ɺ̠e̞n.ẽ̞ɴ pɺ̠o̞d͡ʑʲe̞ct, ɺ̠e̞n.ẽ̞ɴ pɯᵝɺ̠o̞d͡ʑʲe̞kɯᵝto̞
Ren'en Project, 鏈縁Project, Len'enシリーズ
Illustration of Len'en's 4th anniversary
Created by Trick Nostalgie
|Years active||2010, 2013–present|
|No. of Installments||
The Len'en Project (連縁Project / 鏈縁Project lit. Connecting Chain) is a Japanese doujin game series that specialises in shoot 'em ups by Trick Nostalgie, whose sole member is game developer JynX. The series is notable for taking heavy inspiration from the Touhou Project. As such, it is a series of 2D (with 3D background) vertically-scrolling danmaku shooting games. Although it takes inspiration from Touhou, the games are technically not fangames towards Touhou. It is set in a separate world which features an entirely new cast of characters, therefore having its own canonicity and plot.
Le?? 鏈縁无現里 ～ Emergency everyday (unreleased)
The Len'en Project is set in the land of Mugenri, containing humans and youkai alike. It is sealed away from the Outside World by a mysterious spiritual barrier called the Mugenri Barrier. Yabusame Houlen is the main protagonist, and together with their friend Tsubakura Enraku, they are youkai exterminators who solve incidents. They were employed by Tsurubami Senri, the Shinto priest of the Senri Shrine. Tsurubami spirited away humans from out of Mugenri to force them to replace their job and go on a holiday to the Outside World.
In-game events are similar to the Touhou Project, except that it works more deeply with connecting the plot of all the games together. In Mugenri, incidents occur once in a while, where there's an event that affects all of Mugenri with an unknown cause at the time it occurs. Frequently, incidents are due to a person's whim or curiosity, and usually Yabusame (and in some cases others such as Tsubakura) would go to investigate it to then find and punish the perpetrator. Such incidents can exist from a range of heavy clouds in the sky to an outright war between two major factors. It appears that stage enemies will gain power from such events, leading to cases where a mere small-fry can defeat the protagonist.
While the project involves characters interacting with each other and having humour added to it, the stories can get very serious and deep in lore. Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle especially has a lot of dialogue hinting to the amount of plot added to the series.
While JynX is often credited as the person who made Len'en as it is known today, they were not the original creator: that is credited to Daijin (even JynX admits that the Len'en Project is not 100% theirs). Daijin started by trying to develop Emergency Everyday with a group of friends, but JynX barely participated. However, for unknown reasons, the project came to a halt and it was abandoned. On 25 April 2012, JynX announced on Twiter that have decided to start becoming a full-time doujin creator, inspired by their "Master" who quit school and started up their own company, who is most likely Daijin. JynX took an interest in the project and, on 1 May 2012, decided to remake it into a new game, so they asked for permission to carry on with the project, they were given two conditions:
- "I have to create everything except for the title name from scratch."
- "My seniors would transfer all their rights to the content to me and no longer have any involvement whatsoever."
That is, JynX must keep the current title "Len'en" (鏈縁) and work on the project by themself. Thus, Daijin passed full ownership of Len'en to JynX, and over time the game's story, characters, settings, design, and everything with Len'en has been completely overhauled to how it is known today. Various bits of elements from the characters of Emergency Everyday still exist in some of the current characters of today.
Name and Concept
As a series inspired by the Touhou Project, the name "連縁Project" is based on Touhou's name (東方Project). The name Len'en is composed of the kanji len (連 lit. "chain") and en (縁 lit. "relations"). Both kanji could also be translated as "connections". According to the developer's blog, it's a "similar to a certain shrine maiden danmaku shooting game, but if you try it you may think it's pretty different... but it's really nothing more than a rip-off of Touhou"-type danmaku shooting game. JynX has stated that the Len'en Project is their way of paying respect to Touhou.
The naming scheme for each game originally comes from Touhou as well, following a "連縁ＯＯＯ" pattern; originating from one of the first songs ZUN composed for Highly Responsive to Prayers, Touhou Kaikidan (東方怪奇談). The title of the first three games of the Len'en Project fall under the format as shown in the following table, although said convention has for the most part been broken with Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle and onwards:
|Format:||Japanese main title||double-byte space||double-byte wave dash||English subtitle|
|Example:||連縁无現里||' '||'～'||Evanescent Existence|
The kanji in its romanised form ("Len'en") has been officially used, such as in the term Len'en Series (Len'enシリーズ), or just "Len'en" by itself. The letter "l" used in the romaji is official, as shown in the .exe file names of the games (e.g. Le01.exe), even though it's more usual to use the letter "r" in romaji. The apostrophe is used to separate the two "syllables" because, in this case, it's ambiguous in romanisation. The romanised letters are "lenen", in which the Japanese hiragana is ambiguous to represent either "re (れ), n (ん), e (え), n (ん)" or "re (れ), ne (ね), n (ん)". The apostrophe is commonly used in romanisation when an ambiguity like this comes up.
