Houkiboshi and Best – pre-release commentary

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Taking a break from the end-of-the-year review to write this! I will also include a couple of translated bits from the latest Ane post.

Let’s start with Houkiboshi, the new Touhou album!

Snow… Japan and snow… I thought about what makes the most coherent and strong impression on me.
My greatest impression of “snow” is Kenji Miyazawa’s “The Morning of Last Farewell”.
A handful of pure white snow falling from the dark sky… ice cream from the skies above…

Also, the ヨ in the “雪” kanji (yuki, snow) is said to be an abbreviation of “箒” (houki, broom). Snow is also called God’s cleaning and is said it has the meaning of covering up everything.
That’s why we chose the title “彗 (houkiboshi, comet)”.

I have only terrifying images of snow-covered mountains, so there, too, the image of death is attached along with beauty. I would never be able to climb a snowy mountain.

Can I start by saying that this is probably one of my favorite Touhou album covers ever? I really love how it’s so full of elements that harmonize well together! I would love to get a print of it…

Snow and mythology seem to be the central themes of this album. I also sense a night/space/astral motif, due to many of the songs that could be associated with it (LoLK girls, Hifuu, wolves…).

Satono and Mai are depicted on the cover, yet there is absolutely no song about them in the album. Well, there is Hakuma, an arrangement of the stage 4 theme from their game. Reimu and co.’s first meeting with one of the dancers is during that stage. Perhaps they serve as a stand-in for their boss, Okina. Okina is based on Matara-jin, a multifaceted Buddhist deity who was an astral god (stars… comet, the album title!) and associated with Mount Hiei, among many other things. He was also conflated with/a manifestation of multiple other figures, including Shinra Myoujin, a god of Mount Hiei. And Houkiboshi’s official description in shops says “A journey to meet the gods deep in the mountains of Japan, lured by a white demon.” So all of this gives me the image of Satono and Mai inviting us to the lair of her master and her mythological buddies.

[speaking of Hakuma, here is the useless fact of the day. Beartic description in Pokémon Violet mentions that it’s called the Snow-White Demon (い悪) in northern lands. Everything is connected!!111 And rightfully so, my game gives the polar bear Pokémon its most menacing description ever. COMPlotto!]

Time to talk about the music! Man, I really love the preview… Well, it’s very rare to have a Buta XFD I don’t enjoy, but I feel more hyped than usual for this album, perhaps because we are also getting some new original content after a long time, or because a miracle has happened (see last track)…

First, we have tracks 4 (Tsuki no Kakera) and 6 (Hakuma), which come from the previous release, Hakuma.EP. I’ve already analyzed the two songs in last month’s review!

Moving on to the real new content, we start off with tracks 1 and 5. Gamushara (我武者羅, reckless) and Agitator (アジテーター) are both arrangements from Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom, one of my favorite Touhou games (if we pretend the game part doesn’t exist).
I don’t have much to say about Gamushara, it’s one of those tracks that flip the mood of the original theme. The Frozen Eternal Capital (凍り付いた永遠の都) refers to the empty Lunar Capital, but I wonder if it could also refer to a literally frozen world? The original theme always gave me cold imagery… Lore-wise, Sagume is described to be both a heavenly god and an earthly god, and her mythological counterpart, Ame-no-Sagume, is an earthly deity according to the Nihon Shoki, but there are other books and interpretations where she is a heavenly deity.
Agitator is among my favorite tracks from the XFD, I love how the melody of Haruka 38man Kilo no Voyage has been readapted, and that guitar at the end of the sample! (note to self: Clownpiece is not a Moon fairy, she is just fought on the Moon and uses a lot of moon imagery)

Another track I’m really looking forward to is Maishin Kourei (邁進恒例, striving towards an established practice), partially for Hifuu bias. Ame-no-Torifune Jinja was a theme I wanted to hear in Buta form ever since I first listened to Trojan Green Asteroid in 2012. 10 years later, we finally have it. Wonder how many other years will take for Enigmatic Doll… #MuseDeservesHerButaSong
Things aside, the arrangement sounds so fun, it might also be a great live track! Trojan Green Asteroid is the story of a lost space station. This station had a shrine where they worshipped a deity called Ame-no-Torifune (a Touhou original) for safe space travel. “No matter how much science advances, in the end we still rely on gods.”

