The Saga Clone Wars

Although highly praised for its ingenuity and fashion-forward consciousness, Visual Kei has its own fashion trends– especially now that certain bands have begun to see moderate international renown. It happens in every genre, really, that the bands that really make an imprint on the market start to create some horrible monster within their business. This horrible monster is called simply a “blue-print”, and is what every aspiring artist succeeding them follows in the hopes of finding similar levels of success. For example, ever since princeling band Alice Nine built a veritable fan-girl fan-base, pretty much every new Visual Kei band’s bassist has been styled to look identical to A9‘s Saga. They even try and match their physical appearance. It must be a tough world for any bassists who don’t look like his identical twins. I guess there’s always plastic-surgery.

But, to be true, my perspective on the whole thing isn’t nearly as bleak as I make it sound. It’s not all just grasping at the fame of the forefathers– not at all. I do believe in genuine and sincere appreciation of the preceding groups– they do become famous, and thus they do become role-models for the bands that follow. In this case, of course they want to get the same perm– they’re trying to invoke the same energetic power of the person they admire. I’m sure every single Visualist has experienced, on some level, trying to copy the style of their favorite artists in the same exact attempt to draw on the strengths of their role-model. Why we choose to judge so harshly the fans who are actually trying to make music for a living, I guess we will never know. “Plagiarism” and “copying”, we call it, without actually even thinking about what it is they’re doing, or trying to achieve. Those are cruel words, I think. While certainly there are agencies behind a lot of it, saying “dress him like Saga, and then he will be popular and steal Saga’s fanbase.” I think that there is also just as strong a possibility that the member himself is saying I admire and respect Saga-san and his bass playing. And then, whether done consciously or not, he begins to style himself in the same model he so respects.

Fortunately, many people who start out copping someone-else’s style usually (hopefully) come to draw on their own unique style and strength. At the beginning, though, the effort that it can take to move from Point A to Point B can be so great that the person in question may not feel like it’s possible, and as a result, they draw from someone else and use that as their inspiration that drives them to be able to summon the courage it takes to actually put themselves forward. Once they have moved from Point A to Point B, and it becomes time to move to Point C, then, they can actually look at who they have become, and realize that they no longer need to draw directly from the source that initially gave them strength. They are able to find their own strength, their own style, and emerge like a butterfly from a cocoon, stretching out its own wingspan, colored with its own unique patterning.



Here are a few of the slightly more normal variations. In general I think that the (dare I say it?) “perm-mullet” is somehow acceptable. Despite having possibly the two worst hairstyles ever invented on earth implied in the name…ugh. When they have the bangs straight and swept to the side with the back permed, it’s really feminine, but it can sort of work. It’s the face- obscuring kinked waves that essentially lie at the root of all my problems. When guys are trying to be bad-ass and evil, stylistically ringlets are just…well…ringlets, I mean come on.

Both Schwarz and Jimi (center L+R) of up-and-coming Visual Kei band Chemical Pictures are puffed up on the perm. The left-hand example is one of the slightly more feminine styles of perm abounding in Jrock at the moment. The right-hand example is just…I haven’t found words for it yet, and likely won’t- ever.

Even when Als Dead, the Perm Will Go On....

I have never even heard this band before, but I fatefully found this image, and instantly wanted to give the vocalist a prize for how much Gatsby he must have used to get his permed waves to stay piled up like that.

It would seem that despite being a 40 year old man with a great reputation as one of the most-loved bassists in Jrock, even Tetsuya cannot avoid looking like an awkward adolescent girl sometimes. It’s a combination of the russet color and the fluffy bangs that make it so unfortunate. I recognize this same shade from the Hyde example in an earlier round…Maybe they have the same stylist.

Although I don’t have a direct image (I’m not that advanced yet.) the bassist of R-SHITEI [I realized this doesn’t link directly to the member in question. You can find him at: 七星] is also sporting a perm, not too different from that of Schwarz (Chemical Pictures).

That should about wrap up the perm rounds. I’m relieved somehow that I was able to make an even 5– horrific as the concept is. I should have been able to stop at just 1 round of perms, but they just kept appearing. I hope that my neurotic inability to drop this pet-peeve hasn’t triggered some horrible psychological reaction in the brains of Jrock stylists to force this coiffure on every Jrocker in the scene…

Thanks to Reitsu for the Chemical Pictures image….And for not telling me those weren’t their actual stage names until after I released it to the public!

Image credit for Tetsuya’s golden locks goes to perverse_imp. Thanks!

