Touhou Creator ZUN to Masses: No Touhou for You


Creator of the Touhou doujin shooting game series and notorious hat fetishist ZUN has expressed his discontent at the possibility of Touhou transcending the doujin sphere and becoming a fully developed commercial franchise; he expressly enjoins doujin publishers to restrict the availability of their works and not to promote them to the general public (apparently defined as people who don’t play his games).

In fact, in laying down a long and detailed set of regulations he has issued what many interpret as strong criticism of the much anticipated unofficial anime, due at C75.

After excusing himself from actually attending C75, he leaves this lengthy postscript:

“Also, word of the Touhou anime on which a certain circle is working on has reached me. As Touhou is game without voicing, the prospect of big name seiyuu voicing the characters and this being mistaken for an official arrangement worries me.”

“Certainly, as it’s a doujin project basically you can make anything, but if you make too big a splash I think it it’s troubling to me and the other circles. I’m especially concerned about the prospect of fans who are mainly into the anime becoming a class of Touhou fans who do not play the games, as it seems highly likely this will result in it being mistaken as official.”

“The same goes for other Touhou doujin works:

Make sure everyone who comes into possession of them realises they are fan made.

Don’t overstep the mark in promoting your works (especially by promoting to people who aren’t already familiar with Touhou).

Restrict distribution of your works.

If you heed these points, I believe we can avoid any confusion. I would like you to continue creating in that vein.”

These don’t apply to him appearing on TV, it would appear.

He also issues a long and onerous set of regulations over how he would like to see Touhou products handled; a few points stand out:

“All distribution must be limited … to only venues which distribute our games.”

“Also, even for circles which are not commercial operations, distribution and promotion of products in a fashion which exceeds the extent of doujinshi (for example selling the products in a normal book or game shop) should not be undertaken.”

“Resistance to commercialising these works is lessening… there are still no clear guidelines as to what is acceptable.”

“… but should you wish to distribute a doujin product in a commercial fashion, that is basically something we cannot allow.”

All this has caused quite a stormily mixed reaction, especially since it practically singles out the anime as an undesirable (or very nearly so) project; many fans actually agree, seeing it as an assault on ZUN’s authority and a gateway to (full as opposed to small scale) commercialisation.

A wide variety of opinions seem to be in evidence, but most notable are those who decry the upstarts who ignore ZUN’s wishes, and who spread confusion about the nature of Touhou, and those who view his statements as little more than diktat; these more sceptical voices tend to be less than appreciative of what they see as the pompous and arrogant way the orders have been handed down.

One of the more convincing arguments on offer is that this is indeed a case of ZUN starting to get delusions of grandeur, or possibly simply becoming upset that his games, and thus his influence, have been eclipsed.

Touhou in this view is seen less as stemming from a single author (who it must be remembered only created a series of shooting games with minimally elaborated characters and mediocre production values; the great bulk of the works are elaborated on by fans), than as being a collaborative project with thousands of participants.

Since it does indeed seem that without such vibrant fan participation ZUN’s shooting games would have been consigned to obscurity, this explanation seems to carry no small weight.

Whatever the case, it seems Touhou is at a crossroads, where it can either transform into a fully realised pseudo-commercial franchise, with pro-seiyuu already staking their claims, whilst still being intimately tied to the doujin world, or attempt to curtail the growth in its popularity by consolidating the fanbase around ZUN’s shooting games, which are of limited appeal to many who otherwise express interest in the world of Touhou.


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    Comment by kingthinh
    20:26 16/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    Those who think ZUN make Touhou for money and pirate his games should STFU *agrr*

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:50 19/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    ZUN reminds me a lot of Bill Watterson, the author of Calvin and Hobbes. He did not want to merchandize his cartoon characters, much like how ZUN doesn't want to commercialize his characters.

    Comment by nifty
    14:36 21/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    ahhhhh Watterson. He didn't want C&H syndicated, and for his characters to only be represented as they are in his comic.

    So its not really the same, but i can see the comparison.

    Comment by wildarmsheero
    Comment by EcureuilMatrix
    15:32 16/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    I have to admit, that of all possible DORAMA sources in the animusphere, I never thought a blog post about ZUN would be the center of the next fandom scrap.

    Oh, well. I guess it'll calm down sometime?

    Comment by Gosun
    13:26 17/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    Still, you have to deal with commercialization, legalisation and what's not. If not handled properly, can be a serious problem. (One example is , getting a Odex-style letter from maikaze)

    And then there's the ignorant masses, the "new generation of fans", whom only follow suit with mainstream (Narutard , Bleah ) stuff and shun everything else.

