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Literature / Touhou Kourindou ~ Curiosities of Lotus Asia

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Cover of the compilation release
"The history of Gensokyo was born the moment I began writing this book."
Rinnosuke Morichika
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In addition to the main Touhou video game series, and strangely overshadowed by the franchise's own fanfiction, are a number of canon Spin Offs including comics and other print materials. Touhou Kourindou ~ Curiosities of Lotus Asia is the first of these, a series of short stories published in various magazines from 2004 to 2007. In 2015 it received a Revival in the first issue of official Touhou magazine Strange Creators of Outer World.

Rinnosuke Morichika is a long-time friend of Reimu and Marisa, the protagonists of the game series, but they don't have much in common. For one thing he's a noncombatant who concerns himself mostly with the issues of daily life and running a shop rather than investigating strange incidents. For another he's a he.

Rinnosuke is half-human, half-youkai, with the perks of both races and few of their weaknesses... but despite this he is not very strong and doesn't take part in Spell Card duels. Rinnosuke once worked for Marisa's father as a shop assistant, but has since set up a premises of his own - Kourindou, a curio shop built just outside the Forest of Magic, stocked mainly with items that have drifted into Gensokyo from the Outside World. While intended as a location accessible to both humans and youkai, in practice it's too out-of-the-way for many customers to travel there. Not that Rinnosuke really seems to mind, since only about half of his "merchandise" consists of things that he's actually willing to sell. Rinnosuke possesses a special power that tells him the name and purpose of any tool he can see... but not how they work, and as a result his shop is littered with pieces of technology that he can't figure out how to use.

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Something of an armchair philosopher, Rinnosuke will frequently stop his narration in order to give his observations on metaphysics or current events... observations which are often comically inaccurate.


Curiosities of Lotus Asia provides examples of:

