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Video Game / Len'en

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Humans call that land "Mugenri", but because it's a tabooed land, it's very unlikely for it to become known in the outside world. After all, even a shrine road with few gates is enough to make weak youkai falter. After all, even a contradictory barrier is enough for weak humans to be deceived.

Len'en Project ("Len'en", 連縁, meaning Chain of Events or Connecting Chain) is a series of vertical danmaku shooting games made by JynX. Although it takes inspiration from Touhou Project (the setting) and Seihou (the bullet patterns), the games are not fan-games of Touhou Project because they are set in a separate world which has its own canonicity.

Tsurubami Senri, the priest and hero of Mugenri, spirits away some humans to be their replacement while they're out for some time. The Chosen One turns to be the Child Prodigy Tsubakura Enraku and their best friend Cloudcuckoolander Reality Warper Yabusame Houlen. Now the two have to resolve incidents and protect Mugenri....with varied results.

There are currently four games in the Len'en series, which include:

  • LE 01 Len'en Mugenri ~ Evanescent Existence Translation 
  • LE 02 Len'en Tasouken ~ Earthen Miraculous Sword Translation 
  • LE 03 Len'en Reiretsuden ~ Reactivate Majestical Imperial Translation 
  • LE 04 Len'en Teneisenki ~ Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle Translation 
  • LE 05 Monochrome World (Currently in development)
  • LE 00 Len'en Café ~ Book of the Cafe Translation 
See also the extensive wiki on ShoutWiki about the game series.

This game series contains examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: In Evanescent Existence, Aoji tries to correct Yabusame that their name is not Aoi. Not even their sibling Hooaka can say their name right (they call them Aoki).
  • The Alcoholic:
    • A lot of the cast really loves their alcohol in any shape or form.
    • Tsubakura's motivation to resolve the incident in Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle is because they believe that the Arc Words "the mirror of Heaven shall surely split" mean that will rain sake.
  • Alien Geometries:
    • In Yabusame's Extra Stage in Evanescent Existence, the Mugenri Barrier's insides appear to consist of a rotating, spherical checkerboard background, with a transparent cube containing the kanji for "nothing" floating in the middle of it. Torii that appear to be connected to the background yet appear in front of the cube and are standing up straight can also be seen.
    • In Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle, the Dragonfly Castle can flip its insides around in various directions to confuse trespassers. In addition to that, the throne room in the heart of the castle (provided you can reach it) consists of a long hallway that gets even longer the further you walk down it.
  • All There in the Manual: A considerable amount of any given game's story is in its prologue and character profiles.
  • Ambiguous Gender:
    • Many of the characters look rather androgynous; additionally, Word of God has said that "They're whatever you want them to be," although a number of fans consider all or most of them to be girls (due to Touhou tradition) while some make them as boys (due to the fact a lot of them use rough male pronouns and the suffix "-kun" in the Japanese version, except for the younger characters whom are referred as "-chan"). This causes many problems with languages that do not allow the use of gender-neutral speech, such as Spanish and others.
    • Emergency Everyday, a (heavily based on Touhou) Shoot 'Em Up from 2010 that later became the basis for Len'en, features all male characters. Including male versions of Yabusame, Tsubakura and Kurohebi. Make of that what you think.
    • At present, there are two characters with given designs who do have canon genders: Hoojiro "Shiro" Shitodo and Haru, who are both stated to be female.
  • Animal Motifs: Many characters are named after various birds.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Tsubakura's weapons are made of ink.
  • Artificial Human: Kurohebi, an obvious Shout-Out to Solid Snake from Metal Gear.
  • Art Evolution: Inevitable, since Len'en is based on Touhou. There's a noticeable bump in quality from Reactivate Majestical Imperial onwards.
  • Astral Checkerboard Decor: Pops up from time to time, particularly whenever the aforementioned Alien Geometries are present.
  • Avenging the Villain: In Stage 2 of Earthen Miraculous Sword, Shou wants to defeat the heroes for humiliating and defeating Jun in Stage 1.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Platonic example, Kuroji heaps scorn and abuse on Saragimaru, but they do care for them (even though they doesn't seem to want to admit it). For they part, Saragimaru does show annoyance at times, but all through they takes Kuroji's incessant calls because they seems to like the humans's company, and Reactivate Majestical Imperial implies both of them need the companionship (Saragimaru being neglected by Yaorochi and Kuroji having no real friends).
  • Backstory Horror: Many characters have nasty things in their past, and Mugenri is actually a very dangerous place to live, but it has yet to come up in current storylines.
  • Bad with the Bone: Sese uses bones as an Improvised Weapon.
