Oh, welcome back to the review corner! It’s earlier than usual because, for Reitaisai 20, BUTAOTOME won’t bring anything that’s actually new.
Another Best of? For real?
I started writing this review on April 14, as soon as I spotted the album in the shops. It’s a best of with no new content*. I can easily review it now, before the official release, before next month. They are all songs I know, all from albums I’ve purchased. I don’t understand why circles still make best of releases, this is the era of streaming services and free playlists (not to mention that plenty of Buta albums are still in stock). In this comic released alongside the Ura Best, Ane explains that a lot of event-goers tend to ask for albums that include this PV song, that rhythm game song, or just recommended songs in general. But from my viewpoint, it’s hard to be excited about a paid playlist.
Now, it might be stupid to say, but I should remind you that doujin artists, even when they are pretty prolific, are NOT music-making robots. They are humans, like me and you. Some people just love making music. If Comp needs to recharge his creative juices, it’s fine. Buta doesn’t need to pump out a release on every single event, I take nothing over multiple rushed and uninteresting releases (2018/early 2019 was a particularly bad era). And even if the Pig will stop in the near future… it’s natural, all things must pass. They still gave us so much music, and I still have many things to do for this website! *crying behind the mask* There might also be a sales factor into account, but I can’t really talk about it, because I don’t know what’s truly behind the scenes and there are many things to take into consideration. I do hope The Pig is still getting enough profit from their music, merch, Fanbox, and live activities, and that resources are not wasted on that Touhou Unrecalled Vocable game.
But what about the super fans?!
Even taking into consideration possible reasons, I’m still disappointed because this is a release mainly catered to newer fans, and not to someone like me. A fan for 10+ years who has been closely following non-stop BUTAOTOME’s activities since then and has an encyclopedic knowledge of most things Buta. I’m a very rare case, not a representative of the majority. But I do believe there are still other ways to make a “new” release without creating anything new (with Ane doing the only creative effort by making the cover art and design). Namely, the re-release of old stuff stuck in compilation hell. There are plenty of great compilation-only tracks that are still stuck in those albums (some of them are out of print or unavailable on streaming services), and I would love to have them on a CD with BUTAOTOME’s name. I really can’t understand why Buta is so reluctant to re-release them, I see other circles re-releasing their Toranoana and co. songs with no issue… I know at least Touhou Cannonball’s tracks are completely off-limits (no one has re-released them, not even circles who regularly re-release compilation tracks). Other songs that deserved to be rescued are those in the event-limited limbo, but that’s a story for another day. Well, since next month we are not getting anything new, maybe I could publish a review of the songs on the Other Songs page (although I should probably focus on Comp’s birthday post instead, it depends on how motivated I am)! I may also talk about the covers of other artists’ songs, there are some good gems there and there is potential for a full album similar to Shinra-Bansho’s Touhou Utattemita! But only if you want to see me going on a full rant on why the cover of a certain, extremely popular song puts a huge emphasis on the word “Bad” present in its title.
Alternatively, I could review every single Enigmatic Doll arrangement listed on THBWiki, and go on a rant every time there is an uncreative/MIDI-swap one, but since Buta sadly doesn’t have an Enigmatic Doll arrangement #MuseDeservesHerButaSong, it’s a topic unrelated to this website, so I may do it on Discord or somewhere else.
Is the selection good, at least?
Short answer is: first half makes me facepalm, second half is AMAZING.
This time we have every vocal album from Abyss to Kochuuten (so we have all the albums from before Paprika left + the first one of the current “Paprika-less” era), each one represented with two or three tracks.
I think this best shares an issue with Best 4: there is a severe lack of Paprika songs and some songs by the cat could have replaced some weaker Comp tracks. I wonder if Buta is reluctant to include them because they are way too far from their more traditional sound and the image of “typical Touhou rock circle” they partially got thanks to Danmaku Kagura. But I dare to differ because I think BUTAOTOME’s charm lies in their experimental side, the songs that are different from the usual. Every album (if not most of them) has its own charm, it offers new shades of their sound and new concepts to be explored. The rock songs are always great, but Buta is not just that. You come for Ranko’s voice and the Compish things, you stay with Itanshinmon as your favorite album.
