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The New Touhou Character Alternate Interpretation Compendium!:

 101 Stark Maximum, Sun, 5th Dec '10 8:53:34 PM from someplace funny i dunno
I missed this avatar.
Well, the idea of the thread is to offer alternate interpretations. So some of them will indeed be in opposition to other peoples'.

Which is fine until people start going I HATE THIS CHARACTERIZATION AND EVERYONE WHO LIKES IT
WHO IS THIS LOSER
 102 Enlong, Sun, 5th Dec '10 8:54:29 PM from The Underground Facility Relationship Status: is commanded to— WANK!
Court Dragon
Well, if that ever happens...
I have a message from another time...
 103 Durazno, Sun, 5th Dec '10 8:55:54 PM from Academia Relationship Status: Robosexual
All business!
Yeah, the one you cited was just "I think the character works better this way."

 104 Stark Maximum, Sun, 5th Dec '10 8:57:42 PM from someplace funny i dunno
I missed this avatar.
There's a dangerously fine line between "the character works better this way" and "the character is stupid that way", and I'm not going to be happy once it's crossed.
WHO IS THIS LOSER
 105 Bocaj, Sun, 5th Dec '10 8:59:15 PM from Here Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
Chaotic Lulzy
The only characterization that is wrong is Cho-Marisa. And that's not wrong as in out of character wrong. That's wrong as in crime against the fabric of reality and the sanity of the beings the dwell therein wrong.

Cho-Wriggle is just as wrong but thrice as confusing.
The Internet is often fast and horrible.
...What's the difference between the old thread and the new one?
 
The unpleasant parts I remember about the old compendium were almost entirely off-topic, and generally not instigated by regulars. While it's possible that we may have difficulty sticking to the new format, I don't expect much fighting.
panic
"Justice!"
...What's the difference between the old thread and the new one?

That was the Touhou Character Alternate Interpretation Compendium. This is the New Touhou Character Alternate Interpretation Compendium. Any further questions?

edited 5th Dec '10 9:01:37 PM by SuperDimensionman

 109 Durazno, Sun, 5th Dec '10 9:02:04 PM from Academia Relationship Status: Robosexual
All business!
[up][up][up]Mainly that we're less concerned with figuring out who the person is intended to be in canon and more with sharing our own personal takes on characters and settings. Also, the format is more free and easy.

edited 5th Dec '10 9:02:21 PM by Durazno

 110 Bocaj, Sun, 5th Dec '10 9:02:35 PM from Here Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
Chaotic Lulzy
In a couple months, Fawriel will bring back the original thread, re-title it Classic Touhou Character Alternate Interpretation Compendium and rake in the cash.
The Internet is often fast and horrible.
So instead of discussing who's right we share our thoughts instead?
 
 112 Durazno, Sun, 5th Dec '10 9:05:43 PM from Academia Relationship Status: Robosexual
All business!
Yeah! If you want to, just rip out an essay on anything Touhou, then give it a 3-line summary and a title, and Faw will link it in the first post.

"Justice!"
Yeah! If you want to, just rip out an essay on anything Touhou, then give it a 3-line summary and a title, and Faw will link it in the first post.

Right, but wait until it's apropos. I don't think the thread needs any more help in going off-topic.

 114 Clarste, Sun, 5th Dec '10 9:12:40 PM Relationship Status: Non-Canon
Three Steps
The topic right now is Gensokyo itself, in case anyone forgot.

 115 Fawriel, Mon, 6th Dec '10 12:36:24 AM from the bottom of my heart Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
THE MEEK
...What's the difference between the old thread and the new one?

What Duraz said. Mostly the same as the old one, except we have this thing where people can submit their own thoughts without having to worry about being "corrected" or anything like that, which apparently I suck at explaining.

In a couple months, Fawriel will bring back the original thread, re-title it Classic Touhou Character Alternate Interpretation Compendium and rake in the cash.
Also this. My nefariousness knows no bounds.

I think Hylarn and I do have a habit of citing facts at people (and each other) though.
I trust that you know the line between "this is canon, by the way" and "this is canon so stop saying other things", so don't worry too much about it.

There's no point in saying that, all people want to do is call other characterizations stupid anyway.
Please don't do this.

