Who is Matsukoi Sugie? Writer, book reviewer. Mainly focuses on reviews of mystery novels. Big fan of Touhou Project, he publishes doujinshi under the circle “Waki Miko Ai” (脇巫女愛).
“Buta” is pretty cute
Sugie: Earlier, when I asked some younger Touhou fans if there has been any good work recently, they told me “Butaotome” and, excuse me, but I replied with “Wat?” (laughs). First of all, could you tell me why you decided on a name with such an impact?
Comp: We thought that we wanted something catchy as our name, and I like brand-names and catchy things. Firstly, we all rapidly set up a list of suggestions. Back then, we told ourselves that we wouldn’t set ourselves limits, so we submitted them quickly. There were “Butaotome”, “Geroshabu” and “Oketsu Climax”, but well, the ones I just brought up were in the final selection (laughs).
Ranko: We got about 20 names in total. There was also “Tekizaitekisho” among the others.
Comp: “Tekizaitekisho” was a name that included a policy from the beginning, as it means “let’s have a feel of the right person in the right place”. In this situation, “BUTAOTOME” was the most impactful. In addition, pigs are omnivorous and eat anything. We want to flexibly devote ourselves to various things and shall have fun doing whatever we can. And so, “BUTAOTOME” was chosen.
Sugie: Who came up with that idea?
Comp: It was me.
Sugie: But Comp is a male, so it’s fine (laughs), did not the female team have any objection?
Sis: But it was me who suggested “Oketsu Climax”, originally (laughs)
Ranko: Everybody agreed and there was no opposition at all. We thought the name was cute and catchy.
Sis: “Buta” is pretty cute.
Pap: It’s cute.
Sugie: I see. So there was no opposition, everybody agreed, right?
Comp: On the contrary, it was decided quickly that I felt anxious.
Sugie: Did you decide it while sober?
Comp: We were sober (laughs). We were totally sober (laughs).
Sugie: It wasn’t even inspired by something, was it?
Comp: Inspired by something… If I have to really say it, it’s “Kinniku Shoujo Tai”. I have liked Kinniku Shoujo Tai since long ago and I also liked their name. So I may have been influenced a bit by them. Unconsciously.
I wanted a member who had no idea what they were going to do
Sugie: You all can transform into animals, but why did you transform?
Comp: It’s like, since we can transform ourselves, let’s do it (laughs). But unfortunately for Ranko, she can’t transform (laughs).
Comp: However, a rabbit originally had a potion that allowed me to transform (laughs).
Comp: For a long time, if I was going to put a band together, I wanted someone who had no decision to make on stage at a show, a member who had no idea what they were going to do at every live. So I wanted that person to turn into a rabbit, and I’ve been warming up to them for a long time. Finally I formed BUTAOTOME, and I gave that medicine to Ranko no Ane to try to transform her (laughs).
Sis: As far as shows are concerned, I’ve been told philosophical things, that I should really just be there already, and if I want to dance, I can do it, and if I want to sit down, I can do it, and I’m not sure what I should do.
Comp: It’s surprisingly difficult for me to say, “I want you to be free like this”. When everyone tells you to do something freely, you try to charm them. When you do that, you end up smelling bad. Also, when they start practicing, a lot of people start thinking about how to do more things like this or that. So it was a gamble to get Ane to do it, but with more than 100 points of “Yes! That’s it! That’s what I’m talking about!”. It was the highest point because it came out really flat already.
Sis: There was the first Touhou only live event we participated, but I was standing upright for more than half of the time, watching the video (laughs). Still, Comp says that it’s the best, so recently I became quite active as he continued to praise me.
Sugie: What does it feel like to be asked to be a rabbit? Were you asked to be a rabbit from the beginning?
Sis: I started as a rabbit (laughs). I don’t like how people look at me when I’m in my human form (laughs).
Sugie: I see. So there’s a mutual interest there.
Comp: That’s the same with Paprika.
Sugie: Rather than being in human form?
Pap: Yeah. I don’t really like being out in public. But when I transformed into a cat and did a live show, I was like, “Oh, this is so fun, I can move so much”. I can do anything I can’t do as a human when I transform into a cat, so I’d live as a cat if I could (laughs).
Sugie: It’s like there is a sense of liberation that comes from not being human, isn’t it?
Papu: Yes. Maybe I was a cat (laughs).
Sis: It’s really liberating.
