VisualKei is both a music genre and a culture/subculture. This page exists to provide a short precis on the history and development of VisualKei as both music genre/subgenre and culture/subculture, to educate on terminology and on different concepts present within the culture/subculture, and to help you understand just a little more about both the artists and the fans.

!Timeline of Visual Kei

[[folder: The beginning - from UnbuiltTrope to Visual Shock - 1960s until early 1990s]]
Many Visual Kei artists such as Atsushi Sakurai as well as Kenji Sawada himself consider a 70s artist, KenjiSawada, as the "Pioneer of Visual Kei," because he was known for his flamboyant nature and excess use of makeup and bright costuming, as well as dying his hair a lot(even once dressing similar to hide in the late 90s with pink hair and an outfit similar to the Dahlia-era kimono.). Another pre-80s rock artist, the late KiyoshiImamura, is also seen as one of the early local pioneers of VisualKei.

The biggest influences on the concept in general aside from these artists and Kabuki theatre, though, were Western bands. Music/{{KISS}} was one of the very biggest influences - two of the first VisualKei bands to exist were directly inspired by KISS. Western UsefulNotes/HeavyMetal and HardRock took off in Japan around the early 1980s - providing more influences upon the culture and the subculture, and on the music itself, as a local HardRock and Heavy Metal scene soon developed in Osaka with Music/{{Loudness}} and then soon enough, in other major cities in Japan with other local HardRock and Heavy Metal acts including Anthem (a Heavy Metal band) and BOOWY (a HardRock act where TomoyasuHotei of Kill Bill fame got his start).

How VisualKei itself differentiated from Japanese HardRock and Heavy Metal is somewhat lost to history if one is looking for an absolute, precise band to claim as "they started it." Around the early to mid 1980s, many bands were forming or had formed in the major cities. The bands generally credited with beginning the scene, though, were the Tokyo-based Music/XJapan (then simply called "X,"), the Tokyo-based {{Rosenfeld}}, the also Tokyo-based Music/{{COLOR}}, the also Tokyo-based Music/SeikimaII, the Yokosuka-based artist actor and singer Rolly, and the Gunma-based Music/BuckTick. Fans of ''each and every one of these acts'' will claim their band was the one who started VisualKei, when the real truth is somewhere in between - that ''all'' of these bands and acts, beginning their careers in the same time window and doing similar things and sometimes associating with each other, was what launched VisualKei as a culture and musical scene as well as a subgenre.

Everything from here onward, obviously, will apply to the 1985-1990 period of VisualKei, with its having been built as trope.

The person generally credited as TropeMaker and TropeNamer is Music/YoshikiHayashi of Music/XJapan, because he was the first to actually name the concept which had differentiated "Visual Shock," and he was the first to create Creator/ExtasyRecords, the first dedicated VisualKei label, in 1986 to release a single that no existing record label desired to publish, and in the process, began signing other artists and bands, with himself and [[Music/HidetoMatsumoto hide]] as A&R seeking out acts they liked/with whom they were friends.
Later within this period of time, DynamiteTommy formed Creator/FreeWillRecords, though it would not rise to prominence as the main signer of Visual Kei acts until later - when it became ''the'' dominant label for visual.

People and money began to pour into the scene around the mid to late 80s, making VisualKei an attractive place for [[AllBikersAreHellsAngels bosozoku]] and other {{delinquents}} and others who were on the fringes of legitimate Japanese society at the time who sought fame and fortune as musicians, regardless of musical skill or ability or talent, which produced a wide pool of talent to draw from as some actually did have talent - but which also married the scene to, at the time, a reputation of being rough {{outlaw}}s or near-outlaws, which was excaberated by the tendency of almost all of the young men involved in it toward fighting or violence in some way or another - the BarBrawl was an ''extremely'' common event, and soon enough, bars tried to bar VisualKei artists (from specific artists with "no Yoshiki" signs, to the markers of being VisualKei at the time with "no blondes" or "no unusual hair" or similar) The criminal element did not, however, heavily draw actual {{Yakuza}} until a few years later - early on, the Yakuza was just as embarrassed at the freakishly dressed, overemotional, loud, wild bandmen as normal society was.

The delinquent strain (out of which came, for just two examples, Music/TaijiSawada of X and Ume of Music/TokyoYankees) also added its own fashion sensibilities (In the mid to late 80s, VisualKei fashion and biker and ''yankii'' fashion were almost ''the same thing'' at points) - while most of those died out as a whole with stylistic changes, a few remnants of them are ubiquitous safety pins (an item that could fix a poor bandman's clothes one minute and be used in a fight or to fix something onstage the next), often elaborate rings on each finger of the hand (originally developed as a form of LoopholeAbuse to give a bandman a better chance in a fight - a fist full of rings can do almost as much damage as a brass knuckle), and surgical masks as a fashion item (which were once a yankii thing). The delinquents also tended to have more punk sensibilities than an interest in metal specifically (though some of them also definitely liked metal) so the sound took on an aggressive thrash metal type sound - unless the band forswore metal entirely and was a straight-up punk act.

Attitudes toward women and female artists were pretty much in the same troglodyte Dark Ages that HairMetal and hardcore punk elsewhere in the world were in the mid to late 80s, along with a huge dash of Japanese cultural sexism toward women. ''Many'' songs and much VK artwork expressed ideas that even the artists who created them at the time later found repugnant, actual rape and fetish BDSM were conflated, and women were often seen as either "honey women" supporting the bandmen or as groupies. That being a given, it wasn't a universal NoWomansLand and could at times even be FairForItsDay: women achieved journalistic or band management or PR or other positions that they absolutely couldn't elsewhere in Japan at that point (and some of the pioneering rock journalists of the era were women), there were all-female or female-fronted bands though they were a rarity (those, however, included Show-Ya and LuciferLusciousViolenoue), and even some male bands and artists wrote lyrics that weren't all about rape and violence against women.

On the other hand, attitudes toward gay and bisexual men and same-sex relationships were way, way beyond FairForItsDay and far ahead of even the social curve of the time. The emphasis on androgyny in the scene, the strain of descent from Kabuki theater which had been a more welcoming place toward bisexual and gay men, the potential bisexuality and homosexuality of some of the first artists, and more led to a place where it was no longer shameful or a sign of immaturity but instead a way to shock normal society further and even be "cool" to be bi. This is also why the bands of this era that engaged in HoYay as {{fanservice}} or wrote homoerotic lyrics were equally as likely to actually be interested in it for itself or at the very least into throwing it into a heavily heterosexual society's face than to just be doing it for the fangirls: at the time, the YaoiFangirl didn't even exist as a market, and would only come to exist later on. This also extended to at least one VisualKei band doing something entirely ''unheard of'' in a country where people generally didn't even speak of HIV/AIDS at the time - a friend of the vocalist's had contracted the disease, and the singer (and the band) became outspoken AIDS activists, along with the band even using a merch release of condoms to call attention to the fact that safe sex reduces the risk of AIDS.

Japanese society in general severely frowned upon drugs aside from alcohol and tobacco, which meant attitudes toward drugs were pretty much the mixed bag they are presently, though they did ''not'' reflect Japanese society as a whole (aside from stimulants such as amphetamines being the most popular drugs, (addiction and overuse of which would bite the scene in the ass ''hard'' once people began to severely go off the rails and die) as opposed to cannabis, though cannabis was popular when it could be acquired. Opiates and hallucinogens were less common but made their own appearances both in parties and in music and lyrics. Lyrics about drugs were, obviously, common, though they often required large doses of LoopholeAbuse, {{Rules Lawyer}}ing, and outright bribery (among other strategies) to succeed in GettingCrapPastTheRadar.

That said, at the time, tobacco use was off the charts. In 80s-90s VK, as in Japan itself, EverybodySmokes was a given trope. Finding an artist that ''didn't'' smoke at the time was nigh-impossible, and all venues and events and such allowed for smoking. Most artists would even advertise for their favorite brand of cigarette by listing it in their profiles - for example, [[HidetoMatsumoto hide]] became one of the biggest promoters for Japan Tobacco's Mild Seven brand, without even actually appearing in any specific advertisements for it.

Alcohol use was even more unrestrained, to the degree that it could be argued pretty much everyone in early VK was either headed for becoming TheAlcoholic or was, at the very least, a major alcohol abuser. All lives were held at clubs, all meetings and interviews involved drinking in some way, and as time went on, it became obvious some of the heaviest drinkers weren't just drinking for fun and socialization, but that some had major personal problems.