The average youkai are kedama. Who fly.
Huh, so they have an actual name. Well, I guess it's not more of an "actual name" than "fuzzy" in Japanese. But yes, that does support my idea that normal people would be capable enough to defeat the primitive, lesser youkai.

I think everyone is approaching the question from the wrong direction; clearly, the inherent ability to fly is a property of Gensokyo, not its inhabitants. You know, like if it had the Subjective Directional Gravity planar trait, only different.
Given how much it's a land of fantasy, that wouldn't surprise me.

We've never seen a normal human fly. Reimu is explicitly given that ability post PC-98 and the other humans all have generic enough magic to allow such a thing.
Yeah, it's worth pointing out that Reimu's "ability to fly in the sky" is different from generic flight abilities, what with how it allows her to become virtually intangible.

The problem [with people who like dark interpretations of Touhou] is that [they're] grading society by life expectancy instead of resident satisfaction level.
See, I know where you're coming from. This is one of the difficulties in writing "darker" Touhou. It's an otherworldly place, things have an otherworldly beauty, youkai think in ways different from normal humans. But, the people reading your story are just normal humans.

If you try to write a story where life expectancy is not valued much by people, that's just one step away from the ideals of those "voluntary extinction" people who think the world would be better off without us humans. It might be true, but you're gonna have a hard time making it appealing to people, who generally appreciate being alive. And while humans are perfectly capable of living happy lives even if they might die any day, the concept would be alien to anyone privileged enough to even be able to know what Touhou is.

Similar problem with writing youkai who act sufficiently "youkai-like". In Japanese folklore, kitsune are at a high stage of spiritual development and are super-intelligent and wise, to the point where their morality is beyond human grasp. They might do things that seem cruel, but in the grand scheme of things, is part of a wonderful natural order of some sort? Thing is, you could exposit stuff like that all you want, but readers would only see the cruelty, and even if you describe the kitsune as a beautiful creature, readers would recoil and think that they're beautiful... and cruel.

I think that's a big difference in how ZUN sees his characters and how the fans do. ZUN doesn't care to make them any more human than necessary, while most fans basically turn them into human with certain quirks.

Not saying that either of these is good or bad. In the grand scheme of things, it's both neutral.
SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH
 116 Fawriel, Mon, 6th Dec '10 1:02:24 AM from the bottom of my heart Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
THE MEEK
A rules section was added to the main post.

The Rules:
Discussion:
  • We're moving through the characters one step at a time. The beginning of a new discussion and end of the old one is marked by a new profile being posted.
  • No one will shoot you for sharing your thoughts on a character who had already been discussed. Going off-topic for a bit is okay. The order is only there to ensure that the thread has some direction. But if you have more general thoughts to share, consider posting in the general thread instead.
  • The next topic of discussion will be voted on at the end of the current one.
  • "Canon" is something that can be discussed freely. Please take care to differentiate between discussing what is canon, and discussing what is a good alternative interpretation.
  • Be civil. Don't take arguments against your ideas to be affronts to your person. Don't act like people's ideas make them deserving of affronts. This is not a rule so much as just common sense.
Alternate Character Interpretations:
  • A freeform essay in which you may display your ideas of a certain character. If you see a character differently from canon, share it. If you have a strong idea of what a certain character is like, canon-like or not, share it. If yo've created your own fanwork, or if you're playing with ideas for one, or if you just like to imagine what you'd do it like, share it. Even if you just have a crazy, off-the-wall idea for a different take on a character that you think is really cool, share it.
  • The essay itself is freeform, but please give it a title or summary as well. A summary shouldn't be any longer than three lines. Less should be sufficient unless you're particularly ambitious.
  • The essay will then be linked: 1) under your name at the bottom of this post, and 2) by its descriptive title in the character's profile.
  • Alternate Character Interpretations should follow the flow of discussion. Posting ones for characters already discussed is fine. If you really want to write about one who hasn't been discussed yet, it's time to do some campaigning for votes.

Also, added yarrunmace's thoughts. I... assume that that was meant to be an ACI.
SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH
You should probably have something more precise than 'three lines'. The length of a line depends on the monitor, and in this age of notebook computers and widescreen monitors, that's not something you can count on.
panic
 118 Clarste, Mon, 6th Dec '10 1:12:40 AM Relationship Status: Non-Canon
Three Steps
Summary: Gensokyo is not a paradise because of youkai tea parties or magical fun, but because it allows humans to be humans and youkai to be youkai.

