Hey, it’s time for a new review! While Billiards is not an album in the same, ultimate tier as Chess or Kyou ga Saigo no Ichinichi, I decided to write this review because a particular song deserves something for its 10th anniversary.
Colorfully striking. BUTAOTOME’s third original album.
Since this is an original album (and it’s not as meaningful as Chess is to me so no backstory), this is gonna be a review shorter than usual…
As expected from a BUTAOTOME original album, Billiards features a bright and colorful design. This time it feels more colorful than the usual, due to incorporating the balls from the billiards game, so each track has its respective ball and color! And since this is the 3rd original album, the disc is the 3 ball!
Among the original albums, I think Billiards is the one with a clear musical direction. Each track showcases a distinctive mood of Ranko’s vocals, like the colors of the balls of the billiard game. It’s one of those works I would associate with the word 喜怒哀楽 (kidoairaku, human emotions). Thanks to its variety, I’ve always considered Billiards as one of the best entry point albums for BUTAOTOME’s original, or just their music in general (although nowadays, I think I would go with the original Best instead).
On the lyrics department, Comp wrote 5 songs while Ranko wrote 3. They are overall good and I don’t have much to say about them except for track by track cases!
“Is it your own fault that lying is painful? Or perhaps someone else’s?
If you have nothing and no one and you’re lonely, do something about it”
What a strong and fast-paced song that does an amazing job as an intro! If I have to pick a signature song for the original side of BUTAOTOME, I would choose this one, due to its huge number of live performances (it was also one of the two songs that still consistently survived the setlist even during the major albums era). Although my heart would go with another song from this same album… Yeah, it’s still unpopular and not featured in multiple media such as rhythm games and karaoke services like the popular Touhou songs. But that’s the sad truth about Buta’s originals, always overshadowed by their ZUN-based stuff. Saru also has lyrics written by Ranko, and it’s quite rare to have a flagship song that is not written by Comp (there is GenSate and… what else?)
By the way, I remember when I saw the Hanafuda live, this song had Ranko playing guitar (or at least trying to)! It was a pretty cool moment, I wonder if anyone still has a video of that saved (I only have audio)… this is a lost media hunt!
2. Moumokuteki Kansoubun
“Like the blue of the sky, like the depth of the sea
I like you, of course I do”
The opening verses certainly invoke that azure color. The second ball in billiards is blue, and this is the second track, so it fits!
Moumokuteki Kansoubun is just a simple and cheery love song that makes me happy and imagines blue-colored rainbows (????), unicorns, and fluffy clouds. Ranko said it’s a BL song, but I think it’s a pretty good song for most shipping. If you are into that kind of stuff, please comment with a pairing that could fit this song!
By the way, I think long-time fans (or people who are familiar with Japanese otaku culture from 10 years ago) remember a certain kaomoji creature…
3. Akai Bucket
““It’s cute, so why not?”
“It’s still funny, so why not?”
I don’t want your words now, I want to eat yakiniku”
Ranko once mentioned that she writes about whatever she likes for original songs, and there was one time where she was thinking about dinner. I’m 100% sure she was referring to this song. By the way, I love her angry tones here. And the trrrrilling rrrr is always a blessing. And the rhythm is so good. Also, the first few seconds are probably the closest thing we’ll ever get to a behind-the-scenes BUTAOTOME thing, just picture Ranko in her recording space.
Oh, I like that the 3rd track has red in its title, and red is the color of the 3rd ball in billiards. And this is the 3rd album. And it has 3 songs with lyrics written by Ranko. Threeeeee is the magic numbeeeer…
““Your dreams will come true,” an astronaut says on TV
“Today it all ends” someone grumbles on the train”
You know, these lines here used to be my favorite lines ever in a Buta song (Buta ballads have consistently good lyrics, so it’s still in the higher tiers). I like when contrasts are depicted in lyrics, and I’ve always interpreted that second line in a dark way that heavily contrasts with the hope of the astronaut who achieved high peaks.
Anyway, this is a melancholic, ballad to heal us before the ???? of the second half of the album. While its color is purple, I always associated it with a sunny orange.
By the way, years ago a Japanese TV station used Kyouzon as background music for support messages by vips and co. to the people affected by the earthquakes in Kumamoto. One of my favorite authorized usage of any Buta song!
5. Genome Aji
“The next sound is… La”
What I wrote in the Kaimenkasseizai part of the Chess review can also apply to this song, with some extra Youtube Poop energy mainly in the intro and outro.
Comp should make his own take on that Yee meme :yee:.
Oh, and it’s still better than Bad Apple!!.
“is she saying tiramisu in the sixth track?” “oh, the title is… Tiramisu Cowboy?! WTF IS THIS TITLE GIMME SOUJI BACK”
I thought it was fun to open the section dedicated to this song with my very first reaction to it, back when Billiards’ XFD was released. But for those who prefer the traditional lyrics…
“It’s a lazy afternoon, and I’ve left the TV on
There’s a movie about a roughneck beating the bad guys
I wonder what role I’d play if I were in it
I’d be cool to be the one who beats the bad guys”
Gotta say, it’s a fun opening verse!
So, today is also the 10th anniversary of this song. The one that gives the name to this website, and one of those songs that holds a special place in my heart. Tiramisu Cowboy is the other song that survived the above-mentioned “major album purge”, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s pretty much quintessential BUTAOTOME! A catchy melody carried by the recognizable Buta sound, Ranko’s vocals, and also fun lyrics! It’s a perfect choice for this website, besides having a unique and memorable title that doesn’t get lost in translation. I do admit I get a bit upset every time it doesn’t get played live (unless it’s a Touhou-only setlist, of course). I hope it will be in the setlist if I’ll ever see the Pig live! And as you can see in the video below (from the Jump Otome DVD), it’s a great live song. Also, Ranko jumping in the outro is delightful to see!
By the way, I think Tiramisu should have been the seventh track of the album because the seventh ball in billiards is brown, just like a tiramisu and a cowboy hat. But that would mean ruining the flow of the last two tracks, so it’s okay as the sixth.
7. Pocket no Are
“The memories I can’t forget are the memories I want to forget
I collected eraser shavings and scrubbed that day away”
This is such a cool song! The instrumental is very fun, and the bass is Comptastic. Also, I’ve always had this “urban” setting for BUTAOTOME’s original, and those simple and barely audible city noises immediately bring me into that mood. And the entire package works so well. And I think the bridge section might be dope in a big venue with a huge crowd. #ImpossibleThingsLeSadnae
“I was taught that all people are equal
So I’m worn out by this whimsy world”
If Pocket no Are was the adventure in the middle of the city, Usotsuki is the walk in its remote corner, preferably in the sunset, looking at the bustling park in the distance. Come to think about it, sunset is a good atmosphere for these Pig ballads. Usotsuki is dominated by the acoustic guitar, which helps giving it its own unique character even among the other ballads. Absolutely love the simplistic atmosphere of the first part, and also the outro going in fade out. It gives the feeling of “to be continued…”
To be continued in Hanafuda…
Billiards is still an amazing album, and honestly, it’s one of those releases I can recommend to nearly every Piggy! If you want to buy a random Buta album that is not a best of, go with this one! All the buy links are in its page as usual.
Happy 10th anniversary!