Introduction to Doujin music
For some reason I decided to write a thing about doujin music. Must be bored or something lol. Anyway this is probably gonna be trash (especially near the end) but here we go. I’m glad I don’t have to do the newsletter, it’d be all over the place.
Saa, hajimaru yo.
So what is doujin?
Doujin works usually refer to fan created content usually by groups known as circles. Most work is based off of existing IP’s, with popular ones being touhou, azure lane, fate and love live but there are original works too, with groups shifting away from existing IP’s later to commercialise better. If you’re in the wider anime community it is commonly known to refer to
hentai doujinshi but doujin works can be of varying media types, games, music, manga even fan created anime. Given how these are based on existing IP’s it is pretty much in a legal grey area, some have guidance for independent projects (see ZUN’s guidelines for a good example) but most do not and some have tried (and failed) to ban/discourage them. Because of this most of them are sold physically at events with Comiket being the most well known and popular one. Most big franchises have their own unofficial doujin events, Bokura no Love Live! For love live and Reitaisai for touhou and probably some others I haven't heard of lol.
Small aside about touhou and its popularity in doujin culture.
Touhou is a series of bullet hell shoot ‘em ups originally developed for the pc98 by ZUN. It wasn’t until 2002 when he switched to windows with the 6th installment “Embodiment of Scarlet Devil” which really brought the franchise into popularity with that game still being the most iconic of all 17. However most of the popularity came from the doujin scene helping to spread word of the franchise through memes and doujin works which was helped by ZUN’s (mostly) clear guidelines and acceptance of other works using his property.
So why not just sell them digitally?
Well for touhou stuff this line was one of the reasons “For the commercial production of derivative material, or the mass circulation of derivative material outside of doujin shops, you must seek my permission.” Mass circulation online was a bit of a grey area in the early days. Nowadays he seems to have relaxed the rules. After the release of touhou 16 in 2017 on steam (being the first official game on steam) he allowed fangames to be published onto steam. Most of the bigger circles are a part of the Touhou Doujin Music Distribution label which publishes their works to Spotify, I-tunes, Google music and more recently youtube music. I haven't been able to find much guidance in regards to smaller circles but I am assuming after this they felt more at ease using paid online content distribution platforms like bandcamp, since many of them were already using youtube/niconico to upload pv’s and crossfades.
This more prevalent use of online platforms is a blessing for preservation, lots of albums and work have disappeared over the years and with the circles disbanding there is not much hope of finding a rip/scan of their older work with just a crossfade remaining to prove it ever existed. Hell it’s hard enough finding a physical copy of anything that's a few years old for a decent price.
Another factor is that most of the money made of the work is to cover the printing/pressing to create the physical item to sell. They create it out of love for the original IP and to sell it online would negate this cost. It’s good since you can support your favorite creators easier but can be frowned upon by others who say they are doing it just for the money.
Doujin vs indie?
I’m gonna be lazy here but this is a good explanation, from PrometheusZero on reddit (link to original).
“To me doujin is something that you do for yourself. You do it in your spare time and if you are pleased with what you have created, maybe make a few more copies and ask if you can sell them at conventions and the like.
Indie is trying to do something professional by yourself. You are like a sole-trader in that you have capital, cash flow, expected goals and outcomes.”
Now as we are on customsforge (and in the music thread) I have to focus more on the music side.
So doujin music, what is it?
Well you probably have pieced this together from the above parts but it is basically fan created music off existing IP’s. So remixes, why not just listen to something original? Well most of the time they are so different you can barely tell. For example Everything will freeze by undead corporation guess what the original sounds like, this. Surprised? I could list tons of examples from undead corporation alone but that’d be boring. Oh but what if you don’t like melodic death metal?
Take ya pick we got a bit of everything
Progresssive metalcore (these guys disbanded too soon. Wish the'd done more, love their stuff)
Djent (genres are subjective, pls don’t kill me)
More Djent (nsfw cover warning)
Slam (nsfw cover warning, love live instead of touhou for once wow)
And the list goes on, but that’d be boring too, here’s a big ol’ list if you care though. You can find a lot through youtube recommendations. It’s how I found most of what I listen to, but sometimes only the odd song is uploaded and you need to look elsewhere for the album (I can’t say where because of the piracy rule, but use your head).
Also I’ve done a bunch of customs on doujin stuff so have a look if ya want to, might find something nice (utsu-p, eine kleine, iosys, iron attack, liq, orangecoffee, foreground eclipse, shinigiwa satellite, yuyoyuppe, draw the emotional, testman and probably some others I forgot rip)
But there are also original works. How do you tell if it's doujin then?
If it's released at an event like comiket and not on a major label or any label then it's probably doujin. The internet makes this a bit harder and blurs the line a bit but the second part kinda helps with this, but if it has the doujin spirit then it probably is? You can kinda just tell, I get this probably makes no sense though.
Why should I care?/What makes it so great?
Well I can’t force you to care especially given the niche appeal of this kind of music but given all the genres covered you’re bound to find something you like, original or not and even if you don’t like it, it can be a good way to learn genre conventions by comparing arrangements of different genres (an arrangement being a remix or redo of a song) or by even making your own. I just find that the genre as a whole has a lot of merit with solid songs that can stand on their own with (mostly) very solid production values and is worth checking out.
How would I buy CD’s?
Off to comiket you go. Only joking, but that is a good way to get new releases as soon as possible. Cdjapan, amazon.jp and ebay are pretty good as long as you check the shipping. This might be useful, it's mostly on how to buy love live merch but there is a fair bit of overlap.
Now if you find a circle you like and want to make a custom how are ya gonna find tabs?
Good luck mate, if you’re really lucky you might find some but 99% of the time you're gonna have to do it yourself. (how to make tab guide soon?). Niconico is probably your best bet, but youtube has also been pretty good lately. If ya lucky you can find a cover, very handy for learning songs if you’re starting out (just make sure it's a decent cover). Jitashe and bilibili are also quite good too. Oh and check their website/original pv uploads, sometimes they have tabs or instrumentals uploaded on there. It’s how I found most of my LIQ and go-zen tabs and the instrumentals make learning the songs easier.
Why did you waste your life writing this?
Most of what I’ve been listening to for the past few years has been doujin stuff and I thought it’d be nice to get some more people into it and help people know more about this kind of thing.
Idk what else to say but I’ve probably missed a bunch of stuff and this makes no sense. Yeet some questions in the thread if you want to, roast my typos or just recommend and discuss some circles.
Anyway I hope you enjoyed reading this and maybe even found some new bands to listen to.