Tokyo Damage Report

visual kei fallout

OK, it's been a week since I posted the "interview with an ex-visual kei executive", and the furor has died down somewhat. Let's take a moment to see what we've learned from the deluge of comments:
 
*   For people that liked it, say thanks to Mr. Satoh, not me.  It was his patience and expertise that made this possible.
 
*     When I translated Satoh’s words, I translated  them using idioms I myself would use – i.e. my own voice. This made it sound like I was talking with myself and not a real interview. This was an especially dumb mistake, because I routinely do fake, satirical “interviews” in the same exact style. My bad!  Point taken, won’t happen again.
 
*      Visual fans surprised me by analyzing the contents more seriously than the “3133t professional translator japanophile economist” commenters over at Mutant Frog, who  obsessed over the appearance and form.
 
*      Speaking of which – I been posting about Unit 731, nationalism, the black market, and linguistic nuances. . . but it’s an article about pop music that gets the intellectuals (not only from MF) to check out the site? Rad!
 
*     No response yet from the mob. Maybe they’re content with blacklisting my up-and-coming band “Fumi3r  Taie d'oreill3r”. Looks like we’ll have to break up and re-form as //Par ë sseux +{Epinard} +Se m ø ø cher\\.
 
*   Almost nobody flamed. Do kids not do that anymore? Or did people discover that pedantic know-it-all comments are actually way more irritating than flames? If so, I salute you. Web 2.0 in the heezy!
 
The negative responses seem to be the equivalent of a 7-10 split, divided between “This is just made up,” and “Well duh, everyone knows that.”
 
*     A French and – I think? – Hungarian BBS linked to it, which was nice, but only the sites run by Americans thought it would be rad to copy-and-paste huge amounts of content, and (in one case) wound up with THEIR readers thanking THEM for the informative article. USA! USA! USA! (*guns engine of imaginary SUV with jesus fish bumpersticker*)
 
The Mob has no, repeat NO involvement in the industry, so I’d better take back what I said   . . . or else the Mob will get me.
 
*    In addition to having their own style of dress and their own slang, visual fans also have their own SNAPS. Did you know that? I didn’t.
Here is how that goes:
 
Fan 1: Fan 3 is so stupid, she thinks Kyoshi from BUCK TICK is the same Kyoshi from DYSPAIR’S REY!
 
Fan 2: OH SNAAAPP! SO PWNED!
 
Fan 3: stfu both of you! You are so fake you think “L’auurange” is Ichiro’s HAIRSPRAY brand – actually it’s his first maxi single
 
Fan 2: OOOOOOH SNAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
Fan 3: actually I HAVE the maxi single AND the MD (original wrapper)
 
Fan 2: OOOOH SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
Fan 3: oh, girlfriend – there IS no L’auurange maxi-single. It IS his hairspray band. Pwned!
 
Fan 2: OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH SNNNNNNN- wait a minute. I have the 1994 fan-photo book, and on page 19 it clearly shows Ichiro with a bottle of Aquanet, which clearly contradicts your claim, since everyone knows 1992 was the year that. . . .”
 
etc.
 
*   Finally, I learned that vk fans are really dedicated, perhaps to the exclusion of other things.
I’m not going to tell anyone how to live their life. Let me just say one prediction:
 
If you kids put just half of the effort / encyclopedic knowledge / money / stubbornness into politics that you put into pop music . . . you could have free college loans, free health insurance, and a massive job stimulus by 2012.
And maybe, just for fun, you could abolish the electoral college as “fan service.”
 
Thus! It’s time for a new rule:
 
From now on, I’m not approving any comments about music (of ANY style), unless the commentor states the name of their elected representative and has an opinion about him/her. Even if you have to google it – I don’t care. I just want to have one scrap of evidence that you know something about the outside world that is affecting your life every day. And then we can get down to business.
 
I’ll go first: my governor is shintaro ishihara and I don’t like him because he cracks down on gigolos AND  street musicians.
25 comments Tags:

25 Comments so far

  1. AeY_OmU March 7th, 2010 8:06 am

    Thanks for your interview.
    It's very usefull for me and.. yes for everyone who loves visual-kei.

    I sincerely and really want to share this interview with my friends, but English is not our native language. It'd be better to read this in our  mother language.

    Could you please allow me to translate this to Thai language?
     
