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Manga / Touhou Suzunaan ~ Forbidden Scrollery
aka: Forbidden Scrollery

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"Everyone, when they're children, has a tendency to think there is only one truth behind everything. They think that, in the same way parents and teachers will answer their questions, if there's anything they don't know the answer to, the truth is hidden somewhere, and if they look for it, they are sure to find it. But you see, that is a misconception brought about by humans designed to think that the world is finite. [...] The fact that the world is made up of the infinite means that there are an infinite number of truths."
Hieda no Akyuu, chapter 48

In addition to the main Touhou Project video game series, there are a number of canon Spin Offs including comics and other print materials. Touhou Suzunaan ~ Forbidden Scrollery is the fourth manga entry in the Touhou Project franchise, with strong ties to the games Hopeless Masquerade and Double Dealing Character. Continuing the progression from Wild and Horned Hermit, it is a full-fledged Mystery of the Week story, with each mini-incident split across two chapters. The manga was serialized monthly in Comp Ace from 2012 to 2017, for a total of 53 chapters compiled into 7 volumes.

Kosuzu Motoori is the young daughter of the owner of Suzunaan, the Human Village's book rental shop. A massive bibliophile who has recently developed the magical ability to read any language, Kosuzu has begun secretly delving into the shop's stock of Youma Books - books which were written by youkai... or sometimes are youkai. While this often has negative consequences, Kosuzu finds the experience too thrilling to stop, particularly since she's confident that Reimu can defeat anything that gets out.

Other major characters include:

An official English translation of Volume 1 was released in November 2017 by Yen Press, with subsequent volumes following.

Forbidden Scrollery provides examples of:

  • Animalistic Abomination: The kutsutsura encountered by Marisa in Chapter 13 takes the form of an undefined animal made out of black smoke.
  • Animating Artifact: Kosuzu reading the Night Parade Picture Scroll causes its leaking energies to animate nearby objects as tsukumogami (which are secretly gathered and recruited by Mamizou). In the finale it's revealed that when manifested, the demon in the scroll can consume tsukumogami to grow stronger.
  • Art Shift: In chapters 20-21, the mysterious medicine seller is given a much more detailed character design, including a great deal of emphasis on her long fingers (and long fingernails) and her mouth. Once it's revealed to be Reisen, these details vanish and she reverts to the same general art style as the rest of the cast, though if there's a zoom in shots, she still has those features.
  • Asian Fox Spirit: A two-part story focuses on a young kitsune who keeps writing on the doors of the human village's school, which worries the parents. After Reimu makes some failed attempts at repelling it, Kosuzu uses her Omniglot skills to figure out what's going on: it's repeating the day's lessons, meaning that the kitsune is a child that's trying to learn. She ends up resolving the situation by giving Reimu some special Paper Talismans...that are actually advertisements for Suzunaan. When the kitsune-child comes to the store, Kosuzu gives it a blank book to write in and offers to give new blank books in exchange for trading in the old ones when they fill up, meaning she gets a steady supply of youma books.
  • Asshole Victim: In chapters 36-37, a wealthy villager who had treated his horses like family suddenly begins killing and eating them after he discovers a taste for horseflesh. As a result, one of his dead horses becomes an umatsuki which possesses him and destroys his mind. While Reimu is clearly not happy about the situation (it's implied that she had to put down the man's walking corpse), she also claims that he reaped what he sowed.
  • Author Tract: An In-Universe example occurs in chapter 16, where Akyuu says that the story Kosuzu read started off as an interesting ghost story before veering off into a boring pro-Buddhist tract at the very end.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil:
    • As is the way of Gensokyo, there's youkai throughout the majority, and a huge center of the human population in the form of the Human Village. If the villagers get too bold in the wilds and get eaten for their carelessness, or humans living outside of it change in their nature, it's not an issue, but the human population in the village needs to stay a human population. Case in point, when a fortuneteller in the village manipulates his way into becoming a youkai, something he did purely for the physical benefits and has no interest in making trouble beyond that, and despite being not the slightest bit heinous compared to the usual Gensokyo fare, because of the nature and risk of what he has done, Reimu actually kills him on the spot.