Above all else, the mid to late 1980s-early 1990s was when VisualKei hit its stride, over the span of 1987-1990 going from "scary underground indies scene of metal weirdness" to TheNextBigThing in Japanese music. It was on its first upward swing of the PopularityPolynomial, and much as HairMetal did, became wildly popular among youth and even some subsets of the mainstream - the 1989-1992 period was when Music/XJapan went platinum three times in Japan and was nigh-omnipresent on anything music-related, when VisualKei in general was charting on mainstream charts at points with a variety of bands, and when the money pouring into the scene finally began to overcome more of society's awkwardness with it and the "sketchy" characters that made it up, at least partially so. This is roughly comparable to both the rise of HairMetal and GangstaRap in the US, as a comparison.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: More styles enter, the splitting off of subgenres, the fall of one label and rise of another, and the formation of a culture : 1994-1996]]
Around 1993-1994, the dominant style in Visual Kei had slowly began to shift. GothRock and softer album-oriented rock, PowerPop, and many more diverse genres and subgenres began to filter in as bands slowly moved away from ArenaRock and HairMetal and UsefulNotes/HeavyMetal inspired styles, though metal bands still existed - the more successful ones also adopted a far more ProgressiveRock or Gothic Industrial sound as well as their metal sound.

This arrival of styles led to the first split: Visual Shock became White Kote Kei and Black Kote Kei. Soon enough, the arrival of the Gothic and [[LolitaFashion Lolita]] styles made for another major split: Nagoya Kei and Lolita, respectively, first began to take shape around this era as separate styles from Kote Kei, though they would only become truly themselves later on.

Most bands toned down their appearance somewhat during this era - around 1993-1995 is when you began to see the biker and other delinquent fashion styles disappear aside from their remnants, and, for most bandmen, the ImprobableHairstyle and 80sHair go out of style for something more like AnimeHair unless they were either in an Elegant Gothic Lolita influenced band and wanted to look ultra-feminine or were a diehard holdout to their specific type of hairstyle. Around this time, spikes, blonde, and especially long were out of style, though long was a given for EGL bands.

This was around the time that {{Yakuza}} began infesting the scene in earnest. It was making enough money to no longer be a flash in the pan and to be an object of financial interest as valuable as the rest of the Japanese entertainment industry, so actual, serious yakuza began to insinuate themselves into the business side, into running payola and protection rackets, into supplying drugs and doing blackmail related to their supply of drugs, into every place in the scene they could. It was no longer something like a band consisting of a grouping of low-ranking yakuza or a yakuza dealing drugs or working in a band's back office - this was the point when officially and unofficially, the scene began to seethe with yakuza at every single point and be connected to them as the mainstream Japanese music industry is.

Creator/ExtasyRecords semi-folded at the time in Japan, with almost all of its band roster disbanded or on hiatus, the label closed to anything other than Music/XJapan and Shiro, another band that stayed on it, as Yoshiki decided to focus it on a more international level, an effort which would meet later on with failure. DynamiteTommy's Creator/FreeWillRecords began, around this period, to start picking up some of the bands from Extasy's roster (including GillesDeRais and Bellzeleb) and building itself into a competitive force in VisualKei, though it would be in the next period of Visual Kei when it would truly shine as the top label.

MaliceMizer debuted in 1992, but didn't go big until they signed {{Gackt}} in 1995. When they did, they instantly rose to being one of the very top and most influential acts in Visual Kei, and they arguably defined this era - they acquired almost as many FollowTheLeader bands as Rosenfeld and Music/XJapan did, and even existing bands began to adopt a more Gothic style because of them - BuckTick, for example, took on a darker GothRock tone and began to succeed with it. Cyberpunk and cybergoth also made some major inroads - as "digital kei," and similar names, it was the primary style of [[Music/HidetoMatsumoto hide]]'s solo career - [[NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly if a primary style could]] [[NinjaPirateZombieRobot have even been attached to it]] - which was, at the time, even eclipsing that of the band where he'd first become famous.

At the same time, straight up HardRock[=/=]UsefulNotes/HeavyMetal was definitely on the way out: TokyoYankees went on hiatus, for example, and TaijiSawada's solo band D.T.R. never reached a success level beyond "niche," because both held too close to that style and didn't do any innovation in the direction of ProgressiveRock or GothRock styles.

At this point, VisualKei was riding the PopularityPolynomial by altering its styles and forming into specific forms, rather than taking the sheer nosedive off of it the more metal bands and styles (and most of yankii fashion) did. It was also, somewhat, beginning to codify its own culture of show etiquette, behavior for artists and fans, style and dress to be considered a part of it, and many and varied other things that had began to develop since the early 90s. These will be addressed later in their own section on culture.

Gender attitudes began to become enlightened a bit more. While the amount of female and female-fronted bands still remained fairly low on the radar, the troglodyte attitudes of HairMetal began to scale back with its loss of popularity [[SocietyMarchesOn and as the times themselves got better for women in Japan in general.]], and things seemed to change for the better in regard to this.

The yankii/bosozoku element tended to drop off of newer VK, at least directly, by this point, with the change toward Goth as a more popular genre and with their own style (for the most part - some HR/HM fans remained, ''especially'' those loyal to specific bands or artists) veering away from HardRock[=/=]UsefulNotes/HeavyMetal into {{rap}}.

This was the era that HoYay done by straight artists for the sole reason of YaoiFangirl {{fanservice}} first began to appear. The YaoiFangirl was recognized as a demographic, and even straight artists realized that it was a profitable demographic - so the HoYay became not so much, necessarily, about a means of being able to be out as bisexual or gay in a society that looked down upon it or about a means of flipping the bird to a heteronormative society as appealing to the straight FanGirls who wanted to see the hot men touching each other or making out onstage.

EverybodySmokes was still in effect at this point - only later on did we see artists begin to quit smoking in large numbers. Drinking and drug use in the scene reached their apex at this point as well

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Disbandments, deaths, drug busts, and other tragedies: 1997-1999]]

Under a series of stresses (best summarized as "the singer left for a [[ScamReligion religious cult]], the lead guitarist had a far more promising solo career, and [[CreativeDifferences everyone had gotten sick of working with each other]]"), Music/XJapan announced their disbandment and held their last live in 1997.

Also in 1997, one of the most high-profile drug busts of the scene (though with an ex-VisualKei band, L'Arc-en-Ciel) happened - Sakura, the drummer, was busted for cannabis possession, though it was likely he was just the unlucky one as opposed to the only one. He was kicked from the band and replaced with Yukihiro, as the full disapproval of Japanese society on someone caught in the act of using drugs descended upon L'Arc as a band: their albums and other productions were boycotted and removed from record stores, they were denied venue privileges, and similar, until he was removed.

This harsh crackdown on any kind of overt drug use led to more artists taking their use far more underground and being far more concerned with establishing plausible deniability and/or covering it up - unfortunately, it did nothing to discourage the widespread use of methamphetamine and other stimulants as the most popular drug, as they were far easier to conceal the use of than cannabis. In a way, the drug crackdown refined drug use to being that of the most dangerous drugs, because they were easier to conceal and lie about one's use, and more use of alcohol.

On May 2, 1998, [[Music/HidetoMatsumoto hide]] died via hanging himself, in a result of circumstances that to this day are still not entirely understood (though it is generally agreed to have been an accidental death in some parts, a suicide in others, and [[InternetBackdraft may the two never meet, anywhere near you]]). An alcohol-poisoning level of alcohol was present in his blood, according to a later coroner's report, along with possible evidence of methamphetamine use.

This was one of the most pivotal events in this era of VisualKei, even more so than the disbandment of his former band - it was, in its own way, the door closing on both the future direction of VisualKei he represented (both in his solo career branching out of Japan and in his promise to reunite and remake Music/XJapan) at the time in an entirely divorced from emotion sense, and in an emotional and personal sense, one of the most heartwrenching losses of both the scene and of Japanese music in general. As mentioned on his page, the general impact of his death (and the impression it made upon the scene and other artists and fans) was, to compare to Western music, was as if Buddy Holly, ElvisPresley, and JohnLennon had all died ''at the same time'' at the peak of their lives and careers, and in a way that made absolutely no sense and was so sudden and out of the blue.


