Doujin Barrier: The Work Called Touhou and the Fantasy of Game Creation

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Doujin Barrier: The Work Called Touhou and the Fantasy of Game Creation (同人結界 ~東方という作品とゲーム創作幻想) is the name of ZUN's 2005 lecture held in Nagoya's Toukai High School, as part of the school's "Saturday Program", where they invite influential people to speak. ZUN talked mainly about his thoughts on doujin, game development, and danmaku. He also touched upon various topics like if he can clear Lunatic, Maribel Hearn, and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. The event was transcribed by one of the people at coolier, and the resulting work was the basis of the following translation. (All content except those in [square brackets] are translated from the transcript.)


February 19, 2005 (Sat) Toukai High School
Part of "Saturday Program", "The Doujin Barrier: The work called Touhou and the fantasy of game creation"
  • Note: includes some exaggeration and improvisation

The wide library filled with people, people, people. I asked afterwards, there were 450+e3 people. Since I sat at the very back, I had trouble seeing. For now, this is what I can remember.

Part 1: Doujin Barrier "The Border of Doujin and Commercial"[edit]

Mr. ZUN showed up, microphone in hand, singing Kid's Festival ~ Innocent Treasures. Maximum voltage right from the very start. "Don't think, feel." With that historic remark, the event began.

  • For people who are creating or thinking of creating games

--- Doujin games when Touhou first started, and doujin games now ---

  • Doujin game now and then are completely different. The sorts of people who play doujin games were, without exception, people who create doujin. Nowadays, I feel there is a gap where the word "doujin" doesn't imply "to create". So I feel troubled when I am asked questions like "I want to make a doujin game".

--- The impact of games' growth and awareness as a creator ---

  • Games in the past had been viewed as anti-society. Arcades became seen as hangouts for delinquents, and they actually were.

--- Anti-social aspects of games remain in today's doujin games ---

  • I don't tell my parents that I make games. I even call PS2s "Super Nintendoes". [since they were viewed as more family-oriented] As a company or an organization grows, obstacles increase and the anti-social elements fade. With or without negative impacts on the games, the measures had to be taken. So, it became impossible to make those kinds of games. It appears to be freedom but actually not. I think in doujin games, though, an underground "past" remains. It's fun talking to people who make doujin games. So everyone who isn't doing anything in particular, I hope you will try making one yourself. And shake hands with me in the Big Sight!

--- Tidbits of Touhou ---

  • In the past, although Lotus Land Story was the first to become featured in a magazine, I felt dejected when they didn't even put the title screen in it. Since I was making something unique, maybe that made it impossible to take a snapshot using the normal way. There wasn't a word called danmaku in the past, so I wanted to see a screenshot....Because seeing is believing, you see.

Here Mr. ZUN sang Innocent Treasures again. Unusually, Mr. ZUN became the life of the party.

Part 2: Creation Barrier "The Border of Creation and Derivation"[edit]

--- Original, therefore derivative ---

  • People are clods of influence. I am also influenced by something, and became what I am today. In that sense, I can say that I am also making derivatives. So I want everyone to do what they want freely. By all means, go and create things yourself. "I've only been reading all this time, maybe I should draw or write something for a bit?" That sort of thing. "Let's try making a game," or something. Because of things that our predecessors had created, we are here today. I want to tell that to our future generations. Although I'm glad there is such a variety of derivatives, there are also pornographic ones. It's okay to go "I made this kind of thing!" and bring it up to me, but don't think the same goes for other creators. There may be ones who'll get angry. Since I don't mind creations of any kind, please bring up more and more to me. Or rather, I would go to you myself as a tip (laugh)

Round letters sure is great. Even serious topics can appear heartwarming. Aww.

