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Playing With: Visual Kei
Basic Trope: A genre of music based on visual artistry and stagecraft being as important as the music, which originated in Japan but can be and is used by non-Japanese musicians.
  • Straight:
    • A musician or artist dresses and acts per as expected for one of the listed types of Visual Kei, and incorporates this into his or her stage shows.
    • A Visual Kei band performing a show or otherwise engaging in activities.
  • Exaggerated: hide, Gackt, and similar artists whose entire life is Visual Kei to the point that it is nigh impossible to determine any line between performance, identity, lifestyle, and more.
  • Downplayed:
    • "Yeah, they're a bunch of guys in dresses and makeup, but they're just as good as Metallica and Guns N' Roses."
    • A Visual Kei band that focuses on musicianship and technical talent far more than it does on the visuals, although the visuals are still there.
  • Justified:
  • Inverted: A Japanese rock band that loathes Visual Kei and doesn't think anyone related to it is a "real artist." Sigh and L Arc En Ciel would be good examples among others (though both bands have used and are still using visuals), as would the majority of the 80s metal scene such as it was that saw then new bands such as X Japan and SEIKIMA-II as OTT and damaging to the image of "real metal."
  • Subverted: A Japanese rock or metal band that simply doesn't care about visuals. Pretty much the stock trade of Nagoya Kei artists.
  • Double Subverted: The band that simply doesn't care about visuals looks Visual Kei and arguably does it better than some avowed Visual Kei bands.
  • Parodied:
  • Zig Zagged: A band that starts out as Visual Kei and/or is widely recognized as such, but that alternates between disavowing the scene / claiming to have no connection to it (as in averted, inverted and double subverted) and marketing to visual kei fans, engageing in events with visual kei artists, supporting the scene, and similar. Examples of such bands would be Buck Tick, Dir En Grey, L Arc En Ciel and Hyde's solo career. Post-Visual Kei bands are highly notorious for this.
  • Averted:
    • A musician or artist is simply not Visual Kei. He or she doesn't hate or bear a grudge against the genre as in inverted, it's just not his or her style or scene.
    • A Visual Kei fan stays just that - an uninvolved fan. They don't adapt anything of the scene to their lifestyle, their appearance stays very normal, they do not even consider joining in as an artist or a musician, or necessarily even supporting one in any way aside from maybe buying some music or going to a show.
  • Enforced:
    • A Visual Kei band, obviously, though some exceptions exist there - generally toward the Legacy Character side. (If a member of a Visual Kei band is vital to it and chooses to drop the style, he may well remain a member depending on how vital his skills or his name is to the band. Pata in X Japan is a good example of this - saying he is currently Visual Kei is stretching the trope to its limit, but he is the surviving original guitarist, his skills can't be replaced, and he is vital to the band, so most fans are more than willing to overlook that he no longer is technically "visual."
    • A club or tour only open to Visual Kei acts.
    • Visual Kei labels. Good luck signing to Extasy or Free Will in the late 80s - early 90s or to Under Code, PS Company or Sherow Artist Society in The New Tens if you're not Visual Kei in some way or another.
    • A venue or show whose dress code is some form of Visual Kei.
  • Lampshaded: "The last time I saw someone in that much makeup was at a club in Shinjuku."
  • Invoked:
  • Exploited: ???
  • Defied:
    • A band leaves Visual Kei per se, whether or not it continues to use elements from it, and proclaims itself no longer Visual Kei and lists another genre.
    • A band that could be considered Visual Kei but isn't (see Double Subverted above) refuses the label and insists it is not.
    • An artist or musician realizes he or she has no talent for Visual Kei and quits the genre.
  • Discussed:
  • Conversed: Two Visual Kei artists discuss the scene, an upcoming live show, or trade tips on something related to Visual Kei.
  • Implied:
    • A character in a story is referred to as a Visual Kei artist or acts/dresses as one, but is never actually seen performing or doing anything else an actual artist would do.
    • A list of bands for a club's live schedule is displayed, and some of them are Visual Kei bands.
  • Deconstructed: The dark underbelly of Visual Kei is thoroughly on display and it's Darker and Edgier than ever. The need for money and inability to get money via normal work driving everything from Compensated Dating to Yakuza involvement, So Bad Its Horrible performances focused more on visuals and fanservice simply created to keep bringing the fangirls and money in as opposed to any artistic merit, the worst excesses of Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll, everyone's at best a Functional Addict and at worst The Alcoholic or Off The Wagon, everyone is in some way The Mentally Disturbed, Fan Dumb and Hate Dumb drive the fandom, the only way to live is to keep shoveling in the cash, the only way to die is Driven to Suicide, Never Suicide, or becoming terminally ill. Visual Kei is a Crapsack World that no sane artist would even want to consider.
  • Reconstructed: All of the above exists, but it isn't to the degree that some say. Some artists do legitimately make money either via their art or via more acceptable ways than prostituting themselves or organized crime. For varied reasons, the Japanese scene is beginning to decouple from the Yakuza and Visual Kei artists may not even know or care about them one way or the other outside of Japan. A fair percentage of artists do indeed care about art and that is why they've chosen the genre. The worst excesses of Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll are beginning to ebb, with some artists going sober and others becoming aware of danger, if not sober. Visual Kei has become, for better or less, somewhat self-supporting, and non-Japanese scenes are bringing in new artists, new styles, and more creativity.
  • Plotted A Good Waste:
    • An actual Visual Kei artist intentionally constructs a persona that is one that fans will feel a specific, visceral reaction to, or writes lyrics or acts on stage in a way to create said fan reaction.
    • In a work where a Visual Kei artist is depicted, the character is there as a Shout-Out, because there is quite a lot of drama and intrigue to be explored from his/her life in the scene, or simply to provide someone for the audience to laugh at or be annoyed by.
  • Played For Laughs:
  • Played For Drama:
    • Someone is using Visual Kei to exploit the scene and other artists and fans within it.
    • A Visual Kei artist's lifestyle (see Deconstruction) becomes the plot point of a crime drama or medical drama.
    • In Real Life, a Visual Kei artist dies of something tragic, especially at a young age.
    • A Darker and Edgier or balanced drama piece about someone's or a band's life within the Visual Kei scene.

Get your makeup done and don't use up all the hairspray or drink all the beer, I need some too, because we're going back to Visual Kei now.

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