    • This comes back later as the reason why Yukari schemed for Kosuzu to fall victim to the Night Parade Scroll. At the rate she was going, she seemed destined to become a youkai on her own, and thus Reimu would have to wipe her out to preserve balance. By orchestrating her possession, the issue was forced for Kosuzu to be let into Reimu and Marisa's youkai-inclusive social circle, instead.
  • Beware the Silly Ones:
    • Characters often seen as utterly silly by the fandom such as Aya and Nitori have moments where they show that as youkai they're not to be trifled with.
    • After overhearing some villagers talking about tanuki not being all that scary, Marisa mentions that while that's mostly true nowadays, many a person has died from a tanuki trick so they shouldn't be underestimated. To illustrate this point, the panel shows a dead person surrounded by two youkai tanuki in beast form.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: One of the broom tsukumogami Mamizou creates in chapter 38 has a mouth right where the brush portion is.
  • Broken Masquerade: Kosuzu steadily learns of the prevalence of the Youkai's involvement throughout the series and becomes increasingly concerned. At the end of the series Reimu reveals the full extent of it, even having Kosuzu at a party full of youkai. Kosuzu ends up happy learning the true nature of Gensokyo and decides to help preserve The Masquerade with the other human protagonists.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': In Chapter 21, Reisen creates a device that humanely repels rats (using ultrasonic noise) which helps the human village deal with the rat infestation problem. But because she did it behind Eirin's back, she gets "lightly punished".
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In chapter 35, the source of the end-of-the-world rumors turns out to be gossip magazines from the Outside World. Back in chapter 28, Reimu said that recently it has been very easy to obtain gossip magazines from the Outside World. Now, Mamizou said that the rumor is just because of humans being humans, but gave a thought how it might be a result of domino effect from a small action by a mysterious youkai. A mysterious youkai who can bring things from Outside World to Gensokyo? Sounds an awful lot like Yukari.
    • In chapter 38, Mamizou makes use of the Night Parade scroll from all the way back in chapters 4 and 5 in order to create tsukumogami to do (social media) battle with Aya's Bunbunmaru Newspaper.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Mamizou Futatsuiwa, a mostly plot-irrelevant character from Touhou Shinreibyou ~ Ten Desires, is revealed to be a Manipulative Bitch comparable to Yukari who amasses power fast enough to potentially become a threat to Gensokyo's power balance.
  • Chupacabra: Remilia's missing pet turns out to be this, though she seems to have mistaken it for a tupai. Even after she's told what it really is, she still says she can call it whatever she wants.
  • Continuity Nod: To start things off in Chapter 41, Kosuzu's ghost story is her spotting the people controlled by Kokoro during Hopeless Masquerade and fainting at the sight of them.
  • Cross Through:
    • A minor example. One of Reimu's flower-viewing parties is depicted in both Wild and Horned Hermit chapter 16 and Forbidden Scrollery chapter 6, and the cast getting drunk in the first manga leads to Remilia's pet escaping in the second.
    • Kasen's baby dragon creating so much rain in Wild and Horned Hermit turns out to be responsible for the rat infestation in Forbidden Scrollery's "Rodent Infested Summer" storyline.
    • In chapters 40-41, Reimu becomes addicted to mystery novels written by the anonymous "A.C.Q.", and ends up borrowing a lot of them at once. Chapter 34 of Wild and Horned Hermit features Reimu becoming exhausted from staying up reading all night, and her friends mistaking her tiredness for depression.
    • Chapter 45 of Forbidden Scrollery begins on roughly the same day as Chapter 4 of Visionary Fairies in Shrine, and the typhoon that nearly killed Kosuzu is used by the Fairies to gather nuts, fruits, and mushrooms that were either knocked off their trees or started growing because of the storm.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Notably downplayed compared to the original games; Forbidden Scrollery features some of the highest numbers of nonhumanoid, non-friendly youkai in the franchise. Even some characters who play this straight in the games have their creepy moments, putting more emphasis on their inhuman nature.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to Wild and Horned Hermit. While the former manga humanizes youkai heavily, Forbidden Scrollery often treats them as a corrupting influence, dangerous and alien. It helps that the artist this time around, Moe Harukawa, is very good at switching between cute and creepy. It also has a generally far more serious tone in comparison. Only Touhou – ZUN's Music Collection trumps Forbidden Scrollery in terms of seriousness; whereas Forbidden Scrollery at least has some lighthearted moments to ease up its serious nature, ZUN's Music Collection is often much more dead serious and cynical.
