GACKT in the Ghetto

I’ve been stewing over this for some time now. I can’t take it anymore, I gotta get it off my chest.  In anticipation of his upcoming YFCz European tour (extended and expanded version), GACKT switched up the ol’ tried-and-true approach of actually looking cool, and decided to go out on a limb with his newest makeover. His stylist must’ve felt bad for all the countries that haven’t gotten a GACKT tour yet, and decided to help console us by giving GACKT such a ridiculously WTF-worthy hairstyle that we would close out the tour schedule tabs on our browsers, going “grumblegrumbleGACKTwtfyourghettohairgrumblegrumble”, content to wait until a better makeover before we lament not being able to see him live. ¹

Who is he, Shimizu Shota?

 I mean, seriously, did I miss something? Is he a rapper now? Will Justin Bieber be featured on Episode .0 as a special guest? Or is this some inter-cultural attempt at Harry Potter in time for Deathly Hallows Part 2? What’s with the lightning bolt? Didn’t he read the books? It goes on your forehead, man!

 I’ve always accepted and been able to appreciate GACKT’s blonde haircolor– I thought he looked kind of like a Japanese sararii man with the straight black sleek look– not in a bad way, just in a Japanese-dad kind of way. I do think the blonde hair makes him look younger and certainly edgier…

Fo shizzle, yo.

My issues lie with the haircut.

 It looks to me like someone wasn’t paying attention when they were cutting it and accidentally hacked a huge chunk out of the bangs and did a rush job of trying to cover it up (remember, GACKT, don’t tell them about their salary cut while they’re wielding scissors by your head). It’s not definable by any hair-style known to man– it is not a low-cut, faux-hawk, or buzz. It’s like all three mashed into one, dyed blonde, with a random zigzag stuck on the side just to enhance…enhance what, exactly? The overwhelming lack of symmetry and coolness? Remember, there’s a difference between “asymmetrical” and “just plain awkward”. I doubt I need to tell you which side of that line this falls on.

 Following this disaster, cover-art for July single Episode .0 was released for 2 versions, the usual ltd and regular. I was originally planning on picking up the ltd edition because it comes with a DVD, but then they released the cover art…

…Which further proves my point that the Regular edition cover art is always superior. I don’t care if it is the OP to some new anime or game, to me it just doesn’t have the feel of a GACKT single. It also reminds me of those vocaloid monsters in which I have absolutely .0 interest.

 The regular edition cover art, however, hits the spot. It actually has GACKT on it, which always helps give it the feel of a GACKT single. Fortunately he’s wearing his cool samurai wig so I won’t have to remove and hide any booklet tainted by this new Faux-Low-Cut nonsense.

 Not my favorite cover by any stretch of the imagination, but it gets the job done. I admit, I like the font a lot, but I feel like the design of the cover overall is “good” rather than “great. I live in hope that the songs and PV² far surpass the quality of their creator’s hair-style and the lackluster artwork.

Remember, GACKT’s birthday falls on the 4th, so if you’re starting to make plans to smash open watermelons on the beach or poke out innocent eyes with sparklers, save some time on your calendar to acknowledge GACKT (ghetto lightning-bolt-scar-wannabe and all). And if you have plans to do so, feel free to comment and explain– I’m always curious about how others honor these moments in their Visualife.

Also, July 7th is tanabata for Visualists and Japanophiles alike, Episode .0 drops the 13th, and of course don’t forget the premier of GACKT’s new movie.

Wait, what? Don’t worry about it.

¹–Note: I am obviously being humorous here…kind of. Even if he was bald I would kill to see GACKT live. I think.

²—Note: The PV has been leaked on YT, but, as is my custom with GACKT releases, I won’t be watching or reviewing the PV until I’ve heard the single itself.

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girugamesh bounces back

It would seem that it’s about that time again. Summer is coming to a close, bringing with it the papery chill of Autumn. With the turnover from summer, the new round of fall tours, events, and releases start to come tumbling down from the skies of Visual Kei like leaves on a windy October day.