[[/folder]]

[[folder: The Second Era of Visual Kei: Gackt's solo career, Dir En Grey, reunions, and the New Wave of Japanese Heavy Metal: 1999-2010]]

VisualKei's re-emergence as a powerful force in Japanese music began in the late 1990s, in the wake of the various tragedies and controversies that plagued the scene. Formed in 1997, from the ashes of underground alternative rock band La:Sadie's, [[GenreBusting experimental]] metal band Music/DirEnGrey made headlines in the scene by entering the Oricon Top 10 charts with two independently produced songs. Shortly afterward, they would gain the attention of [[Music/YoshikiHayashi Yoshiki]], who produced most of their early releases, and later on, the international metal community, for their [[NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly eclectic fusion of musical styles and influences]] that ranged from radio-friendly alternative rock to full-on grindcore and nu metal (death metal/deathcore in recent years).

In 1999, Music/{{Gackt}} made headlines in the VisualKei scene with his departure from successful GothRock band Music/MaliceMizer. At around the same time, drummer Kami died from a subarachnoid hemorrhage; he would later become an eternal member of the band, as well as the cause of the band's shift to a darker image. The band would go on hiatus in 2001.
Gackt, however, would launch a highly successful musical career, eventually becoming one of the most commercially successful musicians in the Japanese rock scene.

The new millennium saw the rise of the so-called Second Wave of VisualKei bands. At this point, HeavyMetal has enjoyed renewed mainstream success, with extreme subgenres such as {{Metalcore}}, NuMetal and MelodicDeathMetal coming into prominence. Due to this, many underground bands have broken through into the mainstream and gained considerable success. Some of these acts would become synonymous with the genre's renaissance, including Oshare kei band Music/AnCafe, NuMetal band Music/TheGazette, Nagoya kei groups Music/{{Deathgaze}} and Music/{{Lynch}}, alt-rock outfit Music/{{Nightmare}}, experimental solo artist Music/{{Miyavi}}, all-female MelodicDeathMetal / {{Metalcore}} band Music/ExistTrace, punk metal band Music/{{Girugamesh}} and the abovementioned [[GenreBusting experimental]] outfit Music/DirEnGrey.

Unlike Visual Shock-era bands, who primarily focused on over-the-top visuals and performances, these bands put more emphasis on staying true to the genre's HeavyMetal roots than anything else, with some bands going as far as downplaying the visuals and focusing on the creation of hard-hitting material that would later lead to the term "VisualKei" [[BrandNameTakeover becoming almost synonymous to Japanese rock and heavy metal]]. The evolution of the various subsets of Visual rock to full-fledged subcultures has become prominent, with each sub-genre adopting its own unique set of sounds and visuals.

At this point, Visual kei enjoyed widespread popularization outside Japan, attracting fans from the rest of the East Asia region (China, South Korea, and Taiwan, with cult followings throughout Southeast Asia) as well as in places as far away as Europe and the Americas.
Bands that would form later on, such as Mana's new project Moi Dix Mois, Music/AliceNine, Music/{{Galneryus}}, LM.C and Music/{{Versailles}} would also gain some international recognition.

The 2000's also saw the rise and eventual recognition of female VisualKei artists. Post-GothicMetal outfit Music/YouseiTeikoku, fronted by voice actress/singer Creator/YuiItsuki has gained recognition in the {{Anime}} scene for their contributions to several well-known titles, the best-known of these being the first opening track to the anime MiraiNikki. {{Metalcore}} band Music/ExistTrace challenged the conventions of VisualKei by being the most successful all-female Visual act in the scene, both in Japan and on an international level. Other all-female bands, such as Music/{{Aldious}}, Music/{{DESTROSE}} and Music/DangerGang would also enjoy some commercial success. In the mid-2000s, Music/KanonWakeshima, a baroque pop artist and fashion model, revived Lolita kei as a commercially successful subset of Visual Kei. [[TheMentor Produced]] by Mana of Malice Mizer, she rose to stardom with her [[NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly unusual sound]] and stunning image. Her [[SignatureSong song]] "Still Doll" was used as the ending for the hit anime VampireKnight; it would later become one of the most recognizable Gothic pop songs in modern Japanese music. Another Lolita artist, Music/{{Kana}} brought Lolita kei to even greater prominence with her active participation in Japanese mainstream culture, being an [[RenaissanceMan artist, toy designer, model, singer and actress]].


Older VisualKei bands have enjoyed renewed success in the modern era. X Japan has had a string of reunions since the mid-2000s. X officially reformed, with Sugizo as the lead guitarist, in 2010[[note]]Sugizo was inducted into the band after a lengthy talent search for Music/{{hide|toMatsumoto}}s replacement, which included, among many others, [[Music/{{LimpBizkit}} Wes Borland]], Kaoru of Music/DirEnGrey and Music/{{Miyavi}}[[/note]]. Music/LunaSea reformed after a decade-long period of inactivity. Visual ThrashMetal outfit Music/SexMachineguns was featured on the 2007 documentary ''Global Metal'', and Music/TMRevolution continues to gain success even after two decades in the scene.


[[/folder]]

! Visual Kei Subgenres

[[folder:Visual Shock]]
Pioneered by bands such as Music/XJapan, D'erlanger, Music/BuckTick, COLOR, and Sex Machineguns, Visual Shock is the earliest and most mature form of Visual Kei, having been the parent genre for the various Visual Kei microgenres that have popped out throughout the genre's history. It is mainly characterized by the colorful, extravagant and often shocking visuals of the bands and artists associated with the subgenre, hence the name. Common features include [[AnimeHair gravity-defying hairstyles]], heavy makeup, stylish clothes, and a general focus on maintaining a high-end, "[[TheBeautifulElite wealthy rockstar]]" appearance. [[AmbiguousGender Androgyny]], or appearing genderless/genderbent is also a defining feature of the style. Musically, Visual Shock is based on mid-ranged HeavyMetal, especially HairMetal, PowerMetal, and ThrashMetal, though some bands play regular HardRock and/or traditional metal styles.

Common tropes in Visual Shock include:
* AmbiguousGender
* AnimeHair, especially the [[EightiesHair wild and gravity-defying variants]].
* BarBrawl: Visual Shock artists were particularly infamous for this, though many fans see this as a way of shocking their fanbase or drawing attention towards themselves. The practice has died down in recent years, though.
* {{Biseinen}}: Almost all Visual Shock artists are this to some degree
* CostumePorn: An EnforcedTrope, generally with "costuming" being Western Glam Rock or Black Metal style.
* DeadHorseGenre: Subverted. The genre went down in flames as such around 1994-1995, with most of the HardRock / HeavyMetal /HairMetal bands either collapsing or undergoing GenreShift (e.g. Music/XJapan and Music/LunaSea becoming toned down GothRock and GothicMetal and falling into another genre, Music/LArcEnCiel going Oshare and PostVisual, [[Music/HidetoMatsumoto hide]] doing "digital kei" and Eroguro, with acts that didn't GenreShift such as Music/TokyoYankees and Music/TaijiSawada's D.T.R. either going on hiatus or becoming highly unpopular). It stayed as such until around 2006-08, when a confluence of events from fans discovering videos of early Visual Shock bands and bands' old eras on Youtube, artists getting tired of Eroguro and Oshare dominating the scene, HeavyMetal, HardRock, and even HairMetal gaining popularity again with rock and metal hardness above Oshare but still ''listenable'' regaining popularity among overseas fans and retaining it in the underground, bands from the era surviving, and more all combined to revive large parts of the genre as Neo-Visual Shock or Neo-Visual.
* DramaticShattering, to the point where even ''entire'' performance sets are either [[TrashTheSet deliberately trashed]] or [[GreatBallsOfFire brought down in flames]].
* Music/HeavyMetal, including, but not limited to:
** ThrashMetal
** PowerMetal
** HardRock[=/=]HairMetal
** ProgressiveMetal
* MohsScaleOfLyricalHardness: 0 (for instrumentals) to 9 usually, with the usual range being 6-8 with most bands having at least one 1-4 PowerBallad, while also having enough ExplicitContent or angsty, depressing or outright violent themes or similar to at least have a couple sevens to nines.
* MohsScaleOfRockAndMetalHardness: 4-9 on average, with most bands having the PowerBallad at some points to peg lower than 4 (e.g. X Japan's ''Endless Rain''). The more rock bands are usually 6-7 at most, with the more thrashy metal (early X, Sex Machineguns) closer to 7-9.
* SexDrugsAndRockAndRoll: For a lot of reasons, (everything from the bosozoku and yankii influence, to being AlwaysMale, to wanting to shock a then sexually conservative, "alcohol and tobacco are the only highs" Japan, to wanting to emulate western rockers), this was notorious for it in the old days. There were ''tons'' of songs about drugs and drug use, and even more users, and the first major speed boom and distribution of ecstasy and LSD in Japan happened around TheEighties. As for sex, many of the men in the scene were openly bisexual and quite willing to at least engage in fanservice with other men, if not actually have relationships however fleeting - and on the heterosexual side, this was when living off groupies began to codify into ''mitsu'' CompensatedDating.
* YouGottaHaveBlueHair: Or at least blonde.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Kote Kei]]
The direct descendant of Visual Shock, it is a LighterAndSofter take on classic Visual Kei, characterized by a greater emphasis on style and less on shock value. Similar to Visual Shock, Kote Kei artists are easily recognizable by their colorful hair, heavy makeup and stylish attire, but unlike Visual Shock, the outfits are less extravagant and more contemporary in style, though not as toned-down as Nagoya, Oshare, or Post-Visual. Musically, Kote kei encompasses a large portion of the entire rock spectrum, from soft rock to {{Metalcore}}.

