xʊ̜ŋ˧˥ meɪ̯˨˩˨liŋ˧˥ (♫)
Hong Meirin, Hoan Meirin
Hong Meiling in Touhou Hisoutensoku
More Character Titles
Usage of Qi
- "You are a little strong, but your power is still no match for mine!"— Hong Meiling (Touhou Hisoutensoku)
Hong Meiling (紅 美鈴 Hon Meirin) is a youkai, though it isn't currently known which specific category she actually belongs to. She's the gatekeeper of the Scarlet Devil Mansion. She is known for her mastery of the martial arts, part of which can be seen in her movement which is based on Bajiquan, such as Shin-Kyaku and Tetsuzanko.
Meiling first appeared as the Stage 3 boss and midboss of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil. Later she became a playable character in Immaterial and Missing Power, one of Stage 5's targets in Shoot the Bullet, and one of the three protagonists of Touhou Hisoutensoku.
Meiling is a proud Chinese-style martial arts master and a youkai.
Meiling is very laid-back, which sometimes gets her into trouble, and is known to sleep on the job, although she does her job when needed. She regularly receives challengers and is a worthy opponent of the strong. She is not outwardly aggressive towards humans, except those who attempt to trespass on the grounds of Scarlet Devil Manor, though it seems the only humans who trespass are powerful enough to defeat her in the first place. She will also sometimes have conversations with bypassers.
Many of her lines in Touhou Hisoutensoku express a boastful, somewhat stereotypical patriotism for China: "You're all not there yet! You're all children compared to 4000 years of history!" She also compares Yuyuko Saigyouji to a Jiang Shi and notes that Tenshi Hinanawi and the Celestials have read Chinese classics. The script also reveals that she seems to spend a lot of time reading manga written by the tengu.
Meiling's mastery of t'ai chi ch'uan is her main ability in combat, but other than that, she has no youkai-like ability. While not particularly strong as a youkai, she is described as being well-rounded, with no particular weak point when fighting humans; this is likely why she was hired to watch the gate of the Scarlet Devil Mansion.
- Usage of Qi
Meiling is able to manipulate her life-breath, or qi. Her danmaku and her flight likely involve projecting her qi outward to attack foes or propel herself in a manner seen in martial arts folklore and in contemporary Japanese manga.
Meiling works as the gatekeeper and gardener of the Scarlet Devil Mansion. She also acts as the doorkeeper when there's a party at the mansion. She performs Tai Chi Chuan daily, and has a nap at noon.
Her full name is Hong Meiling (紅 美鈴 Hon Meirin). The character for Hong (紅) literally means "Scarlet/Crimson" in Japanese and "Red" in Chinese. Meiling (美鈴) means "Beauty Bell/Chime". The latter part of her name, Meiling, is a common Chinese name. Her full name is a reference to Hong Mei, a tai chi grandmaster. These characters can be read in Japanese as "Kurenai Misuzu", and is sometimes mispronounced or miswritten that way. Using English name order, her name would actually be "Meiling Hong", which is used normally by Chinese diaspora or immigrants into Western countries. Some sources and media may often read Chinese names in Japanese on'yomi, rendering her name as "Kou Birei/Kou Mirin". Meiling's name is often rendered in pinyin/Mandarin instead.
Hong (紅) is "kou" in the on reading, "Hóng" in standard Chinese and "Hhong" in Shanghainese. It could possibly refer to the Red Guards (紅衛兵, Pinyin: Hóng Wèibīng), a youth movement of the Chinese cultural revolution. This is reinforced by her clothing. The word "guard" also has the meaning of "gatekeeper" as well. Thus, it could indicate a pun, where "guard of the family name Hong = Red Guard." "Hong" also appears in the title of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil (東方紅魔郷). However, the name of the game in its developmental stages was 東方紅茶館, thus indicating that it has a strong relation to the 紅 of black tea (紅茶).
Additionally, her first name could also stand for 虹, which means rainbow, since it has the same on reading as 紅 as well as the same pronunciation in standard Chinese and Shanghainese. However, it also is synonymous with a two-headed dragon-like creature in a Chinese-context, thus the hóng dragon's rainbow associations may be reflected in Meiling's title of "Colorful Rainbow Gatekeeper", the naming theme of some of her spell cards, and her bullet patterns and attacks being usually rainbow-colored.
