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    • Question of the week: I was shown this post about visual kei recently, but it talks about international Japanese music fandom as a whole: https://www.monochrome-heaven.com/topic/45796-google-trends-showing-the-decline-of-visual-kei/

      I wanted to get y’all’s thoughts on it.

      • j-fan

        Long story short, I think J-rock on the whole is kind of underrepresented on the nets these days – if we’re speaking strictly in terms of the international fandom. I also think VK has always been disproportionately broadcast as the epitome of J-rock overseas, when the actual scene in Japan is quite small.

        As for the Jpop world – I feel like the overseas narrative is driven mostly by idol music and the popular crowd @ jpopsuki. There’s a lot of stuff that gets lost in the cracks for us overseas fans, but that’s kind of unavoidable I think.

        • Who is the popular crowd at JPopSuki?

          • j-fan

            deadgrandma and the ppl that kind of congregate around him. I’m not trying to hate on them or anything btw. Nothing like that. I quite enjoy them. I just think that the international fanbase is largely driven by piracy, and they are some of the most outspoken and passionate pirates. The fact that they actually buy stuff is important because the music has to originate from somewhere (original rips/purchases), and when you buy stuff and share it, you’re essentially fueling the international fanbase – keeping the flame lit so to speak. Add that along with a charismatic/infamous net personality, and people will pay attention – whether they like the music you’re pushing or not. This combination of supply + influence allows one to contribute to (and manipulate to an extent) the overall narrative of the international fanbase I believe. This is one of the reasons that so many overseas fans might imagine Seiko Oomori to be the biggest thing in J-pop right now, when in Japan, there’s a different story. It’s always going to be a different story, though. That story just depends on who is supplying + who is the being the most vocal about said supply. This is my theory at least – just based on my observations of the past 13 or so years. I’m interested to know what you think about all of this, and the linked discussion above!

            • First of all, deadgrandma is Ash here. And I’m Sameshima there.

              I don’t really think a lot of people think Seiko Oomori is big in Japan besides a select group. I mean, look at the charts and the music shows, where is she? LOL.

              I do think that the most ardent fans today do have an influence on international fandom. When I joined the team here, I just wanted to paint a more realistic picture of the scene in Japan, and I think that’s largely been achieved. It wasn’t all idols and JPop queens like a lot of international fans thought.

              As far as the visual kei thing goes, it was a trend that was largely dead in Japan by time it became an international trend. Like the chart in the OP of that thread makes it look like visual kei peaked in 2009, when it had peaked a long time before then in Japan.

              I’m honestly lost as to how it became a trend then internationally. I mean, if you look at what really sold in Japan that year, visual kei clearly was passe: http://www.generasia.com/wiki/2009_Oricon_Top_200_Albums http://www.generasia.com/wiki/2009_Oricon_Top_200_Singles

              It very well could’ve been some ardent international fans pushing something. But maybe they were in their own world because I just remember a lot of international JPop fans who were into JPop queens crossing over into KPop at that time.

              • j-fan

                Short answer: Visual Kei fans are extremely dedicated to the scene. Obsessive even. And because of this, I’d say that sales are mostly irrelevant and don’t really have much of a bearing on the international fandom – or at least, sales don’t hinder international fans from breaching deep within the scene and stanning a bunch of low-rent acts that’ll disband in a week.

                You know how people on jpopsuki seem to be getting into shopping services / proxies to get their hands on those rare seiko oomori or zombie-chang demos and whatnot? You know, really exploring the grass-roots of indie/underground pop/folk/ssw world? This kind of thing has been going on within the overseas VK fandom for even longer. Whereas I think it’s a fairly recent phenomenon in the Jpop world. Now with ototoy, bandcamp, and myriad shopping services, it’s much easier to get in tune with underground/non-mainstream Japanese music. Even with youtube, we’re all just exposed to so much more than we were in the past. This ties into the seiko popularity thing from earlier too. I also think it’s part of the reason that even people who have been in the jpop scene for the longest might be hard-pressed to rattle off a slew of indie-jpop acts from the early 00’s and the 90’s. But I digress.

