The Gappy's Journey: Just what does DitR deconstruct?:
On July 1st, in a Jim's Diner, Touhou fan work writers and critics Spaztique and Stevo The Human recorded a live riff of the fanfic Boundary of Fantasy and Illusion. This is one of the many Outsider fics that fit the mold of a Marty Stu outsider getting gapped into Gensokyo by Yukari, gaining powers, and then touring Gensokyo. The two came up with a word to describe the characters: the Gappy Stu. Not long later, Spaztique began going to work on the first draft of Diamond In The Rough after encountering the works of gappy writer ColonelDiamondback.
While Diamond In The Rough stands on its own as a fantasy adventure tragedy, there can be much more enjoyment derived from knowing just what the story is set out to destroy. The following is a list of patterns Spaztique and Stevo have found in the Gappy pattern.
As of August 2013, there are 55 fics over 100k words, 23 of which stars Original Characters, and I could identify ten of them as Self-insert OCs, making it 18% of the sample. Reading the first chapter of each fanfic I can attest that the gappy traits are pretty common, the pattern of a person in the outside world who is bored with life and would give anything to change it and in a very few fics, the OC thinks twice before going. There was only one in which the OC was a girl (and not sure if its a SI).
There are also other trends not covered by DitR, like Maribel and Renko being the vector from which the OC lands in Gensokyo, or Yukari accidentally gapping him, without offering (and its always treated as a comedic event). Another minor trend was that the OC is a youkai, but doesnt know that hes a youkai.
This was a quick research, while I can determine the quality of each first chapter individually (and most of them have bad quality writing and some authors consider it an Old Shame in the notes; the difference is astonishing comparing the first chapter of Negative Bullet to the first chapter of Negative Mind, written by the same author, clearly showing how it improved), and it doesnt reflect the future development of each story.
The Gappy Himself (and it's always a he):
- Most of the time, the Gappy is an Author Avatar, and most of the English Touhou fandom will be white, middle-class suburban kids. Exceptions do exist, such as Ryo from Lost In Gensokyo, who is Indonesian, and the story takes a cultural bias as the Indonesian Military invades Gensokyo.
- For some reason, they are extremely well-versed in Japanese mythology.
- The gappy will have a wealth of supplies with him as he enters Gensokyo, often always with a backpack full of clothes, food, and possibly weapons.
- A gappy's emotions run the following range: amused, confused, cocky, angry. They are never scared, never sad, never worried, or show any sign of weakness.
- The moment a Gappy enters Gensokyo, they stop worrying about their life back home and begin wondering if they should stay in Gensokyo. It never occurs to them to ever go back. You will never get to see their parents because they will always be offscreen.
- Most gappies are single, virgins, and/or bad with girls.
- Gappies love to think violence is the answer to anything. This is evident when they first get to Gensokyo for the Rumia encounter (described later) and try to fight her.
- Gappies are very shallow. They fall in love with looks, and they base their likability on looks, weapons, or rank.
- Gappies love swords. Never mind that Gensokyo runs on ranged combat, gappies need as many swords as they can get away with, all fitted for specific situations.
- The Gappy may find out he's actually part youkai.
- The Gappy has a very high chance of gaining magical avatars who follow his every command and always work in his best interest. The Gappy will be able to transform into any of these at command.
- Gappies are never afraid of heights and never get motion sick, making them perfect for flying around Gensokyo.
Tropes typical of Gappies:
- Either Yukari offers the gappy a chance to go to Gensokyo because the gappy has suffered or because they have a special power to unlock, or the gappy just wakes up in Gensokyo with no memory of the gapping while Yukari watches mysteriously from a distance, commenting about how he's "the chosen one" or whatever.
- Yukari always does this out of best intentions: she genuinely cares for the gappy, unlike her countless calculating canon portrayals.
- Once gapped in, the gappy seems to never encounter Yukari again. She's only used as an excuse to get into Gensokyo: likely this is the only way the original writer thought of how they could get into Gensokyo.
- Only one Gappy is brought over at a time. There are brief passing stories of past gappies, and we never find out what happened to them or why they were brought over.