    Plus the style of the animation isn't THAT mainstream.. probably.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:35 16/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    Touhou is serious business.

    Comment by BunchofKidsnIdiots
    03:29 18/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    For once I totally feel attuned to ZUN. Not everything has to be become totally business (damn you all pirates and capitalists), as long as its for doujin-dom, its all fine and dandy, but to see one's creation being 'mutated' into ways that are beyond recognizable even by the creator(s) does bring do bring alot of pain.

    And too, its the shame that many whiners (yes, whiners) do not really understand anything about Touhou.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:48 16/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    Everyone talks as if ZUN actually disapproves the anime, he doesn't. He encourages doujin circles to make their own anime in a past interview, and assumes that the Maikaze crew doesn't want unexpected trouble too. (Well, he didn't explicitly point out which circle doesn't want the trouble...) It is reasonable that he doesn't want the new anime to eclipse the existing fandom, and he asks the relevant people not to over-promote it for that reason.

    Sure, he might be missing out on a huge potential market by limiting the anime, but who said ZUN was out for profit? He's got a decent job at Taito and he's only making Touhou for fun. I'd wager he'd like to keep it that way.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:44 16/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    "only created a series of shooting games with minimally elaborated characters and mediocre production values"

    That's a bit harsh.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:41 16/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    This article is really twisting the truth. You guys owe it to yourself to actually figure out what you're talking about before jumping to conclusions.

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact

    I know exactly what I'm talking about, but many will disagree with what I am saying.

    The link you posted, aside from being a tremendously amusing anti-Complex site, gives a translation which is practically the same as the one I gave here - both are perfectly adequate. As I said, the difference is in the interpretation.

    Critically interpreting ZUN's actions is not "twisting the truth", no matter how upsetting rabid ZUN fans may find it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:03 16/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    It is pretty clear from reading your article that your personal opinion is completely one-sided with the fandom and pays little respect to the original creator. The rhetoric and arguments mainly take aim at ZUN and his supporters rather than provide an unbiased translation of the original post. At least, this is how your critical interpretation comes across to me. Its fine to hold your position, but many fans read these articles simply to get an idea of what is going on. Yes, many people on 2chan have expressed similar views, but many others interpret it differently as well. At least take up both positions in the article so that fans are able to decide more clearly for themselves instead of just raising the pitch forks and calling for blood.

    Comment by TRXAcero
    09:45 16/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    Looking at all this and the problem itself you can see two flows of this streaming river. First, ZUN doesn't like a fan-for-fans creation to become comercial and to forget it's beginning, what it's really acceptable and understandable; second one, being a doujin creation, this is really out of word because, this world, Touhou world, was from the start for people to like it... in this maybe i got wrong, but, it is only my point of view.
    This is a story for people. If the people look more for other than the roots (the game i really like and enjoy) it's the choice of the fans. Lots of people don't know that Touhou it's a Curtain Shooting game and take it settled like something some other people made and enjoys with it.
    As i see this, you like more the game you'll be on ZUN's side, you like the world of touhou and don't like or don't know of the game, you maybe on the other side. It's only a matter of you like this or you don't. You can take any side and it'll be right.
    And from what i see, ZUN does not want the adaptation because it could become on something bigger that may eclipse the game and it's basis of doujin creation.

    The only way to settle this is the same old way that really end with wars(Yeah, right XD), sitting in and discussing it until it's done for.

    PD: Sorry if I commit mistakes in the writting, i don¡t speak english so it was hard for me ^-^u

    Comment by Tyrenol
    08:50 16/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    LiveJournal Article:

    Avatar of Simon Jones
    Comment by Simon Jones
    05:07 16/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don't understand the controversy. Doujinshi isn't, and never has been, a copyleft free-for-all. Its existence depends on mutual understanding and respect between creators and creator-fans, and avoiding overt-commercialism is the most crucial (and tenuous, at present) tenent of doujinshi. There's nothing particularly out of the ordinary about ZUN's requests, only that he is put in a position to do so.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:58 16/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    Why doesn't Zun just demand that there be (non-obvious) advertisments of his game within every episode and be done with it?

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:30 30/01/2011 # ! Neutral (0) just scared of what his anime will become. He doesn't want it to get out of control like some anime out there (Pokemon, and someone said). You have to understand, put yourself in his shoes. Although i do understand that he may be going overboard, he's just being protective of something he loves and possibly we all love.

    While he is rather overprotective of it, I still see where he comes from. But I also see where people opposing him come from.