One of those bands whose seasonal turn-around we have most been anticipating, is the extremely versatile, ever-changing and experimenting bad-boy roundup girugamesh. They recently released their new look, and a teaser for the new single, titled Inochi no Ki (Tree of Life), and appropriately depicted by a…er..dead tree. Let’s take a look at their new digs:

Wow, well, first of all, I have to say Nii and his hats keep improving. That over-sized sock he was wearing on his head for about, what? 8 singles? has finally transformed into a classy fedora. Those are in, by the way. Honestly, Satoshi’s outfits don’t change that much. Although he’s cut-off mid-torso here, I’d bet my last penny he’s wearing black ski— wait. Aren’t there too many blonds in this picture?

As for the song… Like Nii’s hobo headwear, giru‘s sound continues to develop and advance. I’m extremely pleased to hear that they’ve gone back to their hardcore sound. Those rap elements are still there, which shows Ryo’s experimental nature is still running rampant. However, it’s good to hear Satoshi’s voice getting that edge back, as I thought he was going soft for a while there. Although, I thought it was something other than ‘luck’ that he was saying. Just Engrish, I guess?

All in all, I think it’s inspiring to see that, although we had a brief lapse with the release of mediocre COLOR, the boys are bouncing back with more of their original sound. I think it was right to stand by girugamesh and continue supporting their creative expression. I can’t wait for Inochi no Ki to land, and I hope the b-sides are just as good as the title track.

Admit it. You can’t deny the resemblance.

New Look Needs New Designer

While twiddling our thumbs waiting for alice nine‘s SENKOU single to hit shelves and counting the days of September to see how much longer we have to wait for MIYAVI’s promising new album due out in October, the Visual Kei community has been busying themselves with snaring a scandal.

It would seem that there’s a bit of a border issue that comes up every now and then in the world of international creativity. While art is meant to defy all borders, its ownership, legalities, and respectful usage shouldn’t be brushed aside while leaving the country– or appearing on the web.

There are a lot of vague gray areas and many questions concerning copyright and the internet. With the vast amount of media content being posted for all to see, save, and upload back into the viscious cycle that ravages the entire concept of sharing-is-caring, it can become confusing as to what belongs to who and who can use what for why and when and how.

However, if one thing is clear to me, at least, it is this: art may defy all borders, but what goes up on Deviant Art stays on Deviant Art unless the Deviant Artist says otherwise. It would seem, however, that British fashion brand New Look disagrees.

It has recently been uncovered by GazettE fans that a likeness of guitarist Uruha’s goddess-like visage was used as the graphics on a New Look top. But not only that, the image, described on the online store as a “Pixelated punky girl illustration”, doesn’t credit the illustrator, Deviant Kyunai, whose remarkable Uruha fanart originally appeared on their Deviant Art page in 2007.

As I haven’t received permission from Kyunai to post their image here, surf on over to their DA page and check out the original illustration. It is absolutely worthy of appearing on a stylish top…however, the artist’s permission should be solicited, their affiliation approved, and their dues delivered in that clear, clean-cut and very legitimate fashion (no pun inten– well, ok, fine).

Using an image like this is a terrific idea- the illustration, and the face captured in it, are both exquisite, and such a depiction could be incredible promotion for a lucky artist as well as the band. Unfortunately, this interesting marketing op has been massacred by the tactlessness of whoever ‘designed’ the shirt for New Look. Now, instead of great promotion for the band and the artist resulting in an awesome piece of clothing, we are left simply with image-theft, a bad rap for New Look in the Jrock crowd, and a bunch of people hoping Kyunai’s request that the brand recall the item be peacefully passed.

Original artwork by Kyunai…Used without permission by New Look UK.

Thanks to Tweeps @ToshiChica @JanecutiehWARP for spreading the word.

Dye Lot 501: ‘Russet Mother’

I’m….I’m having some problems….and I was hoping if I put this up, someone would be able to offer me some kind of assistance…or at least some sympathy.

Ever since I developed my capacity to be neurotically fixated on something with those 5 posts dedicated to that Jrock phenomenon, The Perm, I have been highly sensitive to the hair trends among Visual rockers. I was checking out some of the “new looks” for this season, and I noticed something of a disturbing new trend.

This particular hair color was first introduced into the Jrock fashion scene when Nishikawa Takanori started wearing it about, what, 20 years ago?  The difference here is that Nishikawa actually has a cool haircut.

