A few of the more important charactersnote Touhou Project
("Touhou", 東方, meaning Eastern
"Toh Hoh") is a series of doujin
scrolling shooter games in the "Bullet Hell
" subgenre, developed by Team Shanghai Alice. It is most famous for its high difficulty level
involving intricate bullet patterns
, and that instead of having spaceships and warfare vehicles, it has girls in frilly dresses: nearly every character is a Little Miss Badass
, Cute Monster Girl
, or Cute Witch
, and wears some degree of Lolita
clothing. Much of its popularity comes from its enormous Doujinshi
community, and the equally enormous amounts of amateur musical arrangements and remixes of the games' music. Indeed most of the characters are given only a framework personality in the games
, traditionally leaving most of the details up to Fanon
, however the series' creator has written quite a bit of manga, stories
, and general information
for it as well.
Like Cave Story
, it's also outstanding in that the entirety of the games, including the sprite graphics, 3D graphics, character portraits, dialogue, story, music composition, programming, bullet-patterns, and concept are all done by one guy, known as "ZUN".note
The basic plot of each of the games is that the isolated land of Gensokyo, a Fantasy Kitchen Sink
hidden in the mountains of Japan and separated from reality by a magical barrier, faces some sort of "incident", which local Miko
Reimu and her best friend Cute Witch
Marisa feel compelled to resolve for their own reasons,note
sometimes joined by bosses from previous games. What qualifies as an "incident" can range from globally life threatening like the endless winter of Perfect Cherry Blossom
to harmless curiosities like the flying boat of Undefined Fantastic Object
. After beating up some random bystanders in the early stages, they eventually discover the Anti-Villain
behind the disturbance and beat them up, along with some of their friends and/or Battle Butlers
. Afterward, they make peace with the villains (often figuratively and literally "drinking tea" with them), and get sent on a tangentially related quest to beat up someone else related to the villain, but not to the incident, in a Bonus Dungeon
Gameplay-wise, the main series games are vertical scrolling shooters divided into 6 stages with a bonus Extra stage accessible from the menu, unlocked after beating the main game without continues. The games focus more on the bosses than the stages
, with each stage boss of each game being a colorful character given their own Leitmotif
and trademark bullet patterns, known as "spell cards". The spell cards and the boss themes are also given fanciful names that hint at the character's backstory and personality. This steady accumulation of bosses is the source of the series' infamous Loads and Loads of Characters
, while the spell cards and Leitmotifs
keep them distinct enough to be memorable to the fans.
See also the extensive wiki
about the game series.
Not to be confused with Toho
, a movie production company mainly responsible for the tokusatsu
The official games in chronological order: note
The long list
era — note
- TH 01 Touhou Reiiden ~ Highly Responsive to Prayers (1997) Translation
- TH 02 Touhou Fuumaroku ~ the Story of Eastern Wonderland (1997) Translation
- TH 03 Touhou Yumejikuu ~ Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream (1997) Translation
- TH 04 Touhou Gensokyo ~ Lotus Land Story (1998) Translation
- TH 05 Touhou Kaikidan ~ Mystic Square (1998) Translation
Windows era — note
- TH 06 Touhou Koumakyou ~ the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil (2002) Translation
- TH 07 Touhou Youyoumu ~ Perfect Cherry Blossom (2003) Translation
- TH 07.5 Touhou Suimusou ~ Immaterial and Missing Power (2004) Translation
- TH 08 Touhou Eiyashou ~ Imperishable Night (2004) Translation
- TH 09 Touhou Kaeidzuka ~ Phantasmagoria of Flower View (2005) Translation
- TH 09.5 Touhou Bunkachou ~ Shoot the Bullet (2005) Translation
- TH 10 Touhou Fuujinroku ~ Mountain of Faith (2007) Translation
- TH 10.5 Touhou Hisouten ~ Scarlet Weather Rhapsody (2008) Translation
- TH 11 Touhou Chireiden ~ Subterranean Animism (2008) Translation
- TH 12 Touhou Seirensen ~ Undefined Fantastic Object (2009) Translation
- TH 12.3 Touhou Hisoutensoku ~ Choudokyuu Ginyoru no Nazo wo Oe (2009) Translation note
- TH 12.5 Double Spoiler ~ Touhou Bunkachou (2010) Translation
- TH 12.8 Yousei Daisensou ~ Touhou Sangetsusei (2010) Translation note
- TH 13 Touhou Shinreibyou ~ Ten Desires (2011) Translation
- TH 13.5 Touhou Shinkirou ~ Hopeless Masquerade (2013) Translation note
- TH 14 Touhou Kishinjou ~ Double Dealing Character (2013) Translation
- TH 14.3 Danmaku Amanojaku ~ Impossible Spell Card (2014) Translation
- TH 14.5 Touhou Shinhiroku ~ Urban Legend in Limbo (2015) Translation
- ZUN's Music Collection (2002 - Ongoing) — A set of albums containing Touhou remixes and new music by ZUN, with accompanying stories. The first one is quite odd and likely not canon anymore. The rest follow the Sealing Club, a pair of female college students in future Kyoto.
- Touhou Kourindou ~ Curiosities of Lotus Asia (2010) Translation — A series of Slice of Life short stories written by ZUN from the perspective of Rinnosuke, a Non-Action Guy shopkeeper.
- Touhou Sangetsusei (2005 - 2012) Translation — A Slice of Life manga focusing on the various misadventures of the three fairies of light as well as, usually, Reimu and Marisa. Consists of:
- Eastern and Little Nature Deity
- Strange and Bright Nature Deity
- Oriental Sacred Place
- A Flower Blooming Fragrant Violet Every Sixty Years (2005) is a short story contained in the otherwise non-canon fanbook Seasonal Dream Vision. From Yukari's perspective, it explains a bit more of just what the hell was going on in Phantasmagoria of Flower View.
- Touhou Bougetsushou (2007 - 2012) Translation — A group of stories concerning Remilia invading the moon.
- Silent Sinner in Blue — The main story.
- Cage in Lunatic Runagate — Mostly character-focused side stories. Also contains most of the backstory and the ending.
- Inaba of the Moon and Inaba of the Earth — A gag comedy set around the same time, starring the Eientei crew. Unlike the other manga, where ZUN is credited with the scenario, here he's credited with characters and setting, putting it on a lower tier of canon than everything else.
- Touhou Ibarakasen ~ Wild and Horned Hermit (2010 - Ongoing) Translation — A manga focusing on the hermit Kasen Ibaraki, and her interactions with Reimu and Marisa.
- Touhou Suzunaan ~ Forbidden Scrollery (2012 - Ongoing) Translation — A manga focusing on Kosuzu Motoori, a girl who works at her family's book rental shop in the human village.
- Touhou Bunkachou ~ Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red (2005) Translation — A book presenting articles from Aya's newspaper. Most are focused on individual characters from EoSD through IN with accompanying interviews, but there are also editorials on major locations and Aya's perspective of what happened in the games. The book also included some music commentary from ZUN, an interview, a one-shot official manga, and several fan-made doujinshi.
- Touhou Gumon Shiki ~ Perfect Memento in Strict Sense (2006) Translation — Part of the Gensokyo Chronicles, as written by the ninth child of Miare, Hieda no Akyuu. Like BAiJR, many of the articles are focused on characters up through PoFV, but there's also some general setting background information and expands on powers and relationships. It too has an associated one-shot manga, but less other goodies.
- The Grimoire of Marisa (2009) — Marisa's comments on characters' spell cards.
- Touhou Gumon Kujo ~ Symposium of Post-Mysticism (2012) Translation — A sequel of sorts to Perfect Memento in Strict Sense, covering most of the characters introduced since. In lieu of the non-character encyclopedia entries it has a number of newspaper articles and a transcript of the titular symposium between Byakuren, Kanako, Miko and Marisa.
for derivative Doujin Soft
, and Web Comics
. See Seihou
for the sister series.
Touhou provides examples of:
open/close all folders
Tropes in the games' gameplay
- A.I. Breaker: In Phantasmagoria of Flower View the AI doesn't look very far ahead in predicting bullet movements and instead relies on reacting to nearby bullets, so certain characters perform significantly better against AI opponents:
- Aya's high-speed EX bullets and spell cards are easily predicted and streamed by a human player, but move fast enough that the AI is unable to react to them in time to dodge.
- The large laser in Eiki's summon Spell Card comes with a warning tracer which would be an obvious indicator for players to get out of the way, but the AI will try to move out of the way at the last second and get hit because the laser is too wide for them to move far away enough before it hits.
- Medicine's EX poison clouds will slow players' movements, and are capable of piling up their slow effects until a player is just about immobilized. Savvy human players will avoid these when given the option, but the AI will happily fly into the masses of poison, get stuck, and become unable to dodge incoming bullets.
- Air Jousting: Marisa's broom charge attacks in Scarlet Weather Rhapsody.
- All Monks Know Kung-Fu: Not only do the Buddhist monk characters in Hopeless Masquerade specialize in martial arts, Buddhism itself is associated with melee attacks as a game mechanic.
- Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: From Lotus Land Story onward, bosses will change the background.
- Ambidextrous Sprite: In the fighting games, characters' sprites are mirrored for movement, resulting in oddities such as Utsuho's arm cannon and asymmetrical legs switching places if she moves left.
- Arbitrary Minimum Range: Some spellcards have bullets generated around the boss, but the bullets don't have the hitspot immediately. Because of this, a player can get very close to the boss before the bullets are fired, and hence without taking any damage. This video provides examples, like 1:02, 8:46 and 9:52.
- Artificial Stupidity: The fighting games. Highlights include not particularly understanding if the character is melee or range oriented, using moves that can't possibly hit, virtually never using cards,note and difficulty selection in arcade mode doing nothing. This was bad enough for people to start work on an AI hack but the project seems to have died since.
- Awesome but Impractical/Difficult but Awesome: Pretty much all of the experimental shot types (ie, not spread, homing, forward concentration, or piercing) fall under one or the other, depending on who you ask.
- Marisa's Master Spark bomb in Undefined Fantastic Object on definitely falls under Awesome But Impractical, at least during stages. The massive speed penalty it saddles her with makes it nearly impossible to collect anything.
- Death bombing introduced in the fifth game on. When your character gets hit, you have a fraction of a second to press the bomb button to save yourself. The timing varies with each game, but is rarely enough for the average player to do so as a reaction. You basically need to predict your own death in order to use it.
- Last Words in Hopeless Masquerade; super-powerful spellcards that can only be used at max popularity, but drop your popularity to zero when used. The problem is that timeout victories are decided by popularity, making this a major risk, and gaining that much popularity likely requires you to be fairly decisively winning in the first place, making it an unnecessary risk.
- A Winner Is You:
- The Battle Didn't Count: Justified in that all the fights are technically exhibition matches, but...
- In Embodiment, if you beat Sakuya on Easy difficulty, she mocks you for it and tells you she's still not letting you see Remilia.
- In Fairy Wars, the Bonus Boss fight against Marisa. Cirno is the one that starts looking beaten up and begging for a break as you whittle down Marisa's health. Although she does express surprise at how much effort she needs to go to against a "mere fairy."
- Battle Intro: Hopeless Masquerade is the first of the fighting games to feature this.
- Beam Spam: Every single character, with Shou being the worst offender.
- Beyond the Impossible: In Impossible Spell Card, Seija is being hunted by humans and youkai who are "cheating" by using spell cards that are considered impossible to dodge. In normal gameplay, you counter this with magic items that also let you "cheat", however, to get the highest rating, you have to forsake the artifacts and dodge the "un-dodgeable" spells on your own.
- Bonus Boss: Every game except Highly Responsive to Prayers, the versus shooters and the fighters has at least one extra boss. Perfect Cherry Blossom also has the phantasm boss, a Bonus Boss to the Bonus Boss. In the phantasm stage, the extra boss reappears as a Mid Boss.
- Bonus Dungeon: Where the extra boss hangs out.
- Boss Banter: Usually restricted to before and after fights, but the final boss in Ten Desires is eventually accompanied by her flunkies, who start taunting the player while the fight is still going on.
- Boss Rush: The entirety of Shoot the Bullet, Double Spoiler, and Impossible Spell Card is this.
- Boss Subtitles: Everybody gets these. Even most of the side material includes them. They're known to change, too. Head over to the Touhou Wiki for the full list.
- Boss Warning Siren: In Subterranean Animism, Utsuho Reiuji, the nuclear-powered Hell raven girl (and final boss) of the game, has the distinction of prefixing each of her spell cards with klaxons while the text "CAUTION!!" flares on-screen.
- Breaking Out: Highly Responsive To Prayers has many elements of this.
- Brutal Bonus Level: Extra Stages. And the (so far) only Phantasm stage in Perfect Cherry Blossom.
- Bullet Hell: The Touhou games are a well known example of the genre, quite possibly even moreso than Cave's shooters, at least outside of Japan. Mind you, Cave shooters are commercial, while Touhou is doujinshi.