    Either way, I don't want Touhou to get out of control. YEs there's a chance it won't be that way, but I don't deal in chance. And I don't think ZUN does either.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:34 17/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    if anything, it'll divide the fandom. take pokemon, for example. some people play only the games and will talk about ebs and natures and stuff. some fans play only the tcg, some only watch the anime and movies, and some are a mix.

    if he wants touhou to be a pure danmaku franchise, then he should just say so without having to bash other fan-made things. if it's a copyright issue then ZUN by all means sue.

    in any case, he makes money, right? i for one don't think he should be complaining, but he is right for stressing the fact that the anime isn't official. he should get at least royalties for it.

    Avatar of Jürgen
    Comment by Jürgen
    04:46 25/07/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Although I only kind of skimmed the article so feel free to troll away but I feel it's his creation so he should be able to do whatever he feels like.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:41 19/09/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    But many fans just want a high quality TOUHOU anime, even if non-canon. It can be a totally new Touhou that has no canon relations to the current Windows games much like how the current Windows Games have no canon ties to the classic PC-98 games.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:57 24/02/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    I believe there is an answer to all your worries. All the worries are separating ZUN from Others. If ZUN collaborates and has, lets say a bigger share in a project like Anime. Then that Touhou would become another branch of him, it will also celebrate his original and ZUN will still have control over it. Taken he does everything properly. In this case the question lies, would the peoples who he wants to work in a project with give him the control that he wants to over Touhou in and over that project like he has in his original Touhou~? ^^

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:48 30/09/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    You know, one of the problems of ZUN is that he doesn't know how to make stories well. Most of the time he just makes a plot for the game to give reasons for the old and new characters to mess around but doesn't take the story too seriously and lacking characterizations. Of course that will cause the fans to make their own stories to fill up the absence of the character's stories. I'm aware that he made stories on doujin comics or mangas out of Touhou but it doesn't seem to be enough. Just take the example of Silent Sinner in Blue which he officially made. Honestly, it's not that good and this is not merely the artist's fault which ZUN asked to draw and some fans seem to blame but it's his fault as well. If he's not going to fill up the gap of the flaws of Touhou, then he shouldn't be mad if some people are trying to make their own version of Touhou.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:26 19/10/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Of Course, it's a shooting game. But he does expand on the characters in his Touhou books and the Cage in Lunatic project

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:51 30/01/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    "my interpretation of Zun’s.

    Anime attracts newbfags.

    Newbfags think they know everything, just because they watched the anime, which happened to be a fan work.

    Newbfags suck. Big time.

    Touhou becomes overloaded with newbfags.

    Touhou sucks."

    I agree with the above.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:23 14/01/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don't get the part when he says,

    "Don’t overstep the mark in promoting your works (especially by promoting to people who aren’t already familiar with Touhou)."

    What does that mean?

    If were you to draw touhou doujins, I don't understand the boundary around that and with promoting your works part.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:47 10/03/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Don't promote your doujins to people who haven't experienced the real thing. Why would you indulge yourself in a fanbased franchise instead of the actual thing. ZUN wants people to play his game. He's afraid new people will believe the fanmade anime is/should be the original. If you created a game and a fanbase was formed around something that someone else BASED on your game and looked down upon the original source, how would you feel? I think that's how ZUN is feeling with maikaze's anime. By the way, I've been wondering how the helllll did he manage to get professional seiyuu?!

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:21 01/01/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    my interpretation of Zun's.

    Anime attracts newbfags.

    Newbfags think they know everything, just because they watched the anime, which happened to be a fan work.

    Newbfags suck. Big time.

    Touhou becomes overloaded with newbfags.

    Touhou sucks.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:33 16/02/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I dont.....really get it. What's happening here?

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:43 10/03/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hmm. How did I come upon Touhou... I believe I saw a flash from the nico nico douga kumikyoku. The flashes have voices. Why isn't ZUN cracking down on those? Yet I believe he right to act like this. Up to a certain extent. Creating rules is almost crossing the line of influential creator to Overlord.

    Comment by Anon The Czar
    06:10 26/03/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Must be saying: "Give credit to where credit's due, bitch."
    And indeed it surely is due. Maybe he should go the Pixel route and team up with Nicalis to release remakes of the PC-98 Touhou games (MAYbe Windows ones later on).