                As you noted, VK hit its peak in Japan long ago, so the international fandom had no choice but to breach those lower levels to stay abreast of the scene. Even if that meant spending hundreds of dollars to get ahold of some live-limited single with only one track on it. VK fans are ridiculously passionate. It’s one of the reasons why a niche forum like monochrome-heaven is still thriving in this age.

                As for VK peaking in 2009 internationally, I’m not quite sure why that was the case. It may have something to do with the scene undergoing a kind of paradigm shift, with old favorites fading away, and a new wave cropping up with noticeable, stylistic differences. I also hear that a lot of VK fans also made the jump to Kpop in the early 2010’s. I guess, fundamentally, the ex-VK fans were still stanning pretty asian boys in makeup.

                • Egg

                  Are you suggesting you want Arama writers to go deeper into grass-roots of things? Doesn’t seem the right site for that.

      • Jo

        Visual Kei used to be good. Bands like Girugamesh, Mucc, Sid, D’espairsRay, Nightmare, Sadie, etc. used to come out with good, decent rock albums. Then some broke up, others tried to adapted the EDM, dubstep sound and went to a completely wrong direction. The blooming of ex-hosts turned wannabe rockers with minimal skills, uncreative song writing and styles saturated the whole scene. All they seemed to care about were makeup, quick money and groupies. You can’t survive with shit music. And their fans started to realise how lame these guys were and moved on to something more trendy and modern, such as Kpop.

        • Hosts really started bands? And the visual kei fans that become fans of KPop, was that in Japan, internationally, or both?

          • Jo

            Haha I used to follow some fan accounts sharing about the VK rockers who also worked as hosts or were simply leeches. For established bands, their music just got more and more boring and repetitive that drove fans away. Noted that, a lot of bands were simply made up from normal people playing music together without any training, hence you will easily stumble upon bands with horrid vocals you would wonder how their band members can tolerate with that singing.

            Many of the VK fans are not even fans of rock or metal. There’s a documentary about rock around the world summed it up pretty accurately. The VK scene in Japan was so on its own back then. The fangirls can be headbanging at VK concerts but probably never heard of any famous western rock and metal bands. Majority of VK fans are also into the Visual style, crossdressing, lolita style, makeup, fanservices, pretty boys. And when VK bands couldn’t come up with anything new anymore, it naturally became outdated. Anyway, girls who like pretty boys moved on to Kpop, that’s internationally as far as I can tell from most communities I was a part of. They still have local fans but I guess when they grow older, they also move on to something better.

            • vorpax

              What do you think of bands like BUCK-TICK (which I’m a huge fan), cali≠gari, Dir en Grey, etc, more older bands? These still have any relevance in the communities? And in Japan?

              • Jo

                They are already established bands which aren’t as affected by the declination of VK scene. BUCK-TICK is still selling well. I personally still follow Dir en grey till today. The quality consistency in their music is what keeps them relevant. Although I fear they are not getting any bigger anymore. I guess rock music scene in Japan is also gradually changing.

          • The “vk fans turn into kpop fans” is / was more of an international thing. On the international level jrock / jpop / kpop / anime fanbases are still pretty close to each other, so people shift from one to the other quite easily. And from around 2009, when the whole kpop boom happened, more and more people started to tend towards kpop. Before that the vk audience was by far the biggest dedicated Asian music fan crowd in Europe, but it was around that time the vk scene started to slow down, with key bands disbanding, new ones sounding all the same and the few really good ones that emerged either preferred to stay more underground or eventually toned down their sound and started to sound like all those mainstream jrock acts (or just disbanded after a couple of great releases, due to lack of success). At the same time kpop seemed all fresh and new and interesting, so both vk and jpop fans started to slowly get hooked on that more and more and after a while, when it found its way to the wider media and kids were showing their new fave acts to their friends, it gained more and more new fans from outside the ususal “Asia fan” audience as well. And it’s been the same ever since… kpop audience is growing, while the vk audience is getting smaller.

            Just a random example is the local vk party I’ve been hosting for a long, long time had about 300+ people each and every month around 2008, while nowadays, we can hold only one or two every year and have maybe 50 people… and the page views we have for the vk section of our local Asian music news website decreased about the same, while the kpop section’s views still keep on growing. And the numbers are the same all over Europe.

