The Definitive Guide To Diamond In The Rough
How it was made, What writing decisions I made, and Why...By David "Spaztique" Z.
Table of Contents:
Part 1: Background
Chapter 1: The Genesis of "Gappy"
Chapter 2: Meeting Brolli Diamondback/Beta DitR Synopsis
Chapter 3: DitR becomes a Movie
Chapter 4: The First DitR Screening
Chapter 5: Why did DitR take so long?
Part 2: The Episodes/Analysis
Part 2a: Episodes 1-6
Part 2b: Episodes 7-11
Part 2c: Episodes 12-14, The Intermission Sequence.
Part 2d: Episodes 15-19
Part 2e: Episode 20
Part 3: Afterword
Chapter 6: Beta Reactions
Chapter 7: Final Reactions
Chapter 8: The Future of Touhou Self-Insert Fics
Chapter 9: My Personal Reaction/Final Comments
Appendix A: DitR and Story Structure
Appendix B: If you liked DitR... - Films, books, and other media that inspired DitR.
Love it or hate it, Diamond In The Rough will always get a big reaction out of people. Either you'll love it for being a deconstruction of escapist power fantasies typical of most self-insert fics, you'll hate it for emulating the very things DitR later takes apart, you'll love it for being an emotional roller coaster that makes you question your own selfishness, or you'll it hate it for how it turns the peaceful fantasy land of Gensokyo into a dystopian objectivist political warzone.
Either way, Diamond In The Rough is a very polarizing story, and I couldn't have made it any other way.
If you're completely new to this series, here's the short version: Diamond In The Rough, or DitR for short (pronounced "ditter"), is a "motion comic" based on the fanfiction of the Touhou Project fantasy shooter series. Specifically, it is a pastiche of bad Self-Insert Fics that slowly descends into a deconstruction. A Pastiche is when you play all of the tropes and cliches of a genre straight, and a Deconstruction is when you start playing them realistically for their horrible implications. As a result, the story superficially begins as a typical (if self-aware) bad fanfic (which I invite audiences to riff at live screenings) before slowly turning into a sober, depressing, and nightmarish take on power fantasies and the people who indulge in them. It is animated akin to Koishi's Heart-Throbbing Adventure, wherein although there are animated sequences, all of the dialogue is in speech bubbles. It is animated in the create.swf "Walfas" Touhou-doll-creator-turned-animation-suite. Although I normally make fully animated/voiced cartoons in create.swf, I chose the "motion comic" format to emulate the kinds of stories I was trying to pick apart.
My Head English Professor had a great saying about satire: a good satire holds up a mirror to society and says, "This ugly whackjob is you. Don't like it? Change!" And, naturally, satire is going to get a very polarized reaction: people will think it's brilliant and thought-provoking, or stupid and offensive. DitR definitely spans this range, but I bet there's one thing that everyone across this range is thinking...
"Just what the hell was Spaztique thinking when he made this?!"
Whether you're a fan who wants a deeper look into DitR's creation process, a confused newcomer to Walfas/Touhou/Fanfiction who wants to know what all the fuss is about, or one of the offended who wants to know my reasoning for a rebuttal (or at least figure out what was going through my head), this guide is for you. It's an exhaustive guide about what went into DitR's creation, the philosophy behind it, and so much more.
Part autobiography, part making-of, part philosophical analysis, this is The Definitive Guide To Diamond In The Rough.
Part 1: Background
Chapter 1: The Genesis of "Gappy"
It was summer of 2012. I took full class loads for all of my semesters, even in summer, to graduate from my four-year college in only a year in a half, and I was barely a semester and a half away from graduating. Every day, I'd go to school, crank out my homework, read my English class required reading, go home, and spend my free nights in the new community I was beginning to make an impact in: the Touhou create.swf Walfas community. I had done a few sketch videos, and I was beginning to make friends with some of my fellow heroes like MiniWitch3 and StevoTheHuman. I loved Mini's stories, and Stevo was a connoisseur of bad Touhou fanfics.
I absolutely loved Stevo's animated remakes of bad/drunk fanfics, and for his birthday, when I had only done one sketch video and working on a collab with MiniWitch3, decided to make a birthday video for him. One day, after a sleep-deprived night, after finishing my homework, I wrote the first Touhou fic I could in my sleep-deprived state, full of sex, violence, and zero logic. Then, I went home and transcribed it onto my computer blindfolded. The result was Stevo Gets The Bad Gyus [sic], a pastiche of Stevo's videos, plus the typical self-insert fic fanfare.