  • Anachronic Order: Chapter 32 chronologically takes place before Chapter 31, which is shortly after Hidden Star in Four Seasons.
  • Artifact of Doom: Chapter 12 features Rinnosuke's panicked attempts to hide a handheld device that can control people, start wars, and even destroy worlds. It turns out these are fictional worlds - the device in question is just a Game Boy.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology:
    • In-universe Rinnosuke's knowledge of paleontology... leaves much to be desired. For instance, he theorizes that large fossils are simply bones of normal-sized animals that grew bigger over time.
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    • To make matters worse, Reimu finds seashell fossils on dry land and comes to the perfectly reasonable conclusion that Gensokyo was underwater long ago...and Rinnosuke convinces her she's wrong using an insane theory that's based more around wordplaynote  than actual logic.
  • Call-Back: Chapter 32 has Rinnosuke read a detective novel from the Outside World that he notes he can't completely follow due to the differing values between the Outside World and Gensokyo, a phenomenon Akyuu mentions in Forbidden Scrollery as being the reason why they're not very popular in the latter location, but in Rinnosuke's case he likes them precisely because he fully understand them, as it makes the novels seem more fantastic.
  • Cargo Cult: Downplayed. While characters sometimes view Outside World items as divine or mystical, the "divine and mystical" is so mundane in Gensokyo that this still makes them little more than a curiosity. Plus, given the Clap Your Hands If You Believe nature of the setting, it's possible that a Cargo Cult can actually work to some degree.
  • Character Filibuster:
    • Rinnosuke is prone to going off on long tangents, both in dialogue and narration, to the point where his article in Perfect Memento in Strict Sense featured a warning from Akyuu that once he starts talking it's hard to get him to shut up.
    • He gets to be on the receiving end of this for once in Chapter 28, when Sumireko complains about how technology in the Outside World is making people more impersonal.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • One of the items Rinnosuke picks up from Muenzuka in Chapter 10 is "a lantern that glows with the light of ghosts". Chapter 13 features Kourindou becoming overrun by phantoms, and Youmu showing up to beg Rinnosuke to hand back her lost Soul Torch.
    • Rinnosuke's talk about the nature of names and naming in Chapter 15 becomes far more relevant when Junko appears in Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom, as her ability allows her to return things to the nameless state they had originally.
  • Continuity Nod
    • Phantasmagoria of Flower View features a reference to chapter 14, where the cherry blossoms at Kourindou turned unnaturally white.
    • In Chapter 17 Marisa flips through some old tengu newspapers and finds a story about calculating the width of the Sanzu River, which originally appeared in Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red.
    • Chapter 18 mentions Remilia planning to travel to the moon after seeing Suika "break" the moon, as described in her Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red article. It also implies that she's attempted this before, which was described in Sakuya's article in the same book. Her third and final attempt would later be described in Touhou Bougetsushou.
    • In chapter 26 Reimu mentions that for some reason Yukari has started helping her train, referencing events taking place at the same time in Touhou Bougetsushou.
    • Chapter 29 is about how Sumireko has begun meeting Kasen at Rinnosuke's shop to bring her things from the Outside World. This was established in Wild and Horned Hermit chapters 33-34, which are themselves a Cross Through with chapters 40-41 of Forbidden Scrollery.
    • Chapter 30 serves as a prelude to Alternative Facts in Eastern Utopia, featuring Aya trying to get an interview from Sumireko for her planned new magazine.
    • Chapter 31 is set shortly after the events of Hidden Star in Four Seasons, with Marisa explaining the cause of the incident to Rinnosuke.
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: In chapter 11 Reimu deliberately tampers with the Great Hakurei Barrier (to get Yukari Yakumo's attention) while Rinnosuke is nearby concentrating on an MP3 player, resulting in Rinnosuke being sucked into the Outside World. However, he is immediately found and retrieved by Yukari before he can get more than a glimpse of his surroundings.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: An unintentional example. Due to delays in the publication of Perfect Memento in Strict Sense (her intended debut work), chapter 20 is actually the first appearance of Hieda no Akyuu.
  • Elemental Crafting: Chapters 6 and 7 feature Marisa asking Rinnosuke to upgrade her Mini-Hakkero with Hihi'irokane components.
  • Expospeak Gag: Chapter 12 is driven by Rinnosuke worrying about a potential Artifact of Doom, describing it as a gray box made of inorganic material with black buttons. In other words, it's a Game Boy.
  • Finger Wag: In Chapter 12 when Rinnosuke attempts to destroy the Artifact of Doom with a mallet, Yukari's hand appears out of a gap, stops the hammer, wags a finger at him, then takes the Artifact away.
  • First-Person Smartass: Rinnosuke's inner monologues can be pretty sarcastic, though he's rather bad at the "clever references" part.
  • Flash Back:
    • Chapter 22 features a Flash Back to the year 2001 (two years before Embodiment of Scarlet Devil) showing how Marisa picked up her fondness for star-themed magic.
    • The cover for chapter 6 features another one showing Marisa as a young child sitting in Rinnosuke's lap.
    • Chapter 32 is one giant flashback from Sumireko's perspective to 2017 to show the time Jo'on's influence managed to get her, Reimu, and Rinnosuke to consume far beyond their means.
  • Foreshadowing: Chapter 10 introduces Muenzuka, which would be an important location in Phantasmagoria of Flower View.
  • Grail in the Garbage: Almost literally; as payment for repairing and upgrading the Mini-Hakkero, Rinnosuke asks for the pile of iron scrap Marisa's been collecting ever since she was little. It turns out out said scrap includes the Kusanagi, which Marisa dismisses as a rusty and useless old sword.
  • I Know Your True Name: The importance of names (and things without names) is a recurring concept throughout the story, and Rinnosuke's abilities give him a unique perspective on it.
  • Innocuously Important Episode:
    • In chapter 11 (while the Great Hakurei Barrier is temporarily weakened) Rinnosuke is transported to the Outside World in a dreamlike state, claimed by Yukari to be due to an MP3 player that contained lingering spiritual power from the Outside World. This effect, referred to as "spiriting away", later becomes a major plot point in Urban Legend in Limbo and Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom, Watatsuki no Toyohime's ability to connect Earth and the Moon was obtained by being able to comprehend one of Eirin's lectures on the nature of spiriting away, and it's implied to have some connection to Maribel Hearn's ability to travel between worlds.
    • Chapter 15, in which Rinnosuke explains how naming things can limit their power, becomes more important in the context of Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom, in which Junko's power is explained as the ability to return things to their original nameless state.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: From the afterword:
    "By the way, Rinnosuke's supposed vast storage of knowledge comes almost entirely out of thin air. Indeed, he doesn't know nearly as much as he thinks he does. If you read closely, you'll notice a lot of wild, meta ideas, but I think that's supposed to be the joke."
  • New Technology Is Evil: In Chapter 28, Sumireko shows Rinnosuke a smartphone and describes all the things you can do with it; he's suitably impressed and muses about finding a way to spread the technology to Gensokyo. However, Sumireko goes on a little rant about how consumer electronics are destroying interpersonal relationshipsnote  and says that she'd rather Gensokyo not get cellphones because they'd destroy the charm and make the land just like the Outside World. Most of this goes over Rinnosuke's head.
  • Pretty Freeloaders: Reimu and Marisa tend to use Kourindou as a clubhouse to hang out, eating Rinnosuke's food and never actually buying anything. When he complains about this, they point out that he doesn't actually sell any of his merchandise anyhow.
  • Pro Bono Barter: In Chapter 28, Sumireko offers to sell Rinnosuke some modern goods from the Outside World, remarking that she's interested in seeing what Gensokyo's money looks like (having never seen it before). Rinnosuke remarks that people tend to barter goods and services, so money doesn't circulate all that much.
  • Schizo Tech:
    • Gensokyo's culture and tech levels are roughly on par with the Meiji Era, but Kourindou is filled with random pieces of modern technology that few people know how to use. On the rare occasion that Rinnosuke does learn how to make one of these devices work, he usually becomes too attached to it to sell it.
    • When she shows up in Chapter 28, Sumireko (who's actually from the Outside World) points out that most of the technology Rinnosuke has is from the 1980s or earlier — cassette players, CRT televisions, and the like. By the end of the chapter they make a deal for her to sell him some more modern stuff.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The "contagious god" in chapter 23, released when Marisa found an ancient plate at Muenzuka covered in seals and decided to take them off.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: The conversations between Rinnosuke and other characters can get rather inane and rambly.
  • Slice of Life: Out of all the Touhou spinoffs, this one for the most part is probably the most laidback in tone.
  • Speech-Centric Work: Unlike most other written Touhou works, Curiosities of Lotus Asia is mainly dialogue, dialogue, and more dialogue with some of Rinnosuke's monologues.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Rinnosuke insists in Chapter 10 that he's visiting Muenzuka to pay his respects to the nameless dead slain by youkai and not to fish rare Outside World items off their corpses, before proceeding to do exactly that.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The first part of chapter 6 is told from Marisa's perspective, and the first part of Chapter 28 is done from Sumireko's before switching to Rinnosuke.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Rinnosuke isn't always reliable when it comes to describing what exactly the object of the day is since his power describes what an object does, but lacks nuance, such as when he was convinced that a handheld console was an Artifact of Doom due to his power describing that it could "destroy worlds", but not that it referred to fictional worlds.

Alternative Title(s): Curiosities Of Lotus Asia

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