Topic: Characters, music, personalities.  (Read 134719 times)

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Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #30 on: September 09, 2009, 11:46:16 am »
So then, Imperishable Night.

I feel sometimes that ZUN doesn't really realise the incredible dickishness of some of the characters he creates. Cases in point - Maiden's Capriccio and Reach for the Moon, Immortal Smoke.
The former is elegant, mysterious, unpredictable. Reimu is none of these (canonically). She's lazy and violent, well-grounded in the "might makes right" attitude. UFO adds bigoted and intolerant to that. Give her a theme to match Sakuya's - brutal and obvious. She doesn't deserve Maiden's Capriccio. Don't get me wrong, I really like Reimu as a character, who's a curious deconstructionist (possibly unintentionally) take on the typical "hero" type one might get in action games. But ZUN shouldn't forget that Reimu is a jerkass, and that's why I love her, so he shouldn't hide it.
The latter is melancholic with a bitter smile on it. "But Fightest," you might say, "Mokou totally is that, 'cause she's the canonical Touhou loner, with a tragic backstory and conflicted emotions." No she's not. She's a psychopath to rival Flandre. Her single pastime in life that gets her any feeling of satisfaction is murder. Gensokyo is lucky that Kaguya is immortal, otherwise Mokou's flamboyant attitude towards killing might spread beyond the Bamboo Forest of the Lost. Much like Reimu, Mokou is one of my most favourite characters, just because I hate her so much as a person - she's the villain one loves to hate, as it were, to me. Unfortunately, Immortal Smoke does not really show what I see in her.

End rant. I'll try to be objective in the actual analysis. Which will come later, as RL troubles are being a bit too frustrating for me to keep a clear head at the moment.

[edit] Oh and Mokou's trousers. I love those trousers.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2009, 11:50:44 am by Fightest »

Polaris

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #31 on: September 10, 2009, 12:28:52 am »
She's a psychopath to rival Flandre. Her single pastime in life that gets her any feeling of satisfaction is murder. Gensokyo is lucky that Kaguya is immortal, otherwise Mokou's flamboyant attitude towards killing might spread beyond the Bamboo Forest of the Lost.

This description is way too far off from the Mokou I've seen in canon.

For one, she hardly seems psychopathic in the Imperishable Night Extra Stage translations I've been reading, and she didn't even seem like she was going to fight at all until the heroines mention Kaguya (except for Youmu & Yuyuko, who didn't mention Kaguya until after Mokou was defeated). Furthermore, she escorts villagers through the Bamboo Forest, and even (apparently) runs a yakitori stand.

Of course, she's shown to be threatening Aya during her interview in Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red, but Aya was probably irritating her (or that's how I came to understand it).

But still, I don't think Mokou is any of the things you described, and instead she's "the canonical Touhou loner, with a tragic backstory and conflicted emotions," in a way.

Hieda no Aya

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #32 on: September 10, 2009, 06:17:27 am »
Yeah, outside of her bizarre messed-up thing with Kaguya, Mokou seems to be a pretty decent person. I always took the yakitori stand thing as a lie, but she does love rescuing people; she says in CiLR that their thanks are something she lives for now. She seems regretful over killing Iwakasa all those years ago, and she thinks Kaguya would be lonely without her... She's strange, hard and jaded and worn down from a thousand years of miserable life that she stayed sane through by focusing on hatred, but doing much better now than she was. She's complex.

Likewise, I've always disliked that idea of Reimu as some awful uptight jerkass bitch. She's not Jesus, and I'm not sure "elegant, mysterious and unpredictable" are the words I'd use for her either, but resolving incidents and hunting youkai are her job, the job she was born to. And a job which she gets annoyed by, and which she approaches in an extremely simple way. Still, she's always been very laid-back and mellow when duty isn't riding her. Still lazy, though.

...Anyway, I feel bad that my first post in this thread is quibbling -- sorry about that -- because I've been reading it for a while and it's super interesting. I've honestly just been reluctant to comment because of the way any and all music terminology sails right over my head, sadly; I've never been good for much beyond "it sounds good" and "it sounds happy." (Well, and weirder versions of that. I always thought Necrofantasia sounds like if you stumbled into a big festival of youkai, cheerful but also unmistakably dangerous, and ended up being bewitched and forced to party and dance with them to your exhaustion. Which is a very strange and overly specific response to a song. Then again, I always have trouble thinking of Necrofantasia as a remix of Necro-Fantasy and not the other way around, since Ran's the servant after all. And Necro-Fantasy always felt like it was holding back. And I don't even know what I'm blathering about now.) Er, but your analyses are really neat, and do keep going.

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #33 on: September 10, 2009, 07:57:38 am »
Yeah, outside of her bizarre messed-up thing with Kaguya, Mokou seems to be a pretty decent person. I always took the yakitori stand thing as a lie, but she does love rescuing people; she says in CiLR that their thanks are something she lives for now. She seems regretful over killing Iwakasa all those years ago, and she thinks Kaguya would be lonely without her... She's strange, hard and jaded and worn down from a thousand years of miserable life that she stayed sane through by focusing on hatred, but doing much better now than she was. She's complex.

Okay, but the things about her in Lunatic Renegade can be taken in a far more unpleasant light. Admittedly, it's just my interpretation, which means it can be off-target, but bear with me for a second. The only source, canonically, that says Mokou is sane is Mokou herself. We have none of Keine's comments on Mokou (at least, I don't remember any - I'd love to read Keine's comments on Mokou). The bit about her living for the thanks of people she guides out of the Bamboo Forest can be taken as that she has nothing else to live for. That and murder - her thinking that Kaguya would be lonely without her could be either a subconscious justification of Mokou's harassment of Kaguya, or otherwise the fact that Mokou would be lonely without Kaguya (to murder) filtered through Mokou's twisted perception of life.

How's that for grimdark? Fortunately there are two final counterarguments on this view that I'll accept: firstly, Gensokyo and Touhou in general is a positive setting - there is no permadeath, Defeat Means Friendship runs rampant and nobody is so much of a dick as to actually not play by the rules (h4x Sign excluded  :V Gensokyo's a bunch of cheating jerks after all). The second counterargument is the just-as-canonical Inaba of the Moon and Inaba of the Earth which has a Mokou that's entirely sane, stable and actually able to be around Kaguya without exploding into murder. So sane and stable as to actually be able to participate in wacky hijinks.

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Likewise, I've always disliked that idea of Reimu as some awful uptight jerkass bitch. She's not Jesus, and I'm not sure "elegant, mysterious and unpredictable" are the words I'd use for her either, but resolving incidents and hunting youkai are her job, the job she was born to. And a job which she gets annoyed by, and which she approaches in an extremely simple way. Still, she's always been very laid-back and mellow when duty isn't riding her. Still lazy, though.