Kote kei began in the 1990s, with bands and artists such as Music/LunaSea, Music/{{Kuroyume}} and Music/TMRevolution opting for less shocking attire to cope with changing trends in fashion and music. It reached its peak in the early 2000s, with bands such as Music/DirEnGrey (which later became Eroguro/Post-Visual) and Music/TheGazette (which later went Digital kei/Eroguro)paving the way for newer Kote kei acts.

Kote kei has two major subsets: Black Kote kei which is more aggressive and metallic, and White Kote kei which is lighter and more melodic in its musical style.

Tropes typical to Kote Kei include:
* AnimeHair, though Kote kei artists prefer more plausible anime hairstyles as opposed to the crazy styles of TheEighties and TheNineties.
* CostumePorn - Perhaps the defining trait of the subgenre
* FollowTheLeader: Not as much as Eroguro or Oshare but still rampant in the microgenre, with most Kote kei acts being either Music/LunaSea or early Music/DirEnGrey clones.
* {{Metalcore}} - most Kote kei bands fall under this genre.
* MohsScaleOfLyricalHardness: 0-11. The genre is ''so'' expansive it can include everything from instrumentalists to bands that are a near-endless stream of pure ExplicitContent.
* MohsScaleOfRockAndMetalHardness: 3-6 for the more pop-rockish/punkish bands, around 7-10 for the metal or metalcore bands.
* YouGottaHaveBlueHair

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Eroguro Kei]]
Considered as either an offshoot of the more metallic end of Kote Kei or a DarkerAndEdgier take on Visual Shock, Eroguro kei is a Visual Kei microgenre that emerged in the late 1990s, and is inspired by the Eroguro artistic movement. It is characterized by a fusion of [[HotterAndSexier highly sexualized ]] and [[BloodierAndGorier very dark, terrifying, often violent themes]] as the main motif. Bands on the more "Ero" side opt for extreme [[AmbiguousGender androgyny]] or full-on crossdressing, while bands on the more "Guro" side go for grim, often nightmarish visuals; achieved both by intricate makeup and styling work a la BlackMetal and violent, often ritualized stage performances. Eroguro is musically founded on extreme metal subgenres such as DeathMetal, BlackMetal, {{Grindcore}}, {{Deathcore}} and the heavier end of {{metalcore}}, as well as other extreme genres such as noise rock, HardcorePunk and {{Industrial}}.

Some of the defining tropes of the Eroguro kei subgenre include:
* BodyHorror including any and all of the BathroomTropes, DisgustTropes, and the like. Some bands are nigh infamous, in particular, for subverting NoPeriodsPeriod and WomensMysteries to use periods, abortions, bloody births, and the like as imagery or lyrical content.
* CostumePorn: The ero-oriented varieties provide good examples of this
* DeadHorseGenre: Somewhat of a backlash to Eroguro has formed as a result of the scene being ''incredibly'' [[FollowTheLeader overpopulated]] with Music/DirEnGrey and Music/TheGazette [[{{expy}} clones]], people being burned out on the seemingly repetitive use of ultragraphic violence, rampant misogyny, and TooMuchInformation for shock value alone (especially when it creates, rather than deconstructs, UnfortunateImplications), and such cliches as the unintelligibly screaming vocalist, intentionally bad musicianship, stripped down art and makeup, bands hating their fans and their fans hating them, and the like. It's arguable that Neo Visual Shock got much of its start from people tired of the extremes of Eroguro and Oshare being "Visual Kei."
* DeathMetal[=/=]{{Deathcore}} - The genre of choice for the "guro" branch of Eroguro kei.
* {{Fanservice}}, which may or may not be mixed with equal amounts of FanDisservice, depending on how "ero" or "guro" a band is.
* {{Gorn}}
* GratuitousEnglish: If an eroguro bands sings in English, it's usually a bunch of angry nonsensical phrases thrown together to sound as scary and angsty as possible.
* {{Grindcore}}, especially noisegrind and pornogrind, is one genre of choice for the "ero" side of Eroguro.
* HarshVocals
* LyricalDissonance and/or LyricalShoehorn
* MeanCharacterNiceActor
* MindScrew - Most Eroguro lyrics are cryptic at best.
* MisogynySong - Very frequent in Eroguro lyric writing, moreso in the more guro-oriented bands.
* MohsScaleOfLyricalHardness: 9-11 AT LEAST, as an EnforcedTrope for the genre. ''Possibly'' a more "cute" "ero" band could do a 7 or 8 with a lot of DoubleEntendre for the "ero" part, or a band that is balanced between both ero and guro could do a song that focuses more on angst or sorrow than on brutal and graphic violence to land at a 6 or 7 (e.g. Music/DirEnGrey's ''Ain't Afraid To Die''), but the great majority of Eroguro band output ''is'' 9 through 11 for obvious reasons.
* MohsScaleOfRockAndMetalHardness: Usually a 6-11 because of the genre's emphasis on bands that are ''at least'' metalcore or darkwave.
* NauseaFuel, NightmareFuel, and ParanoiaFuel.
* ScaryMusicianHarmlessMusic - Inverted, especially in the "ero" side of the subgenre, while the "guro" side subverts it altogether: both the musicians and the music are downright scary.
* SerialEscalation: Compare the founding works of the genre (hide's 1995-1997 works, Kuroyume's early works) to almost any TheNewTens band of the genre.
* SexDrugsAndRockAndRoll: Usually, more so in [[OdeToIntoxication lyrical content]] than actual behavior, and often deconstructed in songs such as Music/DirEnGrey's ''Egnirys Cimredopyh'' which is about a meth addict locked up in a mental ward and ''still'' injecting himself to death with a fatal overdose.
* StylisticSuck: Along with Post-Visual, the most common genre to use this, usually to make a postmodern artistic statement and/or for the sake of [[TrollingCreator angering fans or specific fans]]. Common forms include a vocalist who is either a MotorMouth or TheUnintelligible (often both), excessive feedback or static in sound output, WordSaladLyrics or horribly written GratuitiousEnglish lyrics, or detuned instruments.
* SurrealMusicVideo
* {{Wangst}}, especially if the lyrics are [[MisogynySong misogynistic]] in nature.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Oshare Kei]]
Oshare Kei began as a backlash to the DarkerAndEdgier content of VisualKei and the emphasis of most genres on HeavyMetal and HardRock and/or GothicMetal and GothRock, as well as an equally powerful push to commercialize and monetize VisualKei in the mainstream of music. The first "Oshare Kei" band is technically recognized as Music/LArcEnCiel because of its being Alternative Rock and breaking away from Visual Kei in general to pursue a wider demographic, but the microgenre came into its own around the middle of TurnOfTheMillennium.

While Oshare brought some genre diversity (Oshare artists could be anything from PopPunk to elecronica to even HipHop or rap) to Visual Kei, and became, for better or worse, the face of "mainstream" and "label signed" VK from then through TheNewTens, it also became TheScrappy and FlameBait much the same as HairMetal did in the West, for a major application of SturgeonsLaw. As in, while there are many talented Oshare bands (such as Music/LArcEnCiel and L.MC) and many artists who went through Oshare/host style fashion periods, the style unfortunately became associated with an intense amount of FollowTheLeader, mediocre musicianship yet lots of fangirls and money surrounding it, and with a codified, fixed set of appearance rules ("look like a pretty young host" or "be kawaii"). It became, therefore, an AcceptableTarget for metal fans, for those interested in other styles, and pretty much the rest of Visual Kei as a result - while yet being the most "popular" and "easily signable" genre.

Oshare Kei has three subsets: Host Kei, the most popular, which emphasizes the more {{Bishonen}} side, Kawaii Kei which emphasizes the "cute" aspect, and Urban Kei which is ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin.