- Calling Your Attacks: Any spell card declaration results in the name of the card showing up at the top/bottom of the screen. Also, in the fighting game Immaterial and Missing Power, you choose one specific spell card out of three for each of your life bars, and you cannot actually use them until you input a command to declare them.
- Cherry Tapping: Hopeless Masquerade includes special animations if someone lost due to this.
- Clever Crows: Aya Shameimaru is a Crow Tengu Paparazzi who publishes a rumor mill tabloid; if not an outright trickster, she's at least clever and annoying. There's also Utsuho Reiuji, a nuclear-powered hell raven who's a bit more... straightforward. Fan interpretation is split on whether Utsuho is just an idiot, or if all of her brainpower is focused on nuclear physics.
- Clothing Damage: If there is a dialogue after a boss fight, the loser often has her clothing damaged. Downplayed, since the damage includes dusty hair, torn sleeves and ribbons, and everything else perfectly fine.
- One interesting case is the dialogue after you beat Marisa in Fairy Wars, where it's Cirno who has her clothing damaged instead of Marisa.
- Similarly, Remilia will also look beaten up after defeating Utsuho in Hisoutensoku.
- Contractual Boss Immunity: Ex-Bosses will not receive any damage from bombs during their own spellcards and any given Final Boss will probably also have the same immunity during their last spellcard.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience:
- Red items give power, while blue items give points. After Mountain of Faith, green items (small green circles in DDC)increase the value of Point Items.
- In Ten Desires, Blue Spirits increase the Point Item value, Purple Spirits are Life Pieces, and Green Spirits are Bomb Pieces.
- Similarly, Red UFOs in UFO give Life Shards, Green UFOs give bombs, and Blue UFOs give points, although Flashing UFOs invert the item type.
- Computers Are Fast: Not present in the normal Shoot Em Up games, but have fun beating Lunatic AI in the two-player games.
- Cosmetic Award: Clearing a scene with a high enough score in Shoot the Bullet or Double Spoiler unlocks commentary from Aya or Hatate. Score has no other purpose.
- Contrived Coincidence: "Punk Rock in my Touhou" sounds completely strange out of context, but it actually predicted the next two games. The name of the band, "Chojuu Gigaku", comes from "gigaku", one of the oldest forms of masked plays in Japan also known for its heavy use for taiko drums, and "choujuu giga", a set of scrolling images primarily known as being farces of their time period. Come Kokoro (whose Noh plays were influenced by gigaku) being influenced by Mamizou (who has a Spell Card in said game of the exact same images from choujuu giga) and Raiko (who is a Tsukumogami of a taiko drum set) and you have early Japanese dance history in a few games.
- Costume Exaggeration: Reimu originally wore a realistic Miko outfit; however, after the Continuity Reboot she switched to a more stylised and less practical version, complete with Detached Sleeves. Sanae also wears a similar outfit.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory: Impossible Spell Card features a camera that works similarly to Aya's camera in Shoot the Bullet and Double Spoiler, but in ISC, you take pictures with X as opposed to Z in StB/DS. Cue StB/DS players dying a lot when they try to take pictures with Z.
- Dead Character Walking: Certain versions of Touhou 7: Perfect Cherry Blossom has Merlin Prismriver continue attacking even after the Prismriver sisters are supposed to be defeated, potentially killing your character. So much for sisterly solidarity. This bug has been mercilessly ridiculed by doujin artists.
- Defeat Equals Explosion: For bosses in the shooting games. Characters can also explode in the fighting game Hopeless Masquerade, depending on how they are defeated. Note that danmaku fights are non-lethal - the player character often has a chat with the boss after defeating her - so the explosion is presumably just a showy special effect.
- Desolation Shot: In Mystic Square, the Amazing Technicolor Battlefield disappears when you dispel Shinki's penultimate spell and blast her wings off. The background of the battle's final phase is a slow pan down over Makai, which is now on fire as a result of the fight.
- Difficulty Spike:
- Most games seem to have one, usually around stage 4.
- Most final bosses' and extra bosses' final spell cards start out fairly simple, even elementary... then it gets faster, or stacks more components simultaneously over time/damage. By the end, the spell is an all-out nightmarish mess that fills the screen or moves very quickly, or both.
- Dual Boss:
- Yuki and Mai in Mystic Square.
- The Prismriver sisters in Perfect Cherry Blossom.
- Sunny Milk, Luna Child and Star Sapphire in Fairy Wars.
- Seiga and Yoshika in Ten Desires.
- Miko, Tojiko and Futo for one of the former's spellcards in the same game — although Miko does not do a single thing during it.
- Reimu, Miko and Byakuren in Kokoro's Hopeless Masquerade story mode. Reimu fights by herself, but during spellcards, in the first spell, Miko joins in the attack. In the second spell, Byakuren does tag with Reimu. Third and fourth spells? The religious trinity itself, Reimu assisted by Miko and Byakuren.
- The Tsukumo sisters, usually fought one at a time during regular gameplay in Double Dealing Character, unite as the ex-stage midbosses.
- Dynamic Difficulty: 4-6 have a system where the bullets become faster and denser over time. In the case of 4 and 5, it's somewhat tied to how well you're doing, but in 6 it just keeps going up until you die, which resets it.
- Early Installment Weirdness/Odd Ball In The Series: Highly Responsive to Prayers isn't even a danmaku game. It's more of a weird Breakout clone, with some Shoot 'em Up elements in boss fights.
- Empathic Environment: The fourth stage of Double Dealing Character is strange in the sense that it beats in rhythm with the music.
- Every 10,000 Points: In many games you get an extend every ten or twenty million points.
- Expansion Pack:
- Touhou Hisoutensoku, an add-on to Scarlet Weather Rhapsody that introduces a new storyline and playable characters, including Meiling and Cirno.
- Double Spoiler can be considered this for Shoot the Bullet, which was originally meant to be updated as new characters appeared.
- Failure Is the Only Option: In Imperishable Night you have to get the normal ending to unlock the better ending.
- Fake Difficulty:
- It's arguable that all of the Touhou games suffer from this, due to the ambiguity of the hitboxes on the bullets requiring more a ton of Trial-and-Error Gameplay, although that really comes with the Bullet Hell territory. Story of Eastern Wonderland was the worst about it though, as your hitbox was rather large, and if you died it would offset slightly — enough to make some previous safe spots no longer safe.
- Undefined Fantastic Object's fifth stage clouds the screen with literally hundreds of Point and Power Items. Normally, this would be a great thing for scoring and power alike, but the items can often cover the bullets onscreen, usually resulting in a "WTF just hit me?" reaction from the player. Also, MarisaA uses very shiny lasers to attack, which shoot from four options around Marisa. Almost all of stage 5 uses very shiny bullets, approximately the same size as said options. It's not uncommon for a player to run into a bullet because they look almost exactly alike. The fact that the red bullets can also blend into the red background makes it even worse. This problem is present in Mountain of Faith and Subterranean Animism as well, though to a lesser extent.
- Field Power Effect:
- SWR and Hisoutensoku have the weather system that can cause all kinds of effects from powered up spellcards to super armor and all hit's counting as counters. Some spellcards and characters can manipulate this to their advantage.
- Urban Legend in Limbo uses the Occult Ball system that, when active, creates one occult ball that the player can attempt to grab as well as one random field effect. These can range from the occult ball being usable for healing oneself or damaging the opponent, cause the play area or to shrink to outright tears in reality that drains health for as long as it lasts.
- Fighting Game: Four and a half fighting game spinoffs: Immaterial and Missing Power, Scarlet Weather Rhapsody and it's Expansion Pack Touhou Hisoutensoku, Hopeless Masquerade, and Urban Legend in Limbo.
- Fighting Your Friend:
- Stage 4 of Lotus Land Story has you fighting whichever character you didn't choose. Only Reimu and Marisa were playable at this point.
- It was repeated in stage 4 of Imperishable Night, which has you fighting either Reimu or Marisa, depending on the team you choose.
- Much of the story of Immaterial and Missing Power, Phantasmagoria of Flower View, and Scarlet Weather Rhapsody.
- Hopeless Masquerade plays it straight and averts it at times. Reimu and Marisa fight each other in their own routes (they're probably used to it by now), but the buddhists and taoists never fight amongst themselves (except for stage 5 in Ichirin's and Futo's routes, but that's Mamizou in disguise both times). And then there's Koishi, who, while not being a part of the Myouren crew, still is a freshly converted buddhist, so her fighting against either Ichirin or Byakuren may or may not count.
- First Person Snapshooter:
- The Gaiden Games Shoot the Bullet and Double Spoiler, in which you play a reporter whose sole method of dealing with enemies and bosses is taking pictures of them.
- In Impossible Spell Card Seija can equip the Tengu's Toy Camera to both slots to imitate Aya.
- Flawless Victory:
- Capturing spell cards, which requires wiping the spell card's corresponding Life Meter segment or, in the case of a survival card, surviving it without losing any lives or bombs.
- Fairy Wars gives golden medals for capturing cards without dying, bombing or freezing any bullets. That was probably ZUN's idea of a joke.
- Flying Saucer:
- Part of the system in Undefined Fantastic Object involves collecting small UFOs from certain enemies that carry them. Upon collecting a red, blue and green one or three of the same color, a large UFO appears, abducts all items onscreen, and tries to fly offscreen. The saucer drops rewards upon defeat - the loot varies depending on the UFO's color and how much it absorbed.
- One of Mononobe no Futo's spellcards will sometimes cause one to smash into her enemy.
- Follow the Leader:
- Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream was made shortly after Twinkle Star Sprites.
- Seihou was rather obviously inspired by Touhou.
- Bullet Heaven, a sort of 'westernized' Touhou game—the achievements have shoutouts to Imperishable Night and Ten Desires.
- Project Nite Festival combines the bomb-power system from Mountain of Faith with a gameplay similar to Imperishable Night, custom characters and spellcards.
- Four Is Death: The enemies of the fourth day of Impossible Spell Card are Yuyuko (a ghost), Yoshika (a jiang shi who's closer to being a zombie), and Seiga (a necromancer).
- Genre Shift:
- The first game on the PC-98 was basically Alleyway with Reimu hitting a ball. The second game was a shooter, but the closest one can get to the modern gameplay is with Mystic Square, the last PC-98 game.
- The two Phantasmagorias; the other games are single-player scrolling shooters whilst Dim. Dream and Flower View are versus shooters.
- Immaterial and Missing Power, Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, Hisoutensoku, Hopeless Masquerade, and Urban Legend in Limbo are 2-D fighters.
- Nobody is entirely sure what to call Shoot the Bullet and Double Spoiler.
- Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: In Hisoutensoku there was a giant catfish from nowhere as the final boss for Meiling's route.
- Harder Than Hard:
- Lunatic mode. It's aptly named.
- Ten Desires adds Overdrive. It's an extra difficulty added to specific spellcards (one for each non-cameo character) that's unlocked by capturing that spellcard on all other difficulties. They range from being the next logical step up after the Lunatic version to being much, much worse.
- Hitbox Dissonance: Intentional, as the games are quite impossible until you learn to exploit it to the fullest. The radius of the hitboxes of large bullets are smaller than the radius of the sprites, so it is typically possible to move the player's hitbox into the very edge of the bullet's sprite and not die. In addition, the boss' hitboxes are usually purposefully larger than their sprites in order to make it easy to shoot the boss.
- Hit Stop: Some high-power spellcards in Scarlet Weather Rhapsody and Hisoutensoku, like Komachi's "Unpitiable Pitiable Life", Suwako's "Mishaguji-sama" and Meiling's "Light Lotus Palm" use this effect.
- Hold the Line:
- Some of the bosses have spell cards that make them invulnerable, and you can't do anything other than dodge and wait for time to run out. Those are commonly known as "Survival" or "Time-Out" Spellcards.
- In Phantasmagoria of Flower View, every single battle in Extra Stages as Komachi or Eiki are this. The enemy is invulnerable for a set amount of time and you must survive until their time is up, at which they often screw up on purpose.
- Jack of All Stats: Reimu tends to have the most balances shot types in terms of power and range.
- Kaizo Trap:
- After beating bosses, it takes a second before the projectiles turn into tokens. So if you aren't careful, you can win, but still die. This can cause a glitch in games that use the second version of the engine (Mountain of Faith to Undefined Fantastic Object; Shoot the Bullet uses that engine as well, but this glitch doesn't occur because of different stage mechanic). Basically if this happens at the end of third stage, and you'll respawn after the "Stage Complete" message, you'll be stuck in that stage. You'll still have full control of the character, but some people reported being unable of alt-tabbing out of the game in fullscreen mode.
- Last Spells are often this. When you think you have defeated the enemy, you rush to the top of the screen to trigger the auto-collect and the enemy respawns right on you, giving no reaction time.
- In Highly Responsive to Prayers there is a slight delay between clearing the stage and the score screen. A careless or unlucky could lose a life over getting hit by the Yin-yang orb or enemy shots. Thankfully boss battles avert this.
- Lag Cancel: Urban Legend in Limbo has the "Fast-talk Declaration" mechanic where any action can be interrupted with a spell card declare by pressing Spell button rapidly twice.