  • Deadly Prank: Marisa mentions that tanuki pranks can sometimes turn deadly.
  • Defeat Means Friendship:
    • Deconstructed. Reimu treats humans and youkai the same, which leads her to gain the respect of many youkai she defeats... which in turn causes them to visit her shrine fairly regularly, leading to rumours that she's not doing her job or even "helping the enemy". While hinted at before, Forbidden Scrollery is the first time we've seen the results first-hand.
    • The final story arc ends up being Yukari invoking this trope for Kosuzu's benefit. As Yukari explains it, if Kosuzu kept down her original path, she would have turned into a Youkai and Reimu would have to kill her as she did the fortune teller. So instead Yukari got Kosuzu possessed by the Night Parade scroll so she could be non-fatally "exterminated", which results in her getting let in on The Masquerade and becoming part of Reimu and Marisa's circle of confidants.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • While the Touhou series as a whole tends to deal with the difference in values compared to the outside world, Forbidden Scrollery stands out due to how direct and deeply it deals with this topic.
    • Part of the reason why detective stories and the like are not very popular in Gensokyou is due to them relying on science and legal values from the outside world, and as a result ending up only confusing their readers. Akyuu tries to get around this by writing such stories with Gensokyoan values in mind.
  • Demonic Possession: The power of the umatsuki, a ghost horse youkai who possesses the human who abused it in life, that serves as the villain for Chapters 36 and 37.
  • Depending on the Artist:
    • Marisa's house is drawn as having a large observatory awkwardly bolted on, something which has not appeared in any other medium.
    • The Three Fairies of Light are drawn significantly smaller than in their own manga, to the point where they could be mistaken for toddlers.
  • The Dog Bites Back: In Chapter 31, Mamizou waxes about how youkai need to be careful how they go about making trouble for the villagers, as she (and other savvy youkai) believes that they have a hard limit on what they're willing to put up with, and pushing them beyond that would lead them to seek some sort of payback, possibly ending Gensokyo's relative peace as they know it. This is also, according to Aya in the following chapter, why youkai have to rule over the village humans; their belief is that all that's stopping them from taking the fight to youkai is a leader figure convincing them they can.
  • The End Is Nigh: Chapters 34 and 35 deal with humans spreading rumors of the world ending by the end of the year; Reimu and Marisa, coming fresh off the events of Urban Legend in Limbo, try to discover the source and quash it before their belief makes it actually come true. There are nods to the theories of Nostradamus and the Mayan Doomsday, among other apocalyptic beliefs.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Not that anyone seems to have informed Kosuzu of this.
  • Evil Laugh: The vengeful spirit indulges in these from time to time.
  • Foreshadowing: Mamizou's ability to disguise herself as a human ends up being used in Hopeless Masquerade for the fake-out Stage 5 as one of her main gimmicks. Likewise for her high compatibility with tsukumogami that was mentioned in chapters 4 and 5, which was incorporated in several of her attacks, as well as her ending where she uses her knowledge to teach Kokoro the best way she could control her powers without losing her identity as a youkai.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: Chapters 8 and 9 involve Marisa re-enacting the tale of The Listening Hood, where the hero used the eponymous item to listen in on the conversations of animals and use their knowledge to become rich and famous. It turns out the whole scenario was staged by one of Marisa's "animal helpers" to trick her into restoring its powers as an Evil Dragon... after which the dragon leaves without causing any trouble, and even gives Marisa a reward for her help.
  • Ghost Story: The Framing Device of the "One Hundred Stories for Humans and Youkai" storyline is Kosuzu gathering people at the Hakurei Shrine in order to tell ghost stories.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Despite Mamizou being the closest thing the manga has to a villain, she is ultimately just as concerned about the balance of Gensokyo as Reimu is, leading them to frequently work together.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The face of the person killed by youkai tanuki is obscured by a text box, but what appears to be blood is right at its edge, implying a very gruesome death.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The main element of the story. One big reason as to why the village humans are kept weak and oppressed by the fear of youkai is due to the belief that should they gain power, their first act would most likely be to try and force the youkai out of Gensokyou, which needless to say, goes against Gensokyou's purpose of existence as a paradise and safe haven for them.
