It seems I haven't done a Tohosort in a little over a year-and-a-half. I thought "What the hey" and spent some time doing one last night. And by doing one I mean "redo it three times" after pausing partway through because I fucked up somewhere, even though the fuckup would likely be somewhere in the 20-30 range and wouldn't really matter in the long run. "Oh' I say, it's because I tied "X" with "Y" and I like X better than Z, but not Y better than Z! But because X = Y, Y is now > Z! This cannot be. I had this issue so often because sometimes I'd do something like X > A, B, and C and then I realized I put Y higher than X and thus all three of A, B, and C! I mean yes I do like Y better than X, but for Y to out class so many others (usually a cast herd) is absurd!
Like why am I perfectionist about this? It's a goddamn popularity list of a bunch of fictional youkai girls. Like what. WHO FUCKING CARES. It is 2017 and I was wasting such time like that, but that's just what I do ...
Anyway after I finally finished doing something like that I decided to compare it to old tohosorts. Just the sort of logical thing to do, right? Compare with EVERY OTHER TOHOSORT I'VE EVER DID. And the patterns always fascinate me. They fascinate me because Touhou is the single fandom where I have no loyalty to anyone at all. My favourite character a year ago is not my favourite today. My favourite character six years ago may be my fifteenth favourite character today. The flavour cycles. My tastes change. I find interest in someone else. Because this cast is so large and this lore is so vast, I always suddenly discover, "hey this previously unappreciated character is fascinating!!" I dive into their lore and fanon, and the rest is history.
So as you can see in the latest Tohosort, another earth-shattering change has occurred. That's right! Parsee is in my top ten!! GASP! No but really, Aya is number one at the moment. Who foresaw fucking that? I even went back and checked where she was in my other Tohosorts just to see how much I gave a damn about this bird some years back. She was always below 20 for the longest of times. Once she was below 40-something, outside the cut-off point of the chart I decided to save. I deemed her uninteresting enough she wasn't worth showing up in the popularity contest at all at one point. And now she is NUMBER FUCKING ONE.
Have some numbers:
In contrast here's an old favourite:
Now this contrast is not some random name I pulled out of my hat. I could have compared her to Koishi or something, but that's rather pointless and boring. Because Koishi has never left my ton ten ever, so it's not like such consistent numbers really amount to anything when it comes to such drastic changes like these two characters. KOISHI IS AMAZING OKAY. I loved her before she was cool. B) . I could have also compared her to Keine who had a similar kind of ascension, but again not to the absolute ridiculous extent of Aya. She literally came out of nowhere. Like what the fuck?
I can't very well explain how this came to be, but what I can explain is the relevance of this comparison. You see, Murasa's drop is directly correlated with Aya's rise. You know why? Because they have a few similarities. Sure they're both fourth stage bosses at some point and have short black hair, but my point here is a point I've may many-a-time on this blog. Many-a-time I mean that annoying tiny nitpicky issue I have with something that is normally incredibly petty and nonessential, but I make such a big deal of it every time it's brought up anybody reading the post would probably want to drive to my house and shoot me in the face if I dared say another word kind of thing. You know, like my Filli Vanilli issue. I rant about that all the time. The rant is usually the same every time. I do nothing to contribute to fixing that problem at all. I JUST COMPLAIN. That's the same issue here.
See, once upon a time I learned that Murasa's shorts ... was a skirt. It may have looked like shorts and some artists may have interpreted it as shorts, but officially as ZUN had said in some random interview about UFO probably, it was a skirt.
Truly, such a small tiny thing angered my very soul. Design 101! I declared! Her design was boring enough as it was. It was white. It had a sailor's uniform. The skirt was long and impractical for what she did. It was really plain. Her outfit as a whole was plain as fuck. NOTHING ABOUT HER DESIGN STOOD OUT. I thought "Well gee willikers no wonder she's such an unpopular character!" It does not matter how gimmicky your danmaku is if your design is terrible! But the one redeeming factor in my eyes were the shorts. No one really wears shorts. I guess Wriggle wears pants, but that was like years ago. And Mokou too, but same game! If Murasa wore shorts, the entire bland design would be forgiven. She'd finally have a piece of apparel unique to the population of Gensokyo. "Finally!" I'd say, "There are no frills! There is no skirt! She may look like an ordinary sailor, but it stands out in the fantastical world of Touhou!" And I would bask in such originality, and people would depict her as a more tomboyish character because of her clothes! Because goddamnit how else are you going to draw a character from blank states like Touhou characters, especially those too unimportant to have plot relevance in any other game or manga again? I GRASPED AT THE STRAWS AND CLUNG ONTO THEM FOR AS LONG AS I POSSIBLY COULD!
But canonically, it's a skirt.
Touhou has no ships. It has no romance. There are no ships to sink. THIS IS THE CLOSEST THING THEY COULD SINK, THIS SHIP RIGHT HERE. MURASAXSHORTS, SUNK FASTER THAN MURASA HERSELF CAN USE HER ABILITY! THE ONE SHIP THAT MUST NEVER BE SUNK, THE ONE MURASA RODE ON AS HER ONLY GODDAMN POTENTIAL. MOTHERFUCKING SUNK.
