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Examples that pertain to the story, Fanon, fandom, or other non-gameplay elements:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Since 80-90% of material related to the series is fan-created, this happens quite a bit. We have a forum thread dedicated to collecting them.
  • Angst Dissonance: Parsee's entire existence revolves around her being miserable. This is played for laughs, especially by the fandom.
  • Angst? What Angst?: There are a fair number of characters with grim or even tragic histories, and hints that a few others have their troubled sides, but very little angst occurs onscreen (with a few exceptions, mostly involving Mokou), and the tone of the series tends towards carefree.
  • Awesome Ego: A number of characters are beloved not just in spite of their arrogance, but because of it. Cirno probably tops the list, but honorable mentions include Remilia and Miko.
  • Base Breaker: Cirno. She became overwhelming popular, which eventually led to a large backlash of people who got sick of seeing her absolutely everywhere. Nowadays half of the fandom still loves her, while the other half wishes this overrated character would just go die in a hole somewhere.
  • Broken Base: The fandom will never stop arguing as to what's canon, whether Touhou is canonically grimdark or not, or over popular interpretations, especially in regards to new changes to Nitori and others in Hopeless Masquerade.
    • There's also been some backdraft over the character designs in Hopeless Masquerade, since some people believe they're badly proportioned and they make the characters look too young.
    • Not to say anything about Ten Desires. The fact that the game is considered easier than the rest of the lot makes part of the fandom simply hate it. The other part can find the bullet patterns nice, even if easy, and appreciate its soundtrack.
    • Some of ZUN's changes in characterization are causing this, particularly the massive level in jerkass Nitori took between Subterranean Animism and Hopeless Masquerade
    • The Phantasmagoria games probably can cause an even bigger rift in the fandom than Ten Desires. Some say it's the best thing ever happening in the series and want more versus shooters in the series, others shudder at the possibility everytime a new game is announced.
    • Yukkuris. Some people love them and consider them to be just as much a part of Gensokyo as the girls themselves, while others despise them and think that they're the worst thing that the fanbase has ever produced.
    • The games themselves are either seen as genuinely fun and a potential Gateway Series to other Bullet Hell titles, or unfun, excessively difficult exercises in masochism.
    • The question of whether one should one have to play the games in order to be considered a proper Touhou fan.note 
    • People who get frustrated, disgusted, or scared away by militant portions of the fandom.
  • Canon Sue: Watatsuki no Yorihime and her sister Toyohime to some extent. Feats include besting four of the primary characters in combat, being able to summon the power of gods more properly than Reimu, and blocking a Master Spark with her sword. Lampshaded in Symposium of Post-Mysticism, where ZUN stated in an interview that her overpowered status is the reason why she'll never be in the games.
  • Counterpart Comparison:
    • Shou with Ran. Ever since she appeared and was revealed to be Nazrin's master (though not originally), everybody started looking at them as the new Chen and Ran. Both Shou and Ran serve "Old Maids", Byakuren being the latest addition to said group, both are animal youkai and both are masters of a type of youkai you wouldn't exactly expect at first. 
      • Though this can't be applied to Chen and Nazrin as Chen's a youthful troublemaker while Nazrin's more mature and generally a very competent assistant
    • Nue with Flandre. Despite their only similarities being the fact that they're both extra stage bosses with bizarre wings and vaguely similar themes, Nue is compared to Flandre, some fans even going as far to call her a rip-off.
    • Koishi/Flandre is somewhat popular due to the fact they're both odd, hated sisters of a feared woman who own mansions, occasionally depicted as Ax-Crazy.
    • Komachi and Meiling, both girls known for being pretty strong, nicely endowed and lazy (Komachi far more so than Meiling)
  • Covered Up: While Ran's theme, Necro-Fantasy, came first and Yukari's theme, Necrofantasia, was meant as a re-arrange, the latter is vastly the more popular, and Ran's become more associated with Charming Domination (her stage theme) instead. To a certain degree, some fan remixes and covers of the themes and leitmotifs are so memetically popular they overshadow their origins.
