DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
Directed by Spaztique
Written by Spaztique and ColonelDiamondback
Co-written by the Walfas Station Wagon
Runtime: 4 hours (two 2-hour reels, split by a ten minute intermission)
Rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of Gensokyo for violence, sexual content, some language, and mature themes.
Synopsis: In three months from entering the Illusionary Realm of Gensokyo, Brolli Diamondback will be killed by Tenshi Hinanawi in a cruel, humiliating, and tragic battle. Flash back to three months earlier and we find Brolli is yet another self-entitled teen lured there by the inter-dimensional border demon Yukari Yakumo. Brolli strives to become the most powerful being in the realm of Gensokyo, aided by the residents and four supernatural beasts, but Brolli is soon to find his quest for power will not only lead to his downfall, but the downfall of everyone he meets...
Notes: The following is a giant deconstruction of the typical Touhou self-insert fic: what would happen if you really dropped a selfish kid into Gensokyo? And what would happen if he did become the most powerful being there? And why would Yukari bring him there in the first place? Needless to say, the answers have generated tons of thought from all who have seen it, even when the film was being screened with scenes missing/with unfixed plot holes. Now, thanks to the Walfas/Touhou community as a whole for their co-writing and feedback, the full movie is ready. If you're going in blind, prepare yourself: you may never see self-insert "Gappy" fics the same way ever again...
TVTropes Page: Click here.
The Definitive Guide to DitR (production history, episode guides, and more): Click here.
Leave your reviews of the whole movie here.
I'm just stunned. That's really all I can say right now, aside from acknowledging you are truly a master of the storyteller's craft. Experiencing the horrific nature of Brolli's downfall and his chance at redemption goes far beyond Touhou and Waifas--it is a hauntingly compelling study and a stark revelation of the unadulterated and unabridged depravity of the human condition. Anyone who doesn't understand primal human nature certainly will by the time they watch the bitter(sweet) end of this fantastic piece. Well. Done. Sir.
I choked up seeing the quote from Proverbs at the very end. Being Christian myself, I found it deeply, *deeply* convicting. Indeed.
Movie Trivia: (In a creepy font on a red background.) If Brolli dies, it's going to hurt everyone who cares for him. A lot of people care for Brolli. Brolli is going to die. I hope you're still rooting for his death.
Movie Trivia: (Creepy text again. Yukari stands against her gap background in the back, darkened.) Yukari is always watching you.
Movie Trivia: (Same as before.) Always. (Then, at the end of this frame, Yukari jumps from the dark background into the light foreground.)
I'm both impressed and kinda creeped out, Spaz. No wonder people had an existential crisis of their lives watching the intermissions alone.
SPOILERS TO THOSE WHO WISH TO SEE THE INTERMISSION LIVE!
Calm music playing.
Movie Trivia: There are over 8000 frames in Diamond In The Rough. Roughly 2000 of them go into the battle scenes.
A picture of Brolli surrounded by Marisa, Reimu, Reisen, and Aya. Only Brolli has a face. Superimposed over Aya's face is the word "Fame," over Reisen's is "Love," over Marisa's is "Adventure," and over Reimu is, "Safety."
Movie Trivia: The collective files for Diamond In The Rough (pictures, music, sounds, and notes) are 4 gigabytes in size, including some remixes made by Spaztique himself.
A picture of Nitori, Patchouli, and Eirin, all without faces. Over Nitori's face are the words, "Free tech," over Patchouli's is "Free Books," and over Eirin's is "Free Medicine."
Movie Trivia: Reimu and Marisa have only been in *one* scene together in this whole movie so far!
Now, the characters have longer notes over their blank faces...
Sakuya: Are we people to you?
Sanae: Or are we a means to an end?
Chen: If you could get away with anything, why would you do it?
Ran: You’d do it because you want to feel something: happy, loved, safe, or something else…
Movie Trivia: The original Diamond In The Rough was going to be a one-hour response to Colonel Diamondback's videos. It has since changed into a four-hour response to virtually every Touhou self-insert fic.
