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The Touhou Project features a great number and variety of characters. Over the course of 22 games, literature and even music CDs, the cast has grown to having over 160 characters. Reimu Hakurei and Marisa Kirisame are considered the protagonists of the Touhou Project, due to the fact that they are almost always the playable characters in the games. Others usually reappear in later games, as support characters, bosses or with some other role in the story line, even as a simple cameo. However, due to a few differencing points in the series, some of the characters were never mentioned again (like almost all of the PC-98 ones).
List of Characters
Here is a list of all Touhou Project characters, categorised by their first game or publication appearance (Characters with * after their name do not have an official name). NB, the "generations" (term unofficial) for the games are split according to this image.
| Reimu Hakurei
|| Marisa Kirisame|
| Highly Responsive to Prayers
|| the Story of Eastern Wonderland
|| Phantasmagoria of Dim.Dream|
| Lotus Land Story
|| Mystic Square|
|Windows 1st Generation|
| the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil
|| Perfect Cherry Blossom
Letty Whiterock • Chen • Alice Margatroid • Shanghai Doll • Hourai Doll • Lily White • Lyrica Prismriver • Lunasa Prismriver • Merlin Prismriver • Youmu Konpaku • Yuyuko Saigyouji • Ran Yakumo • Yukari Yakumo • (Layla Prismriver • Youki Konpaku • Saigyou Ayakashi)
| Immaterial and Missing Power|
| Imperishable Night
|| Phantasmagoria of Flower View|
|Windows 2nd Generation|
| Mountain of Faith
|| Scarlet Weather Rhapsody
|| Subterranean Animism|
| Undefined Fantastic Object
|| Touhou Hisoutensoku
|| Double Spoiler|
| Ten Desires
|Windows 3rd Generation|
| Double Dealing Character|
|Print Works & Music CDs|
| Touhou Kourindou
|| Touhou Sangetsusei
|| Touhou Bougetsushou|
| Touhou Ibarakasen
|| Touhou Suzunaan
| Music CDs|
Seihou Project & Project Blank
Here is a list of all Seihou Project and Project Blank characters by "Shunsatsu sare do?" and RebRank respectively, categorised by their first game or publication appearance. Note that they aren't Touhou characters, but Seihou did contain guest appearances by ZUN himself, and that Seihou characters aren't part of Project Blank, but do officially contain Seihou characters.
| Shuusou Gyoku
|| Kioh Gyoku
Here is a list of other related character to the all Touhou Project characters by "Shunsatsu sare do?", categorised by their first game or publication appearance. Note that they aren't Touhou characters, but did contain guest appearances by ZUN himself.
| Non-Touhou by ZUN
|| Uwabami Breakers
|| Torte Le Magic|
Torte • Chou • Cointreau
With its focus on bishoujo characters, the Touhou series possesses a large cast compared to other shoot 'em up games, maybe even those of shooting games, and are notoriously female. Most Touhou characters reside in a fictional landlock region called Gensokyo, where humans and youkai both live. The youkai often prey on the humans while the humans try to exorcise them. A character's most common role in a Touhou Project game is being a boss. With this, they'll have titles and a theme song associated with them. Midbosses however tend to not have a theme. Many characters also have unique abilitie, and almost all Windows canon characters have at least one ability named in the fashion of "capable of ~~" (~~程度の能力), showing their strength and power with various capabilities.
Though each game features a collection of different characters, the main character of the games is always Reimu Hakurei, joined by Marisa Kirisame. The only games where this is not the case are Shoot the Bullet and Double Spoiler; Aya Shameimaru is playable on both, and Hatate Himekaidou can become playable in the latter. The same thing applies in Fairy Wars and Impossible Spell Card, which has Cirno and Seija Kijin as the sole playable character in their respective games.
The major difference in the canon for the series starts from the release of the first game for windows, Embodiment of Scarlet Devil. ZUN decided to develop for the Windows platform instead of for the PC-98, which is the point at which he stated. Besides the Returning characters from the PC-98, none of the other characters from the PC-98 canon have reappeared within the Windows canon, although cases such as Mima's appearance on the case of Akyu's Untouched Score vol.4 exist. The returning characters' appearance, personality, and storylines are all significantly different, although some traces and connections seem to remain.
PC-98 characters tend to have a title and music theme, but no ability has being explicitly stated to most characters. They also don't have articles and interviews that appear in the fanbooks, and that they also don't appear in any manga.