And so the ship sunk, nosediving to the bottom of the ocean just like my interest in Murasa. Did I truly like Murasa for Murasa? Or was I only in love with her imaginary, noncanon shorts? Shorts that never was. Never to be. Potential dashed.
Anyway, with that hope crushed into infinity, years later I found interest in one Aya Shameimaru. No she doesn't wear shorts. I liked Aya for Aya! Though her design is great too, I found solace in the fact that occasionally she isn't depicted as the soulless unsympathetic hack that manipulated people for her sensationalized bundle of ink and paper. I mean she's probably partially that, but y'know with a cast of only females comes with a fandom of horny males, so that depiction can be pushed further to near voyeurism. Where panties becomes the holy grail of a news story to a crow tengu. I don't know either. But I got sick and tired of that same old shallow characterization popping up over and over again, and thus never saw Aya for Aya, only the sensationalized bundle of ink and paper the fandom liked to depict her as.
Every character suffers from that, absolutely all of them. It can take some time to see the diamond in the rough, so to say.
Also her music is great, but that's usually the case for the entire cast, so... Anyway, to keep things short, or shorter rather, I lied earlier! Aya DOES wear shorts! No, not her usual outfit, but in Gensokyo whenever you want to pretend to be a human, you just gotta dress really fancily and trendy. SO like, not diapers on heads or gothic lolita fashion but actual sane fashion a human would actually wear. In Mamizou's case she wore an awesome scarf, grew out her hair, and basically looked infinitely better than her ragtag youkai look. In Aya's case, she dressed up like a stereotypical newsboy who would hand out papers shouting "EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!"
I being the very diligent person, went through real canon Touhou work (this being Forbidden Scrollery) to not only verify my sources, but to see if the rumoured SUSPENDERS showed up on this outfit as well. I found only one panel where Aya was not guarding her undershirt as if the very secrets of the tengu themselves were hidden under there, and there was a line. The line COULD be suspenders. IT may not be, though suspenders are the most likely article of clothing. All I can really determine from all this is that the fashion in the Human Village is much further along than the Outside World, and the people out here need to step-the-fuck-up, because hot damn.
I am not saying at all the very idea Aya wore shorts that one time (and potentially suspenders!1) caused her to become first, not at all. It may have contributed slightly, but I found this contrast rather intriguing. That the one character I assumed would make sense as a sort of androgynous type of character due to her official outfit, never wore such a thing at all! And the other character who I never even considered for such a part would choose such a disguise one day. Why that disguise? It's sort of Western-looking is it not? Though I guess, what else would scream out "THIS PERSON IS OBVIOUSLY A JOURNALIST" than such an outfit? But then why did she choose newsboy? It's not as if Mamizou's, Kosuzu's, or Akyuu's clothing are similar. Well anyway I'm not here to decipher such things, only to sit in wonderment of how this fucking tengu stole my heart recently.
Like I don't actually know. I don't know what changed. Do I just like Keine and Miko less? I guess? Maybe? AyaSanae did help quite a bunch, what a wonderful rarepair. But you know maybe I do know. I played some Sims recently and made Madoka Magica Sims. I was playing through a planned scenario that involved a lot of death, murder, homelessness, and zombies. Aya became relevant in Act 3. In fact she became VERY relevant in Act 3, and the way I weaved that story about made her a very awesome character indeed. I thought to myself as I came up with the inspired plot, that Aya was quite the bro. Which is an odd thing to say because Aya's characterization is usually the opposite of a "bro". She would never be nice for no real reason. There are always ulterior motives. ALWAYS!
But coming up with the ulterior motive for her to be so nice made her so fascinating in my eyes. I thought, "Dang, this is the potential of Aya as a character" and never really thought about it until now. It reminded me of this old Touhou comic I read when I first got into the fandom, t'was a Youmu comic. I remember a fairly badass portrayal of Aya there. I thought "Wow, I really like this Aya person. They're such a bro!" And that was the last time I thought of Aya like that because fandom is a bitch. And that in itself reminded me of an old nostalgic favourite I had long, long ago, ten years in fact. She too was a journalist, and she too was far too nice for no real reason, but sometimes she had ulterior motives or at least personal motives, and was not simply doing a favour just because. At one point, that character was a wildcard in a very dangerous, climatic situation where she could have been on the bad guys' side, but then suddenly wasn't. Because well, what fulfilled her goals more? Neutral parties that do things because they benefit themselves and it's not in an overly ambitious cartoonishly evil way (because most neutral parties end up being BACKSTABBING TRAITORY PARTIES INSTEAD!) is something I don't often see in fiction enough. Or maybe I just need to experience more fiction since I like limiting myself to very few. (This is due to time-management and addiction reasons.)
If I ever get motivated enough to post that Sims scenario on my Sims blog, you may realize the full context of my explanation.
Anyway I gave myself a 30 minute time limit to write this and spent an hour instead because ... I was supposed to go to sleep, so this is a good a place as any to end this. I hope this blog enjoys the slight amount of activity, and anyone floating around in the headlights and tumbleweeds may someday stumble upon this to read it. Until then, adios! This has been Spotto.