- Lethal Lava Land: Subterranean Animism stages 5 and 6, which take place in the former Hell of Blazing Fires, further warmed by an underground STAR.
- Made of Explodium:
- There's a shot-type and four seperate spellcards based on frogs blowing up.
- Artful Sacrifice. Yes, Alice uses gunpowder as filling for her dolls. And it results in a hilarious dialogue between Alice and Marisa in Subterranean Animism.
- Magic Missile Storm: With the series being a fantasy-themed Bullet Hell series, this trope is basically the premise.
- Marathon Boss: By shmup standards, anyway. Each game has a Bonus Boss which typically takes 8-10 minutes to defeat.
- Mechanically Unusual Fighter:
- The Really 700 Years Old goddess Suwako Moriya from Hisoutensoku. Her standing is actually crouching, and her crouching is conjuring a lily pad underneath her, making her taller. Her regular walking is slowly hopping like a frog (and while hopping she counts as being in the air), and her ground dash is swimming underground, making her invincible to all attacks. Her air movement is her flapping her arms around, and is limited to several directions. Her attacks are relatively normal, though.
- Koishi Komeiji is the whacky fighter of Hopeless Masquerade. To start, like Suwako, her dash is her prancing around while invisible, making her immune to all attacks. Unlike Suwako, her main whackiness is in her attacks. For most of her attacks, she doesn't instantly perform them when you input the commands. Instead, she "stocks" them and use it automatically when certain conditions are met. For example, her 8B is performed only when she's under the opponent, and Catch and Rose is activated only after you hit the opponent with another attack. Also, she needs about 1-2 seconds before the moves are ready to activate, so you really need to predict the situations beforehand.
- To a lesser extent, Byakuren, who needs to charge her specials first before being able to actually use it.
- Mercy Mode: After running out of continues a few times in Imperishable Night, the game's options allow you to start with a few additional lives. "A few" ultimately resulting in a continue's worth of lives totaling 8, where most other games only let you have half as many. Perhaps another reason for Easy-Mode Mockery specifically in IN.
- Mickey Mousing:
- Some levels try to perfectly synchronize themselves with their music, to the extent where you get bonus enemies to destroy if you kill the midboss quickly, and perhaps even skip a pattern if you kill the first few too slowly. Part of this have to do with the fact that ZUN composes the music first, then creates and sync the levels and characters to it.
- In Double Dealing Character, Raiko's last two spell cards are in sync with the music.
- More Dakka:
- Taking your time in some of Imperishable Night's last words will eventually result in the bosses reaching the bullet limit, causing some of the patterns to glitch up. This is just about the closest you can get to having enough dakka.
- If you don't have enough, try Touhou Ultra. It has so much more it can screw up patterns completely.
- Multiple Endings: At the very least, each shottype gets its own ending. Beyond that, specifics vary:
- Most games give you a character-specific bad ending for beating the game after using a continue. The Phantasmagoria games don't care, and Fairy Wars just doesn't give you an ending if you continue. Mountain of Faith gives you one regardless of continues if you played on easy, and in Lotus Land Story and the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, after beating the fifth stage in easy mode, you proceed to the bad ending directly.
- The games that have route selections give you an ending based on which route you take.
- Imperishable Night combines the two above into something odd. You get a Bad Ending for running out of continues. You get a normal ending for facing Eirin as the final boss, who you'll be locked into fighting if it's your first time playing with that character or if you continued.
- Ten Desires gives you a 'Parallel Ending' if you beat the game on normal or higher with at least three bombs in stock (bombs from unused lives don't count).
- Multiple Life Bars: Each life bar represents an attack pattern. Stage bosses have at least four patterns.
- Nintendo Hard:
- It's fairly easy to get to the end by arcade shmup standards, as it wasn't designed to take your money. Doesn't stop it from being frustrating for some players, though. Especially on higher difficulties, getting a good ending is quite a feat. With that said, although the games are hard, they are also fair; most patterns are generally good with being about learning how to avoid them rather than just tossing cheap shots at you, so every death is your own fault.
- Games 10 through 12 made things worse by having continues send you back to the beginning of the stage (thankfully reverted back in Fairy Wars) and removing the option to increase your base lives above three (this one still stands).
- Shoot the Bullet is 11 levels of the most sadistic, multi-layered spell cards in the whole series. Unlike any of the other games, you have no extra lives, no bombs, you lose when you time out, your only weapon is a camera that needs to be charged and manually aimed for long distance attacks, and some bosses are only vulnerable for a fraction of a second. Lastly, the difficulty is not adjustable at all. You do take on each spell card individually and have infinite retries, but the incredible difficulty makes clearing it impossible for most people.
- The sequel, Double Spoiler, is somewhat better thanks to improved camera controls and a new unlockable character that makes most cards easier to beat. It's still harder than the normal Touhou games, though. ZUN even had this on his blog.
Warning: Compared to the other works in the series, the difficulty level of this game in terms of full completion is rather high, so be prepared.
- Even fan-made crossover games fall into this, probably a direct result of putting danmaku in genres where you're actually affected by gravity and don't have a tiny hitbox.
- For the really masochistic people, there's Ultra mode hacks, or cranking up the framerate to play at 150% speed...
- Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: An in-game feature later games gives you a very tiny window after you are hit to bomb, thereby preventing a loss of a life. The eighth game actually makes an entire gameplay mechanic based around this, although that instance is more of a Big Damn Heroes moment as the teammate of the one that was hit comes in and uses the bomb.
- No Sell:
- The final card of the final boss is immune to bombs, though they still clear the bullets away (though usually with some diminished effect, like a smaller radius or only getting half of them or somesuch). You'll have to grind down their health the normal way.
- The only exception to the rule is Utsuho Reiuji, the final boss in Subterranean Animism, which gains armor instead. In other words, you can continue doing reduced damage to her with a bomb, but this comes with the cost that the bombs don't clean the bullets in the screen.
- All extra and phantasm stage bosses have this effect for all spellcards, except in Fairy Wars. In the versus shooters they are completely invincible for a certain period of time.
- Obvious Beta: Hopeless Masquerade was likely rushed for the convention it was released in. It was playable, but there were random crashes (particularly around Koishi) and the final boss was only playable in Story Mode...probably because she had no special moves or Spellcards implemented. This was all eventually fixed with patches.
- Off Model: ZUN's artistic capabilities are... inconsistent. Alphes was generally much better about this, but the Hopeless Masquerade art is rife with anatomy issues.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: Standard for Bullet Hell game protagonists. Curiously enough, when you meet playable characters as bosses they gain Super Toughness instead.
- Pacifist Run:
- The bosses' attacks are all on timers, and it's possible to beat them just by outlasting them. They'll even blow up at the end regardless of whether you fired any shots at them. Since this requires inhuman dodging skills on some of the harder attacks, it has become a favorite Self-Imposed Challenge for Touhou gamers.
- Most of the extra bosses actually have a secret difficulty on their last (or second-to-last, in Yukari's case) spell card, triggered by attempting to go pacifist. Normally, those spell cards start off easy, but get harder as the boss loses HP. To prevent cheesing the game and trivializing what should be a climactic end by just waiting, the spell card will have an extremely hard pattern, even harder than the normal final pattern, starting at 30 seconds left if the boss has not lost enough HP.
- Ironically and counterintuitively, this is the easiest way to defeat the Phantasmagoria AI. The computer opponents basically only get hit when they want to, easily demonstrated by watching two Lunatic AIs fight each other (it can be hours before someone gets hit, as they seem to be capable of getting hit without taking damage). The number of bullets on screen only gets more dense over time if both players are killing enemies, using spell cards, and reflecting more bullets back each time. Level 3 spellcards are also safe, as they cannot have any of their bullets be reflected. If one player never shoots anything, the feedback loop never happens, as the AI's only means of sending bullets at you will be killing fairies, and bullets stay at a manageable level. Bullet density means nothing to the AI, so playing normally only makes it worse for you. The AI will get hit on purpose after a certain time limit is reached, even if there is only one bullet for them to get hit by.
- Parabolic Power Curve: It's generally accepted that the stage 5 boss will be harder than the final boss, or at least as hard. The reason for this is that stage 5 bosses tend to have more experimental or random patterns, with fewer bullets but much trickier dodging. Final bosses are all about large quantities of bullets at all times, but because they're fired in easily predicted patterns, they're not nearly as challenging for experienced players, even if it's their first time fighting that particular boss.
- Pinball Scoring: Typical scores after beating the game are in the millions. Highscores are in the billions. You can score more points on the final level than the rest of the game combined.
- Recursive Ammo
- Redemption Demotion: Playable characters are never anywhere near as strong as when they were enemies. Played straightest in the fighting games, where the main threat in single-player are the various unlimited-duration, amped-up spell cards that you of course don't have access to.
- Scenery Porn: Next time you watch a replay of any game from Mountain of Faith onward, ignore the pretty bullets and look at the backgrounds. They're absolutely stunning.
- Schizophrenic Difficulty: Significantly more the case in the photography games, which have things like Double Spoiler's 11th level being easier than its 8th level, and the bizarrely difficult 3rd level of Shoot The Bullet. Great Fairy Wars is also infamous for its difficulty spike, even for a Touhou game.
- Schmuck Bait: About the upper quarter of the screen is an area called Point of Collection, or POC. If you're in this area with maximum power (TH05-TH07) or in general (TH09 and on), all items that enemies drop will float towards your character. This is essential to racking up points. Except... it's highly recommended you stay away from the POC area unless you know you can sweep around. Sometimes it's too tempting to grab up all the items and then enemies suddenly come out to take a life.
- Score Screen
- Scoring Points: The mainline games have scoring systems. The PC-98 games' scoring tend to be pretty simple, but the Windows games make figuring scoring out a chore.
- Serial Escalation: The whole series could be characterized as "And here, ZUN thought if you can win after 20 tries, the game is too easy".
- Sincerest Form of Flattery: Wondering why some game mechanics look a lot like DonPachi's and Darius? ZUN is a Fanboy of Cave's and Taito's shooters, praising their stories and characters.
- Smart Bomb:
- "Spell cards" are Vancian style magic attacks. Whenever someone uses a spell card, the screen goes to an abnormal background, a portrait of the character appears on the screen, the name of the spell card is shown in the corner, and a circle surrounds the user, getting smaller and smaller until the effect runs out. When a boss uses a spell card, a bullet pattern appears on the screen. When a player uses a spell card, they use a Smart Bomb.
- In the 2-player Phantasmagoria of Flower View, the game uses a Split Screen approach in which using a spell card Smart Bombs your side of the screen and puts bullets on your opponent's side of the screen.
- It's a notable source of Gameplay and Story Segregation, since in Imperishable Night the playable characters become bosses and use their Smart Bomb attacks on you as bullet patterns which look nothing like each other. This is lampshaded in the in-game commentary, where the author says, "This is another spell card that doesn't look much like when the player uses it."
- Spinning Paper: Appears in Hopeless Masquerade at the end of a match, with the headlines indicating who won.
- Sprite/Polygon Mix: All of the Windows era main series games uses this. Hopeless Masquerade is the first of the fighters to incorporate this.
- Stalked by the Bell:
- Step into the Blinding Fight: The Night Sparrow Youkai, Mystia Lorelei, who can cause night-blindness with her songs. In the boss fight against her, this is implemented as you being unable to see anything except a small area around your character.
- Super Move Portrait Attack: The player's and the boss's spell cards. Utsuho's nuclear-based spell cards come with warning sirens and big yellow "CAUTION!!" tape on top of that.
- Trial-and-Error Gameplay:
- When Mima flashes in Story of Eastern Wonderland it means she's about to ram you. Moving to the side is recommended.
- Yuuka has an attack more or less guaranteed to kill you the first time you see them in both fights in Lotus Land Story. In her first fight, there's her so-called "Master Spark"; it's very obvious that she's about to do something, but there's no indication that you need to be on the side of the screen to survive. In the second fight she has an attack that places a shrinking circle under the player: Gamer instinct is to get as far away as possible... and the attack hits everywhere ''except'' in the circle.
- The fourth stage of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil has certain enemies that will cancel all bullets on screen when they die. The stage is much more passable if you know about them, but a first-time player won't.
- In the same game, the normal bullet pattern Remilia uses after her second spell card is essentially a cheap shot against anyone not expecting it/not being careful enough, because it comes out WICKED fast.
- Mokou's Forgiveness "Honest Man's Death" has a gimmick that's completely unique in the entire series: The laser won't kill you if you move towards it when it's firing. Most people have to get help with this one online. - it is actually the case that the laser's hitbox only activates when it passes through your position at the point in time when it was originally fired: moving towards the laser's point of origin at any point after this will save you. Of course, this still requires some trial and error to figure out alone.
- Yuugi's Four Devas Arcanum "Knock Out In Three Steps" is basically impossible to capture unless you already know what to expect. It relies on you being in the right place before the bullets start moving.
