I've been spending some time the past few days researching the whole Touhou business.
Touhou is one of those things which is unavoidable if you delve deeply enough into Anime Stuff On The Internet. I'd meant to sit down and seriously research it sooner or later (mostly hoping that someone would write up an informative Let's Play of the series), but I kept putting it off due to the sheer volume of what I'd need to know.
Playing the games myself is out of the question: I'm simply not good at them, and the gameplay itself is not fun enough for me to die countless times just to get good at it. There comes a point where frustration outweighs any potential reward.
"So play on Easy mode," I am told.
"It's challenging for me even on Easy-" I begin.
"Oh, by the way," they interrupt, "Easy mode is only for kids, so never play on Easy mode."
If you say so.
Still, since it's all over the Internet, or at least the anime corner of it, I've picked up bits and pieces of the canon, although this is apparently a special case in that there is very little true canon, much like mainstream superhero comics, and the appeal is based on fanon. Getting fans to agree on something is eventually a futile effort, so it's not like I can pin down more than the broad strokes. The games themselves, I am told, are merely the basic jumping-off point, and it is possible (again, so I am told) to enjoy the setting without playing the games.
And as my experiences with just about everything else has proven, now that I'm older (if no wiser), I've gotten tired of dealing with fandom. The source often brings me joy, but being involved in the actual fandom implies having to tolerate other people. For a fanbase as large and varied as Touhou, the chances of aggravation and frustration is high. (In fact, for a time I had to try to ignore Touhou until I cooled off, since one particularly rabid fan also had such an abrasive personality, often regarding Touhou itself, that my general policy of never judging a series by its proponents was sorely tested.) I'm reluctant to declare, with confidence, that Such And Such is my favourite aspect, because I'm sure someone will drop in with "but you see, that character is less awesome than this one" and then I have to wonder why I bother. I'm getting too old for fandom debates.
But researching Touhou had always been on the list of Things To Get Around To, and recently, I got around to it.
With such a large number of characters in so short a time, it seems that my primary means of learning about characters is based on their theme songs, and how catchy they are. Suwako Moriya, Flandre Scarlet, and Cirno are in the lead, thanks to their famous remixes, and Cirno is fascinating to consider as the resident Overconfident Idiot, made more tolerable in that she's portrayed as exactly that. (I don't know enough about Suwako.) Flandre is just scary; I know she's been portrayed as cute in quite a few fanworks, but to me it's the sort of cute that only barely tints the vicious insanity. The best illustration I've seen of this is her appearance in the famous Bad Apple video. Every time I rewatch that grin, chills.
After that is a whole mess of catchy tunes, more or less on equal footing, and below that are the… not so catchy tunes, for characters I don't especially care about. Of course, my criteria for "catchy" often conflicts with others', since I'm not really a huge fan of Obvious Electronica or Noisy Metal.
Apart from theme tunes, character-wise I'm still waiting to see if the initial enthusiasm will last, but I have to say that Marisa and Reisen appear to be in the running. The common thread, so to speak, is in their outfits. Reisen is a standard schoolgirl-esque outfit plus bunny ears, which makes it possible to be created in City of Heroes; in fact, I know for a fact that someone has already done so.
As for main characters, mikos do nothing for me, but I covet Marisa's hat.