  • Badass Boast: The Adagumo siblings are fond of this when they're introduced as bosses in Earthen Miraculous Sword.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Most characters are rather friendly when there isn't an incident, and even those that don't get along with humans like Yaorochi are nice as long as you don't hit their Berserk Button. They're still powerful combatants with huge reserves of magic who won't hesitate to beat you to a pulp in a duel.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Half of the cast. Most pre-battle conversations are rather bizarre before the danmaku starts.
  • Big Eater: Shion likes eating souls a bit too much...
  • Big Sibling Instinct:
    • Saragimaru (who is their little sibling) towards Yaorochi, with the latter too obsessed with the Tasouken sword to even notice them. Saragimaru even returns in Reactivate Majestical Imperial just to look after Yaorochi.
    • Also Kuroji, who does youkai extermination to get funds for their lazy younger siblings.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall : Double Subverted with Yabusame and Tsubakura in Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle's tutorial. Even if they claim to be parallels...
    Yabusame: Alrighty, that's a wrap then! See you in the real game!
    Tsubakura: But this is a parallel dimension, so we won't get to see them...
    Yabusame: Aww man~
    Tsubakura: Huh? Wait a minute, you can cross dimensions, so aren't you the real...?
    Yabusame: See ya~!
  • Brutal Bonus Level: Extra Stages in general, but Absurdly Extra Stages take it up to eleven.
  • Bullet Hell: Naturally, being based on Touhou. However the series is notoriously considered more difficult than its inspiration.
  • Cassandra Truth: At the end of Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle, Yabusame is the only one who's immune to Suzumi's Laser-Guided Amnesia. No one pays them any heed, because it's just ditzy Yabusame.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Yabusame is an airhead who is extremely silly, laughs in the face of Serious Business, says bizarre things all the time and resolves incidents For the Lulz.
  • Crapsack World: According to game manuals, Mugenri is a very dangerous place to live. The humans from the village live afraid in ignorance and the youkai are oppressed by the dictator-like priest. Also, unlike Touhou's Gensokyo, the spell card system has significant differences, such that the protagonists risk their lives in all their youkai exterminations. The possibility of death, the potential of some of the youkai, and the fact that apparently many humans are spirited away to Mugenri show that it isn't precisely a hospitable place.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Yabusame, if their Reality Warper powers are any indication.
  • Darker and Edgier: Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle demonstrates that the series is taking a much more serious tone in the story, particularly with the Fujiwara clan and the situation surrounding Tsubakura and Suzumi. Word of God even indicates that Tsubakura will be in for much more misery in the future.
  • Death Amnesia: Sese is a youkai who excavates the underground searching for their corpse, knowing that they were once human, but cannot remember their own name or where their corpse is in the first place. Sese is not even their real name.
  • Deconstruction:
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Bosses explode slowly when defeated.
  • Derivative Differentiation: The series started out with Touhou Project clones, but began to differentiate itself with Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle, which has a different structure with several novel mechanics like the "cell system" with randomized battles and the ability to choose routes depending on your horizontal position during a cell. The upcoming Book of the Cafe and Monochrome World aren't even going to be shoot 'em ups.
  • Didn't Think This Through: At the end of the Extra+a stage of Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle, Suzumi is defeated.....and they don't think of frisk or immobilize them. Instead, the heroes start bragging about how Suzumi's mind powers won't work on them twice. Suzumi ends up pulling a I Surrender, Suckers and running away.
  • The Dreaded: Tsurubami Senri is an amazingly powerful priest. Unfortunately, they're seen as a walking terror rather than a hero by both humans and youkai.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The unreleased Emergency Everyday game is quite different from Len'en proper. For example, all the characters have a defined gender, there is no counter for scorecards, the difficulty can't be adjusted and none of the characters there reappear in later games.
  • Easily Forgiven: No matter what schemes or grievous bodily harm has been committed, after the incident is over everything goes back to normal, and the characters are usually seen enjoying their time with the bosses they encountered through their journey. Which only makes the fact this doesn't happen in the "Good Endings" of Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle that much more unsettling.
  • Easter Egg:
    • It is entirely possible to continue dodging bullets while the credits roll in Reactivate Majestical Imperial and onwards. Successfully dodging them all in the credits of Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle even nets you an achievement star!
    • Since version 1.20b you get an achievement badge instead.
  • Endless Winter: In Reactivate Majestical Imperial, ghosts break the Mugenri barrier in order to reach the flower of death Harujion, causing a long winter.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle, during one of the Secret Team dialogues, Ardey reacts with appropiate horror to Cine Hamal's idea of how to kill Tsubakura.
    Cine Hamal: Start with crushing all hopes and dreams, and thrusting Tsuba into a living hell. ♪
    Cine Hamal: Somehow extend their lifespan, and keep them alive for ages. ♪
    Cine Hamal: And just when things would look up, take that new hope and dash it again. ♪
    Cine Hamal: And in the very end, let a teeny weeny ray of hope shine through. ♪
    Cine Hamal: And then, finally, end it all. ♪
    Ardey: You're beyond fucked, you know that?
