X Japan is a Japanese rock band founded in 1982 by schoolmates Yoshiki Hayashi and Toshimitsu 'Toshi' Deyama. In the earlier years of their career they mostly played a hybrid of Thrash Metal, Hair Metal and Power Metal alongside some ballads, but in later years they shifted to a more progressive/experimental sound. They were not the first Visual Kei band, but they were certainly one of the movement's pioneers, and it is widely claimed that it was bandleader Yoshiki who is the Trope Namer for Visual Kei. X Japan are notable for becoming one of the first Japanese acts to gain notable success whilst being on an independent label, as well as the gravity-defying hair they sported in their earlier years (although in the early 90's the band began to wind down it's visual look, and by the time of the split in 1997, only hide's shocking pink hair remained.)The band's membership has remained fairly consistent throughout, although in the very early days when X Japan, then just X, were touring locally, there was a spurt of support members. When the band reached the spotlight in the late 1980's, they had settled on a consistent lineup, and got through the next decade or so with only one change- bassist Taiji was replaced with Heath. Unusually, the bandleader was not a singer or guitarist, but pianist and drummer Yoshiki, who wrote most of the music and lyrics, and who had more or less total creative control over X Japan's direction. In the 80s, they were also the first Visual Kei band to appear in an American film (and may still be the only one to have done so): they appeared in a short scene in Tokyo Pop.By the mid to late 1990's, X Japan had garnered huge popularity, and were filling enormous venues, but in 1997 they decided to split. The band members were more interested in their solo careers with hide's solo career becoming more popular, and when Toshi denounced the band and left because it was against his religion at the time, the other members chose to disband rather than replace him. Whatever had gone on, it was clear that there had been conflict somewhere along the line, because during the band's last live performance together, Yoshiki hugged Toshi, then later revealed that the hug had originally meant to be a punch.After the split, the band went off in different directions. Toshi turned to performing 'healing music' on behalf of Home of Heart, Yoshiki set up a new project Violet UK, hide continued work with his solo band and became a founding member of the American band Zilch, and Pata and Heath, after a decent sized hiatus, developed some solo work. Yoshiki and hide were making plans to reunite the band in 2000 with hide as the lead vocalist instead of Toshi. However, in 1998, disaster struck - hide was found having allegedly committed suicide. An ambulance was called, but it was too late, and hide died on the way to the hospital.Despite this tragedy, in 2007 a reunion was announced, with several support guitarists, and eventually ex Luna Sea guitarist Sugizo taking over from hide. Three new songs were penned for X Japan, one of which, 'IV', was used for the end credits of the 'Saw IV' film. The other two are a vocal version of 'Without You' and a rock song called 'Jade,' which Yoshiki credited to hide's inspiration. A world tour was announced for 2008 and 2009, although it was later canceled due to a worsening of Yoshiki's neck injury that demanded emergency surgery. Updates in August 2009 suggested an album will be released by the end of 2009, then updates in 2010 suggested then... though due to other happenings that production date has been moved to spring 2011... then to spring 2012... then to who knows when, but a possible 2013 date has been rumoredVocalist Toshi developed intercostal neuralgia around November 2009 and was unable to sing or tour as a result until 2010. Later, it would be known that this was due to his life situation's stress at the time. Meanwhile, Yoshiki's recovery and rehabilitation from his neck surgery continued and continues. The band's projects including the new album and any tours, therefore, were on hiatus until their promotional video shoot in Hollywood January 9th 2010, which was held on top of the Hollywood and Highland mall and open to the public.Toshi announced in a subsequent press conference that he had left his religion, and accused its leader and his ex-wife of taking all his income for over 12 years, filing fraudulent tax returns and taking out loans in his name without his knowledge. For a while, Masaya still owned many of Toshi's official properties and necessitated that Toshi change his stage name to Tosh1 as well as not have his own online sites for around a year until the legal matters were settled.In 2010, the band played Toshi's, ahem, Tosh1's, "solo sayonara" show to raise money for him in Tokyo on February 24th, and recorded a new video since then as well as making several public appearances. X Japan played a set at the 2010 Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago, and has also played an outdoor 2-day live at Yokohama's Nissan Stadium in Japan. Taiji Sawada rejoined the band then as a second bassist, but played no further gigs with them despite plans to do so...The band began a successful North American tour on September 25, 2010, playing in Los Angeles on that night, then going to Oakland, Seattle, Vancouver BC, Chicago, Toronto, and New York City. Almost all venues were sold out. Later, it would be revealed that Yoshiki had been in incredibly poor health for most of the tour and it was "miraculous" that he managed to play all of the scheduled gigs.On July 17, 2011, Taiji Sawada, the former bassist who reunited with them for the Yokohama 2010 gigs, allegedly committed suicide in Saipan in the CNMI. Except he may have not committed suicide, but could have been a murder victim, and no one really knows except for him and whoever else was directly involved.The band is still working on the album projected for 2013 (we hope!). They completed a successful world tour in 2011, including gigs in South Korea, China, and Thailand. They are also very active in charity work related to the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami and the Thailand floods of 2011, auctioning off goods, donating large sums of money, and occasionally doing relief work themselves.The band has won the Best International Band award via fan vote in 2012 at the Revolver Magazine Golden Gods Awards, defeating Rammstein, Lacuna Coil, Meshuggah, Behemoth, and Sepultura in the vote. Yoshiki Hayashi has become the composer of note for the 2012 and 2013 Golden Globes, which is more detailed on his page.
Toshi- Vocals, occasionally guitar (on Voiceless Screaming, on a cover of KISS's Hard Luck Woman, and in his solo work). Can play piano and has done solo piano duets with Yoshiki.
Yoshiki- Drums, piano, keyboards, bandleader, can play guitar to a limited degree but has done so rarely.
Soichiro "Ume" Umemura - Vocalist of Tokyo Yankees, but in X Japan's early days as X, he was "that tall blonde roadie." Can be seen in footage of pretty much every tour up to 1993 (he makes an appearance onstage in Chi to Bara/Rose and Blood to carry a fainted Yoshiki off, and he can be seen prominently in Violence in Jealousy and On The Verge of Destruction footage among others). Deceased 2007.
I.N.A. - Worked with X Japan as a mixer and programmer before becoming a member of hide's solo backup band. Still works with X Japan and often blogs about their tours. Chief programmer for hide's solo works and worked with other side projects Zilch and Dope HEA Dz. Was the primary creator and operator of the hologram of hide for the 2008-09 shows, which kind of makes him a performing member of X Japan in his own way.
