In many ways, the Touhou Project phenomenon is similar to the success of Vocaloid and Minecraft. In each of these cases, the users are given a blank slate of sorts. Vocaloid is just a dense piece of voice-synthesizing software, Minecraft throws players into a sandbox world with no objectives whatsoever, and Touhou presents players with a large cast of characters with virtually no background beyond their name, their title, and few meager lines of dialogue if they are lucky. But when players take up on the challenge of inscribing their creative energies onto these seemingly blank slates, things quickly got out of hand. Countless songs, illustrations and animated PVs merged from the Vocaloid camp. Mind-boggling feats of virtual construction (like the model of the earth and a 1:1 scale Starship Enterprise) began to surface in the Minecraft community. And similarly, when Touhou creator ZUN gave his audience a bunch of crudely drawn girls wearing funky costumes in a compelling game with his own homebrewed music, the situation quickly snowballed. Today, you’ll find image sites like danbooru absolutely chock-full of Touhou-related fanart, a vast discography of Touhou music remixes, a slew of doujinshi games, novels, videos of all sorts, etc, etc. In essence, the fans have taken the modest foundation provided by ZUN and strapped it to a rocket, propelling the franchise into astonishing heights.
On the chopping block this week is Ques Q’s 1/8th scale Hong Meiling, a character that began as one of ZUN unflattering scrawls. Of course, one quick glance though danbooru would reveal many of the creative liberalities taken on the original design by the legions of fan artists. This particular figure is based off of an illustration by Iwamoto James, and like all Touhou-related merchandise, it’s only sold through limited venues. But honestly, considering that this figure was purchased through Amiami, does ZUN still have any claim left to his policy of exclusivity for Touhou-related merch? Just a thought.
But back onto the character: Hong Meiling the gatekeeper to the Scarlet Devil Mansion. Lovingly dubbed as “China” by fans, she is a youkai proficient in martial arts. For reasons unknown to me, my friend Ningyo holds a borderline psychotic obsession with this character. I think it’s his life’s mission to scour the earth for all things related to the Chinese redhead. Being the devious bastard that I am, when he ordered the figure through me, I took advantage of my position as the middleman and hijacked the figure for this review. But Ningyo my man, I gotta say: this figure of your one true waifu is probably going to fall short of the lofty heights she resides in your heart.
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