I'll go with that... except for the youkai-hunting job - from what I understand, her job is to maintain the Shrine so as the border doesn't wear down, and she youkai-hunts for the hell of it. Regardless, I'd completely agree with you... just her dialogue with Byakuren in UFO portrays her as a horrible person. To be fair, there're as many arguments for Reimu's side as there are for Byakuren's - I've made some satisfying cases for both sides to myself, and the ending does, as I had seriously hoped, resolve both her attitude and perception of Byakuren so I'll back down and hope she learns her lesson.

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...Anyway, I feel bad that my first post in this thread is quibbling -- sorry about that -- because I've been reading it for a while and it's super interesting. I've honestly just been reluctant to comment because of the way any and all music terminology sails right over my head, sadly; I've never been good for much beyond "it sounds good" and "it sounds happy." (Well, and weirder versions of that. I always thought Necrofantasia sounds like if you stumbled into a big festival of youkai, cheerful but also unmistakably dangerous, and ended up being bewitched and forced to party and dance with them to your exhaustion. Which is a very strange and overly specific response to a song. Then again, I always have trouble thinking of Necrofantasia as a remix of Necro-Fantasy and not the other way around, since Ran's the servant after all. And Necro-Fantasy always felt like it was holding back. And I don't even know what I'm blathering about now.) Er, but your analyses are really neat, and do keep going.

Hey, don't worry about it - I'm honestly interested in other people's opinions, both about the characters and their themes, and your comment on Necrofantasia is entirely appropriate - it's completely uninhibited, has plenty of variation to suggest the whirling colours one might see in a song-and-dance festival, and it just doesn't stop going. I also, actually, had a lot of trouble accepting Necrofantasia as the remix - I listened to it before Illusionary Funeral, so it was the original, as it were, to me for a long time.

That said: Imperishable Night.

Nothing much to say in the preamble, there's plenty of thematic variation in all the boss themes, lots of very characteristic tunes and some interesting things done in the music of the themes towards the end of the game. Oh, please read my meta-commentary on my Mystia analysis before making any judgments.

Wriggle Nightbug - Stirring an Autumn Moon ~ Mooned Insect

Wriggle's not much to look at, really - she's a first boss, after all, and rarely does a first boss carry with her earth-shattering complications. Unfortunately, I'm not really familiar with Wriggle beyond the rather outlandish doujins, so I might not do her character justice.
The introduction keeps stuttering, not sure where, or when, to start. That little motif is plenty to get going, so it's less a lack of preparation, but more of a rookie inexperience, a first-time nervousness kind of thing, where Wriggle has to take a few deep breaths before rushing onto the stage.
There's a reasonable amount of instrumentation in the rather simple melody (8 bars) that doesn't develop into anything else, and it does switch around from piano to trumpet and back to piano - a solid first-time performance with honest attention to detail - as much detail as Wriggle can handle, anyway. A bit forgettable, perhaps, without many quirks - all I can pick up are the little bits of ornamentation in the high-pitched piano melody to give it that bit of a twinkle - Wriggle's a firefly, after all.
That's plenty for me to describe Wriggle - refreshingly quirk-light, someone to give an honest first effort even when inexperienced, mayhap a bit self-conscious, but rarely letting that stop her from performing. Imagine that one beginner in a crowd of experienced performers (of some sort) who goes out on stage and does their thing - it's not as good as that of the pros, but you clap anyway because it's got an honest effort behind it, and you reckon that beginner could well go far with practice.
As I said - if someone has a more thorough view on Wriggle, do speak up.

Mystia Lorelei - Deaf to all but the Song.

Right then. I had a bit of a rant going about Mystia, but realised it was just taking up precious space. To summarise - I disagree with the moe-fication of Mystia. Hopefully my analysis will explain why.

Deaf to all but the Song is cruel. That introduction confuses and scares - the repeating cadences are in minor, but that's no gentle A minor - that's the forceful E minor (I think, I don't have perfect pitch, but I like to think my relative pitch is decent) that means they're there to be inflicted. Moving an octave lower moves the chords into a menacing growl right at the listener's ear before spreading all around to envelop the listener, leaving him no escape.
The melody is fairly innocuous, much like I suppose Mystia is, visually (the usual 8 bars, repeated with a difference at the end). The trumpet comes in soon enough to show the actual unique feature of Mystia - that high-pitched birdsong that slowly, but inevitably, becomes part of the melody, before becoming the melody itself... And the listener suddenly loses sight of Mystia, and all he sees or hears are the encroaching darkness in the repeating cadences from the beginning, with the bird song of the trumpet far above, laughing, taunting, finally exploding in an ecstatic shout of triumph.
Mystia is a cruel hunter who enjoys playing with her prey. She does not play fair, she will use trickery and deceit to hunt and she will revel in the kill. There is no mercy in her, no regret for her actions - she is not crazy, she's just evil.

I wrote the bit about Mystia before I talked about Gensokyo as a positive setting, so I'll be willing to amend the "kill" bit - modern Gensokyo is apparently a place where no youkai eats humans any more, according to Word of God, so I'd recharacterise Mystia not as a sadistic killer, but as a sadistic prankster. Not evil but immoral.

Tengukami

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #34 on: September 10, 2009, 08:18:33 am »
I wouldn't say Reimu came across as a "horrible person" in UFO; just a battle-weary, jaded person with little belief in the possibility of human/youkai peace. Sanae, on the other hand, comes across as a racist psycho.

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Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #35 on: September 10, 2009, 08:49:22 am »
I wouldn't say Reimu came across as a "horrible person" in UFO; just a battle-weary, jaded person with little belief in the possibility of human/youkai peace. Sanae, on the other hand, comes across as a racist psycho.

Ooh, gotta play through Sanae's paths then. As for Reimu, I don't know if that take is any better than the "violent jerkass" that I tend to see. Let's not forget that she is the aggressor in the final fight. With the "jaded" interpretation she attacks Byakuren simply because there's nothing else left for her to do, she has to act out her part of "youkai hunter," regardless of the innocence of the opposing party. She's become, for better or worse, Gensokyo's version of Rambo.

Oh, and there I go grimdark-ifying things again. I'm satisfied with Reimu being her usual "a bit of a dick" attitude, and attacking Byakuren because she's faced plenty of trickster youkai before, so best fire some warning headshots, figuring that the truth will come out once either of them is beaten. Let's not forget, Spell Card rules are in effect, so no permadeath - Byakuren's unlikely to know of Spell Card rules (that said, goshdarnit ZUN, give us some more background on the things) so it'd have to be Reimu who initiates them, knowing of their nonlethal-ifying effect.

[edit]Oh, and requesting someone draw Rambo!Reimu. It must be done. Now!
« Last Edit: September 10, 2009, 08:51:08 am by Fightest »

Tengukami

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #36 on: September 10, 2009, 09:27:20 am »
I wouldn't say Reimu came across as a "horrible person" in UFO; just a battle-weary, jaded person with little belief in the possibility of human/youkai peace. Sanae, on the other hand, comes across as a racist psycho.