  • Deconstruction Fic: The fandom contains plenty of this; the piles of Fridge Horror regarding the nature of many youkai and their relationship with humans, as well as most characters being selfish, belligerent, and very much insane, provide a lot of material. A Bad End is a Black Comedy take on this.
  • Designated Hero: Canonically, Reimu tends to be more... cavalier than one might hope from the hero.
    • Marisa is not really any better either, though she has the benefit of not being as rude as Reimu and not being expected to be heroic unlike her Shrine maiden friend.
    • And depending on who you ask, Sanae was falling into this since Undefined Fantastic Object due to Flanderization of her interest in "Youkai Extermination" and other ditzy tendencies.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: At least one per game.
    • Mima of the PC-98 games has become the embodiment of this. Fans wanted her to return to the windows games after so many years.
    • Shinki is probably the second most popular PC-98 only character, mostly due to Epileptic Trees about her relationship with Alice. (Being a goddess of demons and having a Sakuya Expy as a maid doesn't hurt either)
    • Alice herself as she's one of the few to return in Windows games, and between her dolls, her rather normal looks (which stand out), and Ship Tease with Marisa.
    • Flandre, despite only appearing in a few games, is far more well known than her more prominent sister Remilia, who is pretty popular in her own right.
    • Hong Meiling, Cirno, and Sanae all got primary roles in Hisoutensoku because of their popularity with the fans.
    • It might be quicker to say that both Eo SD and PCB are darkhorse games as their characters are among the most popular.
    • Merlin's Game-Breaking Bug has led to her becoming the most popular of the sisters, exemplified by being the only one of the three to make the character filter in's Touhou section.
    • Lunasa's gloomy manner and responsible mindset has caused her to be popular among fanartists, even more so than Merlin in spite of that bug and her status as "the stacked sister"
    • Chen has become a beloved character on certain websites, mainly thanks to bkub's offbeat comics
    • Since the full release of Ten Desires, Futo has been gaining quite a bit of popularity too, due to her fish out of water tendencies, and being smugly cute.
    • Hata no Kokoro from Hopeless Masquerade seems to be popular around some circles, considering she is one of the most developed characters in the series (although that's not saying much), her kickass theme, and the fact that the game's story is about her development as a Youkai. She's also the closest the series has to the ever-popular "Emotionless Girl" archetype, though the trope is Played With in various ways.
    • Double Dealing Character has the Stage 5 boss, Seija Kijin, who has proven to be one of the more dangerous antagonists of the series by being a Manipulative Bastard (by instigating the events of the game and manipulating the Final Boss). Unlike other bosses in the series, she has a Boring but Practical gimmick that involves Interface Screw. So in a land where "common sense is a weakness" and your power level is decided by how flashy your spell cards can be, she manages to subvert this rule by having one of the lowest bullet counts and still being dangerous.
      • She appears to have gotten a game due to this, Impossible Spell Card
  • Epileptic Trees: A lot of them.
    • The lightning connecting the five eyes of YuugenMagan forms the vague shape of a woman. Who is this woman? The real "brain" of YuugenMagan? Someone else, controlling it? Maybe the eyes themselves are generating it, as a humanoid avatar of their collective consciousness? Or is it just a coincidence?
    • Elis. No one is really certain what she is. Vampire? Magician? Demon? The stages preceding her have "Oriental Magician" as their background music... which is otherwise associated with Marisa.
    • Mima's and Marisa's relationship. There's debate as to whether Mima's her teacher or mother or what. She is generally agreed to have taught Marisa some of her spells, since they have some shared or similar attacks.
    • Konngara is sometimes thought to be an Oni, as she has a horn, and drinks sake while fighting, like Yuugi would do later in the series. At the same time, she lacks feet and there seems to be blood dripping from the base of her horn as though it were a spike through her forehead, so other fans suggest she might be a ghost. But wait! Her boss title is "Astral Knight", so perhaps she is some sort of alien! And yet some other information points to the fact that she may be a yaksha.
    • Fans are divided on whether Rika and Rikako from Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream are the same person or not. Both are more scientifically-minded than most Gensoukyou residents.
    • Kurumi may be related to the Scarlet sisters. Her boss theme is called "Scarlet Symphony ~ Scarlet Phoneme".
