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Examples that pertain to the story, Fanon, fandom, or other non-gameplay elements:
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Since 80-90% of material related to the series is fan-created, this happens quite a bit. We have a forum thread dedicated to collecting them.
  • Angst Dissonance: Parsee's entire existence revolves around her being miserable. This is played for laughs, especially by the fandom.
  • Angst? What Angst?: There are a fair number of characters with grim or even tragic histories, and hints that a few others have their troubled sides, but very little angst occurs onscreen (with a few exceptions, mostly involving Mokou), and the tone of the series tends towards carefree.
  • Broken Base: The fandom will never stop arguing as to what's canon, whether Touhou is canonically grimdark or not, or over popular interpretations.
  • Canon Sue: Watatsuki no Yorihime and her sister Toyohime to some extent. Feats include besting four of the primary characters in combat, being able to summon the power of gods more properly than Reimu, and blocking a Master Spark with her sword. Lampshaded in Symposium of Post-Mysticism.
  • Counterpart Comparison:
    • Shou with Ran. Ever since she appeared and was revealed to be Nazrin's master (though not originally), everybody started looking at them as the new Chen and Ran. Both Shou and Ran serve "Old Maids", Byakuren being the latest addition to said group, both are animal youkai and both are masters of a type of youkai you wouldn't exactly [1]
    • Nue with Flandre. Despite their only similarities being the fact that they're both extra stage bosses with bizarre wings and vaguely similar themes, Nue is compared to Flandre, some fans even going as far to call her a rip-off.
    • Koishi/Flandre is somewhat popular due to the fact they're both odd, hated sisters of a feared woman who own mansions, occasionally depicted as Ax Crazy.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome/Ear Worm: Both the games themselves and the fan works around them have some awesome music.
  • Deconstruction Fic: The fandom contains plenty of this; the piles of Fridge Horror regarding the nature of many youkai and their relationship with humans, as well as most characters being selfish, belligerent, and very much insane, provide a lot of material. A Bad End is a Dead Baby Comedy take on this.
  • Designated Hero: Canonically, Reimu tends to be more... cavalier than one might hope from the hero.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: At least one per game.
    • Mima of the PC-98 games has become the embodiment of this. Fans wanted her to return to the windows games after so many years.
    • Flandre, despite only appearing in a few games, is far more well known than her more prominent sister Remilia.
    • Hong Meiling, Cirno, and Sanae all got primary roles in Hisoutensoku because of their popularity with the fans.
    • Merlin's Game Breaking Bug has led to her becoming the most popular of the sisters, exemplified by being the only one of the three to make the character filter in Fanfiction.net's Touhou section.
    • Chen has become a beloved character on certain websites, mainly thanks to bkub's offbeat comics
    • Since the full release of Ten Desires, Futo has been gaining quite a bit of popularity too.
  • Epileptic Trees: A lot of them.
    • The lightning connecting the five eyes of YuugenMagan forms the vague shape of a woman. Who is this woman? The real "brain" of YuugenMagan? Someone else, controlling it? Just a coincidence?
    • Elis. No one is really certain what she is. Vampire? Magician? Demon? The stages preceding her have "Oriental Magician" as their background music... which is otherwise associated with Marisa.
    • Mima's and Marisa's relationship. There's debate as to whether Mima's her teacher or mother or what. She is generally agreed to have taught Marisa some of her spells, since they have some shared or similar attacks.
    • Konngara is sometimes thought to be an Oni, as she has a horn, and drinks sake while fighting, like Yuugi would do later in the series.
    • Fans are divided on whether Rika and Rikako from Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream are the same person or not. Both are more scientifically-minded than most Gensoukyou residents.
    • Kurumi may be related to the Scarlet sisters. Her boss theme is called "Scarlet Symphony ~ Scarlet Phoneme".
    • Eirin's character profile says she was surprised to see Sakuya in Imperishable Night, but never explains why. Fanon has explored several possible connections between them, including Sakuya being a Lunarian, Eirin having made her Luna Dial, or the two characters being related in some way. There's also a lot of speculation about how and why Sakuya became Remilia's servant.