Pap: When I am human, my personality is the complete opposite of when I am a cat. When I am a human I hate having my pictures taken, I hate talking in public, I hate everything (laughs), but when I am a cat I like having my pictures taken, I love taking selfies and I dare to go out in public. Lately, I’ve been able to nonchalantly transform myself in the town. This is such a fun world (laughs).
Sugie: There are a lot of music circles, but it’s obvious by watching the live videos that all of you are transformed (laughs). Just to confirm, your transformations are different from cosplay, right?
Comp: Yes, I think it’s completely different. It’s more like becoming ourselves, so when she was born and had her first meow, her name wasn’t Paprika, but Paprika becomes Paprika, and Comp becomes Comp, so it’s like we are one and the same. The big difference between the two is that we don’t dress up for one moment just like in cosplay, but we always become that character.
I felt a lot of heat that I couldn’t feel from music at the time
Sugie: So fundamentally you are a band that formed because you wanted to make Touhou arranges. I would like to ask you about each one of you’s familiarity with Touhou, how did you get into it?
Ranko: It was “Gossun” (Marisa stole the precious thing) for me (laughs).
Sugie: Ah, the one by “IOSYS”. Wasn’t it when “Niconico” became popular?
Ranko: At the time I watched a lot of Touhou-related videos on “Niconico” and when I saw “Gossun”, I didn’t know until then what was a denpa song, but it was just amazing (laughs), I was surprised that I was speechless. Then, I listened to Touhou arranges by “Kishida Kyoudan”, “COOL&CREATE”, “Sekkenya” and I talked with my sister about such a thing.
Sugie: Isn’t the feel of listening, watching, spreading it to other people?
Sis: That’s right. I knew about Touhou thanks to my sister watching videos on “Niconico”.
Sugie: Since when you know Touhou, Paprika?
Pap: I knew about Touhou in a conversation with members before starting BUTAOTOME, and it seemed interesting that there was a world where you can freely arrange songs and make stuff. So I got into the talks.
Sugie: Have you made derivative works/doujin activity before?
Pap: No, BUTAOTOME is my first time.
Sugie: So it was your first contact with this world. What kind of impression did you have?
Pap: I was amazed. I was amazed that there was a world like this and even though I didn’t know about it, it was so exciting. Also, I thought it was purely interesting.
Sugie: Comp, how did you discover Touhou?
Comp: I was drinking with the other members. Well, I couldn’t drink with Ranko (laughs). As mentioned before, Niconico was talked about a bit, so Sis or Ranko recommended me to watch something and the first thing I saw was “COOL&CREATE”, or better, “Beatmario”’s “Final Savage”; when I listened to that, I felt a lot of heat that I couldn’t feel from music at the time. Isn’t this music that doesn’t have any filter at all? As a consequence, from there I examined the original themes, including what was arranged in this kind of way and I’ve learned about Touhou.
Sugie: But there are several versions of “Final Savage”.
Comp: It was the voice one.
Sugie: The All Voice one?
Comp: Yes, All Voice.
Sis: We were surprised.
Ranko: Really amazing.
There’s always a lot of heat in his work. I’m amazed by that.
Sugie: I wanted to ask you about senior circles since the name “COOL&CREATE was mentioned earlier. I’m sure you’ve done lives with various circles in the past. Are there any circles that have influenced you to say “I can do this kind of thing”?
Comp: “Kishida Kyodan”, “Sekkenya”, “COOL&CREATE” and basically all the people from “Flowering Night” are all seniors, but they had a big influence on us to a greater or lesser extent. For me, “COOL&CREATE” is the best among the bunch.
Comp: Yes, that’s right. “COOL&CREATE”, led by Beatmario, still has a huge influence on me because they were doing the kind of shows that only doujin people could do. Mario is inside me, in my mind, you know? There’s something about Mario being the king of doujin, and he has the kind of humanity that doesn’t lose its image at all and makes you like him more when you get to know him and interact with him and talk about different things. There are some things that aren’t quite right, but when he has to do something, he does it right. There’s always a lot of heat in his work. I’m amazed by that. I’m very grateful to have people like him around me because they inspire me.
Sugie: How about you, Ranko?
Ranko: For me is of course “Kishida Kyoudan”, I liked Ichigo a lot and was influenced by her because I thought she was such a wonderful female vocalist.
Sugie: Ichigo often goes to a lot of places by herself.
Ranko: Oh yes. In the beginning, all of us went to the Winter Comiket before the Reitaisai BUTAOTOME released the first CD (Comiket 77). At that time, ichigo was singing in another circle (ingenn x Himawaribatake). That was the only thing I really wanted, so I went to buy it. Now I’m proud of it to herself (laughs).