    • The nature of danmaku battles in the PC-98 games with some assuming they were lethal battles.
    • The relationship between Alice and Shinki (similar to Marisa and Mima above). For that matter, any attempt to reconcile Windows Alice with her PC-98 appearance.
    • Eirin's character profile says she was surprised to see Sakuya in Imperishable Night, but never explains why. Fanon has explored several possible connections between them, including Sakuya being a Lunarian, Eirin having made her Luna Dial, or the two characters being related in some way. There's also a lot of speculation about how and why Sakuya became Remilia's servant.
    • Reisen's ears have what look like buttons at their base, which led to speculation that she wears fake ears. However, in Silent Sinner in Blue, the other rabbits in the Lunar Defense Corps have the same buttons too, except for Reisen II, their new recruit. Perhaps the buttons are rank insignia of some kind?
    • A popular fan theory has Maribel and Yukari Yakumo being the same person. The basic idea is that when Maribel sleeps, she dreams she is Yukari. And when Yukari sleeps, she dreams she is Maribel. It doesn't help matters that they look very similar. Or that both have boundary-related powers. There may be some evidence suggesting she is Yukari's past time-displaced self. Although Maribel is from the future, Perfect Memento in Strict Sense mentions that a note she wrote was found in Gensokyo several centuries in the past. Another common association is with Marisa, again because they have similar appearances and in this case similar first names as well.
    • Fandom has taken to associating Renko with Reimu the same way they do Maribel with Yukari.
    • Her name, title, and the fact she has a shackle with a broken chain around her left arm, have all fueled speculations that Kasen Ibara is one of the four Devas of the Mountain - specifically Suika's daughter / lover, if you go by the original legend. Japanese mythology, which ZUN takes great liberties with anyway, does include oni hermits. And that's before you get to her mysterious relationship with the Hakurei Shrine or the thing with her right arm.
  • Fandom Berserk Button:
    • "What anime is this?"
    • Playing on Easy mode.
    • A lot of players struggle with the games; do NOT, under ANY circumstances, mention that there are more difficult shoot-em-ups or that there are non-danmaku shooters that are more difficult.
    • "ZUN stole from McRolled!"
      • "What song is this? It's Death Waltz by John Stump."
  • Fandom Rivalry: Many fans of the shmup genre frown upon Touhou and its fanbase, especially Touhou fans who don't play the games. Although, it's rare to see a Touhou fan be dismissive of fans of the genre.
  • Fanon: Touhou basically runs on fanon, with enough sheer fan material in it to make the average fan's head explode. Some of it has even been actually adopted into the canon by the author.
  • Fanon Discontinuity:
    • Borderline case for Silent Sinner in Blue. Mainly for introducing two (intentional) God Mode Sues who defeated popular characters in ways that can be best described as either Deus ex Machina or outright cheating.
    • There's also disagreement within the fandom over how much Inaba of the Moon and Inaba of the Earth counts. It's the only official Touhou production that wasn't actually written by ZUN himself, and some of the characterization differs from his - especially since it's a gag series that plays fast and loose with such things to begin with.
  • Fan Myopia: Part of this stems from the sheer volume of fan material. Of course, most of the fan material comes from Japan — where Touhou actually is that well-known. This is perhaps why "What anime is this?" is a major Fandom Berserk Button.
  • First Installment Wins: Averted with the whole series, but played straight with Windows era games, where EoSD, PCB and IN and their casts usually have much, much larger fanbases than the later games.
  • Freud Was Right: Koishi Komeiji's "Embers of Love" attack, formed of heart-shaped danmaku flying point-first and leaving a trail behind them, looks a little like a different body part. The fandom did not fail to notice, especially since her ability is manipulation of the subconscious.
  • Friendly Fandoms: The Touhou fandom is very friendly with the Vocaloid fandom.
  • Gateway Series: Generally averted. Most fans who play the games generally don't consider getting into other shoot em ups.
  • Genius Bonus: Many spell cards are named after obscurities related to science, literature, folklore, and the like.
    • Mokou's boss music, "Reach for the Moon, Immortal Smoke", is a reference to "the smoke that rises to the moon even to this day" at the end of The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.
