I’m finally able to give the long awaited review! Prepare yourself for a long read.
First of all, some history (feel free to skip this part): as everybody knows, I’m an huge fan of the Hifuu Club and an hunter of arranges related to them. BUTAOTOME’s Hifuu songs are among my dearest songs in their entire catalogue (second only to their originals). Of course, I was insanely hyped when Dr. Latency’s Freak Report got announced, not only for the CD itself but also for future arranges. Sadly, the hype train derailed when I listened the album: ZUN’s worst music work, in my honest opinion. The only thing that was worth to wait became BUTAOTOME’s arranges, and I was sure they would have arranged something for Comiket, for a probable Shoujo Rengoku 4. Among the original tracks of Latency, Schrödinger’s Bakeneko stood out the most for me because I could hear Buta’s take of the theme. Fastforward until July: suddenly, Ranko tweets: “Aaa~Schrödinger’s Bakeneko~!!!!!!” A random tweet that could have meant anything. It could have been a reference to GET IN THE RING’s Forgotten Paradise, which lyrics predated Schrödinger’s Bakeneko. Or, as I expected, a simple way to say “hey, I’ve sung an arrange of that theme!!!11”. Buta members almost never talk about spoilers for the upcoming CDs, but that little tweet rised my hype. I was almost sure Bakeneko would have been their pick for the album. Until Pizuya’s Cell tracklist was revelead and Ranko was there, with also a Schrödinger’s Bakeneko arrange. But… hey! That wouldn’t be the first time she sings 2 different songs with the same original theme during the same event! (it happened for example with Clownpiece’s theme during C89 or Sekibanki’s theme during C82). And the hype immediately came back. Then, finally, the announcement. And they broke almost every expectation. No Rengoku 4. Full Hifuu, with also the 8-tracks format of their typical albums (+ intro and outro). 3 tracks (also 1 re-arrange and intro/outro) arranged by Paprika. And almost every track from Latency was there (except Dr. Latency’s Sleepless Eyes).
At first impact (when I first saw the album website), the design of the album reminded me of Folie à deux, but with a more accurate look and the booklet, the two albums have almost nothing in common in any level except that they are both Hifuu CDs (and Namida Tojikometa Sora lol). The design is so pretty! The Sis said that this time she opted for an English style, as opposed to the French of Folie à deux. There are no additional illustrations, except that we can see Merry’s eyes. Oh, and you need to put the booklet in vertical. Speaking of the lyrics, this time Ranko came back to write some songs! She said on Twitter that her lyrics in this album have a fairy-tale motif which was supposedly easy to guess. It was really fun to analyze the lyrics and spot every tale referenced! It reminded me of the Bibliophilia no Yoru albums by Studio Nenem, which are my favourite (almost) instrumental Hifuu albums ever; this gives bonus points to FREAKS!
1. Psychodrama -Kaimaku-
A carillon arrange of the theme of Renko and Maribel introduces us to their psychodrama.
2. Anata ni wa miete Watashi ni wa mienai mono
A mysterious intro invites us to the main part of the album and we start with a pop track. It’s not a powerful opening (but it kinda works) and I’m not crazy about it, but I love the bassline :heart: (but it’s Comp we are talking about!)
3. Fushigi no Tsuki no Boukentan
Paprika delivers us her take on Far Side of the Moon, and it’s beautiful. The part before the final refrain with Ranko’s effected voice is like a dream, I love it. Alice in Wonderland is really overused in doujin works, but I always get fascinated by it. And I like the idea of the moon as a wonderland. A wondermoon, basically!
This one is completely unrelated to Hoshi no Mukou ni except for having the same theme and same circle/arranger. I personally love when Comp redoes themes he arranged before but makes completely different songs. The progression is quite similiar to Sakebe, but the songs don’t have anything else in common: Futashika is also less repetitive (and, hopefully, it doesn’t have Pink). Oh, and that bridge!