Vanishing Vision - 1988
Blue Blood - 1989
Jealousy - 1991
Art of Life - 1993
Dahlia - 1996
"I'll Kill You" - 1985
"Orgasm" - 1986
"Kurenai" - 1989
"Endless Rain" - 1989
"Week End" - 1990
"Silent Jealousy" - 1991
"Standing Sex" - 1991 (One of the only songs not to appear on a studio album: it is restricted to the single and to live performances.)
"Say Anything" - 1991
"Tears" - 1993
"Rusty Nail" - 1994
"Longing" - 1995
"Dahlia" - 1996
"Forever Love" - 1996
"Crucify My Love" - 1996
"Scars" - 1996
"The Last Song" - 1998
"I.V." - 2007 (in Saw IV) 2008 (on Itunes)
"Jade" - 2009 debut, complete single debut in 2011
"Born To Be Free" - 2010 (bootleg of PV filming from Yoshiki Foundation party, officially debuted at Lollapalooza August 2010)
"You With Crystal Piano" - 2010 (available on Toshi's myspace, to be released on a Toshi solo album and not as X Japan)
"Scarlet Love Song" - 2011 (theme song for the Osamu Tezuka film "Buddha")
A full list of the bands signed by Yoshiki and hide during the days of Extasy Records as an indies label can be found at Extasy Records. It used to be listed in this article, but due to the creation of that article and the formatting issues it presents here as a floatbox, it's been moved.
Achievements in Ignorance: Yoshiki himself has said in many interviews that one reason X Japan accomplished so much was that they didn't know or care about the rules about how metal musicians were "supposed" to behave or perform, about "proper" ways to promote, about how to be successful in the Japanese entertainment industry, or even how to create the genre they created, and almost all of the band was drunk all the time. And yet they (along with four or five other bands) created Visual Kei, gave it its name themselves, and accomplished quite a lot of other feats once deemed impossible for metal or indies label acts in Japan.
Advertising Disguised As News: For a while at the beginning in Japan they used variants: getting interviewed whenever they could for any reason possible, getting on shows for any reason possible, and even staging performances and "inviting" the media to attend (usually without the entire news organization knowing they were covering a staged, planned performance until they already had), the most famous of these being ORGASM at YASHIRO NOODLE SHOP. They tried it again in 2010-11 with Yoshiki making a few US TV appearances (around the Lollapalooza tour then over his charity efforts for the Tohoku quake) but, due to the increased presence of PR and staging that made it look even more fake, it only appealed to fans.
After the End / Alien Invasion: The theme of the 1994 anime Rusty Nail PV. In a destroyed world under attack by aliens, Toshi's and Pata's and Heath's characters are fighting for La Résistance against the aliens, where hide's character is their representative, controlled by a Hypno Trinket eye. Yoshiki's character is Crystal Dragon Jesus and the only one who can get hide's character out of his Meat Puppet status and end the invasion, drawn back to the destroyed earth by Toshi's character's prayer for help...
Amen Break: At least used by Yoshiki (obvious, his being the drummer)
Annoying Arrows: Played straight and then averted in what exists of the 2010 Kurenai PV footage (the pachinko clips) - in one of its alternate endings, Yoshiki catches a flaming arrow in his hand saving the princess from it. In another, he takes an arrow through the shoulder - which causes him to collapse and die inside the burning castle.
"X" And its most legendary participation, the X jump? Millions of fans doing it at the same time = 2.0 earthquake.
In the 2008 and 2009 lives, it was "Tears" and "X."
In 2010, "IV," "Endless Rain", and "X".
Ax-Crazy: A recurring theme (possibly due to Author Appeal - Yoshiki, hide, Taiji, and Toshi all suffered from mental illness to varying degrees) in X Japan's lyrics. If they're not inside the mind of someone who is Ax-Crazy ("Stop Bloody Rain," "I'll Kill You," "Kurenai," and "Week End") they're a deconstruction of Ax-Crazy ("Week End"), exploring the boundary between sanity and Ax-Crazy ("Art of Life") or telling the story of someone who is Ax-Crazy ("Rose of Pain.")
Bishōnen: The anime avatars of the band members in both the original 1994 Rusty Nail and in the pachinko-game tie-in videos, all except for Pata.
Black Sheep Hit: Forever Love. It's made it everywhere from an anime to a band member's funeral to a political campaign....
Yoshiki's neck and back injuries and age have affected his drumming, though he's still one of the world's top drummers, it's unlikely he could ever hit 800bpm again without dying of a broken neck or pain in the process, and he's had to cut back on the length of his solos and amount/type of songs he plays to avoid collapsing or worse.
Before that, Heath in place of Taiji in 1993 onward - Taiji was an extremely unique near-legendary bassist, Heath was and is an average bassist.
BSOD Song: Two. "Art of Life" is the most famous, as it is Yoshiki's. "Drain" is arguable, but some see it as the beginning of hide's fall into a spiral of depression and self-harming behavior...
Arguably three if you count Voiceless Screaming, some fans think it foreshadowed Taiji Sawada's later downward spiral.
Careful With That Axe: Toshi in live performance, though not on studio albums for the most part. In some intros to "Sadistic Desire," hide on backing vocals.
Cash Cow Franchise: At least with touring and the sales of rereleases and the like, enough to keep the band together.
Contemptible Cover: The cover art of Vanishing Vision. It depicts (photoshopped) rape imagery and is pretty much irrelevant to the actual album contents (only the songs "Vanishing Love" and "Sadistic Desire" could even be argued to be related to it. Whether "Vanishing Love" does is arguable because the "rape you" chorus could be due to "Blind Idiot" Translation and also translate as "make a pass at you," which is obviously not the same thing as rape, and Sadistic Desire isn't the title track, so the cover still makes little sense.)
Conveniently Common Kink: BDSM, what with Yoshiki being a switch who seems to lean toward masochist, Sugizo being a sadist...
Cool Bike: These have made a few appearances in PV:
Courtesy of Taiji Sawada, you have the old-style Honda (e.g. no fiberglass casing) bike in Week End PV, and the Harley in Celebration PV.
In the 2010 Rusty Nail PV, Heath has a Honda sportbike.
Cool Car: The self-driving Maserati in 2010 Rusty Nail PV. The real car actually belongs to Yoshiki, though it is obviously not self-driving.
Cover Version: Their very first song as a band (while still consisting of Yoshiki and Toshi alone) was "In The Mirror" by Loudness. More covers in their early days as a band (including, but not limited to, "Anarchy In The UK," "20th Century Boy" (which is probably their most famous cover since it was performed with Kurenai as the B-side to the Kurenai single and in at least one show and one TV appearance), "Ode To Joy/Beethoven's 9th" (also a very famous cover due to its being a part of many performances of a certain more well known song), "Black Diamond," Hanoi Rocks's '"Tragedy," and more.)