    Please reply me.
    AeY_oMu
     
    my-email : aey_omu@hotmail.com

  2. Dave March 7th, 2010 9:51 am

    Does the elected representative includes people that is outside of America? Don't forget some countries don't have democracy
    Mine is Tan Seng Giaw and is part of a coalition that supports cheaper permits for musical performance. Btw, I'm in Malaysia. :D

  3. AnokPanda March 7th, 2010 10:07 am

    My Mayor is Andre Pierre, he voted for some pro-LGBT legislation a couple years ago when he was a councilperson, which is why the organization I work for endorsed his bid for mayor. But since then, like most of my cities mayors, his presence and actions have no effect on my life (at least in the short term.)
    I just had to "XD: ""abolish the electoral college as “fan service.”" hehe
    Also, the interview blew the "Angry Buddhist vs.everyone" forum battle away in its level of attention and contorversy.

  4. Old reader of this site March 7th, 2010 11:58 am

    I know VK is mostly for little girls with too much money or willing to hooch themselves for money in Japan, but you shouldn't really mix them with the Western fans — who can understand English to read the article, or at least your English.

    They are two completely different species. Even the Japanophiles. And it's no coincidence that VK bands are trying to play in the West. Not only because it's a way to branch out (ie: make more money), but because the audience is different. Read interviews with Mana, where he assures Japanese fans that, in the West, he has male fans in the audience. "So come, come, the little girls won't bite you."
    And VK musicians have it rough? They can leave and get a real job. I'm sure some do, the ones you never hear about anymore. Artists in general have it rough, only a handful make it big. And there are "seven lively arts".

    Lastly, yeah really, you're still riding a bike? Don't tell me you're still in a dead-end life in Japan studying Japanese? Even the guy from Glam Japan moved out eventually… Maybe, now that you have insider connections, you can make a Hello Kitty VK band label and start making money. Think about it.

  5. randomperson March 7th, 2010 2:47 pm

    I already have free health care, free good schools(including college), and the government offers both free money and decent loans to students here (the free money is usually not enough to live on, so therefore the loans) ;)
    You also get some money from the state if you’re young, live alone and has low income so that helps students too.
    I’ll get working on that job stimulus tho.

    As for the public official you’re asking for, I guess you mean the “county governor”? Looked it up, apparently the guy on the top of this county is named Lars Bäckström and is a member of the left party. However, it says he is ironically more well liked by people from other parties than those in his own. I had no idea.

  6. orestria March 7th, 2010 3:21 pm

    my mayor is vedelli, as he has been for years. I want to vote green party, but i usually vote liberal as it is an anti-conservative vote, in essence. I have a job that pays decent money and allows me to travel and buy awesome clothes and fuckingexpensive japanese cds.
     
    I just wanna say that… not all viskei fans are VISKEIFANS. those people make me roll my eyes. those people are why I don't really go to viskei forums. I like the music. well some of it. obviously a lot of it sucks, cuz that's how music is. I can't name all the members of my favorite band. actually, I can't name most of my favorite songs. heck, I think most bands I don't know if they're still active or not. I sure as hell don't care what single or album it was on, unless I'm in japan, in tower records trying to buy shit.
     
    I've also been reading your blog for like… 6-8 years. I want to say 8 but that also sounds crazy.
     
    anyways, point is. most of the vk fans, I think, try too much.

  7. szaszha March 7th, 2010 4:41 pm

    man, i've been gone for a while. 
     
    my governor is rick perry, and i'm not so hot on him because he's a bush lackey and wants to run for president. i dont trust people who <i>want</i> to be president. i'd rather have someone who steps up because they know they are great leaders and dont think anyone else could make the necessary changes and decisions. if youre just like "hey, i wanna be president, i'll serve like half a term in the senate and then make a run for the oral office. being president would be rad on my resume. oh, and MOTHERFUCKING AIR FORCE ONE BTW"
     
    i voted for farouk shami in the texas democratic primary because debra medina's first talking point is about being pro life and i think that whole issue is just a bunch of divisive bullshit. fucking tea party has some shit right but is just so wacked out about other shit. also farouk shami actually has some original ideas. his chances are basically nil because he's a palestinian muslim immigrant and this is fucking texas, but hey, i vote with my head and heart, not that lesser of two evils shit. same reason i wrote in ron paul in 08.
     
    i know this comment isnt about music yet, so:
     
    VK fans in the US are so fucking annoying! how the hell are you going to listen to crazy death metal and just stand up there mobbing the front of the stage all googly eyed and <i>not moving around at all</i>? sure, 90% of the whole VK thing is image based, but is that any excuse to act like some motherfucking 1960s female beatles fan and just mob the stage and cry and act like the fucking band members are your property or something? the same bitches sneer at jonas brothers fans who do the <i>same fucking shit!</i> jesus, go home and work on your dream of doll you vacuous, useless bitches! get out of the way for people who want to hear the music!
     