Another minor pivotal point exists with the release of Mountain of Faith, marking the "2nd Windows generation". While previous games had independent storylines, the plots of Mountain of Faith up to Ten Desires were connected (e.g. The events of Ten Desires were triggered by the construction of the Myouren Temple, which in turn was triggered by the Palanquin ship being released by the geyser by Utsuho Reiuji's power.) However, Double Dealing Character contains no storyline related to the previous games, so it could mark another minor pivotal point for a possible "3rd Windows generation".
The character appearances trend also resets. For example, Sakuya Izayoi was a stage 5 boss in Embodiment of Scarlet Devil who later became playable in Perfect Cherry Blossom up to Phantasmagoria of Flower View, but has not made an appearance after that in any danmaku Touhou game up until Double Dealing Character.
- Fighting Games
A consistent cast can be seen in the fighting games. Rather than inventing a new set of characters, only one or two new characters were added with the rest coming from previous games. So far, only four characters had first appeared in a fighting game.
- Photography Games & Puzzles
In Shoot the Bullet, Double Spoiler and Impossible Spell Card, characters from previous games are used. Shoot the Bullet contains most characters from Embodiment of Scarlet Devil to Phantasmagoria of Flower View, while Double Spoiler adds the cast from Mountain of Faith up to Undefined Fantastic Object. Impossible Spell Card contained s variety of characters, mostly from Ten Desires and Double Dealing Character.
The cast of Touhou characters also grows with the addition of the novels and comics. Only Aya Shameimaru and the Three Fairies Of Light were later featured in a game. Touhou literature seems to be directly connected with the Windows games as events that happen within the literature are transferred over to the Windows games and in vice versa. Perfect Memento in Strict Sense and Symposium of Post-mysticism and Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red have in-universe articles and interviews about individual characters, along with The Grimoire of Marisa having spell cards related to the characters.
Characters of the Seihou Project were created by "Shunsatsu sare do?" and have nothing to do with the Touhou Project, although they also do have their own theme music. The Seihou Project however contained characters from the Touhou Project, named Reimu Hakurei, Marisa Kirisame and Yuuka Kazami. Even in Touhou, references to Seihou characters are extremely rare, with one coming from Dolls in Pseudo Paradise.
It appears that each games contains most characters from the previous. Unlike Touhou characters, Seihou characters are designed to be very Western, which is the opposite of Touhou; even their names are western. They also have more frequent male characters that appear in the shoot 'em ups. Since Seihou is set in the future, the characters are also designed to have a futuristic feeling with then, along with having their own aircraft. However, unlike Touhou characters, most character don't have any titles or abilities associated with them and most characters' species are human.
Generally, almost all names for each character are written in the Japanese script, either in hiragana, katakana or kanji. Names generally start with the surname followed by the first name, but when they are written in katakana to show a western name, they'll be in western naming order, where they'll have a middle dot (・) to show where the surname begins. The names may not truly be actual names in real life, as they may contain kanji to represent the character overall, for example Yuyuko (幽々子) literally translates to "ghostly child".
ZUN has provided romaji and kana versions for most of the Windows characters; the latter only included if the name's in kanji. On some rare occurrences, he'd include official English translations of the name. There have been instances in error of romaji however, such as those listed here. Some characters only have one name, notibly the PC-98 characters, such as Rika and Shinki. There are even those that have no name, such as Tokiko.
For western languages, such as English or French, names are obviously written in the Latin script, called romanisation. Also, the naming order from Japanese is switched to fit suitably with Westerners, for example "Saigyouji Yuyuko" (西行寺 幽々子) becomes "Yuyuko Saigyouji". Unofficial romaji may be used for convenience; for example, "Byakuren Hiziri" was officially used, but "Byakuren Hijiri" has not being officially used yet. Choices and alternative spelling can come in many when romanising katakana; one example is Maribel Hearn, who ZUN doesn't even know the official translation and has other possible translations such as "Maribel Han" and "Mæriberie Hearn".
For eastern languages, namely Chinese and korean, conversion from kanji to hanzi depends on the variant of the Chinese language whether it accepts the hanzi/kanji or not; they can sometimes keep their original kanji. Names are always converted to hangeul within the Korean language. In cases like Yuyuko's name, since the noma (々) doesn't exist in the Chinese or Korean language, it's best to re-use the previous hanzi/hangeul (e.g. 幽幽子/유유코).
Fans of both of the western and eastern fanbase have given alternative fan-names for the characters based on their characteristics, such as the Five Magic Stones.
Despite there being many species of youkai, almost all the characters take a humanoid form, and are notoriously female. Their designs are notoriously colourful and are based around their characteristics, culture and appearance in a game or manga. It's also notorious that almost all characters have some kind of head wear, such as ribbons or non-human attributes, and that they tend to have a skirt. However for characters to not have these attributes is somewhat rare, such as Yuuka Kazami not having a hat and Fujiwara no Mokou wearing trousers respectively.