Crazy Enough to Work: See under "Achievements in Ignorance" above. For both the band and Visual Kei in general, the idea seemed absolutely insane at the time to anyone with any idea of what appealed, allegedly, to the audience and what the mainstream media wanted to sell - yet it became one of the most popular rock bands out of Japan, one of Japan's most widely known metal bands, went platinum, and earned a legion of far more devoted and long-lasting fandom beyond pretty much any more "obviously marketable" act of The Eighties.
Creator Breakdown: Everyone except Heath and Sugizo has seemed to have had at least one:
Yoshiki has had six, as mentioned on his page and elsewhere. Both physical and mental.
Toshi had one though it spanned roughly 11-12 years in happening: becoming triggered and depressed from too much work and too much focus on Yoshiki's dark lyrics, getting involved with Kaori Moritani and marrying her, then joining her Scam Religion and becoming brainwashed and finally Brainwashed and Crazy over his years of involvement with it, before finally walking away from it.
hide became bulimic, The Alcoholic to an extreme degree, and a likely methamphetamine user, along with potentially suffering from Bipolar 1, and accidentally committed suicide due to the confluence of alcohol, drugs, and the absolute lack of care anyone in Japan at that final night of his life had for him.
Taiji began to suffer from a dissociative disorder and went Off The Wagon with alcohol and either cocaine or amphetamine-class stimulants in the mid-90s when he left the band, the combination of which left him homeless and destitute (and as a result suffering an attack that damaged his face and nearly killed him at the time). He had a stroke that uncovered temporal lobe epilepsy, also likely as a result of stimulant abuse. He struggled with this and the effects of it, and eventually was likely murdered in Saipan and had his death implausibly covered up as a suicide.
Pata, despite being the Only Sane Man for the 1987-1998 years, became The Alcoholic himself more and more over the years, especially after hide's death.
Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Playing full Art of Life with all drum sections after a full live has become this for Yoshiki as of 2008: he tried it in their first reunion live show, leading to such overwhelming pain from his neck and back injuries that he collapsed and appeared to stop breathing for a couple of moments afterward. He doesn't do it anymore, and it's been rumored that in his contracts he is now legally forbidden from doing so, playing the trope straight.
Darker and Edgier: When they debuted in 1987, they were this to pretty much all of the Japanese music industry. There was a reason that Yoshiki had to make his own label for the band - no other label would take them until they proved that people really wanted to hear them and see them despite their not being bubblegum pop and, at the time, being part of a scary underground scene no one understood with connections to delinquents, overemotional and over the top displays, and songs about sex, drugs, violence, and all three in combination. It took them until 1989 to get their first major label signing with Sony/Columbia for Blue Blood, and even for a short while after hitting the mainstream they were still seen as this, only completely beginning to lighten and soften once Taiji left the band and once artists such as Kuroyume cornered more extreme lyrics and actions. While very few would consider them this as of The New Tens (both because many of the most shocking things they did are normal for rockers and metal artists at least now, and because they have gone Lighter and Softer), it was their being this way in their time that paved the way for modern Darker and Edgier acts such as Dir En Grey and The Gazette.
Dark Is Not Evil: Despite the early lyrics (some of which went very far into Unfortunate Implications), their reputation for the Bar Brawl and their Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll excesses (and some of them being jerkasses when younger), it's hard to logically argue them as having an "evil" or even "negative" influence on society or even on music from their darkness, and they were widely involved in charitable efforts (especially with HIV/AIDS awareness, but many other things as well), with Yoshiki and Toshi carrying on the interest in charity and helping others and Sugizo doing that and speaking out on major issues that affect Japan and the world.
Dawson Casting: Most likely used in Dahlia PV as the "young girl" there could have been 18 or 19 and young looking. Averted in Celebration where the protagonist was actually a nine year old playing a thirteen year old fan of the band, and in the open of On The Verge Of Destruction (the girl reading the book).
Decapitated Army: In the 1994 anime Rusty Nail PV, the only time the alien invasion in the postapocalypse world is defeated is when hide's character's control eye is broken, and the one-eyed monster using him as the target is turned into roses via Yoshiki's character's throwing roses at it. What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs??
Why hide joined the band - Yokosuka Saber Tiger broke up and he was about to quit his career as a musician to become a hairdresser. Yoshiki talked him into joining X and the rest was Visual Kei history.
Why the band broke up: Yoshiki had, at the time, reached a drought creatively and artistically, Toshi was suffering from extreme depression and suicidality and had just been finally recruited into the Scam Religion (according to him later on) that would ruin his life, Pata and Heath felt overworked and underpaid and underappreciated, and while hide was becoming more famous and popular in his solo career, he was also descending further into alcoholism and eating disorders and mental illness. Few of the band members could work with or even stand to be around each other anymore (though hide maintained his relationship/friendships outside performing with Yoshiki and Pata, and vice versa) and the decision was made to disband.
hide's death: In early 1998 Yoshiki had gotten out of his creative and artistic drought and while still at odds with Toshi, had agreed to reunite X Japan in 2 years with hide as lead vocalist, and everyone but Toshi seemed to have cooled off and been on good terms again. This was absolutely destroyed with hide's death as Yoshiki went into a deep depression and period of complicated grief over someone he obviously had loved, as no one was interested in any sort of reunion except one last performance at hide's funeral and then all went their separate ways except for Yoshiki and Taiji for the time it took for him to pay for Taiji's facial reconstruction and for both to angrily deny that hide had killed himself on purpose.
Deus ex Machina: Yoshiki in the 1994 and 2010 Rusty Nail PV s. Played with in two ways in the 2010 Kurenai PV: played straight in one ending, where he rescues the princess in the castle by appearing and fighting his way out with her, averted in another where he gets shot by an arrow and becomes a Failure Hero in a Bolivian Army Ending.
The Hypno Trinket that controls hide's character in 1994 Rusty Nail.
Did You Just Have Sex?: In one PV there is a scene that is either director's cut or outtake (no one knows for sure) that, aside from Foe Yay, was the other thing that fueled the Taiji/Yoshiki ship - a bed scene showing an equally angry and pleased Taiji leaving the bedroom where Yoshiki lay in bed.
Digital Piracy Is Evil: Averted, for the most part. The band's popularity outside of Japan actually happened as a result of piracy and copying: first via underground D Js in China and Thailand and other Asian countries who happily pirated and played their work, then globally via the Internet and especially YouTube, where their music and visuals really stood out and gained a lot of attention. Yoshiki knows this, and as a result is very lax on even complaining about piracy and has even gone out of his way to encourage "semi-official" bootlegs and has not gone out of his way to get video footage removed from YouTube.
