Happy Birthday to Ranko! (2022) – Beyond BUTAOTOME

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Happy birthday to the wonderful voice of BUTAOTOME!

It was around this day, 10 years ago, that I became a BUTAOTOME fan. Or rather, I started as a Ranko fan. I think a lot of people got into BUTAOTOME because they heard Ranko’s voice in some other groups like Sally, Diao ye zong or UNDEAD CORPORATION. However, over time I learned to appreciate the other members equally (and I also joke that I’m more of a “Comp Lover” now). But Ranko by herself is still a big source of inspiration for me. I admit I started to like several things (hello Joon) or got interested in some others simply because of her. She is my muse :muse_thinking:.

Kind of as a follow-up to Ane’s birthday post, today I want to talk about my favorite Ranko songs outside of BUTAOTOME, those that aren’t arranged by Comp and/or Paprika. I want to give the spotlight to songs I think are not that popular, although I’ll make a few exceptions if the songs or albums are particularly significant for me.

I’ll start with a release that is somehow still tied to Buta: this small SoloButa-R EP.

Kaen Ranzen was the first release I saw announced back when I started to get into BUTAOTOME and tried to find every single song sung by Ranko. It’s probably more known by long-time fans, but I still want to include it. It’s like a small bouquet of different flowers, and Loftiness Dream is still one of my favorite songs. Sadly it’s not available on streaming services, except for track 2 (Je t’aime moi champ de fleurs) through Shibayan’s omnibus album Broad Border. I hope at least Kuuge can be released in an Omatome-kind of album…

Now, let’s move on definitely from the Pig with some collection showcase…

…yes, in all these years I only have bought these albums. A couple of albums are not here because reasons. I don’t even have Diao ye zong’s Tsudzuri. And I admit that for a long time, I just wanted to focus on full BUTAOTOME stuff. I’m not a true Ranko fan… :plushie revoked:

My boyfriend comes to the rescue! He doesn’t have that many albums, but still better than my selection! Our collections will merge when we’ll live together. We need to get more albums, also that Sally collection needs to be completed… how dare you have Less and not Pygmalion!!!

My favorite non-BUTAOTOME Ranko song is Zero. It was made for the rhythm game REFLEC BEAT, and it was composed by Akhuta. Honestly, I dunno why I love it so much, I just think it’s neat! Also, it’s one of the very few songs eligible for this article (if not the only one) with lyrics written by Ranko. You can tell it because they are basically “angry Utakata”.

In the Touhou department, my favorite one is probably Kami no Hi. I think Groove Coaster players are familiar with it, it’s that jazz Nuclear Fusion by COSIO. I absolutely love Ranko on jazz songs, I think it’s the genre where her voice and technique shine the most.

Speaking of jazz songs… one of the albums in my miserable collection is Sakuraame Cinematographe by the short-lived circle Automata Girl, a project with a Taisho/retro atmosphere. Hiratake and Mano (who arranged all the tracks here under the pseudonym “Ameno Orca”) are some of my favorite Touhou arrangers. Ranko’s track is a standard jazzy Wind God Girl. It’s an album I still highly recommend even today, with its lineup of great vocalists and arrangements with a unique feel. A shame we didn’t get anything else after that (aside from a demo)…

Everyone knows UNDEAD CORPORATION. You probably have listened to Ranko’s songs, or at least Yoru naku usagi wa yume wo miru. It feels redundant to include them here. But I still decide to do so because I think Ranko’s tracks are some of her best non-Buta works (you can listen to them in the playlist at the bottom of this post in case you have never done so) and because I want to include something that it’s available on streaming services. Also, Pinetree (UC’s arranger) had a one-off project called Swing of the Dead where he did jazz song, with your usual UC oni album vocal lineup + Mie and IZNA. Ranko was there with one track, so of course I end up loving it.

Another good, underlooked album is Tenkuu no Diva by AQUA STYLE. Ranko has sung three tracks, and they have a certain fantasy RPG feel in them (I especially love Drop of the Moon). The whole CD is pretty solid, with also tracks sung by Merami and Tama.

Now… I’m not sure if Sally still qualifies as a popular circle nowadays. They were praised a lot back in the day, but they have become inactive for several years (the main arrangers are still active-ish, but they are focusing on their own Touhou circles), and their music is not available on Spotify and co. Anyway, Sally is here because it was thanks to them and their Ten Desires albums that I discovered Ranko, fell in love with her, and walked this path of no return (although the very first song I loved was in a IOSYS album, but it was waaay before I got into more serious arrangements and actually informed myself about who were the people involved in the music). She was featured in every main release by them, and also on Touhou Jihen (NSY and IZNA’s current circle)’s second album. I have a love-and-hate relationship with Sally, but they were a fairly good circle, and I would recommend them if you are a fan of the vocalists in their lineup, or want a unique, darker rock sound. Personally, I prefer NSY’s arrangements over Wani’s, and I think their best albums were Pygmalion and Byou (yes, those with the riskiest covers). My favorite tracks with Ranko’s vocals are MEDICINE, A Lavender in Valley and Plaza roboscape.

I followed GET IN THE RING’s Activity series ever since its inception with Graveyard Memory, and it was such a rollercoaster of emotions. Ranko took part in it by duetting with Mie in the main track of the Trojan Green Asteroid chapter. I admit I wasn’t very keen on the original Forgotten Paradise, but this completely changed when I listened to the live version of the track, released in Activity” Case:Extra -Storyteller’s Night-. It sounds so much better, and I highly recommend you to listen to it. By the way, I used to be not very fond of Ranko duets, but now I appreciate some of them, including this one.

Speaking of Hifuuuuuuuu, other songs I really like are TsuBaki’s Nusumenai Nightmare [album] (probably my favorite Ranko duet) and ZYTOKINE’s Dare ga Sono Kagi wo Kowasu no ka [album] (omg a good electronic track?!).

To end this post, here is a Spotify playlist with Ranko songs not arranged by polar bears or tuxedo cats! (please note that is largely incomplete because not every circle has their stuff on streaming platforms)

Feel free to comment on your favorite Ranko songs! Once again, happy birthday to her!