The Perm: Round 4

I can’t believe I am seriously still finding these…On the news front, GACKT (forget prom-kings, he’s going to be crowned perm king 2010) straightened out his prominent perm for the Otoko Matsuri (I guess this hairstyle doesn’t exactly promote Samurai Spirit in the Japanese male population, does it?) and Nemuri project comments he made recently. The super-straight black hair is something you don’t see on him often, and, to be honest, it’s a little shocking. Not to say I think it should stick around or anything (it should go. Soon.), but the more I look at GACKT with the perm, the more I just get used to it. However, if anyone had the fortune to see GACKT’s CM for Wonda Coffee, then you will be well-aware that he sported the worst perm-like hairstyle ever for that video. This should cleanse the palate:

I think this style is quite cool

This round is Hyde (VAMPS, L’arc~En~Ciel) from 2009[?], a closer look at Karyu (D’espairsRay), and (strangely) a glimpse of Korean rapper Outsider.

These are slight variations on the classic perms we’ve been analyzing thus far. Hyde’s is really just too much. Karyu’s suits him because it’s a very feminine style, and he has that face…the blue eyes, the soft lips…He could do with attending an Otoko Matsuri, that’s for sure.

Although this is a slight rule-bender, Korean rap phenomenon Outsider also sported a wavy perm-variation for his Maestro album…This is actually a really cool picture, and he’s really pulling off the look.

Photo credit:

GACKT – xrytalmad

Hyde – LoveInDeathsArms /Jassmine J.

Karyu – D’espairsRay Official Facebook

Outsider – ??

Pull Up A Seat With D’espairsRay 4/4


Regular Edition

D’espairsRay released the preview for the PV of their new single, LOVE IS DEAD, to be released April 4th. As I already mentioned  the single is produced by abingdon boys school’s own mixin’ master Kishi Toshiyuki. Although you can really only get so much of an impression out of a 15 second clip, I’m having some sort of brain-skip that keeps vacillating between Alice Nine (take your pick) and Buck-Tick‘s incredible dark disco Dokudanjou Beauty. This is not a dissing of D’espairsRay by any means, and I’m looking forward to hearing the full single– especially as the associations my frazzled faculties are making are particularly flattering.

By the way, I know it sounds like I was scorning their new look the last time I mentioned the band, but actually I think they look quite cool in the few glimpses you get from the preview. The hats and shirtless flashy jackets  feel somehow cabaret and, let’s face it, the look is pretty timelessly “in”.   

Video credit:YukariKisaki

Limited Edition

The Perm: Round 3

“A permanent wave, commonly called a perm, is the chemical and/or thermal treatment of hair to produce waves, curls or straight hair. The use of the word ‘permanent’ is justified insofar as when the wave is permed, it remains so; however, as the hair grows, the new hair that grows has not been waved, while cutting the hair from the end removes that which is waved, giving the impression that the permanent wave gradually disappears.” (Wikipedia)

“A permanent wave, commonly called a perm, is the inherently wrong fashion decision made by famous Japanese rockstars to produce waves, curls, or straight hair. The use of the word ‘permanent’ is justified insofar as when the wave is permed by GACKT, it remains so; however, as the hair trend grows, the new hair that grows has not been waved, and thus the band is no longer accepted into Visual Kei society, giving the impression that the permanent wave will never disappear.” (gacktpause) 

D’espairsRay new look:




a.b.s Crest Creepers

Man…I would give my left hand for a pair of these:

 High-top style, rubber-sole creepers with the a.b.s emblem embossed on the tongue….?

 These are available at their official merchandise shop online, for about 62,000 Yen/pair. That’s around 620.00 USD.

Heck, they could have my whole arm if they threw one of these in

(By the way, the Japanese don’t call them ‘Creepers’, they call them “Rubber Sole”s. You can buy normal pairs at Double Decker’s online shop. They ship overseas, and have good deals.)

I think they look quite cool with the argyle pattern, as well

For anyone who is unfamiliar with this unusual style of footwear, these are the shoes of choice of the Japanese punks and rockers. Highly popularized, in the past four or five years, by abingdon boys school, as you can see in the links above. They are sold all over Japan, in every style imaginable. From high-tops, to low-tops, to slip-ons, high-heels, boots, and sneakers.

The Perm: Round 2

For some reason I just really can’t let this go. Last time we went over GACKT (his worst hair-style era ever), Ruki (GazettE) (he looked good until he then put on big sunglasses and looked like a ’60s escapee), and Satoshi (girugamesh) (the only one so far who has actually managed to look half decent with it). I thought that would be the end of this fashion, but it seems to be booming. Here are a few more:

BUCK-TICK‘s Sakurai Atsushi (center) seems to have gone with the flow….or, rather, the curls. Now that I think about it, so has Imai (center left). Somehow Sakurai pulls it off, especially since he’s approaching it with a subtle maturity, but Imai should really ditch the ringlets. He was better off looking like Jack Sparrow from Hell (2009 look).

The look has also been picked up by Flumpool‘s bassist Amakawa Genki (bottom left)….

Hmm, and suspiciously enough, Johnny’s Ent. boy and up-and-coming actor, heartthrob Yamashita Tomohisa sported a similar style for his role as Kamiya Naoki in Buzzer Beat.

I dunno, at this point I’m almost convinced to get one.