            Some big name bands can still attract a huge crowd for concerts though… like the GazettE tour last year. Or Versailles, that just finished its EU tour also attracted pretty decent crowds. Of course still not as big as a couple of years ago, but decent nonetheless (the Warsaw show I went to had like… 400 people?). So, the scene is still there, and there is still a very dedicated fanbase, but it is just a fraction of
            what it used to be and I can’t really see it growing. And it’s too damn bad,
            as the EU vk fan scene used to be really nice.

        • hasawa

          “Then some broke up, others tried to adapted the EDM, dubstep sound”
          I can’t help but think about An Cafe there… RIP

      • no idea. i’ve never been part of the VK fandom. i found the music boooring. it’s interesting to read about it tho.

        it sounds like VK became a trend in the west because some half emo anime fans found it interesting. then they got bored of it, saying if their friends are not interested in it anymore neither are they. now, they are fangirling on Red Velvet instead and i cannot blame them of that. x)

        • Was this just a way to promote Red Velvet?

          • are you complaining? not liking the Queens??

            see this as an association game. you say VK, forum post says kpop, i say Red Velvet (tho AOA is better), you reply with an animgif of an ugly american celebrity woman.
            it’s fun!

      • kamben is here

        Hmm interesting.

        I got a lot to say but I don’t know where to start. -.-”

        Uhm, I’ve been following the j-entertainment scene for almost 11 years now (started back in 2006, thanks to jdrama ‘Nobuta wo Produce’). I’ve been in many fandoms – from Johnny’s to Hello!Projects, 48 family, random actors/actresses (Watanabe Pro/Amuse/etc), stage actors like Watanabe Daisuke/Hamao Kyousuke/Matsuda Ryo and some others (Tenimyu/Messiah stage/etc), and NOW I’m following Golden Bomber (beside randomly stalking idols like Momoiro Clover and its sister/brother groups here and there). I also listen to bands like back number and Greeeen.

        Also, I find myself having a soft spot for Keyakizaka46. Their PV (or whatever sorta promotional video that was) caught my eye (and got me curious about them!) when I stood in front of an idol shop during my trip to Akihabara last year. I didn’t know that they’re called Keyakizaka46 at that time.

        The way I see it, the japanese fandoms and the international fandoms are different from one another. Johnny’s idols like Arashi and SMAP have a HUGE international fanbase, while many of the other acts who are mainstream in Japan don’t necessarily have many followers internationally. :(

        I clicked on the link you shared and read some of the comments there, and this one caught my attention first because my favourite band was mentioned XD

        “In Japan visual kei was already niche. There are big names (Golden Bomber, MUCC, X, Luna Sea) but most of them have to fight now with the emerging “Loud Rock” (metalcore and hard punk) scene. Visual Summit was packed this year. I do wonder why The West lost their interest in VK. ”

        Not sure about them having to fight, but I know for a fact that Golden Bomber, MUCC, X, Luna Sea and some of the others still have their dedicated fans in Japan. The general public is losing interest in Memeshikute but I’m happy that Kiryuuin (the vocalist) is going to have his solo tour still, and that whenever I watch their live broadcasts on Nico Nico, there are about 50,000 people watching them together with me (on average) ;3 They had their own ‘kouhaku’ last year (a few hours before the real Kouhaku started LOL) and there were more than 100,000 people watching it live on Nico Nico. So they are still relevant in the fans’ eyes at least XD Their latest concert ended a few days ago, which was held at Saitama Super Arena.

        I think that The West lost their interest in VK because of several reasons;

        -their fav bands changed direction

        -their fav bands started to sound the same every time they released something new

        -they didn’t have any fav bands to begin with

        -K-POP / The Korean Wave

        and other reasons.

        Many visual-kei bands sound the same by the way. I used to listen to bands like thE gazettE, alice nine, NIGHTMARE and a few others who have amazing sound, but I can’t with bands like An Cafe. I have no problem with ‘gimmicky’ acts, as long as their music is great. Golden Bomber’s music gives me eargasm.

        “As far as the visual kei thing goes, it was a trend that was largely dead in Japan by time it became an international trend. Like the chart in the OP of that thread makes it look like visual kei peaked in 2009, when it had peaked a long time before then in Japan. ”

        Agree!

