[Music] History of Visual-kei

Do you like Visual-kei?

I like them! It is one of the very Japanese music.

How they evolved?


If definition of visual-kei is “wearing makeup, loud fashion, aggressive type of music”, I think that “外道Gedou(1973–1976, 1979-1982, 1991, 2002-2003, 2010-Present)” is the oldest.
But they were not Visual-kei because there wasn’t the word “Visual-kei” in this time, and their musicality was hard-rock, so they were recognized as hard-rock band.

[Early 1980’s]

The Stalin(1980-1985)

Gastunk(1983-1988, 1999, 2006, 2010, 2017)

Dead end(1984-1990)

I think that these three band were prototype of Visual-kei(but there still weren’t the word).
They were recognized like these, Stalin is punk rock, Gastunk is hardcore punk, metalcore, Dead end is heavy metal/hard rock.
Especially, Tatsu(Gastunk)’s look and performance style had an impact on Hide(he is said most unique and progressive Visual-kei. So many Japanese musicians respect him)

[1980’s – early 1990’s]


X(1982–1997, 2007–present)


These three band had shaped basic style of Visual-kei.
Boøwy: cool and stylish style, X: aggressive music style, Buck-Tick: decadent atmosphere style
All Visual-kei respect these band.
And these style have been passed down to present Visual-kei.

Until this time, these band members was mainly so bad, violent, delinquent youth and also fan was(not for otaku people).

The word Visual-kei originated from catch phrase of X “Psychedelic Violence And Crime Of Visual Shock” in this time.


Luna Sea(1986–2000, 2010–present)
They are one of the completed form of Visual-kei.
They have very high musical performance technique and cool style, unique atmosphere.
Not only all present Visual-kei but also many J-rock band have been influenced by them.

From this time, Visual-kei boom had broken out in Japan.

[Late 1990’s]

Kuroyume(1991–1999, 2009, 2010–present)
Vocalist Kiyoharu is a person with great sense of style.
Until this time, Visual-kei style was like a cosplay, not a normally wear.
But Kiyoharu’s punk rock style was very casual and cool. So he often made the cover of fashion magazine.

He also has his own fashion brand.




These two are famous for the greatest hit bands in Japan.
The viewers of their concert was 650,000 – a million at that time!
The word “Visual-kei” had recognized all over Japan.

And this time, so many visual kei bands debuted through a TV show “Break Out”

Pierrot(1994–2006, 2014, 2017-present)

La’cryma Christi(1991–2007, 2009–2010, 2012)

Malice Mizer(1992–2001)

Shazna(1993–2000, 2006–2009, 2017–present)

These four were most popular bands from Break Out.
Each bands have strong uniqueness.
Pierrot: so dark worldview and lyric, strange but ring in ears performance, La’cryma Christi: highly complex music like Progressive rock, Malice Mizer: So dramatic stage and worldview, Shazna: very KAWAII(but he is a man) vocalist and catchy music

And also Dir En Grey(1997–present) which is very important band debuted at that time.
Their music and style is by far the best aggressive and flamboyant.
They also quickly had advanced overseas and I think that they were first Visual-kei which had gained popularity overseas.


In this time, many Visuai-kei had tied-up with Japanese anime.

Nightmare(2000–2016 (hiatus))

the GazettE(2002–present)


They were called “Neo visual kei”, and had more approachable and friendly style than early Visual-kei(X, Buck-Tick etc).
They were not bad boy but sometimes a little otaku and shy people.
And their fans sometimes also anime fans.
I think that Visual-kei changed to “for otaku people” from this time.

So some fans of early Visual-kei didn’t like neo vosual kei.

But they had great influence especially young girls.
Their fans were called “Bangya(Band + Gal)”, they had unique fashion “Punk”, “Gothic”, “Lolita” etc


From this time to now, Visual-kei boom has peaked out because all music CD don’t sell well.
Indeed, there are many good bands but they are only small boom.
There is only one band is very popular all over Japan from 2011~.
Golden Bomber(2004-present)

They are called “Air Band” and they don’t play musical instrument.
So they may not be “band”.
But it is one of the variety of Visual-kei.

If you take an interest in Visual-kei by this topic, I’m so glad!
Not only new Visual-kei, but also some old Visual-kei are active energetically.

I recommend Buck-Tick!
They have been active no stop no member change over 30years.
I think that they are ideal form of Visual-kei.

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