Stevo later invited me to read some really, really bad fanfics with him, and I accepted: our first being the horrendously NSFW Reisen's Revenge, which actually had decent prose, but every horrendous sexual fetish you could think of, plus some non-sequitur character cameos and random jumps into other games. We eventually scaled back and recorded some riffs of slightly-more safe-for-work fics. The one where we hit our stride was Boundary of Fantasy And Illusion. I brought my laptop to Jim's Restraunt, where I usually get most of my off-day schoolwork done, did a paper, and then spent the whole evening with Stevo riffing the fic.
However, in the Jim's Restaurant, something special was about to take place: we had nailed the typical Touhou self-insert fic archetype.
Stevo and I noticed there was a pattern in virtually every self-insert fic, and it ran like this:
- Kid is gapped from suburban Western society to feudal Japan by Yukari; either willingly or he just wakes up in the middle of the forest.
- Kid is then attacked by Rumia and wins.
- If kid is wounded, gets sent to Eintei to get healed. Mokou will escort him there and be super-chatty and out-of-character, often staying with until he is healed.
- Kid is sent to the Hakurei Shrine to meet Reimu and/or Marisa. Kid will win in a fight against Reimu, or Marisa will break the fight up last-minute. Kid will then go into the shrine to have tea and learn about spell card rules.
- Kid will then go about Gensokyo collecting supplies on a grand tour. He will go to the Scarlet Devil Mansion and get books for free. He will go to the Kappa Valley and get free weapons; often always swords. Kid will get free medicine from Eintei.
- Reisen appears to be the most fawned over love interest in these fics, but Reimu and Marisa are often second choice for his harem.
- Again, despite there being spell card rules and ranged danmaku battles, the kid will opt for a magical sword.
- Somewhere down the line, another villain, an Always Chaotic Evil OC, will come to destroy Gensokyo for selfish reasons. Said villain destroys Gensokyo location-by-location, heroine-by-heroine, until it's down to the kid and the villain, reducing the Touhou cast to cheerleaders. The climax is a sword fight in which the kid either wins automatically or sacrifices himself and then gets revived.
- Assuming the story isn't a Dead Fic, the kid then lives happily ever after with his waifu, and there are no repercussions from the giant incident.
It's basically a giant escapist power fantasy where the kid can go to Gensokyo, do all the things he could never do in real life while surrounded by girls he could drool over, and gets to be admired for being the big hero. Every fandom has them, and I'm sure every fandom has their archetypal bad self-insert character, but this was Touhou's archetypal Marty Stu/Mary Sue.
In the middle of the riff, Stevo said, "There has to be a name to shorthand 'Kid from outside world who gets gapped by Yukari'."
The word we agreed on was "Gappy Stu/Gapped Stu." And we've been making fun of this archetype ever since...
Chapter 2: Meeting Brolli Diamondback
Earlier in 2012, Stevo and I had an encounter with a newcomer Walfas since the birthday video, Brolli Diamondback. We've known his videos since he started, but never actually got a chance to talk to him other than on his videos.
At the time, he was known as Brolli909, and we could sum his videos as thus: Brolli destroys Touhou character in a one-sided battle. Alternatively, Brolli would have sex with Touhou characters he liked after small talk, inspired by the parody sex scene in the birthday video I made for Stevo. We eventually complained, and Stevo later convinced him to actually start over. So, he killed his OC with his current avatar, and then began making comedy videos. His new videos were pretty good, and he got pretty good reviews. Then, he did a video tennis with Nightxofxdarkrai, and that also got pretty decent reviews. It seemed Brolli Diamondback had turned a new leaf.
And then, on March 4, three months prior to our riff, Brolli dropped a bombshell: he made a new series, The Colonel's Adventures in Gensokyo. It fit the typical self-insert fic mold were were researching at the time to the letter. He is gapped to Gensokyo by Yukari (and yet still calls himself a Colonel), he gets beastly avatars that follow his every command, and all of the usual beats. I even joked that were were enough plot holes to make an entire movie out of.
And that's exactly what I eventually thought of doing after he crossed the line. He released two videos back to back that made Stevo and I facepalm: one that went over the powers of his overpowered Beast OCs, then another where he renounces his allegiance from the Hakurei Shrine for the Moriya Shrine just cause. When I asked him why he'd give away his character's weaknesses, he said, "Don't worry: Colonel Diamondback has more tricks up his sleeve!" Then, when asked why he switched to the Moriya Shrine, his answer boiled down to, "Why not?"