"The Boundary of Humans and Youkai"

There's definitely meant to be a sort of Values Dissonance between youkai and humans that gets lost in a lot of otherwise good works. ZUN means to intend for there to be a large gap between these peoples, and this is a recurring theme through most of the games. He also likes to abuse the phrase "youkai-like" in his descriptions of characters.

Frankly, if we're talking about the setting, the way I see it the most important thing by far is the Border between Human and Youkai. Borders are perhaps the most prominent feature of the setting, with both the main character being a border miko and a character very important to the history being the border youkai. This is the border between reality and fantasy, but in many ways its also the border between humans and youkai. There are humans in Gensokyo, sure, but how many of them are characters? A handful, at best. Compared to the piles and piles of youkai that get introduced every game. Youkai are the star of the show.

Gensokyo is a land of youkai. It exists for youkai and by youkai. The humans are there voluntarily and perform an important role for the youkai, but its not like humans need youkai to live. This is an arrangement created for the benefit of one party, and at best is symbiotic for the other side. I think it would be a mistake to think that ZUN is dissatisfied with modernity and wants to portray his ideal escapist world; he also displays an equal fascination with technology and human ingenuity. Rather he sees two equal yet mutually exclusive forms of beauty: the mysterious and the known. As the known becomes deservingly more powerful in reality, the mysterious needs a refuge to survive, not because we need it but because it's beautiful, and it would be a shame to lose that.

In that sense, youkai represent something that's fundamentally at odds with humanity. While they do require humanity to exist, they are also destroyed by mankinds own success. Youkai represent unconquered nature, but that itself is the drive that motivates humanity to better itself. They cannot exist in balance because one diminishes the other, but both are worth having. Thus, the border. Humanity can prove its worth on one side, while youkai, who are timeless and need not prove anything, can exist on the other. They respect each other, but choose not to interfere.

This relationship is of course mirrored within Gensokyo itself. There's the Human Village and Youkai Mountain. Both are reasonably large societies, but they don't interact as neighboring human cultures would. They're different, and maintaining this difference is important to everyone involved. Those who abandon humanity become isolated from it, hopefully finding comfort as youkai.

Speaking of which, many of the important human characters straddle this border or have obvious counterparts. Reimu and Yukari are both protectors of the border and have similar powers. Reimu's powers distance her from humanity and indeed the people she's protecting know very little about her. Marisa and Alice are both witches, but one has crossed a line that the other hasn't. Youmu is half real and half fantasy herself and is shown to be both utterly straightforward and utterly confused, she is herself a contradiction. Sanae is a living god, and while the place of gods is slightly unclear (Byakuren considers them a form of youkai anyway), the intersection of human and supernatural is again portrayed as something that doesn't quite fit in anywhere. Only by embracing one side of herself (the spiritual side) is she able to thrive. Byakuren wants to bring the two sides closer together, and it remains to be seen how that works out, but her very existence is evidence of the border. Breaking through it, rather than merely crossing it, is a feat in itself.

Um... I'm bad at conclusions. Gensokyo is a place where the border between humans and youkai is made manifest. While some would like to blend this, it's not an easy task, nor is it necessarily possible. While it may be considered a paradise, this is not because it's integrated, but because it's separate. Gensokyo itself is a land of separations and borders. Some are weaker and some are stronger, but they are all made perfectly apparent. It highlights them for people to deal with as they wish, rather than destroying them.

edited 6th Dec '10 1:38:19 AM by Clarste

Only a dream

I enjoy the lighthearted and silly nature of the games, many other games will think of some deep and complicated storyline so I find Touhou to be a relief that I don't actually have to think about the story when playing time and time again.

Having said that, whilst Gensokyo is a silly place, away from the game storylines I see Gensokyo more as the place described in the short stories Changeability of Strange Dream, Dolls in Pseudo Paradise etc. A beautiful but strange and mysterious place that you may unwillingly spirited away to. Weather its a dark and terrifying place filled with monsters or a whimsical fantasy could be based on one's perception. Is it a dream or is it a nightmare?

I'd like to think that many of the youkai can be extremely dangerous even if they appear perfectly human, where as others are perfectly friendly. It's a world where you can't trust the appearance of a creature nor can you understand the way the mind of a youkai works.