Some of the defining tropes of Oshare are:
* AlwaysMale: Due to the "look like a host and appeal to fangirls" demand, there are ''very'' few female Oshare artists. Those that ''do'' exist tend to subvert the rule tend to be poppier artists focusing on the "kawaii" side.
* AnimeHair: Lots and lots of bright shiny colors, often ombres of those colors, and beading and ribbons are not uncommon in the "kawaii" side. The "host" side tends toward browns and muted blondes cut in usual host styles and usually averts this trope.
* BaseBreaker/BerserkButton: Oshare itself, but ''especially'' the host side, which is often written off as fake and an insult to visual kei as well as a black eye to it in the general rock/metal world by metalheads and rockers in the scene.
* TheBeautifulElite: Oshare bands are ''very much'' about this, to the point of labels often regulating their bands' weight, public appearances, and anything else that could possibly ruin their image of being young, available, beautiful men seeking to serve the fangirls. This is another bone of contention with the rest of Visual Kei, which may do this ''informally'' but where, at least technically, the scene is about artistic and personal freedom.
* {{Bishonen}}: EnforcedTrope for the host side.
* BoyBand: Many Oshare bands, especially Host kei acts, receive a treatment similar to, if not ''exactly like'', typical male idol groups.
* CastFullOfGay: Oshare bands that market to YaoiFangirls are ''notorious'' for ''pretending'' to be this, so much that it has made people [[SeinfeldIsUnfunny insist that legitimately gay or bisexual men in Visual don't exist.]]
* CastFullOfPrettyBoys: The point of host kei, to market to fangirls.
* ContractualPurity: Oshare is probably the most restrictive place in Visual Kei regarding this. Band members are often subject to appearance regulations, to being forbidden from getting into or disclosing relationships (to seem "available"), and much more, at least for the host kei bands.
* CutenessOverload: The point of both kawaii and host Oshare is to be so overwhelmingly cute and positive that it TastesLikeDiabetes.
* DancePartyEnding: Because most EDM acts in Visual Kei are Oshare, though they are usually "kawaii" instead of host.
* DeadHorseGenre: There are signs that Oshare is on its way out - [=L'Arc-en-Ciel=] appears to be headed towards a more metal-oriented direction, and Music/AbingdonBoysSchool appears to be gravitating towards metal as well. Oshare's place in the scene is also threatened by the ever-increasing number of disgruntled metal fans who demand for heavier material and more unorthodox styles, a trend made evident by the neo-Visual Shock movement and the renewed popularity of Post-Visual kei and Eroguro kei. It might be too early to tell, however.
* FanNickname: {{Bishonen}} kei, as well as a few other nicknames from both fans and detractors.
* FandomRivalry: Oshare fans have a rather fierce rivalry with fans of KoreanPopMusic.
** And a large portion of fans of the harder microgenres, from Visual Shock/Neo Visual Shock to Eroguro, hate it on principle, ''especially'' if they are metal fans.
* {{Fanservice}}: The point of the host side, and some of the kawaii side.
* FemaleGaze: The host side seeks it for their pay.
* FollowTheLeader: This trope is blamed for the ever-increasing number of Oshare kei artists in recent years.
* [[HighClassCallGirl High Class Escort]]: Many Oshare artists on the host side tend to engage in mitsu - sometimes even pimped out by their labels or other people in their band. It's become almost ''more'' infamous for it than Visual Shock was.
* {{Kayfabe}}: Very much mandated.
* {{Kawaiiko}}: The kawaii side of Oshare.
* MohsScaleOfLyricalHardness: Anywhere from a 2 to a 6 usually. If they go over into more ExplicitContent, it's generally more toward sex than violence or angst or explicit references to drugs, although Music/LArcEnCiel actually subverted this with its WarIsHell anti-war songs such as ''Hoshizora'' and ''Existence.''
* MohsScaleOfRockAndMetalHardness: Generally, as an EnforcedTrope, Oshare ''cannot'' go above a 6 or 7 because then it risks becoming too "metal" or "unlistenable" for its average audience. L'Arc~en~Ciel subverted it with a few songs that peg at 7 (most of them being on the ''Awake'' album) but it's rare for any Oshare band to get higher than 6.
* MotiveDecay: Often blamed (or {{misblamed}}) for this in Visual Kei in general.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Lolita Kei]]
The arguable DistaffCounterpart to Eroguro kei, Lolita kei is a microgenre that emphasizes the more subdued and feminine side of the Visual kei scene. The Lolita kei scene has its roots in the LolitaFashion subculture, especially in the Gothic, Sweet, Classic, and Aristocrat styles (though Ero, Guro, and even Punk Lolita styles are not unheard of in the scene.) as well as in Visual Shock (Music/YoshikiHayashi [[UrExample was certainly influential]] to the creation of it), ClassicalMusic, ProgressiveRock and GothRock. Beginning in TheNineties, Lolita kei emerged as a complete microgenre with bands such as Lareine and Music/MaliceMizer; the latter of which is the TropeCodifier for the genre (Mana, frontman of Malice Mizer, is the TropeMaker and TropeNamer for the "ElegantGothicLolita" aesthetic which is popular among Lolita kei artists). The mangaka and singer Riyoko Ikeda is cited as a huge influence to Lolita kei - she wrote ''Manga/RoseOfVersailles'', a manga that eventually became the inspiration for artists such as Music/{{Versailles}}.

Like Eroguro kei, Lolita kei puts equal emphasis on both visuals and music - [[EnforcedTrope the general rule being that the music must complement the visual component and vice versa]]. However, Lolita kei is the polar opposite - while Eroguro aims to emphasize a dark, disturbing, and deconstructed version of Visual kei, Lolita kei upholds an air of purity, elegance and beauty, and a return to the fantastic and classy styles of ages past.

Tropes commonly associated with Lolita kei include the following:
* AlwaysMale: [[DudeLooksLikeALady Despite the highly feminine appearance of Lolita kei artists]], they are almost always male, though this is due to a shortage of professional female musicians in Visual kei as opposed to getting artists to wear highly convincing drag for Lolita fans. The scen isn't entirely devoid of female artists, however; Creator/YuiItsuki of Music/YouseiTeikoku and Music/KanonWakeshima are the two most notable examples.
** AlwaysFemale: A ''huge'' portion of Lolita kei fans are female, and chances are, they are usually LolitaFashion enthusiasts.
* AmbiguousGender
* AnimeHair: Large OjouRinglets, barrel curls, wigs, hair extensions, EightiesHair... Lolita kei rivals Visual Shock in terms of crazy hairstyles.
* TheBeautifulElite: Lolita kei plays this trope even more than Oshare Kei, with artists striving to achieve a perfect Victorian or neoclassical aesthetic through he use of ''[[CrackIsCheaper very expensive]]'' costuming and stagecraft, though it isn't as much of an EnforcedTrope as in Oshare.
* {{Bishoujo}}: An EnforcedTrope in the genre.
** {{Bifauxnen}}: One of the style choices for Lolita kei artists who do not want to dress up in full drag, the other being straight-up "{{Badass}} Aristocrat".
* CostumePorn
* CrackisCheaper: Lolita kei is the most expensive Visual kei subgenre, which explains the relatively small number of artists who go Lolita when compared to other Visual subgenres.
* DudeLooksLikeALady: An EnforcedTrope in the genre; hell, even the manliest Lolita kei artists still look very feminine, to say the least.
* EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses
* EverythingIsAnInstrument: Lolita kei artists often use instruments other than the guitars, basses, and drums in more standard rock/metal. Keyboards, violins, wind instruments and similar usually show up in Lolita kei, but the microgenre is home to experimentalists and {{industrial}} acts, which means that the use of samples and electronic instruments is not unheard of.
* {{Fanservice}}: Averted - most Lolita kei artists avoid audience interaction and comon forms of HoYay, [[BerserkButton even going as far as preventing fans from touching them during live shows]]. Some of the darker acts subvert this by introducing a fair bit of fanservice, but not much.
* LeadBassist: Bass plays a role similar to lead guitar in Lolita kei, hence, most Lolita kei bassists are ''at least'' Type D examples; Lolita kei is also home to some of Visual Kei's finest bassists, the most notable being the late Jasmine You of Music/{{Versailles}} and ex-Lolita kei bassists Music/{{Toshiya}} (Music/DirEnGrey) and Music/{{Kisaki}}
* ManInAKilt: More or less an EnforcedTrope for the more feminine acts.
* MohsScaleOfLyricalHardness: Generally 0 (for frequent instrumentals) to 6. Most Lolita kei work is ''not'' highly sexual or incredibly graphically violent (with the exception of Music/MaliceMizer's ''Illuminati'' which is, along with its PV, one of Visual Kei's first 10 works, being an 11 at its time, and Malice Mizer in general being a fusion of Lolita and Eroguro), and a lot of symbolism and longing/sadness is more common than outright suicidality or such.
* MohsScaleOfRockAndMetalHardness: 1 to 9, occasionally 10, sometimes by the ''same band,'' as this genre welcomes both quiet classical type interludes and the ''absolute extremes'' of speed and technicality in Visual Kei (some of the best guitar/bass shredders, drummers, pianists/keyboardists, etc. in the scene are Lolita or ex-Lolita artists). In fact, with its classical emphasis, it tends to draw "the best of the best" on a technical level unless they really wish to go into another genre, meaning that most bands are more than capable of doing both quiet instrumentals and then shredding just as well as Music/{{Dragonforce}} or any Big Four thrash band.
* NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly - The Lolita kei sound is a fusion of ProgressiveRock or ProgressiveMetal mixed with ClassicalMusic, though some examples draw inspiration from styles other than classical.
* WholesomeCrossdresser
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Angura Kei]]
Angura is generally a FolkRock / FolkMetal subgenre, that spawned out of PatrioticFervor and an interest in TheOldWays. It has its roots in Visual Shock somewhat, as there were some right-wing and "old Japanese traditional" sentiments there, and it really took the "Kabuki" part of Visual Shock and ran with it more than anything else, rejecting the Western-inspired parts aside from their preferred genres of HeavyMetal or HardRock. Band members often wear kimono, and traditional Kabuki or {{Geisha}} style makeup and hair, and use of borderline fascist or ImperialJapan glorifying lyrics and imagery is not unknown. Some bands take the genre UpToEleven by including musicians who are professionals in playing traditional Japanese instruments.