At the time, my goal was to make an adaptation of Ken Akumatsu's Love Hina for Walfas: Five Dangerous Months at the Hinata Inn. It had already hit a haitus thanks to school, so I made Ao Usagi Tribute Show on the side because it was much easier to do in a weekend. I decided to make a short series in the style of a typical Walfas "motion comic" over the weekends in my Ao Usagi time: an hour at most, taking apart Brolli's series bit by bit.
My goal was to finish it by July, but as you'll learn, DitR's production is the Walfas equivalent to Apocalypse Now: everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong.
And the first thing that went wrong? Brolli was quitting Walfas after his new series, not-so-surprisingly, got terrible reviews. I eventually convinced him, "Listen, if you'll just hop onto Skype, I can tutor you in the ways of storytelling. It's my hobby offline, it's my hobby online, I'll do whatever it takes to help."
Then, I got the addition to Brolli in my Skype contacts. If you've seen the whole movie, I think you'll appreciate my first words to Brolli: "DAAAAHAHAHAHAAA!!! FINALLY!!! I've been trying to catch you ALL DAY!!! NOW THAT I GOT YOU RIGHT WHERE I WANT YOU... Let's talk about writing!"
That night, we talked about writing, the history of writing, what goes into stories, and so on. By the end, I asked him what he learned, and he said, "Stories are a lot more complicated than I thought." I told him that his biggest flaw in his stories was that he depended too much on the characters' appearances and backstories to carry the stories, and that he'd do better to put his characters in danger. I showed him a few Youtube clips of other stories where the protagonist struggled towards their goal, and then I remember: Skype has a share screen option. Brolli would be the first person to see Diamond In The Rough.
Originally, here is the story I planned:
Squeezing The Diamond: The First Draft (below is a copy-paste from the original story)
Episode 1: One day, Brolli tells Spaz he should make another sword, but Spaz says he doesn't need any more weapons. Brolli believes that the more weapons and facets a person has, the cooler the person, but Spaz argues that it's personality that makes the youkai hunter. When Brolli asks for Spaz's ability, he says he'd rather not blurt it out so a youkai can hear it. Brolli thinks Spaz is insecure about his abilities and announces he went on the news to announce all of his powers. Spaztique tells him it was a very, VERY bad idea, but Brolli says, "What's the worst that can happen?" He then berates Spaz for his lack of powers, but Spaz argues he has one: he can duplicate things. When he tries and fails, Brolli offers to get Sanae to fix his powers, but Spaz heads off to the Hakurei shrine.
Episode 2: Nitori is setting up defenses in the kappa valley when Brolli rushes in asking for some scrap metal. Nitori used it all setting up defenses for an attack from the top of youkai mountain: apparently Tenshi is up to no good again, spreading a spring haze around Gensokyo. Worse, the Moriya shrine is at the dead center of the attack, so he cannot ask for help. Brolli says he'll have to go elsewhere to get a new sword. Nitori asks him if he really needs all this stuff when he's never really solved any big incidents, but he insists he needs it. When she asks what he's ever done for anyone else, he cannot answer and he runs off.
Episode 3: At the Hakurei shrine, hunters are gathering for an assault on youkai mountain, but it turns out that the Spring Haze has disabled everyone's powers. When Brolli asks for a ride to the Moriya shrine, Reimu slaps Brolli for the audacity to ask such a question just moments after dropping her shrine, then accuses him of being like a couple of other Brollis he knew once: all take and no give. Reimu accuses Brolli of being worse than Marisa for not solving any incidents, but Brolli says he did solve the incident of him not being on the news. He says can make up for his misgivings by helping them resolve the incident. Reimu accepts, but only because he's yet to really do anything.
Episode 4: Brolli and the hunters rush into the battle at youkai mountain to assist, but when it comes time to fight, Brolli realizes he cannot summon his transformation powers to save Reisen. Instead, he is forced to throw his swords to save himself and Reisen. While commendable for his action, Brolli is now terrified beyond belief at the current incident. He tells Reisen he wants to run, but she shares the same situation: she's so reliant on her powers that when she can't use them, she's nearly helpless, but she joined because Eirin wanted her to. When Reisen asks if they've met before, Brolli says he doesn't know, adding to his speculation of whether or not everyone is mistaking him for another Brolli. When the group reconvines, it seems Miko shot down the Stage 5 boss, a celestial and a friend of Tenshi's. Tenshi's friend says she's doing it because there's a great fighter in Gensokyo she wants to face/be entertained by how he solves this incident. To top it all off, she's sent three armies of fairies to the human village, the tower of white, the Moriya shrine, and the Kappa valley to see what she'll do next. Keine leads her forces to the human village, Youmu heads off to the tower of white, Reimu's forces head on to the shrine, and Lord Tenma agrees that the kappa valley is well-defended on its own; especially with Nitori's latest tank. Brolli freaks out after realizing they're about to be massacred; especially when both the tengu and the hunters refuse to help. He comes to the realization that he's more than just useless without his powers: he is a nuisance.