Ooh, gotta play through Sanae's paths then. As for Reimu, I don't know if that take is any better than the "violent jerkass" that I tend to see. Let's not forget that she is the aggressor in the final fight. With the "jaded" interpretation she attacks Byakuren simply because there's nothing else left for her to do, she has to act out her part of "youkai hunter," regardless of the innocence of the opposing party. She's become, for better or worse, Gensokyo's version of Rambo.

What? Rambo? I'm really not seeing it. She's a miko who has had to fight all kinds of youkai in one incident after the other. Every time she reaches the final boss, that final boss has been like "Yes! You have discovered that I am the root cause of [Incident X]! Now we must fight!". So naturally, this veteran reaches the final boss of this incident, and naturally, attacks. And not because "there's simply nothing left for her to do" - she says she intends to seal Byakuren away, to which Byakuren says, "if you're going to seal me away again --  I will resist you with all my strength". This greatly pleases Reimu, because it's a classic final boss trope. Simply because that's how it's always been for Reimu, all her long weary life. It's also why she has little faith in the concept of humans and youkai holding hands and singing as they skip through the forest - she's lived through years and years of dealing with terrible, sometimes potentially catostrophic incidents caused by youkai.

Sanae, by contrast, is on her first "mission" here in UFO, and she's all about EXTERMINATE THE YOUKAI. Who knows what her reasons are. Kanako/Suwako told her so? Maybe.

I think it's important to not just read the dialogue, but also consider the history behind the characters when we make judgements about them like this. Reimu's history explains a lot about her behavior in UFO. Sanae's very short history in the Touhou canon makes her zealous youkaiphobia all the more weird and intense seeming.

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #37 on: September 10, 2009, 09:49:46 am »
Yeah, I know. I have this odd tendency to make everything to be far grimdarker than it should be, but only in Touhou - everywhere else I go for the more optimistic path. There's really no good reason for it, and you're absolutely right about Reimu's attitude - jaded, but not broken. More Hannibal from the A-Team, as opposed to...whats-his-face from Apocalypse Now. Not the best of comparisons, but it's the best I can do at short notice.

Gah, I'll get on to Keine and the rest soonish.

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #38 on: September 10, 2009, 11:03:05 am »
Keine Kamishirasawa - Plain Asia.

I think the piece title doesn't give Keine justice. The piece is far from plain, there are unfathomable depths to it that it doesn't let you investigate simply because you'd drown before you see them all.
The introduction offers no hints at what is to come. The melody starts off in a careful and calm piano study, made somewhat aloof by the trumpet that tends to turn upwards into higher pitch. The introduction is quite short, made even shorter by being split into two characteristic parts – the unassuming Keine and the aloof Keine – suggesting that, despite her calm demeanour, she is somewhat short-tempered and refuses to be seen as inconsequential.
When slighted thus, Keine’s response is to demonstrate just how deep she is. For the first time (possibly ever, I don’t hear it in any game previously) ZUN uses that electronic sound that sounds like unworded vocals – the closest thing to Ominous Latin Chanting that he can come to reasonably. The melody is gone, there’s only the draw of those long, chanted notes pulling in the listener, who might be surprised at this rather sudden development.
The draw ends, and a fast-paced study takes over, completely different from the introduction. The melody is not forceful, not brimming with power, but it’s certainly confident, practiced, slightly chastising of the listener for his assumptions. But this might not be enough for Keine. Before even finishing with this development, she begins to pull even deeper, all the while demonstrating her point in her collected and practiced manner, before realizing her aggression, and rapidly pulling back to safety, to her usual self. However, by now the listener is well-aware of Keine’s hidden depths, and the inoxerable draw is evident behind her unassuming introductory melody. Perhaps she chastises the listener for a while for spacing out, the trumpet adding a bit of exclamation to the end of the track.
I’m not too confident about this analysis – the two melodies are straightforward enough, the transition making the piece unique. So I’ll go with Keine being a person with two sides to her, and possibly more that she hides from the listener. Despite this she is not schitzophrenic – she is perfectly balanced, perfectly in touch with herself, aware that her mannerisms might scare but willing to use the weirder aspects of her to prove a point – and she will not push any further: she respects others and any limitations they might have.

Hieda no Aya

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #39 on: September 10, 2009, 04:44:33 pm »
(stuff about Mokou that's too long to sensibly quote)
Oh, I see; that's an interesting interpretation, if a bit too out there for my tastes. And definitely too grimdark. My other counterargument to it would be simply that it's bad writing to have a narrator that completely deluded without any real tells, and I don't think ZUN is a bad writer in general, but then anyone can slip up. Also, much as it'd be nice to get Keine's opinion (aside from her appearances in Inaba, which I personally do take as less canon than other things, though still reasonably canon) surely the fact that she does associate with Mokou and protects her must mean something... even if it were only pity.

(And not really related, but as far as the balance of grimdark vs playing by the rules goes, I'm very much liking the impression the Grimoire of Marisa's been giving me of Spell Card battles -- still basically a game, but a pretty rough game that may just edge into dangerous territory if your opponent doesn't care about playing it safe. I don't care for grimdark in my Touhou, but I think it does a good job of being lighthearted without being shallow.)

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I'll go with that... except for the youkai-hunting job - from what I understand, her job is to maintain the Shrine so as the border doesn't wear down, and she youkai-hunts for the hell of it.
Hmm, I did overstate that, might have gotten things mixed up. Though incident resolution/youkai hunting is still her job at least in the sense of a career, and it is still apparently traditional for Hakurei shrine maidens -- but to make up for the lack of donations (and Reimu probably has that even worse than those before her since she's terrible about gathering faith).

UFO is a bit problematic all around, though to be fair it's problematic for all the heroines. I'm on the side that there were good arguments to be made for them that weren't, or at least it all could have been laid out better, which is frustrating. I guess the best excuse for that is that the heroines are young and impetuous with narrow views of the world, and the stakes aren't high anyway, but ennh. In the end, their fighting Byakuren really didn't seem necessary, but Byakuren also seems to end up changing her mind about them and feeling she doesn't need to oppose them either.

But really, the jerkass Reimu thing really is just a generalized pet peeve of mine. And invincible, I forgot that part. Invincible jerkass Reimu.

Oh, and Sanae's not that bad. It's her first time trying out the youkai extermination routine, she gets overexcited and carried away. Since it seems like she's a wee bit of a geek, a real-life game of being the awesome hero vanquishing monsters probably appeals to her a lot...

Slowpoke

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #40 on: September 10, 2009, 08:01:31 pm »
I like your analysis of Mystia's theme...it kind of matches ZUN's own comments.

