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 speed metal alongside some ballads, but in later years the speed metal shifted to a more progressive 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")
"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....
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...
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.
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.)
Cover Version: 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," and more.
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....
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.
The Heart: Toshi took on this role completely, being The Woobie from his experiences and a rallying point for the reunion of the band.
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:
"It was suicide!" in regard to hide OR Taiji is a way to invoke Internet Backdraft and often start a massive Flame War at the same time. (For hide, because his death may well have been an accident and/or the result of neglect, and for Taiji because his death was most likely homicide written off as suicide.)
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.
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.
ILLKILLYOU: The band's very first song (see the discography above)
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.
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: Extreme depressive disorder/possibly bipolar disorder, stimulant drug addiction, at the time undiagnosed temporal lobe epilepsy which "uncovered" completely after a later stroke.
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.
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.
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."
Rearrange the Song: Yoshiki really likes "Silent Jealousy" and has rearranged it at least twice for side projects, among other songs...
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 another aversion: he has never even had as much as a shirtless photoshoot.
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.
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.