    • Kaguya's third card from Shoot the Bullet references the seamless ceiling of the Kinkaku-ji temple... though whether it's truly seamless or not is disputed, as it has been burned in a fire.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: While the whole series is still wildly popular in Japan, it's also popular in (of all places) in China and Taiwan, despite, at least in the Chinese case, the whole franchise is about mostly Japanese creatures, and taking into account the turbulent story between China and Japan...
    • It's also popular in the English-speaking world and also mildly popular in the Spanish-speaking world, mainly Spain and Mexico. Reportedly, ZUN is surprised by the size of its western fanbase.
  • Good Bad Bugs: One particular bug in Hisoutensoku involving Sakuya's timehax can cause Utsuho's suns to grow to insane sizes.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Byakuren often got saddled with the nickname "Touhou Jesus" and variants. Come a certain fangame, and we're given the ACTUAL Jesus Christ as a Touhou.
    • The fandom's love of miko armpits is even funnier now that there's a character named Miko who also has exposed armpits.
  • Hype Backlash:
    • A majority of shoot-em-up fans, who feel that Touhou has driven attention away from other shmups, particularly those with more mechanical visual styles.
    • Non-shmup fans, who are utterly baffled by the popularity of a simple shmup series and really don't dig Moe, Animesque fanart, or the Improbably Female Cast.
    • People who discover Touhou through the fandom and then get frustrated to the point of ragequit by the Bullet Hell genre.
    • An infamous example would be Mountain of Faith as it had many changes compared to the previous game. These days it's Vindicated by History and considered a good game in its own right.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks: The fact that fan works and characters draw in many fans, who have never played the games themselves, doesn't sit well with a lot of people.
  • Just Here for Godzilla:
    • A number of fans don't really play the games so much as read doujinshi or indulge in character fanart.
    • Some part of the audience is here for its soundtrack.
  • Love to Hate: Seija. What's not to love-to-hate... she is a Commander Contrarian who uses others to achieve her ends while screwing them over, to begin with. Love to Hate is also something implied by her nature: her feeling is always opposed to that of others, so she falls into self-loathing when she makes people happy and actually prefers it when no one likes her.
  • Magnificent Bitch:
    • Yukari is a slight heroic example. She led a youkai invasion to the Moon and let them get routed... just to teach them that greed and expansionism is bad. And then we have Silent Sinner In Blue. Turns out the whole invasion this time was a distraction so that Yuyuko could steal lunar treasures. Yuyuko found the treasures boring and brought back sake instead, but that still pissed off the Lunarians who were supposed to be protecting that stuff.
    • Toyosatomimi no Miko set up Buddhism to cow the population, setting herself as something of a holy saint, while actually on the side of the Buddhists' sworn enemies. Countless people died just to ensure that no one can endanger her prospect of becoming immortal. She can give St. Ajora a run for her money. If not for Buddhists wising up and sealing away her resting place, she would have gotten away with her plan.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Cirno. She's the strongest AND a genius! Some of this seems to be finding its way into canon lately.
    • Minamitsu Murasa. She's either CAPTAIN MINAMITSU MOTHERFUCKING MURASA, or she's Popeye's Daughter.
    • Eiki Shiki, YAMAXANADU, mostly due to bkub's comics. (Such portrayals include a Gundam and Batman.)
  • Memetic Loser: Kaguya Houraisan. In canon, she's an immortal lunar princess with powerful time-warping abilities, and actually one of the harder bosses in higher difficulties. In fanon, she's a NEET who can't do anything but "HELP ME, EIRIN!!".
    • Alice Margatroid: in canon, a calm, stoic woman who prefers being alone. In fanon, is turned into a creepy loser idiot yandere for the same reasons.
    • Remilia Scarlet: in canon, she's a powerful vampire. In fanon, well, the fact that she has a specific pose for cowering (the Charisma Guard/Charisma Break) should tell you all you need to know. It's her low blocking animation from the fighting games.
    • Oddly enough, Cirno finds herself both in the Memetic Badass (above) and Memetic Loser situation. You have those who portray her as much more powerful and competent than she normally is, those who portray her as a complete idiot and utterly worthless, and then you have those who wish both of those factions would just shut the hell up about her.