JynX usually uses the simpler-looking 連 in casual writing since Evanescent Existence rather than the complex-looking 鏈, which also reads as ren having the meaning "connect". Since the fourth instalment Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle, this became official use in the title, replacing the complex version of the kanji. This was because it makes writing a lot easier and "it seems lighter". Due to this, each game has had an update to show the simpler-looking kanji, as well (e.g. 連縁无現里 over 鏈縁无現里). The origin to using the complex-looking kanji is from the Japanese title of Emergency Everyday before JynX had ownership of the project.
The change of use in the kanji used to write Len'en also stems from the arcs of Len'en's story that JynX has in mind, of which we currently know two: the Mugenri Arc (无現里編) and the Past Arc (過去編). Each arc is planned to use a different way of writing "Len'en" in order to differentiate them, they are as follows:
- The Mugenri Arc (无現里編) — The story that begins with Yabusame and friends' arrival into Mugenri, signified by the use of 連縁.
- The Past Arc (過去編) — While the details are unknown, it is divided into several smaller arcs and most likely details the adventures of Yabusame and friends prior to entering Mugenri, and is signified by the use of れんえん.
Interestingly, despite abandoning the more complex kanji 鏈縁 in the first three games in order to distance the modern Len'en with its unfinished predecessor, JynX has stated that they are not finished making games with the 鏈縁 title.
The characters in this project are either human or youkai and take many references to the characters of the Touhou Project. A certain number of characters have names that are themed around birds, called "Bird's Name". The characters' genders are generally left ambiguous in the Len'en Project. It is likely that their genders will never be revealed, and that it's simply up to the player's interpretation. As such, this wiki uses gender-neutral words.
Inspirations from the Touhou Project
There are many aspects of the Touhou Project that the Len'en Project, as a series based on Touhou, imitates and parodies. The gameplay, character drawings and the music are all similar to Touhou in early creations, but have branched into something more unique. However, there are things that are based on Touhou but which are unique in their own way. For example, while Touhou often uses the kanji fu (符) in many of it's spell card names, the spell cards in Len'en use the kanji hai (牌). These two kanji have more or less overlapping meanings, but fu is generally translated as "sign", whereas hai is more like "card". The difficulty and speed of danmaku, however, is notoriously harder, resembling the difficulty of the Seihou Project.
In addition, in both series, characters' abilities are described in a way that intentionally sounds awkward or unnatural. In Touhou, characters' abilities are often described using the phrase teido no nouryoku (程度の能力) that roughly means "ability to the extent of". Reimu Hakurei's ability, for example, is "ability to the extent of flying" (空を飛ぶ程度の能力 sora wo tobu teido no nouryoku). Abilities in the Len'en Project are described in a similar manner, but with the phrase teki na nouryoku (的な能力) which roughly means "something like (ability)". For example, Yabusame's ability is "Something like crossing dimensions" (次元を超える的な能力 jigen wo koeru teki na nouryoku).
The biggest inspiration from Touhou so far has to be Haiji Senri, who is known to use spell card patterns that are directly imitations of those from Touhou.
- Every year, JynX celebrates Len'en's anniversary by drawing an illustration with dialogue (although there is no dialogue to the illustration for the 4th anniversary).
- Whenever JynX is asked about any direct connection between Len'en and Touhou, they say it's "up to your imagination".
- JynX's Twitter: "On this night at the end of April, I think it'd start getting a bit serious studying to become a doujin creator."
JynX's Twitter: "I had a reason for this decision: Today, I learnt that my master (A friend one year older than me) is going to quit school to start up a company, which made me feel like I should probably make up my mind soon."
- JynX's Twitter: "I've decided! I'll be remaking an original game that we were making from scratch, and release it in some form or another~."
- Unreal Indolence Blog Translation, 12 September 2013
- Interview with JynX (2017): Len'en Miscellaneous, Question 77
- Len'en Wiki:Interview with JynX (2015)
- Len'en Series' Fourth Bullet: Heaven & Shadow War Record (Trial Version) Delivery Start!
- mugenri.blog.shinobi post "Original games "Len'en Mugenri & Len'en Tasouken" Trial version"
- mugenri.blog.shinobi post "2015 Original Game, "Connecting Link: Heaven & Shadow War Record"
- JynX's Twitter: "Oh right, I'm not changing the naming system, but that it changes based on the story. The Past Arc will use neither "連縁" nor "鏈縁", but will use "れんえん" instead."
- JynX's Twitter: "By the way, the "Mugenri Arc" follows the timeline after Yabusame and friends came to Mugenri. In other words, games starting from EE onwards. The Past Arc is also separated into several "arcs"."
- JynX's Twitter: "I think it's about time I made an entry in the Past Arc~. I want to tell a story regarding the adventures Yabusame and Tsubakura had."
- JynX's Twitter: "Ah, by the way, it's a story taking place in the past arc~."
- JynX's Twitter: "Ah right, I'll also make something for 鏈縁 again one day."
- http://mugentrick.tubakurame.com/Game.html - download games