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Consonances & Dissonances

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Dec 2nd, 2023
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  1. Okay, get ready for a real hot take.
  2. I feel like a lot C&D’s stuff is pretty terrible. But why do I feel this? Why can I appreciate almost every other Touhou-style album, but not these? Well, unless you’ve already ignored my opinion, let me explain.
  4. For starters, the music. How can anyone think Touhou-styled songs are bad, especially someone who loves listening to them almost on a daily basis, from ZUN or not. In fact, I really, really enjoy a lot of stuff made by C&D members. Popcat made an amazing album called “Paradoxical Esoterica” where they were inspired not only by Touhou, but also metroidvanias and I can hear it too. Kale Hakaido made “Land of Automatic Nirvana'' and some tracks for "Memory of Dream Pillow", which I also grew to appreciate and is a much better work than anything they made for C&D. Also, there’s very talented Slowbro, which has probably made my favorite track, but on "Fairyland of Mishmash". It literally feels like even when someone very much talented is involved, they’re drained from their talent here. It all just feels bland, not very memorable. I’m sure it’s impressive on a technical level, but to me, someone with (at least for now) functioning ears? Nah, it’s not. It’s so bland in fact I would’ve mistaken some of the tracks for Sylvispirit’s stuff, but then I see different people working on almost different tracks, curious. It’s almost like “too many cooks can spoil the food” is true in this regard. Especially the final boss’ theme, something that almost always delivers in Touhou-style album, fanmade or not. Here, they have a potential, but it feels directionless, it feels overstuffed, like there was something there, but someone decided to slap a pointless piano or guitar section without much thought. And then I see that those tracks always have 3+ people working on them, on one single track, with the most recent one having I think 7 or 8 people working on it? Because more equals better, yeah? It certainly won’t lose the charm or vision of the solo artist.
  6. I don’t know how the creative process behind C&D’s work goes, because I avoid joining random discord servers, but if I had to guess, it really just feels like anyone can chime in and do whatever, but at the same time, it does seem like almost no idea or contribution ever gets rejected and that can really be a double-edged sword. It also being a collab of people with such a varied skill, it feels so weird going from a track made by someone who is clearly new to it and someone who has done this for ages, but not in a good way as in “Oh this person has helped this one grow”, more like, everyone is brought down to a very low level because of it.
  8. Secondly, art. Graphic design, despite the memes, isn’t everyone’s passion or when people think it is, it doesn’t always look as good because people are worried of their criticism hurting others. But there are good stories and examples to come out of it, with The Shattered Sky and Servants of Harvest Wish coming out of it in the end. Here, C&D started with terrible graphic design imho in Anthology, got back up with more accurate ZUNart, but then you’ve decided to include Hazbin Hotel/Homestuck OCs? In Touhou? Using ZUNart? Ayayay. It might be because I’m certainly not a fan of furries, fetishisms and forcing such contrast into everything, because to me it looks like Sonichu level of fanfiction, but on a more technical level on why this isn’t good, lemme’ explain with the usage of black or darker skinned characters in these fanmade Touhou albums and games. I think they can work and I wish they were done well, but in all of C&D’s stuff or in ToU(r)D, they’re not, in fact by adding these character out of inclusivity without giving much thought to their designs, you are adding to the problem of feeling like the only reason why you’ve added these characters was to fill a quota and add more black characters, without it looking natural, because at least to me, it’s not, it feels done for inclusivity sake alone, kind of like something in Netflix show or Borderlands sequel. There are already great designs of black characters in fiction (Shinobu in NMH imho being a good example, at least to me personally due to color theory and not only). In fact, I feel like you could make a good darker skinned character in Touhou, especially with more toned down or pastel colors. ZUN has technically done this with Tanned Cirno, even as a meme/gyaru thing, she’s still miles better than this stuff. Similarly, I'm a guy and I wish we had more dudes in Touhou, but I also feel like whenever a fan album or game dumps a lot of guys, or in C&D’s case, gremlins and imps, without substance or thought, this feels just cursed. My point isn’t even that you shouldn’t mix Touhou with that, because you could do it alright, Elemental Quintet did. It also had a good explanation about why these animal spirits with different designs were roaming and moreover, it didn’t use ZUNart, it used a different artstyle where both human looking and non-humans characters didn’t contrast way too much like they do here. ZUNart can add legitimacy to Touhou-style albums, but when you’re doing a crossover, it can also look like Phantasmagoria of Imaginary Breaker. The choice is yours.