  • Memetic Mutation: Many, MANY examples, a few of which have become actual canon.
    • Fountain of Memes: Spawned an absolutely incredible amount of memes and in-jokes for a single series. IOSYS remixes in particular have a tendency to spawn more.
    • Watch It for the Meme: Touhou as a whole can claim any number of new fans drawn in by its loads and loads of memes. In fact, because of all the memes, a great number of fans were drawn to the series because of the all-encompassing fandom itself. This odd cycle of fans being attracted to the ever-growing fandom has been described as a "bizarre ouroboros" or a "positive feedback loop".
  • Moe: Fan depictions of the girls have a natural tendency to play up either the girls' moe-ness or badass-ness. Bonus points if they can pull off both at the same time.
    • Generally, ZUN tries not to give his characters stereotypical moe personalities, but the fandom will do so in the absence of any canon stating otherwise, such as with Koakuma and Momiji shortly after they were introduced. In the guidebooks, ZUN tends to go out of his way to Joss many of the fans' moe portrayals, most notably when Symposium of Post-Mysticism showed Kisume to be a Creepy Child.
    • Sometimes the reverse happen as Yuuka's picture in Perfect Memoir in Strictest Sense and appearance in a stage in Hopeless Masquerade (where she smiles and waves) play up the moe than the vicious.
    • Kogasa is the new youkai moe~, due to the umbrella she carries (like Yuuka - the first youkai moe~), her chew toy/woobie status, and a high level combination of moe factors. This ultimately results in fanart that looks like this.
  • Memetic Troll:
    • Yukari Yakumo is portrayed in fanworks as an incredible troll, ranging from simple tricks with her gaps to pulling elaborate schemes just to piss someone (usually Reimu) off. In canon she does do strange things and have an odd nature, but generally has a good reason for what she does.
    • Tewi Inaba probably doesn't count on the basis that this is entirely canon for her.
    • Seija Kijin canonically likes pissing people off and hatches elaborate schemes to overthrow the social order. Fanworks tend to dial down the scale of what she does, resulting in this trope.
  • Never Live It Down: Because of "I GOT CAVED BY EX-KEINE!", it will be a long time before Keine is taken seriously again. IOSYS effectively turning it into a Forced Meme didn't help.
    • Shou is portrayed by fans as always losing things because she lost her pagoda during the events of UFO. Ironic, considering her ability is to attract treasures...
    • Meiling and her butt monkey rendition, not at all helped by old jokes used and Tasafro's treatment of her in the few fighters she's in.
  • Older Than They Think: A few music fan remixes existed at least a year before the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil was announced.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Sanae's newly discovered interest in youkai exterminationnote  has led to fans taking it a bit far and giving her a sadistic streak and a fanatical zeal for it.
    • Alice gets turned into a creepy loser who murders her lovers or love rivals often, for whatever reason.
    • Koishi is turned into a psychotic murderer by fans who take "subconscious reading" as a very bad thing.
    • Byakuren is often either depicted as a naive loony or a genocidal murderer. Or both. Mostly from suspicion that people who try to be good aren't, and further exacerbated by SoPM and the fact that she sides with youkai against humans and dodged several questions from Miko.
    • Aya being a creepy peeper and possibly molester.
    • Reimu herself has been turned into something much worse in fan works than she was in the main games, usually due to Flanderization. In Concealed the Conclusion, a Fangame, she was the Big Bad.
  • The Scrappy: It's hard to find one due to the wildly varying depictions of the characters, but still:
    • One example is Reimu, who is this in part due to being an unfortunate victim of Memetic Mutation; she is often seen as an unlikable, selfish Jerk Ass who nags others for donations and causes trouble in the guise of "solving incidents." Some people also criticise her Protagonist-Centered Morality and casual ideas of exterminating youkai for no reason other than Fantastic Racism. Her Designated Hero tendencies throughout the series do not help things either, as she sometimes comes off worse than the actual "villain" of the game.
