10th Touhou Nico Dousai Festival — Chosen bites

I wanted to write a detailed pick-up last year. I failed mainly because of, you guessed it, laziness. What I’m going to do instead is listing all videos that I thought were of interest this year and will sometimes comment them if I have anything to say about one of them.

Before starting, a brief exposure of my impressions. As usual, content produced by fans is still in large quantity and with unexpected gems at times. All that despite the slowly decreasing numbers of participants, and despite the perceived demise of Nico Nico, and despite motivation and dedication less and less present among artists still active. But they are impressions. They might be wrong, as everyone has different tastes and perceives things differently. Unfortunately, view and mylist numbers confirm these impressions I’m having: in 2018, you can’t get popular if you’re new or don’t have an armada of followers supporting you, unless you’re producing totally awesome content. Without further ado, let’s begin with my personal crushes.

My crushes

This is the only category where I’ll embed videos directly as the HTML5 player can cause heavy slowdowns and hangs with older machines when there are many embedded players on screen.


LVgatari
This is probably the most inspired and inspiring MMDer these days. MMDers, or simply fan producing contents which are still cutting edge and ground-breaking are getting rare so let’s not miss this opportunity and let’s enjoy even more, as this might not last.


イルチヤロ
Another ground-breaking and cutting-edge MMDer. Each second sees a new idea. Each second you’re impressed. Skills are well used, in a creative manner, not to show off. I love how him and LVgatari don’t end up distracted by trending gimmicks like recurring gags and themes, overused BGMs, yukkuri-voice and so on.


Ninose Yasunori
Again, another case of simply having fun rather than showing off and trying to look cool. I’m glad Ninose is still active. That’s why I still enjoy what he does despite looking less refined than some more impressive but also more opportunist attempts. Visual and sound quality don’t do everything, it’s your personal imprint that does.


MinusT
The promising teaser of this upcoming dogfight. The worst that would happen is a meltdown from the author at this point. But it’s unlikely to happen considering MinusT’s past.


Lily KULAGE
If I’m posting one of those so-called reproduction MMDs (genre I’m not really into), there must be a reason. Seeing the author’s name might give you an idea. This time, it’s a masterpiece. It’s the first time one of these does that effect to me. You have to see it by yourself, even if you didn’t watch the movie. I think you will thank me afterwards.

Music videos and arranges

Either in MMD or hand-drawn form, my brief selection of them (with a short commentary if I have anything to say).

http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33512976 (ばっちゃん — Classy, deserves more exposure)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33516793 (winn — winn’s EWI series, evolves more and more to real animation with story, still inspiring)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33519014 (Leaf_st — Hand-drawn MV)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33532456 (もっそり — Back-story attempt, underrated)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33533816 (Aries327 — I wasn’t expecting that, this is a really nice MV)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33519024 (なつけい — Dance and music video mixture with a story attempt)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33536544 (bushow — Dance video with a bonus short story segment centred on bunnies)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33511726 (カワテ☆ブクロ — Rock vocal PV, arrange of A Midsummer Fairy’s Dream from Hidden Star in Four Seasons)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33522312 (Pizuya’s Cell — Electro vocal arrange from a big name, neat)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33518041 (Akatsuki Records — Rock vocal arrange of Youkai Girl at the Gate from Ten Desires from another big name, also pretty neat)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33505431 (Hauzer — Rock arrange of Broken Moon from Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, with オノ as a guest)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33498876 (kt — Another Rock vocal arrange, pretty much unfairly underrated, but that’s because its uploader only has 10 followers at present)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33530778 (FELT — Electro vocal arrange, movie by Mui, also totally underrated. Again, author of the MMD PV is pretty new so that doesn’t help)

Note: Some of the entries come from Quwanti’s suggestions on the thread I opened on Reddit.

Worth of mention

http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33518947 (doku — Sequel to Envy It, Parsee-san, it looks a little lazier than previous attempts but should remain entertaining for those who enjoyed the series. I wish Touhousubs was still active though, too bad a carrier or whatever opportunity he had this year took away all his free time)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33522671 (えすべがす — Sequel to that series, finally. The last incarnation of a skilful and ambitious MMDer with apparent care in writing, visual, animation and sound where all others bit the dust more or less. He might be one of the most skilful MMD drama makers to date, right behind qrimusic. If you miss Kani, Daba or Clearbitch and don’t mind the yukkuri voice, you can try. Personal note: this is finally becoming entertaining from that episode, I’m under the impression that the author is finally finding his feet)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33370763 (hissno — Tweaked yukkuri voice, if you missed him, there you go)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33518627 (ぜる — Reproduction MMD based on an anime called Carnival Phantasm)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33524923 (aftgreentea — Sequel to that reproduction MMD series based on Terminator II, quite entertaining)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33523588 (hanpen — Author still active, welcome effort)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33517551 (ぽんす — Picture-card show with animated bits, very peculiar style with no equivalent in the genre, making his works even more interesting than the usual soup)