    • Reisen's ears have what look like buttons at their base, which led to speculation that she wears fake ears. However, in Silent Sinner in Blue, the other rabbits in the Lunar Defense Corps have the same buttons too, except for Reisen II, their new recruit. Perhaps the buttons are rank insignia of some kind?
    • A popular fan theory has Maribel and Yukari Yakumo being the same person. The basic idea is that when Maribel sleeps, she dreams she is Yukari. And when Yukari sleeps, she dreams she is Maribel. It doesn't help matters that they look very similar. Or that both have boundary-related powers. There may be some evidence suggesting she is Yukari's past time-displaced self. Although Maribel is from the future, Perfect Memento in Strict Sense mentions that a note she wrote was found in Gensokyo several centuries in the past. Another common association is with Marisa, again because they have similar appearances and in this case similar first names as well.
    • Fandom has taken to associating Renko with Reimu the same way they do Maribel with Yukari.
    • Her name, title, and the fact she has a shackle with a broken chain around her left arm, have all fueled speculations that Kasen Ibara is one of the four Devas of the Mountain - specifically Suika's daughter / lover, if you go by the original legend. Japanese mythology, which ZUN takes great liberties with anyway, does include oni hermits. And that's before you get to her mysterious relationship with the Hakurei Shrine or the thing with her right arm.
  • Excuse Plot: Progressively less as the series progresses, but the PC-98 games in particular had very flimsy plots.
  • Expy:
    • Meira: Looks remarkably similar to Konngara.
    • Kotohime: Has a visual resemblance to an unnamed Story of Eastern Wonderland midboss.
    • Hong Meiling: Possibly of Orange, due to similar appearances.
    • Sakuya: Probably of Yumeko, as both are Knife Nuts, Ninja Maids, and have a similar appearance.
    • Kaguya: Might be one of Kotohime, since they are both sheltered princesses, are both kind of strange in the head, have theme songs with similar titles ("Maniacal Princess" and "Lunatic Princess"), and both have a connection with rabbits (Kotohime's name means "little rabbit princess").
    • Minamitsu: Possibly of Chiyuri, due to the fact that they both wear sailor suits. Additionally, she has a teleportation attack similar to Chiyuri's, and her ship can do interdimensional travel.
    • Tojiko: Of Mima.
    • Mononobe no Futo: Who looks similar to Shingyoku's male form.
  • Fan Dumb: Specifically, see "Elitism" and "Mad Bride".
  • Fandom Rivalry: Many fans of the shmup genre frown upon Touhou and its fanbase, especially Touhou fans who don't play the games. Although, it's rare to see a Touhou fan be dismissive of fans of the genre.
  • Fanon: Touhou basically runs on fanon, with enough sheer fan material in it to make the average fan's head explode. Some of it has even been actually adopted into the canon by the author.
  • Fanon Discontinuity:
    • Borderline case for Silent Sinner in Blue. Mainly for introducing two (possibly intentional) God Mode Sues who defeated popular characters in ways that can be best described as either Deus Ex Machina or outright cheating.
    • There's also disagreement within the fandom over how much Inaba of the Moon and Inaba of the Earth counts. It's the only official Touhou production that wasn't actually written by ZUN himself, and some of the characterization differs from his - especially since it's a gag series that plays fast and loose with such things to begin with.
  • Fan Myopia: Part of this stems from the sheer volume of fan material. Of course, most of the fan material comes from Japan -- where Touhou actually is that well-known.
  • First Installment Wins: Averted with the whole series, but played straight with Windows era games, where EoSD, PCB and IN and their casts usually have much, much larger fanbases than the later games.
  • Freud Was Right: Koishi Komeiji's "Embers of Love" attack, formed of heart-shaped danmaku flying point-first and leaving a trail behind them, looks a little like a different body part. The fandom did not fail to notice, especially since her ability is manipulation of the subconscious.
  • Genius Bonus: Many spell cards are named after obscurities related to science, literature, folklore, and the like.
    • Mokou's boss music, "Reach for the Moon, Immortal Smoke", is a reference to "the smoke that rises to the moon even to this day" at the end of The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.
    • Kaguya's third card from Shoot the Bullet references the seamless ceiling of the Kinkaku-ji temple... though whether it's truly seamless or not is disputed, as it has been burned in a fire.