- A recent trend that has been popping up lately, sometimes it's somebody else bringing the gappy into Gensokyo to say, "He's not a gappy because Yukari didn't gap him!" If they follow the exact same path as a Gappy, they're still a Gappy, regardless of how they get into Gensokyo.
Tropes typical of the Gapping:
- The first thing a Gappy will do is wander off into the Forest of Magic or Bamboo Forest of the Lost. They will then encounter Rumia, and it is almost always Rumia (unless it's the rare exception of a random youkai that bears no resemblance to the Touhou casts), then win a fist-fight against her, despite the fact youkai are immune to physical attacks. If they don't win via fists, they will suddenly summon magical powers to defeat her.
- If they begin the story injured, they will end up at the House of Eternity, despite being Yukari's rivals. They will treat the gappy free of charge, and Mokou will escort the gappy in and out of the building with ease. Keine will also usually show up around this point, and neither her no Mokou will leave as the gappy receives treatment.
- Throughout this upcoming journey, they will marvel at all of the sights, yet never adjust to the fact they're in a fantasy world. Strangely enough, they will also be able to instantly comprehend complex magic.
- Despite how everyone can fly, everyone just walks from place to place and banter about exposition, unfunny jokes, or "romantic" crap.
- The gappy will eventually head to the Hakurei Shrine to learn Spell Card Rules from Reimu and Marisa. Reimu will be ultra-nice and Marisa will say "ze" a lot, and they will tease each other over who is falling in love with the Gappy. They will also drink a lot of tea and give the gappy tea. The gappy will have no problem with this. Despite learning Spell Card Rules, they will then opt for a sword.
- If they need a book for research, they will then proceed to the Scarlet Devil Mansion. Again, they will borrow a book from Patchouli free-of-charge and drink lots of tea. If Flandre is there, her sole purpose is to terrorize the gappy and act like a homicidal maniac.
- They will then shop in the human village and/or Kourindou with either other characters paying for their stuff or they just get it for free. Of course, they never buy any clothes to fit in with the setting. Any descriptions of the human village will include skyscrapers, fountains, paved roads, and other modern/western features. Basically, it will look nothing like feudal Japan.
- When the gappy needs an invention, they will go to the Extreme Doormat Nitori, who will drop whatever she's doing to make something for the gappy. She will have infinite resources and get the job done in a matter of minutes.
- The gappy will visit Sanae to relate to things about the outside world. She might also turn out to be a villain who wants to defeat Reimu.
- The gappy will essentially go on a tour of Gensokyo and visit every single character before there's even a hint of conflict. The incident might have already begun, but it's really more of just going place to place and meeting the characters than really getting anything of importance done.
Tropes typical of The Journey:
- Aborted Arc
- Anti-Climax Boss: Virtually every enemy the gappy encounters.
- Arc Fatigue: Gappy fics are never a whole story: they are split into "arcs," wherein the protagonist goes on one random journey to the next.
- Big-Lipped Alligator Moment
- Genre Shift and Genre Roulette: The story constantly shifts between bad action/adventure to bad comedy to bad romance.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: Team 9 if they appear together.
- Harmless Villain: Rumia.
- Info Dump: Characters will spew out information about Gensokyo and how it works at a moment's notice. Virtually all of the dialogue is talking about Gensokyo or who will do what next.
- Love at First Sight
- Magnetic Hero: Depending on the inexperience of the writer, any character the gappy talks to is going to start following him. The more inexperienced, the more characters.
- Narrative Filigree
- Padding: The writers think there is some kind of imposed limit to get the story up to "feature length."
- Prolonged Prologue: Many writers stave off the incident so that the gappy may explore Gensokyo unopposed, making sure to meet absolutely every character before kicking off "the main plot." Otherwise, the gappy will just explore Gensokyo while the incident is going on unopposed.
- Random Events Plot
- Strangled by the Red String
- Those Two Guys: Reimu and Marisa, who only teach the gappy about Spell Card Rules and feed him tea, then otherwise just hang back and comment on how awesome the gappy is.
- Walk and Talk: Half of the scenes are "walking to the next scene" scenes where characters Info Dump about Gensokyo.
