The following post is by Aretheus. This is his first attempt at producing a blog post as part of his attempt to get into freelance writing, so please support him as much as you can!
Touhou is one of those gaming franchises that you’ve most likely heard of once or twice, but never really gone out-of-the-way to find out what it’s all about. So for those who don’t know, the Touhou Project is a long line of bullet hell shooters all developed almost entirely by a man named Zun. Touhou has become an integral part of Japanese internet culture, and this success is due in no small part to the incredible covers and remixes of Zun’s original compositions. If you’re completely new to Touhou, then let me introduce you with my top 10 favorite Touhou doujin songs.
Based on The Centennial Festival for Magical Girl from Touhou 6, this Eurobeat song displays a masterful use of synthetic sounds along with a solid drum composition as the foundation. Wrap it up with Shihori’s powerful execution of the English lyrics, and you’ve got a fantastic piece of music. The song’s fast and hectic feeling perfectly evokes the chaos of the games that the music originates from.
While we’re on the topic of Touhou 6, we have a vocal arrangement of Lunate Elf. It certainly is a fitting song since Lunate Elf is the background music for a stage set on an icy lake, and I can think of no other song that sends more chills down my spine while listening to it. For any fans of screamo music, I’d implore you to check out the rest of Foreground Eclipse’s works as well. Their music always has this ability to engulf you in this sense of unease and suffocation that is still pleasant to listen to nonetheless. I mean…if you’re into that sort of thing.
Moving on from the intense music, we have a vocal arrangement of a song from Touhou 14 called Reverse Ideology. This song boasts a much more bouncy and fun tone that matches well with Komiya Mao’s cute vocals. One may not even suspect that the lyrics are actually fairly somber affair, being distracted by t+pazolite’s energetic piano arrangement and all.
Rather than being secretly melancholic like the last piece, this vocal arrangement of Riverside View from Touhou 9 is filled with swelling emotion from top to bottom. It really is difficult to not lose yourself in a trance when you hear the build-up towards to the chorus. And equally as difficult to not start singing along to said chorus. Hotaru’s vocal performance really can’t be understated in its beauty.
I know what you’re thinking. This is a joke, right? No, I genuinely like the song for reasons outside of its meme value. You may attribute this to Stockholm syndrome after listening to the song dozens of times on repeat trying to full combo it in Osu! if you wish. But even disregarding that factor, I think the song is good. It has a good source material to start with. That being Beloved Tomboyish Girl from Touhou 6. While the lyrics of Perfect Math Class may be very silly, I’d say that it is actually a strong pairing with the frenetic instrumental composition. And come on, Cirno is so lovely. How can you complain about something with Cirno in it?
Well, what do you know? Another metal song. But this is certainly of different nature compared to Calm Eyes Fixed On Me, Screaming. That song came across as the instrumental trying to form a stage for the contrasting vocals to combat each other. This vocal arrangement of Night Falls ~ Evening Star from Touhou 7.5 feels more like the vocals are trying to contain the overpowering, unrelenting assault from the instrumental composition. It’s an interesting song, to say the least.
After the past six songs, you may have started to think that calm music just wasn’t for me. But this vocal arrangement of Oriental Memory of Forgathering Dream from Touhou 7.5 fits that role fairly well. The ethereal nature of the instrumentals paired with the soft-spoken, beautiful execution of the vocals gives the impression that you’re being dragged off into a dream. Or perhaps, as the title would imply, you’re getting intoxicated by the song.
Alright, this next one isn’t from the game’s but it’s still composed by Zun and from an official Touhou CD, so it still counts. With that out of the way, here is a vocal arrangement of Japanese Saga from the Perfect Momento in Strict Sense CD. A J-Rock song with heavy usage of drums and guitar as usual, and there are some mellow parts for the vocals to take the spotlight. Those vocals also do a great job of instilling an oriental tone that gives the song more flavor. There is another string instrument occasionally accenting the piece as well, but my untrained ears can’t tell what exactly it is though. Overall, a very fun take on the classic j-rock formula.
I hope you haven’t gotten tired of the J-Rock yet though because it’s making one more appearance in this slot. Although it can be a fairly common form of praise to deem something as being “godly”, I will define this vocal arrangement of Necrofantasia from Touhou 7 as exactly that. Not that I’m saying that this song could have only been created by a god. Rather, that this feels like it was made for a god. If you want to consider Yukari Yakumo as a god. The instrumentals constantly phasing between natural sounds and synthetic sounds was a clever idea considering Yukari Yakumo’s ability to manipulate boundaries. This feeling extends to the vocals as well with Maika’s brilliant performance that is seemingly filled with both a sense of conviction and an emotional distance befitting that of a deity.
Considering that every single song up until now has been a vocal arrangement, you would assume that my favorite song would be one as well. Strangely enough, this is not the case. My favorite song is an instrumental metal song remixed from Flowering Night from Touhou 9. I do love the original composition to death, as well as another remix called Night of Knights. But if I had to pick a song that truly expressed the terror of fighting the perfectly elegant maid, Everything Will Freeze would take it hands down. The drums and electric guitar are constantly firing on all cylinders, only letting up long enough to stop time and set up for the next barrage. A ruthless arrangement to its core, and the song that I love listening to most throughout my day.
There are so many doujin songs out there, that I was bound to miss a bunch of incredible arrangements. As I mentioned before, I may have not given enough of a chance to the instrumental songs. Demetori, for instance, does lovely instrumental arrangements. And I’m as surprised as anybody else that nothing involving U.N. Owen Was Her ended up on the list. But tell me what you think about my selections in the comments below. Or if you have any favorites not mentioned here, let me know that as well. Keep dodging the danmaku, and have a nice day.