  10. As a side note, the writing and lore building, much like a lot of western Touhou stuff is completely nonsensical to the point it loses the whimsy, simplicity and fantastical aspects of official games and manga. Yes, ZUN isn’t the best writer in the world, mostly making quick dialogues and sticking most lore to profiles and it’s up to you would you rather make something closer to Dream Logical World or My Immortal level of writing in fanfiction. But when the construct of the world is literally rewritten on every project, new main characters are introduced out of nowhere and established characters keep acting out of character, then yeah. I can’t take this seriously, but also can’t take it as a shitpost since it also can’t be taken as such.
  12. Thirdly, the overall presentation of the assessment of each album, which I’m going to list here. Anthology of Forgotten Fables is just a mess. First of all, I have to mention the composer’s comments. Considering some tracks had up to three composers and in the video some of the comments were very long winded, wordy and went on how this part is amazing and that part is their favorite or why they think this track is good while also referencing this literal who artist etc. It really came off, at least to me, as stroking each other's ego way too much. I don’t mind when people go more in depth than ZUN does, but this really felt like someone made their first piece of art and went on about how epic it is and including “owo”s because they’re totally not serious about their previous comment. And now imagine that someone being Chris-chan of Touhou. Other than that, the presentation just feels all over the place. I’ve already mentioned the issue with designs, Ayaka being a serious offender of looking like a bootleg latino barbie doll, Frederika being an actual doll, after a horrific plastic surgery of her plastic face, half of the artworks looking stilted, like Lili’s second sprite, the project having different artstyle for dialogue, each boss and cut scenes is just blinding and it doesn’t help that dialogue art looks like someone’s MS Paint scribbles. The characters have little to no theme other than having musical instruments and it feels like it was tacked on, nowadays other albums literally mogging this one, if you had removed said instruments I’d believe that each character belongs to a different DeviantArt page. Again, feels like you’ve decided to include every possible person involved with the circle and the same people who made this project or their relatives and friends are most likely the fans of it. Separating it into acts and making it so long doesn’t help the quantity over quality criticism. I bet everyone involved had fun though! And yeah, it being one of your first albums, I also bet it could be dated by now, so that’s why I’d rather not dwell too long on it. I also recall there being another album before that one, but I can’t find it anymore, but it also had the issue of every song feeling mediocre or best and the ego-stroking comments literally flooding the video, not letting the music speak for itself.
  14. Champaign of Unfinished Dreams is actually alright with its presentation and I remember praising it in the past, because, yeah it’s at least solid. You’ve decided to not include unnecessary comments in the video. The artstyle is consistent and you’ve settled on an artist. The character designs, even though feeling more European, do well with said artstyle and the color palette is really good. I still feel like music is weak, but at least first and extra stage bosses are alright on their own.
  16. Then there’s the Travelogue of 47 Days, hifuu-style album which has 47 tracks.
  17. This sentence is all I could’ve said about this album and moved on. It’s literally the biggest offender of quantity over quality I’ve seen. I think it should speak volumes that I'm a massive Touhou-style music enthusiast and this is one of the few albums that just feel tiresome for me. Barely any tracks stick out. The only theme being each track being themed on a different region of Japan, but I didn’t feel it at all. So many composers give their absolute worst results. Even the arrangements feel incredibly weak and directionless. It’s not easy to make a hifuu-style album, all things considered, but there are a couple of fan-made ones that break through, notably Victorian Space Odyssey and even ZUN’s albums made me love his creations even more, after discovering stuff like Izanagi Object which has its own established feel and genre. If this album was a food dish, it would’ve been the same burger from every McDonalds in Japan, but so overstuffed you can’t taste anything but the grease.