I have a different opinion of Capriccio from most people - I actually think the piece is lazy (notice that the first twelve seconds of it consist of only three pitches), violent, brutal, and obvious, fitting Reimu's character perfectly. But never mind that, it's your thread and everyone's entitled to their opinion.

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #41 on: September 11, 2009, 07:55:35 am »
I have a different opinion of Capriccio from most people - I actually think the piece is lazy (notice that the first twelve seconds of it consist of only three pitches), violent, brutal, and obvious, fitting Reimu's character perfectly. But never mind that, it's your thread and everyone's entitled to their opinion.

But I want to hear other people's opinions, so I'm going to go out and ask - could you elaborate as well as you can on why you think Capriccio is what you say it is? I accept that I could be missing something.

That said, I'll mess around with order in the hopes of getting a response, and go with...

Marisa Kirisame - Love-Coloured Master Spark

It occurs to me immediately how often I've heard the theme when fighting Marisa as a boss as opposed to listening to the track by itself - my mind overlays the whmmmmmmmm sound of the Master Spark at certain points in the piece, and it keeps seeming to me that without those, it lacks something. Fortunately, it's kinda there in the music at 1:18, so a homage has been made and all is well.

The introduction is short, mostly there to establish a few first beats for the piece, and quickly makes way for the melody. Clocking in at 11-ish seconds, I think it's the shortest introduction we've had yet. That already says something about Marisa - she's not one to ramble or beat about the bush. She understands the need to establish who's who and what's what, and to make sure a spade is a spade, and will be absolutely charming about it for the first couple of seconds (extremely melodic trumpets, within a very comfortable hearing range - never too high to be shrill or too low to growl), before tossing decorum out of the window and adopting a familiarity with the listener to perhaps an uncomfortable degree (to the listener) - the melody that follows is extremely open-hearted about its optimism, almost child-like, completely unashemedly replete with the melodic line hopping happily all over the place, full of ornamentation. Still completely charming though, never harsh on the ears by pitch or amount of instrumentation used. Hell, even the instrument used for the melody - some sort of pipe organ, I believe - is so very gentle, none of those trumpets that we've had previously.

It is that charm that binds the piece together so well - the melody has three distinct parts, the first two played in pipe organ, with relatively light accompaniment, to really put the listener at ease. For the third the trumpets are introduced, but so organically that it doesn't shock or worry (the motif clearly requested that some more instrumentation be added, and there was nothing else to add besides things ZUN doesn't usually use). That last part does carry a distinct power that has built up without anyone noticing - the melody is what is usually described as "triumphant", with a strong complexity in the accompaniment, although the accompaniment never overshadows the melody - it's always Marisa first, her power second, always naturally, never threatening. And then the melody appears to loop, with a few minor changes, but nothing unexpected. The listener is aware of the power that Marisa holds, occasionally noticing it bubbling behind her utterly open and positive exterior, but compared to the things they've experienced, Marisa seems to be nothing more than a happy-go-lucky, optimistic, ordinary (magician) girl.

BAM, giant laser too close to your face for comfort at 1:18, blowing away something in the distance, forcing a bit of a double-take, the listener going "where did that come from?" Looking back at Marisa, she's just the same as ever, the distant threat (or nonthreat) out of her mind already. The listener won't get any reasons for Marisa nearly blowing his head off - Marisa won't give them since the situation's already passed. Perhaps there weren't any, perhaps she was in control, or, perhaps, on the contrary, she fudged the spell - none of it matters, problem's over.

Marisa has none of the intensity we might get from the other protagonists in the series. She's very open about herself and her feelings, which usually means her optimism shines like a beacon. She's also pleasant to be around unless you hate happy people - her mannerisms rarely grate, she's rarely too much to handle (though she might get a little loud for certain tastes - the trumpets are quite powerful towards the end of the third part of the melody). She knows her power well, but she always considers things as herself, not as someone with an array of magical firepower - her power never overwhelms her personality. She also has a tendency to shoot giant lasers at things, usually to those things' extreme surprise.

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #42 on: September 11, 2009, 11:50:59 am »
Time to take the bull by the horns.

Reimu Hakurei - Maiden's Capriccio ~ Dream Battle

I think I've got it now: Capriccio is cold. Unlike Master Spark the instrumentation has a piercing quality to it, presenting the melody to the listener without caring whether the listener receives harm or not. Having now written my analysis, I realise it's also much more than that, but that coldness is a key factor.

The first few seconds are unique across all the music in Touhou so far – it’s an alien sound, completely lacking any indication of what is to come. It’s also built on a diminished chord, thus having a frightening quality to it. It is an intense, withering stare directed at the listener, daring them to come closer – Reimu is sizing them up, her distrust, or even hostility, showing clearly.

Suddenly she’s done sizing up, and her attitude becomes that of calculated force. The two cadences presented in this sequence are very textbook, and presented thus in a practiced manner without any deviations. Once again, these are overt challenges – aggressive declarations. Imagine a hostile police officer asking your name and occupation before arresting you by stating them and having you agree – he is playing by the book, but he doesn’t like you, and doesn’t have to show it. In fact, I’m tempted to say this is the bit where Reimu declares Spell Card rules in a sharp tone that allows no argument.

I think this is something to consider throughout the piece as a fundamental fact: Reimu doesn’t like you. She probably doesn’t hate you, but she won’t be chummy for the hell of it like Marisa would. She will make sure the listener is well-aware of her dislike by colouring her declaration somehow – a facial expression, an intonation, perhaps – demonstrated by the bubbling piano underlay that sits in the upper octaves, almost coming over the chords, but never actually doing so. Once the declarations are done, this attitude will come to the forefront, but audibly – and incredibly reluctantly - die out once Reimu’s probably realized she’s made herself clear.

This attitude would probably continue if Reimu wasn’t the complicated oddity she actually seems to be. The second melody goes from stone-cold to forced, desperate outburst with the simple addition of overdrive (I think) guitar on top of the regular melody line, and those fast-paced piano undertones of dislike suddenly seem to develop into a powerful statement for wistfulness. When we move back to the challenges presented initially, they’ve lost their edge, as if Reimu wasn’t quite so sure any more of her objective. She’s not letting the listener in on her emotions though – the melody quickly moves back into assertion (the one played initially after the dying-down piano), keeping its strength for a few repetitions before falling into its own trap and following the line of the overdrive guitar as before.

Maiden’s Capriccio is hard to interpret, it’s incredibly busy, with overtones and undertones, variations and subtleties that can be analysed to Hell and back, and one could still miss a critical point. I’ll try my best.

Reimu, ultimately, has trouble understanding herself. This has led to her putting up a hostile façade to most interactions, but this often turns out for the worse, as she begins to second-guess herself, realizing that she does not know what will show when she drops her hostility. She will keep trying to understand herself better, and does not care if this confuses others, harms them, or attracts them. It is not obvious why she will not let others in on her troubles, why she insists on this introspection being hers alone, despite never having any progress with it. Maybe that artificial feeling of dislike towards everyone that she has cultivated has rubbed off on her actual personality and she has trouble letting go of that as well.