- There's several instances in the ENTIRE series where memorizing where enemies come from at which point in each stage and destroying them as soon as possible greatly reduces the amount of bullets you have to dodge. It's safe to say that it is virtually impossible to not be subject to this when playing these games.
- Turns Red:
- Almost all the the spell cards in Shoot the Bullet and Double Spoiler, as you take successful shots.
- This appears to be what those spell cards would look like from Easy mode to Lunatic difficulty.
- Inverted in the main series, where some spell cards will speed up if the player isn't damaging the boss fast enough.
- Units Not to Scale: With the exception of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, bosses are markedly larger than the player, regardless of how large they're supposed to actually be. This is also lampshaded by ZUN. Occasionally, fan art makes jokes based on how large the hitbox of a boss is.
Tropes that pertain to the story, fanon, fandom, or other non-gameplay elements
- 108: There's 108 scenes in Double Spoiler.
- Adventure-Friendly World: Much of the Universe Compendiums are devoted towards explaining how Gensokyo is the perfect setting for a series of Shoot 'em Up games while still remaining largely pleasant.
- Aesop Amnesia: Each of the character's storylines in Phantasmagoria of Flower View ends with them learning An Aesop. If you play as Eiki, however, which takes place after all of the others, it turns out that everyone forgot or misunderstood what they were supposed to learn.
- The Alcoholic:
- At least every other picture of ZUN shows him drinking alcohol, with several bottles of it at his side, or both.
- In the series canon, oni are the heaviest drinkers out of everyone, followed closely by the tengu, and the cast really loves their alcohol in any shape or form in the Expanded Universe.
- All There in the Manual: See that list of side materials up above? That's where the vast majority of the world-building is. On a smaller scale, a considerable amount of any given game's story is in it's prologue and character profiles.
- Already Done for You: Perspective Inverted in Ten Desires. Mamizou found out that the heroines have already defeated Miko, the person whom she's called for by Nue to defeat. Doesn't stop her from fighting said heroines, just because. Considering Mamizou's power, perhaps the heroines should just stay at home.
- Art Evolution: Inevitable in a long-running series like this. There's a noticeable bump in quality from Undefined Fantastic Object onwards.
- Arc Welding: According to an interview with ZUN for Ten Desires, this was said game's intention: to connect the new trilogy, also known as the "Moriya Shrine conspiracy", (Mountain of Faith, Subterranean Animism, and Undefined Fantastic Object) to the older trilogy (Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, Perfect Cherry Blossom, and Imperishable Night). Due to a certain fan theory, Ten Desires may have been able to connect to every Windows game in one go.
- Asian Rune Chant: Referenced in some of Sanae's spellcards.
- Autobots, Rock Out!:
- Two songs, "A Tiny, Tiny Clever Commander" and "Nuclear Fusion", are uniquely in the rock genre by default, the former practically a synthtar and the first boss theme of UFO, the latter is simply epic and the final boss theme of SA.
- The remix of one of Reimu's themes used in Hopeless Masquerade named "Colorful Path".
- The last word theme from Hopeless Masquerade.
- Every boss theme in Double Dealing Character is some form of rock. Stage 4 is especially unique for including a biwa and koto as its rocking boss theme.
- Awesome but Impractical: The Spellcard Rules fall into this, since it prefers beauty rather than lethality. ZUN himself lampshaded that:
Beauty of danmaku is total nonsense for the bosses. If they really have the intent to kill someone, they won't even need 1/10 of those bullets.
- Backstory Horror: Many characters have nasty things in their past, and Gensokyo itself was originally far more dangerous, but none of it ever comes up in the current storylines.
- Battle Butler: Many penultimate bosses are a servant of the final boss and have very unlikely job descriptions for someone of their combat abilities.
- In Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream Chiyuri is Yumemi's research assistant in "comparative physics".
- Mystic Square and The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil both have Ninja Maids in the form of Yumeko and Sakuya.
- Perfect Cherry Blossom introduces samurai gardener Youmu.
- Komachi from Phantasmagoria of Flower View, whose official job is to be The Ferry Man of the Sanzu River.
- Eirin and Reisen from Imperishable Night both fit the part, being Kaguya's pharmacist and pet respectively. However, ZUN states that Eirin is actually stronger than Kaguya and limits her power out of respect for the princess.
- In Mountain of Faith Sanae is the priestess of both the final and extra boss, who are both gods.
- Subterranean Animism reverses this trend by having the Big Bad and the stage 5 boss be the pets of the stage 4 boss. Similarly, the stage 5 boss of Double Dealing Character is the actual Big Bad, with the stage 6 boss being someone she tricked.
- Undefined Fantastic Object introduces some typical Touhou weirdness with Shou and Byakuren, the stage 5 and 6 bosses respectively. Technically Shou is Byakuren's servant, but she's an avatar of Bishamonten, who Byakuren worships, so she worships her own servant.
- Badass: Every single girl, but that soccer ball is the most powerful thing in Gensokyo!note
- Badass Boast: Every final boss, and many of the other bosses. Makes sense, as spell card duels are all about being as flashy and bombastic as possible.
- Bare Your Midriff: Fanart often shows the blouses worn by characters such as Reimu, Marisa, Flandre or Sanae riding up when they raise their arms.
- Barred from the Afterlife: We have Yuyuko Saigyouji, the princess of the Netherworld, the place where souls wait for their Reincarnation. However, because her body is being used to seal the Saigyou Ayakashi she cannot enter the cycle of reincarnation and is stuck forever as a ghost. She seems to be enjoying it, though.
- Beneath the Earth: Subterranean Animism introduces a society of "hated" youkai living underground; surface youkai are forbidden from entering their realm due to an ancient treaty, but the opposite is not true. This realm includes the former site of Hell - it was relocated due to overcrowding, but some of the workers and evil spirits are still around.
- Berserk Button: The fandom has one in the question "What anime is this?" as well as when someone on YouTube claims that Touhou stole from the McRoll. For the uninitiated, the McRoll is based on Flandre's theme, not the other way around. Western fandom is also beginning to detest old memes (pads, etc.).
- Similar to the McRoll question, some members of the fandom will get annoyed if you try to call Flandre's Theme "Death Waltz".
- May the Lord have mercy on you if you tell Reimu she has awful night vision.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Most characters are rather friendly when there isn't an incident, and even those with a low "human friendship level" like Yuuka are nice as long as you don't hit their Berserk Button. They're still powerful combatants with huge reserves of magic who won't hesitate to beat you to a pulp in a duel.
- Beware the Silly Ones: Nearly everyone. Most pre-battle conversations are rather bizarre before the danmaku starts.
- Black Eyes of Crazy: Inverted with the hobgoblins in Wild and Horned Hermit that despite them having black sclera, in this setting they come of as the Only Sane Man.
- Blood Knight: As ZUN explains, the only characters we meet are the sorts of people who get into fights at a drop of the hat, because that's what the game revolves around. All the peaceful, boring people sit around at home without names.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: In Forbidden Scrollery, the three main characters are Marisa (blonde), Reimu (brunette) and Kosuzu (redhead). There's also the Three Mischievous Fairies, Luna Child (blonde), Star Sapphire (brunette) and Sunny Milk (redhead).
- Blue and Orange Morality: Youkai as a whole act "odd" by human standards, and Yukari is weird even by their standards. In the fandom, this ranges from justifying youkai being murderers, to being ditzy weirdoes.
- Bigger on the Inside:
- Yuuka's mansion, Mugenkan, in Lotus Land Story.
- The Scarlet Devil Mansion. Hand Waved - Sakuya uses her time and space manipulation to cause the effect.
- Eientei. Hand Waves involving timehax are also involved, courtesy of Kaguya.
- The Palanquin ship of Undefined Fantastic Object appears a lot larger on the inside as well - despite it being a massive wooden ship already.
- Boobs of Steel:
- Yuugi, a powerful oni said to have more physical (but less magical) strength than Suika, is one of the only characters ZUN has drawn with a visible bust. Byakuren is similarly the only one in Hopeless Masquerade with (bouncing) breasts, and she's by far the most physical of the fighters.
- Because ZUN almost never draws boobs on any of the characters, their bust sizes in fanon are the result of mass Memetic Mutation among fanartists. The most mature-seeming characters will usually be drawn with the largest breasts. See Self-Fanservice on the YMMV page.
- Bootstrapped Leitmotif: A character's Leitmotif usually ends up being the music from their boss fight, but this trope happens a few times. Meiling, Alice and Youmu all get their stage themes as Leitmotifs (along with their boss themes); Suika gets her pre-battle theme (again, along with her boss theme).
- Boss in Mook Clothing: Every game has at least one "death fairy"/"doom fairy" — a seemingly normal fairy that has attacks and health comparable to most bosses. They always come from the top-center of the screen, and, like bosses, have abnormally elaborate bullet patterns.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Happens every now and then in the games.
- Breakout Character:
- Mima and Marisa all the way back in Story of Eastern Wonderland.
- Yukka, a boss in Lotus Land Story, and playable in Mystic Square and Phantasmagoria of Flower View.
- Cirno received her own game in Great Fairy Wars.
- Seija has her own game, Impossible Spell Card.
- Brick Joke: From Inaba of the Moon and Inaba of the Earth, the Banana Yogurt Natto Drink.
- Broke the Rating Scale: The Grimoire Of Marisa includes a star rating for each spell card, but several are passed over for being too weak or too strong for the rating to matter, and others get silly ones, such as "Mega-Disgusting Score" for Wriggle's bug attacks.
- Butterfly of Doom: Just about every game from Mountain of Faith to Hopeless Masquerade (barring the Gaiden Games), which some fans call the "Moriya Shrine conspiracy". It starts out with an incident caused by a group of newcomers (the Moriya Shrine) arriving in Gensokyo. They then try to give Genokyo nuclear power, which causes another incident. That incident then sets free the followers of a sealed youkai priestess, starting yet another incident. And then the sealed youkai and her followers come into conflict with the subject of the next incident, a resurrected ruler from ancient Japan and her own followers. Hopeless Masquerade then has a religious conflict breaking out between the two groups. All because the Moriya Shrine was trying to modernize the place. Thanks, Kanako.
- The Cameo:
- Wild and Horned Hermit is absolutely covered in these. The story hasn't used many characters, but Azuma Aya seems to want to draw as many as possible.
- Hopeless Masquerade features almost every character from the Windows games (and the supplementary material), if not as a player character, then as a spectator in the background. Notable exceptions are Akyuu, the Watatsuki sisters, Kasen, Meiling, and Flandre.
- Cannot Cross Running Water: Remilia and Flandre Scarlet (and supposedly other Touhou vampires) have this among their weaknesses.
- Carnivore Confusion: Gensokyo has a food chain. You're not at the top of it, since most non-human characters will attempt to eat helpless humans away from the protection of a village.
- Cast Herd: Given the enormous number of characters, it isn't surprising they tend to be split into distinct groups. Sometimes this is done per game, but other times, it's done based on location (Eientei/Moriya), based on intellect ("Team 9"), and so forth. Tends to be subverted over time as each group stars in print works that elaborate on their members' characterizations.
- Celestial Bureaucracy: Used repeatedly, given how many of the settings have to do with the afterlife. One recurring gag is that the Ministry of Right and Wrong (ie: Hell) is constantly running into budget problems and has to either downsize, come up with alternate sources of income like publishing guidebooks, or whatever else the story requires.
- Chekhov's Gun/Foreshadowing: Perfect Memento in Strict Sense was released in 2006 before the game Mountain of Faith. With that in mind, look through some of the articles and realize just how much of Perfect Memento became used in future games.
- Cherry Blossoms: Present in Perfect Cherry Blossom, of course. They apparently contain the power of spring. Some of the bosses charge their spell cards by absorbing cherry blossoms.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Most of the characters that appeared in the PC-98 games (read: every character except Reimu, Marisa, Alice, and Yuuka) have not made any more appearances outside of the game they originally appeared in. Compare that to the cast members of the games since Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, who make appearances in multiple games and source material.
- City with No Name: The Human Village (somewhat justified in that there seems to be only the one), and the Former District of Hell (also called the Ancient City or the Subterranean City). There's also a Tengu City somewhere up Youkai Mountain (ugh...) and a Lunar Capital on the Moon, but they may just be a product of people only talking about it indirectly.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe:
- The premise of Mountain of Faith, along with Gods Need Prayer Badly.
- If Rinnosuke's theories are correct, the entire realm of Gensokyo inverts this. According to him, things such as magic, youkai, gods, etc. are able to exist in Gensokyo because people in the outside world actively disbelieve in them. For instance, in the tie-in manga Silent Sinner in Blue, he manages to find information on the Moon landings because, as he claims, enough people have become convinced that they never happened. There is also evidence to the contrary (what with him being a Know-Nothing Know-It-All), so this is hardly conclusive proof.
- In general, this is how youkai and gods come into being. The belief of them makes them stronger, while forgetting them causes them to ether disappear (Youkais) or return to being a nameless Divine Spirit (God). Gods, however are shaped by their Myths, which allows them to change their titles and powers due to their followers believing in them. Yasaka was orginally a Storm god before she became a Mountain god, for example. The real reason for Gensokyo is to seperate the Youkai from human imagination, allowing them to shape themselves. This trope is played straight, subverted, and inverted all at the same time.