    (this is based on my VK fan interactions at every jrock show i've been to in the united states between tx and md. i need to build a ho blaster)

  8. szaszha March 7th, 2010 4:48 pm

    @old reader of this site:
     
    dude, one of my dreams is to be able to skate or ride my bike everywhere i have to go. i want to live, work, and shop right in my own hood. some people dont need to roll a benzo to be content! sheesh.

  9. szaszha March 7th, 2010 4:58 pm

    also, your posts about t| Unit 731nationalismthe black marketlinguistic nuances.| . .
     etc are fucking fascinating. i dont know of any other place to go for the kind of commentary you provide, even for stuff related to the united states. the sort of stuff you put out on this site is priceless and totally one of a kind. i've been toying with the idea of moving to amsterdam, but i cant find any blogs like yours to let me know what its really like to live there! pisses me off. 

  10. Mark March 7th, 2010 11:45 pm

    There are no Amsterdam blogs like this….I think there's not enough uniquely annoying shit here to spawn such inspired commentary…

  11. admin March 8th, 2010 12:56 am

    @ Mark: not enough annoying shit in Amsterdam? I can think of 5,000 “rave DJS” with fake dreds who would disagree with you.
    @ szaszha: damn! Good thing you’re against “devisive” people. I’d hate to hear what you sound like when you lose your temper. For real though, what do VK fans in America/ the West DO at shows? Is there violence or stage-diving?
    @Orestria: thanks for your mail! Thanks for showing us you can like VK and be cool about it. How do fans act at shows in YOUR country?
    Also if VK fans “try too much” – I think it would be nice to compare them to average pop music fans (n’sync or Usher or whoever). My hunch is VK fans are more possessive and fanatical because – as Satoh says – the industry deliberately pits them against one another to get them to buy more things and prove loyalty.

  12. AnokPanda March 8th, 2010 1:39 am

    @admin:@Orestria: fyi- I use to go to New Edition concerts and stab people who wore New Kids on the Block shirts; it was brutal back then.

  13. Don't want to get kneecapped March 8th, 2010 5:27 am

    I once nearly got punched at a show…but it was Public Enemy, not VK. Here VK fans just push towards the front, whine about the "moshpit" (which in this case means a bunch of people just crammed in and pushing forwards), and squeal with excitement every time they get the chance to touch some guy's shoe. Oh, and at one show I saw groping – someone actually reached up and tried to grab the guy's package. Not sure to what extent she succeeded, but he certainly looked alarmed and backed away very quickly.
    They also seem to enjoy having water spat on them. Why I'm not sure – I'm assuming it's part of the whole wierd sex-but-no-sex thing they have going on.
    My local respresentative is a secret due to aformentioned desire not to be kneecapped by some guy named Kenji with bad hair and an attitude. Or by the fangirls, who may actually be just as dangerous.

  14. twinklecup slithersby March 8th, 2010 6:02 am

    I keep moving around but mostly in the same state, so my governor is Ted Strickland, and it's cool how he's anti-death penalty, but it sucks that he cut funding to public libraries. Oh well, not like anyone reads these days anyway.
    I've only been to a few VK shows here in the US but I can honestly say that ime, the guys there are actually more annoying than the girls. They're all insecure about being there and act all defensively smug and superior, unless they're cosplayers who don't care about being lumped in with the other fans. Their attempts at moshing at the back are also incredibly unconvincing, and they seem to have the annoying habit of constantly spouting out 4chan memes. Then again, I might find it tougher to deal with the fangirls if I were a member of one of the bands. I've heard stories about girls sneaking up and bearhugging them from behind in dark alleys and licking their hands at meet and greets. Gross. I wonder if the fans would be so quick to sneak up on them if they knew they were a bunch of ex-boxers and yakuza hoodlums!
    It's too bad the fangirls don't get more violent. It'd be pretty funny to watch a greasy chick dressed like a french duke deck a greasy chick dressed like a goth hooker over a guitar pick. Instead they're more passive-aggressively shove-y. Yawn. I did once witness a pretty vicious tug-of-war over a towel that was thrown into the audience, though. Keep it up, girls, you're getting there.

  15. Miles March 8th, 2010 8:00 am

    My governor is Ishihara too. The guy is beneath contempt. He makes racist remarks and he put Tokyo into debt with an ill-conceived Olympic bid.
    What's visual kei? I come here to read about Killdozer. More Little Baby Buntin' opinion pieces please!