Then we have howlnayo (howlなよ). Buta titles are getting weirder… is it supposed to be a pun or something? It’s a pretty good take on Kagerou’s theme, and I like how it’s before Tsuki no Kakera. Wolves! Wolves were said to be the protectors of the dangerous Japanese mountain, and the kanji for wolf (狼) is a homophone of one specific term for god (大神, both are pronounced “ookami”). There are still wolf shrines around Japan, with the most famous one being the Mitsumine Shrine.

To end the album we have two re-arranged songs, and… excuse me, but I find it very hilarious how the two songs are the polar opposites in my ranking. On one side, we have Sleep Junkie. One of my favorite songs, coming from one of my top tier albums. This new version doesn’t sound that exciting, the vocals don’t even sound re-recorded, but I will look forward to the full thing, I hope it will surprise me.
And on the other side… there is Momoiro Fivestar. One of my least favorite songs, coming from my least favorite album in the entire Buta discography. But this version… sounds GOOD?! It’s an acoustic take that restores the beauty of the original theme (one of my major complaints about the original), it makes me happy, and I love Ranko’s voice here! And I like how an album about snow and stuff ends with a spring track that symbolizes a new beginning. It’s seriously one of the tracks I’m looking forward to the most… and I can’t believe I’m actually writing this.

Now it’s time to talk about Best, the original best of!

We stopped distributing Bowling and ran out of Hanafuda copies, which made the task of recommending our original music to people much harder. I felt that it was indeed irresponsible to say, “There are almost no consignment sales at the moment, but there are some on our BOOTH. I’ll bring them to the next event.”

We wanted to make new albums, but we also wanted to do an inventory of our old songs. We wanted to do something at this time before starting the tour.
I know that CDs are becoming more and more like a fan item (for me, too), so I’m thinking about digital distribution.

Okay, you know how much I stan for BUTAOTOME’s original material. Heck, this website is named after one of their original songs!
The original best of would have been an instant buy from me just from the title alone, regardless if it included new tracks or not (I usually skip best-ofs with no new music content).

Each original album (the five of the doujin era) is represented with 3 tracks, and we also have a song from the BUTAOTOME Fanbook! There is no track from the major albums (understandably). I wish they could have included some other songs outside of the albums, like certain compilation tracks such as Akubi or Koe, or rhythm game songs such as Akarui Mirai or Yumehanabi (but the company has the rights…). Or even the poor Mondai from the Kashiramoji CD. There are also songs from the five albums I wish could have made the cut (like Yuukeimukei, Suuhai Gokko, or Pocket no Are).
However, the selection is still amazing, and (unlike every other best of), none of the songs makes me say “this shouldn’t be here, they should have included that other song instead”, which is an extremely strong point and shows how really good is the Pig’s original stuff in my opinion (well, if they included the troll songs like Tarantula, or even stuff from Tanjou, I would probably have complained).

Looking at the official description, it doesn’t seem to have any sort of commentary… I’m sad… Hopefully we’ll get a Fanbox post covering that.

We also have a new song at the end! Delicate (デリケート) is a delicate (huh…) ballad, the lyrics seem to follow the usual Buta philosophy of “some things are good because they don’t change”. Here is a crappy translation based on what I hear in the sample!

We’re all going on a journey, looking for something no one knows where it is
I’ll just have to find what I lost, I noticed that the sky was twilight
I was looking up at a sky I don’t always see

I’m not saying that it won’t change, it’s okay to stay the same…

comp pls I hope the thing you lost is not a word

Ane mentioned the possibility of a digital release, and I hope it will eventually happen! Possibly not under Touhou Doujin Music Distribution because I don’t want ZUN to get royalties for songs that are not based on his works. There are good and better alternatives for distributing non-Touhou works, like TuneCore. Circles like Shinra-Bansho and Akatsuki Records have been using TuneCore for their original works, while still using TDMD for their Touhou stuff.

Still, I’m very happy that we are finally getting some more original content outside of “short rhythm game tracks” after a long time. I hope it’s the beginning of something new on that front!

And here I end my pre-release analysis! I will pre-order the new albums and the cute Ane merch after Christmas! Of course, I will provide lyrics + translations of the new tracks and work on a full review as soon as I get hold of them!
Now, are you excited about Houkiboshi and Best? Are you discovering the originals just now? Will you go to see Buta live on the upcoming Delicate tour? Let me know in the comments! :tea: