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Catness: Solutions To All Hints

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I decided, now that the true culprit of the Catness Incident has been revealed, to explain all the little hints I dropped everywhere. This is going to have spoilers, duh. The culprit is Tenshi Hinanai, who started the incident for the lulz just like every other incident she's started, and utilized a Stone of the Celestials (not to be confused with the earthquake-keystones she weaponized in Scarlet Weather Rhapsody).

It is highly probable, now that I've shown everyone these techniques here, that the next time I do something like this, some of the solutions will be easier to find. I never really used anything particularly advanced; I mainly used tools linked directly from the Wikipedia page, and did Google searches for various things I wanted to do and picked ones most easy to use by the average Touhou fan.

Shopping list of techniques

  • Very faint text on a section of the panel which was vertically cropped out
  • Steganography Encode/Decode
  • A Japanese/English dictionary
  • The old "hiding a ZIP in a PNG file" trick, consisting of taking the entire contents of an image file and a ZIP file and dumping them into an individual image file of the same type. In Windows, you do it by opening a command prompt and doing copy /b [image].png + [archive].zip [newname].png; in Unix, you do it with cat [image].png [archive].png > [newname].png. Any archive program which doesn't mind some non-ZIP data at the beginning, such as WinRAR or GNU Unzip, will then be able to extract it.
  • OpenStego
  • Image Ciper
  • How To Hide One Image In Another (which requires both the original unmodified image and software such as GIMP or Photoshop)
  • View Source in your web browser.

List of solutions by comic

Part 8

Obvious Hint: "She has appeared in Touhou Nekokayou at least once." Tenshi had, indeed, appeared three times prior to the Catness incident. In fact, combined with the hidden hint, this doesn't actually rule anyone out.

Hidden Hint: For purposes of looking nicer, most of the panels in every comic since Retelling of Scarlet Devil are vertically cropped slightly (or even dramatically, in some cases). The announcement of each hidden-hint instructs you on how to directly access the uncropped panels for that particular comic. If you download panel 9, you may discover a very faintly visible URL: http://utilitymill.com/utility/Steganography_Decode! Of course, when you try that with panel 9, you get the message "Not THIS panel! Good work finding it, though." But if you try it with panel panel 4 ...

"The culprit is a boss from a Windows game; appears either as a penultimate boss, endboss, or Extra boss in her first appearance (note: in PoFV and the fighting games, 'penultimate boss' may depend on who you're playing as); and HAS NOT appeared in the Catness storyline yet. Congrats on finding this, btw."

Tenshi is the final boss of Scarlet Weather Rhapsody; obviously, the "penultimate boss" comment was a red herring.

Narrowed it down to: Youmu Konpaku Yuyuko Saigyouji Ran Yakumo Reisen Udongein Inaba Kaguya Houraisan Eirin Yagokoro Fujiwara no Mokou Komachi Onozuka Sikieiki Yamaxanadu Sanae Kotiya Kanako Yasaka Suwako Moriya Iku Nagae Tenshi Hinanai Utsuho Reiuji

• Tewi Inonymous's comment was wrong in literally every respect.

Part 9

In-Comic Hint: Eirin comments that "the Shrine Maiden has fought that particular kind of power before," though this is vague enough to be entirely useless.

Obvious Hint: "The culprit has appeared in some capacity in two Touhou games or fewer, at the time of this writing; this does not count Shoot the Bullet — which isn't to say that she is in Shoot the Bullet, but if she is, I am not counting Shoot the Bullet in my 'number of appearances' list." Tenshi has appeared in Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, and no other when part 9 was released.

Hidden Hint: Drakyon alerted me to the "hiding a RAR file in a ZIP" trick, which I hadn't known existed. Someone who downloaded panel 3 may have noticed that it is unusually large, so let's see what it contains!

Whee, I found out how to hide a ZIP file in an image! :3 (Included is the Marisa Gear Solid theme and the Happy Flame Time Satori comic, just to pad out the file size a little and make this ZIP file's presence a bit more obvious and to distract you from where the *real* hidden message is.)

Oops. Well, let's look harder! Panel 7 is similarly rigged, and contains a text file with the message:

Cheers, mate! The culprit's hair-color is in the "cool" range (i.e. blue, green, purple, or some variation on one of those). All details of the previous hint still apply as of this writing. (also I like how the ZIP file is bigger than the txt file)

And there you have it! Wow, that narrows things down a lot!

Narrowed it down to: Fujiwara no Mokou Sikieiki Yamaxanadu Sanae Kotiya Kanako Yasaka Iku Nagae Tenshi Hinanai

• Aside: "Silver"/"Grey" does not count as "a cool color." I said a variant on blue, green, or purple, and silver/grey is monochrome ...