[edit] After the weekend I'll be back with, hopefully, the end of IN, and the few themes that we get in PoFV! I'll post a question now so as to better judge later - I understand that Aya's theme Wind God Girl was introduced in PoFV. Do you folks mind if I wait for it until SWR? I absolutely love the SWR rendition, and I feel it captures "gonzo journalist" with aplomb.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2009, 11:59:00 am by Fightest »

RainfallYoshi

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #43 on: September 11, 2009, 01:11:08 pm »
Maiden's Capriccio IS very weird, just like Reimu is.

I think it reflects something of trust issues. Anyone she's ever associated with, she's fought them at first meeting. Perhaps she has a hard time trusting other people because she was left alone to guard the shrine for so long.

The cold harshness the song starts off on is her initial attitude. She doesn't trust this new person, so she is hostile towards them. The song softens up as she starts too though. I think it is something of apprehension, is she doing the right thing fighting this person?

Hieda no Aya

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #44 on: September 11, 2009, 04:54:03 pm »
Going back to Love-Colored Master Spark, I always thought it really suited Marisa perfectly: cute and energetic, but also forceful, with a legitimately dangerous undercurrent. It's that guitar... The odd thing about that is that her other themes aren't like it at all; they tend to be a lot darker and more nostalgic. Actually, come to think of it, side-by-side comparisons for characters who have multiple themes could be very interesting.

As for Wind God Girl, you should do what you want. But if you want other opinions, I'll say that to my mind, if you want to do character interpretations for songs, it would make more sense sticking to the songs as originally written by the guy who also created the characters. Either way, though, I do demand at least some acknowledgement of the extended version that came with Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red, which I believe actually is the original version of the song and which adds a lot of stuff compared to the one in PoFV.

Incidentally, I have that song-irretrievably-associated-with-sound-effects thing with Hiroari Shoots a Strange Bird. Just doesn't sound right without the time-slowing bells.

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #45 on: September 14, 2009, 06:56:34 am »
Hey everyone, I'm back and I'll apologize for the lack of an immediate update - I went over my Reisen entry and realised it was a sad trainwreck of an analysis, so I've scrapped pretty much the whole thing and am going to start over.

I'll have a look at Marisa's other themes, and add side-by-side comparisons to my list of projects once this one's done.

As for Wind God Girl - I'll do the PoFV one, and will add a few comments on the extended BAiJR version.

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #46 on: September 14, 2009, 08:21:56 am »
Reisen Udongein Inaba – Lunatic Eyes ~ Invisible Full Moon

This piece is less a continuous description of Reisen’s character more than it is a set of clips taken at random points in her daily life, showing widely varying character aspects that come together to show us a great view of Reisen's personality.

The introduction sounds strange, no two words about it. *checks* Yep, I’ve gone over something like this before, so you might find some familiar elements if you compare Lunatic Eyes to Doll Judgment. The repeating themes oscillate up and down in an interval of a perfect fourth, leading to parallel fourths (against classical composition sensibilities) making up the entire introduction, telling us that yes, Reisen is strange, and is not going to get less so if you just keep on looking. Better yet, the arpeggio that makes up each individual part of the motif is a diminished minor chord by itself, hostile and unapproachable, making the entire section wonderfully twisted. Thus our first clip – a wary and unfamiliar Reisen is an alien Reisen. Imagine those stereoscopic pictures you get – a mass of shapes and colours, and if you don’t know what to do, how to look properly, it’s just not going to make any sense. Unfortunately, the stereoscopic picture that is Reisen is not going to give instructions on how to approach her properly.

The second clip I like to think of showing Reisen doing whatever assignment she might have. It’s characterized by two distinct parts: chords carefully and slowly going down, and arpeggioes that get quicker and finer going up. Additionally, we have a refreshing break from the strange non-melody of the introduction, although there isn’t much melody in this part either, it’s still more melodic. The accompaniment is extremely minimal in this section, just a single broken chord, with no additional instrumental support. This leads to an interesting contrast between the up and down sections. In the down-moving section, the combination of simple chords moving down in a scale into a cadence at the end with little accompaniment suggests simplicity and lack of complication. On the other hand, the section going up starts off simple, but becomes quicker and quicker as it reaches the top, culminating in a series of extremely precise and detailed arpeggioes, which, when combined with a simple accompaniment, suggests extreme focus on one single thing, removing any potential distractions. What does that say? I feel it says that Reisen comes in two flavours – simple and straightforward at one time, but equally capable of intense detail and concentration at another, and she does not have any real preference between the two, applying each as required. She can easily differentiate these two aspects, and never allows them to mix – she is thus careful and diligent in her work. She rarely allows emotion to colour her professional input.

Third clip starts with that unmissable rock guitar. Clearly it says one thing – Reisen rocks! This section is rich in instrumentation, loud and boisterous, in a major key, daring to switch from the piano to the trumpets. This, I would like to think, is Reisen off-duty and amongst friends. She is outgoing and generous, eagerly voicing her thoughts, letting positive emotion colour them. It is as if all those suppressed feelings in the first and second clips just explode here – this is the only real melodic section in the piece. The melody itself is nothing to look at, the usual 2x8-bar fare with a bit of a variation in the second set of 8 bars, but it’s not the melody that is important here – it’s the contrasting outburst that really makes this section live.

I don’t have much more to say about Reisen – she is very professional, very serious in separating her work from play, she is like the person who you know is seen as a complete weirdo by others, but they make sense to you completely because you know them, and, in fact, she is a very social and outward person, but only at the appropriate time.


(For those curious, I identify perfect fourths by comparing them to the two opening notes from the Russian national anthem, which are, obviously, a perfect fourth. It's a neat little shortcut from sounding out scales in my head.)

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #47 on: September 14, 2009, 11:41:36 am »
Took me a while to get here, but we're finally on the Imperishable Night final stretch!

Eirin Yagokoro - Gensokyo Millennium ~ History of the Moon

Much like Septette and Cherry Blossom of Sumizome before it, Millennium is chock-full of stuff, obviously fitting for a 1000+-year-old space nurse.

A large part of this piece is its majesty, its loftiness and its aged elegance. The first 22 seconds are a pan up, as it were, of the listener's perception all the way up Eirin's imposing figure to the piercing gaze of her eyes. The sonorous piano chords and carefully-measured arpeggioes combined with long, powerful trumpet notes accompanying show us the presence that Eirin commands, her charisma, combined with a shrewd perception of her surroundings.