Episode 5: On a cliffside overlooking burning Gensokyo, Miko says Brolli is afraid people will discover who he really is behind his powers, so he uses them as a front in place of a real personality. She mentions that some moon rabbits will even hypnotize themselves into believing people like them when they really don't. The ultimate example is when Brolli mentions his strongest form, and Miko asks him why he needs the other forms and why he hasn't used this form to wipe out all incidents in Gensokyo. When Brolli can't answer, he realizes the reason why nobody likes him: he's never used these powers for any sort of good, and everything he does have is completely unearned. So, he joins the push to the Kappa Valley. Miko warns him not to do this to get people to like him, but because he believe it's right. Brolli can't answer, but he is willing to chuck on his favorite swords off the mountain to show how serious he is.
Episode 6: Miko, Brolli, and others push into the Kappa Valley. At this point, Brolli is a real youkai hunter, but soon he faces Tenshi, who then seperates him from the rest of the group and reveals she had always wanted to battle him for his immense power. Meanwhile, Reimu and co. reach the Moriya Shrine to find Sanae and Kanako are not just fine, but they're the ones behind the mist: they create the mist and called down Tenshi to kill Brolli before he could grow any more powerful, paranoid from when he suddenly joined the shrine for no reason. Reimu rushes down the mountain to save Brolli, but he gets his ass handed to him by Tenshi. He calls out to the other hunters, but they're too busy fighting the angry Kappa who wish to kill Brolli in revenge. He calls out for Yukari, but she only berates him for his weakness and orders Tenshi to kill him. Tenshi does so after taunting him for not living up to his expectations. Tenshi obliterates Brolli after he pleads for a surrender. Upon reaching the ground, everyone else defeats Tenshi.
Episode 7: Brolli wakes up on a boat to Higan. Komachi recognizes him because this is not the first time this has happened: each time Brolli has been disatisified with life, he has killed himself, and this is the first time he's ever been *killed*. It turns out each form he's able to transform into is an incarnation of his previous suicides, but after his long history of never learning from his actions, Komachi warns him this will be his last trip. When she collects her fairing fee, he has only one very large coin, meaning he has only done one good deed in his entire life.
Episode 8: At the ministry, Shiki judges Brolli for not understanding the nature of conflict and says he was originally sentenced to hell for learning nothing from his reincarnations. It turns out the spirits were embodiments of his flaws: impatience (the red thing), vanity (fox), selfishness (bunny), and anger (dragon). To top it all off, Yukari only gapped him in as a snack, knowing what would happen to him, and it is surprisingly common among transplants. Brolli wants to be revived, but his actions led Gensokyo to irreversible damage: he will have to be sent to Hell.
Ending 1: Brolli makes a run for it and later asks Youmu for one more change to his look. Youmu refuses, knowing what Brolli has done, and kills his ghost on the spot. Gensokyo goes on.
Ending 2: Brolli is dropped into Hell. For one last second, he asks himself, "Who am I?" Smash cut to black upon hitting the lava.
And here is what I eventually made:
Diamond In The Rough - Beta Draft
Episode 1: Brolli is sleeping at Spaztique's house. Brolli reveals he has left the Hakurei Shrine for the Moriya Shrine just cause. Spaztique asks Brolli to leave, calling him out. This order hits Brolli like a ton of bricks since nobody has refused him before. He leaves, going to Nitori to make him another sword.
Episode 2: Brolli goes to the Kappa valley to learn that the Valley is gearing up for war: somebody took the Moriya Shrine hostage and they're sending an attack down the mountain to destroy the human village. Brolli decides he needs another sword to defend himself. He gets Nitori to scrap their tank so he can get scrap metal to smelt down into more swords. Nitori complies like always, no questions asked, much to the horror of her compatriots (and in hindsight, herself).
Episode 3: Brolli can't find Mokou, and decided to run to the Hakurei shrine to ask Reimu where Mokou is. Upon getting to the shrine, it turns out all of the incident resolvers are preparing for war as well: they're all going to stop this strange mist disabling everyone's key power at the top of Youkai Mountain. This means Marisa's reactor is broken, Reimu will have to fly on Genji, and so on. This also means Mokou can't revive, and that Brolli can't use her to make more swords. All Brolli cares about is getting more weapons, but Reimu yells at Brolli that the world does not revolve around him and his needs. He eventually decides that maybe he could help to prove himself. Despite Reimu's protest, she agrees to let him with.