Played straight, however, by some of the other companies involved such as TV broadcasters who've done their interviews and the like. This is why there is an effort to download and multiply copy interviews and appearances and the like, because some very interesting footage has disappeared this way, including the interview where Taiji was beyond high and attacking the station mascot and having giggle fits, and the appearance where a fangirl asked Toshi to sign her dildo.
Played straight to a laughable degree by EMI, which managed to delete the Jade PV off X Japan's own Youtube channel for copyright violation. Which led to the ironic situation of anyone who wanted to see it or link to it having to link to actually pirated versions until someone made them aware of their error.
Diner Brawl: As a band, they almost got into one of these again in early 2012. While the details are sketchy, the story is that either Hiroshi Matsumoto and his entourage or representatives of Home of Heart showed up at a band nomikai (drinking and eating meeting) in a Tokyo restaurant, demanding to discuss contract issues and money. This was not taken well (especially because regardless of the agreeableness of the parties, crashing a band's private event to demand to do business matters is seen as really rude and a severe insult in and of itself), to the extent that the bar owner placed an emergency call to the police to settle matters before this trope took full effect.
Disaster Dominoes / From Bad to Worse: Born To Be Free during the A-Nation show. The song began with one of the guitarists (the camera was focused away so it was impossible to tell whether it was Sugizo or Pata) absolutely botching the intro to the song. As a result, Toshi came in late and sang off-key, just as Heath's bass knocked out. All the while, Yoshiki continued drumming, seeming to be the only person onstage knowing where he was when Pata's guitar began to go in and out, leaving Sugizo to solo, Toshi to try to catch up and get out of breath doing so, and Yoshiki to drum and watch in horror for the next few minutes until they hit the piano midpoint, he moved to piano, Toshi got a drink of water, the roadies fixed Heath's bass and Pata's guitar, and the song resumed somewhat well.
Disturbed Doves: Sugizo stirs up a flock of these in Rusty Nail 2010 version, in a scene seen as him paying tribute to hide.
Divided We Fall: None of the members with the exception of hide, and much later on, Yoshiki and to a far lesser degree Pata, (Sugizo doesn't count because he'd already established his career with another band before joining) have had much success with solo careers or work outside of X Japan. It's argued in some more cynical corners that the reason the band stayed together past 2008 or 2010 is exactly this - it works as promotion to keep their names out there and the band tours and releases, as sparse as they are, bring in the majority of the money everyone except Yoshiki needs to pay the bills, where their solo careers are more a labor of love than profitable.
Dominatrix: These appeared in White Poem PV and live.
Doorstopper: Art Of Life is a musical doorstopper, in its full version clocking in at 30 minutes (33 in one live version, 26-28 in radio edits). Orgasm and X live (usually around15-30 min for the former, 10-12 min for the latter though both's studio versions are ordinary length for rock songs), and Rose of Pain full version (10-11 minutes) all are as well.
Dramatic Wind: Makes appearances in the 2010 Rusty Nail PV, most notably in Yoshiki's scene of walking to and from the helicopter and in Sugizo's doves scene.
Driven to Suicide: Yoshiki in the original Kurenai PV, Yoshiki and hide in the Week End PV, Yoshiki in the Silent Jealousy PV.
In Real Life, the official verdict on two of the band members is that they intentionally committed suicide. The actual truth, as mentioned elsewhere here, is one likely died via accidental suicide, and the other via likely homicide, and sticking to the "official" verdict is often a way to start a Flame War, especially in the case of newbies reading the "official" causes somewhere, believing that it's their job to do rumor and conspiracy theory control, and confronting someone for spreading false rumors when they aren't.
Drowning My Sorrows: In the Week End PV, Pata. In 2010 Rusty Nail Toshi in a different sense - trying to numb himself to the boredom of his Gilded Cage.
In Real Life, everyone in the band except Toshi (who, per an interview, said he Can't Hold His Liquor, and is a responsible drinker because he falls asleep beyond two drinks) and Sugizo has done this at some point, with hide, Taiji, Pata, and Yoshiki all having gone so far as to become The Alcoholic per official statements and documented events.
Drugs Are Bad: At least, re the amphetamine-class stimulants, an Accidental Aesop brought home in the saddest way possible - the two heaviest alleged users in the band died.
Drunken Master: hide, Taiji, and Pata all qualified as this. They could go onstage or into studio drunk out of their minds, sometimes drink more onstage or while performing, and still play at an incredibly skilled level.
Dual Meaning Chorus: "Week End." The song's chorus is about the suicidal/homicidal narrator being at "his wit's end" and "at the world's end" due to Yoshiki's odd wordplay. It makes sense, though: the idea being, "the end of a life" is indeed the "end of the world." For who's dying, anyway....
Dual Wielding: Pata accomplished the guitar version a couple of times, playing a double guitar.
Due to the Dead: The band offers this, especially regarding hide. To an extent that some people think it is too hide-focused.
Dumbass Has a Point: Sometimes some of the more coherent trolls and haters do have legitimate grievances and points. Even more often, a lot of legitimate, true information later confirmed starts out as gossip and rumors and conjecture.
Dumb Muscle: Averted with Yoshiki. In many bands and much of the Western rock scene, the drummer is seen as the Dumb Muscle of the band and the most interchangeable member. Yoshiki is a direct aversion of that - he's the bandleader, main lyricist especially after the reunion, pretty much the primary "brains" and spokesperson both for the band.
Dysfunction Junction: The band, in all its iterations, has been this to some extent. Everyone in it has had some sort of major health problems, both physical and mental (though Pata and Sugizo have the least - Pata seems to be The Alcoholic and to suffer from grief as a result of hide's and Taiji's deaths, but he has no other major issues, and Sugizo hasn't had open, obvious mental health struggles, only physical). Two members died in "suspicious" suicides (one possibly being medical treatment or autoerotic asphyxiation, the other most likely homicide). Almost everyone with the exception of Toshi and Sugizo is The Alcoholic (though Heath seems to have cut back on his drinking, and Yoshiki now seems to be at least somewhat practicing harm reduction) and both of the dead members were also stimulant addicts. The four members to get married all ended up in nasty divorces (though in Toshi's case, that was not his fault). The band itself has been through so much dysfunction it seems almost unbelievable, as well as that of the individual members and their personal lives - which is part of why everything related to it comes out of Development Hell or stays there.
Embarrassing Tattoo: Double Subverted. For the Standing Sex cover and promo pics, Yoshiki had Yakuza tattoos airbrushed onto his body for a more shocking image. It worked - except perhaps too well - there's people who still insist the tattoos were real, that he's a high-level yakuza power broker, and he's covering them up with makeup (never mind that he's shown those parts of his body in contexts that no makeup would cover said tattooing.)
Enraged By Idiocy: If you are a fan of this band long enough (and especially if you interact in any social media related to it), this will happen to you.