Part 10

In-Comic Hint: Koishi, reading Aya's mind, discovers that the culprit is someone she (Aya) has fought before, though she herself doesn't recognize her, and deduces that Flandre wouldn't have known who she was.

Obvious Hint: "(about the item used in conjunction with all this) one such item has been seen in some of the first 35 comics!" The Stone of the Celestials featured prominently in the Broken History mini-arc. Mima used one to give herself a power boost, and Reimu blew it up, shattering history changing her hair-color to black and making Mima disappear to an unknown fate.

Hidden Hint: The title image used Steganography Encode/Decode again, with a link to OpenStego, an open-source multiplatform "hide file in image" program. Using it on panel 13 nets a text file containing only the words "CEREMONY DEATH!" This is a bilingual pun, or at least a translated pun. Ten (典) means "ceremony; celebration; law code" according to a certain online dictionary; it is better-known that shi (死) means "death." Ten-shi. It was interesting to see all the other explanations people came up with, though ...

Narrowed it down to: Sikieiki Yamaxanadu Iku Nagae Tenshi Hinanai Sanae Kotiya Kanako Yasaka

Drakyon comments that "everyone on this list COULD be interpreted as 'having fought Aya,' depending on how you interpret the events of Mountain of Faith anyway," thus increasing the hint's vagueness.

Part 11

In-Comic Hint: Patchouli comments that the culprit would have easier access to "that object." And Tenshi, as a Celestial, would certainly have easier access to a Stone of the Celestials than e.g. Mima.

Obvious Hint: "the color blue, in some capacity." Tenshi has blue hair and wears a blue dress. Of course, this could just as easily apply to Sikieiki's uniform, Kanako's hair, or Sanae's robes.

Hidden Hint: The first hint (I ran out of ideas for what method to use) was Steganography Encode'd into panel 12.

Today's hint about "That Object" was brought to you by the letters C, S, and M, though not necessarily in that order.

They are meant to stand for Mima, Stone of the Celestials.

The second hint was more subtle. The hint-article instructs you to look at "thcomic/73-##.png and thcomic/73title.png ... oh, and thcomic/timeparadox.png ^^"; most would have only looked at 73-01 through 73-14. However, their are 15 panels (red herring'd away by timeparadox.png). Trying to visit 73-15.png will net you what at first appears to be a 404 error — but if you notice, the text is tinted slightly blue no matter what your browser/CSS settings are for uncolored pages, and the "not found" message refers to "73-15.php" instead of .png. If you view the page's source, you'll find the message:

<!-- Grey/silver isn't "cool."
CEREMONY DEATH is a pun on the perp's name.-->

... which has already been explained above.

Narrowed it down to: Sikieiki Yamaxanadu Sanae Kotiya Kanako Yasaka Tenshi Hinanai

Part 12

Obvious Hint: "(about the item that was used for a power boost) a rope! No, not that one." If your first reaction is to think about Kanako's ropes: that's wrong. It referred to the rope tied around the Stone of the Celestials.

Hidden Hint: Solved crosswordThe hint was spread across every panel, using OpenStego, Steganography Encode/Decode, Image Cipher, and in the case of panel 9, faintly-visible text. The hints were:

Across

1. The first item in Flandre's forbidden template.
5. What can every single character of every game use, besides the power of flight?
6. Yuyuko's last spell card: Perfect Cherry Blossom of _____
7. A cat-noise not actually used in the Catness story yet.
9. What was used to hide every single hint?
10. A youkai magician known for her namesake.

Down

2. Reimu is physically _____ to solving Incidents.
3. What about the "catness" is based on the victim's foolishness or power (but not both)?
4. The program you used to extract this very hint!
8. A fairy who became a cat.

Take the letters in the yellow boxes, then unscramble them for a message about That Object!

The letters, unscrambled, were meant to spell out MIMA USED IT.

Part 13

Hidden Hint: The line after the comic's commentary contained only a mysterious link: "http://dizzy.pestermom.com/thcomic/74-13-original.png." It appeared to show only the same as panel 13 of the previous comic. However, if you use View Source on the page, you will see the following:

<!-- http://www.instructables.com/id/How_to_hide_one_image_in_another_An_introduction_/ -->

I used a slightly different technique, however; rather than setting the hidden image as an indexed color, I reduced the opacity to 1%.