- The incident is never the cause of a Gensokyo local, but always another outsider: often another male with a dark backstory. They will be Always Chaotic Evil and wish for the destruction of everyone.
- It will always be Gensokyo's "most destructive incident yet." And yet only individual characters will suffer: there will only be few civilian casualties. Only the incident resolvers will get involved.
- The culprit will not use fairies: it will always be an army of something the incident resolvers cannot defeat, voiding Touhou's normal use of fairies + midboss + boss format.
- Despite spreading all over Gensokyo, the characters have plenty of time to stop and sort out the madness. There is little description of destruction or chaos.
- The heroines will all be reduced to blubbering messes, incapable of fighting or pulling themselves together. It is up to the gappy to be the "center" of the otherwise strong/fearless female cast and pull them together to "stop the big bad," which becomes ironic when you read the next point...
- The heroines will be unable to resolve the incident by themselves: IT IS ALWAYS UP TO THE GAPPY TO RESOLVE THE INCIDENT. NO EXCEPTIONS!!! All of the heroines must be defeated or otherwise reduced to cheering on the gappy from the sidelines as he engages in a one-on-one sword battle with the big bad. This is how it always ends. This is the ultimate disappointment, no matter how well the fic is written: a build-up featuring the entire Touhou cast and "the biggest incident ever" always ending with two original characters we don't care about engaging in a sword duel, and it's fairly obvious the main character is going to win.
- The gappy will most likely heroically sacrifice himself without a single fear. The gappy is completely unafraid to die.
Tropes typical of The Incident:
- Apathetic Citizens: Not just citizens, but also the entire Touhou cast.
- Ass Pull
- Chickification: The entire Touhou cast are reduced to Damsels In Distress.
- Complexity Addiction: The villain's plan will most likely be overly complex: especially since it involves going to each and every location in Gensokyo.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Between the villain and the Touhou cast or the Gappy and the villain.
- Deus ex Machina: The hero usually reaches the brink of death, but then is suddenly healed by a magical power, one of the heroines, or something else defeats the villain just in the nick of time.
- Distress Ball: Plenty to go around for the heroines.
- Faux Action Girl: The entire Touhou Project cast. Everyone.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Optional.
- Omnicidal Maniac
- MORE Padding: Thought the opening was slow? Now the gappy has to retrace his footsteps all over Gensokyo saving the helpless cast!
- Put Them All Out of My Misery: The villain will usually be jealous of everyone else in some way, and that will give him an excuse to want to kill everyone. In a case of both irony Jungian psychology, it is the gappy, a selfish kid who gets everything he ever wanted through his trip to a magical fantasy world, who must defeat this villain, a selfish kid/adult who didn't get everything he wanted.
- Shadow Archetype: The villain is this for the writer, seeing as the main character is an Author Avatar. Both the gappy and the villain want absolute power: the gappy got it, and the villain didn't.
- Smooch of Victory: Any time the gappy does something good.
- Stupid Evil: The villain.
- Villain Ball
- If the gappy heroically sacrificed himself, he will obviously be revived. If not, it will be treated as a sentimental event with characters happily mourning the character.
- Thanks to the gappy, everyone's lives are better off.
- The gappy (if survived/revived) will then have kids with the love interest, regardless of species.
- The gappy (if survived/revived) will obviously remain in Gensokyo.
- Yukari won't gap in any more kids. It was just that one gappy that one time.
- We will never know what happened in the outside world because of that kid's absence.
Tropes typical of The Ending:
- Babies Ever After
- Died Happily Ever After: If anyone does die, it will be a very happy occasion.
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Several...
- Strangers with portals leading to fantasy worlds are to be trusted because they'll lead you to infinite happiness. Don't fix your own problems when somebody else can fix them for you!
- Violence Really Is the Answer!
- Love is based on looks and awkward small talk alone.
- Happy Ending: Obviously, but...
Brolli As A Gappy:
- Brolli is the typical suburban kid, and that makes him maladjusted to Gensokyo: he hates tea, doesn't adapt well to the rural setting, and begins to visit the Kappa Valley to ease his homesickness.