Episode 4: Up on Youkai Mountain, it is an utter war zone, but the incident resolvers manage. However, Brolli relies on his ultra-powered avatars to do the fighting for him, and when he's unable to transform, he's left for dead since his swords have no range. Sakuya convinces him to throw the swords, and he manages to save himself and save Reisen when she comes under attack. Reisen and Marisa thank Brolli for his bravery, but this battle shocks him into his senses: he really isn't a Colonel: he was gapped there by Yukari. Miko ends up beating the "Stage 5 Boss" Momoi, one of Tenshi's friends, and she reveals the whole attack was to test the "ultimate hero" Colonel Diamondback. She reveals there were other attacks heading towards the Human Village, the Tower of White, and the Kappa Valley. Brolli goes into shock upon knowing the Kappa Valley is defenseless. The attack will be called off is Brolli dies, and virtually everyone agrees to killing Brolli; everyone but Reimu, who says they can still save the Kappa Valley and the Moriya Shrine. The two split up, and Brolli screams at the realization this was all his fault.
Episode 5: Down in the Kappa Valley, Nitori has survived and is vengeful over Brolli using her like that. She vows to rally who's left of the Kappa Valley and kill Brolli. On the flight over, Miko explains to Brolli that he hides behind his powers because he is a coward: he is afraid of what others think of him, so he uses his powers, costumes, and accomplishments to mask the fact he is a shallow person. Brolli vows to be a real hero, but Miko warns him not to do it just to get people to like him. In the Kappa Valley, Nitori has massed her forced, who are ready to kill Brolli. Brolli is now fighting like a real youkai hunter, but upon encountering the angry kappa, he refuses to fight back. To his horror, everyone else is eager to gun down the survivors to save Brolli. While everyone is distracted, Tenshi corners Brolli and demands to fight against the "great hero" Colonel Diamondback. Meanwhile, at the Moriya Shrine, it turns out Sanae and Kanako are not only okay, but they're the ones behind the mist. Reimu and co. try to escape, but it also seems the Myouren Temple are backing them up. Only Aya manages to escape with Momiji's help.
Episode 6: Brolli is getting annihilated by Tenshi, but it seems that Aya and Momiji can still save him. They rush down the mountain, only to encounter the Kappa, who they are forced to fight. They eventually reach Brolli and fight Tenshi, but their defeat of Tenshi activates her final spell card, sending her and Brolli flying into space. Brolli screams for Yukari to gap him back home, but she says he has caused too much damage to let him get away scot-free. In fact, in the time he was fighting Tenshi, she gapped in a replacement: smug blonde idiot Jack Diehard, whose power is to resolve incidents with the wave of his hand. Yukari taunts Brolli for outliving his usefulness, tells Tenshi to kill him, and Tenshi promptly does so. Worse, for Aya and Momiji gunning their way through the Kappa, the Tengu army captures them are threatens to court-martial them.
Episode 7: Brolli wakes up on a boat to Higan. Komachi recognizes him because this is not the first time this has happened: each time Brolli has been disatisified with life, he has killed himself, and this is the first time he's ever been *killed*. It turns out each form he's able to transform into is an incarnation of his previous suicides, but after his long history of never learning from his actions, Komachi warns him this will be his last trip. Brolli refuses to pay the fair, but after Komachi threatens to drop him into the Sanzu River, leaning him over the boat and knocking his beret off into the river, he pays up only a small fee, meaning only a few people will miss him.
Episode 8: At the ministry, Shiki judges Brolli for not understanding the nature of conflict and says he was originally sentenced to hell for learning nothing from his reincarnations. It turns out the spirits were embodiments of his flaws: impatience (Ferin), vanity (Velupe), selfishness (Lepus), and anger (Hydrus). Worse, Reimu blames herself for Brolli's death, Marisa and Nitori are glad he's gone, Tenshi got away with her crimes, Aya and Momiji were kicked out of the Tengu army, and the Beasts are trapped inside Brolli's decaying body. To top it all off, Yukari only gapped him in as a snack, knowing what would happen to him, and it is surprisingly common among transplants. Brolli begs for a happy ending, but Shiki tells him, "Not every story has a happy ending." He is then blindfolded and dropped into the fires of hell. For one last second, he asks, "Who am I?" Smash cut to black upon hitting the lava. Credits over silence.
Back to the story at hand...
