Maikaze’s Touhou Anime and ZUN’s Comment

Maikaze‘s release of their doujin anime “Musou Kakyou” is now the hottest topic in the world of Touhou fans. Some (myself included) are excited about it due to the appearance of big-name seiyuus like Nakahara Mai and Sawashiro Miyuki in the cast list. Some think it’s going to suck big time and be yet another dark history (kurorekishi) like SOUND HOLIC’s Touhou Project Side Story, which got Ueda Kana to voice an original character. Regardless of fan opinions, the anime is certainly hyped: Maikaze’s web server is overloaded, and they have to take out images and webpages to reduce traffic earlier this week. (The official website is announced to be opened on December 15 though.)

The reason for the hype seems to be the seiyuus alone. And this got ZUN worried. On December 10, he posted on his blog the following comment: (Translation fixed thanks to Solamarle.)

あと、編集さんからとあるサークルの同人のアニメに関して、個人的にどうなのかとの連絡を受けました。  {{Also, I’ve got contacted by an editor (supposedly of some of his publication) asking how I feel personally about a certain doujin circle’s anime.}}

東方ではゲームではあえてキャラに声を当てていないので、著名な声優さんを使われると公式と勘違いされるのではないかと心配との こと。 {{Since in the games characters do not have voices, I’m worried that the circle’s using well-know seiyuus would make people misunderstand that it’s official.}}

確かに、基本的に同人であれば何を作っても問題無いですが、余り騒ぎが大きくなってしまう事はうちとしてもサークルさんとしても良くないことかと思いま す。 {{Certainly, basically if it’s still doujin, anyone can make anything, and I have no problem with that. But a big commotion  is neither good for myself or the circle, I think.}}

特に、アニメだとメイン層がゲームを遊んでいない層になってしまうと思いますので、公式と勘違いする可能性が高くなることが懸念 されます。 {{Especially, an anime can make people who haven’t played the games the main Touhou fan demographic. So, I’m afraid of the high possibility that people will think the anime is official.}} (Cardcaptor’s Note: I have a big trouble translating this line. If someone sees it as patentedly wrong, please tell me.)

他の二次創作も同様ですが、{{So, in the same way as any other secondary works, please:}}
・非公式(ファン作品)である事が手に取った全ての人にちゃんと伝わること {{Inform all your customers clearly that your work is not official (i.e., a fan production).}}
・度を過ぎた宣伝(特に東方が何なのか判らない人に向けての宣伝)を行わないこと {{Refrain from excessive propaganda (especially to people who don’t know what Touhou is).}}
・流通を制限すること {{Limit the circulation.}}

あたりに注意して頂ければ、混乱を避けられるかと思います。 {{If everyone cooperates with this guideline, we can avoid much confusion.}}

そんな感じで楽しい創作を続けて頂きたいです。 {{I would like everyone to keep on having fun producing works like this.}}

And by “limited circulation,” ZUN wrote earlier in the post that he means “sales at doujin conventions and doujin shops; in other words, to the same extent in which my original games are sold.”

Of course, we can see here that ZUN wants to maintain authority on the canon Touhou and his wish for people to enjoy his original creation. ZUN’s worry is a legitimate and natural concern of an author, and I’m totally with him on clear indication that derivative works are derivative works. However, I feel weird seeing his fear towards people’s becoming Touhou fan but not playing the games. Why? Because I think it’s inevitable. The franchise is huge now. Many people got into it through music, video clips, and doujin comics, and they may as well choose not to explore the original games. I’m sure there’s going to be more doujin Touhou anime to come — until ZUN greenlights an official anime, at least — and anime, be it doujin or official, will bring anime otaku who don’t play games to Touhou fandom.

As I wrote previously, Touhou is not just ZUN’s wonderful games and manga. It’s his works and all the wonderful and not-so-wonderful secondary works altogether. The things I like most about Touhou are that there are so many ways to experience it and that I can choose to experience it the way I like. Of course, ZUN’s authorship has to be respected absolutely, but I see no need to steer the fandom in any particular way.

I also have opinions regarding ZUN’s “doujinshi doctrine,” which I will write about later.

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  1. Solamarle
    Posted December 14, 2008 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    “特に、アニメだとメイン層がゲームを遊んでいない層になってしまうと思いますので、公式と勘違いする可能性が高くなることが懸念 されます。 {{Especially, an anime can make people who haven’t the games the main Touhou fan demographic. As a result, I’m afraid of the high possibility that people will think the anime is official.}} (Cardcaptor’s Note: I have a big trouble translating this line. If someone sees it as patentedly wrong, please tell me.)”

    I think that’s pretty much on the mark. My translation would be: “Since I’m especially afraid that people who are mostly interested in the anime would become people who don’t play the games, I’m concerned about the high possibility that people will mistake this project as an official Touhou work.”

    However, I think this line:
    is better rendered as:
    “Refrain from excessive publicity (especially marketing to people who don’t know anything about Touhou)”

  2. cardcaptor
    Posted December 14, 2008 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the suggestion. I guess I did misread the text in the parentheses.

  3. Posted December 15, 2008 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    The problem is that some parts may get lost in translation, we, westerners, may not get fully what ZUN truly have in mind. The way some translations at some sites were worded make it sound like ZUN was a royal dick. I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt.

  4. mak
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    It is extremly natural for Zun who is employed by Taito to worry about it, because companies in Japan don’t allow their employees to have sub_works.

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