  • Innocent Bystander Series: While Kosuzu has a power, it's one with limited direct combat applications, and as a result Forbidden Scrollery takes place from the viewpoint of a more or less normal person by Touhou standards dealing (Whether knowingly or unknowingly) with its youkai cast.
  • Internal Reveal: Chapter 47 has Kosuzu finally learn that Mamizou is actually a tanuki from Akyuu, following Mamizou's attempt to have Akyuu add tanuki stories to her latest work.
  • Interquel: Chapters 10 and 11 are set at some point during Kokoro's ending in Hopeless Masquerade.
  • Magikarp Power: As she continues using her power, Kosuzu is eventually able to interpret not only the words in books, but also their youkai energies, giving her a limited form of psychometry. The ending implies that her eyes are now capable of reading people in some way, which she uses when deciding whether customers are allowed access to the shop's new Youma Book section.
  • Masquerade: While humans in Gensokyo are fully aware that youkai exist, there's still a Masquerade that youkai never visit the human village because the two groups are enemies. This forces youkai who do visit to wear disguises: Reisen uses traditional Japanese clothing with a sando kasa to hide her ears, while Aya dresses like an early 20th century newsboy. Meanwhile, Reimu can't reveal Mamizou's true nature to Kosuzu, because it would mean admitting that she associates with youkai and the Hakurei Shrine's reputation is already pretty poor for that very reason.
  • Night Parade of One Hundred Demons: The Night Parade scroll has the ability to create tsukumogami, and an oni sealed inside it serves as the Final Boss of the manga due to it possessing Kosuzu.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Kosuzu Motoori is based on Norinaga Motoori, a prominent 18th-century scholar who is most notable for deciphering the Kojiki, the oldest extant chronicle in Japan. Kosuzu's given name means "little bell", which is a reference to Norinaga's hobby of collecting bells.
  • Obviously Evil: The jinyou in chapter 25 is one of the most blatantly evil-looking characters in the series, who Looks Like Orlok with a Ghostly Gape Slasher Smile and wears a cloak with a High Collar of Doom. While he doesn't actually do anything other than turn himself into a youkai (and in fact swears never to harm humans), by Gensokyo standards this alone is considered so bad that Reimu kills him on the spot.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • Mamizou's disguises tend towards this. Aside from the ever-present leaf on her head, she has a very strong rustic old person accent and is bad at hiding it. Somehow her tricks work on Kosuzu every time. Her kappa disguise from Chapter 29 is so bad that Nitori suspects it was deliberate. Yet she consistently sees right through the (often amazingly good) disguises of other youkai, claiming that as a master of illusions she is very difficult to fool.
    • This trope is played with when Aya comes to Suzunaan dressed as a stereotypical newsboy, complete with business cards bearing her real name spelled in hiragana. She reveals her identity to Kosuzu by replacing her newsboy cap (which does not hide her pointy ears) with her usual hat and claiming to be a tengu. Kosuzu finds this utterly convincing and is scared half out of her wits.
  • Pretend Prejudice: Reimu, Marisa and Akyuu understand that in Gensokyo most youkai are harmless, and youkai attacks and exterminations are nonlethal - as spiritual beings born from fear, youkai simply need to be in conflict with humans in some way in order to maintain their identities. However, the average human villager does not understand this concept, nor do some of the youkai sealed in Kosuzu's Youma Books.
  • Protectorate: The "Let's Not Go Out on Purple Days" storyline reveals that the Human Village is actually under the protection of the various youkai powers in secret, likely because its size makes it easy to wipe out by natural disaster or disease. It's known that the tengu protect against windstorms like the storyline's typhoon, while the kappa defend against floods.
  • Running Gag:
    • Kosuzu passing out after she runs into the Monster of the Week. A few characters, including Marisa and Akyuu, remark on this.
