I wanted Best to get the first review of the year, but due to stuff, Houkiboshi gets the spotlight. Don’t worry, the original best will eventually get the love it deserves! (maybe sometime next month, in between the sis’ birthdays?)
A journey to meet the gods deep in the mountains of Japan, lured by a white demon.
Midwinter Touhou vocal arrangements that make you think of a clear, heavenly world!
Houkiboshi‘s key motifs are snow/winter, mythology, and things related to the night and the stars. I feel like they started from the two Hakuma EP tracks and created the other songs based on fitting concepts.
I quite like some of the tracks’ placements, namely how the first and last tracks are both arrangements of stage 4 themes with “capital” (都) in their title, and how the wolf-related tracks (3 and 4) are next to each other.
Lyrics-wise… I’m only talking about the four new songs, but I think they aren’t particularly amazing. Comp’s lyrics are standard Comp flair (tho I liked some parts of Gamushara), while Ranko’s ones are pretty meh, Agitator and especially howlnayo are perhaps some of my least favorite from her (and I say this as someone who LOVES her lyrics, as you’ll see in her upcoming birthday post). If we include all the other tracks, well, there are the Hakuma EP songs and Sleep Junkie, which I really like! And now that I like Momoiro Fivestar, I can appreciate its lyrics a bit, and its “new beginning” meaning at the end of the album.
I’ve already praised the cover art in the pre-release post, but I still want to reiterate it. Ane did a great job here, I absolutely love the dark colors and how there are so many elements without feeling too cluttered! I’m considering getting a print of it… The booklet doesn’t have any exclusive art outside of album cover elements, but the back cover and some pages use a dark red color.
Well… I have to say this, this album is all over the place and I can’t find a specific identity. It’s also yet another pretty short release, only second to Juushin for the title of “shortest BUTAOTOME 8-track album” (for those who are going to comment about Comp’s inability to make longer songs… check the original best for a surprise!)
“I peeled off my hurting hangnail and licked my red finger
Something’s about to change a little”
A very standard opening track, but certainly not a standard take on LoLK stage 4. It’s your typical Buta track and it kind of sounds like Occultic Dreamer v2… It does its job as opening, and I really like the verses!
2. Maishin Kourei
“Right, we started from “Not knowing anything at all”.
There’s still too much we don’t know, so knowledge is what I seek.”
A fun and energetic track that I still think deserves to be played live. While it’s still on the typical Buta side, it sounds so happy and catchy, and it puts a smile on my face! The original theme has been readapted very pleasantly, and it’s definitely my favorite track among the brand-new ones.
“So what about being strong and making a fresh start?
Isn’t getting weak and going back kind of the same?”
Holy CompSheep this song is so good and definitely not what I expected from the XFD. It has a pretty unique style, and I really like the piano parts and the verses with Ranko’s effected voice.
However, as much as I love the song itself… Sorry, Ranko, I usually love your lyrics but this one doesn’t get my approval. I don’t get anything from them except that they seem to be entirely based on the “Lonesome” part of the original theme’s name, with the random Korean words being there because ???? (she studied the language, so I hope the word placement is more meaningful than some Engrish things out there)
4. Tsuki no Kakera
“As I gather fragments of the distant moon, my feet are wounded and trembling”
This 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.
(yeah, I’ve literally copypasted the Hakuma review)
“Lasciati agitare by the light radiating from my left hand”
I have mixed feelings about this one, it’s not as good as I expected from the XFD and it’s kind of a generic Buta track. Also painfully short :thejarAAAAAAAAA: And I hope that “feel heavenly” is not a Fate reference.
However, I still think the LoLK stage 5 has been nicely readapted, and the guitar in the bridge is amazing and space-y.
“There are so many endless worries
Settlement and deliverance are far away
Maitreya has not come yet”
This 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! I especially love its carousel-esque pre-chorus, and overall it makes me imagine a vast snowy landscape. It was also pretty interesting to translate, with all the Buddhist terminology.
(yeah, partially copied from the Hakuma review…)
7. Sleep Junkie (Houkiboshi ver.)
“Should you live in the reality? Should you live in the dreams?
Drowning in an incomprehensible surge, inside a dream”
Okay, I can confirm this is NOT a rearranged version (unlike every alternate version we find in regular vocal albums). Ranko’s vocals are the same as the original version, and the instrumental sounds more like an edited version of the song we already know from Daihinmin. More electronic distortions, more programming effects, no drums, way less raw and Slipknot-y overall. But Sleep Junkie is one of my favorite songs, so I always appreciate more of it!
(however, I can’t help but feel like it sticks out in this album due to being a plain remix, and I wonder if Buta originally planned to have an Eien no Shunmu arrangement instead, but scrapped it due to lack of time. It would have also been extremely fitting in between Hakuma and Momoiro Fivestar, imho)
8. Momoiro Fivestar (Houkiboshi ver.)
““It’s useless”, you say defeated. Yet you keep searching till you find it.
Do not run from spring.”
Top 10 Anime Redemption Arcs. I still can’t believe how much I love this one.
So, I really dislike the original Momoiro Fivestar because (quoting my epitaph review at the time), “it removes every trace of beauty from PCB’s stage 4 and transforms it into a generic piece”. Even if I try to treat it as its own song without thinking of the original theme, it sounded pretty bland. I said a couple of times in the past that maybe it would have benefited from a mellow/acoustic arrangement, and… holy sheep, Buta delivered it. Aside from the fact that the acoustic atmosphere takes me back to the good old Utau Namahousou days, the beauty of the original theme has been restored, and overall it just makes me happy. One of the best tracks here!
This is certainly an album. I would joke and say “it’s the 2022 album ever”, but Retake+ exists. It’s not a bad album, it still has some amazing songs, but I think I was expecting something more. Not sure if it’s due to the track order and the Hakuma songs being shuffled around (although some placements are pretty fine). Perhaps it needed one more dark track, Gamushara/Agitator to be less generic-sounding, or Sleep Junkie getting something more than a simple remix. While I think Houkiboshi‘s best tracks are better than the best ones from Juushin, I think the latter is a more cohesive album.
So, I would recommend getting Houkiboshi if you like the original theme selection or if anything from the sample/my descriptions intrigues you.
All the relevant buy links are listed on the album’s page. Digital distribution will arrive whenever.
I don’t know where to write #MuseDeservesHerButaSong, so here it is to end the review.