Touhou Suzunaan: Forbidden Scrollery. is a Touhou official comic published by Kadokawa. It introduces the human book renter and collector Kosuzu Motoori as the main character, with the story centered around her mysterious ability to decipher any book no matter the language or script, and her assortment of various rare and dangerous demon books.
Marisa Kirisame runs into Hieda no Akyuu on her way through the Human Village, and notices that she's carrying a strange book—a youma book, said to be indecipherable. Afterwards she makes her way to the Hakurei Shrine to ask Reimu Hakurei about them, but she doesn't know much on the subject. Marisa explains their dark and mysterious nature, and the two decide to take a visit to Suzunaan to talk to Kosuzu Motoori about it. She reveals her collection of demon books, as well as her recently-awakened powers that allow her to decipher any sort of script. Reimu worries that it might be dangerous, but Kosuzu is not very concerned.
Touhou Project has grown to become quite a large multimedia franchise spanning from official video games, novels, mangas, artbooks and music CDs. There are also tons of fanmade stuffs such as music remixes, anime, fanarts, fanfictions, doujin mangas, fangames etc. It is quite difficult to get into the fandom out of nowhere because of the overwhelming amount of works of it.
Here, I would recommend Forbidden Scrollery as a start to begin your venture into Touhou Project.
In a familiar manga medium, Forbidden Scrollery is primarily about the wonders and mysteries of the world of Gensokyo. Through the eyes of a normal human, Kosuzu Motoori,
we are introduced to the numerous existence of the other Youkai races that inhabit Gensokyo alongside humans - ranging from the Tengu, Tanuki, Kappa, and many others.
Many of the prominent characters of the Project also make their appearances, and the manga did a good job giving them sufficient panels so the readers would know who they are. Some of the most powerful beings in Gensokyo are present, such as the gap youkai Yukari Yakumo, the vampire Remilia Scarlet and the mask youkai Hata no Kokoro. From here, the reader will be able to have a good grasp on some of the characters and this will serve well as a stepping stone to get into the franchise.
If you ask me what genres do Forbidden Scrollery belong to, here they are - Fantasy, Supernatural and Mystery. Gensokyo is a fantasy world where supernatural beings and occurrences belong. A huge part of the plot is about mystery, such as solving the mystery of sounds heard in the middle of the night (turned out to be animated objects walking around at night), or some mischievous Youkai causing trouble to the human villagers that needed extermination. It is quite a straightforward read, while it may be dialog-heavy sometimes, which helps to build the world and characters for the readers, overall the plot isn't overly complicated and it certain doesn't drag.
While Touhou Project is officially a danmaku shooting game (mostly), there isn't much action to represent the game. Instead, we get something more akin of a slice-of-life drawing style, featuring Moe Harukawa who has the art style of drawing the Touhou girls in a rather cute fashion (you can see some of them from MAL directly). Meanwhile, the granddaddy behind Touhou Project, the great ZUN himself, is penning the story for the manga.
All in all, I would say Forbidden Scrollery serves as a great introductory medium to the Project. There's nothing groundbreaking or epic to be expected while reading it, instead, you will be given a delicious trip into the wondrous world of Gensokyo itself.
ZUN is a genius, as a man who have a family, lots of life experience and alcohol, ZUN's work drips with messages and his life views, and as a result tend to run deeper than most manga and anime, one chapter of Forbidden Scrollery is worth a deep analysis about both the lore and messages, and is more fulfilling than 10 or more chapters of any other manga.
Story - 8
Suzunaan's story revolves around the book store called Suzunaan ran by the family of Motoori Kosuzu, and ties into the ongoing world of Touhou lore. Featuring stories ranging from the dangerous youkai
books kept within Suzunaan to ongoing incidents such as the aftermath of Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom. From the way the story is told, it should be categorized as a Slice of Life, but Suzunaan accomplished what all of those sad excuses of a story could not do, it is immersive.
Well...technically that is the common appeal of the entire Touhou franchise, but in terms of manga, Suzunaan manages to convey the culture and world in it as a very believable world, even while it is very alien.
Character - 9
It is said that it is what the author don't say that shows the skill of an author best, and ZUN certainly taken that to heart. For example, without showing Yukari at all, ZUN was still able to paint her as a master schemer, like in the year-end Doomsday urban legend event, after LoLK, we know that Yukari took the lunar power stone, yet we don't know why, and after reading chapter 35, it all comes into place like a jigsaw puzzle, and makes you go "Oh, so that's why she did that", and taking in the events of the doomsday rumour, you realize that everyone was just dancing on her palm, and this was done with NO exposition or SHOWING Yukari at all. Masterful, I actually had to use my brain for once and actually piece together the story from the clues scattered all around.
Overall - 8
It is like a multi-layered sweets, the first layer is really easy to dig into, but once you dig harder and connect it to other lores you realize there is another layer underneath it all, and when you dig even deeper you find even more layers, and in your excitement to keep digging deeper into the lore, you became a Touhou fanboy, Congrats.
Forbidden Scrollery is a lot more different than your typical Touhou manga. Unlike the more whimsical Wild and Horned Hermit, or the lighthearted Three Fairies manga, Forbidden Scrollery tells a more serious, perhaps harrowing tale of life in Gensoukyou, seen through an ordinary human inhabitant rather than a person with considerable power.
This, I feel, is one of the strengths of the manga, and what makes it stand out from the rest of the Touhou manga. World-Building is top-notch as per ZUN's previous works, but the story, now delivered in 2-parters, are excellently told and often contain twists and turns, some unexpected, that make for
an enjoyable read.
Characters are also very well written here. Main protagonist Kosuzu in particular, may seem like an innocent character who's a bit naive, has depth in her characterization in which she actually comes across as much more manipulative as she may initially seem. Other supporting characters are given as well, series protagonist Reimu, for instance, is given a much more serious portrayal, who very willingly will go through whatever it takes to upheld the law and decency in Gensoukyou, a far cry from her lazy attitude in Wild and Horned Hermit, but still doesn't feel out of character with her attitude across the franchise.
Overall I recommend Forbidden Scrollery to all fans of good material.