The first part starts with trumpets playing the melody supported by strings - violins, specifically, playing long, legato notes. The piece lifts the listener way up in the clouds and stays there, the sweeping melody of the trumpet and strings presenting an immense feeling of freedom in a vast space, and, importantly, of one's being totally in control there. The melody suddenly loses focus of the surroundings as the instrumentation changes to what I can only describe as down-to-earth. The melody's still the same, so we're still looking at the same person, in the same place, but the focus has moved from the freedom to the humility. Don't get me wrong, that does not mean simplicity - the instrumentation comprising the melody has, from what I can tell, pipe organ, piano and guitar, giving a thick, worldly sound. The strings have gone so as not call our attention back to the vastness that's being hidden behind Eirin. Eirin is naturally majestic, easily earning the "larger-than-life" descriptor. That does not stop her from noticing the everyday things around her, from stooping down to understand those without a force of personality to match hers. She is thus compassionate.

The second part is a connecting passage to the third, here to lift the listener to the vastness of space where Eirin is so comfortable. Imagine this part as the takeoff of a rocket: the resonant piano chords and arpeggioes sort of mill about on the spot, seemingly impatient to get somewhere - the rocket enters its ignition sequence and the flames and fumes obscure the whole launch platform as the rocket unbearably slowly rises into the air, and then those octaves come in, mirroring the might of the craft's inoxerable movement upwards, the arpeggioes getting higher and higher in pitch...

And the third part is back where the first one started, and here to explore Eirin in her natural state of majesty. The instrumentation will remain trumpet and piano for a while, and texture-wise notes are always long and sparse, especially in the melody, to maintain that open-space feeling. The accompaniment quickly increases in note density, however, to contrast the melody: this is something that we've noticed in other characters, something that shows power bubbling just below the surface - in Eirin's case it elegantly flows from the accompaniment to her "majestic" character, so I'd say that it's Eirin's power that gives her that force of personality. It does not flow out unchecked like in Yukari's case, but, rather, it does not need to be controlled - it's natural flow is completely within Eirin, if you understand what I'm trying to say.
It's interesting that even when the melody switches gears by changing key it stays the same, with the same accompaniment and texture - Eirin remains herself regardless of what she does. She is not one to trick with false pretenses, instead she will simply approach a different situation with a different approach, but with her usual character.

A small intermezzo has ZUN riffing away. Much like in Septette, this part sounds improvised (I means emphasis on freeform playing around the melody, like jazz improvisation, not poorly-prepared, you naysayers you), showing Eirin has a tendency, maybe a bit like Remilia, to self-indulgent outbursts, something strongly at odds with the rest of her theme. These are rare and short-lived as Eirin catches herself - or someone else catches her at it - and hastily returns to her usual attitude - but this time it might be a bit of an embarassed act, as the improvisational motif can be clearly heard in the background. I would think that Eirin does not like being caught when not in full control of her situation. I would like to theorize that Eirin might be slightly ashamed at having picked up distinctly Earthly mannerisms, specifically selfishness and self-indulgence. Despite that, they remain a guilty pleasure to her.

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #48 on: September 15, 2009, 08:28:27 am »
*Fightest briefly wonders if he's chased away his usual crowd*

Kaguya Houraisan - Flight of the Bamboo Cutter ~ Lunatic Princess

This piece has a good demonstration of how instrumentation reveals character aspects as opposed to overt changes in the melody or accompaniment. Curiously, there isn't as much stuff going on here as Millennium, Septette or Cherry Blossom. I guess Kaguya is still a child, despite being a thousand-plus-years-old, and simply hasn't developed the complications and contradictions present in an adult.

Those first 15 seconds set the pace of the rest of the piece, to me. Only Bamboo Cutter and Cherry Blossom so far have that little pre-introduction that has a motif that will be repeated in the melody proper. Curious, I read ahead and found out that this won't happened again in any boss theme up to and including Cosmic Mind. Perhaps it's unique to princesses? After all, royalty is raised to present a proper image from first impressions, so I would think that Kaguya is well-versed in that - we hear a charming melody, maybe even childishly so in its simplicity, yet calm and measured, as befits nobility, with an echoing tone provided by the synthesiser to instill a sense of cosmic majesty.

Kaguya is impatient, however, and this impatience shows through in the broken chords that start bubbling away behind that melody, growing louder and louder until they overcome the melody to explode out. But it's not a childish tantrum - the broken chords stay in a low pitch, the instrument (a hard-to-define synthesiser sound, perhaps again a pipe organ variant) making it an ominous hum. This, I feel, is the seething fury of frustration and annoyance - Kaguya does not enjoy putting on regal airs, she feels the whole "noblesse oblige" thing holds her back, slows her down.

This is well-demonstrated in the first proper part of the piece. The melody is the same as in the first 15 seconds, but it has more volume, more force behind it in the trumpet, and it is also faster. This is the same Kaguya, but with all the stops pulled out, without the artificial and annoying mannerisms that she is forced - or that she forces herself - to put on. The "real" Kaguya is strong, confident, hard-to-miss. Curiously, the melody loses much sense of individuality in the first part, as we've heard plenty of powerful trumpet motifs before that show strength and confidence. It is possible that this is something Kaguya desires - maybe she is showing that she can kick butt just as well as anyone else. Perhaps she doesn't like her sense of individuality coming from a title and the assumptions that come with it, as opposed to her actual personality.

The first part was far more of a tantrum than the frustrated fury before it, and as it ends, we see that Kaguya isn't done. The connecting passage has not calmed down much, still maintaining its harsh tempo throughout. It's not the fury as before, but, perhaps, that feeling that occurs when one's vented all one's anger, but the feeling of rage hasn't yet fully subsided, so they thrash around simply due to momentum more than anything else. And then Kaguya catches herself. The transition is too sudden to be a natural calming process, so it had to have been a conscious effort.

The third part starts somewhat more controlled, more regal - the trumpet notes are long, the accompaniment is likewise. Both sit in a relatively low pitch to demonstrate that there is no exuberance or lack of control here. Unfortunately this stays for all of 4 bars, before that treacherous pipe-organ-thing starts up again, this time in the upper octaves - where it was a growl in the lower octaves, now it's cute and flighty. The trumpet melody appears to try to suppress the pipes' uncontrolled nature, but appears to give up as the pipes are joined by piano, also in high pitch, demanding for that part to be heard.

Much as many other characters, Kaguya has two sides to her - the child and the princess. In Kaguya's case, however, one of these sides - the princess - is completely, forcefully, constructed by Kaguya herself. It is very likely that she dislikes this side of her that was deemed necessary by whoever brought her up. Despite that, she has a natural regal bearing, which is coloured strongly by her mental youth - the child sometimes demands things that the princess can never indulge in. The two sides are frequently in conflict, each having its upper hand every once in a while. This leads to Kaguya being almost perpetually annoyed and frustrated as her wants are never fully satisfied, and she has nobody to truly blame but herself, so she lashes out at everyone instead.

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #49 on: September 15, 2009, 11:19:48 am »
Final one for Imperishable Night!