Tropes commonly associated with Angura include the following:
* AmbiguousGender: The genre is almost AlwaysMale but there's a lot of guys dressed as geisha or in feminine Kabuki clothes.
* AnimeHair: Subverted. The hair in Angura is usually more Geisha or Kabuki inspired as opposed to anime, though some Angura bandmen will have more typical host cuts.
* BlackMetal: The NSBM variety is popular with the Imperial Japan - worshipping artists.
* {{Bishonen}} and {{Biseinen}}
* CostumePorn: Angura bands are some of the most heavily actually costumed (as opposed to the glam rock look of most Visual Shock or neo-Visual Shock, as opposed to the generally stripped down costuming of Kote Kei) outside of Lolita bands.
* MetalScream: Along with pretty much all the other metal tropes.
* MohsScaleOfLyricalHardness: Around 3-8 depending on band and song, though some of the more Fascist-leaning bands can approach a 10 or 11 for the same reason NSBM does.
* MohsScaleOfRockAndMetalHardness: Generally at least a 5 or 6 through 9.
* MyCountryRightOrWrong: As folk acts, Angura bands generally celebrate Japan. No matter what.
* PatrioticFervor: Not as awful as NSBM or redneck country or similar, in that some Angura bands are willing to acknowledge Japanese war atrocities or the like, and that the whole genre isn't composed of racist fascists or neocon rightwingers, but if you want to find rightwingers and outright racist fascists in Visual Kei instead of I Don't Cares/moderates/leftists/anarchists, this is where you generally look.
* NostalgiaFilter: For old Japan.
* NoSwastikas: Averted for the Japanese version, these are the bands that will tend to use the Imperial Battle Flag and other IJA/wartime insignia the most and played straight.
* PuttingOnTheReich: NSBM-influenced Angura bands are more likely to do the Japanese version - dressing as Imperial Japanese soldiers/sailors or commanders or the like.
* WhatDoYouMeanItsNotPolitical: Many (if not most) Angura bands are simply such because of RuleOfCool and that they like kimonos and {{geisha}} and {{samurai}} aesthetics, and could care less for the rightwing or fascist attitudes others in the subgenre fall into.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Nagoya Kei]]
Branching off from Visual Shock and Eroguro kei in TheNineties, Nagoya kei, so named because the {{Trope Codifier}}s (Music/{{Deathgaze}}, Music/{{Lynch}}, Music/{{Kuroyume}}) were from Nagoya, is an underground genre of Visual Kei that is characterized by an aggressive HardcorePunk sound (with the occasional PowerBallad) and elements of NuMetal such as downtuned guitars, [[SopranoAndGravel a mix of baritone singing and screams]], electronic sounds and equal prominence of all instruments. Artistically, Nagoya kei primarily focuses on a stripped-down but stylish, "wealthy {{Goth}}ic metalhead" appearance with a mostly black-and-white palette. It differs from Eroguro kei in that despite the overall DarkerAndEdgier look and sound of Nagoya kei, the overall aesthetic has a more or less realistic, gritty bend as opposed to the highly stylized excesses of Eroguro.

While not as popular as Oshare, Eroguro, or Kote Kei, Nagoya Kei is respected by metalheads both within and outside Visual kei, [[{{Irony}} despite most Nagoya kei bands falling under]] [[NuMetal rather]] [[{{Deathcore}} questionable]] genres, mainly due to its rejection of the mainstream-oriented trappings of more popular Visual subgenres in favor of a more metallic aesthetic, as well as the tight-knit nature of the scene itself: Nagoya kei is home to many Visual artists who are known for working with other bands aside from their own.

Nagoya kei exemplifies the following tropes:
* AnimeHair: Subverted - most Nagoya kei artists showcase black or otherwise natural-looking hair colors and opt for more plausible hairstyles, but compared to, say Oshare hairstyles or regular host hairstyles, Nagoya kei hair is noticeably more unorthodox-looking.
* EmoTeen: The Nagoya fanbase has a large number of these. Some artists, such as Kiyoharu of Music/{{Kuroyume}} were this at some point.
* {{Goth}}: Almost all Nagoya artists, to some degree.
* MohsScaleOfLyricalHardness: Generally 6-10 for a fair amount of ExplicitContent, generally relating to angst, drugs, war/violence, suicide, and sometimes sex.
* MohsScaleOfRockAndMetalHardness: 5-11.
* NuMetal: The genre of choice, if not HardcorePunk, {{Deathcore}} or PostHardcore.
* ScaryMusicianHarmlessMusic: There is some dissonance between the punky, DarkerAndEdgier look of Nagoya Kei artists and their [[{{Wangst}} introspective, melodramatic musical and lyrical themes]].
* {{Wangst}}
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Post-Visual Kei]]
Also called "Alternative kei" in some Visual kei circles, Post-Visual kei is a catch-all term for J-music movements that have spun-off from the general Visual kei umbrella. It is distinguished from other Visual kei microgenres in that, even though it is still considered as a Visual scene, it is often only tangentially related to more established Visual subsets, and often having more in common with non-Visual rock or metal; in fact many Post-Visual acts either disassociate themselves with more established styles (or Visual in general, hence the term "Ex-Visual kei") or claim to have been inspired by Visual but are not part of it. It is a direct descendant of '90s Visual Shock and initially developed as both a backlash against the HairMetal stylings of early Visual Shock and as an attempt to make Visual kei more avant-garde and contemporary through continuous stylistic and musical evolution. Post-Visual is inspired by AlternativeRock (especially {{Grunge}} and PostGrunge) and AlternativeMetal (especially NuMetal and [[AvantGardeMetal Experimental Metal]]); the genre's pioneers: [[Music/LArcEnCiel L'arc-en-Ciel]], Music/{{Kuroyume}} and Music/DirEnGrey have cited bands under these genres as influences.

As with Lolita Kei and Visual Shock, the Visual style often complements the music. Contrary to popular belief, Post-Visual is an artistically diverse genre. In Post-Visual, there are little to no set standards of dress, makeup, hairstyles, performance, or anything of that sort. Artists can go for subdued styles, as exemplified by "Casual kei" bands such as [[Music/LArcEnCiel L'Arc~en~Ciel]], or opt for a modernized and alternative adaptation of established Visual styles as seen in bands such as Music/DirEnGrey, Music/{{Galneryus}}, Music/BuckTick and Music/{{Loudness}}. Some may forgo Visual clothing and hair altogether, but make up for their lack of flamboyance with massive amounts of stage and PerformanceVideo artistry, a trend observable in many contemporary Post-Visual acts.

As with NuMetal, the term is controversial and derogatory for some artists and fans, mainly because of its highly vague definition and little (if any) association with the more established styles.

