Better late than never, I guess! This review will have a format similar to the one I used for my scrapped Ura Best review.
Touhou is not everything that revolves around the doujin world. Or the world in general. We are all humans, and our interests shift over time. Of course, sometimes they just remain the same. In the music world, plenty of artists either stopped activities, moved to other things, or did other stuff. And making original music is something that helps artists expand their horizons and being more creative.
I feel like BUTAOTOME’s originals have a small cult following, and there are people who think they are so much better than their Touhou albums. My boyfriend, for example, really enjoys their originals, and while we still listen to every new album when it’s released, he finds most of the Touhou stuff to be “just okay” at best (do note that he doesn’t care about Touhou in general).
However, the originals are always overshadowed by their Touhou stuff. There are plenty of fans who, when talking about their favorite BUTAOTOME songs, just mention Touhou songs. When the Pig’s Touhou catalog got added to Spotify, the two major albums slowly got buried by them, with Danmaku Kagura giving the final straw by replacing the avatar with the Furubokko cover with Shoujo Rengoku (which identifies the most popular song – from Radical Shoujo to Hakanaki Mono Ningen). On rhythm games, it’s almost always all about the Touhou songs (most of the originals are commissioned, and we have very few isolated cases such as the Reflect Beat mobile pack with Bowling songs, or the title tracks of the major albums on Groove Coaster). If someone makes a BUTAOTOME fanart, it’s almost always a generic Touhou fanart supposed to represent song X (or a fanart of the members – although some very dedicated Piggies did fanarts of the cover girls). If someone makes a PV, it’s a Touhou song. And while this applies to a lot of doujin artists who do both Touhou and originals, there are plenty of Touhou megafans who only buy Touhou releases and ignore the original material, because they are Touhou fans and not :insert_artist_here: fans. I do admit I’m part of the problem, although with other artists I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of – I tend to be drawn by ZUN’s Music Collection arrangements and I’m a Hifuu collector. So I guess I’m kind of a hypocrite…
In an interview with Bass Magazine when Trauma Recorder was released, Comp mentioned that he wanted to make a full-length album in 2018. But it didn’t happen. Instead, we got Touhou Peace, an album I absolutely have nothing positive to say about. And Buta milked Touhou more than usual, with double releases of completely new material and plenty of Touhou-only lives. What happened? I don’t know. I can only make baseless guesses. Maybe Avex didn’t believe in them, and after the lukewarm reception of the first two mini-albums, they didn’t greenlight the production of a full album.
Now, let’s move to Best!
A Best-of true to its title?!
I have mixed feelings towards most of Best albums. The BUTABEST series was okay, it felt like a buffet with every album released during a certain timespan, and I always thought Touhou Otogee Best was an unnecessary release that became outdated pretty quickly. When Yuusei Hakuranaki was released in 2018, I thought it was the ultimate best of, the one I would have recommended the most as an entry point to BUTAOTOME. It made the fourth BUTABEST and the Ura Best (released subsequently) pretty unnecessary. The only album without “best” in its title was the best greatest hits, how ironic! But now… Yuusei Hakurankai is no longer alone. Despite its uncreative title, Best is one of the best greatest hits releases. This is partially due to doing something the other best of albums can’t do AKA introducing BUTAOTOME’s original side (similar to how the Nekokenban Best fully introduces the instrumental side). But also because… I really don’t have anything to complain about the tracklist. Yeah, I could say that the Bowling tracks are kind of a despair pick because they couldn’t put Sharekoube and Panorama, or that Usotsuki should have been there instead of Moumokuteki Kansoubun because they keep playing the former during this tour as if they were regretting excluding it. But they feel like nitpicks and that I’m just trying to find something to complain about. I love BUTAOTOME’s originals and hold them in high regard, and this is such a great selection that covers plenty of Butastyles. Meanwhile, other best ofs are “where is Kagerenbo?” “these are far from being the best tracks from Shoujo Rengoku 4” “why is Hana here and not Utakata?!” “where is Shiroi Asa?!” (oh look, I’ve got criticism for BUTABEST 5 already!)
Speaking of the design, Best is brightly colorful as expected from an original album! The booklet inside is a bit lacking, but it’s given due to being a best of album. There are 15+ tracks, Ane can’t put one single song for each page, gotta save space and paper! By the way, I like how the titles in the booklet have a different color based on their source album (for example the Chess tracks are in yellow, the Billiards tracks are in light blue, and so on…), and Delicate’s page has five spheres representing the five original albums.
Wait, but there is actually some new music!
Unlike the majority of best-of albums, this one comes with an entirely new song. I would like to review the other original albums at some point, so I won’t talk about each old track here (Chess review is here). So in this post, I will only focus on…
“I found myself looking up at the sky in the dusk
I was looking up at a sky that I don’t always see”
What a wonderful ending track.
First of all, the track length certainly caught me off guard. And… well, it’s a heartfelt ballad. Not dark and depressing like Waizatsu Ideology or Fusoku Hokou. On some parts, I would dare to say it’s more interesting than most of the songs Comp did in the past 5 years or so (not saying they are bad!). It might be a generic ballad, but the elements slowly being added to the song, and Ranko’s vocals full of emotion create an amazing piece. I love the piano intro, it gives that feeling of “our long journey so far”.
If I have a complaint, maybe the outro should have been longer, but HEY, it’s a giant miracle that Comp did a 5-minute long song in 2022 LOL
By the way, I absolutely love the lyrics, but that’s a topic for another post that will be published at the end of May. :comp_sheep:
And that’s all I have to say about this release! Almost the entire original catalog has been added to streaming services, so I want you to listen to it. Give it a chance. Catch it. Buta is also giving more love to their originals lately, with some surprise PVs and more live where they can freely play them, so I really really hope there is a bright future ahead!