- Brolli is only well-versed in Japanese mythology because he studies world mythology for high school. Otherwise, since he has not read the local guide, he's rather ignorant.
- Brolli steals much of his supplies, and as the story progresses, his stocks dwindle until he has literally nothing.
- Brolli's emotions begin very limited, but he soon explores the wide ranges of happiness, sadness, fear, horror, shock, surprise, and more as he's swallowed up in Gensokyo.
- The longer Brolli stays in Gensokyo, the more he worries about home. His parents were out of town at the start of the story, and when we finally hear from them, it turns out they don't exactly care much about Brolli, hence the fact they're missing so much.
- Brolli only gains romance because he was using Reisen or free medical supplies. Though, he later legitimately falls in love with her, just as it's clear he's soon to die.
- Brolli starts off thinking violence is the only answer, dropkicking his cat off the couch and later trying to fight Rumia with a rock, but when he sees the destructive results of violence, he begins to renounce it.
- Brolli's defining flaw is his shallowness, but by the time he has his last stand with Tenshi, he trusts in his inner power to carry him through.
- Brolli's sword collection gets a Decon-Recon Switch when they're useless as melee weapons, but deadly as projectiles.
- Brolli only was a youkai in previous lives, but was reincarnated as far away from Gensokyo to assure he could not become any more corrupt.
- Brolli's beasts turn out to be morally corrupt and incarnations of his past sins. Although they try their best to act on Brolli's behalf, they end up causing enough trouble to incite the climatic incident.
- Brolli is afraid of heights and easily motion sick. In his first trip around Gensokyo, he eventually vomits from all of the flying.
- Yukari's offer is portrayed as a Deal with the Devil, preying on Brolli's insecurities.
- Yukari has two reasons for gapping children: first, to maintain the ecology of Gensokyo as a peaceful wonderland by exposing it to true corruption carried over through the outsiders, and second, which is a Reconstruction of canon, for food, since it's more civilized than just hunting them like a wild youkai.
- Yukari doesn't interfere with Brolli because she wants him to be his own downfall, since she only gaps over children who specifically will lead to their own downfall.
- Previous gappies are regularly mentioned. It turns out each one of them has either died or learned a lesson, and Yukari only gaps over the ones she knows will die or snap. The previous gappies are also important to the plot in that Vic and Arturo's stories are so morbid, she wants to give the rest of Gensokyo their own morbid tale to live with.
- Brolli's encounter with Rumia is played out according to canon rules, in that Brolli's melee attacks don't work and Rumia tries to eat Brolli. It turns out the reason why Rumia is always the first youkai encounter is because Yukari uses her to corral gappies who disobey her rules.
- Eirin begins using Brolli for her own personal gain and to irk Yukari. Mokou gladly aids Brolli since she doesn't care about anything otherwise for being immortal.
- Brolli adjusts to the setting, but is rather put off by how powerful everyone is and how loose the alliances are. He becomes very ignorant, thinking he can get by with everything he learned in mythology class, and then later through the stories of the residence.
- Brolli flies all over Gensokyo and gets incredibly sick from it.
- Throughout the span of Diamond In The Rough's four hours, Brolli only encounters Reimu and Marisa in the same place together twice: once when Brolli's training goes awry and again when the incident resolvers realize killing Brolli will resolve the incident. Marisa and Reimu only talk to eachother in-person a total of three times in the whole movie. Brolli's relationship with Reimu is strained by her rules and Tsundere behavior, but she genuinely cares about Brolli. Marisa may influence Brolli more, but she regrets the way Brolli misinterpreted her. During Brolli's introduction to Spell Card Rules, he dozes off and completely ignores Reimu.
- Patchouli only lets outsiders borrow books if they donate blood to her mistress. Flandre may have the reputation of a homicidal maniac, but it turns out that she's no different from the rest of the residents of Gensokyo, even following Spell Card Rules in a formal duel.
- The human village is portrayed as a normal feudal village, complete with food carts, noodle stands, and dirt roads. Brolli doesn't shop there at all, but opts for Yukari to gap everything he needs in.
- Brolli's overusage of Nitori leads to the depletion of her resources, resulting in the destruction of the Kappa Valley.