Tropes in Post-Visual kei include the following:
* AlternativeRock and/or AlternativeMetal, the genre(s) of choice for Post-Visual artists.
* AnimeHair: It still exists, though not as extreme as Oshare, Lolita, or Visual Shock.
* '''BaseBreaker''': Bring it up on any discussion about Visual kei, and expect a raging [[FlameWar shitstorm of vitriol]] to take place between fans who will defend Post-Visual and fans who will attempt to deconstruct their views on the genre. '''[[SchmuckBait Try it]]'''.
** And Music/DynamiteTommy (the very first Post-Visual artist) is himself one, ''especially'' if discussed around fans of Yoshiki and/or Yoshiki's label bands. While both of them long ago ended open hostilities or even competition, the fans are more than willing to keep the flames burning.
* {{Bishonen}}: Though not as YaoiFangirl-oriented as Oshare or as waif-ish as Visual Shock artists, the Post-Visual scene is still pretty much populated by young and handsome musicians, though they are most likely not simply pretty faces...
** That said, Post-Visual is, aside from Visual Shock and Neo-Visual Shock, the place where you're most likely to find older artists (e.g. older than 35-40), overweight or physically disfigured artists, married or otherwise unavailable artists, or others who avert, subvert, and invert the age limits and appearance/lifestyle standards found in other genres.
* ContractualPurity: Averted for the most part; Post-Visual artists enjoy ''near-absolute freedom'' in their musical and visual stylings. Played straight by major labels who insist that Visual artists opt for a more "mainstream" image in order to appeal to a wider audience.
* DeadUnicornTrope: As ill-defined as NuMetal in that there are little to no standards that make Post-Visual a coherent genre, and in place of these standards are common stereotypes (mostly from fans) that include the following:
** Post-Visual artists do not dress in Visual kei clothing...and yet some Post-Visual acts go over-the-top with their costuming (Music/YouseiTeikoku)
** Post-Visual artists do not refer to themselves as Visual, but there are still artists who still claim otherwise and ''even'' maintain healthy ties with other, more established acts ([[Music/{{Hyde}} Vamps]], Music/DirEnGrey, Music/BuckTick)
** Post-Visual artists have very limited budgets, which explains their lack of visual flair. This is usually untrue - two of the most popular Post-Visual acts, [[Music/LArcEnCiel L'Acr~en~Ciel]] and Music/DirEnGrey, are commercially successful and part of [[TheBeautifulElite the Visual kei elite]].
** Post-Visual artists play "alternative" music, yet there are bands that play more traditional music styles (Music/{{Loudness}} and Music/{{Galneryus}})
* EnsembleDarkhorse: Chances are, if a J-rock/J-metal band falls under Post-Visual, they're probably more respected than their contemporaries. However, not all of them receive this treatment, as you will see later on.
* GenreRoulette: Trying to pin down the core sound of Post-Visual can be rather difficult, as Post-Visual artists are nigh-infamous for frequent stylistic changes. Probably not helped by the fact that some bands choose to be uncategorized...
* ItsPopularNowItSucks: A common reaction from some fans of more established Visual subgenres.
* MultipleDemographicAppeal: The primary motive for Post-Visual artists.
* MohsScaleOfRockAndMetalHardness: Post-Visual spans the entire scale, from a 1 to an 11. On average, Post-Visual songs are around 5-6, with the more metallic acts averaging at around 7-8.
* NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly: Fuck yes.
* TheScrappy: [[Music/LArcEnCiel L'Arc~en~Ciel]], not only because of their [[BerserkButton open dislike for any association with Visual kei]], but also for being the TropeMaker and TropeCodifier for Oshare kei (specifically, Host Oshare), which is the Visual subgenre that both Visual and non-Visual fans are most likely to hate/poke fun at/not take seriously.
* StylisticSuck: Not as bad as Eroguro, but some bands in this genre (e.g. those that are parodists or the TrollingCreator are especially prone, as is anything made to be postmodern art) want to sound horrible, and accomplish it. Common forms of doing so include an unintelligible vocalist, a vocalist obviously impersonating someone else, and/or the heavy, unironic use of AutoTune, guitarists or bassists with instruments tuned so badly their amps produce clipping or similar issues, excessive feedback/static/the intentional use of other unpleasant or unwanted noise, and/or incomprehensible or pointlessly offensive lyrics.
* UnlimitedWardrobe: Post-Visual acts are nigh-infamous for their periodic, often annual or bi-annual appearance changes, which are most often extremely drastic, to the point where they can sometimes be unrecognizable. This has led to massive amounts of BrokenBase in Post-Visual bands' fan communities.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Neo Visual Shock / Neo-Visual]]
Neo Visual Shock / Neo-Visual is a microgenre that formed around 2006-08. As mentioned under Visual Shock, it is the revival of the genre, originating from a confluence of events that included fans discovering videos of early Visual Shock bands and bands' old eras on Youtube, artists getting tired of Eroguro and Oshare dominating the scene, HeavyMetal, HardRock, and even HairMetal gaining popularity again with rock and metal hardness above Oshare but still ''listenable'' regaining popularity among overseas fans and retaining it in the underground, bands from the era surviving. The song that defines the genre is Miyavi's ''Neo Visualizm,'' with its ShoutOut to "[[Music/XJapan X]], Music/Kuroyume, and Music/LunaSea." There is some overlap with Post-Visual, but generally, the difference is that Neo Visual Shock artists are wanting to bring back the stylings of Visual Shock, where post-visual artists are wishing to deconstruct or subvert them.

Tropes normally found in Neo Visual Shock/Neo-Visual:
* AmbiguousGender
* AnimeHair, especially the [[EightiesHair wild and gravity-defying variants]].
* AutoTune: ''Averted,'' to the point of being a BerserkButton. Neo Visual Shock fans like a sound that existed pre-autotune. Detectable autotune will often get a song or CD denounced as ''utter and absolute crap'' in this microgenre, especially with its focus on realistic power vocals from some very renowned pre-autotune singers. Pretty much the only acceptable use is that that is not detectable (e.g. small pitch corrections) or alternately used to create its own sound.
* BarBrawl: Visual Shock artists were particularly infamous for this in TheEighties, though many fans see this as a way of shocking their fanbase or drawing attention towards themselves, plus, many of them are too old/too physically damaged/too concerned with legal ramifications to have a bar fight now, or have realized how stupid and dangerous the behavior was, and policing is far more restrictive now, so it is less of a feature of Neo Visual Shock than its predecessor. Most fans and even artists who would fall under Neo-Visual Shock tend to be more interested in [[FlameWar fighting on the internet]] than in bars.
* {{Biseinen}}: Almost all Neo Visual Shock artists are this to some degree. Even the older ones.
* CostumePorn: An EnforcedTrope, generally with "costuming" being Western Glam Rock or Black Metal style.
* DoubleSubversion: Of the microgenre of Visual Shock.
* DramaticShattering, to the point where even ''entire'' performance sets are either [[TrashTheSet deliberately trashed]] or [[GreatBallsOfFire brought down in flames]].
* EightiesHair: A very large part of it - EightiesHair is often ''de rigeur'' for the style.
* {{Expy}}: Many new artists base their styles on the styles of old artists. hide is ''extremely'' popular for this.
* FlameWar: Somewhat infamous for it, due to at least one band that falls into the category having literally dozens of ways to start InternetBackdraft due to more controversies than can be counted. Other bands that fall into the genre often don't have as many (mostly due to being new bands and/or having small enough fanbases that TheLawOfFanJackassery protects them) but any band with a sizable fandom that is a LongRunner likely has had at least a few flamewars.
* Music/HeavyMetal, including, but not limited to:
** ThrashMetal
** PowerMetal
** HardRock[=/=]HairMetal
** ProgressiveMetal
* HesBack: Probably the genre with the most comeback artists and some of the oldest artists, aside from Post-Visual.
* PuttingTheBandBackTogether: Many, many, MANY bands. Music/XJapan, Music/LunaSea, Music/{{Kuroyume}}, Music/TokyoYankees, and more all reunited over TheTurnOfTheMillennium or TheNewTens. Other bands, such as Glay, Music/{{Loudness}} and Music/BuckTick, never even broke up. Loudness, X Japan, and Tokyo Yankees all had to work around the loss of influential members to manage their reunions/stay together. Golden Bat/Grand Slam broke up, but reunites for occasional gigs.
* MohsScaleOfLyricalHardness: Same as Visual Shock: also 0 (for instrumentals) to 9 usually, with the usual range being 6-8 with most bands having at least one 1-4 PowerBallad, while also having enough ExplicitContent or angsty, depressing or outright violent themes or similar to at least have a couple sevens to nines.
* MohsScaleOfRockAndMetalHardness: 4-9 on average, with most bands having the PowerBallad at some points to peg lower than 4. The more rock bands (the reunited X and Buck-Tick, Luna Sea), are usually 6-7 at most with occasional jumps into 8 songs or solos, with the more thrashy metal (the reunited Music/TokyoYankees, the new bands DEZERT and TSP) closer to 7-9.
* {{Retraux}}: Of TheEighties and TheNineties Visual Shock and early Kote Kei.
* YouGottaHaveBlueHair: Or at least blonde.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Digital Kei]]
Digital kei is an emerging Visual Kei microgenre that highlights the more futuristic and electronic side of the Visual scene. Branching off from Post-Visual and inspired by {{cyberpunk}}, it began as a series of independent movements in the mid-late 1990s and early 2000s, with J-rock artists such as the late {{Music/hide|toMatsumoto}}, Imai Hisashi of Music/BuckTick, and J-music idol Music/TakanoriNishikawa, as well as overseas acts such as Music/PitchShifter and Music/NineInchNails being cited as primary influences. hide's band, Zilch, was among the first examples of the microgenre, being rooted in IndustrialMetal and NuMetal. Digital kei gained some attention in the mid-2000s, with the unexpected success of Music/BloodStainChild, whose breakthrough album, ''Idolator'', combined the aggressive metal stylings of modern Visual kei with the artificial soundscapes of popular ElectronicMusic styles, eventually paving the way for a wave of similar artists to gain prominence. Digital kei gained even more recognition with the sudden GenreShift of Eroguro band Music/TheGazette, whose 2012 album ''DIVISION'' featured considerable experimentation and an almost entirely manipulated sound.
The increase in popularity of {{Vocaloid}} as both a music-making and visual tool among Visual and Post-Visual artists arguably helped in increasing the popularity of digital kei.