  19. Heart of Sacred Singularity is to me the single worst fan-made piece of Touhou-related media, like actually, wow. Like I’ve said before, I dislike the aesthetics, greatly, I feel like graphic designers have read too much Homestuck and been mingling too much with Hazbin Hotel and Undertale fandom, so they’ve decided to make a Touhou crossover with their newborn OCs Donut Steal monsters. How did this get past the drawing board? I have no clue and I barely could’ve looked at it just to assess it in the past, but I seem to be a minority in that case. I think the artist’s artstyle clashes with every non-human looking design. Some just straight up look bad, overdesigned, with barely any focus. The extra poses don’t feel natural and neither do they look like they belong anywhere in Gensokyo. Stage 1 is just a bootleg awoo kid which I presume was made on /jp/s request. Stage 2 could’ve been cool despite moth-like qualities, but my brothers in christ, whoever was in charge of her epileptic fashion sense should be sentenced to prison just to appreciate colors there. Anni’s alright. MONKE would’ve fit in the Hazbin Hotel or in some canceled Cartoon Network show, here however this thing contrasts so badly it’s almost hilarious. Stage 4 has what my friend described as a North American Kakegurui knock-off, which I love and I will go with. Also Edgier Satori-ation. Stage 5 exists and once again, if you like this sort of thing, good for you. I certainly don’t and I feel if this was presented in any other fandom it would’ve been laughed at. Stage 6 is Dark Souls-hou, probably meant to be all epic like with sword and fire, but she feels just like the rest of the album, completely missing the point of what makes final bosses and these projects work to begin with. Extra boss is alright. I’ve asked 5 different people what they think Elias looks like. All of them thought this was a 7 to 13 year olds (the predictions here vary) Homestuck OC. And music, once again, probably was good at some point, but C&D clearly went past that point long before releasing it. I’ve never heard of something making me more overstimulated, but at the same time, this thing sounds like nothing, not a single composition is memorable.
  21. There’s also the Touhou 19 leak, which I’m counting despite it not being really an album.
  22. This one I’ve actually enjoyed initially and still do, even though I now know exactly who worked on each track. I feel like the arrangements, especially Aunn’s one was good, I bet someone will mod that title screen theme into the game at some point and also, fake ZUN’s comments were simple and not long winded like you tend to do. Naturally ???’s theme has issues with percussion and Pre-Battle theme is bland, but it was better than anything else you’ve done, despite it being more rushed, huh, it’s almost like it was done quickly and by talented people without extra contributions and you only had to do like 6 tracks. So yeah, I think it should speak volume if the work you’ve done has little to no presentation, has the best presentation and results in my opinion. I do however dislike how C&D members later went about the fake leak, despite them clearly breaking guidelines and I do sort of get it, because I made this mistake before for some teams I’ve been a part of, getting too involved with communication. I get it, it’s fun to shitpost and comment on each other's work, but once again, it really feels like you’re stroking each others’ ego and as someone who loves good music, even I do doubt myself if I want to be a fan of someone who I dislike as a person.
  24. To me, at least, C&D’s work is the Touhou-style equivalent of a Funko Pop figurine. It’s on every shelf, or rather, Touhou-style playlist in this case (congrats on that though!), but it’s very low quality, cheaply made, people involved made much much better stuff even in the past, it tries every genre, but feels the same while also somehow not being consistent and there’s an overload of it. If I could recommend something to the team if you haven’t already disregarded everything is to at least try going back to simpler things, what you CoU(L)D do as a team that you couldn’t have done solo. Maybe focus on greenlighting ideas of members that haven’t made their own album yet, so they won’t immediately mog yours. But most importantly, stop the pandering, you don’t need to introduce designs just to cater to a specific demographic, to include them. They’re fans of Touhou, they should already be included. Actually ask yourself if the thing you made is good and ask for solid criticism outside of the range of people who worked on this or are die-hard fans of yours to begin with. I’ve seen people recommend these albums, but almost never discuss them anywhere else. And also despite me suggesting or straight up telling YOU what to do, don’t limit the creative vision just because it’s something not for everyone, because if you try to make something for everyone at the current moment, it will turn into something for no one the very next day.
  26. Or you can just ignore or even turn this IMHO valid feedback into a copypasta and keep making the most mid, generic or in worst case, cursed pieces of fanfiction that I can’t wait to see being discovered outside of your close friends. I bet Homestuck fans will love this. Despite the disses and the long ass comment, it isn’t a job, it’s just a passion project you’re doing for free and you should be doing for fun, so I still wish you very best, but more than that, I really hope you will improve. o/
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