This is my way to celebrate both BUTAOTOME’s 10th anniversary this year and Tiramisu Cowboy’s 4th anniversary in August. I will try to rank(o) all of BUTAOTOME’s vocal albums (except for event-limited releases, best of albums and everything that’s after them in the TC discography) and give them a medium-length review.
There will be seven parts, all following my tier list (since tier lists are the latest trend). Some parts will have more albums than others. I will consider a lot of factors while rating these albums, other than my personal enjoyment. What I love about BUTAOTOME is that each album has its own concept and its own flavor.
Each review will have its own BGM of choice: a track from the album I will talk about in that moment. The pre- and post-review moments won’t have their specific BGM, but feel free to imagine any BUTAOTOME piano instrumental!
In this first part we’ll talk about my nemeses: the Butaotome albums that, for one reason or another, are in the bottom of my rankings. Technically they aren’t bad, but they just fail to catch my heart. Tastes are tastes!
Suzu no Sorane (2015)
♪BGM: Chosha Fumei wa Tayasuku Nusumareru
When I think of my least favourite BUTAOTOME album ever, excluding stuff like Touhou Peace, this one is always my first thought. Even now, with the BUTAOTOME’s newly released Touhou vocal albums being very low in my preferences.
Suzu no Sorane has some interesting things: the songs are all arrangements of multiple Touhou themes (with also some very unique combinations) and it focuses a lot on the Touhou lore, with all the lyrics based on Forbidden Scrollery’s chapters. It also has nice and clear design and artworks. However, those are not enough to make me appreciate the work. It’s very weak and lacking in the musical department. There is no real energy neither in the rock tracks, and even Ranko’s vocals sound weaker than usual. I like Chosha Fumei and Seven Wonder, but they aren’t enough to save the album, honestly. The Paprika songs are what ultimately killed it for me. While I enjoyed a lot her old songs, her tracks in this album just sound like Nekokenban songs with vocals glued onto them. I don’t mind a calmer album once in a while, but Suzu no Sorane fails to deliver it.
♪BGM: Kakoinaki Yo wa Ichigo no Tsukikage (piano to uta ver.)
I’ve already talked about those two albums in the Trauma Recorder review, so I will sum up the basic points. These albums are just lazy because they are just Ranko’s 2010 vocals copypasted onto some new piano arrangements. The final result is not really pleasant, and Kagerenbo is basically the only track this trick somehow works, and that’s a song that already has an acoustic instrumental base. Some piano tracks are good by themselves, but honestly I wonder what the point of those albums is. At least the covers are very nice.
♪BGM: Yokoshima na Honoo
Speaking of “newly released Touhou vocal albums”… I decided to put those two albums together because they share a lot of points in common, and they are the emblem of a direction I don’t think fits a 10-year-old circle and I truly hope future albums won’t be like these two. I think both of them lack a precise identity. They are just “SA/PCB album” without a gimmick or a small thing that makes them stand out (especially in the sea of SA/PCB albums). Take I LOVE CHERRY: it’s a PCB album, but it’s also an album with Paprika and Comp singing. It improves the direction taken with I LOVE RED by adding more Comp vocals and giving more style to each track (instead of being “Paprika’s monotonous rapping + generic EoSD song refrain” like most of the I LOVE RED tracks). It’s an album that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but (probably also because of this) it has much more personality than Epitaph.
Abyss and Epitaph feel like they exist just to have your regular Touhou release and to easily milk some themes that still haven’t gotten a BUTAOTOME vocal arrangement in all these years. While I can appreciate the arrangements being not overly faithful to the original themes (which is an improvement), the songs themselves are generic, rushed and without real variety (excluding the ballad and Pap’s tracks). Something positive is that, unlike Suzu no Sorane, Paprika’s songs are the album’s saviors, as Yokoshima na Honoo and Shiroi Asa are some of her best songs in the entire track catalog! Design-wise, Abyss has a cover background copypaste (not a big fan of the idea since I love my fully illustrated booklets, but I appreciate the work put into the background), but I really dislike Epitaph’s design, with its unfitting yellow and unnecessary writings.
And that’s all for this first part. It wasn’t a great start and I apologize for sounding a bit harsh in some parts, but well… it’s the lowest tier. The next parts will be better and they will include a lot more albums! See you next week!