Tetsuya

Tetsuya no longer feels confident in his physical appearance. He has, for the past year or two, had his secret twin sister take his place for photo-shoots and album covers. Pink skulls, pink boots, and fashion-denim? I mean really? Gone are the good ol’ days when Tetsuya still looked like a man, wore rubber-soles, and was never to be seen without at least ten different plaid garments on at once. Only in Japan do all famous men become Californian women when they turn 40.

SCREW

Who’s the hot chick on the far left? And more importantly, why is Kazuki wearing traditional pajamas and a smoking jacket? Middle man Byou there is rocking a pretty much picture-perfect rip-off (just parting it on the right won’t fool me) of the look Ruki started wearing earlier this year.

The GazettE

Aoi and Uruha aside, I have so many issues with this new look for The GazettE— don’t even get me started. Between Ruki’s metallic layers and Kai looking like he’s about to strangle the chef who made the Chicken Cordon Bleu late for table 7, I just don’t know what to think anymore. At least their music is still— oh, wait…

What Toyota has to say about wussy-boys

How could you doubt the manliness of Japanese men?

Yes, I know, poor kid– Kamenashi Kazuya is Secret Garden’s posterchild for all that is confused and confusing in Japan.

For the past several months my interest in gender issues in Japanese pop culture have had me following this topic of Soushokukei Danshi Nikushokukei Jyou, translated: Herbivore guys, carnivore girls.

Soushokukei danshi” describes a “trend” of  ‘herbivore men’, or a group of young men (typically classified as being metrosexual) who are rejecting the typical guidelines of masculinity, and embracing an alternative style. It’s a type of Otomen syndrome, as it were, for anyone who has read the manga/seen the drama. Otomen follows the story of a young man who, on the outside appears to be a manly-man, but who secretly loves sewing, crochet, stuffed animals, strawberry parfaits and baking beautiful cakes. Soushokukei danshi have been described as being more “family oriented”, and being uninterested in women and dating.

Next in line are the carnivorous girls, beautiful, intelligent, ambitious young women displaying all of the characteristics it seems the men should be displaying: charisma, confidence, focus, and guts. These go-getters have been described by the soushokukei danshi as being “scary” (I’m shaking in my boots already…).

The typical dynamic spelled out by this phenomenon is a type of gender-role-reversal, where the herbivorous guys seem unable to get up the manly gumption to go after girls, but prefer to wait for the carnivorous beauty (as long as he’s not scared of her, that is) to hunt him down and snatch him up in one fell swoop (sounds okay to me…).

The problem apparently lies in the recent decline of the birthrate in Japan, which isn’t the only thing that’s been declining in recent years. Machoness seems to have also hit an all-time low, leaving this new generation of young guys who are officially pegged as having little or no interest in dating or sex. This seems to be the distress of anthropologists and hopeful young single women web-wide, as the aforementioned are concerned about the society itself stumbling, and the latter for more obvious reasons. This could be a legitimate claim, except that in an article by NPR a young soushokukei danshi admitted that he didn’t talk to girls, but it wasn’t because he wasn’t interested. If a girl approached him first, he would be thrilled– he just isn’t willing (or able) to make the first move.

Now, treading carefully around this topic which could potentially get heated quite quickly, I would like to address the fact that the world-wide-media loves nothing better than to peg the Japanese as eternal wrong-doers. I realize the Japanese are concerned about this new trend as well, but I also think it’s positively ridiculous that everyone thinks the problem lies just in Japanese society. I for one know without a doubt that this trend of soushokukei danshi and nikushokukei jyou is running rampant in the American youth culture as well. Take for example the emo sub-culture where boys openly admit they like Disney movies, cry at the end of them, and wear girl’s jeans. I have close friends who personify the pairing almost perfectly– literally, the woman swooped in and snatched him up in one fell swoop while he was eating strawberry Pocky. Are they Japanese? No, unfortunately (just kidding, guys).

Why everyone was blowing all of this seemingly way out of proportion wasn’t making sense to me until I got deeper into that particular article on the subject. It was with grim relish that I found the most descriptive cause for alarm this new generation poses. An “expert” of the generation commented that “…the impact of the herbivores on the economy is very big. They’re such big news now because sales are down, especially of status products like cars and alcohol.” [1]

Someone in the comments made several points with which I agreed to the fullest. They said that for one, it was almost impossible to believe that 60% of all Japanese males between the ages of 18-30 weren’t interested in women; and two, Japanese [and many other nationalities’] men have always been afraid of high-powered, strong, “scary” girls, so it’s no surprise many of them shy away from “carnivorous” women.