Sugie: How about you, Sis?
Sis: Well, I don’t make music, so I don’t think my influence has anything to do with the musicality of BUTAOTOME, but I think I was influenced by Taniya (Taniya Raku) from “Heta no Yokozuki”. I feel like I’ve been accepted. Taniya sings, makes music, makes videos, draws pictures, and no one does it all like that. Like, if Taniya is doing everything so well, I’m going to do my best. Then there’s “TUMENEKO”. I love their musicianship as well, but I was influenced by the consistency of Nanatsume’s participation as an artist and not as a musician, and that’s what I like about the circle.
Sugie: I see. What about you, Paprika?
Pap: It must be “Kishida Kyoudan”. In a world I had never known before, I was so excited that they had so much audience, and I was surprised that there were charismatic people.
I feel like they see me as a member of the music circle “BUTAOTOME”, even if I don’t have to say it
Sugie: I think you participated in other circles’ CDs in the early stages of your career, but did that happen naturally because you were watching Beatmario, or did you just get approached by others?
Comp: It’s 100% approached by the people around us. I didn’t even know how I could participate in compilations myself.
Sugie: At the beginning, yes. Because you suddenly entered this world.
Comp: I’m glad that everyone has been approaching us from the beginning.
Sugie: Did you participate in compilations as a circle?
Comp: Yes, the four of us participated.
Sugie: There are many different types of doujin circles, for example, there are large ones like “IOSYS”, where there are so many people and they have two bases of activity. There are some others who are more carefree like Beatmario, and then there are circles that are active at various levels in between, but how much are you aware of what you’re doing as BUTAOTOME? I know this example is old but is it like “Hitoshi Ueki is part of Crazy Cats, even when he’s on his own.”?
Comp: Yes, I think so. It’s the same with Hitoshi Ueki. I do things with the idea that “BUTAOTOME is these four people”, so when I participate in a compilation CD, I don’t do it individually, but rather with the feeling that, for example, is Comp but BUTAOTOME participates.
Sugie: Is that the mindset of everyone else?
Comp: I’ve never heard of it (laughs). If you can answer me differently (laughs).
Sis: Rather than being conscious of it, for example, when I’m the just contributing an illustration somewhere, isn’t the name “Ranko no Ane” a bit suspicious (laughs)? So, when it’s asked, “Who’s Ranko?” it’s because we’re a music circle and the vocalist is Ranko… maybe it’s because that’s where a little explanation arises, but it’s often written as “Ranko no Ane (BUTAOTOME)” in the credits. I feel like they see me as a member of the music circle “BUTAOTOME”, even if I don’t have to say it. It’s the same with Paprika-san, isn’t it?
Pap: That’s right.
Comp: That’s what we are aware of, too.
Sugie: It’s easy for vocalists to be approached, and I’m sure you’ve been asked to perform on your own, but do you participate as an individual or do you just say “I’m Ranko from BUTAOTOME”?
Ranko: I’ve never done anything with the intention of doing it as an individual. There is BUTAOTOME, and it’s kinda like “the BUTAOTOME singer came to sing”. I may not have even thought about that per se.
Sugie: It’s hard to get into a fight about this (laughs).
Comp: Yeah, it’s hard to get into a fight (laughs).
Sugie: Isn’t that kind of unsettling to you?
Comp: It’s not that they aren’t, but everyone is not emotional. Especially the three of us, except for Ranko, are quite theoretical, or rather, we don’t waste any time… Unless I’m extremely mentally ill, I don’t say or do anything too emotionally. So there’s no big conflict because of that.
There is “BUTAOTOME” as a fifth member
Sugie: It’s often said that bands break up because of “differences in musicianship”, but in terms of that kind of musicianship, who’s pulling the strings?
Comp: I don’t have a specific focus, I’m very fluid. It’s not just about the music, but being flexible was something I wanted to do from the beginning. So if everyone wants to do something, they can just say it, and if we think, “Oh, that’s good,” we’ll do it. I think that musicality comes naturally to you when you make a lot of work. It’s like there is already “BUTAOTOME” as a fifth member, so I can’t even imagine what will happen as we go to Reitaisai and live shows and various events. After another five or six years, I might be influenced and guided by such “BUTAOTOME”.
Sugie: I thought it was interesting that you mentioned “BUTAOTOME” as the fifth member, but do all of you have that feeling?
Sis: Hmmm, let’s say…
Ranko: That’s the closest thing I can think of.