  16. Dan March 8th, 2010 2:55 pm

    My primer minister is called José Socrates and he has been fighting for gay marriage to be approved. yey! also he has been in too much scandals lately about money, but which politian doesn't like green leaves?
     
    Anyway, I'm a Visual Kei fan for a while now. About 3 or 4 years. I sometimes get fangirlish. I admit to love fanservice, fanfictions, any crap that involves VK band mates eating each other asses. I love collecting their pictures from magazines and putting them as wallpaper on my PC. Yes it is all fantasy, but who can live without dreams?
    Despite that I can be very down to earth about it.
    I read your article and I liked it very much. It has explained some stuff I've been wondering about, like why they release ten fucking singles instead of an album and other things.
    Also there where somethings I had been suspicious for a while now, like how controlling can the label be. Taking PSC's bands as an example, compared to last year, they have changed a lot. Not only image, but music as well.
    And how as the band gets "comfortable", they lose their visual bit by bit like Nightmare. Compare their first pv to the latest. HUGE CHANGE.
    But there where also things I can't believe in, as they sound extreme. Why would someone actually get to the point to kill another for a song? It almost makes my eyes roll. Gackt may have stole songs from Malice Mizer, but I don't think at that moment he had the credibility to make someone scare the shit out of others about a couple of songs.
    And for fans, even if he stole some songs, what about it? He would sing them anyway if he was still in Malice Mizer. In the end of it they wouldn't even own the song they claim they wrote.
    That said, overall, great work. If we write down the basics of how the VK underground works based on your article, it's the truth (at least to me it makes sense that it is).

  17. orestria March 8th, 2010 3:15 pm

    last time I talked about politics in my hometown, not where I'm currently living. where I'm currently living I can't vote since I'm only a temporary citizen, and everything's in korean anyways. the president is lee myung bak though?
    oh, in my country they're douches too. Well, in canada. damned if any viskei bands ever come to korea. I remember I saw a vk band that happened to be in on a korn tour. the only reason I went was to see the vk band, but I was in the mosh pit all day, including during my band. all the vk girls showed up in a wave just before the vk band. all the guys in the pit were like 'wth sudden flood of girls dressed all pretty?'

    they dressed up and paid money and showed up for one band and left. I rocked out all damn day. I just want to say, there are jrock fans who just like the music.

    in the band's defense, they were not dressed very viskei, and they were rocking so hard they had to end their set early so the lead singer could go to the hospital after hitting his head on the stage and vomitting a few times. so y'know.

  18. Steve March 9th, 2010 4:47 pm

    I came for the linguistic nuances, I stayed for the pictures from the design festa. Speaking of which, did you do a 'best dressed at design festa' thing this year? I saw some pictures on other websites, but it was all lame people-dressed-as-animals stuff.

  19. Alda March 14th, 2010 6:26 pm

    Okay, I find offense that you say that "If you kids put just half of the effort / encyclopedic knowledge / money / stubbornness into politics that you put into pop music . . . you could have free college loans, free health insurance, and a massive job stimulus by 2012.
    And maybe, just for fun, you could abolish the electoral college as “fan service.”
    I do not dedicate my whole life to visual kei. It's just a type of music that WE LISTEN TO. We do not spend our lives dedicating every single second to that band. I have a 96 GPA, and I am going to get into a good college, with free loans and scholarships. Do not loop us into one category, when you obviously do not understand us. Do not call all of us politically inept, because I actually care about politics, and I take my education seriously. Choosing to be a visual kei fan is a CHOICE, OUR choice. Your comments are offensive. I do not go around bashing people's tastes in music, and you shouldn't either. 

  20. JRM March 18th, 2010 4:44 am

    Wow glad I read this, I now understand why you asked that in your other article.
    By the way I wanna add that I do know that TDR is Tokyo Damage Report, I should've wrote "TDR *also stands for* Theodore D. Roosevelt", but I kinda thought that was evident.
    @Adla, I don't think that was bashing someone's choice in music, or insulting their intelligence. It's simply a statement. You can like whatever you want, and you are free to enjoy that however you want. But think of it like this way – money is like a ballot. A lot of people get very very into something, like a band or an actor or a game or a show, and spend a lot of money on that. Then they sit and complain about taxes or unemployment or "the man" making life hard on them, but all this time instead of fighting for that, they've been spending all their time and money on entertainment. Truth be told, this is what "the man" wants. Also, I'm not saying that ALL visual kei fans are obsessed like this. I'm a v-kei fan and I'm not like that.
    I think all that's being said here is to raise your voice, not just in the concert, but in a rally. Celebrate music, and the advancement of a better society. It's all good, man. There is so much potential and energy out there to be expressed, that's all that's being said, I think.