- Brolli cannot relate to Sanae because despite being an outsider, she is still far more experienced than Brolli. During the incident Sanae and the Moriya godesses are tricked into trying to kill Brolli, only to later believe that Brolli's not a villain.
- Brolli sticks to only a few settings: the House of Eternity, Heaven, the Kappa Valley, Marisa's House, the Hakurei Shrine, the Moriya Shrine, and Yukari's house/guesthouse. He does go on a tour and a cross-Gensokyo date through Youkai Mountain, the Netherworld, and Hell, but these are only shown in a montage and never dwelled upon.
The Moriya Mist Incident:
- The incident is actually by the residents of Gensokyo, caused through a nasty case of Grey and Gray Morality. It was set off by Tenshi acting on behalf of The Scarlet Devil Mansion, the Myouren Temple, and the Moriya Shrine, which is actually the result of a Xanatos Gambit by Yukari and the Ministry of What's Right and Wrong. The only original character part of the incident is Momoi, the Stage 5 boss, who fits in with the setting and is otherwise beat by Miko, a local.
- The incident is the most destructive event in Gensokyo's history and portrayed as such: entire villages are obliterated, causalities mount up, and there is endless carnage. The heroines are otherwise fine because they are strong fighters, with some even saving Gensokyo, such as Yuyuko saving the Netherworld, Utsuho and Rin guarding the Palace of the Earth Spirits and Old Hell, Meiling protecting the ruins of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, and Yuuka saving the Human Village.
- The incident follows closely to Touhou mechanics, even citing sorties and high profile targets as "stages" and "bosses" respectively.
- The climax is one giant battle that consumes Gensokyo with very little time to rest. The fifteen minute climax takes place entirely in Real Time.
- The heroines refuse to crack, while Brolli is reduced to a psychotic mess as his death approaches. It is up to Reimu, Miko, and Reisen to help Brolli hang onto hope, but by the end, he completely loses it.
- Brolli's beasts are locked inside him by Tenshi's mist, rendering that super special awesome ability that makes him so much more powerful than others completely useless. To survive, he's forced to adapt and fight by the rules of Gensokyo, using his swords for ranged combat. They work surprisingly well, considering that wasn't what they were made for.
- The final duel against Tenshi is mainly to delay Brolli's death: the longer he lives, the more Gensokyo will suffer. Tenshi knows he can't win, and even if he resolves her incident, he is still the culprit of his own that led to the destruction of the Scarlet Devil Mansion and the Kappa Valley. Tenshi uses her typical danmaku attacks and only resorts to her sword in the final fourth of the battle, but when she uses it, she easily beats the inexperienced Brolli (who manages to pull through only because of superior technology and a lucky hit that knocks Tenshi into a pile full of sharp swords). The real drama doesn't come from the fight between Brolli and Tenshi, but the rest of the incident resolvers realizing the downfall that will be wrought by Brolli's death and their (obviously failed) attempt to save him before it's too late.
- Brolli is afraid of death and refuses to give up, knowing he'll go to Hell if he dies. Then, when it becomes apparent that survival is no longer and option and that he must die to not only save Gensokyo, but also to pay for his sins, he willingly gives his life in a Death Equals Redemption.
- Brolli does not get to be revived. His death is final. In this timeline, at least... As for the reaction, it ranges from absolute heartbreak to horror to "good riddance!" His sacrifice is not romanticized or sentimentalized: there is nothing good about Brolli's death. Although after he does die, he gets a hug scene with Komachi which does put a rather sentimental light on it.
- Brolli has left Gensokyo torn apart, with only the people who wanted Brolli dead benefiting from his death. In time, Gensokyo will completely recover, making Brolli's impact completely non-existent.
- Because Brolli is not only another species, but significantly stronger than Reisen, their child does not survive in the womb.
- Yukari gaps in another child to begin the proccess anew, even if his impact will be significantly dampened by Tenshi's gambit.
- We learn life went on without Brolli in the outside word: he disappeared, he was forgotten, and that's that.
The following only lists trope descriptions as they relate to the above lists in the folders. Deconstructions and other info are on the main page.
