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Roots of Visual Kei

Roots of Visual Kei – an introduction

Here on Homeless Visual Kids I’ve been granted the joy and the position of exploring the more ‘obscure’ and historical aspects of visual kei and japanese music and while I’ve only encountered this music for a short period of time I feel that the vast cultural and underground feel of the older aspects of this music has become somewhat an obsession for me.  I like nothing more then to spend my days digging through the global database and finding musical gems and fascinating connections between artists. This all started because I stumbled upon the band Buck Tick. Their music was not only something which I came to fall in love with but it made begin to question. I wanted to know more about japanese music, specifically visual kei, and how it all began. This of course lead me on a never ending discovery of music, history, and culture.

The 1980s is an important decade for visual kei and for Japan. Like the United States, Japan became major consumers in the 1980s. Technology and access to a wide variety of new music, fashion, art, and entertainment exploded amongst the populous. There are pages and pages one could write on the smallest and the largest aspects of pop culture during this time period. While researching 1980s Japan one will become overwhelmed by the massive size of this decade. I found myself traveling down hundreds of different roads from interesting fashion crazes to the Japanese punk rock generation to porn magazines sold in vending machines.

If you could for a second imagine yourself as a young person in Tokyo during the 1980s you will find there are many worlds held in this one city. Car stereos became a common thing so you’d hear the sounds of “city pop” which was becoming popular then, a mixture of jazz, pop, and electro pop. You’d probably dream you could get your hands on the first ever CD player as well, the SONY CDP-101 which back then cost as much as 900 dollars. If you were a fan of adult entertainment you’d find a wide variety of ways to get off as the sex industry was booming. You could get your hands on adult videos now and watch them at home and you could also play pornographic games on your nintendo system as well. Dōjinshi was becoming popular so you could also pick up the new yaoi mangas that were being produced if you were of the kinkier sort. If you liked idols you’d notice that newer forms of idols were coming around, featuring young girl groups verses the more mature female vocalists.

And If you wanted rock and roll…. Well you had to visit the more underground scenes of Tokyo.

This installment will be featuring the bands:

  • THE STALIN (1980 -1993)
  • BOOWY (1981- 1988) 
  • LOUNDNESS (1981 – present)
  • X JAPAN (1982 – 1997, 2007 – present)
  • D’ERLANGER (1983 – 1990, 2007 – present)
  • DER ZIBET (1984 – 1996, 2007 – present)
  • BUCK TICK (1984 –present)
  • DEAD END (1984 – 1990, 2009 – present)
  • THE BLUE HEARTS (1985 – 1995)
History of Media Technology
Skyscraper City
Otaku Media
Music of Japan
Pornography in Japan


2 thoughts on “Roots of Visual Kei – an introduction

  1. LOL you looked up Banana Fish?!

    Posted by hikaru | September 21, 2011, 12:37 pm
  2. I did not look up Banana Fish, Banana Fish looked up me! ^_~ In all actuality I was looking into famous manga’s and happened to come upon that one.

    Posted by nursedani | September 22, 2011, 7:26 am

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