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Saturday, August 4, 2018

Song of the Week! 4 August 2018

This August-opening double feature is all about... Ranko! What do I mean by that name is variable, according to which specific fanbase you're referring to...

 Tsubomi Yumemiru Rapsodia ~Alma no Michibiki~ (華蕾夢ミル狂詩曲~魂ノ導~) THE iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls
Allx2 (101)x4 (168)x5 (311)x8 (765)
 Taiko 0 R

Under this long Japanese title (roughly translated to English as 'Dreaming Flower’s Bud Rhapsody ~Soul’s Guidance~') lies one of the image songs belonging to Ranko Kanzaki (神崎蘭子), a Cool-attribute 14-years-old fictional idol from the Idolm@ster series' Cinderella Girls spin-off branch.

Voiced by the Toyko-born Maaya Uchida (内田真礼) from the talent agency I'm Enterprise, the silver-haired Ranko is used to hide her more shy-based persona by adopting a quite unusual gothic mixture of both visual and language means, from wearing gothic lolita clothes to the adoption of fantastical and overly-exaggerated terms to express even the most simple of thoughts and feelings. Being one of the first Cinderella Girls idols to be featured in the mainstray series as part of the ONE FOR ALL PS3 game's first batch of DLC content, Ranko also managed to be one of the most popular girls in the branch since the very beginning, ranking high in popularity in the Cinderella Girls' 1st anniversary elections (ranked 2nd overall) and managing to win for herself the title of Cinderella Girl by topping the next year's anniversary elections charts. Aside from being featured as an event-exclusive Petit Chara, Ranko also appears as part of the arcade line's Fever custom dancers set for Cinderella Girls songs, appearing 2nd from left.

Composed by Koji Nakagawa (中川浩二) and lyricized by Aya Higashinomiya (東ノ獄彩), Tsubomi Yumemiru Rapsodia ~Alma no Michibiki~ made its debut in the idol Ranko's solo album, the 6th release in the CINDERELLA MASTER series (THE IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA MASTER 006 Kanzaki Ranko), premiered on August 8th, 2012. Yuji Masubuchi (増渕裕二) of high Taiko fame has co-arranged the song with Koji Nakagawa, with the final result making its way later on in both the Cinderella Girls Anime series (as an insert song in the 22nd episode) as well as in the actual games of the series: the aforementioned ONE FOR ALL DLC release and the mobile music game Cinderella Girls: Starlight Stage, with a custom cut of the song which is also the one used for its port to the Taiko no Tatsujin series.

Charted by Shika@ni~san (しか@に~さん), this Nam-Combo Oni challenge mostly sports a collection of note-heavy sections between single notes and 3-Kat clusters, ramping up the stamina endurance skills for the Go-Go Time's consecutive patterns and beyond. While not being one of the hardest ones in the 8-star tier, it sure is geared to take a toll on random errors for those who can't keep up with the steady note barrage!

  Tsubomi Yumemiru Rapsodia ~Alma no Michibiki~ (華蕾夢ミル狂詩曲~魂ノ導~) THE iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls
All---x9 (832)
 Taiko 0 R

The difficulty bump between Tsubomi Yumemiru Rapsodia's regular Oni and its Ura Oni variant is arguably a small one, adding a handful more notes into the mix and gearing its note clusters more on the hand-switching side of Taiko gameplay action.

While -despite featuring note patterns eerily similar to Yami no Mahou Shoujo's Oni chart- is not as hard as the 9-star note champion in the Namco Original genre, this is still one of the most note-dense modes under the same difficulty range, averaging 7.29 hits/second overall!

 Gensou no Satellite (幻想のサテライト) Touhou Project Arrange - Butaotome
Allx4 (111)x6 (211)x7 (378)x9 (611)
 Taiko K (promo only), Taiko Mu, Taiko +

Jumping from one girl-based gaming franchise to another one that leans more on the indie scene, it just so happens that we can find another 'Ranko' among the ranks of the Touhou Project music-arranging doujin scene's most prominent circles; this one Ranko (written out as 'ランコ') happens to be the nickname chosen by the lead singer of the Butaotome (豚乙女, lit. 'Pig Maiden') doujin unit.