  • Hype Backlash:
    • A majority of shoot-em-up fans, who feel that Touhou has driven attention away from other shmups, particularly those with more mechanical visual styles.
    • Non-shmup fans, who are utterly baffled by the popularity of a simple shmup series and really don't dig Moe, Animesque fanart, or the Improbably-Female Cast.
    • People who discover Touhou through the fandom and then get frustrated to the point of ragequit by the Bullet Hell genre.
    • People who get frustrated, disgusted, or scared away by the enormous Fan Dumb.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks:
    • The fact that fan works and characters draw in many fans, who have never played the games themselves, doesn't sit well with a lot of people. This is allegedly the reason ZUN refuses to allow an official Touhou anime to be made.
  • Just Here For The Cute Monster Girls:
    • A number of fans don't really play the games so much as read doujinshi or indulge in character fanart.
    • Some part of the audience is here for its soundtrack.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Quite a few. See under "Video Games" in that article.
  • Magnificent Bitch: Yukari is a slight heroic example. She led a youkai invasion to the Moon and let them get routed... just to teach them that greed and expansionism is bad. And then we have Silent Sinner In Blue. Turns out the whole invasion this time was a distraction so that Yuyuko could steal lunar treasures. Yuyuko found the treasures boring and brought back sake instead, but that still pissed off the Lunarians who were supposed to be protecting that stuff.
  • Memetic Badass:
  • Memetic Mutation: Many, MANY examples, a few of which have become actual canon.
    • Fountain of Memes: Spawned an absolutely incredible amount of memes and in-jokes for a single series. IOSYS remixes in particular have a tendency to spawn more.
    • Watch It for the Meme: Touhou as a whole can claim any number of new fans drawn in by its loads and loads of memes. In fact, because of all the memes, a great number of fans were drawn to the series because of the all-encompassing fandom itself. This odd cycle of fans being attracted to the ever-growing fandom has been described as a "bizarre ouroboros" or a "positive feedback loop".
  • Moe: Fan depictions of the girls have a natural tendency to play up either the girls' moe-ness or badass-ness. Bonus points if they can pull off both at the same time.
    • Generally, ZUN tries not to give his characters stereotypical moe personalities, but the Fandom will do so in the absence of any canon stating otherwise, such as with Koakuma and Momiji shortly after they were introduced.
    • Kogasa is the new youkai moe~, due to the umbrella she carries (like Yuuka - the first youkai moe~), her Chew Toy/Woobie status, and a high level combination of moe factors. This ultimately results in fanart that looks like this.
  • Never Live It Down: Because of "I GOT CAVED BY EX-KEINE!", it will be a long time before Keine is taken seriously again. IOSYS effectively turning it into a Forced Meme didn't help.
    • Shou is portrayed by fans as always losing things because she lost her pagoda during the events of UFO. Ironic, considering her ability is to attract treasures...
  • Ron the Death Eater: Sanae's newly discovered interest in youkai extermination[2] has led to fans taking it a bit far and giving her a sadistic streak and a fanatical zeal for it.
  • Shipping: Too complicated to explain here. See the Touhou Wiki for details and Portmanteau Couple Names. Commonly used Shipping Tropes include:
    • Crack Pairing:
      • Since he's almost the only straight option in Gensokyo, there are a lot of crack pairing pictures with Rinnosuke and one of the girls. Somehow, a few fans even manage to slash him despite the rather limited options. The most common person he is slashed with? ZUN.
      • Wriggle is often paired up with Yuuka, of all people.
      • Mokou and Mystia, in spite of Mokou claiming to run a yakitori stand. Though Mystia is a sparrow, not a chicken.
    • Everyone Is Gay/Les Yay Shipping: The inevitable consequence of an Improbably-Female Cast. There's even fanart of the girls trying to hit on an obviously uninterested Rinnosuke.
    • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Marisa gets paired with Reimu, Mima, Alice, Patchouli, Flandre, Nitori, and many, many more.
    • Ship Mates: Reimu x Marisa shippers will pair up Alice and Patchouli for this reason (or Reimu/Alice).
    • Ships That Pass in the Night: Usually based on game locations (bosses for adjacent stages, a boss and the midboss of their stage) or possible common interests.