At the time I showed Brolli, the series only had Episodes 1-3, 5, and the openings of the animation-heavy 4 and 6. Instead, I filled in the blanks and described everything that was happening. Even by the time we got to the scene with Miko, Brolli's responses were visibly shaken: I wanted to show him examples of characters in danger, and this experience hit a bit close to home. As I mention in the riffs I do, I do them out of love: I want to show people how to get better at writing. This is one of the lines I did not want to cross. Brolli already learned his lesson: going any further would just be beating him into the ground.
After pondering if I had gone too far, I wondered if there was a way to scale back DitR's ending.
So, we pitched back and forth ideas, and eventually we settled on a changed ending that was still dark, but not entirely nihilistic: one that actually reflected the reality of the real Brolli's situation as well: upon realizing his wrongs, Brolli was going to go down swinging, and instead of going to Hell, he will be the first Gappy to realize the errors of his ways.
With a happier ending in place, we began playing Team Fortress 2 together with some of the other members of the Walfas community, and two things happened that night: a friendship had begun, and a series had to be completed and animated.
Chapter 3: DitR becomes a Movie
"Give me a revolver!"
"Who needs revolver when you got all of those nifty swords!"
A weekend ritual in the new "Walfas Station Wagon" community is gathering on my Spaztique Makes Stuff Live stream to watch me push the limits of create.swf with my new project, Diamond In The Rough. The curtain is up, the series is unveiled, and I've made a promise to finish the biggest Walfas project to date: a one-hour movie with episodes released on Youtube and full screenings on the stream. This became the genesis for the current generation: virtually everyone who attended those first Diamond In The Rough production streams is now either apart of the Walfas community or actually leading the community: one of which is ChibiChen, who would later get inspired by the Gappy fics we took apart to write a fic putting them back together, Mind The Gap, with no knowledge of Touhou whatsoever (and now he's one of the co-designers for a Gappy tabletop game!).
Despite having no voicework like my other series, Diamond In The Rough was pushing limits: all of the fight scenes were not only fully animated, but HUGE: featuring almost 20+ combatants on-screen (and later, as I reached full-circle, 100+ combatants on-screen) and more bullets than anyone can count. The final fight between Tenshi and Brolli is hundreds of frames long, fully-animated, duplicating Scarlet Weather Rhapsody's fight mechanics and Tenshi's own move-set.
Then, in the middle of all this, I began getting what writers crave most: feedback. Specifically, bad feedback...
"What if I haven't seen all of Brolli's videos?"
"Couldn't you include all of the story?"
"I'm lost. Who is this Brolli guy?"
So, I included a primer playlist of all of Brolli's old videos and the lead-up to Diamond In The Rough. People were still lost. I got suggestion after suggestion to just include the entire Colonel Diamondback mythos. I argued back, "Look: I'm already behind schedule, this movie is already an hour long and with fully-animated battle scenes. If I included everything, it'd be almost three hours in length! That's longer than most commercial movies! I'd probably have to include an intermission sequence because it's so long. I'm sorry, but it's just not happening."
Besides, I wanted to get back to my other projects: 5DM, Touhou Sketches Chen Edition, Ao Usagi Tribute Show, and I even wanted to adapt Mind The Gap! I was even getting good at comics, plus I wanted to make more music. I couldn't pour all of my time into making some Gone With The Wind/Gandhi/Ben Hur-esque epic, could I?
With a final runtime of over four hours, it turned out I was. But why?
I began realizing that although I started this project for Brolli, the "Gappy" epidemic is much wider than that. I could finish the series and have a gift for one Walfaser: a one-hour Deconstruction of one guy's series. Or, I could include the entire Diamondback mythos and focus on impacting all Self-Insert Fic writers as a whole.
On June 19, 2012, I decided I would delay DitR's final release so I could self-contain it: I was going to begin by showing Brolli under typical Gappy fic circumstances, then progress into the Deconstruction by the second half, and end it with the tragedy.
The people who wanted DitR as a self-contained movie were happy, but those waiting for the original series were mad. This would become a running theme throughout production: angry naysayers either saying, "Just release what you have already!," or fan-haters yelling, "Spaztique will never finish DitR!"
But eventually, I wanted to prove that I was going to finish DitR...
Chapter 4: The First DitR Screening
"Folks, if you wish to watch what I have of Diamond In The Rough, contact me on Skype. I'll be starting up a 'Projector Room' shortly. We'll begin screening after a quick primer."