Comp: Of course, if we don’t make a move, the “BUTAOTOME” won’t make a move at all, but I have a feeling that it has its own intentions.
Sugie: A lot of your albums seem to be based on a concept, but are they made that way?
Comp: That’s already 100% from Ranko no Ane. Ranko no Ane draws the jacket, so the more concepts we have, the more I ask her to help me to create the worldview. From the original theme selection, I was given the idea of choosing this kind of picture and this kind of concept.
Sugie: For example, there are circles like “dBu music” or “SOUND HOLIC” who make a series of albums based on single Touhou games, while others pull out from various Touhou works. What are your thoughts on that?
Sis: Well… It’s like, “What kind of thing do I want right now?” so a lot of times I get dragged into my own latest obsession. But when it comes to music, I just tell everyone about it, so for example, I’d make a proposal for a subculture-orientated CD with gothic elements, and I’d give a presentation of a CD with songs with wood bass and slightly tragic lyrics, and if everyone doesn’t understand it, I’ll look for a more specific explanation in myself, and if they like it, I’ll proceed.
Sugie: Does that make the members say “good” or “that’s bad”?
Comp: We may ask “What do you mean by this?”, but there is no such thing as “Eeeh? That’s bad”. There’s also a series of piano instrumentals called “Nekokenban”, and I think it’s the same for Paprika.
Pap: Yes, that’s right. Thanks to Ane’s production, I’ve been able to create a lot of different things. She’s always thinking of things like, “Oh, I’ve never thought of something like this before.
Sugie: Does Ane choose the songs for “Nekokenban” as well?
Pap: I leave the song selection to Ane, too. We have a concept for each album, so we produce the story and the music based on that.
Sis: At first it was a list of things I wanted to see arranged, but nowadays we’ve been trying to make the CDs look like “detective stories” or “fantasy movies” or something like that.
Sugie: Who decides the setlist for your lives?
Comp: In the past, I used to let Ranko decide them, but recently I’ve been making them myself. In the beginning, the concept was to do whatever the members wanted to do from the start, including the setlist. Even if it’s reckless in terms of effort and schedule (laughs). We don’t know how BUTAOTOME will change until we do what we want to do. We wanted to know what we could do and what we couldn’t do, and we wanted to experience a variety of things with all of us and always look for something we would enjoy.
Sugie: When did you start to feel that you were able to do what you wanted to do?
Comp: That was in 2013, when we finished our national tour where we travelled for 19 places. I felt like we were able to finish it. To be honest, I think it was a pretty reckless thing to do (laughs), but we were doing it with just the four of us, so we could see the limits of what we could do.
We hope to make something happy with the people interested in “BUTAOTOME”
Sugie: BUTAOTOME also has original songs. There are two new songs in this “BUTAOTOME Fanbook”, but what kind of activity will you do in the future for the original side?
Comp: Well, I’d like to continue working on the original stuff as usual.
Sugie: Is not there a fixed form that you want to do this?
Comp: I have a vague vision, but I’m still trying to figure it out. During this time, for the first time, we made an original song that made its first appearance in a live concert, but until now there was no song that did not appear in any album because we made original songs, and then there was a CD. In the future, instead of making all the songs according to the CD, I think I’ll do something new by releasing a CD containing the songs made a while ago.
Sugie: I want to ask Sis, but BUTAOTOME has become a circle that combines audio and visual due to your key visual. Do you have an image of visual development going forward?
Sis: Nope. This might be stupid, but first of all, I’m not really self-confident, I never thought about releasing a doujinshi all by myself. I feel like I can’t do it unless I’m with Comp or other people telling me “this is the best!”… That’s why I’m not really trying to put myself out there.
Comp: As for me, yes. However, I always think under the name of “BUTAOTOME”. In the future, I would like to put more emphasis on visual things that are not music. Like a Paprika book or other stuff. I would like to make that kind of thing.
Sugie: Finally, please give a message to the readers.
Comp: I hope this book will help you to know more about “BUTAOTOME”. First of all, we are just grateful that you were interested in us animals, and it’s great to have impressions, whether they are “what strange guys”, or “I love them” or “I hate them”, even if that is extreme to say. Though, if possible, I would prefer it if you “love them” (laughs). Even if we made a CD, a live or a book, I think they would be incomplete unless there is someone who is watching/listening, so from now on we hope to make something happy with the people interested in “BUTAOTOME”. Whether you are a newcomer or not, from now on best regards from “BUTAOTOME”!