The circle started out during the Autumn of 2009, with its members being moved by the simple motto of "Let's do something fun!", starting from Touhou Project music arrangements being shared on Nicovideo to become one of the most recurring circles in both the Comiket and Reitasai conventions ever since. This unit's members are all longtime drinking companions who -with the exception of the singer Ranko- are used to dress out as different animals during Butaotome's live performances: the composer/bassist/programmer/lyricist Comp (コンプ) as the polar bear, the piano player/arranger Paprika (パプリカ) as the cat and the web designer/dancer Ranko no Ane (ランコの姉) as the rabbit. Since 2017, Butaotome has started to release original works under the Avex publishing label, but they still dabble in the independent music scene to this day, be it for Touhou Project arranges, original music or something that mixes both tropes. Alongside the Butaotome unit's official website and personal blog, English-speaking people have also the option to know more about the unit through the Tiramisu Cowboy fan-site.

Up to this point, every Touhou Project arrangement we've spotlighted under these lines was always coming from one of the Windows-era games' score. For Gensou no Satellite (lit. 'Fantasy Satellite'), however, we have a quite peculiar case to talk about, as the ZUN-composed song at the base of the arrangement -Greenwich in the Sky (天空のグリニッジ)- comes from one of Team Shanghai Alice's very own doujin music albums, all starring original music from Jun'ya Ota (太田順也) himself between exclusive pieces and track ports from the formerly-released Touhou Project games. The doujin album containing the 'Greenwich in the Sky' song is titled Celestial Wizardry ~ Magical Astronomy (大空魔術 ~ Magical Astronomy) and is the 5th released in the so-called ZUN's Music Collection series.

Released in occasion of the 70th Comiket edition, this album, like the others in the same collection, uses the leitmotif behind the featured tracks and their related album notes to narrate the story of two university students living in the near-future human world: Maribel Hearn (マエリベリー・ハーン) and Renko Usami (宇佐見蓮子). The two have forged their bond due to the shared passion for occultism and the paranormal, which has also been a determining factor for stumbling upon supernatural situations, such as interacting with elements and characters from Gensokyo. The story narrated in the Celestial Wizardry album, Maribel and Renko talk about the commotion that was led by the university announcement of public traveling to the Moon being made possible, with the two friends trying to come up with a plan to go to the Earth satellite on their own. In Taiko games, Maribel and Renko made it to become an event-exclusive Petit Chara combo, released for Yellow Version's Touhou Project collaboration campaign.

Gensou no Satellite is one of the few Touhou Project arrangements to have made rounds across several Japanese music gaming series; on bemani fields, it was part of the very first SOUND VOLTEX game's tracklist (link), branching since then to mobile-exclusive forays (jubeat plus / REFLEC BEAT plus) and to the now-defunct BeatStream series (link). Sega gaming features Butaotome's popular arrange in both the maimai and CHUNITHM series (with the former also spotlighting bits of the song's official video) and back to more familiar fields, it's also featured in Bandai Namco's Synchronica! Taito's Groove Coaster series is by far the most generous one towards the Butaotome works, not only for porting Gensou Satellite (link) but an additional slew of song from the circle branching into other genres, from the Avex-licensed releases (Trauma Recorder) to more videogame arrangements (Kodoku na Hana and a custom Kage no Densetsu mix, among others) and original works (Heisei Kaisei Dottensyan).

The Taiko port of Gensou no Satellite's charts were co-handled by the current Taiko Team lead Etou (エトウ) and Marimo Institute (まりも研究所), giving birth to a 9* speed-demon Oni mode whose difficulty degree is slightly tamed by the fact of several pattern schemes being repeated all over the song for its Go-Go Time sections... We're still talking about 1/16 and 1/12 note clusters flowing at an insane base BPM speed, so pay attention in order to avoid some unfortunate mistakes!

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see one of my favorite songs take the spotlight, Gensou no Satellite is really fun to play even if it's not that hard.