    • The Aki sisters are very unpopular, many fans going so far as to say their existence is pointless. Reasons include them being incredibly weak, having even less to do with the respective game than other Stage 1 bosses or a multitude of other things.
    • Sanae and Aya have been going in and out of this for a while, both being accused of being ZUN's girlfriends or something similar and their notorious appearances in several games that don't have much to do with them. Some say they were Rescued from the Scrappy Heap however.
  • Scrub: Some players tend to get very irritated and jealous if you don't think the games are absolutely Nintendo Hard, moreso if you mention that you can 1CC the games.
    • “Stop Having Fun” Guys: Some players tend to get mad as hell if you mention you've had difficulty with the games in any shape or form.
  • Self-Fanservice: One important reason for Touhou's popularity is how ugly ZUN's original character art is, inspiring legions of fan artists to improve it. As alluded to elsewhere, he seems to have trouble drawing a girl who looks postpubescent, leaving fans to come to a consensus on what some characters should "really" look like. In a broader sense, the entire series itself has next to nothing resembling sexual or romantic content, but you would never guess that from the fandom.
  • Shipping: Too complicated to explain here. See the Ho Yay page, and the Touhou Wiki for full details and Portmanteau Couple Names. Commonly used Shipping Tropes include:
    • Crack Pairing:
      • Since he's almost the only straight option in Gensokyo, there are a lot of crack pairing pictures with Rinnosuke and one of the girls. Somehow, a few fans even manage to slash him despite the rather limited options. The most common person he is slashed with? ZUN.
      • Wriggle is often paired up with Yuuka, of all people. Fridge Brilliance kicks in once you realize that Yuuka's power is tied to flowers, Wriggle is a firefly, and flowers rely on insects to pollinate.
      • Mokou and Mystia, in spite of (or perhaps because of) Mokou claiming to run a yakitori stand. Though Mystia is a sparrow, not a chicken.
    • Everyone Is Gay/Les Yay Shipping: The inevitable consequence of an Improbably Female Cast. There's even fanart of the girls trying to hit on an obviously uninterested Rinnosuke.
    • Fan-Preferred Couple: Quite a few. See the Video Games subpage for that article.
    • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Marisa gets paired with Reimu, Mima, Alice, Patchouli, Flandre, Nitori, and many, many more.
    • No Yay: Unless you're into giantess and/or vore, it's hard to ship Shinmyoumaru with anyone due to her minimal size. It gets worse due to the implication that she's the Last of Her Kind.
    • Ship Mates: Reimu x Marisa shippers will pair up Alice and Patchouli for this reason (while Marisa/Patchouli fans would pair Reimu/Alice). See the example on the Ship Mates page for how ridiculous this can get.
    • Ships That Pass In The Night: Usually based on game locations (bosses for adjacent stages, a boss and the midboss of their stage) or possible common interests.
    • Ship-to-Ship Combat: Astonishingly averted, for a fandom with Eleventy Zillion True Pairings. Fans of "competing" ships are generally happy to coexist peacefully. (Girl on Girl Is Hot may have more than a little to do with this...)
    • Sibling Incest: Any pair of sisters will have fanart showing them in a relationship.
  • Spoil At Your Own Risk: ZUN specifically requested that the endings to the games not be posted on the Internet to avoid spoilers; fan sites have managed to follow this request, but once in a blue moon, the content will pop up somewhere. Generally though, if you're looking for the ending, you'll be able to find it.
  • “Stop Having Fun” Guys:
    • Admitting to playing using a pad tends to elicit harassment from some players who think you should be using a keyboard instead.
    • Mocking those who play "Easy Modo" is incredibly common, including in the games themselves, and stating "it's unforgivable to play Easy Mode unless you're a grade school kid" is one of the fans' many memes. Some take it further and insist that the only difficulty mode is Lunatic. This is a symptom of the already hardcore shmup crowd.
      • How serious this in particular is depends on where you are on the internet. Here, danbooru, or imageboards? Not so much. A shmup site? You better be able to 1cc Lunatic.
      • Ironically Easy mode isn't play tested that well compared to other difficulties resulting in sometimes cards that are harder than other difficulties.