If a place like Gensokyo can be such a danger, I think it then makes it far more beautiful. You can only truly appreciate sleeping safely in your own bed if you've experienced a night lost in the woods. Of course I also see Gensokyo having a lot to offer in scenic views, Cherry blossoms, Higanbana fields, bamboo forests.

And thats my alternate view on Gensokyo. Reading too much Alice in Wonderland? Possibly.

 120 Stark Maximum, Mon, 6th Dec '10 1:20:11 AM from someplace funny i dunno
I missed this avatar.
how do you all think so much god damn
WHO IS THIS LOSER
 121 Fawriel, Mon, 6th Dec '10 1:30:39 AM from the bottom of my heart Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
THE MEEK
You should probably have something more precise than 'three lines'. The length of a line depends on the monitor, and in this age of notebook computers and widescreen monitors, that's not something you can count on.

Aaah, I don't want to start slinging around word counts and such, though. That would really make it sound like homework. Between that and "three lines", I'd rather just say "keep it short".

@Clarste: That was lovely. The title doesn't really do it justice, although it's accurate. It's good to be able to focus on a particular aspect that you build around.

I like the way you described beauty as its own purpose. It seems like a great way to describe the appeal of the mythological standpoint – nature (and magic) is not beautiful because it's nice to us, in fact, it has nothing to do with us; it's beautiful because it is.

@Higanbana: Good point about danger being necessary to appreciate safety. I see something similar in a small aspect of my idea: If youkai and magic were reintegrated into our world, they would make it a rougher ride, but it would ultimately be worth it for the greater breadth of experiences.
SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH
 122 Clarste, Mon, 6th Dec '10 1:39:49 AM Relationship Status: Non-Canon
Three Steps
The title doesn't really do it justice

It's one of Yukari's spellcards. I'm vaguely planning on just giving everything a spellcard title. Although reading the instructions again I realize that I don't need both a title and a summary, so maybe I can just skip that step.

Integrating the opposed

Er, this is almost, but not quite, the complete opposite of what Clarste just said.

The cosmology of Touhou is more or less based on conflict. Gensoukyou literally needs human-youkai conflict to survive. Fantasy and science are inherently opposed, with fantasy having difficulty surviving where science holds sway. Despite this, the series has a strong theme of these opposites becoming integrated. This may not be finished by the time the series ends, or even prove impossible, but it seems to be the direction things are heading.

Even before the series began in proper, the first major step towards humans and youkai coexisting was created; the spellcard rules. Since then, a number of things working towards human and youkai equality have appeared; Eirin and Kanako treat everyone equally regardless of species, and Byakuren is actively working for equality. Even Remilia invites both to her paries. Within the games two focus on humans and youkai working together (interestingly, one of them, IN, has more human enemies than youkai).

Similarly, fantasy and science have been merged. While we're not certain whether the kappa's creation's are Magitek, the rest very much is. The most scientific, the cold fusion, required the efforts of two seperate gods to produce. The least, the rocket in SSiB, was using barely understood pieces of information of the outside world to exploit how faith affects reality.

Both of these things are increasing in frequency. Considering the events of WaHH, it probably safe to call how these opposites interact Touhou's plot.

edited 6th Dec '10 2:23:13 AM by Hylarn

panic
 124 Clarste, Mon, 6th Dec '10 2:02:16 AM Relationship Status: Non-Canon
Three Steps
Honestly, I don't entirely disagree. The progression from one game to the next is certainly something worth noting, and the explicit Fantastic Racism of UFO is definitely important in terms of what human-youkai relationships are and what they could be.

edited 6th Dec '10 2:05:31 AM by Clarste

 125 Fawriel, Mon, 6th Dec '10 2:03:32 AM from the bottom of my heart Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
THE MEEK
@Clarste: Oooh, a spellcard. That's pretty cool, actually. Since it doesn't really make for a very attention-grabbing title, though, I decided to use the summary to link it in Gensokyo's profile, but if you want me to change it back for the sake of the theme, I can do that.

@Hylarn: Ooh, you're right. That's really interesting, how you two are probably the ones of the regulars who most strictly adhere to canon, yet also have such seemingly opposing views of the setting... I guess that's human subjectivity at work.

... I really need to read WaHH.

edited 6th Dec '10 2:05:07 AM by Fawriel

SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH
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