It was early in August 2012 when I had finished the finale of Diamond In The Rough: it was essentially the original Beta draft, only now it came with an intro that explained how Brolli came to his situation. All I had to do from there was work back to the beginning. I had completed almost an hour worth of footage. All that was missing were the first 60 minutes and the battle in the Kappa Valley. I thought back to Star Wars when it was shown for George Lucas's friends without the digital effects: I just wanted to see if the ending would get an impact, even without all the big fight scenes.
On August 14th, 2012, all of us gathered in a Skype call of about twenty people or so. Most of them were eager to "watch the idiot Stu die", and they all had their popcorn ready for the big event. Everyone going in was ready for what they assumed as "Tenshi kicking a Stu's ass." Little did they know that if the so-called Stu lost, it'd destroy Gensokyo as they knew it. They would be on the edge of their seats during the battle, and I was going to be on the edge of my seat for their reaction.
It started out with cheers and applause as the opening titles came up and they all saw Brolli bleeding to death on the background to Tenshi's final spell card. In the stream chat were snarky comments about Brolli's situation. As the opening progressed, everyone riffed the first half as they would a typical bad gappy fic. I encouraged it: riffing the opening of DitR for the live streams became as much a ritual as riffing The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Repo!: The Genetic Opera, or The Room. They were all stepping on my and Brolli's rug, and we were about to yank them off.
Then, darkness: the first Reel ran out of footage. I explained to them everything that was going on: Brolli was going to nearly go mad with power, and his actions would eventually lead to the destruction of the Scarlet Devil Mansion and Tenshi deciding to "challenge his power." They were not quite unsettled yet, but that was to come.
When the action scenes started, there were unanimous clamors of, "HOLY SHIT!!! DID YOU SEE THAT?!?!" All of the scenes they had seen me put together frame-by-frame were now coming to life: massive danmaku battles over Youkai Mountain, a fully-animated fight between Brolli and Tenshi in the Kappa Valley, pure destruction at its finest. Then, Brolli went into Heroic RROD mode on Tenshi, and everyone went nuts; some even going as far as saying as Brolli had redeemed himself.
Throughout this whole thing, the chat was pretty rowdy: first they were riffing the movie when it was a pastiche of the typical bad fanfic, and then they were excited over the big battle scenes. (In fact, in all subsequent screenings, we had to remind everyone in the projector room to stay silent during the climax: that's how much of a fervor they were in.)
Then came that scene. The Mirror Scene. The Downer Ending I promised and everyone said, "I can handle it!"
Virtually every Touhou character was broken.
Gensokyo was doomed.
All of the villains were getting off scot-free.
For the longest time, you heard quiet sobbing in the background. Then louder sobbing as it got worse. Then, when people got a glimpse of the meat locker for the first time, the room exploded with screams, "EWW!"s, and cries of, "WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?!?!"
Then, silence and sobs again, until Brolli is finally granted a second chance. Now there are tears of joy mixed in with the sadness.
The audience was emotionally drained, but satisfied with the incomplete movie. Some thought it was the most emotional event they have ever seen in a Touhou fic. Others said it was too sad, with the darkness lingering long after the movie had ended: they even said they couldn't handle another viewing, as if it were the Touhou equivalent to Requiem For a Dream.
This was the reaction I had hoped for.
Chapter 5: Why did DitR take so long?
In August, I began releasing DitR in ten-fifteen minute episodes at semi-weekly intervals. At the time, I had Episode 1-7 and 17-20 done, so all I had to do were the middle ten. Here is the story behind why DitR took so long:
Episode 1: Released August 19, 2012. Released on schedule.
Episode 2: Released August 27, 2012. Released on schedule.
Episode 3: Released September 2, 2012. Released on schedule.
Episode 4: Released September 11, 2012. Released only a few days late.
Episode 5: Released September 16, 2012. Released on schedule/early.
Episode 6: Released September 23, 2012. Released on schedule.
Episode 7: Released October 2, 2012. Released a few days late.
Episode 8: Released January 11, 2013. This was probably the toughest one to make because of a particularly tricky scene, the Sakuya scene (discussed in the full analysis), but there's more to it than that. Fall of 2012 was the beginning of a dark time for the Walfas Community. October had some minor drama with newer members violating rules, and by November, we had a full week where numerous members threatened suicide, and I had to talk each and every one out. I spent more time around this time learning leadership skills so I could help maintain order, which I actually managed to on short notice. Plus, we did our first Christmas collab video, and I went out to see my grandparents for Christmas, which took some of my extra time, but not as much as the community issues.
Episode 9: Released January 21, 2013. More issues within the community. At the same time, I'm suffering from insomnia since I'm out of school and no longer on a set sleep schedule.
