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Toho Project, Touhou Series, Project Shrine Maiden
Created by Team Shanghai Alice
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The Touhou Project (東方Project), or Project Shrine Maiden is a collective term for a series of 2D (with 3D background) vertically-scrolling danmaku shooting games as well as related print works made by Team Shanghai Alice, with four fighting game spinoffs co-produced with Twilight Frontier, called "danmaku action games." The works of Touhou Project are sometimes called the Touhou Series (東方シリーズ Tōhō shirīzu) for convenience.
Name and Concept
Touhou (東方) means "Eastern" and can refer to some or all of the areas, cultures, or histories within East Asia. Historically the term "the Orient" was widely used to refer to trade goods, artwork, literature, or other items or topics related to countries in East Asia such as China, Japan, Korea, or Vietnam. According to the Music Room Special in Mystic Square, the naming scheme of 東方ＯＯＯ originally came from one of the first songs he composed for Highly Responsive to Prayers called Touhou Kaikidan (東方怪奇談). With some exceptions, the title of games/books/CDs of the Touhou Project are all under the format of "Japanese main title (double byte space: ' ') (double byte wave dash: '～') (single byte space) English subtitle (single byte period)".
In the Japanese community, and the Chinese and Korean communities, the works are usually referred by the main title without the Touhou (e.g. 紅魔郷 (Koumakyou) for 東方紅魔郷 ～ the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil). For short, they're referred by their third kanji/hanzi/hanja (e.g. 紅). However for some titles, there are exceptions: Hisoutensoku -> "天則" (Tensoku) or "則" (soku). Double Spoiler -> "DS". Fairy Wars -> Mostly "大戦争" (Daisensou); if abbreviation is needed, just 戦 is used. Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red -> "書籍文花帖" (lit. "the book Bunkachou"). Perfect Memento in Strict Sense -> (before SoPm) 求聞 (Gumon), (after SoPm) 史記 (Shiki). The Grimoire of Marisa -> グリモア (Gurimoa). Symposium of Post-mysticism -> 口授 (Kuju). Curiosities of Lotus Asia -> 香霖堂 (Kourindou). Silent Sinner in Blue -> 儚月抄 (Bougetsushou). Cage in Lunatic Runagate -> 小説抄 (lit. "Novel shou"). Inaba of the Moon and Inaba of the Earth -> Most commonly うどんげっしょー (Udon Gesshou). Music CDs are all referred by their full Japanese title, and Sangetsusei are called by "三月精" (Sangetsusei) + volumes.
In the Western community (English, French, Spanish, etc.), they are referred by their English subtitles (e.g. the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil). For short, they are referred by the acronyms of their subtitles (e.g. EoSD). The leading "the" is sometimes omitted in the former, but always in the latter. Works without an English subtitle may be referred by their main title, as with Touhou Hisoutensoku (Soku) and The Grimoire of Marisa (GoM), or by their translated subtitle, as with Inaba of the Moon and Inaba of the Earth (IotMaIotE).
Touhou "Series" not canon?
While some fans and many people who are not fans call the Touhou Project as "Touhou Series" (東方シリーズ Tōhō shirīzu), ZUN himself has a tendency to avoid using this term. So quite a lot of (canon-inclined) fans consider it not canon and believe it is an inappropriate term. ZUN has given a reason to this in the after report of Gensou Denshou (幻想伝承). He said that he has been avoiding to use "series", because it has been established to have an image of "commercialism". He also said that Touhou is hard to be considered as a "series" - since system, story and characters are all unrelated per each work and only the worldview is same. But it should be noted that right after he said that he finished his line with: "...Well, it is a series though." making the audience burst out laughing.
The Touhou Project has a lot of aspects to Japanese culture throughout the series, like mythology, traditions, and religion, most notably to the texts, the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki. It usually uses Japanese folklore and some traditions in storylines, and uses religion and mythology in characters. There are even a lot more links to Japanese culture, and they all come together creatively, making the series more traditional than modern itself.
Modern science and technology hold very little aspects in the Touhou Project, but has become quite common in recent material.
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- All of ZUN's print works of the Touhou world include all the characters re/appearing in the Windows series at least once showing that the Windows games have a direct connection to the literature.
- The game Uwabami Breakers and the Seihou Project series have some relation to the Touhou Project, although they aren't part of it.
- Officially, "Project Shrine Maiden" is the term for referring the game in English, but the English speaking community regardlessly calls it the "Touhou Project" like the Japanese do.
- "Most prolific fan-made shooter series". Guinness World Records. http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/records-8000/most-prolific-fan-made-shooter-series/. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
- An after report of Gensou Denshou (Japanese).