  21. François March 20th, 2010 1:56 am

    My governor is Ishihara Shintaro, too.
    He is the dude that understood he only had to do his job while on air.
    When not on TV, this guy just cruises around in fat cars with young chicks, goes drinking and builds some money scams. Some of these scams require him to be at his office, so about 20% of his week has to be spent there.
    Example: he had a fucking casino built inside the metropolitan building. This is the actual official translation of his speech.
    http://www.metro.tokyo.jp/ENGLISH/GOVERNOR/SPEECH/2002/0203/3.htm
    Truth be told, I don't have anything to say about music right here, I just wanted to spit on Ishihara.
    His english Wikipedia actually taught me some new shit too, like he believes this one forest 'Minamiyama is a Devil's Mountain that eats children.', etc.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishihara_Shintaro#Political_views

  22. Cameron Scholes (GlamJapan) March 30th, 2010 6:18 pm

    In reference to the  "Old Reader of this Site" post dated March 7th…. the "guy from Glam Japan" here…. and just so as you know, I left Japan in Dec 08 to go back to school. My exit from Japan had nothing to do with Visual Kei. I dearly miss the scene, the bands, and the fans, and the employees at the shops & live houses with whom I always enjoyed talking to. Experiencing the scene for 10 years was just wonderful beyond words, and I wish to God I had never left Japan, gotten my wife Canadian sponsorship, and rooted myself in Canada again. Nippon is the best!!!

  23. angela June 9th, 2010 4:09 pm

    what a great interview, I live in Chile (southamerica) and here the visual movement is since a few years a common thing. Most of this kids don´t know the lyrics or the story behind the jrock industries and copy the style of their idols, its so sad. It seems to me that its Slightly ethical the way these Mafia producers take advantage of the fans and the musicians

  24. WJ September 26th, 2010 1:20 am

    Hey, Korean here and to be honest, all our politicians are just messed up. I have respect for Ban Ki Moon but Lee Myung Bak's just a joke. I'm more interested in British politics, especially since Labour was knocked off. But by the way things are going, the Conservatives never should have won.
    Your interview was certainly very interesting to read. It won't kill my love for my VK bands, but it made a few things clear. I've never really been into collecting all types of singles, limited concert items, etc. I always knew it was for the money, but then again, what isn't these days? K-Pop artists (who I despise) sell stickers, diaries, books, stationary in shops and by their fanclub, when I see all that merch on the streets and kids waving them around, I think VK's better off. Money is what people want nowadays whether you're a third-class actor, professional choreographer, or a prostitute hanging around the backalleyways. 
    I have to say, even though I am a j-rock fan in general, but I am disappointed by what the scene is doing these days. Every band looks the same, their music doesn't seem to be different to that other one, the originality has been sucked out of their souls. Yet I still see kids (mainly on the web, because Korea finds Japan's style disturbing) doing exactly what angela above me says. They just sing along in Japanese, almost never knowing what the lyrics mean. They cover Youtube comments with "OMG KAWAIIII"s and have fights with people calling their favourite J-rockers 'gay bastards with no skill'. Their responses are often ridiculously filled with text speak and their grammar could make a dictionary weep. I don't think I can tell anyone the definition of a fan anymore. Does it mean someone who likes another's work, or does it refer to an obsessive, mind-wiped teenage girl? I'm not saying every fan is like this, but it's becoming rare to see a fan who you can talk to about politics or even the weather without the conversation turning into a mindless rant about your favourite band or singer.
    As for myself, I listen to western rock, I enjoy j-rock, and I scout the web for korean rock. I unconsciously bob my head to the beat when a song I like comes on the radio or TV. When the school band does a concert of cover songs I just rock out to them all, unlike other kids who sit still when they don't recognise the song. My desktop background is Versailles, and I don't insist they're the best band in the world.
    I'm a J-rock fan, and proud to be one.
     
    Thanks for the interview again ^^

  25. zuna_ryuhaimeev October 2nd, 2010 11:58 pm

    Hi, thank you very much for this article! As this article also helps me to understand Visual Kei or music industry in general (and for my research essay hehe) and within economic and political context. Well, there are things that I agree and disagree, but everyone has different perspective, so I don't want to argue here… My concern is, since it's really an interesting and unique article (as it's difficult to find articles analysing Visual Kei in depth, not just news like you often see in most of websites), so I wonder whether I can translate the article in my native language, Indonesian. There are many people who like to listen to Japanese music, but some of them have trouble in English.

    Thank you.

Mexico