Now, let’s go through the tracklists and see how each album got represented! Each album got 3 tracks, except for Abyss and Magic Lantern, which only got 2. Also, Abyss is the only album that doesn’t have its first track here.
2. ビロード | Biroodo
6. 一粒の奇跡 | Hitotsubu no Kiseki
Probably the album that got shafted the most, and I say this as someone who has it near the bottom of her Buta discography ranking. Hitotsubu no Kiseki is pretty much the only form of Paprika representation we have in the entirety of this best-of, but not including Yokoshima na Honoo is a HUGE CRIME, deserving of gamer prison. I’m quite surprised Yumeyuki didn’t make the cut, and I think Chinpu Story is the best typical Comp-styled track from Abyss, much better than Biroodo.
1. エゴ | Ego
3. 桃色ファイブスター | Momoiro Fivestar
8. 春の雪 | Haru no Yuki
From “near the bottom” to the actual bottom of my ranking, wohooo!!111 (don’t worry, we’ll rise up after this one) I’ll quote myself from the Best review:
“where is Shiroi Asa?!” (oh look, I’ve got criticism for BUTABEST 5 already!)
If this comment was wine, it would be of the finest quality ever.
Now, if it was for me, Momoiro Fivestar and Haru no Yuki wouldn’t have been there, as I consider them to be… not BEST material, to put it very lightly. But since they are some of the most spammed tracks from recent albums, they were inevitable like Hiiro Gekka in an EastNewSound release. But hey, at least Ego is great, best Comp-arranged track from that album. But it’s not Shiroi Asa.
1. 黄泉の風 | Yomi no Kaze
3. 踊れ | Odore
4. お陀仏 | Odabutsu
Finally, we rise from the bottom! From here on, these are all albums I enjoy and there won’t be any other “bad” one. Odore and Odabutsu are amazing tracks and I’m so glad they are here. Yomi no Kaze is fine, maybe I would have replaced it with one of the Pap tracks, but it feels nitpicky by this point.
1. 脳ブレンド | Nou Blend
5. サイコティーンエイジャー | Psychoteenager
Here is another album with not a great representation. I love Nou Blend, but Psychoteenager is one of those tracks I often forget its existence (if not for “hahaha did you expect a Violet Detector song, too bad, have discount Jiko Uchuu!”) and really, the Paprika tracks from that album are much better, I think at least one from Tsuki no Utagoe or Nakimushi na Kimi should have been there. I appreciate that we got two Sumireko tracks back to back, I guess.
Ese Souretsu Shinan/Shoujo Rengoku 5/Kochuuten
1. オカルティックドリーマー | Occultic Dreamer
2. カリソメキズナ | Karisome Kizuna
8. 溶けた祈り | Toketa Inori
1. 偶像ユートピア | Guuzou Utopia
4. 六分の一 | Rokubun no Ichi
5. 吐き出す垢 | Hakidasu Aka
7. 食虫花 | Shokuchuuka
I’m grouping these three together because they are all albums I really, really love (especially Kochuuten, my beloved), and I’m extremely happy with the selection! Yeah, I would say that I’m sad that songs like Yurikago no Naka de or Kirei na Niji didn’t make the cut, but there is a track limit here, and these nine tracks still offer a nice variety. I’m considering rewriting my old review of Shoujo Rengoku 5 (and the Ese Souretsu Shinan one as well, but I’m unsure if I should write a big review combining it with Giji Kazoku Nyuumon), and I think this is the right time to do so! Kochuuten won’t get anything new, the review I wrote two years ago is perfect and you can still find it here!
Overall, despite the disappointment of being another best of full of tracks I already have, I think this is an AMAZING selection, and it would have been one of my favorite best ofs if only it wasn’t for the Abyss, Epitaph, and Magic Lantern tracks. I can recommend it to those who are unfamiliar with Buta’s output from that timeframe (which is something Yuusei Hakurankai – still the best Touhou best of – can’t do). However, I usually don’t buy best ofs with no new content, and Best 5 won’t be an exception. Sorry Buta, but one of my folks will probably get this album so I can translate Ane’s design notes, which is something I’m really looking forward to reading! I do hope we will get a more substantial release for the next event, maybe Touhou 19 will give some inspiration.
Now, what about you? Do you enjoy the selection and will buy the album? Let me know!