"I just....feel like he should approach me first..."

Personally, I believe that Toyota and Suntori have more to say about this as an “issue” than any girls out there. When I asked around, at least ten girls said they didn’t want macho men, and several guys responded with revulsion at the sheer mention of the concept.

If all these girls are as beautiful and confident and carnivorous as they claim to be, then why are they all whining about guys being more of an opposite polarity? It looks like an a-typical feminist “get your cake and eat it too” situation to me– no disrespect to the fems. Do women really want to be powerful and, let’s face the facts, masculine, and have guys still playing that role too? How can guys be expected to play by traditional gender-roles that have already been altered?

It’s like women (the only ones who seem to have a problem with this, well, aside from Toyota), and people in general, make this huge push for feminism and then refuse to accept that there will be consequences. Women will change their gender-roles so that they can “wear the trousers” as it were, and yet they expect there to be no change on the male side of things? Do women who have high-powered careers and confident attitudes really sit back and wait for these men to come after them? I think not– even if they idealize that situation, in reality it would create a paradox of personalities.

Essentially, by becoming the “carnivore” of the dynamic, it seems only cosmically natural that men would also begin changing in order to create harmony and balance in any given situation. Let’s take GACKT as an example. GACKT often expresses his personal taste in women- as far as we know, he prefers a docile, soft-spoken girl who “walks three steps behind”. This is a term referring to the fact that traditionally a bride would walk several steps behind her husband. Nowadays, GACKT is using it to refer to the business of equality and roles in a relationship. He talks in GACKTIONARY about the “sun and moon” polarities of any given relationship. That there is always one person who is giving (sun) and one person who is receiving (moon). Between two people the roles may change depending on the circumstances and situations, but without them, there’s almost no balance. As GACKT put it, if you have two ‘sun’ roles, they would always be arguing and butting heads. In a good relationship, people should naturally assume a role (and always do, regardless of whether they are conscious of it or not). Since I agree with pretty much everything GACKT says on the matter, I would like to apply it to the discussion at hand by pointing out that in this generation of soushokukei danshi and nikushokukei jyou, the women are suddenly rising up to become the ‘sun’ role, while expecting the men to also remain in that role. However, in response to the women assuming the ‘sun’ or ‘giving’ role, these men are naturally assuming a ‘moon’ or more ‘receptive’ role.

You can’t choose in which aspects a person, or a gender as a whole, is either giving or receptive. You have to be sensitive and aware of how the roles change in any given situation, and be prepared to work with them. If men no longer have the machoness gene to talk to women first, and women continue refusing to accept any responsibility whatsoever, is it any wonder that the birth rate is declining?

Now, I’d just like to finish up by making it clear that I’m not taking sides, or saying that the women are wrong and the men are right. Nor is any disrespect to any party intended in any way. I’ve just seen a lot of women writing about this subject lately, and few of them seemed able to not make the men come out as some kind of enemy. And I apparently had a few things to say about that. Oh, and I am not endorsing Toyota or Suntori in any way– not until they send me product to test first.

1- NPR: “In Japan, ‘Herbivore’ Boys Subvert Ideas Of Manhood, by Louisa Lim

2-GACKTIONARY #16, by GACKT

Single COLOR to be released by the one band that has never worn color in their entire existence

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…..


So is that what this is. Finally information pertaining to girugamesh‘s July single release has been released. But honestly, at this point I couldn’t care less about the track-list. Honestly, I’ve already decided to buy the single, so as far as that goes, it’s not like I was waiting around for anything. However, there is something vitally more important that happens when new singles come out (particularly at seasonal-junctures): the band changes their look.

I see what you did there, Visual Kei. I take it back. I take back all of the 5 scathing posts, the unflattering pictures (in my defense, isn’t it your responsibility to always look flattering on film?), and every wrong I’ve ever done The Perm. Just take the freaking hats off. For anyone who hasn’t seen any other mad-hatters running around, for their latest single LOVE IS DEAD, D’espairsRay vocalist Hizumi was also pimpin’ a hat. Granted, he looked more like a 1920s gender-confused mafioso rather than some sort of hobo (lookin’ at you, Nii). That said, however, because I think the new look is really quite cool and moving in the direction of fashionable, I’m going to let them off easy this time. Oh, and because it would appear that Nii finally got off the streets– maybe he’s just hiding a bald-spot now.

