Follow TV Tropes


Creator / Kenji Sawada

Go To
Sir Loreal Julie of Peacock Hill, ladies and gents.
Kenji Sawada as of 2013 at the first Tigers Reunion Concert, performing "Love Only For You" with the audience swooning like teenagers no doubt.

Kenji "Julie" Sawada (born June 25, 1948) is a Japanese musician, actor and composer, best known to Americans for being in Mishima A Life In Four Chapters. His claim to fame among Japanese is perhaps, according to many, such as SMAP, with planting the seeds of the Visual Kei movement. His manner of dress when he performed, his heavy use of makeup, and his tendency to not seperate his stage personality from his real one are all traits later adopted by most Visual Kei groups. After the breakup of The Tigers, Sawada formed the Super Group PYG, bringing together many of his former rivals as musicians and churning out three albums. He later began a very successful solo career and became apt to a Japanese David Bowie, acting in many roles to this day.

Probably not related to the bassist of X and Loudness.


     Tropes describing Kenji Sawada 
  • Anti-Love Song: "Toki No Sugi Yuku Mama Ni" can be interpreted as the singer lamenting over an extremely toxic relationship.
  • Badass Baritone: His voice can range from this to a beautiful boyish tenor.
  • Bishōnen: Pretty much the one of the Ur-Example of the androgynous lead singer in Japanese music.
  • Breakup Breakout: After the Tigers broke up, Sawada launched a successful solo career, acted in many movies, picking up the moniker "Japan's David Bowie", and pretty much singlehandedly began what became the Visual Kei movement of music/fashion. Not bad huh?
  • Break-Up Song: LONELY WOLF, Forbidden Love(About longing for a woman who has long left him), Pari ni Hitori
  • BSoD Song: "The 6th Melancholy", an angry rant on fame and the toll it takes on an individual.
  • Concept Album: The Tigers 1968 album "Human Renascence" was the first use of the trope in Japan. Julie's solo career had him have more than one has well, with Onnatachiyo being a Rock Opera retelling The Tale of Genji and JULIE II being themed around sea travel.
  • Creative Differences: The reason PYG disbanded. Hagiwara's bad boy lawbreaker personality is well known in Japan to not be a mere act, and this clashed with Kenji Sawada's extremely "boy-next-door" image he had at the time.
  • Creator Breakdown: A lot of Sawada's early 80s material can be interpreted as this, with Rokubanne no Yuutsu, his BSOD song, seemingly being a rant on his feelings about fame, and seemingly having a much more eccentric manner of dress and stage persona.
  • Dye Hard: His hair has ranged from hot pink, to blonde, to orange. However his hair greyed very early(in his late 40s, early 50s) from dying it so much.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: JULIE I and Julie II are about as far away from the proto-Visual Kei pop rock and New Wave Sawada is mainly known for, having a sound one can liken to Barry Manilow or other easy listening, and almost none of the songs in these two albums have been included in Sawada's later years, with Yurusenai Ai being rearranged to fit more with Sawada's later style in The '80s then dropped from his setlist after 1991, and almost all of the other songs from these two albums being forgotten.
  • Fountain of Expies: Unlike the numerous hide clones however, the trend of Kenji Sawada emulators in the late 70s quickly died overnight.
  • Genre Shift: Went thru many. Like David Bowie, his shifts reflect that of popular music in the country he came from as a whole was like at the time. Going by the Julie Special Greatest Hits alone, he went thru Easy Listening, Power Pop, Synth-Pop, New Wave, and in the late seventies, early eighties thru a proto Visual Kei period, with the album S/T/R/I/P/P/E/R featuring heavily distorted, blazing guitar and bass and very sexualized lyrics, and after the 90s, his output almost became Bruce Springsteen like, with a greater focus on traditional pop-rock anthems, and a much more tame, almost socially aware feel to the lyrics.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Both Sawada and The Tigers have a significant following in Europe, China, and to a much lesser extent North America.
  • Grief Song: From PYG, "Flower, Sun, Rain", "The Days Already Past" (grief over past loves) "No Longer On The Earth" and "Jeff" the latter a grief song directed towards a dog. His later solo career brings "Nageki no Tenshi" a song which deals with the process of grief itself, as well as "Illusion of Love" which is a song grieving over lost love.
  • Ho Yay: Had a very subtext-laden photoshoot with Kazuya Yoshi of Yellow Monkey.
  • I Am the Band: He largely carried his band The Tigers's success on his shoulders.
  • Intercourse with You: STRIPPER, the title is self-explanatory, and the first live of it actually moved to watershed hours for NHK's 1981 New Years Eve show.
  • International Coproduction: JULIE, JULIE II, JULIE III, JULIE VI: ARU SEISHUN were all coproductions between Kenji Sawada & Takayuki Inoue Band (Japan) and Olympic Sound Studios(UK).
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Sawada is a master of this. Look at his 2008 concert where he performs in an Indian chief outfit, for instance, or his outfit in the PV for "The 6th Melancholy"!