Reimu: If somebody criticizes you, do you ever wonder why they’re saying these things? Or do you just take it as a personal attack?
Movie Trivia: Diamond In The Rough set out to destroy many Touhou self-insert fic cliches, but has instead bred new ones, such as Remilia drinking blood as payment, Yukari giving gappies guidebooks, and so on.
Movie Trivia: You cannot be original if you copy somebody else's ideas. That is called a "cliche." You're the reason this movie exists.
Darker music begins playing...
Marisa: Is it better to gain power to help people, or help people to gain power? Be honest. Which kind of person are you really?
Movie Trivia: Although Brolli has acted quite selfish, has hasn't really done any harm to Gensokyo in this movie. Why do you hate him so much? You're not perfect, either. (In the background are various acts of kindness Brolli has committed in Reel 1.)
Reisen: Do you love people who care for you selflessly? But is it easy for *you* to love selflessly?
Movie Trivia: According to a 2002 study, over 1.6 million children run away from home every year. 80% of runaway girls report sexual abuse. 43% of runaway boys report physical abuse. Half of both think their parents don't care about them.
Movie Trivia: Gappy fics romanticize running away.
Miko: You are not perfect. Why do you want to pretend to be? Do you think you’ll be liked, even though nobody is perfect?
Movie Trivia: (Picture of the actual Brolli.) Like many self-inserts, Brolli Diamondback is based on a real person. You have been rooting for the death of a real person.
Yuuka: Do you believe everything that everyone says to you without looking for the truth?
Movie Trivia: The only reason you're waiting four hours is to see a teenage boy die a cruel and tragic death for your entertainment.
Movie Trivia: You are watching a snuff film.
Tenshi: When we see someone we don’t like, why do we wish for their death? Why don’t we ever wish for their improvement or for them to change? And why are *you* exempt from your weaknesses? Your flaws? Your sins and vices? We judge others by their behaviors and ourselves by our motives. Do you let your motives justify your crimes?
Movie Trivia: In German, the word "schadenfreude" is used to describe the pleasure derived from somebody else's pain. The closest equivalent in English is sadism, which was originally defined as a mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
A calm arrange of "Night Falls - Evening Star" begins...
Movie Trivia: However, Sadistic Personality Disorder was removed from the DSM since clinicians unanimously agreed that only serious criminals like sex offenders and serial killers had this disorder, and when offered treatment, all patients refused, saying they were all perfectly fine, just like you...
Then, a normal-looking Yukari appears, staring at the camera on what was supposed to be a blank background…
Yukari: So, you want to see the dumb, selfish gappy die, don’t you? The good news is he will in the next two hours. The bad news will have to wait… But let me ask *you* a question: what is missing from your life? Go ahead. Type it in the chat to the right. *Long pause* Now tell me, why is it you don’t have this thing you are missing? What one thing could get you that missing thing? *pause* Chances are, you are missing a behavior or a key “thing.” Both are merely an excuse, and here is why… If changing your behavior would get you the thing you wanted, you’d *find* a way to change, no matter what. And if it’s a thing, you’d find a way to get that missing resource, no matter how long it took. But if you had a chance to get that thing missing from your life without having to face any conflict, would you take that offer? Be honest. Type it in the chat. If you could get what you wanted without effort, would you take that chance? *pause* If you said no, I hope you are not saying it just to spite me. I hope you put in the effort to get what you want. As for you people who said yes, do you think this object of desire will really make you happy? And why? More importantly, who said yes, but has been rooting against Brolli this entire time? What if I offered you the same trip to Gensokyo with the promise of what *you* wanted? Would *you* be different? Do you want powers? Do you want adventure? Do you want love? You can have powers in real life. You can have adventure in real life. You can have fame in real life. You can have love in real life. But only if you work for it. Is this why you want to go to Gensokyo? Because you don’t think you can get it in the real world? If that is what you truly believe, you will *never* get the thing you desire…
“Marisa: Is it better to gain power to help people, or help people to gain power? Be honest. Which kind of person are you really?”