    • ZUN's request to not spoil the endings is taken rather seriously.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: While every character can be moe, Chen may just get the most of this treatment from the fandom, despite her actually being rather devious and mischievous. Her mere presence can often drive Ran into massive nose bleeds with sheer cuteness.
  • Tear Jerker: Several characters like Yuyuko, Byakuren, Mokou, and the Prismriver Sisters have had tragic events in their lives, none of which are mentioned in or greatly affect the games proper.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: The Aki sisters are considered to be the least notable of the Windows era characters, below even midbosses like Daiyousei and Koakuma, which leads to a Memetic Mutation where they are called original characters.
    • They've started to gain popularity in response to this, not so much to say Alice's level, but fans have a soft spot for them.
  • Values Dissonance: Something not readily apparent to western viewers. Byakuren was originally motivated by fear, then love (the two extremes) and used deception to make youkai and humans equal. She's an extremely lapsed Buddhist. The Japanese are also critical of the western take on "equality". If you treat the strong and the weak the same way, the strong will have an advantage. Needless to say, quite a few grimdark doujinshi turn her into some sort of evil mass murderer who genocides "weak" beings.
    • The same goes for Miko, who is similarly lapsed: Taoism is about letting things be, not actively meddling in everything.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Meira, Wriggle and Shou are sometimes mistaken for males by the fandom. Wriggle wearing pants and a tomboyish look could easily be mistaken for a boy at first glance. In Shou's case, her masculine-sounding name and appearance didn't help things either.
  • What an Idiot: On Easy difficulty, Cirno's Icicle Fall spell card has a blatant blind spot right in front of her.
  • The Woobie:
    • Cirno. Though some might argue she has it coming, she is treated rather harshly by other characters, particularly in Hisoutensoku when a purposeful misdirection by Marisa nearly gets her killed. As much as a fairy can be killed, at least.
    • Hong Meiling gets this in fanon a lot, especially by making Sakuya out to be abusive.
    • Flandre. Willingly or not, enduring almost complete solitary confinement for several centuries is not known to have many benefits, while her ability ensures that even at best everyone will always keep her at a metaphorical arm's distance.
    • Yuyuko. Though she is much better now, the circumstances that led to her becoming a ghost, as well as the desire to resurrect the person under the Ayakashi because she could only bring death and never life, fall well into this trope.
    • Reisen. Often played for comedy in fanon. Possibly of the iron variety due to her desire to protect her masters and subordinate despite how they treat her.
    • Kogasa. She's an unwanted umbrella who can't even use her power to surprise people properly. In Double Spoiler her title is "Pitiable Illegally Dumped Object". And for Ten Desires, it's "Greatly Troubled Lost Article". There, she's seen trying to get the help of the protagonists, as she can't deal with that stage's boss. And then the protagonists beat her up anyways. Fanart often takes it to Butt Monkey status, sometimes even going so far as to put her crying on a pile of trash while dressed in tattered clothes.
    • Byakuren, even more so than Flandre, though definitely of the Iron Woobie subtype, remaining dedicated to her self-imposed mission.
    • The Aki sisters, due to their lack of popularity and tendency to end up as Butt Monkeys in what few appearances in the series they get.

Examples in the games' gameplay:

  • Breather Level: While the final bosses are devastating, the final stage tends to be mercifully short, often with enemies that drop full powerups. Reisen is infamous for being one of the easier stage five bosses.
  • Game Breaker:
    • Marisa in Mountain of Faith. Her B-type shot has a glitch that makes it insanely powerful under the right circumstances, earning it the Fan Nickname of MarisaBugged or sometimes MarisaBroken.
    • Much less severe, but Marisa's teamup with Alice in Imperishable Night has access to another highly damaging exploit, which fans have dubbed the Malice Cannon
      • Subverted is that without it, they're under damaging compared to other teams for the effort needed.
    • Reimu and Yukari's team in the same game, where they have perks of smaller hit boxes, a larger death bomb window, Reimu's homing shots that pack a stronger than usual punch, and Yukari's shot type (which has Ran locking on to an enemy and locking on, allowing the player to dodge easily while doing pretty nice damage). The only teams that can outdamage them need some skill/effort to pull off the set ups. There's good reasons why most 1cc runs are done with this team.
