How I do evaluate BUTAOTOME albums + upcoming reviews

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After losing my soul on Touhou Cannonball’s latest event (there is a new Pig instrumental, woohoo!), and dissing on the newly released Touhou Lost Word because it doesn’t work on my phone as well as 50 android emulators and most of its music is not new/made for the game (the BUTAOTOME tracks are basically random Nekokenban songs), I finally have time to write this. Actually, this is something I had in mind for a couple of weeks.

An old TC Crew Theater picture just to make the post prettier.

My main factor in enjoying an album is, of course, the music. As long as I like at least half of the tracks on it, I can say that I liked a release. However, with BUTAOTOME’s Touhou vocal albums, I consider two other factors that while they won’t turn an album I didn’t particularly enjoy into the latest masterpiece, I can still appreciate regardless.

The first one is the concept. Each BUTAOTOME album follows a certain concept, whether related to the chosen Touhou girls, the sound of the album, or the lyrical content. I also really love how they care a lot about the Touhou lore. There have been various instances where the concept was an “unoriginal” one (examples: single Touhou game, final/extra/stage whatever boss themes, playable characters, or also Hifuu), but most of the time there was something that made the album stand out among the other BUTAOTOME releases and/or all the other albums by other artists with the same idea. Take for example Eight. It’s first of all the final boss album, but it’s also the duet album, something we never had ever since (I still stand my theory that we’ll get Eight 2 after Touhou 21’s release). The Hifuu albums also have a specific concept and style (gemstones and crystal radio with an acoustic sound, sanatorium and letters with an orchestral sound, psychodrama and a fairytale motif… and then the album with Ranko no Ane singing and variegated instrumentals). Putting a specific release in their context at the time also helps. Hikari, for example, is mostly just the pairing album, but at the time it was very atypical to see BUTAOTOME arranging 2-3 themes per song.

The second factor I take into consideration is the album art and design. When Ane gets serious, she can do some wonderful stuff, and it’s amazing how she manages to give different styles to each album. But more talks about it will be saved in future reviews.

These are just my opinions and viewpoint. You can still enjoy an album, or just the super cool single without its extra content, or not knowing anything about Touhou!

And said this… I will reboot the Rank(o)ing series. No more tiers, instead it will follow a more traditional top 35 or so. It will also take into consideration only the albums made during the Heisei era, so up until Epitaph. Following the TC discography page, this is what I’ll do in the future:

  • I always planned to give a separate surprise tier to the original and major albums, and that’s what I will still do. But only after I’m done with all the Touhou albums.
  • Touhou vocal albums will obviously be the major focus of the new rank(o)ing.
  • Instrumental albums/Nekokenbans: well, my original plan back in November or so was to make a retrospective of the series once it reached the 20th chapter. But now that we know that the series is done, and Paprika will leave the group, I think it must be done. I’m planning to make it a 4 part series, with five albums for each post. Nekokenban 20 won’t be reviewed along with Shoujo Rengoku 5 but in the final part of the retrospective.
  • Re-arrangement albums: they’ll be reviewed all together in a separate article. Guerrilla 2 won’t be included due to being made in the Reiwa era. Or maybe yes, if I feel so, but expect the review to be just “Paprilicious Mirai is just like bacon, it’s the ultimate form of love”.
  • I wasn’t planning to review the compilations and the PapComp albums, and I still stand with my original plan.
  • Last but not least, there are albums from smaller categories (SoloButa-R, Collaborations, Other). I don’t know what I’ll do with them, but I will group them together in the case. I may include the Fanbook CD as part of the original albums.
  • And while writing this article, I got an idea that maybe I should talk about event-exclusive releases. Well, I have all of them in some way or another, so I can do it. But it will be in a distant future. (now watch how BUTAOTOME will resume their Utau Acoustic series once the pandemic is over and it will take another 5 years to complete the collection)

I admit this post mostly serves as the introduction to the new rank(o)ing. I don’t know when I’ll start it, but I think I’m in the right state of mind nowadays! (tho, apparently a new TDMD update is coming on Tuesday, so I’ll be busy with that)

And that’s all for my future plans. There is also another series I wanna start, and I’m planning to post the introduction to it later this month… And now I hope I won’t get overwhelmed by my usual amount of stuff to do…