Youshikibi~ Prince & Princess [Part 2]


Rococo-period portrait

In the era of the 2nd generation Visual Kei (’90s-early 2000’s), pioneers of the Visual beauty-aesthetic goth-opera band Malice Mizer introduced a heavy historical, classical-opera look into the Visual Kei aesthetic. They took imagery and aesthetic views from the French rococo period, and added unique Jrock sentiments, mixed the two together with some pretty serious gothica, and gave us the aesthetic of 2nd and 3rd generation Visual Kei: essentially, youshikibi, the beauty of form.

Mana, Versailles era (MM)

The silhouette and fashion statement became much more costumey and elaborate, pinching no pennies in design and construction. Lace-up, corseted dresses with full skirts, enough lace to wrap around the world 7 times, and elaborate hair-dos topped with massive headdresses were the staples of this style.

During this era, drag and androgyny took form. This is interesting to note, because the majority of Visual rockers are male (the majority– but in the past few years some female bands have sprung up as well), catering to a primarily (but certainly  not entirely) female fan-base.

The concept of “drag” was begun by Mana, founder and guitarist
for Visual Kei bands Malice Mizer and Moi Dix Mois. Despite being decidedly male (although you would never know by looking), from the very beginning Mana dressed all in elaborate Gothic Lolita and Rococo-inspired fashions, wore women’s makeup and hairstyles, and refused to speak (although he claims that the only mode of expression he needs is his guitar, it’s probably because once he accidentally spoke on a live broadcast interview, and revealed his ultra-manly, deep voice. Oops.)

Although this was “fathered” by Mana, it branched off after the end of Malice Mizer and became its own sub-genre of Visual Kei in its own right. Many of the later 2nd generation and 3rd generation bands sprung from this well-spring of fashion, most notably Versailles ~ Philharmonic Quintet.

Like Malice Mizer, Versailles is an all-male band, however Mana’s concepts of fashion and style were highly appreciated, and the entire band assumed a very historical appearance.

HIZAKI

Homage was especially paid by two members, guitarist HIZAKI and bassist Jasmine-You (who passed away on August 9th, 2009) . Both men assumed the dress and attitude of women, although neither went so far as to refuse to speak in order to hide their voice/gender. In fact, HIZAKI has been known to speak quite readily on occasion, proving that this is not about trying to be women, but about being free to wear and act as they choose.

Jasmine-You

The look was also readily adapted by vocalist KAYA (ex-Schwartz Stein), who was, mysteriously enough…, one of a few of Mana’s known proteges. Kaya sings now as a solo artist, and is perhaps one of the most shocking and mind-blowing of all of the aforementioned personalities in this post. Unlike Mana, HIZAKI, and Jasmine-You who silently thrash on guitar/bass, Kaya has no choice but to flaunt his manliness, being solo as a vocalist.

When you first start listening to a Kaya song, it’s electronicky pop-rock, with a decidedly popular-type Jpop male type voice. So you’re expecting to look up images of this swashbuckling, handsomely-voiced male suspiciously named “Kaya” (sounds fishy to me, anyway) and see:











Results will actually yield the shocking– beautiful, but shocking– true face of Kaya:

To be honest, although I’m a long-standing fan of all of Mana’s work, and although I am no stranger to his level of drag and gender-bending, the entire concept of Kaya is still a little bit difficult for me to wrap my head around. I can’t tell if I really like it, or if it is still mildly disturbing.

Video: Kaya’s Chocolate

Guide to Images: Mana, guitarist for Malice Mizer and Moi Dix Mois. HIZAKI of HIZAKI GRACE PROJECT and Versailles~ Philharmonic Quinet. Jasmine-You [Versailles P/Q]. Insert image: normal male, idol boy Kamenashi Kazuya from the Johnny’s group Arashi. Kaya (Schwartz Stein/ Kaya).

Cosplay #2 ~ girugamesh

girugamesh_cosplay_by_AngelAzuraI honestly don’t know enough Jrock fans to cosplay a duet, let alone an entire band lineup. ’nuff said. girugamesh lineup, as cosplayed by AngelAzura et all.

8163Cosplay by AngelAzura… also check out her artwork. She’s done an amazing portrait of Sakurai Atsushi from BUCK-TICK.

“Of Corset Is!”

Ha..ha..get it? AAAACzViJZYAAAAAAB1LVA

Crimson leaves are starting to fall, and rockers far and wide are digging up corsets, frock-coats, and implements of bondage to identify with the gloomy change in weather.

The other day I was talking about how Halloween is coming up, and how I will be spending it at a con. I hope the rest of you have interesting plans for the gloomy un-holiday. I at least hope that you have a party to attend, where much Malice Mizer will be blaring. Martha Stewart suggests complicated green curries cooked in gutted pumpkins, and acrylic-nail application parties for Les Halloween ’09. But we’re a long way from Connecticut, Visualists…

nail-art081

Visual style has wormed its way into the apple of rocker fashion. Most Visualists are rooted strongly in their individuality and creativity, hacking their own look into the world of Visual style. However, because of the nature of Visual style and the rising popularity of Visual Kei as a mainstream genre, it has also transcended personal style and gone into the, shall we say, band-boy-band-girl and/or cosplay modes of expression. A lot of people who appreciate Visual Kei style and music feel that cosplay and band-fan-dom is a way of forging a closer bond to their favorite artists and bands.

Although I personally believe in Visualism and Jrock as a life-source, not to mention life-style, I also believe in cosplay  as legitimate means of expression and appreciation of bands and idols. Even if you decide to do a simple cosplay, and can’t find all the Moitie accessories to glam up your Mana-sama, cosplay well, (and this goes for everyone across the board—) and cosplay with integrity. There’s nothing less appreciative of a band or specific band member than half-assing your depiction of them. If you’re short on time, cash, garb, gear, or all of the above, consider simplifying your effigy by focusing on several very characteristic traits (hairstyle and makeup, for example…whatever the personality is really defined by.) and toning down the other elements. For example, Kanon Wakeshima? Broke? Full-time job (yup, they do go together)? Con in a week? Simple solution! Focus on the hair and makeup and any accessories you can manage, and then try and emulate the experience and sentiment of her outfit without actually recreating it in full! This is much more appropriate than buying a $14 cheesy prom dress from Salvation Army and hauling a cello around.

kanon-wakeshima…and remember…next year, start making the costume right after the convention, not right before. (To be fair, I tried this and failed miserably. Wish me luck that I don’t return a hypocrite….Not that you’d know  either way :D).

Whether you’re seeking to improve your own Visual style, or considering cosplaying your favorite band-member, here is something that may help along the way– and remember, do your best, and have fun! ganbatte ne!:

If you’re totally green to Visual style, but want to go the whole nine yards, a DVD was released in September called Visual Makeup Lesson. The DVD has a variety of lessons to show Visualists how to do typical Visual Kei style makeup. Japanese language with English subtitles. Learn it from the best– and by that I mean, of course, learn it from the Japanese…