  • Expy Coexistence: Quite likely exist the form of "homeologues", essentially an Alternate Self from another dimension who may or may not have the same name, personality, or knowledge. Much theorizing goes on about who has a homeologue in the series (with many people believing Tsubakura and Tsurubami are an example).
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The youkai are oppressed by the dictator priest Tsurubami, who's pretty much the strongest in Mugenri.
    • Also averted, since despite Yabusame and Tsubakura deal with youkai being jerks on a daily basis, they treat them the same way they treat their human friends.
    • The Adagumo siblings are noted for their dislike of humans. Justified, since most who were involved with the slaying of Yamata No Orochi were humans.
    • Kuroji despises youkai and only exterminates them for money. They have no qualms with stealing youkai's money too.
  • Fighting Your Friend: In stage 3 of Evanescent Existence, you will fight against the character you didn't pick. Only Yabusame and Tsubakura were playable at this point. Reactivate Majestical Imperial also has each playable team fight another team that wasn't chosen in stage 4.
    • Tenkai (and the Preschool Team) fighting "Tsurubami" in the Ex+a stage of BPoHC counts as well.
  • Freudian Trio: The three Suzumis, Hamee, Ardey, and Benny, qualify. Hamee acts as the Id, Ardey acts as the Superego, and Benny, although they've yet to have more than two lines, seems to act as a sort-of leader to the two.
  • Harder Than Hard: Unreal mode and Absurdly Extra. They're aptly named.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Many of the playable characters are acknowledged not to be the most virtuous people around, and some of the humans and youkai they defeat are subsequently humiliated in horrible ways, such as throwing salt on a slug youkai or stealing their wallets.
  • Hero of Another Story: Lumen, who was an incident solver as well in the past. Also, Tsurubami and Tenkai, who are the original heroes of Mugenri.
  • Honest Corporate Executive: Hibaru, who always advertises the loaning company they work for and attacks and coerces those who don't want their services. However, according to some characters' comments in Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle, Hibaru might as well be the opposite...
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The outsider humans are shallow and selfish humans who mostly make things worse for Mugenri.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Many characters become playable after their debut game. Among them is Kuroji, who became playable in the second game. Yaorochi, Sukune and Saragimaru became playable in the third game, and Shion, who is playable in the fourth.
  • Identical Stranger: Tsurubami the priest looks exactly like Tsubakura, so they take their appearance during Evanescent Existence.
  • Immortal Immaturity: Averted with Yago and Souko, but played somewhat straight with the Adagumo siblings. While Yaorochi acts aloof, they tend to get angry quickly when it comes to their sword, and Saragimaru has an unhealthy attachment to their older sibling.
  • It Amused Me: In Yabusame's scenario in Earthen Miraculous Sword, after beating Shou, a slug youkai, the first thing they do is to put salt on them as they laugh at the poor youkai's suffering.
    Yabusame: If I've got all this salt, I may as well sprinkle it around.
    Shou: Eeeeek! I'm gonna swell up~!
    Yabusame: Ahaha~, that's so neat!
    Shou: No, I'm really gonna die!
    Yabusame: Eheheee~
  • I Thought You Were Dead: Kunimitsu, Sanra and Mitori say this word for word to Iyozane in Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle. At first, Fumikado and Tsugumi are not concerned about it, until they find out that Iyozane is the crown prince of the Capital and was murdered by Mitori. Nobody knew about Iyozane being brought back to life, though.
  • Jerkass: Tsubakura, because they are an Insufferable Genius who thinks they are Surrounded by Idiots.
  • Joke Character: Clause. They are such an Insufferable Genius that they are even referred to as an annoyance in their profile.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Yabusame and Tsubakura's conversations tend to default to mild bickering and teasing.
  • Made of Explodium: The F.A.E.B. "Haniwa Bomb" spell card. Yes, Sukune uses explosive haniwas.
  • Magic Missile Storm: With the series being a fantasy-themed Bullet Hell series, this trope is basically the premise.
  • Mundane Utility: In addition to teleportation, Yabusame uses their dimensional "pockets" to store things.
    • Kuroji apparently uses their reversing ability to flip burgers.
  • Nintendo Hard: Players find that even Easy mode can be challenging, especially in Evanescent Existence.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Yabusame's Informed Attribute is that they are an idiot and everybody rubs it in their face. They behave like they are lazy, whimsical, cowardly, gluttonous, and a total waste of space. But they also are always the first to realize some incidents such as in Evanescent Existence when they immediately realize that Tsurubami has been impersonating Tsubakura. They also seem to be immune to Suzumi's powers.
