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Reviews Comments: Embodiment of Scarlet Devil Touhou episode/issue review by Wellington

I thought I'd hate it.

Awful art, dubious writing, creepy lolicon subtext, no puzzles, and fans who post You Tube videos of 'Lunatic' runs of impossible difficulty, as if sinking endless hours into a game were something to be proud of. I was not raised on shooters; I am a text adventure person.

But I'd missed the point entirely. The point of Touhou, as far as I can tell, is not to win. There's no reward; nobody will write you a check for all those hours. It isn't to see the ending or follow a coherent plot. The feeling of accomplishment might be there, but it's probably going to be tinged with guilt - don't you have better things to do with your one life on earth?

The point of Touhou is to focus, and achieve moments of absolute, beautiful flow. The point is to develop absolute calm in the face of music and animation designed to throw you off, to make you frenzied and manic. Eventually, you stop seeing the spinning backgrounds and the bullet patterns that distort your motion perception. You stop seeing the bullets at all; eventually, there are only gaps. This happened to me within the space of a week-and-a-half of irregular play.

(Note: I say "irregular play," because there's no way to marathon this game, at least for me. After about forty minutes, it becomes unplayable. Focus just doesn't stay that long. I do best when I pause and do something productive for a while.)

If you are of the mindset that a game is to be BEATEN, and beaten utterly, this ain't the game for you. I'm unlikely to ever see the extra boss (though who knows? I'm getting better). If you take losing personally, or find it frustrating to lose, this game will either turn you off, or break you of that attachment to victory.

You are not there to win. You are there to graze bullets, shoot bombs, admire elegant bullet patterns, and then find gaps in them. When you are doing well at Touhou, you are not playing, but being. Your tiny shrine maiden is an extension of you.

You are the loli.

CONCLUSION: Still creepy, but in a Zen way.


  • Pata Hikari
  • 4th Aug 10
"creepy lolicon subtext"

  • 7th Aug 10
Less subtext in the games, more in the fandom. It's there.
  • MOTHERfan42
  • 31st Oct 10
As for "creepy lolicon subtext", there is that one time where if you play Marisa, she says something about how love dolls should be in middle schools.

And I semi-disagree. I do play Touhou to win. I don't win often, but I do get that rush of satisfaction when I finally 1cc a game or manage to capture a spell card I thought impossible. I still agree that your mind gets elevated into some Zen state when you're really doing well in a Touhou game.
  • Clarste
  • 17th Nov 10
"As for "creepy lolicon subtext", there is that one time where if you play Marisa, she says something about how love dolls should be in middle schools. "

It Makes Sense In Context. The context of that joke is that Marisa is jokingly applying for a job at the Scarlet Devil Mansion and Sakuya jokingly wonders if she's applying a love slave because she seems to have no domestic skills. Marisa responds with "I was thinking more like blackboard cleaner" so Sakuya says "We're not in elementary school you know." So Marisa refers back to the previous comment as says "So, what, love slaves are middle school level then?"

Not exactly the funniest joke, and relies on some Japanese puns to make the slightest bit of sense, but there's no subtext either, she's just deliberately misunderstanding Sakuya.
  • ronasokily
  • 8th Jul 11
I basically have the same feelings as the OP (besides the whole loli subtext thing, but that's just me).

Anyway, yeah, I'm bad at video games. I'm not even good at the Touhou games. But besides all that, I find that it's about the dodging, the gaps, the patterns and the characters. There's no point to winning a Touhou game. It's all about masterful dodging, grazing, having fun, and being calm in the eye of a (bullet) storm.

As you said, it's nearly Zen.
  • Moekou
  • 11th Jul 11
Loli? What loli? Very few of the characters are loli in the canon series.

If anything is creepy, its the Reimu and Marisa really ought to be in their 20s by now, given the statement that about a year passes between each game.And that's being generous about the PC 98 era.

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