    • monet

      sooo apparently AKB is doing a song with keyaki and nogi and it’ll be “sakamichi AKB.”

      the desperation is real.

      • guest

        what’s a sakamichi?

        • Adam Nafri

          48 greatest rival.

      • H

        You mean the SATURATION is real.

    • H

      Someone mentioned this last Open Post but Ayu’s Instagram is just…ugh. As a fan, it upsets me.

      How did someone who was so particular and self conscious about her image during her peak turn into this lol.

      https://www.instagram.com/a.you/

      • guest

        Midlife crisis? :x

      • めぐみ☆

        avex should get her to try copying kahala tomomi again because kahala went from showing her ass on insta to having more chill lmao.

      • a song for antis

        she fucked up. i honestly think MADE IN JAPAN was her last chance to redeem herself. even before the physical version was out, it was praised as being her best album in a looong time. i saw a few former fans on twitter saying the album was like ‘the old ayu was back.’

        the covers for the physical version came out, people were like “um….ok.”

        the flower PV came out, people were like “wtf….come on………..”

        then the tour goods came out, people were like, “……fuck it.”

        • WTF

          Are those people even listening to the album? Sounds like they only give a fuck about the covers…

      • hasawa

        “How did someone who was so particular and self conscious about her image during her peak turn into this lol”
        I always heard Ayu was pretty reckless even during her early days (she was borderline deliquent before being scouted by Max Matsuura) but i guess it was okay as she was young & wild so the foolish’ness inherent to this stage of life was tolerated, but yeah, seeing a woman in her mid 30s acting like so crazy famous instagirl is a bit cringy…
        That being said, outside there 2-3 embarassing pics, her insta is pretty okay imo

        • H

          Eh, she was, but in her infamous ROCKIN JAPAN interview to promote A BEST she said doing cosplay for SURREAL embarrassed her and she was worried. She also said when she had an image change for loveppears she thought she looked ridiculous at first. So she did have a sliver of self awareness. lol

        • hasawa

          #sponsoredpost

      • Like what’s been mentioned before by others, she was always this way. But now companies aren’t able to hide it with all the social media accounts stars control themselves. We get to peer into 24hr.-a-day tackiness.

      • Puka

        The same goes for GACKT.
        No wonder he is called the male version of her!

        Also- there was news about GACKT’s mistress trying to commit suicide this week.

      • Christina Gmiterko

        Judging by this post I was expecting to find half naked pictures or something. I honestly don’t see anything on there that is different from any way that she looked in the past.

    • guest

      Any nice duet songs (girl & guy singing) out there? Preferably in Japanese or Chinese, but other languages are fine too.

    • HyperMoot .

      Abemachan releases “Babe” on February 15th

    • HyperMoot .

      Leo Ieiri 5th Anniversary Best on February 15th

    • HyperMoot .

      was out on January 25, Fox Capture Plan’s fifth album

      • Guest

        How do you feel about them being on the Seiko Oomori album

    • hasawa

      The decheance of Sowelu tho
      How could go from this

      to THAT??

      WHY??

      • She always wanted to be sexy, and once she moved to Avex she was allowed to do so. This was amazing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH4WCRwnmos

        • hasawa

          Honestly i don’t think the world need any more “sexy” singer…. Sowelu definitively didn’t need that to prove herself and i hope her disappearing from the scene made her understand that point

      • Adam Nafri

        dude. thanks for posting that i want U to song. that is amaziing. i love it. the lyric is so sweet. although the mv is quite weird, but her as sexy diva isnt that bad. as long as she still singing good.
        anyway, i cant find any live performance as if the album isnt promoted at all.

    • Soooo…. lots of problems in the Jfashion world this week

      FRUiTS is going to stop publishing:
      http://www.tokyo-fashion.tumblr.com

      And Harajuku is having more gentrification issues:
      http://www.tokyofashiondiaries.com/harajuku-tokyo-gentrification-tokku/

      • hasawa

        That’s very sad but also not surprising
        The gentrifiction problem aside, it’s been a while snce i felt like the Harajuku scene was somewhat biting its own tail ; the looks weren’t that groundbreaking anymore, probably because streetstyle became common and more importantly because fashion trends became more globalized. There is Harajuku-inspired girls pretty much anywhere in the world now as Harajuku got popularized into mainstream by some US popstars (Gwen Stefani, Charlie XCX, Katy Perry..) so the ‘cute indie’ halo (whom “FRUiTS was the embodiement) that what surrounding this whole area and scene is somewhat over now