Following the instructions for "getting the image back," at least in Photoshop, will get you this:

Solved steg-image, showing a VERY low-quality picture of Tenshi Hinanai

Conclusion

The hints could have used a little bit more preplanning, inasmuch as it was entirely made up as I went along. It also may have been somewhat unfair, particularly the more difficult ones at the end. I suppose if my community were the size of that of, say, Walfas, I'm sure someone would've thought of viewing the source of the percieved 404 page (or even found it to begin with), but with so few people, the standard-deviation thinking-outside-the-box is a bit too narrow. At the time of this writing (the day before I reveal it), I anticipate more reactions of "Well how was I supposed to think of that!?" than "D'ohhh, WHY didn't I think of that!? It's so obvious!"

Oh well. Lesson learned. And the next time I do something like this, you'll have all these solutions to consider ... and more.

16 Comments (auto-closed) (rss feed)

Asator

Ah, so THAT'S where the second hint from part 11 was. Funny, if I hadn't already figured it out beyond a shadow of a doubt after the crossword in 12, I might've gone back and actually been able to find it. As it stands I counted the panels and never looked for a panel 15 image in the first place. Wouldn't have really helped me by that point anyway.

Tewi Inonymous

Your hints ate up all the conversation for 14 pages. Blargle.
Also honestly, how was i supposed to think of all that crap!?

Draykon

...View Source? You hid hints in source comments?!

Goddangit, why on earth did I never view source? That's like, the first step to anything like this. x.x

Kimiko Muffin

Don't get what?

Morgan

I love how the first hidden hint rules out *every single one* of my random guesses. ^o^

universalperson

This makes up for my disappointment with the PC-98 trolling in UFO.

Kimiko Muffin

Trolling? I prefer to think of it as ordinary incompetence on ZUN's part. He's shown plenty of aptitude for that.

Unless he's secretly planning on doing the exact same thing I was, except in reverse ... ;)

universalperson

Let us hope so.

Cassie

How the frick can an average person + Touhou fan like me can even begin to DIG up these clues and dissect them using complicated tools which never crossed my life before like ABOVE? Next time Muffin, no funny stuff.

Asator

Uhh yeah, I consider myself an average person+touhou fan, the only difference between me and everyone else probably being the fact that I had too much time on my hands.
I have never seen any of these tricks before except comments in the page source and faintly visible text, and yet I got all of these hints except the second hidden one it 11.

Morgan

You know, in most comics you wouldn't have the hints at all. `.`

That being said, there were some cases where the dialogue seemed rather awkward due to the need for characters to avoid saying things that they knew.

Tenshi might be everyone's first suspect now, since I think she's been behind *all* the incidents in the comic now. (Not counting Retelling of Scarlet Devil, since it's... a retelling. `.` Of course, I could be missing one.)

After seeing more of the story mode in SWR, I kind of want to see a story with Tenshi helping resolve an incident... and doing things that make it harder for her side to prolong the experience.

Kimiko Muffin

That being said, there were some cases where the dialogue seemed rather awkward due to the need for characters to avoid saying things that they knew.

Tenshi might be everyone's first suspect now, since I think she's been behind *all* the incidents in the comic now.

On the first point, guilty as charged. marishrug.jpg.

As for the other ... mmm, there haven't really been any incidents besides RoSD and the bit with Wriggle and Mokou ... and the, uh, references to the games. Good point, though.

Morgan

I guess I did forget about this one.

There's also Tenshi's plan to drop rocks on the shrine. Though, since she never got the chance to actually do it, I suppose it only counts as a third of an incident or something. `.`

Still, it seems like Tenshi's been behind more incidents than any other individual. I can just imagine Reimu going "Okay, round up the usual suspect..."

And thinking about it, if someone else was up to something, laying a false trail to Tenshi would be a good strategy, because she'll probably be willing to make a fight out of it even though she's actually got nothing to do with it. Though it's funny to imagine how it'd go if it was Koishi confronting her again.

Tenshi: You'll never stop me now!
Koishi: "I'd better hide that I have no idea what she's talking about."

Hunter 1

Useful tidbit: The 7zip File Manager can be used in place of WinRAR or GNU Unzip for the "ZIP in a PNG" trick. However, due to the way the shell extension works, you can't do it right from the Windows right-click menu, you have to manually use the File Manager.

Sadly, as I only started reading around comic 92, this info will only be truly useful if Muffin does another stunt like this again. But when you do, Muffin, I WILL download every panel for every strip you put hints in, just so I can check each and every single one this way.

Facteur Rien

mmm. I'm slowly taking the habits to watch source code of every page (because of Erika!), but you were so hard, using so many differents ways, that I was lost before the beginning.

Someday, I'll do the same thing. But with a photo of my happy face.