    Comment by xan
    17:51 02/08/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I've just recently discovered the touhou project and I must say, I'm completely blown away by it. How I came about it was through a search for a good shmup. As a gamer, I can understand ZUN's sentiments in this matter. Even as an artist, I understand where he's coming from - and from what I've failed to see in these post is that this man is an artist. Let's not forget this man single-handely created the touhou series; in art, music and game. I feel this is what he had originally intended for his work. Of course, ZUN should feel blessed, honored even, that his hard work has generated a community of devoted fans - fans that have, obviously, shown much love. I understand he doesn't want those not familiar with touhou to see this anime' and believe this it's "official". I don't know, this situation just feels like a spell-card being casted on us: beautiful, but deadly at the same time.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:50 21/03/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I somewhat know what ZUN means. The perfect example and probably what he has on his mind is Pokemon. As we all know, Pokemon was once known as a great gaming trend, but the anime, with its childish antics, turned alot of people off to pokemon, and I think ZUN is afraid of this as well. But this series needs more depth than it has. ZUN has created a monster, he made something he thought was a "college project" but also made a great plot and characters and a simple shooting game never covered much of what fans wanted to know. This caused some fan-fiction that became both popular and indirect. A perfect example is the infamous Flandre. She is know for her difficulty and boss theme, but other than being described as "Nuts", not much has been explained. This has spawned some stupid yet somewhat realistic fan-fic., like some I have seen show a total monster of Flandre, wanting to destroy everything, and calling her sister a "bitch" constantly, yet others I have seen her afraid of her own powers and wanting to protect others from her power, hell, I have even seen one where Remilia has sex with a woman, and it wasn't hentai either. ZUN let us taste the cake, but not have it too. My advice to ZUN is to work with the company and make OVAs', but not full blown anime like Bleach or naruto. He should also put on the front of every episode, "based on the Touhou shooting games" because we aren't ignorant, as many here have said, we can all google and research and it won't be hard to stumble onto the games, and love them. In closing, I see this as a window to the games, something to extend the hand of Touhou, not put a glove over it.

    Comment by Cerenado
    11:38 12/03/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Why skip the marketing and profit opportunities? xD
    Look at Higurashi and Umineko now...

    Comment by Aetheus
    18:03 31/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    I've never played the Touhou games before (Judging from the Wiki pics, they ain't up to my tastes. Little floating bubbles being shot across the screen? Give me Halo 3 anyday), but I don't see why its creator has to make such an ass out of himself. Why can't he just demand royalty funds, allow the anime to become official/commercial, and be happy with his money? I mean, isn't that what the creators of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (a doujin game that has a pretty famous anime) did?

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:54 31/01/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    ZUN really enjoys making his games. He makes them because he couldn't find a fun game for himself, so he was like: I'll make my own game, and it'll be awesome!! The only thing he needs the money for is for beer.

    ZUN will be making his games untill he dies of alcohol poisoning.

    We all know that almost every game that started small but went commercial went down the drain (Sonic games, for example), because they needed to please their so-called new "fanbase". They changed things in the games to please this new fanbase.
    But because they didn't pay attention to the original fanbase, the original fanbase gets smaller and smaller.
    And everyone knows that people in the "new fanbase" will never be a fan of the same game for longer than 2 months, and thus, the fanbase just got even smaller.

    (I can't really explain what I think, my english ain't great. :(

    Comment by roast-beefy
    15:57 07/01/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Imperishable Night is better than Halo 3.

    Comment by Potato
    19:28 15/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    ZUN is slightly full of BS considering I just ordered quite a few official things outside of comiket.

    I don't remember but wasn't also the latest Touhou game released on the 'street?'

    Anyway, I agree with him that trying to profit off the franchise is a bad thing, espcially if the aim is to get by without his licensing approval.

    On the other hand, bad mouthing my precious Suigintou deserves a severe severe punishment. If she wants to make a Touhou video, then there will be a Touhou video made.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:17 15/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    I like his thinking, I like it a lot.

    Comment by Setsuna
    09:25 15/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    The problem is that knowing the internet, some people WILL think the anime IS official, just look at animeDB, they didn't bother to put it as a "doujin anime" and it looked like official. I talked to some people over various site about Touhou and IOSYS takes spotlight and their flash vids, now what if an anime sprouted, people will think Maikaze did it etc.

    Comment by SnooSnoo
    09:08 15/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    "Touhou anime will attrack weaboos." about sums up ZUN's line of thoughts.

    Comment by ipood
    11:19 15/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    Certainly, I understand that part but not allowing the games themselves to expand really boggles my mind.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:03 15/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    Is there anything in the bottom shock-quote that's actually new? In particular, direct sales limited to event and specialty retail has been in ZUN's comment on derivative works for years.

    Comment by EcureuilMatrix
    11:17 15/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    I'm sure his mind could be changed.

    If an enterprising studio got him drunk enough to sign a contract.