This is likely why Heath refuses to make any official accounts: he has some of the most rabid Fan Dumb in the fandom and he likely knows that even interacting with the sane fans will draw the jealous, enraged fangirls like flies to honey, so he avoids everyone for the sake of peace.
Everybody Smokes: Played straight in the early days of the band when everyone smoked - especially for hide, for whom his Mild Seven cigarettes were a signature item to the point that hide fans who smoked also smoked that brand if they could acquire it. As of 2013 it's zigzagged: the only admitted smokers in the band are Pata and Heath, with Yoshiki having claimed to quit and Toshi occasionally smoking cigars and Sugizo having entirely quit smoking tobacco.
Cigarettes also show up in their videos and lives and the like a lot, which does give them a dated look when they do, since many modern bands at least try to keep it off camera, including themselves now.
Everything's Better with Princesses: Yoshiki's image/stage role in the early days of the band, at least while playing piano or doing photoshoots, and in the Celebration PV, to the point that it earned him the Fan Nickname of "Princess."
Explosive Stupidity: Has occasionally happened with pyro, its placement, and the like. Especially with all their use of pyro in the early days and the cramped quarters they often played in or played with leftover pyro or flammable stuff in, while drunk/high, it was a near-miracle they didn't start a fatal fire or kill themselves at some point during their indies days.
hide in his solo career was less lucky - he sustained major burns on the side of his face in a pyro stunt gone wrong while drunk.
Finger Gun: Both Taiji and hide would use this gesture in P Vs and onstage.
Flame War: Where do we start? Though events in the fandom have chilled some of the more angry hotspots (specifically, Yoshiki fans vs. Toshi fans, hide fans vs. Toshi fans, much of Die for Our Ship related drama have all calmed down), the fandom still has some major sources, almost all of which qualify as Internet Backdraft as well:
Flanderization: Due to rumors, anecdotes of varying relevance and truth, personal hatreds, and other reasons, this has hit the band hard:
Depending on which side of the Fan DumbBroken Base you're on, Yoshiki will be flanderized either as an ultra-kawaii near-Physical God who writes the best music ever and could never do anything wrong ever or an emo drama queen Corrupt Corporate ExecutiveRich BitchAttention Whore member of the yakuza who ripped off everything from Rosenfeld/didn't give Taiji his proper due/sold out/sleeps with underage models/whatever the scandal of the week is.
hide + Never Speak Ill of the Dead = hide was a perfect little pink punk angel who somehow ascended to godhood and never had any problems at all! hide + Its Popular, so It Sucks = was an awful, overrated drunk who couldn't really play guitar and why do people like him so much? hide + Die for Our Ship = mentally ill "crazy bitch" who killed himself because of Yoshiki being in love with Toshi.
Taiji somehow got the "sexually aggressive extreme asshole" reputation, although he's also beginning to get Never Speak Ill of the Dead now too.
Functional Addict: Much of the band - even the raging alcoholics could get it together enough to perform just fine, to live fairly well day to day lives and the like, for a long time. Even Taiji was one, whenever he wasn't Off The Wagon, and hide was one up until his last year when things began to unravel.
Gasshole: A small meme once originated about Yoshiki being one, because of a pic that captured a pyro going off behind him that looked as if he was blasting fire from his ass and because of his love for McDonald's.
Going Commando: There's some onstage pics of nearly all the members that look like they were doing this at one point or another. Most infamously, Toshi at one 2009 gig where this apparently combined with Raging Stiffie, and Heath at Lollapalooza 2010.
Grief Song: Tears, which was written for Yoshiki's father who committed suicide when Yoshiki was 10. Without You and Jade are both written for late guitarist and Yoshiki's best friend hide.
Hair-Trigger Temper: Yoshiki, hide, and Taiji back in the day. Taiji as much as referenced this in his autobiography regarding fights - that either Yoshiki or hide would get into trouble in bars and he and the other one would have to deal with him and it - which made the two dealing with it both so angry they went and started trouble in a bar to blow off steam.
Happily Failed Suicide: The theme of Art of Life, which is both the band's and Yoshiki's magnum opus and one of their most life-affirming songs.
Hauled Before A Senate Subcommittee: Averted: Japan generally didn't deal with new cultural phenomena that way, instead preferring to just try to ignore their existence and then claim them as their pride and joy once they began getting good press etcetera, and some politicians have even been fans of the band (including ex-prime minister Koizumi).
Heavy Meta: See "Easy Fight Rambling" and arguably "Desperate Angel." "Joker" could arguably be this, if some of the song's lines do indeed refer to mitsukanoCompensated Dating exchanges in Visual Kei.
Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut: Absolutely averted. No song in the X Japan discography has one of these, and none of the band members use them for their names (they instead go with odd capitalization, such as hide or ToshI). The closest they ever came to it was covering Motörhead.
Heel-Face Turn: The band has refused to rerelease Vanishing Vision, and has removed "Vanishing Love" from its live shows entirely and "Sadistic Desire" from many live shows since 2009. Whether this is an extension of "Lighter and Softer" self-censorship below or a conscious decision to reflect more respect for women and treat rape as serious with the gravity it deserves is up to you.
Hiding Behind The Language Barrier: Yoshiki both in interviews and lyrics, Toshi in interviews and similar. A more extreme example is Pata, who will pretend not to understand nor speak English around some fans and in certain places - never mind that he speaks it well enough to interact with American musicians he's worked with and to pick up groupies.
Iconic Logo: Two of them. The first, which they had until 2010 and still use, is a simple X in bold Times New Roman font - which became one of the most iconic band logos within Visual Kei and even outside it to some extent. The 2010 upgrade features a massive dragon winding its way around the X with the Earth in one of its claws, to signify their interest in worldwide success.
Identical-Looking Asians: Averted in all iterations of the band and not just by different costuming and the like but by out of costume looks. Also averted with Pata and Sugizo: there are some people of African descent in Pata's family, and Sugizo is one quarter Chinese and one quarter German.
ILLKILLYOU: The band's very first song (see the discography above)
Yoshiki cut his Rapunzel Hair in 1995 because it was too heavy on his neck post injuries, going for a shorter style - this along with his stylistic change to "wealthy rockstar" also took him post-Visual for 1995-2007. He would later adopt a longer but not as long as old style cut when he went back into active performance with X Japan.
Toshi cut his hair short to normal, dyed it back to black, and intentionally dropped all of his Visual Kei appearance in 1996. Which was actually far Harsher in Hindsight - it was the sign that Home of Heart had finally broken his will and he was about to quit the band.
hide went with a shorter "boystyle" bob for his pink hair around 1996 as well, as he began to work toward overseas recognition.
