I apologize for delaying this review so much, but here we are! It’s finally time to talk about BUTAOTOME’s first 2021 release and the introduction to their new era!
A Touhou full vocal arrangement album for humans enchanted by the paradise, unraveling the lore of Dolls in Pseudo Paradise!
Kochuuten is based on ZUN’s first CD, Dolls in Pseudo Paradise, released in August 2002. For the most part, it’s based on the first-press story, the most obscure one, and the one you can’t have without spending million of yen (and I’m not exaggerating, some artists even made an entire anthology based on that). But thank Bibi people have transcribed the story, and it’s available to read on most Touhou-related websites.
We on TC are not fans of albums that are based on a single Touhou work unless they have an interesting gimmick outside of “it’s a BUTAOTOME album” that makes them stand out among the sea of other similar-themed albums. But Kochuuten is quickly forgiven! While DiPP-only albums actually exist, they are all full instrumental and come from obscure/less popular circles. Kochuuten is the very first Hourai Ningyou vocal album, and we also get the first DiPP-themed vocal songs that don’t have Meramipop as a vocalist.
I admit that while waiting for this album, I’ve been in a huge DiPP mood, and ended up relistening to Diao ye zong’s Hofuri (which I’m still not sure if I like it or not overall), buying one of the five doujinshi available on Book-walker, thinking about Adelina and friends, trying to give a name to poor disc girl, and more. Once again, Buta influenced my Touhou tastes (tho I always liked DiPP, but never in a fanatical way). Adelina might be in my top 5 girls, now.
Lyrically-wise, and in stark contrast with the album I reviewed last time, Kochuuten is almost entirely written by the sisters. They definitely love Dolls in Pseudo Paradise, and had fun exploring it in this album! Also, apparently, Ane is back into lyrics writing because Comp didn’t have time to write more…
please understand, his music producer works have the priority.
I would say this is one of Ane’s best works! The art, in general, is very good, and there are also some very nice details in the booklet that help understanding more the role of each track.
The cover art features Reimu in her PC-98 design. One could argue that a DiPP album should have the cover girl and/or the disc girl on its jacket image, but I think Reimu is fitting. It’s like she is luring the honest men to the entrance of paradise. And the disc itself is the entrance. By the way, it’s never explicitly stated in the story that the shrine maiden is Reimu/the Hakurei shrine maiden. She is only referred to as “the shrine maiden of paradise”, and the only thing that makes the whole story related to Touhou is the sole mention of “Gensoukyou” in the end.
The cover girl/Jacketko/Adelina is on the back cover, while the disc girl/Labelko/let’sfindanameforher is on the inlay.
The booklet has a warm orange color reminiscent of the DiPP cover. We also see the doll/corpses representing the unfortunate honest men and their death. Some of them are colored white, following accordingly their respective tracks.
btw, the inside of the obi strip has a completely new design, with the 2020 promo pic and QR codes for BOOTH and FANBOX. Useless trivia: if you scan them on Pokémon Sun and Moon (or their Ultra versions), you get Emboar (hey, a pig Pokémon!) and Budew.
Since this is a Dolls in Pseudo Paradise album, the original themes all come from said CD. Most of the tracks represent a character of the honest men story and their key moment (only Hakidasu Aka is related to the popular story). I think Kochuuten is one of those albums that shines more for its concept and the 8 tracks collectively rather than for that cool single, so I recommend approaching the album in this way (although a couple of tracks are great even on their own).
Kochuuten in general is pretty guitar-driven and heavy. I would also define it as unhealing, just like how ZUN defined Dolls in Pseudo Paradise. The typical Comp-sound is rawer, there is a complete lack of a happy-sounding track, and even the most “generic” and upbeat instrumental is accompanied by Ranko’s voice that never sounds outright cheerful and by lyrics about dying, murdering, cannibalism, and that kind of fun things. The original themes are also arranged in a very nice way, most of the songs feel quite original and they aren’t standard takes of typical Touhou themes (and since one of the tracks is freaking U.N. Owen, this is very much welcomed).
Now, for some random thoughts about each track:
“I know I’m the lamest one of us, so I’m ready to bid farewell to this world.”
The most coward honest man, who tries to hang himself but finds himself born anew. An impactful rock track, definitely the best opening tracks in recent years, and a song that really deserves to be played live at some point! Comp’s bass is a blessing especially here.
There might be a certain significance with a Touhou Kaikidan arrangement being the opener. According to ZUN’s comments, this is the first song he ever made for a game. The title format of Touhou games (東方○○○) comes from this theme. It’s a track of beginnings, in that sense. And ekadanpi (an arrangement of it) is the track that marks the beginning of BUTAOTOME’s new era.
“Farewell to everyone’s paradise and these peaceful days.”
The most wary honest man, who died nailed on a tree. We all know that a track with SHALALALALALA and such only means “bad news”. Okay, maybe not always. But, as said before, this album is not good news anyway. This track has probably the most upbeat instrumental, contrasting with the lyrics, vocals and the general theme of Kochuuten.
