Hakuma EP (and more?) – review

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“There are so many endless worries
Settlement and deliverance are far away
Maitreya has not come yet”

New release, new review! Wow, when was the last time BUTAOTOME gave us something actually new on an autumnal event? :checks: the Memorial Disc of Yuusei Hakurankai in 2018. But if we exclude event-limited remixes, then… Itanshinmon in 2013, holy sheep. Either way, I guess the Pig wanted to make up for the lackluster C100 release…

(I still don’t have a physical copy with me orz)

Concept + Design

Hakuma.EP… doesn’t really have a concept. The two tracks here are arrangements of themes from Nijiiro no Septentrion, the latest entry in ZUN’s Music Collection (still unavailable on streaming services…). Buta is just continuing their undisclosed quest of arranging every Hifuu track! And perhaps every song in ZUN’s Music Collection…? So Seihou album with Mahou Shoujo Juujigun and Enigmatic Doll when?!?!?!?!? #MuseDeservesHerButaSong
Anyway, this is a very small release. So small that its physical package is a jewel slimcase. And the entire design is just the cover illustration, but I really like it!

Okay, is this a single or an EP?

Before moving to the music part, I would like to address the elephant in the room. Quoting the first thing Google-san tells us:

An EP (Extended Play) refers to a half-length body of work, features between 4-6 tracks and has a running time of roughly 15-22 mins (but can be up to 30 minutes). A single is the shortest body of work you can release, features between 1-3 tracks and has a running time of roughly less than 10 mins.

Generally speaking, off-vocals are not considered real tracks: it’s very common in Japanese music to have “singles” that consist of two tracks + their respective karaoke versions. And even with the off vocals, Hakuma.EP is only 11 minutes and 40 seconds long. So, despite its name, I won’t consider Hakuma.EP as an EP, it’s a single. However, iTunes and other services might consider it as an EP when/if it will be digitally released (since they still consider off-vocals to be real tracks).

Music

We only have two songs here, and they are both pretty good! They are short, but after getting into System of a Down I decided to not complain about Comp and his short music anymore (no bashing, I always love our polar bear and I love SOAD).

Hakuma is an amazing take on Gensou no White Traveler that reminds me of a snowy Inzen. It’s a great jazzy track, and this type of track is always wholeheartedly accepted here! It was also pretty interesting to translate, with all the Buddhist terminology.

Tsuki no Kakera is a beautiful, dark ballad, with its own unique vibe. I especially love its lyrics, simple yet effective. They are based on this picture book called Aoi Yoru no Ookamitachi (wolves of the azure night), which is based on the story of the reconstruction of the Nanatsuishi Shrine. The original Nanatsuishi no Ookami, Kumo wo Tori ni Kakeru is the image song of this book, and they were both made to promote the small village of Tabayama, where wolves are consecrated. I sadly haven’t read the book (it seems to be a pretty sad story), but if you know Japanese, you can listen to the first half here.

Anata ni wa Miete DL Card

Let’s add some talks about something that was released around the same time!

Hey, I finally got some other stuff that was previously shipped to America!

For the Hifuu-only event in Kyoto back in September, BUTAOTOME decided to do an even smaller release: a DL Card with an exclusive remix of Anata ni wa Miete Watashi ni wa Mienai Mono. It was originally event-only, but they recently started to sell it on BOOTH. Note that this is not the first time they do a DL card.

My opinion on DL Cards is that artists are certainly overusing them in recent years. However, I think they are a suitable format for small releases such as demos, accompanying tracks for doujinshi, or anything that has just one song. And this card in my eyes only has one track, since I already have the original Anata ni wa Miete with FREAKS and the off-vocal is just a bonus.

I have two major gripes with this DL Card. The first one is that the URL is very easy to find even if you don’t have the card. It doesn’t even have a password. The second one is that the provided files are MP3 with a very inconsistent bitrate between each file (the off-vocal is 96kb/s, hope any off-vocal fan here is not an audiophile).

Despite saying this… this membrane version is a good remix, I love how it’s more acoustic guitar-driven without being an actual acoustic version. It’s nothing outstanding, but I recommend checking it out if you like the original song!

Overall, I won’t mind more DL cards from the Pig, as long as they only include one remix, the URL is not a joke to find, and the files are WAV or other lossless formats. (and don’t make them event-limited!)

End Notes

I recommend getting Hakuma along with Hyakumannin no Heikou Hifuu (and the DL card if you want), I think they form a nice release together. Of course, I recommend this to Hifuu fans as well!

If you want a physical copy, Hakuma is only available on BUTAOTOME’s BOOTH. Digital distribution will arrive on… I dunno, TDMD doesn’t give a shit anymore (the Touhou no Uta Twitter account is inactive since the end of May, and the last update with C100 releases was shadow-dropped).

Now, on a more personal note, I’m really grateful for this single. Last month, around the time Hakuma was released, my boyfriend visited me for the first time since the pandemic started, after 3 years. BUTAOTOME is very important for both of us, and these two songs feel like a commemoration of this moment.

“As I gather fragments of the distant moon, my feet are wounded and trembling”

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