5. Itsuka no Mirai yo Sayounara
Compared to the other Papu tracks here, this one has the programming elements more prominent than piano. Lyrically, I know almost nothing about the Wizard of Oz, except for a couple of stuff thanks to some English bands I listen. It seems to be a crossover between the backstory of the witches of South and West (Ranko mentioned the musical Wicked as reference) and the story portion of The Childlike Duo’s Naturalis Historia…
6. Namida Tojikometa Sora (Zesshou ver)
Zesshou means “superb song”. This is an “acoustic” version of this old song, with exclusively vocals and piano, but manages to be still powerful. I think this version would also fit Folie à deux, more than its original (but not the other way around).
7. Kansokusha no inai Yamanekoken
My second/third favourite from the album! It’s more or less what I expected from a Buta arrange of Schrödinger’s Bakeneko. Also, their most typical track here. I’m not familiar with the Restaurant of Many Orders, but it seems to be a quite dark story, in contrast with the music.
8. Kagi to Kagiana
And here is my favourite track! I simply love the accordion, the circus-like atmosphere and the changes of tempo. Musically, it also feels like a sequel to Futatsu no Cinema: I can imagine a Sumireko cameo in a possible PV…
9. Bara to Shingan
This one is my favourite from Papu’s songs. The instrumental, paired with Ranko’s gentle tones, has a quite spatial and childlike atmosphere, fitting for a track with its lyrics based on The Little Prince. And the lyrical content is also one of the reasons why I love this track so much: The Little Prince is not one of my favourite stories, but I’m quite affectioned to it and brings me some nostalgic memories.
10. Psychodrama -Heimaku-
The end of the psychodrama. It’s pretty much the intro track, but the melody becomes progressively slower.
Overall, this is a really great album! Comp is still my favourite Touhou arranger and I love his music as usual, but Paprika’s arranges (which are also a serious improvment from her Suzu no Sorane tracks) and Ranko’s lyrics are the stars of this CD.
Now, what are their plans for C91? Did they changed them with Old Adam (which I personally liked waaaay more than Latency) and should we expect FREAKS 2? Are they planning to participate at the Kyoukai kara Mieta Keshiki event next year (in the past years, it was the event where the previous full Hifuu albums were released)? Only time will tell.
By the way, I’m also so happy that this album will become one of my most precious treasure. I won’t ever thank Jaefine enough, who managed to get a signed copy for me. I should receive it during the next month, while the plain copy I’ve used for this review will be sent to my dear friend and Buta-partner in crime Quwanti!
Touhou Nekokenban 12
This is the first time I purchase a Nekokenban! I’ve said multiple times that I’m not an huge fan of the Nekokenban series. But in the last months I got a whole revault of Paprika, learning to truly appreciate her works. Tracks like the piano version of Mondai (which is probably my favourite Butaotome instrumental) in the Kashiramoji CD or Tsuki ni hoeru in the Neko11 helped a lot. When I listened the XFD of this 12th chapter of the series, I got enchanted by its horror style and decided to grab it as well. And I’m sooo satisfied! Some tracks that stand out are the arranges of Lost Emotion (which is pretty This is Halloween-esque) and Hartmann’s Youkai Girl (a Mary-san song) The CD has arrangements of characters related to dolls (but where are my Dolls in Pseudo Paradise songs..?), and it was also promoted as “first horror CD of the series”. Does this mean they are planning to make more? Do want, then!
Yes, I bought Hanbun Neko as well. Comp seemed to be really proud of it and I felt kinda bad for ignoring it just because “it’s not music”. I’m not a photography expert, so I think I can’t properly review it… ^^“ Paprika has the same static pose in almost all the pictures, but the sceneries from Japan really make up for them: some of those are really stunning! But one of the photos that caught me the most was one in Yamanashi, at night, with the half cat and a latern in a igloo. Simple, but effective. From the point of view of a foreign person who never went to Japan, I can say Comp did a good job: I’m looking forward more albums (Europe?)!
And at last, I really want to talk about Akarui Mirai, the new song for CHUNITHM. I love it :heart: Especially the second refrain, where an 8bit (?) effect keeps the rhythm of the song and Ranko sings about "a world of 0 and 1”. Among the music game-exclusive songs, it’s the one I really want to hear in high quality or as a possible full version the most. And now, the usual question I’ll keep asking when possible while I talk about BUTAOTOME: where the hell is the sixth original?
And that’s all for this article!