The special mention


ビリジアン
Author comes from nowhere and lands with this apparent high quality animation. Although this is only a part of an upcoming future video, this is someone you have to watch carefully as what he showed here looks really promising. Potential is clearly there. We might get a new “Tsukimido” here considering the sample he’s shown here. Now the bad part of it is that “wannabe cool” and opportunistic tone added with the yukkuri voice all over the place which emphasis a common bad habit that’s been there for years among the rare existing or subsisting Touhou 2D/3D animators. They all seem to have pretty bad taste and seem to be able to produce the same kind of yukkuri voiced content all the time, and despite their rarity (or simply put “yukkuri voice” upwards no matter if they have a valid reason to use it or not, despite it’s cringy nature*). This is the main reason why I still prefer people like Ninose and Usahori. They’re completely outside any stupid trend and have their own imprint and creative input, not just skill to show off with trying to be popular and cool.

* yukkuri voice takes a part of its roots to yukkuri let’s players. It’s also a huge aspect in Touhou fanworks’ culture since 2008. Although it has many other origins (the yukkuri meme in itself, the Game Center Touhou hand-drawn series, 3.3mm’s Aya MMD interview series and the Freckled Marisa Person’s hand-drawns among others), many content producers falsely assume everybody is okay with it and is accustomed to hear it because of said yukkuri let’s plays. Also, most of the MMD scene nowadays is made of former yukkuri let’s players or Minecraft players which is even worse. The problem is that people with slightly different tastes or not caring one bit about yukkuri let’s plays might get irritated to hear it all over the place, to the point of possibly hating it. In my personal case, I find it a bit irritating especially on genres where it’s not really suited or when it’s used abusively with no valuable reason. Even if I prefer myself a more moderate and creative use of it, I find yukkuri-voiced works, even the best ones, to be a bit hard to follow and cause fatigue when they exceed 5 minutes, especially when they get very chatty.

The underrated

Efforts failing to gain attention because authors are newcomers, don’t have enough followers and therefore are unable to earn success despite their improvements.

http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33017330 (ジャンど — Underrated, dogfight attempt)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33525076 (あまふりこ — Sequel to that clumsy SF series, author is slowly finding its feet and even includes some danmaku segments now)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33533711 (Mido — Athmopheric MMD drama attempt from a newcomer. I like the end result but I fear this kind of works is no longer fashionable or the kind of things that viewers want)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33532687 (勝っちゃん — Another atmospheric attempt. This kind of MMDs is a bit of this MMDer’s speciality. While not Deco‘s or Vocahico‘s level, there’s still some charm to them. A bit bland and short but you might like if you’re tired of the other overrepresented trends I’m often referring to in this post. They’re also produced at a decent pace)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33537077 (オレやで — What a clumsy and awkward MMD action attempt this is. Really cheap looking with no shading efforts, stiff motion and subpar sound design. But to his credit, this is most likely a beginner and he will most likely improve. Good points for not succumbing to using yukkuri voice, unfortunately very common with newcomers)

Mayonnaise Pasta Sauce

This bizarre phrase is a reference to a single effort MMD drama that an MMDer named “memory” posted some time in late 2016. It had the particularity of being one of the worst use of yukkuri voice I ever witnessed, with gibberish being heard instead of an understandable language. Also it looked like a 10min story at first glance, but it was only a series of random scenes put together to mimic the look of a traditional MMD drama. The whole video was in fact a joke disguised with apparent quality motion, shading and sound design. To me, this looked as the most beautiful skill waste ever. This weird phrase is pronounced by Remilia at some point in the video and means absolutely nothing (who in the world eat pasta with a mayonnaise sauce?).

Following this video, I’m now using this phrase for any kind of work showing poor taste, poor artistic decisions and questionable choices resulting in a cringy mess. It was mostly yukkuri voice misuse at first but can cover broader aspects of screwing up what would have been a decent piece of work instead. Definite proof that skills aren’t everything.

http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33517020 (R社長 — Sequel to his usual series, suddenly made in a different fashion by removing yukkuri voice and trying full motion this time. Chemistry doesn’t work for me no matter what he does)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33518873 (てんすけ — If someone manages to tell me what the hell is this video supposed to be, he or she will have my gratitude. Too bad this MMDer started very promising but later got lazy and opportunist, notably killing off an interesting atmospheric project)
http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm33487528 (赤トンボ — Looks like one of those countless MMD drama wannabee attempts with yukkuri voice and focussing again on EoSD characters in prime at first glance but then turns into a… DJ contest? Not exactly what I’m looking for to say the least. Part 2 here)

Indeed this list is far from being complete and only reflects a tiny portion of what I judged of interest. Also, this list only reflects my own tastes. You’ll find much more by searching this tag on Nico Nico.