Helping people to gain power worked for Byakuren in the end, didn’t it?
“Movie Trivia: Although Brolli has acted quite selfish, has hasn't really done any harm to Gensokyo in this movie. Why do you hate him so much? You're not perfect, either.”
I, and just about everyone watching DitR, am also not as thoughtless as he was. This isn’t hindsight bias; we don’t forget everything we’ve learned the moment we’re not being scolded.
Why do you talk down to us so much? You're not perfect, either.
“Miko: You are not perfect. Why do you want to pretend to be? Do you think you’ll be liked, even though nobody is perfect?”
Miko, you’re the last person I want to read that from.
“Movie Trivia: (Picture of the actual Brolli.) Like many self-inserts, Brolli Diamondback is based on a real person. You have been rooting for the death of a real person.”
No. I. Haven’t. I can distinguish the creator (who actually *listens* to criticism, and seems like a pretty cool guy regardless) from the DitR character, as well as distinguishing the DitR Brolli from the new-and-improved character.
Also, I didn’t want to necessarily see him die, just get punished or redeemed.
“Movie Trivia: The only reason you're waiting four hours is to see a teenage boy die a cruel and tragic death for your entertainment.
“Movie Trivia: You are watching a snuff film.”
What does that say about the person who *made* the snuff film? You said this was a real person getting killed. Isn’t he supposed to be your friend?
As for his death, see above reply.
“Movie Trivia: In German, the word "schadenfreude" is used to describe the pleasure derived from somebody else's pain. The closest equivalent in English is sadism, which was originally defined as a mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
“Movie Trivia: However, Sadistic Personality Disorder was removed from the DSM since clinicians unanimously agreed that only serious criminals like sex offenders and serial killers had this disorder, and when offered treatment, all patients refused, saying they were all perfectly fine, just like you...”
I’ll see your “schadenfreude” and raise you “sanctimonious;” taking the moral high ground to talk down to people. People will disregard good advice if it’s given condescendingly, even if the adviser genuinely wants to help. This is why nobody listens to Eiki or Kasen.
Here’s hoping I won’t need to be informed of “hypocrisy.”
(I’m reminded of a study where library patrons prioritize friendliness over accuracy from the reference desk. I unfortunately don’t remember the article name so I can’t cite it. I will do so as soon as I find out.)
“Reimu: If somebody criticizes you, do you ever wonder why they’re saying these things? Or do you just take it as a personal attack?”
There’s a world of difference between “your fic sucks, here’s why” or "you don't apply yourself enough" and “you’re no different from sex offenders and serial killers because you want to see a lethally stupid entitlement bitch get punished.”
It may not have been a personal attack at *me* but it was at the entire stream audience.
* * *
I suspect that the intermission was dark humor that I’ve taken too seriously. I have been told more than once, including recently, that I'm too defensive. Regardless, I was put off and feel the need to express my feelings on the matter. I eagerly and nervously anticipate your replies.
One last bit, mostly for anyone reading this…
“Would *you* be different?”
Answered in fill here: algaenymph.tumblr.com/post/915…
And "smart" not in the sense of "more intelligent", but in the sense that "knows the story better than the author". See, it would be easy to create an quantuum-computer AI villain that has all possible iterations of the Evil Overlord List programmed, it should occupy like 10Mb, but he'll have to fail at some point because the author will end up forgetting that the villain was prepared for that, because the brain of the author cannot process it everything everytime, so he'll end up forgetting something - those are mostly the origins of acidental plot holes. With a savvy-gappy list, it would go the same way.
I’ll admit that when I was writing the Gappy List (let’s call it that) that I was thinking “I just *know* I’ll break some of these rules” and “yeah, that one requires more foresight than common sense.” However, the point I was trying to make is that Brolli’s mistakes were *easily* preventable with just the *slightest* bit of critical thinking and willingness to listen.
