ɺ̠e̞n.ẽ̞ɴ pɺ̠o̞d͡ʑʲe̞ct, ɺ̠e̞n.ẽ̞ɴ pɯᵝɺ̠o̞d͡ʑʲe̞kɯᵝto̞
Ren'en Project, 連縁Project
Created by JynX
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The Len'en Project (鏈縁Project), also len'en (連縁), is a series of vertical danmaku shooting games made by Japanese game developer JynX. Although it takes inspiration from the Touhou Project, the games are technically not fangames towards Touhou and that it's set in a separate world which features an entirely new cast of characters, therefore having its own canonicity.
It is set in the land of Mugenri, a haunted region similar to Gensokyo, containing humans and youkai alike. Yabusame Houren is the main protagonist of the series, and together with Tsubakura Enraku, they're youkai exterminators who solve incidents.
Games in this series
Name and Concept
The name Len'en is composed of the kanji len (鏈 lit. "chain") and en (縁 lit. "relations"), similar to Touhou (東方). Both kanji could also be translated as "connections". Even though the letter "l" is used officially in the romaji, it's more usual to use the letter "r". The apostrophe is used to separate the two "syllables" because, in this case, it's ambiguous in romanisation. The romanised letters are "lenen", in which the Japanese hiragana is ambiguous to represent either "re (れ), n (ん), e (え), n (ん)" or "re (れ), ne (ね), n (ん)". The apostrophe is commonly used in romanisation when an ambiguity like this comes up.
On the fourth instalment Brilliant pagoda or haze castle, the first kanji has been changed to a more simpler-looking 連, which also reads as ren having the meaning "connect". This was because it makes writing a lot easier and "it seems lighter".
According to the developer's blog, it's a "similar to a certain shrine maiden danmaku shooting game, but if you try it you may think it's pretty different... but it's really nothing more than a rip-off of Touhou"-type danmaku shooting game.
The characters in this project are either human or youkai and that they take many references to the characters of the Touhou Project. Strangely, most of the characters have names that are themed around birds, or are named after birds. An important note is that while in Touhou the characters are all female, the characters' genders are generally left ambiguous in the Len'en Project. It's likely that their genders will never be revealed, and that it's simply up to the player's interpretation.
Differences from the Touhou Project
There are many aspects of Touhou that Len'en, as a series based on Touhou, imitates and parodies. The gameplay, character drawings and the music are all similar to Touhou. However, there are things that are based on Touhou but which are unique in their own way.
For example, while Touhou often uses the kanji fu (符) in many of it's spell card names, the spell cards in Len'en use the kanji hai (牌). These two kanji have more or less overlapping meanings, but fu is generally translated as "sign", whereas hai is more like "card".
Also, in both series characters' abilities are described in a way that intentionally sounds awkward or unnatural. In Touhou, characters' abilities are often described using the phrase teido no nouryoku (程度の能力) that roughly means "ability to the extent of". Reimu Hakurei's ability, for example, is "ability to the extent of flying" (空を飛ぶ程度の能力 sora wo tobu teido no nouryoku). However, abilities in the Len'en Project are described with teki na nouryoku (的な能力) which roughly means "(something)-like ability". For example, Yabusame's ability is "dimension crossing-like ability" (次元を超える的な能力 jigen wo koeru teki na nouryoku).