3. HARI HARUHARI
“Killing time and having a superfluity of boredom – These honest men and this shrine maiden are the same.”
This incarnation of the shrine maiden of paradise seems quite hollow… I guess she is waiting for Elden Ring. Anyway, I love the sound and atmosphere of this one, reminiscent of some other weird-sounding tracks, but even better. It’s also the track from this album I find myself singing it out of blue. The Hari haru hari choruses are so enchanting, and I really love the progression of the final stanza!
btw, this track has the word “hinata” in the lyrics… track 1 had the word “nodoka”… is this a Healin’ Good Precure album?
4. Shoujiki mono A no Dokuhaku
“Even so, I want to see it. I want to see much more in this paradise illuminated by lies.”
The most curious honest man. This track should have been the first one maybe, but this kind of shuffled order makes things more fun! A Hourai Densetsu arrangement was mandatory since it’s the most iconic track from Hourai Ningyou. And while this song is not what I expected from a Buta take on the theme, it made me realize how good it is.
5. Hakidasu Aka
“They’re beckoning me in, but their magic won’t reach me. I cannot slip out of this foul demon’s lair.”
The only track in the album to be about the more popular story of Dolls in Pseudo Paradise, I treat it as a sort of interlude. We are in late 19th century Shanghai, the city of magic and opium. This song evokes the feel of an exotic party and the tragic atmosphere that permeates the place. Ranko’s vocals are at her best here.
While it was mostly new album + PV promotion, I was really glad to see the song being played live at last month’s live, it’s a welcomed addition in the typical Butasetlist!
6. Kichi no Soto
“What is it that you’re seeing right now? I’ve got no means to see anymore.”
The earliest riser of the honest men, who died by poison. Where is the actual intro of the song, the beginning is so abrupt! Also… I can’t believe BUTAOTOME actually did an original take on U.N. Owen, I hope it will replace Kyoai now and forever. I also wonder if it will get a Groovy rearrangement in a possible Guerrilla 3…
“I want to be charming even at the outer ends of hell!”
The most beautiful honest man, probably the only woman in the group and the one who was behind all the deaths. This is my personal favorite song in the album, and this comes from someone who hates Flower of Japan. It’s quite fun to listen (despite being… a murdering song) and has an irresistible jazzy and danceable vibe.
This track has a small, peculiar design choice: its title header is green, instead of orange like every other track. It further marks that this is the track about the most beautiful honest (wo)man, who was already the “odd one out” from the original text alone. And I also appreciate that the pronoun in this song is “watashi”, more fitting for a refined lady like Adelina.
8. Arifureta Inochi
“Where does my ordinary life go? Carrying my everlasting sins, I’m shaken by the wind.”
The end. With the acoustic guitar as its only instrument, it gives the desolate vibe that nothing is left here anymore. It really works as an ending theme, even though it’s literally just the crossfade part repeated two times, with different lyrics and a small emotional spark at the end. Maybe it makes sense for Circus Reverie to get this kind of song. In the original story, this is the track with the weakest story part, the one that can be easily removed/merged with another track. Even Forest of Dolls
(which was left out from Kochuuten because it sucks) is more eventful!
What a beginning for this new era. The Pig still has their immense love for Touhou and ZUN’s creations and the deep attention to the lore. I also wonder if this album will inspire more popular circle to make DiPP-based arrangements… I highly recommend Kochuuten to DiPP fans, and also those who want something heavier and darker from BUTAOTOME.
This album definitely made me appreciate Dolls in Pseudo Paradise even more, giving it a special place in my personal pantheon of Touhou works I love that also spawned some of the best BUTAOTOME stuff.
Also, I’m glad Enigmatic Doll was left out from this album if having it meant getting an arrangement like Arifureta Inochi, and we all know that they are saving it for a Seihou album, we know it!!!111 And since most of my love for that theme comes from it being Muse, my favorite character ever,’s theme, I would rather have a song based on her #MuseDeservesHerButaSong
As usual, all the relevant buy links are listed on Kochuuten’s TC page. My usual recommendation is to buy it on BUTAOTOME’s BOOTH, to support the group more directly and where you can also buy some goods with the albums’ art. If you are poor or prefer digital and streaming services, the album will be available on June 5!
And now… the post-review trivia corner! I was originally going to post a translation/summary of the Sisters’ commentary about the album. However, I decided to scrap it for several reasons, including my inability to fully understanding spoken Japanese
(please come back doing text posts) and that a lot of the stuff they said was already guessed in my pre-release commentary. But here are some fun facts we learned from it:
- Ane can’t do the kitsune no mado/fox window technique.
- ekadanpi/慧可断臂’s title is written like this because they don’t know how to read it.
- HARI HARUHARI means absolutely nothing
- Ranko talks about Ane’s lyrics, and Ane talks about Ranko’s lyrics
- Shokuchuuka was easy to sing
- Ranko thought Arifureta Inochi was challenging because since it’s acoustic, her vocals were super important
- Comp played the guitar and bass with a devilish face