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.