- Cliffhanger: The trial of Urban Legend in Limbo ends with the appearance of an unknown character and Reimu deciding to strike first. It cuts out in the middle of her strike, followed by a "to be continued".
- Conservation of Competence: Most "servant" characters in the series are portrayed by the narrative as fairly useless or lazy compared to their hyper-competent bosses. However, they're still strong enough to make stage 5 a challenge.
- Continuity Creep: The plots of the games were originally largely standalone. Each game was generally self-contained. However, starting with Mountain of Faith, the series has gained continuity, the events happening in each game becoming connected in various ways. ZUN has both stated that "Touhou is not a series" and included the phrase "Touhou series" in manuals.
- Continuity Reboot: The first 5 games were released between 1996 and 1998 on the Japan-only PC-98 computer. In 2002, the series continued on the Windows platform starting with Touhou 6, Embodiment of Scarlet Devil. Although the numbering scheme still includes the PC-98 games, most of the characters and events in these games have never been mentioned again in any canon materials, including Perfect Memento in Strict Sense. The only exceptions are PC-98 characters who made reappearances in the Windows games: Reimu Hakurei, Marisa Kirisame, Alice Margatroid (looking much older than her appearance as a child in Mystic Square and with a different backstory), and Yuuka Kazami. Fans still argue if the rest of the PC-98s are canon and if Alice's new backstory can compliment hers in Mystic Square.
- Convection Schmonvection: There are many examples, but some notable ones involve flying through the Burning Hells and fighting a boss who throws miniature suns at you routinely. Some of this can be justified by Gameplay and Story Segregation, but the player characters should have really died well before reaching Utsuho. Reimu does comment on how incredibly hot it is and that she's feeling like she's about to get roasted. She (and probably Marisa too) is most likely only saved by her very powerful magic shielding her. Still, that doesn't explain how Cirno managed not to be disintegrated when she went inside that very same place to fight Utsuho in Hisoutensoku.
- Cool Gate:
- The Hakurei Shrine serves as a gateway between our world and Gensokyo, and has a traditional Japanese arch.
- The gate at Hakugyokurou is placed at the entrance to the Netherworld, but it doesn't open. People just fly over it instead.
- Crapsaccharine World: Neo-traditionalism of Japan gives us a viewpoint of the future world Maribel and Renko live in; in summary, the world is what would happen if Seihou was given a dose of Tales Series formula. This is jarring because this storyline is surprisingly dark.
- Cross Cultural Reference: ZUN loves slipping in references to Western literature, though it's mostly present in the earlier Windows games, with later games relying far more on references to Japanese and nearby cultures.
- Crossover: "If it exists, there's a crossover with Touhou" is almost an internet rule. Seriously, it even has its own page.
- Curtains Match the Window: All of the PC-98 characters have a same eye color as their hair (given that they're in their regular outfit). There is a fair share of Windows characters with this as well.
- Cut-and-Paste Translation: There is at least one instance wherein the English translators just made stuff up, namely the "only a stage 2 boss".
- Cute 'em Up: Thankfully, Gensokyo's not a Sugar Bowl that Tastes Like Diabetes, but it's still a major dietary source of Moe.
- Cute Monster Girl: Almost every youkai depicted in the series is one of these.
- Defeat Means Friendship: At least one ending to every game involves the main character having a tea party with the Big Bad, and dragons Sakuya Izayoi, Youmu Konpaku, Sanae Kochiya, and even Marisa Kirisame have become playable characters after getting defeated.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: To match with the Blue and Orange Morality, standards in Gensokyo are often nothing like ours. The most obvious example is how any human not in a designated safe area during the night is fair game for any youkai, as humans are expected to be at least proficient in youkai hunting. This is the whole point of Symposium of Post-mysticism, with Kanako, Byakuren and Miko arguing about the role of humans and youkai in Gensokyo.
- Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Pretty much every game has an ending like this.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In the PC-98 games, you defeat the Angel of Death, two goddesses who created their own dream world (just because your player character was bored), and The Goddess of Hell. In the Windows series, the protagonist stops the mistress of the Netherworld with the power to invoke death in mortals, the local Charon equivalent, one of the Judges of the dead (who is implied to be more powerful than anything in Gensokyo), a hell raven channeling the power of a sun god to control nuclear fusion, not to mention the reality-warping youkai who may have created Gensokyo itself. This is one of the purposes behind the spell card system - it allows even weak humans and youkai a chance at fighting stronger opponents to settle accounts, without needless, one-sided bloodshed.
- Do Not Spoil This Ending: ZUN has requested that the fanbase keep the endings of the games secret and, for the most part, the fanbase complies (although you can find all of them if you know where to look). Given that request, and the fact that, to get a good ending, one has to 1 credit clear the game, seeing the good ending of a game is a great accomplishment, indeed.
- Dragons Up the Yin Yang:
- Dragons are rarely seen, but they are said to be in the highest class of beings in Gensokyo. One dragon spoken of in canon is worshiped as a god by human and youkai alike for his power to create or destroy anything. It's said that he appeared in the sky on the day the Great Hakurei Border was erected.
- Kasen has a baby pet dragon and it's status as a godlike being makes itself known right away by causing a (very local) rainstorm. She alludes to the fact that simply hatching was enough to cause a calamitous thunderstorm.
- At one point in Wild and Horned Hermit, Nitori mentions a water dragon "Lord Suiryuu" as being the only thing she can think of powerful enough to create the waterspout that was the focus of the chapter. Although it turns out it was a Kishin.
- In Forbidden Scrollery, Marisa accidentally helps an Evil Dragon (that's its name) unseal itself from one of Kosuzu's scrolls. Despite being Evil, it politely thanks them for the help and gives them gifts being flying away to rest for a few hundred years.
- Dream Land: The later stages of Story of Eastern Wonderland and the extra stage of Lotus Land Story.
- Drop-In Character: Half the cast, to one degree or other, and into various locations, the most common being the Hakurei Shrine.
- Drunken Master: The creator of the games, ZUN, is a drinker, and Memetic Mutation has progressed it to the point where, much like all the oni characters, he is never sober. This isn't too far from the truth. Practically every image of him seems to show a beer within arm's reach, and ZUN himself admitted being drunk during some of Imperishable Night's development.
- Dummied Out: There exists a character◊ cut out from Embodiment of Scarlet Devil called Rin Satsuki. Her name and two of her spell cards (Wind and Flower Signs) are found in the game's code, and fans popularly believe her appearance to be the unknown girl in the circle cut◊ (Comiket advertisement) for EoSD.
- Easily Forgiven: No matter what schemes or grievous bodily harm has been committed, after the incident is over everything goes back to normal and everyone is invited to the Hakurei shrine for partying and booze. For a while Tenshi Hinanawi was notable for being the only character who didn't receive this, a unique status she retained until Impossible Spell Card, wherein Seija Kijin is hunted by the majority of Gensokyo as a fugitive for her actions in the previous game.
- Elegant Gothic Lolita: A large chunk of the cast wears clothing in this style, though later characters' designs have moved away from it.
- Empty Quiver: Kanako gave Utsuho power over nuclear fusion via Yatagarasu because she believes becoming known as a god who grants miraculous technology would serve as good advertising for the shrine. This ends up backfiring when Utsuho decides to use it for herself, and to turn Gensokyo into a living hell. Her status in later games have diluted to what can be classified as "Bent Spear" (we know the bomb is there, but it's not a priority) and "Faded Giant" (an event that involves a nuclear reactor that's currently in use by the military, e.g. Moriya Shrine).
- Endless Winter: In Perfect Cherry Blossom Yuyuko steals spring to feed a giant monstrous cherry tree in the ghost world, causing perpetual winter in the land of Gensoukyo.
- Everyone Has A Special Move: The spellcards each character have in stock help themselves become distinct, like their hats. They tell stories, they reference user's power, and even the shapes of the bullets used in the spellcards can become a special trait for a character.
- Everyone Is a Super: From common fairies to even average Gensokyo humans, who have some magic powers, it is flat-out assumed everyone has some kind of special powers or danmaku powers here. So, when Sanae first came to Gensokyou, she was unhappy at this fact, as she's not special anymore. Likewise, Rika is one of the few characters to NOT have a special ability, and offsets the fact by using technology that is normally off-limits to a non-outsider. As well as not fighting by the rules.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: In the story of Urban Legend in Limbo, both Reimu and company treat the power of the strange rumors as playthings and manipulate them to be either harmless or even in a way to fit their own agenda. However, one night this trope comes into play, kicking off the events of the game.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
- If we were to tell you that kedama essentially means "fuzzball" in Japanese, could you guess what enemy it refers to?
- Hopeless Masquerade is a love letter to Noh theatre.
- Excuse Plot: Progressively less as the series progresses, but the PC-98 games in particular had very flimsy plots.
- The Fair Folk: Youkai tend to act like this. They have been relatively behaving this generation due to a lazy yet powerful miko and trigger-happy Cute Witch who have been befriending them constantly.
- Fairy Tale:
- Imperishable Night's storyline is based around The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. The theme music of Kaguya Hōraisan, the final boss, is even called "Flight of the Bamboo Cutter".
- Other fairy tales are sometimes referenced in spell cards.
- Touhou Project Side Story by SOUND HOLIC, released at Comiket 73. Features a now non-canon depiction of the Lunarians. It introduced a Spotlight-Stealing Squad of Original Characters, leaving the canon characters standing on the sidelines without doing much to instigate or resolve the plot. It also follows the Leave the Camera Running school of cinematography.
- Musou Kakyou: A Summer Day's Dream by Maikaze, the first episode of which was released at Comiket 75. Managed to bring in such big names as Rie Tanaka to do voice work. Unfortunately, it had poor sales and it wasn't until 2011 that another episode was announced, and another year until it was released.
- Yuuhei Satellite's Gensou Mangekyou (or Fantasy Kaleidoscope), which retells the story of Perfect Cherry Blossom in the first episode and the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil in the second.
- Patchouli to Explode, released at Reitaisai SP2. Unlike the other examples here, it's based on a doujinshi and follows a small cast.
- Fantastic Ghetto: The underground is basically a place where despised youkai eventually settle down.
- Fantastic Nature Reserve: The purpose of Gensokyo's existence, which was eventually made clear from Mountain of Faith onward. Since belief in such beings as youkai and gods is rapidly disappearing in the outside world, Gensokyo is a haven for them.
- Fantastic Racism:
- The residents of the underground are mostly youkai who are hated or feared, usually for their power. A notable example is the satori species. According to Hatate's comments from Double Spoiler on Satori's spells, there used to be many satoris on Youkai Mountain, but they were banished to the underground because of their ability to read other people's mind.
- Undefined Fantastic Object brings up the question of whether it's youkai who are oppressing humans or the other way around. It should be noted that the cycle of youkai terrorizing humans and being "exterminated" in turn is actually necessary for Gensokyo's survival. Not that that excuses some of the remarks our heroines make...
- Reimu is unique in that, despite one of the few dealing with youkai being jerks on a daily basis, she doesn't care about them one way or another.
- Mamizou is noted for her dislike of foxes and was responsible for driving them away from her native island of Sado. Whether Mamizou will attempt to do something similar in Gensokyo in the future is unclear.
- Fan Vids: a whole page of them.
- Fanwork Only Fans: Touhou is typically introduced to will-be fans through a fan video or music before those people discover the games themselves. There are many people who are fans of fandom interpretations and doujin circles and have never played an actual Touhou game.
- Flanderization: Fanon is fond of this, characters commonly reduced to a single character quirk which may or may not have been a major part of their character in the original games. Given that this happens to every single character, often in multiple ways, a full list of every change would far, far larger than this page.
- Fleeting Demographic Rule: Formerly-inanimate objects plot social upheaval. Are they a dollnote , or musical instrumentsnote ?
- Flying Firepower: Everyone.
- Friendly War: The main purpose of the spell card system is to allow youkai to "attack" humans without killing them, and to be "exterminated" without actually being killed themselves; this system gives the youkai sustenance so they don't die by Puff of Logicnote and can live their lives freely.
- Secret War: While a massive array of characters avidly use the spell card system, it's implied that out of all of Gensokyo's population, only a handful of the major characters understand the system's real purpose. Reimu and Yukari are the best examples.
- Full-Contact Magic: At least in the fighting games, as well as in fanworks, the intense nature of spell card duels is portrayed as having a fierce physical combat aspect, especially for the more physically abled girls.
- Functional Magic: Inherent Gift, Theurgy, Device Magic, Alchemical Magic, Rule Magic, and Force Magic are all present.
- Gaiden Game: Anything with a decimal point in its number.
- Game-Breaking Bug:
- In UFO, reaching 1 billion points would up and crash the game. A patch was released to fix this 12 days after release.
- In Fairy Wars, hitting Retry from the pause menu on Stage C2-2 or C2-3 and then subsequently beating the game on route C2 without returning to the menu would crash the game. This one has not been patched.