Her name was spelled by ZUN as in Immaterial and Missing Power and the corrected version of Sangetsusei as Hong Meirin. Her name became Hoan Meirin in Perfect Memento in Strict Sense. Though in pinyin, it would be "Meiling"; there is not a single source within the Touhou Project itself that states that it is spelled in this manner. Additionally, Meiling says "Geez, please remember my name~" in a win quote in Immaterial and Missing Power while ZUN didn't know how to answer the question "Is Chuugoku's name forgotten?"
Meiling has aqua-blue eyes and long, scarlet hair that symbolizes both her name and the place that she's guarding. Her green beret and dress resemble traditional Chinese clothing mixed with the red guard uniform. Her beret has a gold star on the front with the Traditional Chinese character "龍" that is read and pronounced as "lóng" in standard Chinese and means dragon. She wears white pants in her fighting game sprites.
- Embodiment of Scarlet Devil
During the events of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, she bravely fought against the intruding heroines, but ultimately failed. She ends up being followed by the player character to the mansion against her will, initiating another fight.
- Immaterial and Missing Power
Meiling was made playable in Immaterial and Missing Power through a downloadable patch, but only in the versus mode; there is no main story campaign for her.
- Shoot the Bullet
- Touhou Hisoutensoku
In Touhou Hisoutensoku, she saw a roaming giant that she was certain was an incarnation of a God of Calamity, "Taisui Xingjun". However, those she warned didn't realize the seriousness of the situation they were facing. Thus it was up to Meiling alone to defend the Scarlet Devil Mansion and all of Gensokyo from this destructive deity. After defeating some pseudo-characters sent as assassins, she defeats a Giant Catfish and faces Taisui himself, then realizing it was all a dream.
- Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red
One day, a mysterious crop circle appears in the gardens of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, causing widespread speculation, rumors and gossip around the Mansion.
Meiling, who is responsible for taking care of the garden, claims not to be the culprit, but admits that she's been tasked by Remilia to restore the garden to its original state now that her mistress has become bored with the crop circle pattern. During her interview with Aya Shameimaru, she notes she is quite worried, as she has no idea how to change the flowers back. Questioned about the crop circle's origins, Meiling vehemently denies falling asleep, so Aya goes on to talk about aliens...
The culprit revealed at the end is Patchouli Knowledge.
- Touhou Bougetsushou
- Wild and Horned Hermit
In Chapter 16 of Wild and Horned Hermit, it appears that because Remilia Scarlet and Sakuya Izayoi were both drinking from the Ibaraki Box of a Hundred Medicines at a flower viewing, they started to tease Meiling.
- Cheating Detective Satori
In the first incident of Cheating Detective Satori, Patchouli Knowledge is revealed to have been non-fatally poisoned by an unknown person, leading to an investigation at the Scarlet Devil Mansion of who the culprit could be. Early on into the investigation, Meiling is shown standing at the gates of the Scarlet Devil Mansion. She is approached by Rin Kaenbyou, who is presumably there to ask Meiling about the incident. She first asks Meiling if there were any visitors at the time of Patchouli's poisoning, to which Meiling tells her there were none. Smiling, Rin then asks Meiling if she was even watching the gate at the time, to which Meiling hesitantly responds that she was. However, Rin tells Meiling what others have told her, which is that the gate to the Scarlet Devil Mansion is usually wide open while the gatekeeper is notoriously absent. Meiling appears quite nervous at this point, even more so when Rin mentions that the detective (Satori Komeiji) can read minds, so Meiling had "better just be honest" about whether or not she was watching the gate, as it will come to light at one point or another. Flustered and feeling the pressure, Meiling cracks and tells Rin that she was asleep at the time that Patchouli was poisoned.
Later on in the incident, Sakuya Izayoi is accused of being the culprit of Patchouli's poisoning, and thus is locked away in the basement. Meiling visits Sakuya to bring her food and scorn her due to the amount of evidence pointing to her being the culprit. She slams and locks the basement door on Sakuya before leaving her there alone with Flandre Scarlet.
Sometime later in this same incident, Reimu Hakurei is flying overhead when she spots Meiling passed out on the ground. Reimu lands and approaches Meiling, who attempts to slap Meiling awake, however this does not work. Rin then approaches Reimu and the passed out Meiling on the ground. Rin briefly inspects Meiling before concluding that the symptoms Meiling is feeling are the same as Patchouli's symptoms, meaning that Meiling has also been poisoned by the unknown culprit.