Episode 10: Released March 18, 2013. In addition to the sleep issues, now things are getting serious within the community: somebody destroyed virtually all of my first friendships in the Walfas community, and I had to spend most of my time mending the broken bonds and distrust. At the same time, I noticed similar broken bonds within the community, which I also had to help mend, clearing up misunderstanding after misunderstanding. Somebody was basically destroying our community from the inside out, befriending people and then turning them against eachother, and between finishing a cartoon and saving people's friendships (and as I'd later find out, lives), people are more important than mere hobbies. (Warning: Said person is still around, and this is a very sensitive subject to the current WSW admins, as virtually all of them are still traumatized by the incident, so only PM them if you receive any suspicious messages.)
Episode 11: Released June 19, 2013. I had restored most of my friendships, but my insomnia was getting worse. I eventually went back to my go-to guide, Awaken The Giant Within by Anthony Robbins, to retrain my body to wake at command. It's a skill I gain and lose unless I retrain for it, and by June, I was able to get out of my insomnia.
Episode 12: Released June 28, 2013. Released on schedule (at least "on-schedule" while the Walfas community is under constant threat).
Episode 13: Released July 31, 2013. This was late due to the extremely complicated Flandre vs. Diamondback Beasts battle.
Episode 14: Released September 4, 2013. By this point, thanks to the person who tried turning the admins against eachother, the Walfas Station Wagon administration split into two: those who wish to support the community, and those who wish to sheild themselves off from the "autistic Spaztique Fanclub" that is the Walfas Station Wagon community (the good news is that those admins are either no longer with us or have changed their mind). As a result, unofficial group admins emerged and took care of the community while those wishing to abuse their power avoided the community at all costs, leaving me safe to work on DitR.
Episode 15: Released September 8, 2013. Released early.
Episode 16: Released September 18, 2013. Released on schedule.
Episode 17: Released September 22, 2013. Released on schedule.
Episode 18: Released February 11, 2014. Numerous things got into the way of this. First, there was National Novel Writing Month, which I agreed to participate in. Then, there was the Halloween Collab. Then, the Christmas Collab. Then, more issues with the guy trying to turn the Walfas Station Wagon against itself (this has been going on for over a year at this point; you can see how our admins are still traumatized). Biggest of all, I had to rewrite the battle scene and I wanted to make it bigger. I originally envisioned the fight scene being humongous and show all the characters doing their thing, but I wasn't skilled enough at the time to pull it off. Now that we've gone full circle, I had the chance to increase the size of the fight scene.
Episode 19: Released June 3, 2014. By this point, peace is slowly being restored to the Walfas Station Wagon: the administration has finally come back together, the community has reached peace, everything is finally back to normal, and my own health is starting to reach balance. However, now we (we being all of the community members who help co-write DitR on stream) have a new problem: how to make the ending make more sense. In addition to a new sequence I always dreamed of, the "Gensokyo is STRONG!" sequence where all of Gensokyo battles the climatic incident and wins, we had to rewrite the ending that made sense with Brolli's character arc.
Episode 20: One last problem emerged thanks to reviewer AlgaeNymph: Yukari's motivation seems a bit shallow for her to bring in a kid just to eat him. Why did she cause this incident if she knew it would upset the balance? I talked to Algae over the course of a few streams to figure out an ending, and we finally settled on something: not once did Yukari ever talk about saving the balance. Plus, she wanted to keep Brolli away from Marisa, who wanted to save the balance, and keep him around Reimu, who wanted to save him at all costs. Also, she mentioned defeating Tenshi would destroy the balance, and yet she does nothing to stop him from fighting her in the finale when she knows he'll win. So, we settled on the idea that Yukari is making the next big incident to create a perpetual dueling war to stimulate Gensokyo's growth: a nightmarish idea that plunges canon Touhou into Orwellian dystopia, bringing the already-dark DitR to even darker depths.
On July 11, 2014 at 7:04 PM, in front of the Spaztique Makes Stuff Live stream, Diamond In The Rough was finished.
Episode 20 was split into parts and uploaded on the morning of July 12, 2014. The first full-screening took place on July 12, 2014.
Walfas is a hobby: when most people watch TV or play video games, I make cartoons. If I didn't care about my friends, if I didn't care that all of my first friends began hating me, if I didn't have a life or a family, if I somehow had no health issues at all, Diamond In The Rough would have been done on time. However, life comes first, and in the end, Diamond In The Rough is still finished.
Before we get to the analysis proper, I end this chapter with this quote...
Sakuya: "A long time" is not eternity. Your mind would break the moment it realizes just how long eternity is.