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Magicians (魔法使い mahou-tsukai, lit. "user of the sorcerous method") and witches (魔女 majo, lit. "sorcerous woman") usually refer to humans who are supposedly capable of using magic. Originally the character ma () referred to dark arts, demons and those who trafficked with them, but in modern times it can also refer to any kind of Western-style magic, good or evil.

Magicians in Touhou

Youkai Magicians

In Touhou, "magician" is both a profession and a species of youkai. Any human magician can become a magician youkai by researching magic that takes away their need for food, but some magician youkai are born in this state naturally. Regardless of origin a magician youkai's body is essentially human, and they do not possess the enhanced physical strength and durability of most youkai.[1] In fact many magician youkai are frail even by human standards, due to lack of exercise and exposure to toxic magical reagents such as arsenic and mercury.[2] Magician youkai are considered "complete" when they learn how to halt their own aging processes through magic, a feat which past magicians could only achieve by the time they were already old and grey, but which has become easier and easier as magical knowledge has advanced.

A magician youkai can also come into being when an ordinary object is filled with sufficient magical power, in which case they are described as being like golems. Narumi Yatadera is once such case, being originally a Jizo statue that was brought to life by the intense power of the Forest of Magic. This type of magician can be considered somewhat similar to tsukumogami in that they are an object brought to life - however, their power comes from magic, rather than the restlessness of their spirit.

ZUN has stated that magicians and vampires are basically like devils,[3] it could be said that they are in general simply another name for demons.

Magicians and Magic

Magicians, both human and youkai, are extremely flexible in their use of spiritual power. While most beings are limited to using the powers they are born with, in theory a magician can create almost any effect as long as they understand how it works and can construct a suitable spell for it. They are, however, at least partially reliant on outside sources of magical energy such as the mushrooms from the Forest of Magic. The type of energy is also important - Marisa notes that ice magic is simple in winter, but difficult in summer without a strongly ice-associated item like Water Dragon scales.[4] Many magicians have one type of magic which they are particularly skilled at or fond of, such as Alice's use of dolls or Byakuren's focus on bodily enhancement. A magician's home is usually filled with books, notes and artifacts, due to the amount of studying and work required to learn any type of spell; because of this they are generally seen as indoor-loving, bookish types of people.

According to Chapter 18 of Curiosities of Lotus Asia, magic has six components:

  • The caster's level of Ability (技量 giryou)
  • The Temperament (気質 katagi) of the soul
  • The Substance (物質 busshitsu) of the materials and tools
  • The Space (空間 kuukan) in which it takes place
  • The Time (時間 jikan) at which it is performed
  • Fortune ( un), the most important element, which can compensate for deficiencies in the other five

Magicians as a profession are very similar to scientists and researchers in the real world, to the point where Patchouli Knowledge refers to magic and science as the same thing.[5] Mastery of both requires extensive knowledge and research into the true laws of the world, and magicians collect data and build upon the research of others just like all scientific researchers do; magic is not something that just happens randomly, any more than gravity or electricity.[6][7] For example Marisa is stated to spend a lot of time picking mushrooms, mixing and heating them in different combinations, and recording the effects. Patchouli spends almost all of her time reading and writing books. The fight with Alice in Touhou Hisoutensoku comes while Alice is experimenting with a new doll enlargement spell.

Additional Information

  • In addition to Patchouli's remark that science and magic are the same, ZUN himself states in Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red's music column that the song, "Merry the Magician", is meant to have a science-ish feel to it. A song about a magician yet meant to have a science feel seems to imply that Patchouli's analogy of magic and science is mostly accurate.

Characters under this Bestiary

Touhou Project

Seihou Project

Books and articles

See Also


  1. Perfect Memento in Strict Sense/Magician
  2. Wild and Horned Hermit: Chapter 3
  3. ZUN's former blog "Touhou Shofu" 6
  4. Forbidden Scrollery: Chapter 14
  5. Touhou Hisoutensoku: Patchouli Knowledge's win quotes — "The essence of magic is to determine the root cause of all things. There's no distinction between science and magic." "The magic outside sure has advanced. There are too few researchers in Gensokyo." "Tengu are the magician types. They're the same in seeking the truth." "The power of magic is like those of science. Meaning, it's at the forefront of the times!"
  6. Silent Sinner in Blue: Chapter 6 — "It is the pride of us magicians to be able to respect and preserve the original while adding our own bit of originality."
  7. The Grimoire of Marisa: Foreword — "Research can't start without a thought process. Listing and organizing is important, but to make it worthwhile to oneself requires thought."