        Yohji Yamamoto said “Casual fashion became like garbage in the world. There are so many cheap, wasting fashions. Young people look so ugly.”How can you avoid becoming a fashion victim?“It’s quite easy: don’t copy your friend,”
        While Harajuku fashion has always been praised as fashion style allowing young people to express their personality, i’ve felt like these last years Harajuku street style has been less interesting, original and more about big name brands (i’ve always been baffled to see 17 y.o kids wearing Margiela or Prada for example which is is far from the genuine artisanal homemade stuff ppl snapped in FRUiTS were wearing). The paradox of trying to express your individuality through dress codes and high end brands is huge as well

        • “….the looks weren’t that groundbreaking anymore, probably because streetstyle became common and more importantly because fashion trends became more globalized.”

          The internet definitely did put a time limit on Harajuku. Not just the style being more accessible to the global market, but with people posting up their daily coordis on their social media and having the relief of not being a tourist attraction.

          And I do agree with it not being as groundbreaking anymore. Before you would only see it in Japan and now we can see it everywhere. The spread of fast fashion stores did dampen the uniqueness of the area and so did those who just dressed to be photograph (and would just copy others). I was watching something online talking about the style evolution of Shibuya and Harajuku and I can’t help thinking that the Neo-gal trend of Shibuya (that took a lot of style elements from Harajuku) was one of the nails in the coffin.

          • Why do you say that, in regards to neo-gal? And yeah, that was a super-wearable look that anyone anywhere could do.

            • I noticed that these Fast Fashion stores follow the gyarus where ever they go. Fast fashion took over Shibuya a while ago and while I was in Japan I noticed it started to creep its way into Harajuku (I was like “What is the GAP doing here?”).

              When the gyaru look went mainstream and the FF stores started to pick it up and sell it for cheaper, they (gyarus) went to Harajuku; one of the last strong holds for fashion individualism. FF followed where their wallets went again. While gyarus are mostly known for their personalities, they’re also known for their consumerism and the need to constantly be seen as different. So between them and the people who want to be photographed they’ve caused a problem. Instead of investing money on good piece of clothing that they’ll only wear once, they’ll buy the cheap stuff and move on. It was always very trend based but with FF it’s moving at such a break neck speed. It’s not natural.

              But it’s not just their fault. FF also followed tourists as well. Shibuya109 is a shell of it’s former glory days. It’s just going where the money is. And let’s not get started on the economy and greedy Cool Japan….

              When you can buy a look for cheap somewhere else, it can hurt the original boutiques. Making less money and the rising costs of rent in the Harajuku area are making these boutiques close.

      • When I was in Tokyo last September I was very surprised to see that so many of my fave brands pretty much disappeared from or at least were way less present in Harajuku (especially the more punkish, goth and lolita brands) and many of them moved up to Shinjuku’s Marui Annex department store. Compared to 2009 this change was really drastic and well.. weird to say, but speaking of dept stores, now Annex was actually way more interesting than Laforet, which looks more and more like pretty much any of the other similar shopping centers around the city. It still has some really unique stores, but way less than a couple of years ago and same goes for the streets around it.

        But I’m definitely not saying that the scene is dying, it is just changing and I think in its own way it is just as interesting as it was a couple of years ago. I can’t tell which way it’s going, but now it definitely has a more “hip and fashionable” feel to it, compared to the DIY aesthetics of the “classic” Harajuku scene.

    • HyperMoot .

      Haruka to Miyuki, on the road again (http://harukatomiyuki.net/news_detail/73123)

    • Random cool idol performance! o/

      AKB48, Yokoyama Yui (Team8) and Honda Hitomi.

    • hasawa

      Perfume “TOKYO GIRL” MV is up!

      • Thomas

        Illuminati confirmed

    • hasawa

      THE ORAL CIGARETTES’ new album sounds ridiculously good DFHRFJRIGJPF!!!!!!!!

    • HyperMoot .
    • HyperMoot .

      would love something about this band some day