    • Sakuya's A-type shot in Perfect Cherry Blossom is considered this by some since its unfocused mode covers the top of the screen, while the focused concentrates it entirely on single target and is homing withing a relatively wide angle. She also has four bombs per life with the same properties.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • MAlice Cannon in Imperishable Night. Lasers in the earlier Touhou games were somewhat laggy in their hit detection. In IN's case, this meant that you could switch between Alice and Marisa rapidly, and Alice's full damage would go through, the lag on the laser covering the time as Marisa. Interestingly, without this trick the Marisa/Alice team is woefully underpowered.
    • Marisa B(ugged/roken) in Mountain of Faith. Whenever Marisa B has between 3.00 and 3.95 power, the central laser does ten times the appropriate damage value when unfocused.
    • In Subterranean Animism, Reimu C (Reimu and Aya) and Marisa B (Marisa and Patchy) can destroy the 3rd (only in the demo, she can't be destroyed in that way in the full version), 6th, and extra stage midbosses just by bombing them as they appear.
    • A lot of these bugs can be found here.
  • Growing the Beard:
    • Lotus Land Story, where most of the standard Touhou gameplay features were introduced.
    • Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, with the introduction of the Spell Card system.
  • It's Hard, so It Sucks: Many fans who got into Touhou through Fanon or Memetic Mutation first find the games to be stupidly hard, if not impossible. It really does NOT help that people who are competent at the games like to show the games off on Lunatic difficulty or through extra stages, which only makes the games look even worse.
  • It's Short, so It Sucks :
    • A popular opinion of Ten Desires, which ZUN intentionally made easier to attract a wider audience.
    • Mostly averted. Despite each game taking on average no more than 30 minutes to complete, the series has a very big following, especially for a shmup series.
  • Most Annoying Sound: The pichun that plays when you die often invokes this for players who aren't very good at the games.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The sound that plays when you get an extra life. (the one that plays when the video timer hits the 27 second mark)
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • The tenth game, Mountain of Faith, generated discontent among fans because of the significant gameplay changes, such as linking the bomb system to weapon powerups, not having individualised bombs for each of the shot types, and making the continues send you back to the beginning of the level. Most notable was the removal of the "graze" system, where one is rewarded for getting close to bullets as often as possible without getting hit. This was thankfully put back in for Subterranean Animism, where's it's actually the basis of the scoring system.
    • Undefined Fantastic Object heralds the return of more classic features, such as the separate bomb bar and character-unique spell cards, but the UFO mechanic for this game proves annoying to many players, especially since using said mechanic is one of the few ways to gain more power, bombs, points, and lives. And by "one of the few" we mean "basically the only really effective way."
    • The scoring system in Ten Desires requires that you spend most of the time near the top of the screen, meaning you have to rely on luck and memorisation to avoid getting hit, rather than skill. The game also gets rid of the deathbombing, another hallmark of the Touhou series.
      • Deathbombimg is actually possible in Ten Desires. It just has what is probably the most sadistically small time frame ever for it in the history of Touhou. You basically need to have an instance of Super Reflexes to do it, by predicting your death and bombing just as you're hit. Otherwise, you'll just enter Trance mode (if applicable) and die.
  • Surprise Difficulty:
    • Players familiar with fanworks come into Cirno's fight expecting it to be a joke. Then they eat icicle shotgun. And, while Icicle Fall ~ Easy deserves its memetic status, the version on normal is actually fairly nasty. It's basically the same thing, except Cirno also fires a spread of larger bullets in front of her, meaning you actually have to navigate the icicles, which is harder than you'd think.
    • Kogasa.
  • That One Boss: Enough examples for their own page.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy:
    • Fans often describe Alice solo as the worst playable character in Imperishable Night because of her narrow range of attack and terrible spell damage. Possible justification of the Malice Cannon, and maybe even the pairing.
    • Utsuho in Hisoutensoku is a Skill Gate Character with extremely powerful (and surprisingly quick) melee attacks as well as immense and incredibly dense strong bullets. She's also one of the more popular characters, making her the bane of most players just starting out.

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