The Driving Force Behind Lolita and this Site


TA couple of days ago I received this question in my guestbook and decided to answer it to the best of my abilities. For some reason, certain things about visual kei never filter out into the real world, and so I will attempt to explain what I've gotten about visual kei.

The Question (Derek): How do you resolve visual kei look with the very light pop sound?

Surprisingly enough, there is no contradiction between a visual kei band's look and sound. Furthermore, there is no set "sound" for a visual kei band. Vis kei, as the name states, is "visual genre" music, aka. they are classified not by their sound, but by their visuals. Maybe you should try listening to a wider range of bands. Once you do, you'll find that many of them play fairly hard music. I can't give you any good examples though, myself not listening to many visual kei bands.

But as for the bands with hard images that play soft music....I would direct you to bands like The Backstreet Boys or Shinwha..

What?! (laughs)

No, I'm serious. Do you remember the PV for "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)", where they dressed up like monsters and ran around and danced a silly dance in a spooky old house? That wasn't far from something a visual kei band would do. The only difference, really, is that western men aren't to wear make-up (visibly. Nick's pretty pocky in real life). So you get visuals like that in the west too.

Meanwhile, Shinwha has had some pretty violent videos including abusive parents, gang fights, and death of the band members. Yet they're a Korean boy band

Visual kei is the equivalent of western boybands, and their fans are the equivalent of teenieboppers. When you tell an adult that you like visual kei in Japan, they'll give you a patronizing look or laugh, and start treating you a little childishly. In fact, my aquaintance used to introduce me as "this girl likes vis kei" when he wanted to make me seem childish. I'm not talking about the good old days of vis kei, with bands like X-Japan, but the modern day visual kei bands. Even Malice Mizer and Lareine fall under this category. For further reference to fangirls as teenieboppers, please read the modern day anthropological literature on teenieboppers. You'll find that it describes visual kei fans perfectly. Japan's aesthetics can explain other differences in appearance I think.

Now, going further, I suppose you perhaps hear a lot of rumors about visual kei, but here are some true, and less well known, points about visual kei.

1) Visual kei fans are usually 14-24.
2) Visual kei fans are usually female.
3) Visual kei band members are usually under 30.
4) There is something call "mitsu" where girls randomly give money to bands and do favors/have sex with the members for affection from the bandmen. Most don't do it, and it's pretty underground among even the fans, but it's not unheard of. This is how some band members make their money. Male prostitution, more or less.
5) Fans will insist that members won't get together with fans sometimes, or call it fangui (using the fans), but that's not true. A large number of foreign fans who actually speak Japanese and have been in Japan for long enough have gone out with bandmembers. They weren't mitsu. They just really liked each other. In the end, they're only people like anyone else.

So generally, visual kei is neither noble nor creative nor special or sophisticated. However, there is a sort of community feeling and comfort in the smaller band's circles, and visual kei can be a really good thing there. Like, one of my friends is a fan of a smaller Osaka band, and she's friends with the fans and bandmen,. They all support each other, hang out somtimes, etc, etc. I'm not opposed to point #5.
But as you get to bands with a larger fanbase, I think they lose that feeling. It's a different image and lifestyle.

Interestingly enough, Velvet Eden does not warrent visual kei status, while Moi Dix Mois and Malice Mizer do (although Mana is trying rather hard to combat that image). I think it's because of Kalm's songs and Dada's funky voice, plus the fact that he sings about being a gay, sadomasochistic man in Nichome and dresses more like a drag queen than anything else. In visual kei, when someone has creativity or true artistic talent, they usually end up breaking the humdrum in some way or another or going goth.

So, you know, everyone's entitled to their own musical preferences and visions. Me, I want Mylene Farmer, Eurythmics, Strawberry Switchblade and Soft Ballet....the 80's....back (>_<) Even though I wasn't there for a lot of it. It's funny. I just got into Mylene after well over a decade of activity, and now she's leaving the music business. I think I'm a jynx. So those who like Sopor Aeternus, I apologize in advance if he gets crushed by an elephant or something. Siempre los mismo~


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