Hieda-no-Akyuu

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anonymous asked:

Why can't you trust Akyuu?

Hello Anon! This is a very interesting question, and I’m actually very glad you asked. 

Now, this is something that is very important to me, and I’ll try to explain why. Although her books are presented as textbooks on youkai and other such individuals in Gensoukyou, Akyuu is not a perfectly reliable source. At least not in regards of pure facts. 

First of all, there’s the Touhou Wiki page on PMiSS which brings up some of the most glaring examples of informational errors in the book and also why you should approach the book with some caution.


Now, there’s no such page on SoPM (yet), but I can list some examples myself:

  • Yoshika is written off very clearly as a mindless predatory zombie, which probably isn’t all wrong, but in TD she can at the very least hold a conversation with the player. Overall the article gives me a feeling Akyuu has had little interaction/experience with Yoshika herself and is only retelling what she has been told by others. As a result, the information is not necessarily all true, especially seeing as it clashes some with her appearance in TD.

  • Tojiko’s entire backstory thing seems to be a lot of speculation to me, and none of it is backed by her official profile. The idea that Futo would set her up appears to be speculation in her wording rather clearly, (“It is likely that”,etc) and why would someone with Tojiko’s personality hold enough a grudge against her own family in order to turn into a vengeful spirit, but let Futo’s actions slide? To boot, Akyuu cannot site any location for Tojiko, which may confirm Akyuu has really not enough info on her to be writing about her.

Now these are examples of where it shows Akyuu has some limited information about some characters. That is one thing, but other than that there’s also this:

  • Some general notes like, the threat levels of some individuals like Mamizou (high) and Byakuren (unknown), which seem quite unwarranted. I mean, we have reports of the Myouren Temple handling the burials of human villagers and yet the head priest, who Akyuu herself has met, cannot have her human threat level evaluated? Mamizou, who has appeared in so many official works and has never ever showed any aggression towards humans? She’s arguably one of the most diplomatic characters in the entire series!

Moving on, I think that in order to understand PMiSS and SoPM, and why these oddities made it into the books, you need to have in mind the context that they were written in.

What kind of place is Gensoukyou, and what kind of person is Akyuu?

You may be familiar with this scene from Forbidden Scrollery, chapter 19;

This is from the PMiSS afterword, by Akyuu;

[…]

In addition, I received a great number of requests from youkai, so what started out as a guide to help humans defend themselves from youkai became, before I knew it, a manual for youkai to help others learn about them.

In fact, a number of the youkai threat levels have been inflated somewhat in this volume.

This probably isn’t cause for too much concern, as humans are almost never kidnapped and eaten by youkai in today’s Gensokyo.

At this rate, I may have to completely rethink the audience of the Gensokyo Chronicles and the purpose of their existence.

If I don’t, the purpose of my continued reincarnation would fade away.

Please note the highlighted parts.

Gensoukyou relies on the power of the youkai inside it in order to exist. If people stop fearing youkai, the youkai’s power will deplete, and Gensoukyou’s existence would be in danger.

However, in today’s Gensoukyou, the rifts between humans and youkai have started to disappear. The Gensoukyou Chronicles, that SoPM and PMiSS are part of, were written to educate people about youkai. It served the purpose of both giving humans a sense of security because they would learn of the youkai, but also help the youkai secure their existence by having people learn of them. The text even appears to imply Akyuu has been asked by certain youkai to write about them specifically.

As Akyuu admits, some of the threat levels are also inflated; most likely to keep humans fearing youkai, even in the modern Gensoukyou. 

Please think back to Mamizou and Byakuren’s threat levels now.

If Akyuu was to say an old-styled and classic youkai like Mamizou was not a threat to humans, that would break the illusion of the supposed threat that youkai need to be.

Byakuren’s case I think is more complicated. Now, I personally don’t know how much of a threat to humans she might pose, but if it was “low”, then again, people may start trusting the temple too much. And that won’t do; it’s a youkai establishment! But if it was “high”, or even “medium” then humans may panic knowing the head priest of the temple near the village may have any sort of out-spoken hostility towards them.

Akyuu as a result, ends up altering and covering up information; all to stick to the purpose of her writings. The purpose is not to be 100% truthful, but to spread information that serves useful for the greater purpose of assuring the stability in Gensoukyou.

And that is, even if indirectly, to assure that people keep fearing youkai.

Not to mention the very last notion. Not only would Akyuu be inclined to alter information for the sake of Gensoukyou as a whole, but also for the sake of her own continued existence. If she fails to continue to produce material that is relevant, she would stop to reincarnate! In that sense Akyuu writes these books, in the way that she does, just as much for herself as she does for Gensoukyou.

The information in PMiSS and SoPM should be taken with a pinch of salt, and it shouldn’t be seen as unbiased.

So, in terms of delivering unbiased, fully correct facts? No, I do not trust Akyuu. Because doing that is not her job, it is not her intention.

Having said that, I still think we can get lots of information out of her books; if we read them in the right way! We can learn a lot about the reality of the current Gensoukyou. We can also still learn about these youkai Akyuu writes about, how they want to be seen, and how Akyuu wants us to see them… Rather than how they actually are.

As for those characters where the information is lacking or speculative, that tells us exactly how remote or hard to approach they are, or that their details may be be best altered in some way. Not mentioning Mokou’s exact origin and putting emphasis on her youkai-extermination skills to make her more human, or exaggerating Yoshika’s zombie-ness to make her more youkai-like, are perhaps examples of this.

Personally, I really love Akyuu as a character, because already early on she allowed this type of in-sight into Gensoukyou. Her very existence is proof of Gensoukyou’s nature, and it’s struggle to retain it’s much needed balance. I also find it interesting how Akyuu herself, has become so much like the youkai she writes about. Now, her existence too, relies on how people observe her and her role, because that will be what decides if she can reincarnate or not.

In the meantime, regular humans in Gensoukyou are strictly advised against trying to prolong their lives, lest they become youkai; and Akyuu herself promotes this.

In result, I’d say Gensoukyou undoubtedly does indeed have a power-imbalance. There are rules, but aren’t the same for everyone, obviously.

It’s all part of Gensoukyou’s self-contradicting nature. Akyuu’s character and the biased information of her works both play perfectly into the general themes of Touhou Project, don’t you think?