- In Ten Desires, the game would crash if you are not using a bomb, a valuable resource, when the Survival Card of the Extra Boss ends. This is the second last attack in the entire game. Even worse, that makes it impossible to capture in Spellcard mode because you aren't given any bombs to start with. Be grateful the patch for that only took 4 days after release.
- In Hopeless Masquerade, the game will crash if Mamizou's Last Word is blocked.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: There tends to be a disconnect between what a character's powers are said to be, and what they can actually do. No matter what a character's stated powers are, they only manifest in the form of danmaku in-game. Justified, in that the spell card rules require danmaku to be used to solve disputes. It's what stops every stage 5, 6, and extra boss from curb-stomping you. See Holding Back the Phlebotinum. The in-universe explanation for this is that the character's powers are listed in the Universe Compendium as whatever the character says they are, even if it doesn't reflect reality in any way.
- Although divine beings are said to be poisonous to youkai, Remilia can safely suck Tenshi and Suwako's blood in Hisoutensoku in her alternate special move "Vampire Kiss".
- Ghibli Hills: What most of Gensokyo's landscape consists of, Scenery Porn included.
- Giant Poofy Sleeves: A good half of the cast.
- Good All Along:
- As with White and Grey Morality, almost nobody is really evil in Gensokyo, which helps facilitate Defeat Means Friendship. Actively noted by ZUN, who mentioned that the "darker" plots of Mountain of Faith and Subterranean Animism (see Sorting Algorithm of Evil) would be shifted back to the lighter tone of the rest of the series in subsequent games, which was indeed the case with UFO, save for the aforementioned philosophising about the nature of youkai and humans.
- The only aversions so far in canon are Seiga Kaku and Seija Kijin. Seiga is explicitly described as evil by everyone else (mostly the necromancy) and no one likes her, while Seija was not forgiven for what she did in Double Dealing Character, and not even her defeat guarantees friendship with the player characters; during Impossible Spell Card she's on the run because everyone is after her for what she did (not that she really minds, due to her contrarian nature).
- Great Big Library of Everything: Voile, the Magical Library note in the Scarlet Devil Mansion's basement. It's large enough to allow for a stage roughly five-minute-long aerial battle over the bookshelves traveling in one direction without ever reaching the end. The library is maintained by Patchouli Knowledge, who spends her days locked up inside adding to the already-massive cache of knowledge - she's not just the librarian, but also the author of an unspecified proportion of the tomes in her library, and probably the overwhelming majority of the magic books in the library, given the esoteric rules for wizardry in the Touhou 'verse. While 100 straight years of this this have given her anemia, asthma, and Vitamin A deficiency, you are more than likely to find anything you could ever want in there (Marisa sure does).
- The Greatest Story Never Told:
- By the end of Imperishable Night, only all the team members, Kaguya and company, and Keine know that the real incident was the corrupted Moon. Everyone else thinks that the real incident was the unending night, which was actually caused by the protagonists you chose in order to buy time to fix the Moon.
- From Reimu's interview in Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red, it would seem Gensokyo's residents are unaware of her resolving any of the incidents. Later on in Wild and Horned Hermit, she decides to start throwing big "Incident Resolution Parties" to make sure everyone realizes that she was the hero. Although apparently this fails, since in Forbidden Scrollery Akyuu hadn't noticed that Double Dealing Character had occurred, despite that being the same Incident we saw Reimu host a party for.
- Hair Decorations: If a character doesn't have a Nice Hat or animal ears, they'll most likely have some kind of hair decoration instead. There are many, many kinds worn here.
- Hard Work Hardly Works:
- Most youkai seem to get by with whatever talent they're born with and no training whatsoever.
- Reimu's laziness, yet apparent genius lets her get by without any training either. Averted with Marisa, who works her butt off just to keep up.
- Hate Plague: In Double Dealing Character, something is causing various, normally non-violent youkai to become aggressive. It seems to be affecting player characters too; Marisa and Sakuya become Ax-Crazy if you play through the story with their currently cursed weapons.
- Heart Beat Soundtrack: UFO stage 6 theme has this. Probably counts as a Mythology Gag to the PC-98 games, since ZUN wanted to do the Mystic Square stage 6 theme with heartbeat sounds.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: Pretty much every character has some Informed Ability that is nearly useless if taken at face value, and the ones that don't are basically triple-7s on the Superpower Lottery. Danmaku prowess is sometimes even completely exclusive to what power a character has, though more frequently the character's ability plays a role in their danmaku to varying degrees, such as Cirno's ice projectiles making up most but not all of her attacks.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Many of the playable characters are acknowledged not to be the most virtuous people around, and fighting the villain of the day is often done for purely selfish reasons. Aside from their motives, the Boss Banter also tends to reveal serious lapses in moral judgement on the protagonists' part.
- Holding Back the Phlebotinum: The spell card system was created because the youkai would have no other way to fight Reimu, who is canonically unbeatable by any method when she isn't messing around and killing her would possibly result in the collapse of Gensokyo's barrier, which separates it from our world and would thus eradicate Gensokyo and everyone in it, and numerous other characters could crack the planet in half if they got serious. For Reimu it may just be an excuse to be lazy and not take things seriously. Some of the more forward thinking youkai recognize that the spell card system allows them to sit down and have tea with mortal enemies, and keeps the place at least safer, if not totally safe.
- Hufflepuff House: Many species and groups are introduced to having a presence in Gensokyo with one character who has a few lines, and is then never mentioned again. Various Expanded Universe material, well, expands on these groups, with the tengu in particular being the most fleshed out society, but groups like Heaven and Makai are still just there with no other information.
- Hyperactive Sprite:
- In the fighting games, Suika keeps goofily swaying back and forth when standing in place.
- In Mountain of Faith, Hina spins while shooting bullets in all directions. A lot.
- I Am Not a Gun: Youkai, as beings born from human fears or as explanations for the unknown, tend to have a specific "purpose" that they were born to fulfill, most commonly to antagonize humans. Not all of them want to though, despite the risk of death or worse for being forgotten after abandoning their "purpose". Byakuren's Buddhist temple was created to help youkai either find a new purpose or simply come to terms with non-existence. Of course, most of the younger ones don't even know they have a purpose or why they should care.
- I Believe I Can Fly: Pretty much everyone. By this point, the series has stopped trying to justify it. Originally, Reimu walked or used Genji, a flying turtle.
- Iconic Sequel Character: Many, MANY characters, especially since most of the characters from the first five games have disappeared without a trace, and the very first game barely have any story at all. Among the popular protagonists, Marisa debuts in the second game, and Sakuya in the sixth. Yukari, who has been part of Gensokyo's history since it was founded, doesn't even appear until the seventh game, and Sanae doesn't appear until the tenth.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: With the exception of Sangetsusei and some of the music CDs, the Japanese title of every official Touhou work shares at least one kanji with the name of a character introduced in it (or involved, in the case of Seasonal Dream Vision).
- Image Board:
- Pooshlmer is a major English imageboard for most of your Touhou needs.
- Voile, not to be confused with Patchouli's library, is where people translate the fancomics.
- Although Danbooru isn't specifically dedicated to Touhou, over 25% (and growing) of its content (over 400k images, out of Danbooru's total of over a million) is Touhou. Some individual characters (and not even just the main characters) have more images than entire popular series such as Final Fantasy and Lyrical Nanoha. As an example, Fujiwara no Mokou, who's never been playable in any game, is represented in more posts than the entire Final Fantasy franchise.
- Resurrective Immortality:
- All who drink the Hourai Elixir gain the resurrective type, at least functionally. The very concept of death is removed from their being, but in practice this works by having them "respawn" whenever they take what would've been lethal damage.
- The fairies work like this: As embodiments of nature, they are reborn immediately whenever they die. Gameplay-wise this is the explanation for how you can blow them away by the hundreds without feeling guilty, and the written stories we see them fall asleep in the snow, die of hypothermia, and wake up the next morning. Akyuu says they don't really understand what death is.
- The Ageless:
- Magicians who become "complete" gain a this - they stop aging, but disease may or may not still kill them, as they're still as fragile as humans.
- Lunarians don't age, since it's apparently caused by "impurity" which they've isolated themselves from. They can die by non-natural means, though, and it's implied that despite their efforts they still carry small traces of impurity from before they moved to the moon and will eventually die of old age, just much much slower.
- Toyosatomimi no Miko and company were seeking this, as was Byakuren.
- Immortal Immaturity: Practically everyone. Notable exceptions are Kaguya and Yuyuko, when she's not busy harassing her guardian. It's also implied that Suwako's childishness is really just an act.
- Improbably Female Cast: Near the entire cast just happens to be female, with a literal handful of exceptions; men do live in Gensokyo, but they're rarely ever relevant to the plot. However, statements by ZUN imply that this isn't so much a personal taste as it is something that's enforced, since so many people associate Touhou with "girls shooting bullets at each other" that changing it would ruin that dynamic. ZUN has mentioned that for Undefined Fantastic Object he originally planned to have Byakuren's brother Myouren be the final boss, but didn't go through with it since having an "old man" be the final boss of a Touhou game would be weird. Subsequently, the final boss of Ten Desires is a Gender Flipped Prince Shoutoku, and the final boss of Double-Dealing Character is closely tied to Issun-boshi and has a very boyish name.
- Informed Ability: Due to how danmaku battles work,note most characters' stated abilities have very little relevance to their gameplay performance.
- It Amused Me: Bored characters do a lot of crazy things in this series and are occasionally responsible for the entire plot with no further motive than to shake things up. Many extra stage fights are along these lines on the part of both protagonist and boss. This is the entire reason why Tenshi comes down in Scarlet Weather Rhapsody.
- It Runs on Nonsensoleum: In Silent Sinner In Blue, the rocket to reach the moon is designed by taking some out-of-context tidbits from the Apollo moon missions, and hammering them back together with Insane Troll Logic. The result is this adorable thing that basically looks like a vaguely rocket-shaped cottage with frilly curtained windows. When Eirin sneaks in to check up on it, she's shocked... at how perfectly made it is without her assistance. This is Gensokyo, so of course it's space-worthy.
- Jerkass: Most dialogue consists of the girls insulting each other, clashing egos, death threats, and in the case of defeating Mokou, casual murder and cannibalism.
- Justified Trope: So many. The Spell Card Rules, drafted by Reimu, justify Non-Lethal K.O., Let's You and Him Fight, Super Move Portrait Attack, the ability to have crazy semiregular incidents while maintaining White and Grey Morality, and even the use of the Bullet Hell genre itself... because the tropes are the law. And for very good reasons: it lets youkai do what they do best, lets Reimu easily resolve the incidents, and lets youkai fight back without fear of killing Reimu, which would be a very Bad Thing.
- Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Almost everyone wears pretty frilly dresses.
- Leitmotif: Each boss in the main series gets a unique song for her Boss Battle, which naturally becomes her Leitmotif in fanworks.
- Shrine of the Wind ~ Theme of Eastern Story (an unused track from the first game) has become the Leitmotif for the series as a whole, with the intro music of all the main Windows games being remixes of it. Some Final Boss themes also incorporate elements of it, and considering the remixes of it that are the themes of Stages 4 and 3 of IN and DDC respectively, it might qualify as the Leitmotif of the Bamboo Forest of the Lost.
- This spreads over to Pixiv, where the Leitmotif acts as a special tag for exceptionally beautiful artwork, even for unofficial Leitmotifs for special characters. For example, the original kanji for "Lunate Elf" along with its English reading is a tag for beautiful Daiyousei works.
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: The justification for the danmaku combat system.
- Let's See You Do Better:
- Interestingly enough, that's how the games were created. ZUN couldn't find any game he really liked, so he created his own. And boy, did it work.
- In addition, a good chunk of the fandom's appeal is the opportunity to do this with ZUN's artwork/character designs.
- Like an Old Married Couple:
- Reimu and Marisa's conversations tend to default to mild bickering and teasing.
- Marisa and Alice moreso, in both Imperishable Night and Subterranean Animism, more than once ignoring the boss just to trade snipes.
- Little Miss Badass
- Living Forever Is Awesome: The youkai are living it and loving it. Only Mokou has a problem with immortality.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Surpassed one hundred years ago, even when only counting the ones who debuted in Windows games.
- Loads and Loads of Races: A large number of youkai and other groups, with every mainline game adding at least one more. Even "youkai" is just an umbrella term, and they can range from angry, ravenous monsters, to classical vampires, to beings that might as well be human.
- Lost in Translation: In Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, Flandre's dialogue saying "coin ikko" (Which is a "Blind Idiot" Translation that Atari made in STUN Runner's Japanese version) was simply translated to "One coin".
- Lovely Angels: Imperishable Night, the 8th game in the series, fits this trope by the player playing a team of two characters, although most LA teams are a little bit more functional than they are in this game.
- Lower Deck Episode: Fairy Wars, a much shorter game than usual, focuses on a quarrel between Cirno and the Three Faeries. Every single person in the game is a fairy, with Daiyousei, Lily and the Three Faeries themselves as bosses, rather than any of the usual "A-list" cast members. Except at the end of the extra stage, where Cirno takes on Marisa.