Tropes atypical of Brolli as a Gappy:
- Black Hole Stu: Brolli not only has little control of the events, but he's actually quite helpless.
- Designated Hero: Brolli warms up over the story, and by the finale, most audience members root for Brolli.
- Instant Expert: Brolli takes the same amount of time to learn things as more people. The only exception is when Lepus hypnotizes him, but he is otherwise on his own.
- Marty Stu: Brolli, from a writing standpoint, is a balanced character who faces plenty of conflict while still having a fighting chance.
- Mighty Whitey: Brolli does not adapt to Gensokyo very well.
- Teen Genius: Brolli is a slacker.
Tropes atypical of Brolli's Journey:
- Aborted Arc: Brolli's main goal is to become to the most powerful being in Gensokyo and only abandons it when the incident begins due to Character Development.
- Anti-Climax Boss: Every threat Brolli faces is legimitately stronger than him. The Diamondback beasts easily defeat others for Brolli, but then comes the fact Brolli doesn't want the beasts to fight everyone for him, making the beasts the enemies.
- Arc Fatigue: DitR is one self-contained story with only a few subplots.
- Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Each scene serves a purpose.
- Genre Shift and Genre Roulette: The first half is a Deconstructive Parody, and the second half is a straight Deconstruction.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: Team 9 does not appear together. Individual members show up for cameos, but that's it.
- Harmless Villain: Rumia is not harmless.
- Infodump: Brolli never gets any info about Gensokyo: he opts to figure out the place on his own.
- Love at First Sight: Brolli does not fall in love with Reisen immediately.
- Magnetic Hero: Brolli is alone for a majority of the film.
- Narrative Filigree: Very little of the film stops to look around, opting to use any colorful scenery as a backdrop for the main story instead of the other way around.
- Padding: None: each scene is written purposefully, and some have even been shorted to ensure it fits the four hour runtime.
- Prolonged Prologue: DitR's prologue lasts only three minutes. The moment Brolli steps into Gensokyo, his quest for power begins.
- Random Events Plot: The story has only a few subplots, but all have to do with Brolli's quest for power.
- Strangled by the Red String: Brolli's romance with Reisen takes a backseat to most of the plot.
- Those Two Guys: Reimu and Marisa never appear together but a few times.
- Walk and Talk: There are very few "walking to the next scene" scenes, and the few that are there fit the plot.
Tropes atypical of The Incident:
- Apathetic Citizens: Not only does everyone fight back, but they make Brolli useless.
- Ass Pull: Everything that happens in the second half was set up in the first half, making the entire climax a steady stream of Call Backs.
- Chickification: Not only are they not chickified, many of the characters get some seriously badass moments.
- Complexity Addiction: Tenshi's plan can be summed up as wait for Brolli to snap trying to prevent the incident, wait for a bidding war for Tenshi's services to kill Brolli, spark the incident, drag the bidders over the Moral Event Horizon.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Everyone is evenly matched.
- Deus ex Machina: Nothing saves Brolli.
- Distress Ball: Nobody loses common sense over being in distress: even Brolli fights harder.
- Faux Action Girl: Nobody.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Mandatory, since Brolli can't win. Played as horrifically as it could be.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Tenshi's plan is to save Gensokyo, even if it means short-term disaster.
- Padding: The climax happens in real time.
- Put Them All Out of My Misery: Not used.
- Shadow Archetype: Brolli's beasts are Brolli's shadow: they represent everything he wants to do if he didn't have any self-awareness of his actions. Fortunately, he has self-awareness, and whether he wants to use them or not, he has no choice but to abandon his shadows in the finale.
- Smooch of Victory: Not used. Even when Brolli saves Reisen, Brolli is far too scared of dying to do anything.
- Stupid Evil: Not used.
- Villain Ball: Not used.
Tropes atypical of The Ending:
- Babies Ever After: Averted and subverted.
- Died Happily Ever After: Not at all.
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop: The aesop is, "You are not your powers, your looks, or your possessions: you are what's underneath them."
- Happy Ending: It openly states it has a Downer Ending before revealing later it has more of a Bittersweet Ending.