Part 3: Q & A[edit]

Q. Was the concept of danmaku shooting games made because it appealed to you?
A. It's because the shootings games made up til now have had a great impact on me. If they had been bishoujo games then it could have been bishoujo games instead. I actually thought to leave this year empty. The next will come next year, and this year will be for fanservice. [Talking about PoFV]
Q. Thoughts on danmaku
A. It's...Salamander, I think, with that the prominence shot up. In the past because of technical limitations, even if you want to have many bullets you can't make them. So now I feel the genre just exploded.
Q. What's the response like for Embodiment of Scarlet Devil?
A. At first I didn't feel like consigning the game to retail, but I did, and when I thought "ah, it's stacked up in the store" and checked, they weren't there. They were sold out. So, when I decided to put it up for sale again, Akibahara immediately had signs like "For Sale Again!" up. (laugh)
Q. Among the elements that make up Touhou, what is the one that you are most confident about?
A. The what I have to say, isn't it? (laugh) I can say it's "the act of creation".
Q. I want to meet Yuyuko but Youmu's in the way!
A. It's the world beyond...why don't you try heading in from the back door? Though I don't guarantee that you can return. A survey said there were twenty-something percent of the children who thought "dead people can be revived". Maybe someday the word "death" will be erased from games. They'll say knocked out, or whatever. In combination.
Q. What are your musical influences?
A. Instrumental music and the sort. When I was in junior high, I listened to Himekami, Soujiro [okarina player], and such. Today's songs don't click with me.
Q. How do you feel when the meanings that you insert into the games were misinterpreted?
A. Right or wrong isn't important. What's important is that I enjoyed it.

Here the intermezzo of Innocent Treasures is played.The attendees swinging their glowsticks to the music, the venue acted as one at this time.

Q. Do you hate people who are in science?
A. I'm an engineering person myself. I did math in university, but I got the impression that math was really useless in university. Because it's useless, it's great.
Q. Is Merry related to Yuakin [Yukari] somehow!?? She's so cute!!11
A. How should I say this. In the past, there was this Lafcadio Hearn....Don't think too much about this (laugh)    YukaiRn!!!1
Q. Why are there minor differences between WAVE and MIDI?
A. With WAVE, the size gets too big and I can't publish it online. So I included MIDI. There are various changes depending on the hardware.
Q. Can you clear Lunatic?
A. I can't check for bugs if I can't clear them myself.
Q. What do you think about Touhou musical arrangements?
A. Aren't they wonderful?... though that's not a hobby of mine (laughs) I'm very glad. If you are going to make them I want you to make them as you see fit. There's no way I can listen to them all, so I can't say which ones are good.
Q. Where do you get your inspirations for the shapes and names of your spell cards?
A. When I sleep, when I's perserverance. I can't come up with these if I don't think about them all day. Try continuing like this for a year. Patience wins out in the end.
Q. What's the situation like when you make a song?
A. Just playing the keyboard without thinking anything. When nothing comes then add beer. ...Hoppy is great. (laugh) I love it.
Q. Who are your role models in life?
A. Not death? [?] There are lots. Whether they be writers or artists. Most people who are older than I am are amazing people. Most importantly, people who have accumulated experience. Go gain experience. It's not good to get older without gaining experience.
Q. Have you worked hard in creating Touhou?
A. It's hard work every day, and I'm learning every day. It's not something you can finish in a day or two. Though it seems like I'm doing it with ease, that isn't the case. Everyone who makes games is like this. Spare no effort.

Here ends the Q & A session, and all of today's program. ZUN, in a chorus of Innocent Treasures of all the attendees, sang amidst the standing ovation. Here Innocent Treasure's choreography was also revealed for the first time. Among the cries of encore and with great reluctance, Team Shanghai Alice's first live event in Nagoya lowered its curtains in great success.

Part 4: The Bizarre Henchmen of Morioh Town[edit]

  • JoJo is interesting (laughs)

I like the first part. Jonathan Joestar, with his straightforward personality til the very end and such, was really great. And Dio, the villain, was really a evil character. And yet Jonathan kept being straightforward wherever he went, and you really don't see this kind of protagonist nowadays. Didn't he die in the end? Dio, with only his head remaining, did him in with eye beams and took over his body, in the third part (Endless thoughts of JoJo from here on)

Ahhh, creation sure in wonderful, isn't it.