I Will Wait for You: Yoshiki and Toshi, how the band reunited and how Toshi left Home of Heart.
Kimono Is Traditional: Yoshiki will sometimes wear kimono and other traditional outfits onstage after 2008, and occasionally at points before. hide once posed for a solo career photobook in full kimono.
Language Barrier: One reason the band didn't take off outside of Japan until the mid 2000s and its boost from piracy and more open-minded fans, despite being on par with the Big Four metal bands in The Eighties: many Western metalheads of the time just couldn't get their heads around a heavy Japanese accent (which was why Loudness and Show Ya didn't do very well in the West either) much less lyrics that weren't in English.
Large Ham Title: Blue Blood,Rose of Pain, and Art of Life all could be considered Large Ham Titles.
Laser-Guided Karma: X Japan fans are known to be, at their worst, almost incessantly involved in Flame War, dramatic, willing to fight over anything, and capable of feats of spamming and trolling that would amaze many calmer fandoms. As Masaya, Kitami Terumi, and the 20 account Sugizo hatemonger (and to a lesser degree, racist trolls on Youtube who post on Yoshiki or hide videos) have found out, if you mess with a member of the band in a way that causes major drama or worse, someone to get emotionally or physically hurt, the Flame War turns on you in an Internet Counterattack.
Laughing Mad: hide. 1992 On The Verge Of Destructionhide no heya/hide's room. That weird, chilling laugh is possibly the inspiration for Kefka, and it adds to the eerie atmosphere of the guitar solo and scene. Possibly actually was made on drugs (or at least lots of alcohol).
Lemon: They exist, in both text and doujin comic form. Almost always of the man on man variety.
Leonine Contract: The first contracts for pay with Yoshiki taking a 90 percent cut could have been seen as this. In their (and his) defense, they kept the band going, however, because he (and Toshi at the time, who oversaw the money before 1995) was a shrewd enough businessperson to make sure enough money went back into the band and stuff related to it to keep performing and remain famous, but that a lot also went to promotions and investments and other ventures. It may not have been fair, but it kept the band from flaming out when the money ran out, as manyVisual Kei bands did (and still do).
Lighter and Softer: The band has seemed to self-censor itself slightly since the reunion, aside from Toshi going off-script with Too Much Information or Yoshiki's love of the Precision F-Strike. Most if not all of the Intercourse with You and BDSM songs are not performed live anymore, and while some of this is most likely due to physical capacity (e.g. Stab Me In The Back and Standing Sex both require drumming that would likely leave Yoshiki in the hospital if he tried it at this point) there may be other reasons as well.
One reason for the Lighter and Softer tone is that, along with most of the Intercourse with You songs being both nigh-impossible for Yoshiki to perform anymore (and some of them such as Stab Me In The Back possibly getting the band banned or banned again everywhere from Russia to the Islamic world), a lot of the more sad/emotionally wrenching/suicide-depicting pieces from full Art of Life to Blue Blood to Week End (though all three have made some appearances) are triggering for Toshi (and even the ballads seem to be, to some degree, because of the feelings associated with them) so, as well as the band having to work around Yoshiki's physical limitations, it also has to work around not enraging the nations in which it hopes to tour and Toshi's triggers and mental issues.
Lotus-Eater Machine: Inverted in the Dahlia PV - the imprisoning machine gave the girl nightmares of torture and suffering and pain until she broke away from it.
Lovable Rogue: Everyone in the band until 1993 or so, although Taiji owned this trope and is the most notable for it even after his death.
Lower-Class Lout: The entire band except for Yoshiki (who came from an upper middle class family) developed this reputation, but hide and Taiji were the ones who played it up the most by drinking as much as they did, using drugs, and getting into fights.
Major Injury Underreaction: In the 1995 Dahlia tour's first run, Yoshiki suddenly stopped playing drums, reached up to rub his neck and shoulder, then tried again, looked confused when he couldn't hit the kicks - then collapsed. It was later determined that he'd broken his neck. Not severely enough/in the right place to be fatal or immediately permanently paralyzing (though that was out of luck more than anything else), but still a severe injury that would cause ongoing problems.
Malicious Slander: There have been a few rumors about the band and about specific members that qualify as this - they are so counterfactual to known, documented truth or so intended to make people hate someone or make someone angry that there is no kinder way to define them. Most notorious among those would be the "Yoshiki killed hide" rumor, the "Toshi is a pedophile" rumor, and the almost Mad Libs rumors that (member of the band) (did something) to force his gf to abort their baby/send the kid off somewhere.
Manly Tears: While Toshi is generally pretty demonstrative onstage, he does not cry. When he actually does choke up to the point he can't sing, it's obvious something is making him truly sad or overwhelmed...
The Mentally Disturbed: A band of woobies due to this. There was a reason for all the dark lyrics and explorations of psychological pain and mental illness: almost all of the band members in the original iteration aside from Pata suffered from some forms of it. Setting aside the universal alcoholism and anger/fighting issues, the amount of admitted/documented psychological problems and physical illness with mental components was incredible for one band.
Yoshiki: Complicated grief/PTSD from his father's death and his childhood illnesses. "Neurocirculatory asthenia," which was most likely major unipolar or bipolar depressive disorder or a misdiagnosis of hyperthyroidism and its attendant illness, beginning in his early 20s, and Self Harm.
Taiji: A dissociative disorder (possibly dissociative identity disorder), stimulant drug addiction, at the time undiagnosed temporal lobe epilepsy which "uncovered" completely after a later stroke.
Mondegreen: There's a few, usually due to accented English, misheard Japanese, or both.
In Drain, there's "My lonely asshole is burning," which is actually "Body and soul is blown up into pieces"
Born To Be Free has a funny variant where the mondegreen is actually Lighter and Softer than the actual lyric. "Don't let the falcon find you" is actually, most likely, "don't let them fucking find you."
Monster Misogyny: The POV of the subject of Sadistic Desire. Played for titillation, which is what made the song a Misogyny Song. (Although, some people just don't care about what the lyrics mean...)
Mooning: There is one very old black and white newspaper pic where Taiji and Yoshiki mooned the reporters.
Moral Guardians: A straw moral guardian is parodied in Celebration, although the young age of the kid the parent is guarding actually makes the parody fall flat.
Motor Mouth: hide on backing vocals in some songs and some of his hide no heya/hide's room performances.
Mr. Fanservice: YOSHIKI. With Taiji being a close runner-up. To a slightly lesser degree, Toshi until 1995 or so, and Heath has taken on the role as much if not more than Taiji ever did.
Mr. Vice Guy: hide, Taiji, Yoshiki, and Pata all have this rep to some degree. Toshi and Sugizo to a lesser degree.
My Boy Is Not A Slut: In the early days of the band, someone remarked on what a nice ass Toshi had - in earshot of Yoshiki. The result was a Bar Brawl.