Satoshi's new digs

Again, I think the look of all the members this time around is actually quite cool. It’s downplayed and casual– denim, the signature black skinny pants, etc. The simplicity is cool because although the outfits probably aren’t anything you couldn’t see on the streets of a chic Tokyo neighborhood, within the scope of Visual Kei they feel fresh and minimalistic-stylish. A lot of the more vet bands these are starting to lay off the psychotic peacock hair-styles and everything…I’m not saying anything against those styles, as I think many of them are quite awesome as well, it’s just that as bands mature, I respect it when they can adapt their look as well. I’m also digging Satoshi’s lack of visible makeup. I guess I can stop secretly referring to him as “Raccoon”.

Ryo

And yes, I do happen to be rebelling against Visual Kei typography by refusing to type his name with a backwards R.

And Shuu is….Shuu. What can I say? Well, let me try: the harem pants will never die? The harem pants should have died? Most metro-sexual people understand the general rule that one does not pair a baggy T-shirt with harem pants? The harem pants should be left in Aladdin? Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed with this final look.

SUMMER SINGLE RELEASE INFORMATION: “COLOR

Limited Type

Track-list:

01. COLOR
02. sunrise

Regular Type

01. COLOR
02. sunrise
03. フラワー (Flower)

On that note, though, I was not disappointed remotely by their cover designs. After NOW‘s total failure of an album cover, I was lying awake at night biting my nails over how they would scar us with the new one. It looks like they’ve captured their new theme/style well both look-wise and in the cover. No scarring– just more gloomy cool. I personally prefer the Ltd. type (which is weird, because for some reason I often prefer the regular type). I think their pose is cooler, and the color scheme is undeniable.

The single is released on 7/7. Make sure not to order along with any GACKT related product if you ever want to get your copy…. UNTITLED [w/ DVD, Limited Edition / Jacket A] / girugamesh

Source: official Facebook, neumania

girugamesh summer single update

Not to say they didn't have issues in '08 *coughHOODIEScough*

Crabby emo wannabe-techno-rappers band girugamesh are due for a summer single, which will hit international postal services on July 7th. Out of all the singles that I’m anticipating this summer, girugamesh‘s is probably the one I’m looking forward to the most. As I mentioned earlier, after their latest full-length album NOW was rejected as readily as it was celebrated. Do to the iffy-ness of the album, I, at least, am putting a lot of pressure (psychologically, of course. After the perm incident I have a lot of faith in my abilities to use mental waves to influence the decisions of Jrockers, for better or for worse…) on  giru to release a real smasher.

girugamesh // “Title TBA” July 7 ’10

UNTITLED [w/ DVD, Limited Edition / Jacket A] / girugamesh

So the information is finally out: The limited CD+DVD version will feature 2 songs, and the DVD will show live footage from their January 31st live at Shinkiba STUDIO COAST. It will also come with a 60 minute tour documentation of their “This is “NOW” 2010 tour!” JPY 2,625.

The regular edition of the single will feature 3 songs, for JPY 1,260. You have to trade a song for all the generous DVD stuff. That didn’t win points with me. (Just kidding).

Something else that I’m really looking forward to with this single is a, I hope, style revamp for the guys. While I have no qualms with their choice of look from the neck down, it’s everything north of that that pushes just about every button available. I finally came to terms with Satoshi’s unholy perm after months of obsessing over it, and it’s true, I got down on my knees and thanked the higher powers when Ryo took out his cornrows…But then something happened to the two other members, Shuu and Nii. Shuu was obviously held at gunpoint and forced to don that horrible invention that should have been left in a certain Disney movie– that is, the harem pant. The second strange thing that occurred was that Nii was apparently overcome with a fit of horrific dementia which resulted in him attacking some miserable roadside tramp and stealing their dilapidated bucket-hat. As punishment for this rash behavior, the unfortunate guitarist was forced by his agency to wear the thing in public. We, as his fans, suffered with him.

Oh. And they put one more freaking toe-head kid on their album cover, and I will refuse to buy it.

Pressure’s on, guys.