    • Sibling Incest: Any pair of sisters will have fanart showing them in a relationship.
  • Spoil At Your Own Risk: ZUN specifically requested that the endings to the games not be posted on the Internet to avoid spoilers; fan sites have managed to follow this request, but once in a blue moon, the content will pop up somewhere.
  • "Stop Having Fun!" Guys:
    • Admitting to playing using a pad tends to elicit harassment from some players who think you should be using a keyboard instead.
    • Mocking those who play "Easy Modo" is incredibly common, including in the games themselves, and stating "it's unforgivable to play Easy Mode unless you're a grade school kid" is one of the fans' many memes. Some take it further and insist that the only difficulty mode is Lunatic.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: While every character can be Moe, Chen may just get the most of this treatment from the fandom, despite her actually being rather devious and mischievous. Her mere presence can often drive Ran into massive nose bleeds with sheer cuteness.
  • Tear Jerker: Several characters like Yuyuko, Byakuren, Mokou, and the Prismriver Sisters have had tragic events in their lives, none of which are mentioned in or greatly affect the games proper.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: The Aki sisters are considered to be the least notable of the Windows era characters, below even midbosses like Daiyousei and Koakuma, which leads to a Memetic Mutation where they are called original characters. Their unpopularity is their popularity.
  • Values Dissonance: Something not readily apparent to western viewers. Byakuren was originally motivated by fear, then love (the two extremes) and used deception to make youkai and humans equal. She's an extremely lapsed Buddhist. The Japanese are also critical of the western take on "equality". If you treat the strong and the weak the same way, the strong will have an advantage. Needless to say, quite a few grimdark doujinshi turn her into some sort of evil mass murderer who genocides "weak" beings.
    • The same goes for Miko, who is similarly lapsed: Taoism is about letting things be, not actively meddling in everything.
  • What an Idiot!: On Easy difficulty, Cirno's Icicle Fall spell card has a blatant blind spot right in front of her.
  • The Woobie:
    • Cirno. Though some might argue she has it coming, she is treated rather harshly by other characters, particularly in Hisoutensoku when a purposeful misdirection by Marisa nearly gets her killed. As much as a fairy can be killed, at least.
    • Hong Meiling gets this in fanon a lot, especially by making Sakuya out to be abusive.
    • Flandre. Willingly or not, enduring almost complete solitary confinement for several centuries is not known to have many benefits, while her ability ensures that even at best everyone will always keep her at a metaphorical arm's distance.
    • Yuyuko. Though she is much better now, the circumstances that led to her becoming a ghost, as well as the desire to resurrect the person under the Ayakashi because she could only bring death and never life, fall well into this trope.
    • Reisen. Often played for comedy in fanon. Possibly of the iron variety due to her desire to protect her masters and subordinate despite how they treat her.
    • Kogasa. She's an unwanted umbrella who can't even use her power to surprise people properly. In Double Spoiler her title is "Pitiable Illegally Dumped Object". And for Ten Desires, it's "Greatly Troubled Lost Article". There, she's seen trying to get the help of the protagonists, as she can't deal with that stage's boss. And then the protagonists beat her up anyways. Fanart often takes it to Butt Monkey status, sometimes even going so far as to put her crying on a pile of trash while dressed in tattered clothes.
    • Byakuren, even more so than Flandre, though definitely of the Iron Woobie subtype, remaining dedicated to her self-imposed mission.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Marisa Kirisame of is a noted Memetic Sex Godess, and has been shipped with virtually every character she's ever teamed up with, plus other characters like the protagonist Reimu, The One Guy Rinnouske thanks to him being a part of her childhood, and Enfant Terrible Flandre. Thanks to this rather large "harem", and her Kleptomaniac Hero status, she's often portrayed as sometimes outright taking her friends and lovers completely for granted. A meme revolving around her is even called "Marisa Stole the Precious Thing", based on a comic where Patchouli saying that Marisa stole a spellbook from her was misinterpreted to mean that Marisa stole Patchouli's virginity, setting Alice off on a jealous rage against Marisa before she could hear the full story, and later an IOSYS song by that title.