- Lucky Rabbit's Foot: Tewi the rabbit, an unabashed prankster whose explicit power is giving people good luck.
- Macross Missile Massacre: Often used in Touhou Fan Vids to represent danmaku in three dimensions.
- The Magic Goes Away: Gensokyo was created as a safe haven for magical creatures and gods who can no longer exist in the outside world. It's also implied that humans can't cast spells out there either. Although given the existence of immigrants it's not as though there's no magic outside. Yet.
Byakuren: But then, because of the Westernization of Japan, folklore became superstition, shugendou gave way to secularism, and they were forgotten about along with humanity's fear of the dark. The tengu who were working together with humans starting appearing less and less. For this reason, the existence of these youkai was endangered. And not just tengu, but all youkai...
- Magical Girl Warrior: Most of the cast.
- Meaningful Name: Most characters have at least one name (the family name, most often) that's vaguely related to what they do.
- The Merch: A good amount, considering it's a doujin series. It includes, but is not limited to: doujinshi, costumes, mousepads, jewelry, plushes, and high-quality figures, including Figmas.
- Mirror Match:
- Miko's fifth match in Hopeless Masquerade is against herself. Of course, it's just Mamizou, and the fight ends after one spell card, only for the real fight to begin.
- Eiki's last spellcard in Shoot the Bullet has her turn into Aya. It's probably some sort of test of character.
- Mission Control: In Subterranean Animism, various youkai provide this to Reimu and Marisa, leading to different ammo/bombs, different special skills for Reimu, different dialogs and endings, and different ways of getting horribly mauled by Satori.
- Moe Anthropomorphism: A lot of the characters are humanoid representations of abstract concepts.
- Monster Clown: Featured heavily in the Dolls in Pseudo Paradise story.
- Monster Mash: It's fairly commonplace in Gensokyo for miko, witches, vampires, ghosts, aliens, faeries, oni, goddesses, and all sorts of other youkai to have tea or sake together.
- Mook Promotion: Most of the normal enemies in every game are fairies. However, the ice fairy Cirno is a self-proclaimed strongest fairy, and may well be one, appearing as a boss in few games and being the sole protagonist of Great Fairy Wars with an ability to freeze bullets.
- Mooks: Fairies, in addition to the lesser-used Fuzzballs and Doofy Ghosts. Fairies are suicidally overconfident, weak, and effectively immortal (regenerative), though the last doesn't manifest in the games, probably because they "respawn" somewhere safe offscreen. These factors combine to make them pretty much perfect mooks.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Touhou Soccer.
- Mundane Utility:
- The Needless: Magicians who are turned into youkai don't need food or sleep, though they do both out of habit or leisure. They don't age, either.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Built into the descriptions. Almost all ability descriptions include 程度の能力 (Teido no nouryoku), which is (as of June 2012) translated as "capable of". Basically, everyone can do more than what's stated. This is confirmed in Forbidden Scrollery; according to Reimu's discussion with Kosuzu, her powers had recently awakened, suggesting that Muggles who don't have powers now can have them later on.
- Nice Hat:
- Touhou Wiki, which lists 123 characters, has a special category called "Characters without hats"... with 11 names.note
- ZUN also has a Nice Hat.
- The Night That Never Ends: The plot of Imperishable Night plays with this. It's your characters causing it, so they can find the source of the real incident.
- Nobody Can Die: A function of the spell card rules. Aside from the few ghost characters, the only confirmed deaths are briefly-mentioned background characters.
- No Hugging, No Kissing: Despite what the majority of fan work will tell you, all the official content has virtually no romance (and always kept to backstories or non-sequitur jokes) and absolutely no sexual themes. Amusingly a couple of the characters are even married (the Watatsuki sisters) but this seems to serve the single purpose of making them the nieces-in-law of another character and their husbands are never seen or mentioned at any point.
- Non-Lethal K.O.:
- The spell card rules mean the games follow this trope. There is very strong lampshading of this, and very good reasoning for characters not wanting to kill the human characters. Also, since most of the characters are youkai, odds are many of them can't be killed by physical damage anyway, while the fairies which provide most mook enemies are said to have very short lifespans but constantly revive, giving them little concept of mortality.
- A good number of characters are implied to have killed people, but no one that's introduced ever dies. The only exception to this is Mokou apparently dying during her battle... and it doesn't count, since she's immortal.
- Nonindicative Name:
- Team Shanghai Alice, the name ZUN operates under, is (1) a single person, not a team; (2) based in Ebina, Japan, not Shanghai; and (3) he isn't named Alice. From Touhou 13's staff roll: "Lately I've been wondering if there's a real point to the staff roll."
- Many of the cast's powers fall under this, since they provided the official names themselves and may be trying to either hide or exaggerate their true strength. Examples include Reisen (who can "manipulate madness") actually having wave-based abilities that can be used for illusions and hypnosis among other things, Kogasa (who can "surprise humans") never actually managing to do so, and Futo referring to her style of magic as "feng shui" seemingly just to keep up her image.
- Non-Nazi Swastika: Both Ran and Yukari Yakumo use manji-themed spellcards. Ran's version is Shikigami's Shot "Ultimate Buddhist" and Yukari's is Evil Spirits "Butterfly in the Zen Temple".
- Non-Specifically Foreign: With the sole exceptions of Hong Meiling and Seiga Kaku (both being Chinese), the Scarlet sisters (who are from Europe, but they're never stated from which country are from) and, in less degree, Parsee Mizuhashi (possibly from Iran), all the characters with non-Japanese names are never stated from which country are from, or even if they were born outside Japan in first place. This is weirder regarding their names along with the nationality of their species; Letty Whiterock is a English sounding name, but she's a yuki-onna, a Japanese type of youkai. Double Dealing Character takes it to the next level by having the first three youkai described as Japanese youkai in their profiles but also referred to as Western youkai in the song titles (ningyo/mermaid, rokurokubi/dullahan, etc).
- Not Drawn to Scale: In particular, boss characters tend to look taller in cut-ins than they would logically seem to be based on their sprites or other aspects of their character. Most fans depict Remilia as fairly short, but her cut-in makes her as tall as Reimu.
If their sizes appear to be different on the game screen than given above, it's because of some mystic force like perspective, so pay it no mind
ZUN, after discussing some characters' heights in an e-mail
- Not So Extinct: It was widely believed that there were no oni in Gensokyo despite otherwise being a Fantasy Kitchen Sink. And then of course they immediately meet one. In fact, it's not even mentioned until they meet her and it comes up in their conversation with her as Arbitrary Skepticism.
- Off on a Technicality: Someone tried to trademark "東方プロジェクト". He succeeded, but it didn't affect anything except ZUN's mood, since the series actually uses the Gratuitous English title "東方Project". Said person also attempted to trademark that and "上海アリス幻樂団" (Shanghai Alice Gengakudan) and failed.
- Older Than They Look: Applies to pretty much every character that isn't stated to be completely human, which is Reimu, Marisa, Sakuya, and Sanae. And even then, questions have been raised about Sakuya, even in-universe.
- Only Six Faces: Not only is ZUN susceptible to this with his famously crappy character art, but so are some of the official manga artists, such as Aki Eda (Silent Sinner in Blue) and Makoto Hirasaka (Touhou Sangetsusei). One step up in the fighting games, but as far as Alphes' character portraits go literally everyone has the same face.
- Lots of characters use Ofuda as weapons.
- Yukari and Ran have Shikigami. (The latter is a Shikigami herself.)
- Almost every boss in the Windows games is shown surrounded by a magical circle with a hexagram inside. (It's not a pentagram, but it's pretty close.) Chen, Sanae and Iku also incorporate pentagrams in some of their attacks.
- Mononobe no Futo is an actual Onmyodo magician.
- Mamizou uses lots of shikigami in her spellcards, in the form of human-shaped, dog-shaped, bird-shaped and frog-shaped paper dolls. She can also make copies of herself presumably by transforming her shikigami, since her ability is to change the shape of objects.
- Our Elves Are Better: While in Touhou "elves" means fairies (who are none too bright), the Lunarians fit this trope to a T, specifically being Space Elves.
- Our Monsters Are Different: Including fairies, angels, demons, vampires, ghosts, gods, robots and likely at least one dragon.
- Parental Abandonment: Mr. Kirisame is the only parent of a canon character who is not dead, missing, or otherwise unaccounted for. And even then, he's only mentioned, and Marisa quickly ignores and attempts to change the subject.
- Poor Communication Kills: In Imperishable Night, the boss fight with either Reimu or Marisa is the result of one or both sides either not understanding what's actually going on, or outright refusing to listen. When the Ghost Team tries to mention the Moon to Marisa, Marisa says "this has nothing to do with the Moon!" and if Magic Team brings it up to Reimu, she turns around and blames them for the Moon as well!
- Popularity Power: Popularity is one stat in Hopeless Masquerade. It goes up as you land attacks, declare spellcards, and goes down as you take hits and play too defensively. At 100% Popularity, you can perform a Last Word spell, and if the match goes to a time-out, the player with more Popularity wins, as opposed to the one with more health, as in most fighting games. Toyosatomimi no Miko's special ability is that she gains more power the more popularity she has, complete with her cape changing colors to match.
- Power-Up Magnet
- Power-Up Full Color Change: In Hisoutensoku, characters with superarmor become red-tinted, while the auto-counterhit state Meiling can acquire is indicated by her becoming yellow.
- Punny Name: Hisoutensoku ("lacking perception of natural laws"), the Humongous Mecha that Touhou 12.3 is named after, is a pun on/Shout-Out to Gakutensoku ("learning from natural laws"), Japan's first robot built in 1929.
- Puny Humans: Humans in Gensokyo are vastly outnumbered and outpowered by youkai (and other subraces), and the number of humans who can go toe to toe with them can be counted comfortably.
- Recurring Riff:
- Red Shirt: The fairy maids that Remilia takes with her on her lunar expedition in Silent Sinner in Blue fit the classic Star Trek redshirt archetype in that they accompany the main characters onto an alien world and are completely useless when dealing with the native inhabitants. Not surprising, as it was already well established that Remilia's fairy maids are useless at everything.
- Red Sky, Take Warning: The plots of The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil and Scarlet Weather Rhapsody.
- Really 700 Years Old: Most non-human characters.
- Reference Overdosed: The series is full to the brim with references to mythology, science, and some popular culture.
- Retraux: The soundtracks for Perfect Memento in Strict Sense and Silent Sinner in Blue are made in style of PC-98 synth.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter:
- The rabbits in the Inaba comics.
- Also, depending on who you ask and/or the artist, the yukkuris.
- There's a meme about depicting Keine's hakutaku form as one.
- Rubber Forehead Youkai/Human Youkai: Most of the the monsters in this series are one or two features away from looking entirely human. Some do look completely human.
- Sacred Hospitality: The number one rule for Muggles in the backstory: be polite. All the rude people the series focuses on have the firepower - or at least regeneration - to survive not being so.
- Schizo Tech: There are actually four different technology levels in Gensokyo: humans and youkai, who are pretty much at medieval level; items that come from the modern world outside (and, in the PC-98 games, came with the Outsiders themselves); the kappas, who are tinkering and working on Magitek, including Optical Camouflage and Hellfire-powered geothermal power plants; and the Lunarians, who top the tech tree in canon and have futuristic technology, which in Silent Sinner in Blue is revealed to be a Japanese version of Crystal Spires and Togas. Even the outdated technology that the renegade Lunarians displayed in an exposition in Gensokyo is far more advanced than anything on Earth.
- Schrödinger's Player Character: In most games the characters the player didn't select still exist, just don't expect to hear from them until the ending.
- In both Lotus Land Story and Imperishable Night, the character you didn't select shows up as one of the bosses.
- Averted in the versus shooters and fighting games where you get to fight most of the characters you didn't pick. Phantasmagoria of Flower View, Scarlet Weather Rhapsody and Hisoutensoku have everyone's story canonically happening in some order.
- Seinfeldian Conversation: Er... often. Some of it is due to the heavy use of references to eastern mythology or folklore and metaphors that only make sense in Japanese.
- Shout-Out: Many characters are Shout Outs to one thing or another. Full details on all of them on the character page.
- Many, many references to Alice in Wonderland, including a character named Alice.
- ZUN is an admitted fanboy of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure and as such there are lots of shout outs to that series. Sakuya performing ZA WARUDO is one such example.
- "Her sake does not even drop!" during Yuugi fight is a homage to Master Zeppeli and Jonathan Joestar, classy gentlemen who really didn't drop their wine in intense fights.
- Remilia asking Marisa "Do you remember how many times you've eaten bread?" is a homage to Dio Brando, the Big Bad of the Joestar arc, who can't remember how many times he exsanguinated humans. note
- Marisa uses the quote "yareyare da ze" (Jotaro Kujo's Catch Phrase, roughly translated as "geez, give me a break") after defeating Wriggle in Stage 1 of Imperishable Night.
