A Touhou YouTubers Perception of Western Touhou YouTube
A Touhou YouTuber’s Perception of Western Touhou YouTube
I’m Megapig9001: A Touhou YouTuber who makes video essays. As a Touhou Content Creator on YouTube, I often pay attention to the Western Community’s perception of the Western Touhou YouTube community. Unfortunately, it’s not really a positive one. I’ve seen people say things like: “Touhou YouTubers on their way to make the worst content on the planet”, or “I don’t bother with Touhou YouTube at all”. These opinions didn’t grow from nothing. It is true that there are a lot of Touhou meme channels on YouTube. “Reimu Fans be Like”, “Tenshi Fans be Like”, and “Touhou Fans be Like” are three different videos from three different channels. Each of these videos has at least one hundred views, and help push the misconception that Touhou YouTube is only memes.
But, that does not mean that the memes are inherently bad. Even if some are not to my taste, I think it is impossible to deny that Touhou meme channels have helped spread Touhou to new fans. One particular take I saw that annoyed me was “(I’m) sorry if you got into the series through memes on YouTube.” Within a fandom that spends so much time telling people not to gatekeep, saying “except this, gatekeep this,” comes off as hypocritical and nearsighted. Some of these channels certainly do not help their case (making videos where they openly mock Twitter users, some channels not crediting fanart used, etc.), but the memes themselves are not the problem with Touhou content. Instead, I think the problem comes down to a lack of variety.
Memes take much less time to make than other types of content, so it’s generally easier to make more of them. Memes appeal to people looking for a quick laugh or observation, which is good. For people looking for a quick video, they have plenty to choose. But, what about people looking for longer, more substantiative content? In terms of Touhou music, there’s quite a few Western creators. “RichaadEB” and “YaboiMatoi” both make fantastic metal covers of Touhou songs. “Bit2 Gensokyo Melodies” makes multi-instrument covers of several Touhou songs. “Lyrica Live” writes lyrics for Touhou songs, often relating them back to the characters.
There’s also many Touhou animators. While they live in Indonesia, MTB’s animations are widely beloved by the Western community, and they even led to the resurgence of the “Japanese Goblin” meme through their recreating the original animation. And of course, Sr. Pelo’s Touhou animation has been a landmark video for the community. There are plenty of other Touhou creators, but longer content takes more time to create than memes. Western Touhou creators are also competing with a ten year head start: by the time RichaddEB made his first Touhou metal cover, there were already hundreds of others from the expansive Japanese community.
Touhou is simply more popular in Japan, so there’s a lot more content of all types from the country. Within the realm of music and animations, there will always be a giant looming over the Western community… But as described earlier, that does not mean the Western community falters in these departments. There are plenty of Western Touhou musicians and animators in addition to the ones I listed above. Japanese content does not limit the success of Western creators either: the algorithm puts emphasis on videos of a user’s chosen language. So, Western Touhou creators see their content pushed to Western countries.
No, the abundance of Japanese content is not an issue about success, but more so an issue about perception. There’s more Japanese content than Western content. To some people, it seems like Japanese content is “better”, especially when all they see from the West are the memes. But the truth is: there’s no content (Western or Eastern) that’s better or worse than the other: there’s just a difference in how much of each there is. As the series grows more popular worldwide, I expect to see the amount of Touhou content of these types increase.
But then, there’s my area of expertise: Touhou video essays. Aside from a few exceptions (with Surnist’s content coming to mind), there weren’t that many pieces of English Touhou content that appealed to what I was looking for. I wanted to watch analysis videos on various facets of the Touhou series: whether it be the series itself, fangames, or a mix of both. I started making Touhou video essays to essentially make the type of content I wanted to watch. And my growth path surprised me. Before Touhou videos, my channel was mainly a place for me to show off fangames I was making.
My most popular video was a tech demo of a Super Smash Bros. engine I made. Most of my subscribers were from that demo. So you can imagine my surprise when my first Touhou video essay managed to hit 100 views within one week. Almost none of my fifty subscribers were Touhou fans, and yet my video still managed to find a small audience. I ended up making another video essay: “Bad Apple: Explained”, a comprehensive overview of “Bad Apple”. The video managed to hit it big on the algorithm.
While making more longform pieces of Touhou content, I went from 50 to 3,000 subscribers within the span of a year. From all of this, I’ve come to a realization. Serious Touhou content in the West doesn’t have anything positioned against it. On the contrary: it’s actually in the perfect spot for anyone to flourish! With something like Mario, trying to make a dedicated Mario Let’s Play channel succeed is extremely hard, because there’s a ton of channels that already do that. Touhou YouTube is tiny compared to the communities of other series, and because of that, there’s a lot more room to grow. Touhou video essays often find wide audiences on the algorithm because people really want to watch them, but there aren’t that many.
Because of that, people who make Touhou video essays often find themselves succeeding with growth, even if they previously had a small following. My friend MegaFrog made a long video dissecting a Touhou Iceberg image, and that video (along with several essay videos he made after) helped catapult himself from 70 subscribers to 1,250 within a year. Recently, a YouTuber named SpirtEye made a video about “Touhou PC-98 Characters that Should Come Back”, and this video also managed to hit the algorithm. SpirtEye went from 20 subscribers to over 200 in the span of 5 months. And, AspreyFM’s new longform content channel has proven to be extremely successful.
He already had an audience from streaming of course, but the content itself has grown beyond that audience. A video about “Attempting to complete a Touhou Game without Grazing a Single Bullet” has reached 100K views! That’s not a topic as widespread to the general masses as a meme like “Bad Apple”: it’s a topic almost squarely within the Touhou fanbase. And yet: there was still an audience of thousands of people that wanted to watch it.
Touhou YouTube is still growing. From a variety of new things last year (like two new official games), the Western fanbase is bigger than ever. From those new fans, we will get new pieces of content of different types. This doesn’t mean “memes will finally die”, it means that we’ll have more types of videos that will go alongside memes to form Touhou YouTube. But who will some of these creators be? Well, from my walks through Twitter, I have seen plenty of impressive analyses on different aspects of Touhou: From how a character’s development has progressed throughout the series, to what ZUN intended by a game’s story. And, some of these analysis posters have talked about wanting to make Touhou video essays. I eagerly await them making the jump to YouTube. But of course, my ideal “Touhou YouTube Community” is not just made up of video essays. Musicians, Animators, Artists, Competitive Players, Reviewers, and more! I hope to see new types of content as Touhou YouTube continues to grow.
Reimu Fans be Like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tw4qZYmpkfk
Bit2 Gensokyo Melodies: https://www.youtube.com/c/lorekingwn
Lyrica Live: https://www.youtube.com/user/touhoulyrics
Sr. Pelo’s Touhou Animation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sOAkdu3tRo
MegaFrog’s Iceberg Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiiTmueVZUM
SpirtEye’s PC-98 Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TGs3Y-DnDU
Asprey’s Grazing Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pkjewzc_uns