My Nayme Is: Overlaps with Stage Names for hide, Pata, Sugizo. Taiji, who went by that name as a nickname offstage as well, rather than his birth name Yasuda.
Never Accepted in His Hometown: Averted for both Yoshiki and Toshi - they are the pride of Tateyama, Chiba, for putting the town on the map. Subverted for hide - most of Yokosuka's celebrations of him only began after his death, and after the building of the hide grave at Miura Reien and Hiroshi's Cash Cow Franchise put the town on the map as something other than a US Naval Base and semi-Wretched Hive. Played straight for Taiji, who ended up homeless and lost in Tokyo, and after his death, his ashes are in a relatively unmarked, out of the way plot, and who seems to have gotten wider acclaim for the incredibly talented bassist he was outside of Japan.
Never Gets Drunk: Pata, who is that particular type of The Alcoholic that he never gets visibly drunk unless he consumes an extreme amount of alcohol.
Nice Guy: Toshi is most known for this, though most of the band offstage depending on time and situation and such.
Nice Hat: Taiji's cowboy hat. hide occasionally wore some hats, most notably his witch's hat in Celebration PV.
Nightmare Fetishist: hide and Yoshiki both in the early days. Yoshiki somewhat in more modern times.
Nobody Loves the Bassist: Both averted and played straight. Averted in that Taiji and Heath both have large and dedicated fan bases. Played straight in that large portions of the Taiji fanbase dislike Heath, and that some Heath fans don't like Taiji or Taiji fans much.
Noodle Incident: A literal one, actually caught on video. The band performed a song at a noodle shop in Yashiro in the late 1980s for a TV show. This (and their other TV interviews, according to Yoshiki's biography) were actually seen by some as the point when "Japanese heavy metal" and "Visual Kei" split from each other, in that the Japanese metal community of the time (such as it was) was allegedly incensed at the performance and at the members of X Japan for doing it as they viewed it as being AttentionWhores.
Ode to Intoxication: Easy Fight Rambling,Joker,Standing Sex, the non gay sex Jealousy version of Stab Me In The Back, at least...
Old Shame: Vanishing Vision, for the cover that seemed to depict rape as erotic and sexy. Engaging in the Bar Brawl and property damage similar behavior.
For Sugizo, smoking tobacco.
For Toshi his years with Home of Heart, and his music created for them.
One Mario Limit: Musicians named Yoshiki or Hideto in Japan usually need to alter their names, e.g. to Hyde or hide-zou rather than hide, or Yoshiki (last name) rather than just YOSHIKI, to avoid confusion.
Only Sane Man: See The Mentally Disturbed above. In the first iteration of the band, Pata was this - his only overwhelming mental illness was his alcoholism, and at the time, he wasn't even the hardest drinker in the band - hide and Taiji held that honor.
Opera Gloves: Yoshiki and Heath have worn these on occasion.
Precision F-Strike: In the old concert open, in the lyrics for "Desperate Angel" and "Born To Be Free," and in backing vocals for "Joker."
Putting on the Reich: Three band members have done this, although more often in photoshoots or the like (where hide and Sugizo tended to do so). Onstage, Heath wore a suspiciously-Nazi-like cap a few times in 2008 and 2009.
Yoshiki invoked this willingly, choosing to give up any way of "fitting in" normally in Japanese culture (which in the mainstream Japanese culture of the day was supposed to be the most basic skill one has - to blend in and not be the nail that sticks up) even as a schoolchild, even though as the child of an upper middle class kimono maker he could have easily done so, in exchange for drawing attention, questioning authority, and being one of the best at what he wanted to do for himself. Strangely enough, it worked out for him and allowed him to become a celebrity that had to be accepted by the culture in general.
Taiji, a little less willingly, as he was an actual high school dropout and delinquent who had already lost part of a finger in either an accident or a run-in with yakuza, and despite being somewhat intelligent and skilled at music, cooking, and mechanical work also being mentally ill, gave up "fitting in," and the completion of his high school education to learning guitar and bass guitar and playing in bands even when he was too young to officially be there - to become one of the very best rock bassists in the scene and possibly in the world.
hide, also less willingly, gave up socialization in middle school and high school (or had it given up on him because he was, at the time, fat and the target of bullying) and focused on playing guitar and on hair design.
Sanity Slippage: A common theme in lyrics, accentuated by music or the lyrics/singing "falling apart." Rose of Pain,Voiceless Screaming,Art of Life,Drain are all major examples, though there are many more.
Secret Identity: Band and staff wore badges marked as "Frank The Plumber" at their 2010 shoot in Hollywood, in an attempt to avoid being bothered by fans. After a bit no one really cared, especially because the flip side of the badges said "X Japan" and they flipped by accident too easily, and because no fans were too bothersome.
Shout-Out: Yoshiki started out as a KISS fan, as did hide. There are therefore a fair amount of KISS shoutouts in X Japan, as well as shoutouts to other Western metal, rock, glam, and punk bands....
Shipper on Deck: Toshi, who has done onstage fanservice with nearly everyone. Pata, who has officially released yaoi-themed official art in solo promotions.
Signature Style: Early on, they played a hybrid of extreme Thrash Metal and Hair Metal, which, during The Eighties, would have caught metalheads off-guard, as both genres were seen as polar opposites and therefore very difficult, if not, nigh-impossible to combine. From Art Of Life onwards, they changed their musical stylings in favor of a more progressive sound that still features their established glam-inspired thrash, but now in Uncommon Time and with neoclassical passages (and sometimes, ballad passages) thrown in.
Sir Swears-a-Lot: Yoshiki, although he tries to censor himself at some events and on twitter, to the degree that his F-bombs are seen as hilarious.
Slash Fic: There was once a thriving fandom for it. Much of the fic and its writers have gone out of finding other bands/stopping writing slash/being threatened in a Flame War or troll attack/whatever other reason, but it was once one of the bigger Visual Kei slash fandoms. Not even including the crossovers with other bands, you have hide/Yoshiki and Toshi/Yoshiki (both of which once had a Flame War over Die for Our Ship between the two pairings before later events became known), Taiji/Yoshiki, Taiji/Pata, Taiji/Toshi, hide/Pata, Heath/Yoshiki, Heath/Pata, and Sugizo/Yoshiki. The style and quality of the slash also varies - most Toshi/Yoshiki or Taiji/Pata for example tends to be romantic and mostly equal similar to Bara Genre but with a bit more fluff, whereas Taiji/Yoshiki seems to be unfortunately almost synonymous with rape fic or at the very least extreme wimpification and seme/uke dynamic.
