July 2, 2010

From what I understand, Touhou Niji Sousaku Doujin Anime: Musou Kakyou (Touhou Secondary Creation Doujin Anime: A Summer Day’s Dream – phew. What a long title) is an anime series based on a highly popular shoot ’em up game made by a one-man team called Team Shanghai Alice. It’s some sort of a fan made game and it is quite popular. Taking a brief look at Wikipedia has me overwhelmed with all the information about the several games and soundtracks released, starting way back in 1996. Now that is a pretty long time.
So this anime is of course fan-made as well (by MAIKAZE, for the records) and that means it is not produced by those big experienced Japanese studios (duh!). I’m not a fan of doujin work nor am I obsessed with playing shooting games. Heck, I haven’t even played a decent game in years. What more a Japanese-made game. I read that this project is to be divided into 3 episodes, each lasting 20 minutes. The first one was released way back in December 2008 to coincide with Comiket 75. Why did it take me so long to watch this? Well, let’s just say I was much pre-occupied with some other animes at that time and it slowly slipped into a corner of my brain until recently I remembered by chance due to some mindless online browsing. Some excuse that was.
Anyway the setting of this series is at a place called Gensokyo, supposedly a world that exists quietly besides ours but separated by a mystical border. A melting pot whereby humans and other spirits live in harmony together. Every summer, there is a large feast held at the Hakurei Shrine of Reimu Hakurei. She is the one responsible guarding the border and as narrated, it’s that time of year again where all walks of life of Gensokyo converge for that annual feast.
As Reimu gets up early to prepare for the feast, she is somewhat disappointed that only Suika Ibuki turned up. I guess Suika is pestering her for some sake so she sends her off to do some shopping errands. Shortly after, Reimu to her dismay finds the donation box missing. Whether the donation box was filled with money or empty with cobwebs, it was enough to make Reimu deciding to cancel the feast. Is the donation box that important? At least to her. Another girl appears. A photographer-cum-reporter, Aya Shameimaru, could tell by Reimu’s body language that the donation box is stolen. Aya offers to help and uses her magic to summon her friend, Marisa Kirisame. Aya and Marisa got into an ‘argument’ but the latter had an alibi so obviously it wasn’t her who stole the box. Just like Reimu said, it’s better to shut your mouth and start searching because it will be faster. Okay, she didn’t exactly say that but you know it’s somewhere along that line. Marisa is reluctant to get involved. Till Aya threatens to expose some scandalous pictures. No choice. By the time the trio left, Suika returns but finds no one around.
Based on Aya’s info, the trio end up at Scarlet Devil Mansion. This is supposedly where the donation box was taken to because Aya suspects Patchouli Knowledge to have taken the box. Reimu gets upset over the thought that the bookworm will use it as a bookshelf. Meanwhile at the balcony of the mansion, Remilia Scarlet is talking to her maid, Sakuya Izayoi, about how the food and drink supplies had disappeared just the night before. She then spots Reimu and Marisa entering the mansion and gets a shock of her life with Aya suddenly popping up and handing her a newspaper to read.
In the library, Patchouli senses ‘intruders’ and true enough it is Reimu as she confronts her and demands her she return her donation box. She just jumped straight to that conclusion and started accusing her she stole it? As for Aya and Marisa, I guess the former continues to tease the latter that she ‘borrows’ books from this library without returning them (considering the vast amount of books this library has), which of course Marisa strongly rebuked so as not to get the wrong impression. Aya then starts throwing books and unfortunately one of them hit Patchouli in the face. Reimu must be very kiasu of her donation box because she tells Patchouli to get up and resume the conversation they were in the middle of. Has the thought of that she may be hurt crossed her mind? Apparently not. Elsewhere, Remilia reads the newspaper headline which says the feast is cancelled due to the stolen box and a search to retrieve it in its replacement. Wow. News does travel fast here.
By now, the magic battle between Reimu and Patchouli heats up, each casting spells against each other. Be careful of the books! In the end, Reimu’s magic reigns superior as Patchouli uses a spell to allow herself to escape. Patchouli is hiding behind some boxes when Sakuya appears beside her. Taken aback by her sudden appearance, Sakuya covers Patchouli’s mouth in order to keep her silent. But too late as Reimu has already spotted her. Before she could unleash another spell, Remilia shows up and questions Reimu about the donation box. How did she know it was stolen in the first place, get what I’m saying? She adds Patchouli can’t be the culprit as she was in this library all day long looking for her missing books in addition to the food and drink supplies. So Reimu thinks it has to be that ‘incident’.
That’s as far as the first episode goes and from the rumours I briefly skimmed through over the internet, some said the production has been scrapped due to poor response. The game may be popular but that doesn’t mean that will translate to be a successful anime, right? Hey, it’s fan-made so there isn’t like any deadlines to meet whatsoever. Even if they do make the next episode, I feel it won’t be anytime soon. Speaking of which, the next episode narration at the end of the first episode is a little cheeky. It says the title for the next episode is "Yukarin is 17 Years Old" but the narrator quickly retracts her statement and that it was just a joke because they haven’t decided on a title yet. Haha. Fooled for a moment there.
Talking about the art and drawing, when I first looked at it, I somehow felt it to be somewhat cartoonish and unrefined. Of course considering this is a fan-made anime, it is considered good already. But I will give them high points for the shading and colour hues. They are pretty good looking if you pay close attention to it. Seeing that this is a fantasy world setting, I’ll forgive them for the design outfits for the characters which ranges from priestess, maid, witch and… China military outfit? Sometimes I think due to that, others may be mistaken to think that those who watch this show are lolicons. Aren’t all the characters that have appeared in this episode little girls? And I wonder what are those 2 horns sticking out from Suika’s head. Hmm… She may not be human to begin with.
Another thing about this series is the use of several famous and veteran seiyuu. We have Kikuko Inoue as the narrator (Belldandy in Aa! Megamisama), Mai Nakahara as Reimu (Mai Tokiha in Mai-HiME), Aki Toyosaki as Suika (Yui in K-ON!), Miyuki Sawashiro as Marisa (Shinku in Rozen Maiden), Ayumi Fujimura as Aya (Kyouka in Kyouran Kazoku Nikki), Ayumi Tsuji as Remilia (Suzumebachi in Bleach), Rie Tanaka as Sakuya (Suigin Tou in Rozen Maiden) and Mikako Takahashi as Patchouli (Rushuna in Grenadier). They’re sure glad to help out a fan-made anime. I wonder do they get paid or just volunteering. It’s not about the money, it’s the passion! Oh, who am I kidding? Then I found out it is because of the use of high profile seiyuus, the series was renamed into a longer version (as mentioned at the top of this blog) in order to avoid confusion that this series is an official Touhou product. What? I’m already confused.
Sure, I do harbour my own dreams of producing my own anime. But in reality, the amount of time and resources make it impossible in my current situation to do so. Heck, I can’t even draw a decent one. Better off being a dream, huh? So maybe if the next episode does get released, I may take my own sweet time in watching it since this series didn’t end up being one of my top priorities to watch. As said, I was ‘frightened’ by the amount of characters, games, music, stories, print works and terms of this series. You have got to be an obsessed fan and play every one of them if you want to become familiar with it. I’m just leaving this series here as it is. So remember, it’s okay to lose your donation box, but not your donation source. :)
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