- This article is about the franchise as a whole. For the first game in the series, see Chuhou Joutai (video game).
Chuhou Joutai (中方状態 Chūhō Jōtai , lit. Middle State) is a Japanese-American science fantasy multimedia franchise created and written by Susumu Takajima that is currently developed and owned by Drillimation Systems, focusing on a series of 2D manic shooters developed and published by Drillimation Systems and is the core franchise that makes up the Drillimation Danmaku Universe. The series began with the release of Chuhou Joutai: The Middle State of War in May 2020 with a sequel released in July 2021. The games are set within the fictional country of Kozan who is currently enduring a civil war with the communist militant group the Shintoist Province and Scarlet Devil of Team Crimson whose primary goal is to overthrow the monarch of Kozan and establish a socialist society. The series primarily centers on the adventures of Susumu "Driller" Takajima, a Japanese-American humanoid computer programmer trying to find an evil mastermind, Kagami Ochiai, a youkai-born idol singer aiding Driller on his adventures, and Konata, Kozan's beloved crown princess who acts as Driller's "fairy godmother."
The series is notable for being inspired by Touhou Project, but is marketed towards a younger demographic. The idea for Chuhou Joutai came when Drillimation wanted to take the danmaku titles they saw in Japan and simplify them for the western market. Chuhou Joutai also borrows several elements from Touhou Project into its universe, such as the concept of humanoids and youkai alike, its danmaku-based gameplay, as well as the title screen themes using the Theme of Eastern Story leitmotif. Starting from Chuhou Joutai 2: Paraided!, several names of locations that originate from Touhou Project were implemented, such as the Hakurei Shrine and Kourindou. The plot of Chuhou Joutai, particularly the villainous group SPASDOT (abbrieviated from Shintoist Province and Scarlet Devil of Team Crimson), takes inspiration from Cold War-era political fiction and terrorist propaganda, which form an integral part of the games' plots.
The series has garnered a positive critical response, with critics praising the simplified gameplay and accessibility to beginners. The series has a larger foothold in Japan than the rest of the world, with the games being featured on Japanese outlet 4Gamer.net multiple times.
Unlike Touhou Project, Chuhou Joutai takes place in a more modern, realistic version of Gensokyo, in a place called Kozan. According to Drillimation Systems, Chuhou Joutai is set 300 years into the future of the Touhou Project timeline. The timeline featured does not follow the one used in Touhou Project, but as suggested by the Touhou Project fangames that Drillimation produced, they take place during the Edo period, while Chuhou Joutai takes place in the present day. The series is also known for its pop culture-based humor, something other danmaku games lack. According to Drillimation, the humor is intended to be rewarding to players who beat a stage but decided to include humor in almost every cutscene in the game.
Drillimation Systems took inspiration from their home country of America, as well as Canada and Japan when creating Kozan. For example, Drillimation took inspiration from their hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania for what would eventually become Kozankyo. They also took inspiration from nearby locations within the state of Pennsylvania for Gairai and Kinmyou, based on DuBois and Pittsburgh respectively.
Differences from the Touhou Project games
- Chuhou Joutai games generally feature eight stages as opposed to six and include at least one extra stage.
- Players are given a health bar. This sets how many times a player can be hit before they faint. Once they do, they must pay a revival fee to continue playing or face a game over. According to Drillimation, this feature was inspired by the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords.
- Cutscenes play out in a slideshow format instead of the traditional visual novel-style overlay.
- All Chuhou Joutai games include a tutorial, something the mainline Touhou Project games lack.
- Chuhou Joutai has a more diverse bestiary of enemies than to what can be found in Touhou Project.
- The difficulty for the extra stage can now be selected as opposed to being on one difficulty.
- In an attempt to appeal to bigger demographics, Chuhou Joutai has its fair share of male characters with the main character being one of them.
Concept and themes
While the franchise is aimed primarily at kids, mature topics such as death or innuendo are occasionally brought in to cater to older players. Certain themes are intended to have a shocking or emotional impact on the player regardless of age. However, violent and/or suggestive references are kept at a minimum in all regions to ensure the age ratings are kept intact.
Due to the name Chuhou Joutai originating from the Japanese language (literally meaning Middle State in English), various aspects of Japanese culture are present in the game, even though it takes place in a mostly western setting. Some mythological elements such as youkai-born humanoids are also present as part of an entire race. Despite this, the series still combines aspects of both Japanese and American culture into its world, and many American customs such as driving on the right are practiced by the characters.
Various science-fiction elements including ray guns capable of firing danmaku are present in Chuhou Joutai.
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