Shikieiki Yamaxanadu Picture

[ Touhou Project ]

A drawing of hers had to be black-and-white, right? Good thing that's the usual deal, I suppose...

Phantasmagoria of Flower View is the game I've played the least of the Windows Era. The mechanic itself isn't all that different from the other games, it's still grazing bullets and all, but the way the screen is split and the controls are changed, I feel like the game lacks the movement precision you'd need to enjoy it fully. On the bright side, you had lots of characters to choose from, each with their own story and/or motivation on the current incident, plus the rare versus mode (that isn't as great because the game felt different, after all). And then there's Komachi and Eiki, bringing the Sanzu to the Touhou universe.
According to Greek mythology, the river Styx divides the Earth from the Underworld. The Sanzu river is quite similar, although it gives a meaning to what a shinigami and yamas actually do. Given the larger context, it also goes beyond simple "Heaven and Hell", for there are lingering spirits in the material world, the Hakugyokurou, and even Hell itself gets a different meaning later on, namely on Subterranean Animism.
Not to mention the game actually links Gensokyo to the outer world in a more direct way this time around, through the use of the elements, seasons, years and those destinations mentioned above.

The game takes place during Season 120 (that's our 2005) according to the lunisolar calendar in use in Gensokyo. The characters are going about the strange amount of flowers everywhere, and there's the sixty-year cicle (It's not coincidence that Eiki's theme song is named "Eastern Judgement in the Sixtieth Year ~ Fate of Sixty Years"). Sixty years because there's a rotation between an element, a season and a star. Respectively, they are:
- Earth, Fire, Water, Wood, Metal;
- Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter;
- Sun, Moon, Stars;
With quick maths, you might have already guessed that 5*4*3=60, the total number of possible combinations, thus, a complete cicle between them all. The flowers, then, are associated to souls, and every incoming soul from our world goes to rest in a flower according to their past life until they are shipped across the Sanzu River so they can be judged and allocated accordingly by the yamas. And if you do the math, 2005 minus 60 gives us 1945, which in turn takes us back right into World War II, when many lives were lost and the last soul overflow happened in Gensokyo. See, I don't know if everything is just a strange, major coincidence, but it's fascinating how it makes sense and brings so much more in terms of mythology, history, culture and maths (?) to some danmaku game.

Eh, but that's enough about the river and souls. So Eiki is the Yama of Paradise, i.e. Gensokyo. She can judge anything to be good and evil instinctively, and through the use of her cleansed crystal mirror, she can look into one's past deeds to further judge their actions, life and destination.
That in itself is pretty amazing, and she gives off the impression that she's both black and white, dark and light, hell and heaven in one entity, without ever mixing any of those, in perfect balance. Such neutrality is something I believe we should all strive for, no matter what the situation is. We'll never be fully pure, and no one is fully corrupt, and learning to understand, manage and act on the correct ways during the correct given times must be something truly awesome to achieve. In a world where fake 'justice' prevails, where the hammer falls over the weakest end, where conflicts over (dis)belief bring about discord, it does feel like we're missing Eiki's scoldings in our lives. Or at least that's how I see things, of course, and why I think she's such an amazing character.

So following Remilia's, I shall leave another parting gift, for Eiki deserves it, too.
火映塚 ~ Higan Retour
(花映塚 ~ Higan Retour, arrange)
The River: Styx
The Tree of Unhappy Endings
Shikieiki Yamaxanadu
Charon, The River Styx
Treading On Dawn