Fujiwara no Mokou - Reach for the Moon, Immortal Smoke

I mentioned upthread that I had trouble seeing Mokou in this particular piece. Now, I'm beginning to come around to see the more positive side of her, but I'm still not there, so this analysis might not really be on the mark.

Unlike the previous extra boss themes, this one starts off surprisingly like Kaguya's. In fact, the entire piece is uncannily similar to Bamboo Cutter, structurally speaking. Now, the little characteristics that make the characters stand out are different, but there's something to be said how alike the two of them are. I won't really go much deeper into this, there's plenty to Mokou as it is. The pre-introduction introduces a melody that will stay for most of the rest of the piece. Mokou is of a noble family, so perhaps it, indeed, is something common to aristocratic characters to explicitly introduce a major character theme so quickly.

I'll postpone the content of the pre-introduction until later and go into the part that immediately follows it, the one that mirrors Kaguya's frustration. The busy, unrelenting, menacingly deep sound of the organ to me portrays one thing above all others - fire. The kind of fire that you see enveloping a large building on the inside - it seems to just cover every surface with a thick, everflowing layer of colour and heat. Not the sudden, explosive fire of a flamethrower or a bomb's fireball, but the enveloping, elder blaze of a forest fire, or the creeping inferno of a lava flow (god I love all these fire-related words). In other words, Mokou's fire is experienced and ancient.

Unfortunately, Mokou herself seems to lack the ancient wisdom present in her fire. The melody that was introduced in the pre-introduction has a very distinct Oriental air to it, most likely due to the harmonic minor scales and augmented second intervals that keep going around in it. Considering Mokou's backstory, this could well be the portrayal of the sensibilities of her past. Consider how this motif is repeated, over and over, like a mantra, burning (ha!) itself into the listener's mind. Despite Gensokyo as a positive setting (from here on I'll refer to it as Gensokyo+, as it seems to want to crop up all the time), Mokou will have dark sides to her no matter how her story is spun - and in this case I wish to present that perhaps Mokou is suffering an existential crisis from having realised that she's been living pretty much 1300 years in the past, letting centuries just pass her by, eventually coming to the conclusion that there currently is nothing to her. I believe that Mokou is not satisfied with this, and has begun searching for herself that exists now, as opposed to back then. The constant repeat of that motif might show that Mokou is using her distant past as an anchor point, a part in her life that she can really remember herself in. She might even mock herself for this - the motif picks up some distinct whimsical electronic tones in the higher pitch. We'll find out more about this later.

The piece moves onto the fire again - unchanged, still as awesome and menacing as ever. It is certainly possible that Mokou takes comfort and relief from any psychological issues she might have in giving herself over to the spirit of fire that resides within her (figure of speech, but from what I remember of canon, this might be not too far off from being literal).

The next part starts off with an unusual instrumental choice - small, melodic bells playing a whimsical, mostly meaningless series of notes - not even really a tune but more of a set of arpeggioes and broken chords, an exercise, something to add to the anchor motif that remains in the background. Perhaps Mokou is searching for herself by trying out unusual behaviours, unusual mannerisms, seeing if any part of them fits? That distinct sound of self-mocking is still there, but the bell exercise continues unperturbed, and soon enough merges with the anchor, creating something that wasn't there, something greater than the sum of its parts.

Perhaps tired, the melody reverts to its anchor, before excitedly bringing the bells back for another go. Has Mokou found something concrete? Something to add to herself that isn't a 1300-year-old memory? Mokou certainly thinks so - triumphant trumpets, all long and legato superimpose on top of the anchor, the bells still there, jingling away in their newfound place - all show a sense of honest victory. The anchor still remains though, perhaps as Mokou reminds herself that there is still much to find out about herself, and she cannot afford to lose what little progress she made this time.

Having gone through this analysis, I'm actually very satisfied with this version of Mokou - realising, perhaps with a sense of dismay, that there was nothing more to her than a millenium-old set of memories, Mokou carefully and methodically started putting together a personality for herself, something she can call "I" without shame or artifice. It's a slow, exhausting process, but it clearly yields results, as we can see how the piece with a lot of effort and finality progresses from "anchor" to "anchor+bells" (to "anchor+bells+trumpets" to celebrate, but I don't think it really counts). To summarise, Mokou is hardcore - instead of moping about not understanding who she is, and taking the long and winding path up an imaginary mountain, letting circumstance tell her what her lot in life is, she punches through the mountain and picks up what comes raining down at her leisure.

I've just made Mokou my most favourite Touhou character ever to myself, and if I keep writing I'll just start gushing. With this extremely satisfying note I'll end my analysis of Imperishable Night. Next up should be Phantasmagoria of Flower View, but I don't feel like I've listened to it enough. Also it's not actually on my mp3 player. I'll see what I do next, but I'll try my best not to break continuity.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2009, 11:27:15 am by Fightest »

Prody

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #50 on: September 15, 2009, 12:48:02 pm »
Reach For The Moon is a really cool song. I enjoy songs like Native Faith and Reach For the Moon...what do they have in common here?
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Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #51 on: September 15, 2009, 02:32:12 pm »
Reach For The Moon is a really cool song. I enjoy songs like Native Faith and Reach For the Moon...what do they have in common here?

I would say, without reading too far ahead into Mountain of Faith, that you enjoy the contrast between absurdly fast interludes and generally calm melodic parts. Maybe the feeling that, despite how gentle or calm the character may appear, they've got some serious mojo available to them at a moment's notice? Do you like Bamboo Cutter? If not, then I can't be too sure about what I said without looking at Native Faith more closely.

RainfallYoshi

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #52 on: September 15, 2009, 03:25:42 pm »
Awesome stuff. I especially enjoy your analysis on Eirin and Mokou.

I'm really looking forward to Suwa-Foughten Field and Green-Eyed Jealousy.
Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #53 on: September 15, 2009, 07:12:38 pm »
Mokou's one of my favourite characters, and I really like the way that your analysis portrays her. Now I'm curious as to how you'll approach the themes of my other favourite characters: Satori Maiden and Fate of Sixty Years.

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #54 on: September 17, 2009, 12:29:53 am »
I would say, without reading too far ahead into Mountain of Faith, that you enjoy the contrast between absurdly fast interludes and generally calm melodic parts. Maybe the feeling that, despite how gentle or calm the character may appear, they've got some serious mojo available to them at a moment's notice? Do you like Bamboo Cutter? If not, then I can't be too sure about what I said without looking at Native Faith more closely.

Well, you nailed me there.

Lunatic Princess and Reach For the Moon are so alike in structure that I actually confused the latter for the former the first time hearing them both.

DeathShot Catharsis

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #55 on: September 17, 2009, 02:10:38 am »
I would say, without reading too far ahead into Mountain of Faith, that you enjoy the contrast between absurdly fast interludes and generally calm melodic parts. Maybe the feeling that, despite how gentle or calm the character may appear, they've got some serious mojo available to them at a moment's notice? Do you like Bamboo Cutter? If not, then I can't be too sure about what I said without looking at Native Faith more closely.