Examples in the games' gameplay:

  • Breather Level: While the final bosses are devastating, the final stage tends to be mercifully short, often with enemies that drop full powerups. Reisen is infamous for being one of the easier stage five bosses.
  • Game Breaker:
    • Marisa in Mountain of Faith. Her B-type shot has a glitch that makes it insanely powerful under the right circumstances, earning it the Fan Nickname of MarisaBugged.
    • Much less severe, but Marisa's teamup with Alice in Imperishable Night has access to another highly damaging exploit, which fans have dubbed the Malice Cannon.
    • Sakuya's A-type shot in Perfect Cherry Blossom is considered this by some since its unfocused mode covers the top of the screen, while the focused concentrates it entirely on single target and is homing withing a relatively wide angle. She also has four bombs per life with the same properties.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • MAlice Cannon in Imperishable Night. Lasers in the earlier Touhou games were somewhat laggy in their hit detection. In IN's case, this meant that you could switch between Alice and Marisa rapidly, and Alice's full damage would go through, the lag on the laser covering the time as Marisa.
    • Marisa B(ugged) in Mountain of Faith. Whenever Marisa B has between 3.00 and 3.95 power, the central laser does ten times the appropriate damage value when unfocused.
    • In Subterranean Animism, Reimu C (Reimu and Aya) and Marisa B (Marisa and Patchy) can destroy the 3rd (only in the demo, she can't be destroyed in that way in the full version), 6th, and extra stage midbosses just by bombing them as they appear.
    • A lot of these bugs can be found here.
  • Growing the Beard:
    • Lotus Land Story, where most of the standard Touhou gameplay features were introduced.
    • Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, with the introduction of the Spell Card system.
  • It's Hard, So It Sucks: Many fans who got into Touhou through Fanon or Memetic Mutation first find the games to be stupidly hard, if not impossible. It really does NOT help that people who are competent at the games like to show the games off on Lunatic difficulty or through extra stages, which only makes the games look even worse.
  • It's Short, So It Sucks:
    • A popular opinion of Ten Desires, which ZUN intentionally made easier to attract a wider audience.
    • Mostly averted. Despite each game taking on average no more than 30 minutes to complete, the series has a very big following, especially for a Shmup series.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • The tenth game, Mountain of Faith, generated discontent among fans because of the significant gameplay changes, such as linking the bomb system to weapon powerups, not having individualised bombs for each of the shot types, and making the continues send you back to the beginning of the level. Most notable was the removal of the "graze" system, where one is rewarded for getting close to bullets as often as possible without getting hit. This was thankfully put back in for Subterranean Animism, where's it's actually the basis of the scoring system.
    • Undefined Fantastic Object heralds the return of more classic features, such as the separate bomb bar and character-unique spell cards, but the UFO mechanic for this game proves annoying to many players, especially since using said mechanic is one of the few ways to gain more power, bombs, points, and lives.
    • The scoring system in Ten Desires requires that you spend most of the time near the top of the screen, meaning you have to rely on luck and memorisation to avoid getting hit, rather than skill. The game also gets rid of the deathbombing, another hallmark of the Touhou series.
  • Surprise Difficulty:
    • Players familiar with fanworks come into Cirno's fight expecting it to be a joke. Then they eat icicle shotgun. And, while Icicle Fall ~ Easy deserves its memetic status, the version on normal is actually fairly nasty. It's basically the same thing, except Cirno also fires a spread of larger bullets in front of her, meaning you actually have to navigate the icicles, which is harder than you'd think.
    • Kogasa.
  • That One Boss: Enough examples for their own page.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy:
    • Fans often describe Alice solo as the worst playable character in Imperishable Night because of her narrow range of attack and terrible spell damage. Possible justification of the Malice Cannon, and maybe even the pairing.
    • Utsuho in Hisoutensoku is a Skill Gate Character with extremely powerful (and surprisingly quick) melee attacks as well as immense and incredibly dense strong bullets. She's also one of the more popular characters, making her the bane of most players just starting out.

Notes

  1. Ran is a kitsune/fox, the same family as a dog, and her shikigami Chen is a cat. Shou is a tiger, a feline, and her servant Nazrin is a mouse.
  2. Where "extermination" really just amounts to ritualized playfighting
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