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About Visual Kei, Art, and Everything in Between

Visual kei is what brought me to Japanese rock scene. As a kid that grow up in theatre, I have seen a lot of stage play, big or small, in almost daily basis. When I grow up a bit, I learn about glam rock, hair metal, shock rock, and I got easily hooked by how grandeur and lavish their stage presence are. This also what made me fall in love with nu metal.

And then, I accidentally stumble upon dir en grey’s Filth MV on VCD I rent, that was really magical for my high school self.
I have known Luna Sea before, I know what Japanese rock is. But I always see Luna Sea as an awesome “rock band” with great music, their visuals tells no story other than them being cool.
What struck me when I saw dir en grey then is that their outfit matches the story, the theme of their music video though I don’t understand the lyrics (mind you, I don’t speak Japanese and Jpopasia was yet to exist back in 2003). There is a sense of theatre there.
Not a month after, someone handed me copy of Malice Mizer live. That was life-changing. The setup, the stage, the music, it’s a complete package of performance art and it made me see visual kei as something more. The geeky me then jump headfirst to listen, watch, read about this musical scene as much as I can found from the era of D’erlanger and Kuroyume to today.
I always see visual kei as an art form, though not everyone see it that way, even within the scene itself. The outfit one create to be on stage is part of the art, not just mere make up to support the music. But a “character” to exist as part of the performance. Like Marilyn Manson for Brian Warner, Alice Cooper for Vincent Furnier, or maybe Ziggy Stardust for David Bowie. Maybe I’m a bit ahead of the reality here, but I think this is why most visual kei artist (take Mana, for example), hide their actual name and birth year. They want to be known, to be remembered, as the character they are playing. It’s a big stage of performing art, more than dresses to wear.
I have to admit that there are washed-down stereotypes that we can’t help to have, and it’s okay. But I believe there’s always place for this package to be taken seriously in the vast land of musical diversity.
That’s a simple fan talk though, you might have different perspective with mine and as usual and that’s totally fine, this is a discussion starter anyway.
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