Hopefully helping to illustrate my point is the super-short, bare-bones version of every possible don't-be-stupid list:
Prepare for what I can’t avoid.
Be aware of what my situation is when I’m not prepared.
For example, human magicians who extend their lives indefinitely ("become immortal" would be the Western term used but "immortal" has a more specific meaning in Touhou it seems) are called "youkai magicians." In the West, we'd hardly think of Patchouli, Alice, and *especially* Byakuren as demonic. For “demon” we think of malevolent beings from an afterlife world, with the more powerful ones becoming demigods. Calling magicians demonic smacks of medieval Europe believing that sorcerers made pacts with the Devil for their powers.
Then again, the humans of Gensokyo seem notably superstitious (especially a certain chronicler lacking academic rigor. Even satirists, *especially* political ones, cite sources now and again). Getting back to your interpretation of “youkai,” the human village seems to have an appeasement/distrust attitude toward youkai similar to how Europeans referred to fey (however you spell it) by euphemisms (“the fair folk,” “the kindly ones,” etc.) lest they incur their wrath.
Touhou does have one example conflating “youkai” with “demon” in the “youma books,” or “demon books,” mentioned in Forbidden Scrollery . The word “youma” most immediately directs to both the monster-of-the-week of Sailor Moon (at least the Internet remembers Sailor Moon…) and the definition of “monster” . However, youma books can be about anything: books by youkai, books about youkai, or even grimoires. Then again, Yukari’s looking quite sinister at her writing desk…
Monster  en.wiktionary.org/wiki/monster
Youkai:  en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Youkai,  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youkai
Youma book:  en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Forbidd…
Youma:  www.thefreedictionary.com/Youm…
I hope you'll forgive my crudeness but DA markup is not user-friendly.
I watched the last half of it tonight.
It's not the main character's actions that trouble me, being a satire of author avatars. It's more of the Touhou characters. Like Yukari being outright malicious rather than mischievous, a lot of other characters feel bitter much of the time. As I mentioned before, the work was meant to be a wake up call for touhou fic writers, and I think it does a good job of that, but it also induces a sort of apathy in me. I don't think this kind of work is for me.
Even understanding the context behind the creation of this work, even understanding the context behind each characters. I just felt so empty watching this because the whole point was that no one was a hero, and everyone had some underlying motive behind each of their actions. It just felt so political and foreign in Gensokyo, but perhaps that's the result of reading between the lines. I'm all for the act interpreting written Touhou material, but I guess this way just isn't for me. Spaztique's serious works don't really resonate with me (even if it's what he's most known for now...), I guess I just prefer his comedic stuff more...
But feelings are feelings.
I hope that other Touhou fic writers will heed this work's message, rather than blindly emulate this work (to an incorrect end) because it was successful. I sincerely hope it did get it's message across and that we can see children (because that's what most of these writers physically are I'd imagine) understand responsibilities and repercussions. On the other hand, some of them are innocent children that simply don't know any better. True, I can't say anything since I've never actually come across this kind of fic...
I appreciate what Spaztique has done, even if I don't read anything on ff.net. Otherwise, I cannot appreciate works set in this kind of tone; it's too much for me. It was so, so bleak, and some part of me doesn't understand where all of these tears are coming from.
Most of all, I want, because of this work, for Touhou writers and fic creators to pursue the work that they truly desire, rather than follow the coattails of this work. Maybe the tone might be similar, that's okay, but how YOU handle it is what will separate it from Spaztique's work, and that's what's important, because even though we've countless inspirations, we still have our own style in its wake.
I'm ashamed I couldn't offer any sort of words for DitR's work like anyone else, but other than that, it seems the words I've offered could not be used or incorporated. Perhaps it's for the best, as my conflicting views would have ruined the tone of the work.
As an aside, I can't help but note that I laughed whenever Marisa said "Normal Incidents."
Lastly, allow me to congratulate you on completing this gigantic work of fiction.
