[Touhou Video] Beyond that Door – What Does it Mean to Grow Up?

I found this video to be touching. Beyond that Door is a song by RD-Sounds based on Alice Margatroid‘s theme songs from the Touhou game Mystic Square. The lyrics and the video tell the story of Alice as a kid, when everyone around her tells her to grow up – however, when none of them can answer her when she asked what it really means. Which is understandable, how does one really explain what it means to grow up? How many people actually know what it means to grow up? Is there really a clear distinction in being an adult? Alice tries to think about it herself, but she couldn’t find the answer. In the end, Shinki (whom many in the Touhou fandom believe to be Alice’s mother, although there is no official word) gives her the key to the door and sets her off on a journey to find the answer for herself.

As a college student on the borderline between a teenager and an adult, this resonates with me a lot. I’ve said many times that I’m not ready to be an adult at all. It’s scary. As for what being an adult means, I agree that in the end we find our own answer and I think I’ve found mine. Being an adult doesn’t mean to stop having fun, or to give up odd hobbies or act a certain way. It means being responsible and self-reliant enough to set goals for yourself and work towards them without imposing too much on others. It means to be able to survive by yourself – you can rely on others sometimes, but not too much – and still being able to be happy with your life. At least, that’s what I think it means. I’m still not an adult yet, far from it. But I know I need to become one pretty soon.

The video itself is drawn and animated in a simple style, which I think is fitting because the message it’s giving is a simple and nearly universal one, yet has a heavy meaning to it. I love the music too. The simple piano notes at the beginning give off a sense of innocence, like a child that still doesn’t know what is out there in the world. The steady beat that comes up and coincides with Alice running gives the feeling of starting an adventure, before the other instruments come into play and the vocals take on a more upbeat style as the wonders of the greater world are discovered. The music feels really grand at the end where Alice leaves, and made me tear up with a mixture of happiness, wonder, awe, and a little hint of sadness.

I really enjoyed this video and song, and I hope you did too.

For those unfamiliar with Touhou, there are two distinct “era”s of the games – the PC-98 era (Touhou 1-5) and the Windows era (Touhou 6 and onwards), and canon isn’t continuous between the two though there are some overlaps. In PC-98 Alice appears as a small child, and the characters you see with her in the beginning are from that era. In the Windows era she appears as a grown woman, and the characters seen after she steps out the door are from this era and are characters she will meet.

[Music] An Introduction to Touhou Music, and Some of My Favorite Songs

Some of you might know Touhou as “that shooting game with all the girls and fanart everywhere”, and wonder where music fits into the picture (if you already know feel free to scroll down to where I talk about some of my favorite songs). The game has great OST for the stage and boss fights, and doujin circles take the melody and make remixes of the songs. Sometimes the remixes are with new instruments, though many of them also have vocals added to the song. The remixes sometimes stay close to the original, but sometimes they deviate a lot.

Here’s an example of an OST track:

Title: Bloom Nobly, Ink-black Cherry Blossom ~ Border of Life

Game: Perfect Cherry Blossom, Stage 6 Boss – Yuyuko Saigyouji‘s theme

Flower Flag

Circle: FELT, Album: Flower Flag, Vocalist: Maika, OST: Bloom Nobly, Ink-black Cherry Blossom ~ Border of Life (Yuyuko Saigyouji’s theme)

Flower Flag is very lovely. The vocalist has a soothing voice, and the background music is very calming. It has a sort of everyday slice of life feel to it.

If you have a character that you like or come across a theme song, you can search youtube for many videos of it. For example, I sometimes search “touhou flandre vocal” to find remixes of Flandre‘s theme. You can also randomly discover other good songs uploaded by the same person that’s based on the theme of a character you never heard of. Most of the time the description lists the circle that made the song, or you can check the touhou wiki to look up details on the album and what original track the song was based on. Most of the time someone uploaded the album to mediafire, and a google search with the album and circle will find it. It’s near impossible to buy the original CDs unless you’re in Japan, I think most circles don’t ship overseas and some only sell at Comiket.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember what OST a song is based on, so usually what I do is tag it in the song title and artist. For example, in my music library Flower Flag is tagged as Title: Flower Flag (Border of Life), Artist: Maika , (Yuyuko Saigyouji). It also makes library searching easy, for example if I want to see all the songs I have that are a remix of, let’s say Patchouli’s theme.

The following are a few of my favorite songs right now, I recommend listening to the OST track too. One enjoyment I have from listening to touhou music is recognizing the melody that it comes from.

Hiiro Gekka, Hyousai No zetsu-1st Anniversary Remix-

Circle: EastNewSound, Album: Sacred Factor, Vocalist: nayuta, OST: U.N. Owen Was Her? (Flandre Scarlet’s boss theme)

This song is has two vocal tracks singing side by side, which creates a very interesting effect. If you read the lyrics translation you’ll find that it’s a very yandere song, and creepy in a very awesome way. I really like the vocalist’s voice, she makes the song very cute yet also brings out the forceful yandere-ness.

FOUR SEASONS OF LONELINESS

Circle: TatshMusicCircle, Album: FAR EAST OF EAST II, Vocalist: Sariya Hito, OST: Emotional Skyscraper ~ Cosmic Mind (Byakuren Hijiri’s boss theme)

FOUR SEASONS OF LONELINESS feels very adventurous. While listening it kind of makes me feel like going out on a grand journey with other people ^^”. There’s a “beta version” remix of it in the next album FAR EAST OF EAST III, which I also really like.

Kasoku Suru Koi wa Dare mo Tomerarenai

Circle: Yuuhei Satellite, Album: Iro wa Nioedo Chirinuru wo, Vocalist: senya, OST: Satori Maiden ~ 3rd Eye (Satori Komeiji’s boss theme)

Senya and Yuuhei Satellite make a LOT of my favorite songs, and are a group that should be checked out. Surprisingly, there are few people who translate the lyrics of their songs (at least that I know of) so there are many that I can’t sing in karaoke ;_;. This song switches between two vocal styles between lines, a creepy style as the notes go down and then an assertive style as the notes go up. I also really like how some lines are sung with a pause between syllables. Ka- so- ku- su- ru- ko-i wa- da- re- mo, tomerarenaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii~!

Kagura

Circle: Liz Triangle, Album: White Lotus, Vocalist: lily-an, OST: Heian Alien (Nue Houjou’s boss theme)

Kagura’s song title is also the name of a type of Shinto dance, which really shows through in the song. It has a very traditional folk feeling to it that I can’t quite describe, and some parts makes me want to jump up and dance (shhh!). It’s very fun to sing though in some parts I can’t stop my body from bouncing up and down ^^”. Some parts of the song really stick out, like keta keeeeeta keeeeta-wa~ ra~ u~. There’s also a part where there’s two fast vocal tracks in it.

Bōgakyō, Hangonchō, Sono Hana Kaika Suru Koto Atawazu

Circle: WAVE, Album: Archiv-East, Composer: MORRIGAN, OST: Border of Life

MORRIGAN’s works are holy freakin epic. Normally I only listen to songs with vocals, but this orchestral arrange is epic. Epic epic epic. There’s a harp solo in the middle that sounds really interesting too. Seriously, I don’t know how I can possibly describe the epicness of this track, so listen to it!

That’s it for today, I’ll try to remember to feature more songs that I like so look forward to more! What are some of your favorite touhou songs? Let me know in the comments!