Stylistically, digital kei is based on aesthetics influenced by science fiction, cyberpunk, and rave culture, with bands and artists striving to appear as futuristic as possible - clothing such as jumpsuits, plugsuits and punk outfits, as well as eccentric hairstyle and accessory choices are often employed to achieve the look. It is rather common for digital kei artists to fully integrate technology with their musical and performance styles - the use of visuals such as lasers, strobe lights, holograms, onscreen projections and even animations are frequently used to give off an otherworldly vibe. Musically, digital kei is based on ElectronicMusic, NuMetal and IndustrialMetal and is characterized by extensive digital sound manipulation and the liberal use of extended playing techniques. Some artists draw heavy inspiration from JapanesePopMusic.

Tropes usually found in digital kei include the following:
* AnimeHair: Spiked dreadlocks, fanned mohawks, devilocks, teased hair, MegaTwintails, multicolored hair...Along with Neo-Visual Shock and Lolita, digital kei is home to some of the craziest hairstyles in Visual kei.
* AutoTune: Its use is ''everywhere'' in digital kei, though it is most often employed as a means of manipulating vocal tracks or as a way to make vocals sound "robotic" or "artificial" (usually approaching UncannyValley levels) rather than to cover up bad singing.
* {{Cyberpunk}}
* ElectronicMusic, including, but not limited to:
** {{Industrial}}
** {{Trance}}
** {{Dubstep}}
** SynthPop
** HardcoreTechno
* EpilepticFlashingLights: A common visual trick in digital kei live shows and PerformanceVideo, often to give off a more futuristic vibe. Use of the technique can be traced to the association of some visual kei circles with rave culture, where laser light shows and colorful visual effects are a key part of live shows.
* FollowTheLeader: The surprise success of Music/BloodStainChild in 2005 initiated a surge in popularity of similarly-styled acts and more established bands (especially from Oshare and Post-Visual) shifting towards digital kei.
* MohsScaleOfLyricalHardness: 0-10, occasionally 11. It totally depends on the artist.
* MohsScaleOfRockAndMetalHardness: 3-5 for the more SynthPop[=-=]oriented acts, 6-9 for acts with a more {{industrial}} sound. 10-11 for brostep and noise-influenced bands.
* ProjectedMan: How the {{Vocaloid}}s Hatsune Miku, Kagamine Len[=/=]Rin and Gakupo have had "live" shows.
** Overlapping with Neo Visual Shock and VirtualGhost, INA's recreation of hide as a {{hologram}} for some Music/XJapan shows, before Yoshiki ended the practice.
* RearrangeTheSong: Due in part to the large number of DJ-type in the scene, this trope is most often in effect.
* ScaryMusicianHarmlessMusic: Mostly averted. Save for the [[AnimeHair wild and colorful hairstyles]], most digital kei artists don't appear too different from {{Idol Singer}}s, indie rockers or nightclub DJs, and their music isn't particularly harsh either. Occasionally inverted and/or subverted by industrial and noise-influenced artists, and inverted by hide, who had a couple of "cute" visual style phases yet only rarely went below a 6 on the MohsScaleOfLyricalHardness in instrumentals.
* SyntheticVoiceActor: The use of {{Vocaloid}} and similar songwriting tools (see above) is very common among DJ-type digital kei artists or bands that lack dedicated vocalists. In some cases, if a digital kei vocalist becomes popular enough, he/she will most likely have a virtual counterpart, often a Vocaloid/UTAU character created in his/her image - examples include Gakupo (voiced by and based on {{Gackt}}) and Maiko (UTAU character, based on Dazzle Vision's Maiko)
* UnbuiltTrope: It's been around since the mid-1990s, but since most digital kei artists also fall under more established styles, the scene has yet to solidify and gain more notability for it to come out as a standalone genre.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: {{Music/hide|toMatsumoto}} has been promoting digital kei since his first attempts at reaching out to the Western metal scene in the mid-1990s and has had significant success during that era, and he was the person who named and pretty much defined the style in Japan aside from Imai Hisashi of Music/BuckTick. Had he not suffered AuthorExistenceFailure, digital kei would have easily been one of the most notable Visual styles among non-Visual fans...
[[/folder]]

!Sliding Scale of Visual Kei androgyny
* 0 - No real genderbending at all, and artists at this point may even emphasize secondary or tertiary characteristics, such as a male artist having a mustache or beard or other obvious extensive facial hair/chest hair/arm hair or wearing a typically "male" costume, or a female artist wearing {{stripperiffic}} costuming that showcases her breasts or alternately Sweet or Princess ElegantGothicLolita styles. Male examples would be [[Music/TomoakiIshizuka Pata]] of Music/XJapan, J of Music/LunaSea, and Music/{{Die}} of Music/DirEnGrey.
* 1 - The beginning of {{Bishonen}} / {{Biseinen}} or {{Bifauxnen}} but still obviously male or female. Most of Music/DirEnGrey after their fashion shift, Yoshiki from 1996 onward with some occasional skips to 2 post 2008, and pretty much anyone doing the "wealthy rockstar" look lands here.
* 2 - Solid {{Bishonen}} / {{Biseinen}}, with heavy makeup for both genders, and some possible ventures into tertiary characteristics (outright feminine clothing for men, or masculine clothing for women) to invoke some ViewerGenderConfusion. At this point, you can't usually tell by looking at face alone. Good examples would be Kamijo of Music/{{Versailles}} and Dir En Grey from 2001-2004.
* 3 - {{Bishonen}} or {{Biseinen}} or {{Bifauxnen}}'s end, going into slight to moderate ambiguity. Facial makeup, hair, clothes are either solidly ambiguous/unisex, or they are masculine on women or feminine on men. What separates this from 5 is that it is not the artist's continuous image nor is it truly "passable" as actual crossdressing, and what separates it from 4 is that the artist still somehow appears male looking feminine or female looking masculine - not entirely genderless or "neither" or "both." Yoshiki's "princess mode" style from 1987-1993 would place him here.
* 4 - Absolute AmbiguousGender. The person could really be either, both, neither, or none from their appearance. There are relatively few artists at this rank because it's very difficult to achieve with a human body in general (and can almost always only be achieved working from a male body without a typically masculine face or broad shoulders or a female body with flat chest and no curves) - hide is an arguable example in his 94-96 phase, or Miyavi in some of his fashion phases.
* 5 - Crossdressers for either gender that have made that their continuous stage image or personal image, and who are passable to fans and non-fans alike (pretty much, to anyone who hasn't been told) - Kaya, Mana, Hizaki, and pre-''Kisou'' Dir en grey in their early fashion styles all are examples.