pretty stupid if you think about it since that would mean the punishment for being indestructible is death. Once the Moonrace, or rather once the Lunarians realized that particular glitch in their justice system, they settled for banishing Kaguya to the surface of the Earth to live out her innumerable years in the company of barbaric and impure humans. Continue reading →
“Sakuya, she’s the villain. You can tell with one glance at that villainous face.” – Remilia Scarlet
Eirin Yagokoro is a Lunarian residing in the mansion of Eientei and is the de facto leader of its residents. Eirin is quite easily the most mysterious figure of Eientei and perhaps the most enigmatic entity in all of Touhou aside from Yukari and Mima. In fact, Eirin isn’t even her true name, as Lunarian names are unpronounceable to Earth-dwellers.
Before she took refuge in Gensokyo, Eirin was a prominent figure on the Moon and led the armed forces among other duties. She co-founded the Lunar Capital with Lord Tsukuyomi, the supreme ruler of the Lunarians, after he deemed the Earth too impure for his people to continue living on. Theoretically, this makes Eirin the oldest character in all of Touhou and ZUN once stated her age as millions of years old. As amusing as the idea of Eirin running around with dinosaurs is, one must be wary of this number as ZUN was quite drunk when he gave that figure. Continue reading →
Don’t you see that you’ve already fallen into this moon rabbit’s trap?
Left, right, up and down…
Your sense of direction has already gone insane.
Though you’re trying to fly straight ahead, you’re floating around aimlessly.
Now, gaze into my eyes, and become more insane still!
Reisen Udongein Inaba is a Moon Rabbit in service of the Lunarians living in the hidden mansion of Eientei.
Reisen was a soldier in the Lunar War between the Lunarians and the humans of the Outside World. The war began in 1969 with the Apollo 11 landing and has continued with each successive human invasion of the Moon. While no pitched battles took place, the incursions and retaliatory sabotage of human spacecraft were considered a grave enough threat for the situation to be called a war. Reisen deserted the Lunarian army at some point and fled to Gensokyo where she found the exiles Eirin and Kaguya. In exchange for protection, Reisen offered her services and became their servant/guard.
“A rabbit hopping around above the water; there’s a limit to weird you know.” – Cirno
Tewi Inaba is a youkai rabbit residing in the Bamboo Forest near the mansion of Eientei. Originally a normal animal, Tewi became a youkai after living an unnaturally long time and gained a humanoid form in the process. Acting as the leader of Gensokyo’s native rabbit population, she struck a deal with the Lunarian named Eirin Yagokoro in which she would help the residents of Eientei elude discovery in exchange for advanced knowledge. Typically, the rabbits seem to do menial tasks like pounding mochi though they have functioned as firefighters on one occasion.
The rabbits of Gensokyo are described as easygoing and gossipy with the ability to communicate with each other via telepathy. As one might imagine, word gets to Tewi quickly with a network of telepathic gossip hounds at her disposal.
Tewi is the series’ quintessential trickster and has told so many lies that the Judge of the Dead, Shikieiki Yamaxanadu, personally visited her to warn that her constant deception will serve her poorly once she dies. In the past, she has engaged in such shady activities as pretending to collect shrine donations in order to raise money for her own ventures, earning the ire of Reimu as the shrine maiden had to content herself with collecting leaves in her offering box. Continue reading →