- One of Kaguya's spellcards in Shoot The Bullet is the Red Stone of Aja.
- Many of the characters having vague or seemingly useless abilities that can be dangerous when used effectively is also quite common in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
- The name of the series itself may be a Jojo's reference - it is written with the same kanji as Josuke's surname.
- Three different characters have references to the works of Agatha Christie.
- Stage 6 of UFO has rows of fairies that move in a zig-zag pattern and fire bullets straight downwards, as a reference to Space Invaders.
- Nue, the Extra Stage boss of the above game, has a spell card that uses PlayStation buttons, and references the Nue of legend.
- One strip in Inaba of the Moon and Inaba of the Earth contains a reference to the Wizardry series. Also, a certain weapon in the comic is labelled "HHG of Aunty Ock".
- In the same title, there's also a Shout Out to Mario.
- Makai in Mystic Square is basically one big Shout-Out to Paradise Lost.
- In Phantasmagoria of Flower View, most times when you defeat an enemy, the game will call them a DEAD PARROT. Hmmm, I wonder what that could be a shout out to...
- A few of the bullet patterns seem directly inspired by patterns from other Bullet Hell games. Look at this list and decide for yourself.
- There are references to Fist of the North Star in the fighting games, most notably Hisoutensoku. If Reimu's ultimate spellcard "Fantasy Heaven" ("Musou Tensei" in Japanese, which happens to be a homonym for Kenshiro's ultimate technique, "Unconscious Transmigration of Souls", also pronounced "Musou Tensei") is successfully activated in the third round of a match, the background music will change to a mashup remix of Mystic Oriental Love Consultation and the Fatal KO theme from the Fist Of The North Star fighting games. Fitting because said spellcard is a guaranteed knock out unless the opponent gets very lucky (no, it is NOT a One-Hit Kill).
- From Hopeless Masquerade:
- Miko's powerbar image in Hopeless Masquerade is a modified gaijin 4koma.
- Nitori's Last Word is a homage to to Snake's final smash in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
- One of Ichirin's alternate color schemes resembles Index's outfit.
- All three of Disguised Mamizou's spell cards are references to Genpei Toumadennote
- From Double Dealing Character:
- Slice of Life: Very common in official written works, especially the manga Eastern and Little Deity/Strange and Bright Nature Deity/Oriental Sacred Placenote and the short story serial Curiosities of Lotus Asia. This tends to put off some fans who are used to the combat-heavy games, though others enjoy the laid-back view of Gensokyo.
- Sliding Scale of Gameplay and Story Integration: One of the most Integrated franchises in existence, explaining nearly all gameplay mechanics as a function of the setting and exploring the implications of them in the story.
- Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: All the important characters who actually do anything are female.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: A land full of fairies and beautiful girls in elaborate dresses enjoying sake together, punctuated by such "crises" as too many flowers blooming. There are a few darker elements tucked away in there, mostly as Noodle Incidents and Offscreen Villainy. On the other hand, Fantastic Racism is a recurring plot point.
- Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness: Canon Touhou works in general tend to be on the silly side, while fanworks can be anywhere on the scale. ZUN seems to encourage this intentionally, for instance by never explicitly nailing down how dangerous it really is for humans to live in Gensokyo.
- Society of Immortals: The Lunar Capital, rather explicitly, but also youkai society in general, as youkai are implied to have no natural lifespan. Although most of them don't exactly form societies, other than exceptions like the Tengu.
- Space Elves: The Lunarians, who are of the "Mystical Enlightened Race" subtype. As their name indicates, they hail from the moon, though they originally lived on Earth thousands of years ago before leaving to escape the Shinto concept of impurity.
- Space Is an Ocean:
- The key to making the magic-powered moon rocket in Silent Sinner in Blue is to realize that they should be thinking of it as a voyage across the sea and call upon gods associated with sailing and seaships.
- More literally, the moon is associated with the sea (as opposed to Earth being a "mountain"). The Lunar Capital is even the same place as the Dragon Palace, meaning that if you get lost at sea you might end up on the moon.
- Space Station: Torifune, introduced in Trojan Green Asteroid. It isnote a Japanese space station designed to test terraforming practices. Then it somehow became an illusion and is now a fantasy jungle floating in outer space.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Official spellings for character and place names can vary within the series. For example, ZUN writes "Gensokyo" in English in Perfect Cherry Blossom—this is predominantly the spelling the fandom uses. The back cover of Grimoire of Marisa spells it as "Gensoukyo." "Gensoukyou" and "Gensokyou" are alternate spellings directly derived from the romanization from the kanji involved, and there has been a push by some fans to make either spelling the common variant.
- Spring Is Late: In Perfect Cherry Blossom.
- Story Arc: About three, connected more by the characters that appear than the actual story.
- The first arc is made up of the five PC-98 games. It's canonicity status is vague, beyond a few Shout Outs in the Windows games.
- The second arc is the "Windows Trilogy" of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, Perfect Cherry Blossom, and Imperishable Night, with Immaterial and Missing Power taking place between the latter two games. See the Trivia section for more explanation. The game Phantasmagoria of Flower View acts as a bridge between this arc and...
- The "Moriya Shrine Trilogy", which consists of the games Mountain of Faith, Subterranean Animism, and Undefined Fantastic Object. Unlike in the previous arc, each game after the first is the direct result of an event in the previous game - the ultimate instigators being a group of newcomers to Gensokyo who upset the status quo in an almost Butterfly of Doom fashion.
- Scarlet Weather Rhapsody occupies an odd place; it was released after Mountain of Faith (and is numbered as such), but is essentially unrelated to the arc. In fact, it's probably closer to being part of the previous arc. On the other hand, Touhou Hisoutensoku is clearly part of the "Moriya Shrine" arc; it takes place after the trilogy and is influenced by it's events.
- Ten Desires connects both of the "Windows" and "Moriya Shrine" trilogies. The fighting game Hopeless Masquerade is a continuation of Ten Desires.
- Strong as They Need to Be: Player characters beat everyone they fight regardless of whether it makes any sense. Most blatant with Kokoro, who spends nine storylines losing, only to then beat absolutely everyone without resting, finishing with Miko, Hijiri, and Reimu at the same time. Cirno is also able to beat anyone she's up against whenever she's a playable character, even though it's stated that while she's strong for a fairy, she's still weak compared to most of the other characters.
- Stronger Sibling
ZUN: 'When it comes to Gensokyan sisters, in general the younger one is "broken"'.
- Stronger with Age: A general rule of the setting. Animals will turn into youkai if they manage to live long enough, and something similar appears to apply to humans, going by the immortals we've seen.
- Stupid Statement Dance Mix: ''It Stops at the Affected Area and Immediately Dissolves ~ Lunatic Udongein'', best known for its Ear Worm (O-Over Dr-drive! O-O-Over Dr-Dr-Drive!) is a prime example, but quite a few of IOSYS' Touhou-inspired songs could easily count.
- Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Interestingly, magicians are shown following The Scientific Method more than the obviously technology-based characters, though most of the latter are closer to engineers than scientists. Rinnosuke even refers to the modern technology of the outside world as "a type of magic that requires no spiritual power".
- Theme Music Power-Up: In Hopeless Masquerade a unique theme for every character starts playing once they reach Max popularity.
- Theme Naming: Wild and Horned Hermit uses theme titling, though it's more obvious in Japanese. All of the titles take the form of four kanji describing the character, followed by a single hiragana, followed by two kanji for the character's species.
- Title Drop:
- The final spell cards in Perfect Cherry Blossom, Imperishable Night, Mountain of Faith, Ten Desires and the story mode of Scarlet Weather Rhapsody. Also tends to happen in the dialogues.
- Some character names borrow kanji from the Japanese titles themselves but are read slightly differently. These characters are also central characters in their respective games (Sanae borrows from Mountain of Faith and half of the Touhou title, while Eiki Shiki borrows two from Phantasmagoria of Flower View). This gets funny when a forum post was joking about the then-upcoming character in Hisouten would be called "Tenko" ("ko" being a common suffix for a girl, plus the last kanji of Hisouten) and we got "Tenshi" (same Kanji, different reading).
- Too Dumb to Live: Perfect Memento in Strict Sense marks fairies as such. Fortunately (for them) they respawn.
- To Serve Man: There's multiple mentions that the youkai of Gensokyo eat humans. Akyuu says in Perfect Memento in Strict Sense, though, that it doesn't happen so much today unless you're an outsider or a hermit. The Hakurei Spell Card Rules may have been responsible for this change.
- Translation Convention: Their language is described in-universe as "human", in contrast to youkai languages. ZUN has lampshaded this:
Is the language the girls use Japanese?
Gensokyo IS Japan. :-) However, note that even if they use obscure or archaic words, so long as there is no precise intent, they basically express themselves in Japanese in the games.
- In the English fan translation of Imperishable Night, Marisa responds to some confusing dialogue between Reimu and Yukari with "Speak Japanese. This is Gensokyo!"
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: The stories with Maribel and Renko are partially set in the near-future of the outside world.
- Two Lines, No Waiting:
- Chapter 18 of Wild and Horner Hermit runs parallel to Hopeless Masquerade but we see events that happen from Kasen's perspective.
- Chapter 10 and 11 of Forbidden Scrollery takes place during the same game's final ending but from Kosuzu's perspective.
- Underground City: Former Hell.
- Universe Compendium: All of the artbooks, though The Grimoire of Marisa is less conventional.
- Unmoving Plaid: Utsuho's cape in Hisoutensoku. It has stars and galaxies on it, which always appear at the same angle.
- Vague Age: Basically everyone that isn't the Scarlet sisters, who have known ages although their apparent age is more of an open questionnote , and the characters of Ten Desires who are specific historical figures with documented birth dates. We have a rough idea of what centuries Mokou, Kaguya, and Byakuren came from, and that's about it. Even the normal humans have so little past and such rough art that's hard to tell.
- Vicious Cycle: The events of Phantasmagoria of Flower View happen every sixty years. But there is no real danger save for confused people picking random fights with each other, which is just another day in Gensokyo, and the incident solves itself eventually.
- Waddling Head: Yukkuris.
- Weather Dissonance: Basically the premise of Scarlet Weather Rhapsody.
- Webcomic Time: Averted: stories take place in the year they're released, give or take a few months to set them in the right season. Since games tend to be released roughly annually, Incidents also occur annually.
- Whale Egg: In one of the manga, it's suggested a couple of times that a mysterious egg may be from a cat youkai. The same chapter also confirms crow tengu having eggs, and while they're related to birds, the two examples we've seen of that species look basically human.
- White and Grey Morality:
- Those who are good are apathetic to everything unless it affects either their interests or Gensokyo itself.
- Most of the final bosses in the series are more selfish or irresponsible than outright evil, having a lack of consideration for the rest of Gensokyo whether due to selfish interest (Remilia), lack of foresight (Eirin and Kaguya), or outright stupidity (Okuu).
- A few notable exceptions: the Saigyou Ayakashi of Perfect Cherry Blossom - a mindless, man-eating tree; Utsuho Reiuji during Subterranean Animism, who was mad with power and wanted to melt the surface world (although to be fair, she's also rather stupid); and Taisui Xingjun, provided he actually exists.
- Wings Do Nothing: Everyone in Gensokyo has a method for flying, whether they use wings or not. One footnote in Perfect Memento says that "... even without wings we can all fly." This shouldn't be too surprising given that Everyone Is a Super.
- Witch Species: "Magician" is both a species and job description. Natural magicians are born able to use magic and don't need to eat, but are otherwise identical to humans. Human magicians need to learn a spell to replicate the bit about not eating. After that, they can both learn spells to stop aging, at which point they're considered "complete" magicians.
- Word Salad Title: The titles of most official materials tend to be a 3 kanji compound word followed by an English subtitle. Sticking to this pattern makes a lot of them way more complicated than they need to be.
- World Building: The point of the artbooks. Fan works do this extensively, and it's seemingly half the reason the fanbase is so big.
- A World Half Full
- World of Action Girls: Almost all characters are female powerhouses. In contrast, the few named male characters aren't known to be fighters.
- World of Badass: Everyone has some kind of power and, due to the spell card rules, can put up a good fight. Indeed spell card battle is "the most beautiful pointless game in the universe", according to Marisa and everyone plays it.
- Xanatos Gambit/Batman Gambit: The entirety of Silent Sinner in Blue. The second is inside the first.
- Youkai: Makes up a very large portion of the cast, even when not taking the minor stage bosses into consideration.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair:
- For actual blue-haired characters, Remilia, Nitori, Tenshi, Kogasa and Cirno count. Though Remilia's initial appearance featured her with white hair.
- Even excluding the youkai, there are the silver-haired Sakuya, Youmu, Keine, Mokou and Eirin, though the last of these is from the Moon.
- And the green-haired Sanae. Green-haired youkai include Yuuka, Kyouko, Kisume and Wriggle.
- Zigzag Paper Tassel:
- Reimu's and Sanae's haraegushi.
- Kanako's and Tenshi's shimenawa.