  • Obliviously Evil: Tsubakura and Yabusame are assigned to be the heroes of the story, but they're extremely self-centered.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • The blunt, dispassionate Tsubakura, popular despite their lack of active socializing, associated with dark; and then the airhead whimsical Yabusame, who bothers people everywhere they go and is associated with light.
    • The proud, arrogant Yaorochi and the artistic, energetic Sukune.
    • The greedy, hard-working Kuroji and the withdrawn, loyal Saragimaru.
    • The mature Jun and their childish, bratty best friend Shou.
  • Oh, Crap!: Yaorochi's reaction in the Earthen Miraculous Sword ending when they realize that Sukune crafted the Tasouken sword into a bottle opener.
  • Only Sane Man: Saragimaru. It's part of why Kuroji likes them so much.
    • Tsugumi and Iyozane trade off this role in Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle. Considering they're attendants to Fumikado, who's a blithering idiot, they need to be.
    Iyozane: If Tsugumi went crazy I don't think my body could take it!
  • Only Six Faces: Every Len'en character is designed with more or less the same facial structure and eyes.
  • Passing the Torch: The plot of Evanescent Existence is provoked by Tsurubami, who is the priest and protector of Mugenri and wants Yabusame and Tsubakura (specially the latter) to replace them while they go on vacation for a period of time.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • Yaorochi asked Sukune to transfer their old Tasouken sword into a clay sword the latter made. It turns out that it wasn't a clay sword, but a sword-shaped bottle opener. Yaorochi's expression when they find out at the end says it all.
    • Also Saragimaru knows the true potential of the Tasouken and that they are Yaorochi's younger sibling, but they refuse to say anything about it because their relationship is strained already due to a curse by the Tasouken.
  • Reality Warper: Yabusame's main ability is to cross dimensions and interrupt events, but because of their Cloud Cuckoo Lander tendencies, they can't use their power very well without Tsubakura's help.
  • Running Gag:
    • Jun getting beaten by the heroes for something they didn't do and Shou's unsuccessful attempts to avenge them.
    • Fumikado having No Sense of Direction in Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle.
    • People calling Tenkai a melon. The members of the New Emperor Team in particular don't seem to know what's good for them.
    • Clause annoying everyone they talk to.
  • Schizo Tech:
    • Tsubakura controls nanomachine-like objects that resemble ink and uses them as weapons.
    • Tsubakura also grew and attached an artificial arm for Hooaka after the latter lost their right arm.
    • There's also Kuroji and their little robotic birds that shoot lasers.
    • Mugenri for the most part seems to resemble feudal Japan, but the city of Devanagara has started to modernize and even features skyscrapers.
  • Secret Character: In Evanescent Existence, you can unlock Tsubakura after your clear the game with Yabusame.
    • You can unlock a team consisting of Suzumi's personalities in "Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle". As of a later update, you can unlock them in all other games.
  • Teen Genius: Tsubakura is a Child Prodigy who creates their own weapons, has their own research team and their own research lab.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: The protagonists' reactions upon finding out that Tsurubami has been impersonating Tsubakura.
    Yabusame: ...Your impersonation of Tsubakura was a total failure.
  • Unknown Rival:
    • Kuroji sees Tsubakura as a rival, while the latter doesn't notice or seem to care. Since Tsubakura is an Insufferable Genius, it's probably the latter.
    • Also, Kaisen is jealous of Kujiru being their master's favorite, despite being stronger.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: EX-Lumen attacked the Mugenri Barrier during Earthen Miraculous Sword, causing it to weaken. This caused Tenkai to make a hole in the barrier For the Lulz and resulting in the Harujion sprouting out of control and creating Shion.
  • Unwitting Pawn:
    • In Earthen Miraculous Sword, it turns out that Sukune was this to Yaorochi.
    • And then it's revealed that Yaorochi was this to Saragimaru.
  • Vague Age: Word of God has said that they haven't really decided on exact ages for any of the characters.
  • Verbal Tic: Sukune has lots of them, such as "nya-", "chu-" and "nyo-". Not to mention their Kansai accent.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Yabusame and Tsubakura.
    Tsurubami: ...Aren't you two friends?
    Tsubakura: No comment.
    • Character profiles released in 2019 further confirmed this: Yabusame has "Tsubakura" listed as one of their likes, while Tsubakura has "Yabusame" as one of their dislikes.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: According to Word of God, both Yaorochi and Saragimaru are able to change the length and girth of their tails.
  • Worf Had the Flu: As Tsubakura and Kuroji notice, the Adagumos became weaker in Reactivate Majestical Imperial. It's because they're snake youkai and snakes are supposed to hibernate in winter...