STD Immunity: One of the rare bands of Visual Kei to speak out against the popular embrace of this trope note In The Eighties and early in The Nineties, a lot of Japanese actually believed they had said immunity at least to any of the incurables - people actually held the belief that genital herpes and especially HIV/AIDS did not exist within Japan's borders and that no Japanese would bring such a disease back. One of Toshi's childhood friends had become HIV positive, and the band took to HIV/AIDS activism, performing at benefits, donating money, and even doing an at the time incredibly controversial for Japan merch release of band-themed condoms and a press conference announcing that safe sex helped prevent HIV/AIDS.
Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: One of the "Hanako"/"toilet ghost"/"well ghost" type can be found in the Silent Jealousy PV, though a slight subversion in that her hair is long and curly not straight.
Too Much Information: Toshi brought this at a concert at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. "We've gained a lot, but we've lost a lot too..." and anyone who was there knows the rest.
Troll: The fandom is infested with them. Unfortunately, most of them are also pretty high on the Sliding Scale Of Troll Cruelty as well, and one of the more famous "fan" communities is almost entirely composed of Hate Dumb and trolls, to the point that if you say anything favorable about the band (or at least, the current band, anything up to 1992 and not liking Yoshiki is generally safe) there, you will start a Flame War. Others like to pose as fake staff or kankeisha at various places online, and yet others like to spam or flame on the band members' social media pages themselves...
The reaction to this is why some fan communities seem to be nothing but gushing about the band or band members or overly kind, and/or wary of new members who post very harshly expressed criticism, who post inflammatory rumors, who claim access to the band, who make legal threats, or similar. At first it may seem a bit imbalanced toward gushing over snark or paranoid, but it's a case of Properly Paranoid: most fans who have been around since 2008 or earlier will have seen more than oneFlame War or troll attack firsthand, and if they own or moderate a community or are a major member in one, usually have no interest in watching their place become the internet equivalent of a bar in The Eighties.
Walking Shirtless Scene: Yoshiki, from the very beginning. Toshi up until his religious conversion in 1995 and possibly no longer wanting to display his body even after he left the religion. Occasionally Taiji in some lives when he was in the band, and Heath now does this as well.
Averted by hide, who stated that he hated uncovering his chest for any reason - and who only appeared shirtless once, in a PV recorded for his solo band Zilch, right before he died.
Pata is a subversion: he has never even had as much as a shirtless photoshoot, yet he often leaves enough of his shirt open to show off his Carpet of Virility.
What Could Have Been: In 1991-early 1992, X Japan was set to break into the American Heavy Metal scene in Los Angeles after a planned show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The US release of Blue Blood and gigs were planned - then a confluence of events ensured that the band would not return to the US to perform for over 20 years. It began with a Frivolous Lawsuit by the LA punk rock band X over their name - which forced them to change the name to X Japan and not perform in the US. Next, Toshi developed vocal problems related to vocal polyps and no US label was willing to take a chance on a vocalist with a Japanese accent. Finally, the issues between Yoshiki and Taiji hit their peak, and Taiji was kicked from the band - leaving it without a bassist.
One last attempt to debut Art of Life at Madison Square Garden in 1993 once Toshi's vocal issues were better, Columbia Records agreed to front, and Heath was the new bassist failed because by that time, Heavy Metal had experienced a major backlash and popularity reduction with the collapse of Hair Metal - which, being Visual Kei, they unfortunately looked too much like even toned down, and sounded too much like for the average listener of the day due to not being Grunge - no one "serious" was willing at the time to take chances on metal.
An earlier reunion was supposedly planned (to begin in 2000) without Toshi but with hide taking over as lead singer. hide's Author Existence Failure prevented that from happening.
Miyavi as lead guitarist instead of Sugizo. While there were other candidates for the lead guitar position (including Wes Borland and Richard Fortus, who played as hired guns in at least one gig, and Kaoru of Dir En Grey), the final choice came down to Miyavi and Sugizo. Sugizo was chosen of the two and has performed admirably as the lead guitarist, but Miyavi would have brought an entirely different and more youthful creativity and energy to the band more similar to hide's improvisational skill so it really is a tossup as to which one would have been best.
Taiji Sawada's return to the band. Had he been brought on as a full member for all tour gigs in 2010 and 2011 (including the US tour), he would likely not have ended up in Saipan (and had he still gone, he would have had far more to work with to save himself). The band itself would have also sounded so much better as a double bass band featuring him and Heath both - the Yokohama performance showed just how much they complemented each other. Instead, with whatever happened, he ended up dead at the hands of either himself or someone else in Saipan, and the band is much poorer for him not being there.
The biggest one of both: a combination of the two preceding: Miyavi having been chosen as lead guitarist and Taiji as bassist or second bassist. The combination would have put a ton of new life into the band, giving it three members capable of full attention and creative input including the most innovative person in the modern Visual Kei scene and the person widely known to be second only to Yoshiki in the original development of X itself. Taiji would have likely never signed on with KT and never gone to Saipan and not died as a result, and it's arguable that X Japan would have been far different and yet far more active as a band and re its individual members. It's only speculation, but it could be arguable that Miyavi and Taiji and Yoshiki could have had a similar synergy as hide and Taiji and Yoshiki did in the first iteration, and if so, this could have had some very interesting results - and that it can't happen now because of Taiji's death makes it one of the saddest possibilities.
Yakuza: There are some rumors that Yoshiki is a made man in the Yakuza, but many of those originate from his airbrushed tattoos in the Standing Sex photoshoot or the inability to believe that someone can be a rich and powerful celebrity who occasionally has to interact with shady characters without being one himself. There are rumors also that Taiji was an active member of the Yakuza, which are somewhat doubtful as they were solely based on that he had tattoos and did drugs (his tattoos were Western-style rock, not Yakuza, and he was more likely a customer than a member.)
That said, in the early days of the band, they did allegedly ask/hire low-ranking yakuza or just plain old Gang Bangers to threaten and sometimes fight or even stab people who criticized them too harshly in the media. The practice ended over time due to several reasons, mostly the band maturing and gaining popularity and at the same time realizing that such activity was more likely to backfire (in that if someone actually died, they would be blamed and disgraced from all they had legitimately earned over such an incident). Unfortunately, the official ending of the practice doesn't stop yakuza or other dangerous people who are simply the Loony Fan or Psycho Supporter from trying to hurt people for criticizing the band.
You Can Barely Stand: Yoshiki at the March 2008 Night of Destruction concert. Despite being in poor physical condition from his injuries, he played the usual full set for the band, and then tried Art of Life, collapsing midway through the song. Also slightly true for the hide memorial summit in 2008, when he played with those injuries and sustained a bad knee injury doing his traditional drum break.
Also for Yoshiki in the 2010 North American Tour, as mentioned above.