Well, you nailed me there.

Lunatic Princess and Reach For the Moon are so alike in structure that I actually confused the latter for the former the first time hearing them both.

That's odd, I found Gensokyo Millennium to be very similar to Reach For The Moon.

I do notice the similarities to Lunatic Princess, though.

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #56 on: September 17, 2009, 07:03:10 am »
Sorry for no update yesterday guys, much such stuff happens, a thing came up, but it's all done now, so all's well. I also got the PoFV soundtrack on my mp3 player of choice, so I can actually listen to it with any degree of regularity. And, as a final comment, I guess it's telling that nobody mentioned Medicine when I was talking about newly-introduced characters...and...oh my, having just checked the track list, it seems Yuka is there too. Well then, I guess I have my work cut out for me.

Fightest

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Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #57 on: September 17, 2009, 09:16:19 am »
Aya Shameimaru – Wind God Girl

I just realized how little I know about Aya besides her shocking unprofessionalism gonzo reporter-ness. I know she’s the fastest flier in Gensokyo, I know she’s a tengu (which is apparently a goblin-like creature), and that’s about it. This means I’m going into this analysis pretty much blind. This will be a good warm-up for Poison Body ~ Forsaken Doll, then. Also, I don’t really get the title. How is Aya related to wind? I assume the “God” bit is a slight misnomer, as Aya is not a god. Unless she is? Could someone clear this up for me?

The pre-introduction is already delicious. The trumpets explode into a fast-paced, energetic little melodic passage, change their mind and abruptly change to another melodic passage, then change their minds again and move into yet another passage, just as melodic (and fast paced and energetic) as the previous two. This is a clear character trait – when doing something, anything, Aya lunges wildly at it without making any plans more long-term than the first syllable. This inevitably leads to her possibly tripping up over herself trying to get the best angle, but it all happens with such energy and determination that it might seem that there’s three of her, all vying for centre position. She is most certainly the “act first, think later” type, and this characteristic is at the very forefront of her behaviour.

The second part of the pre-introduction, the downwards-moving broken chords set up the scorching tempo of the rest of the piece – the organ makes sure the accompaniment stands out, establishing this harshly quick beat as an important entity. The little part with ornamentation stands out from the rhythmic beat, demonstrating that Aya is entirely comfortable at this tempo and perfectly capable of sly subtleties, or the occasional digression. The general feeling is that Aya can go even faster, but keeps her pace reduced so as not to overwhelm the listener.

The first part of the piece introduces an extremely characteristic set of cadences that will remain a beacon, as it were, for the rest of the piece. Remember how I’ve mentioned in previous entries on how unusual the perfect fourth is, how, if made parallel, it sounds weird? Well, here is the other sound that the perfect fourth can make – daring and bold, a loud announcement of intent that calls all attention to itself. Simply put, Aya is bold and daring. Her presence irrevocably changes a scene because, behold! She. Is. There. Despite what she might say, she is in the reporting business for the fame and glory (perhaps not the best of career choices), which easily explains her gonzo attitude to her journalism – she desires attention, and gets it through highly embellished and opinionated stories, through controversiality. The announcement is so ingrained into the piece, however, that it goes beyond the conscious effort of the attention-whore, but is a core part of Aya’s personality, something subconscious – she might not even realize why her attitude gets her so much attention, positive or otherwise, but she revels in it either way.

There are two melodic parts in the piece, both characterized by a trumpet melody with long notes, compared to the accompaniment. I don’t feel there is much point looking at them separately, as they serve pretty much a singular purpose: they are absolutely beautiful. I am under the impression that Wind God Girl is a popular piece, and I would claim this is due to these two melodic parts. Why are they beautiful? Musically-speaking, it is because they have a clear and simple melodic line, with an excellent blend of major and minor harmonies. All these harmonies are, are a set of chord progressions, leading naturally from one chord to another. Of course, it’s a slightly more complicated set than tonic-subdominant-dominant, but it’s still classic (well, more Romantic, technically-speaking) and textbook. It is this progression that makes it sound so appealing – each chord sets up the next one, pulling the listener along, making him want the music to continue. There is no further complication in melody or harmony in these parts, so a sense of simplicity is also present. Additionally, due to the variety in the harmony that is present, there is a feeling of exceptional open-heartedness – the music doesn’t hold itself in, does not suppress any emotional urges, but instead dumps every emotion it can muster on the listener. This all comes together to create the image of an ultimately honest Aya, someone who will just shout out everything she feels, whether good or bad, since there’s too much in her to really hold it in. Aya can be described as one of those people who wear their emotions on the outside.

As a final comment, I listened through the extended version of Wind God Girl, and what really jumped out at me was the (in hindsight, painfully obvious) improvisation section. I’m really getting the impression that ZUN loves to riff when he can, and this bit in Wind God Girl is entirely appropriate – considering that I’ve established a improvisational riff as a portrayal of a stream-of-consciousness, it shows Aya as a great extrovert, someone whom emotions pour off and rub off on other people. A happy Aya is the life of the party. A sad Aya is depressing to even look at. Perhaps Aya should consider a career change to motivational speaker or keynote presenter?

Tengukami

  • Breaking news. Any season.
  • *
  • I said, with a posed look.
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Amaterasu
  • Gender: Androgyne
Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #58 on: September 17, 2009, 09:23:16 am »
Also, I don’t really get the title. How is Aya related to wind? I assume the “God” bit is a slight misnomer, as Aya is not a god. Unless she is? Could someone clear this up for me?

In Japanese folklore the hauchiwa the tengu carries is capable of creating strong winds, and then there's the fact that they fly. But traditionally tengu are associated with mountains.

Fan Fiction
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"Human history and growth are both linked closely to strife. Without conflict, humanity would have no impetus for growth. When humans are satisfied with their present condition, they may as well give up on life."

Tengukami

  • Breaking news. Any season.
  • *
  • I said, with a posed look.
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Amaterasu
  • Gender: Androgyne
Re: Characters, music, personalities.
« Reply #59 on: September 17, 2009, 09:31:07 am »
Also, this Aya fan enjoyed your interprettation of WGG. I have nothing to add.

it shows Aya as a great extrovert, someone whom emotions pour off and rub off on other people. A happy Aya is the life of the party. A sad Aya is depressing to even look at. Perhaps Aya should consider a career change to motivational speaker or keynote presenter?

Since she has a natural penchant for photography, and might even be using journalism as an excuse to take pictures, I think Aya would actually be better off as a film-maker. I can see her writing a script and directing it, with the other girls in the cast, some of them happier with the results than others.

Fan Fiction
 Tumblr
"Human history and growth are both linked closely to strife. Without conflict, humanity would have no impetus for growth. When humans are satisfied with their present condition, they may as well give up on life."
 

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