At the end of the first incident, it is revealed that both Patchouli and Meiling were not poisoned, but rather they were possessed by a criminal from Former Hell. Said criminal is a vengeful spirit with the ability control the body of whom they possess, as well as devour the magical energy of those they possess. The criminal first possessed Sakuya, who used Sakuya's body to move closer on Patchouli. The spirit then hopped onto Meiling, who sapped her energy and put her into a coma.
Residents of the Scarlet Devil Mansion
Remilia is Meiling's mistress. Being the type of person Remilia is, she tends to tease all her subordinates, and Meiling is no exception. She does get mad at her sometimes if things don't go her way, but the two are generally on friendly terms, and in Touhou Hisoutensoku it's suggested that Remilia reads some of the same manga Meiling does.
Sakuya is a fellow employee of Meiling. Meiling's win quote against Sakuya Izayoi in Touhou Hisoutensoku implies a friendly, if somewhat formal, relationship between the two of them. In those quotes, Meiling also tells Sakuya that she always goes easy on her, so it seems they do spar often. She also claims that she wouldn't go easy on the maid if it were a formal match, but it's unknown how much effort there is on Sakuya's part, or if Meiling's claims about her strength are true at all. Sakuya is also shown to care for Meiling, though is strict about her not slacking off.
Patchouli is the friend of her mistress, and sometimes berates her for not thinking enough and spending too much time reading senseless comics.
- Fairy maids and other staff
The fairy maids assist Meiling in Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, but it's unknown what sort of authority she has over the fairy maids in the mansion. Perfect Memento in Strict Sense implies that youkai also join in Meiling's battles on a whim, but instead usually only point and laugh.
Flandre is Remilia's younger sister. It's unknown what kind of relationship Meiling and Flandre have, however.
- Taisui Xingjun and the giant catfish
Taisui Xingjun is Meiling's sworn enemy and the Giant Catfish is the avatar of Taisui Xingjun. They both only appeared in her dream while she was reading a manga, so any realistic communications with them is so far not shown.
Meiling's colors from Touhou Hisoutensoku. Middle top refers to her 2P palette from Immaterial and Missing Power.
Meiling from Who's Who of Humans & Youkai - Dusk Edition
Meiling greeting Sakuya at the gate in Strange and Bright Nature Deity
Meiling cameo in Oriental Sacred Place
- If Meiling loses to Youmu in Touhou Hisoutensoku, Youmu will ask if Meiling shouldn't just use a weapon, namely a green dragon blade. This can be a source of confusion, since many would imagine the legendary Green Dragon Crescent Blade wielded by the famous Chinese general Guan Yu, but women seldom use pole arms in Chinese martial arts. In Japan, the term has become a common misnomer for the liuyedao and other Chinese sabers. As Youmu admits she has only heard about them in stories, the use of her local, incorrect term is likely intentional.
- One of her normal bullet attacks (along with a few of her skill cards) in Touhou Hisoutensoku resembles Krizalid's Typhoon/Tuhon Rage from The King of Fighters '99, 2000, and 2002: Unlimited Match.
- Meiling looks very similar to Orange.
- Meiling is one of the only characters to not make a cameo appearance in Hopeless Masquerade.
- Meiling's Movement in Touhou Hisoutensoku is based on Bajiquan, a Chinese-martial art, that is popular in fighting games because its routine was practiced by moving in a mostly straight line, making it easy to translate into a fighting game.
- Meiling's Idle Stance on that game is Liang Yi Zhuang. The well-known fighting stance of that martial art.
- Meiling's spell card Fiery Attack "Roc-Killing Fist resembles Yun's First Super Art from Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact
- Meiling has a Gongfu tea ceremony in chapter 4 of Cheating Detective Satori.
- Shibata Masahiro's manga series "Sarai", published from 1998–2007, seems to be a big inspiration for many of the characters from EoSD. Sarai is a manga about superpowered maids fighting youkai and monsters in a dystopian future.
- The main character of Sarai, Kannagi Sarai, (神薙サライ) is a red haired maid, and is possibly the inspiration for Hong Meiling. As EoSD uses a red motif, from the name Scarlet to Meiling's last name, Hong, also meaning red/scarlet in Chinese/Japanese, this character likely influenced the central motif of EoSD.
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