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Eika Ebisu in Wily Beast and Weakest Creature
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Soul of a stillborn child and god
Stacking stones well
Eika Ebisu (戎 瓔花 Ebisu Eika) is the soul of a stillborn child and a god of fortune who resides at the riverbank of the Sanzu River, Sai no Kawara. She appears as the Stage 1 midboss and boss in Wily Beast and Weakest Creature.
Eika is the spirit of a mizuko (水子)- meaning a child that was either stillborn, or only lived for a short time. Like all such spirits, she exists in limbo at the Sai no Kawara and spends her time stacking stones into towers. Though Japanese folklore portrays the spirits' situation as tragic, Eika enjoys her work immensely and sees the Sai no Kawara as a "kingdom" where she and the other spirits can play freely. She's adored by her fellow spirits, and routinely arranges stone-stacking contests for their enjoyment.
She is described as being both cheerful and intelligent, though she also displays fierce bursts of emotion that one might expect from a young child. When the protagonists of Wily Beast and Weakest Creature knock over the stone towers while passing by, Eika is outraged on behalf of her fellow spirits and makes a threat on the protagonist's life. At the same time, she's also very flexible and quick to make the best of a bad outcome; once the protagonists leave, she casually accepts the situation and wastes no time in arranging a different type of contest instead.
Stacking stones well
Her full name is Eika Ebisu (戎 瓔花). The character "戎" (Ebisu) is one of several used for Ebisu, one of the Seven Gods of Fortune, who presides over fishermen and luck. Ebisu was the first child of the creation gods Izanami and Izanagi, but was born without bones due to Izanami committing a transgression during the ritual of their union. Initially known as Hiruko (蛭子), meaning "leech child", the child was set adrift in a boat of reeds, and eventually grew to become Ebisu after washing ashore. "戎" is also used to refer to the Ebisu (or 'Emishi'), a former ethnic group of northern Japan with potential relation to the Ainu.
Eika (瓔花) is spelled with the characters ei (瓔)- an uncommon character meaning "necklace made of precious stones"- and ka (花), meaning "flower". "瓔" also visually resembles the characters "王" (meaning "king" or "ruler") and "嬰" (from 嬰児 / eiji, meaning "infant"), tying in to Eika's status as a "ruler" of infant ghosts. The character can also be read as you, notably seen in a spelling discrepancy in Wily Beast and Weakest Creature's demo release. Her name is read as "Eika" in the music room and her on-screen title graphic, and as "Youka" in the omake.txt and name graphic in the upper-left corner.
Eika has a fluffy mass of light yellow hair with several thin braids trailing off of it, red eyes, and a noticeably darker skin tone than the majority of Touhou Project characters. She wears a white dress with red polka dots near the hems, red frills, and thin red tassels trailing off of the sleeves and waist. Both her hair and dress visually resemble a jellyfish, and the red tassels bear a resemblance to both a jellyfish's tendrils and to umbilical cords. She also has large earlobes, likely as a visual allusion to Jizo Bosatsu and Ebisu.
Her color palette seems to be based off –to an extent– of Turritopsis dohrnii (commonly known as the immortal jellyfish), a species of small, biologically immortal jellyfish found in the Mediterranean Sea and in the waters of Japan. It is one of the few known cases of animals capable of reverting completely to a sexually immature, colonial stage after having reached sexual maturity as a solitary individual. The liner notes for her boss theme Jelly Stone make a reference to jellyfish – possibly this specific species in particular.
- Wily Beast and Weakest Creature
Eika was hosting a stone stacking contest on the riverbed of Sai no Kawara with the children of the afterlife. However, the contest was ruined due to the heroines thrashing around, causing the stacked stones to fall over. Enraged, Eika attacks the heroines, but is ultimately defeated. After the heroines tell her their intentions, Eika snarkily says that going to Hell sounds about right for them.
- Eika is one of the few Touhou characters whose sprites in her debut game appearance aren't largely based on her in-game portrait. Though her pre-battle dialogue uses a set of 'sitting' sprites that match her portrait, she switches to a unique 'standing' set during the fight itself.
- In the Strange Creators of Outer World interview about Wily Beast and Weakest Creature, ZUN states that Eika's title purposely ties into Keiki's idolatry theme. This might be a nod to gods they're based on being siblings according to the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki genealogies.
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