    • Also, Kosuzu reading magazines from the Outside World and misunderstanding the contents. So far she thinks ebola is some form of youkai and believes that Outsiders stink at construction since both the Berlin Wall and Soviet Union collapsed.
  • Satire: Chapters 38-39 feature Mamizou setting up a tsukumogami rumor mill in order to spread distrust in Aya's biased reporting ("Something I learned in the Outside World: social media kills newspapers"), only for Aya to run an exposé on how this technology is being used to spy on people's activities.
  • Sequel Hook: The epilogue of the manga has Kosuzu express interest in having a danmaku battle with Reimu, implying that this might not be the last we see of this character in an official work.
  • The Shadow Knows: Nitori employs this trope in chapter 15, combined with Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass - while warning Reimu not to provoke the kappa without reason, her shadow is depicted in the form of a monstrous traditional kappa, complete with Glowing Eyes of Doom.
  • Sin Invites Possession: Chapters 36 and 37 feature an umatsuki, a type of Youkai that takes the form a horse who can detach its head to possess its victims, and targets those who have mistreated their horses.
  • Space Whale Aesop: The moral of the umatsuki incident in chapters 36-37: don't eat animals that you treated like family, or else they'll turn into a youkai upon death and kill you via possession.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: Okay, it's Touhou Project, but the last two chapters basically have Mamizou beat the Night Parade leader, thus unpossessing Kosuku, and also taking the Night Parade scroll away; Yukari reveals she allowed this to give Kosuzu some fear to avoid turning into a youkai so Reimu won't have to exterminate her, and everyone promises not to have Cryptic Conversations anymore and explain to Kosuzu what's going on from now on.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Should a village human gain power beyond what they are meant to have, chances are that they will be "removed" for being a threat to Gensokyou's balance.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore:
    • Youma books, which range from things as innocuous as classics made for youkai and books made for humans written by youkai, to grimoires for witches and magicians, and books with actual youkai sealed inside.
    • The Night Parade Scroll, which alongside the youma books serves as the eponymous forbidden scrollery, has the ability to create tsukumogami, and as of Chapter 50, is revealed to have a powerful ancient youkai sealed inside, who appears to have influenced Kosuzu.
  • Truce Zone: Unbeknownst to Kosuzu, as a result of her dealings with youkai and youma books, Suzunaan has become a neutral zone for youkai to peddle their wares. (Much to Reimu's consternation, as her own official neutrality amongst the major powers of Gensokyo prevents her from actually doing something about it.)
  • Two-Part Episode: Every story arc after the introduction is split across across two chapters, often including a Cliffhanger.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Chapter 25. The fortune-telling book that Kosuzu found and used to tell fortunes in chapter 24 turns out to be part of an elaborate plan a village human made to become a youkai. When Reimu meets the human-turned-youkai, he promises he'll be peaceful so there's no need to exterminate him. Reimu responds not by starting a spell card duel... but by straight up killing him by splitting his head in two with her gohei, saying that a village human purposefully turning into a youkai is "the most grievous sin of all".
    • Chapter 47. The masquerade is fully broken for Kosuzu between her reading the Gensokyo Chronicles, and Akyuu revealing Mamizou's true identity as a youkai to her.
    • Chapter 48/49: Yukari has entered the mix. Her motives are completely unknown here, but she wants to help Kosuzu.
    • Chapter 50: After disappearing for days, Kosuzu shows up at the Hakurei Shrine, channeling the power of a youkai sealed within the Night Parade Scroll, and proclaims that she will bring "balance to Gensokyo", before defeating Marisa offscreen.
    • Chapter 51: Mamizou reveals that the Youkai sealed within the scroll is a powerful Oni that eats lesser Youkai, with Mamizou planning to save Kosuzu herself. Elsewhere Reimu encounters Yukari and deduces her to be the one truly manipulating Kosuzu all along and exclaims that she is going to exterminate Yukari.
  • Whole Costume Reference: Kosuzu's "incognito" outfit in chapters 10-11 is the same one worn by Kosuke Kindaichi.
  • Wrap It Up: As a result of the manganaka Moe Harukawa wanting to look for new ventures the series ended up having to resolve several hanging plot threads in just a few chapters, leading to quite a rushed ending.

Alternative Title(s): Forbidden Scrollery