    Comment by Solamarle
    11:10 15/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    With all due respect, I think the tone of this piece is pretty off. Without retranslating all of ZUN's comments (I don't want this post to get too long - but I think, generally, has done the tone of the translation way more accurately), his new rules are, I think, best summed up as:
    * You can make pretty much whatever you want, but don't try to sell derivatives of my work in Book Off; if you limit it to things like doujin shops, doujin events, and mail order - or, roughly, the same way I sell stuff - it should all work out.
    * Even commercial works are generally okay if you give me some advance warning, provide proper attribution, and limit distribution as mentioned above.
    * Try to refrain from excessive mass publicity; especially marketing to people who don't know who Touhou is.

    Just to insert some of what I think ZUN's perspective would be, this is a guy who has said he doesn't like participating too much in the online community or speaking publicly too much, since anything he says will cause a big fuss online. (Pretty prescient there ... well, to be fair, pretty fucking obvious, it's the Internet.) He's also said he doesn't want to go too much into official commercial spinoffs of Touhou because it will make the copyright issues surrounding the series needlessly complex. (Both of these comments were made at the gaming event he spoke at last year.) I seriously doubt he's trying to be a killjoy or steal all the attention for himself; rather, he's probably just trying to keep the general atmosphere the current Touhou phenomenon has. (Whether or not this is a good way of doing that is certainly up for debate, though.) The rules he's given here really aren't any more "onerous" than any of the guidelines he's given for doing Touhou stuff in the past, and it's all in line with the "private works" copyright loophole anyway.

    ZUN is not going to take his ball and go home. He's going to keep doing Touhou as long as it's fun to do, and I think he's just trying to keep it fun for as many people as possible (again, it's certainly up for debate whether this is a good way of doing it). Besides, eventually he's going to die of alcohol poisoning or give up game development and open a bar, so it's probably best we enjoy this all while it lasts.

    I kind of sympathize with ZUN's wish to see Touhou remain a phenomenon where most people are also fans of the original games (it's nice to see doujin artists' impressions of the games in afterwords and such, and I like stupid references so I like comics where the punchline is related to the gameplay like Tako has done a few times), but I also think it's probably futile for the most part, especially now that he's been doing Bougetsushou. But, I don't think that the fandom is going to implode either way.

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact

    The translation you link to admits he can't even understand parts of the original. Additionally, the tone of the original is austere and fairly formal, more a set of directives than some suggestions.

    I don't believe for a second the copyright issue is anything but a smokescreen. His latest comments don't even mention it.

    Surely, he's just attempting to maintain control over the direction of the franchise he "created".

    Comment by Miha
    18:58 15/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    For someone who created a popular blog largely on the hard work of other artists, I'm not at all surprised by your dismissive comment.

    Avatar of Bastille
    Comment by Bastille
    19:27 15/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)


    The message in the end stays the same regardless of the tone. Unless you're able to translate the comments yourself and make your own conclusions based on that, then no matter what, you aren't going to get the facts straight. The majority of the people who read this site can't read Japanese at all so they're left to the translations of others in turn creating their opinions off what someone else felt was the best way to interpret it.

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact

    Miha, nobody cares about your tired whining about copyright, or your inferiority complex, so you may as well give up on the snide comments.

    Go and direct your wretched complaints against Nico, YouTube or even 4chan, and see how much notice they take of you, or better yet, have you considered doing something productive with yourself?

    Avatar of chriselric
    Comment by Chris
    11:07 15/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    A friend of mine also takes to creating RPG games on our off time. We have always done so with the intention on keeping a low profile, and having the games for the games' sake. For something we enjoy.

    For that to become commercialized would take away what out original intentions were. It's not to make a quick buck. Selling it just increases it's worth in the eyes of the public, and allows more people to see it. He, like us, creates because he enjoys it.
    For us, we wish to tell a story - to invoke a certain feeling from you.

    For Zun, he wants to give you a bullet hell game. The story for him is probably something neat he thought up to tack onto it (which I believe was the case as outlined in one of his interviews). And while he might be alright with the expansion of it and the enjoyment his fans feel from his characters, he doesn't want it to go beyond what he envisioned for the series.

    After all, the commercialization if nothing else would bring him more money, so there's no loss there. He just doesn't want the image of his creations to be skewed in a way he did not intend. Which is why he's not putting down the doujinshi in general, but the commercialization of his series which it's starting to bring forth.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:13 15/12/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    I can sort of understand ZUN's feelings. He wants to support the doujin scene for obvious reasons, but the bigger Touhou becomes, the more he loses control of it. The series is in a weird situation.

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