The designs would be based around the species a certain character has, such as Nitori Kawashiro being a kappa and has a backpack to represent a tortoise's shell and Raiko Horikawa having a drum since she's a tsukumogami. This also relates to animal-based characters, such as Chen having cat ears, Ran Yakumo having nigh tails due to being a Kitsune and Mamizou Futatsuiwa having a large tail due to being a bake-danuki.
- Male characters
It's seldom to see male characters appear in the Touhou Project as they are either not named (Various humans shown in Hopeless Masquerade), not humanoid (Genjii, Sokrates, Unzan) or do not have official appearances (Youki Konpaku, Marisa's unnamed father, Tenma, Myouren Hijiri). However, the one with the most recurring appearances is Rinnosuke Morichika, who is mocked in the fanbase base on this. Another male character with a name and an official appearance is Unshou. There is also one before all of these, called Shingyoku, but this character has three forms, so this character may not exactly be male.
However, it has been theorised that ZUN might've had trouble designing male characters due to the number of female characters – such as statements like "it would be weird to have an old man as the last boss in Touhou" for Myouren been originally the final boss of Undefined Fantastic Object – but later confirmed that he feels that "boys get in the way of the game" and that "boys would just ruin the balance of the series." He prefers females to fight in the games.
Amongst the PC-98, only some characters had a full portrait of themselves from head to feet. The PC-98 had a 16-colour limit, where one obvious feature was that most PC-98 characters had the same eye and hair colour; the only characters who have different eye and hair colour are Elis, Konngara and SinGyoku's "male" form. Also, ZUN has stated that he won't go back to doing 16-colour graphics.
ZUN takes on most of the drawings for the characters that appear in the Touhou games. His distinctive ways of drawing is different compared to other artists. However, ZUN had alphes to draw the character in the fighting spin-off games when collaborating with Twilight Frontier. ZUN had various artists to draw the manga, such as Aki★Eda for Silent Sinner in Blue manga. Makoto Hirasaka drew the Touhou Sangetsusei mangas, but also drew the characters for Fairy Wars since the game is based on the manga.
Reception & Fandom
While they aren't developed nearly to the standards of a story-based game, characters for the Touhou Project is one of the major reason the series has got increasingly popular. Many fans love them, and even obscure stage bosses who only appear once have a fanbase. One example is Hong Meiling, who is the stage 3 boss of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil and won a popularity contest in Japan out of all Touhou characters. Various image dumping sites such as Pixiv and deviantArt have a vast number of illustrations of the Touhou, and Seihou, characters, being common places for Internet users to seek such illustrations.
Despite the Touhou Project being a doujin game, a prodigious amount of derivative works that have Touhou characters have been created since the release of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil. These include doujinshi, anime and fangames. These doujin activities are mostly responsible for adding original attributes to characters that ZUN may've not intended.
The Yukkuri shiteitte ne! is a very common meme amongst the fanbase. They're involving giant, disfigured heads resembling those of Touhou characters. It originated on 2ch on October 13, 2007, when an anonymous user tried to make Shift JIS art of Reimu Hakurei and Marisa Kirisame and failed horribly. Another anonymous user thought the failed attempt was humorous and drew the infamous original picture.
- PC-98 & Seihou
Since the PC-98 games and the Seihou Project are relatively obscure and have canon differences, the characters in and after Embodiment of Scarlet Devil are more widely recognised and popular amongst the fanbase. PC-98 characters are however shown with Windows-based character as though the two canon are merged as one. Seihou characters are also shown with Touhou characters at times.
There are hundreds of Touhou OCs (Original Characters) scattered around the Internet, mostly often ignored. Some fan-made characters have become memes in Japanese (and in the case of Meimu, Chinese) Touhou fandom. They're popular enough to be drawn by multiple artists and have them with official Touhou characters.
- Characters: Touhou on TVTropes.org
- (note that they use fanart for pictures of characters who didn't appear in Immaterial and Missing Power, Scarlet Weather Rhapsody or Touhou Hisoutensoku.)
- ZUN's AWA Q&A Panel
- Akyu's Untouched Score vol.3: Comments
- "Touhou Saimoe 2 official website and contest results" (in Japanese). Livedoor. http://f39.aaa.livedoor.jp/~nullpopo/toho2/. Retrieved 2007-01-11.
|This page is part of Project Characters, a Touhou Wiki project that aims to write proper descriptions for all official characters of Touhou Project. Please keep the character page guidelines in mind when contributing.|