I actually enjoyed this. In fact, you pretty much nailed it on the head in regards to the political/morally grey tone and how one key idea isn't to repeat previous fanfics (and I especially want to emphasize not to repeat even the things I did in this story: DitR has bred some of its own cliches so far). In fact, I've been getting a few reviews where people began asking why they even liked Touhou in the first place. It's rather interesting you mention laughing at Marisa's mention of "Normal Incidents", because that's part of the point of DitR: Touhou's not supposed to be this high-stakes end-of-the-world political/romantic thing many fanfic writers want to create. Sure, epics like those can be done well, but the best works really are the comedies/adventure-type stories.
It's kind of like Funny Games, in a way, only less malicious. Funny Games was a deconstructive parody of torture porn movies where the two killers talk to the camera and make bets with the audience if the characters will survive. Rather than make the deaths violent or gruesome, they're slow, drawn out, and actually quite dull. When one of the characters finally does kill one of the killers, the other pulls out a remote and rewinds the film to stop it from happening, then casually tosses her off a boat in the next scene before sailing to the next victims' house. It repeated many of the old cliches of torture porn movies, but done to such a realistic extent that it switches from the entertaining horror into an uncomfortable disgust. Director Michael Hanake said it's one of those convention-breaking films that's supposed to get you notice the true horrors of real violence, and that if you "enjoyed" the film, then he failed to convey the message.
When it comes to DitR, I'm all for both sides of the tone argument: those who get immersed in the dark tone usually reflect on what they would do if they were in Brolli's/the Gappies' shoes, while those who are repelled by the dark tone ask, "Are dark Touhou stories necessarily a good thing?" Either way, I'm interested in hearing people's reactions.
Again, thanks for that review. I'm likely to quote it if somebody brings up the tone, if that's okay.
Ah, another thing I forgot to mention that particularly stood out to me was the creative use of stock props to create seemingly new backgrounds. Making a feature length production really showed off your ability to manipulate environments.
But as is now, I'm not seeing that, which is good! Most people (most, anyway) seem to understand the true message of this movie, the very reason the Gappy formula was destroyed in the first place. Gensokyo is no different from the Real World. Only *you* are responsible for your own happiness. It's not what you have, but who you *are* that matters in the long run. DitR isn't speaking about Gensokyo, it's speaking about how life's meanings and principles are universal, in our world, or a fantasy Kitchen Sink like Gensokyo, and in the end what matters to us. Again, I still think DitR portrays the Touhou cast a little too dark, but otherwise, it makes the point clear and I love it for that.
Like you said, if fanfic writers, Touhou or not, come away from watching this movie writing their OWN stories with their OWN meaning, but learning the deeper stuff that DitR was trying to say about Touhou, Gappies and Life, then we're going to see plenty of wonderful stories in this little community, and that will be something I hope to see
...wow, I really went on a tangent there, didn't I.
I'm so proud of you for your dedication to a task this monumental.
And I'm really lucky to have been there from the start. =w=
Y'all did well, and y'all managed to deliver such a great, meaningful story Jorb well done!
You have no heart.
On one hand, a blatant "the incident resolvers get back at Yukari" scene would disrupt the fatalistic tone of the ending, but on the other hand, she couldn't have 100% won. The compromise we made was this: Yukari's plan to tip the balance failed, and there's a great chance Brolli actually managed to outsmart Yukari by choosing to die while fighting Tenshi (perhaps she picked a kid with too much self-awareness). Instead of getting centuries of incidents from Brolli, she only got a few years at most. Rather than having Gensokyo battle the outsiders like Yukari hoped for, the outsiders are now utterly benign: they cannot gain power, and everyone is too scared to get involved. The turn of events worked out a little too well, if that makes any sense. Fan theories are also welcome.
I'm thinking of doing a DitR: After Story series about the events leading up to Hopeless Masquerade, and Yukari's story will be elaborated on, if that helps.
I'm commenting on any of your works for a week.
also I'll talk to you about some theories i have after I have calmed down after a week has gone by.
I'm not going to spoil anything.