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Julie III: Julie Recital, Sawada's first live album is out of print and sells at very high premiums, as do all three of Julie's AOR albums done with Co-Colo, and to add insult to injury, virtually no songs from the album are floating around in digital form minus the single "Coal and diamonds" and a live performance of "Adagio of Sorrow" and "Namimuto"
  • Lead Bassist: Again, Ittoku Kishibe, who is lifelong friends with Sawada, and composed numerous songs for him as well as writing lyrics, and his bassplaying under PYG was noticed by John Paul Jones when PYG covered "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You"
  • Large Ham: He ALWAYS chews the scenery, just watch him in Samurai Reincarnation for a great example.
  • Long Runner: First solo album was released in April 1969, his latest solo single was released spring 2013, and his latest studio album was released March '14.
  • Mr. Fanservice: And how! Had several nude photoshoots in the 80s....
  • New Wave Music: Sawada's main genre from the mid-late 1970s until the 1990s.
  • New Romantic: His mid-late 80s output, with his androgyny Up to Eleven, and a new backing band, Co-Colo, who included rather dark sounding string passages in addition to the synthesizers and guitar-drum-bass Sawada had become so accustomed to.
  • New Sound Album: A better list, in chronological order:
    • Easy listening in the vein of Barry Manilow(Julie-Julie III)
    • A revisitation of the psychedelic rock sound PYG had done with the original members of that band (Julie IV)
    • Symphonic Rock(Julie VI)
    • Glam Rock(Jewel Julie, Itsukana no Baman, And Now I Feast On A Grand Banquet, The Fugitive Ai No Troubador)
    • New Wave(Bad Tuning, TOKIO, STRIPPER)
    • Synthpop/New Romantic(NON-POLICY, MISCAST, Onna-tachiyo, A WONDERFUL TIME)
    • AOR-(A Grand Ballet With Co-COLO)
    • Tin Pan Alley (A Saint In The Night)
    • Hard Rock- His late 90s output with Jazzmaster.
    • Alt Rock- His 2000s-The New '10s albums mostly have shades of poppier alt-rock.
  • Periphery Demographic: Ever since Visual Kei became more popular internationally, he seems to have gained a significant fanbase crossing over from bands like Buck-Tick, GLAY and X Japan, all of which have members who have professed to have Sawada as one of their influences(Sakurai Atsushi even covered two of Julie's songs and seems to style his vocal mannerisms after him, and GLA Ys vocalist has covered "Toki no Sugiyuku Mama ni")
  • Power Ballad: Ikutsuka no bamen is the most prominent example of sawadas ballads
  • Putting on the Reich: like Gackt and Malice Mizer, has been photographed in Third Reichesque outfits.
  • Protest Song: "F.A.P.P" against nuclear power.
  • Revolving Door Lineup: Most of Julies backing bands have been replaced within 5 years.
  • Screwed by the Lawyers: Sawada currently cannot rerelease any of the albums he did with Co-Co Lo due to the band being considered an independent entity. This also explains why nothing from his two studio albums with them has shown up in his solo setlist after the 1990s.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: To most people today, Kenji "Julie" Sawada's antics onstage seem mundane in the age of artists like Malice Mizer, Dir en grey and the like, but at the time he was in his prime years(1975-1982), Sawada's onstage antics on songs like STRIPPER were considered darlingly sexual and flamboyant, and producer/bandmate Kunihiko Kase's invention of the term "Visual" to describe Sawada's onstage costuming and persona. This later was taken by Atsushi Sakurai and Yoshiki Hayashi and turned further into the Visual Kei movement.
  • Sexy Grandpa: Still has legions of fangirls to this day despite advanced age.
  • Singer Namedrop: "Julie My Love" in Hoshizora no Romance
  • Shout-Out: Jules "Julie" Deane in Neuromancer, an effete, androgynous smuggler in Japan who seems to be based on Kenji's persona.
  • Atsushi Sakurai of BUCK-TICK cites Kenji Sawada as an influence upon the band's look.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: A LOT of the characters he plays tend to be evil guys with tragic pasts and bishie looks, Ryo from Akuma no Youna Aitsu, Shiro Amakusa....
  • Synth-Pop: His early eighties work, specifically Onnatachiyo and Non-Policy which had Sawada in full on Mr. Fanservice mode once again on the cover and featured mostly synthezied instruments and Sawada's voice reverberating through layers of synthesizers.
  • The Band Minus the Face: Sort of. After PYG split, most of the members including Tigers bassist Ittoku "Sally" Kishibe became Julie's backing band, the Takayuki Inoue Band until 1977, when he replaced them.
  • Unbuilt Trope: Not only the costuming and makeup, but the very onstage act of Visual Kei vocalists can be traced to Sawada. Just watch any of his live performances and you'll see the same type of behavior later made famous internationally by vocalists such as Toshimitsu Deyama of X Japan, such as wildly expressive gesticulating and even outright showing sadness or other emotions onstage.
  • Villain Protagonist: Tends to play these, and his natural charisma and good looks result in his characters becoming a Draco in Leather Pants more often than not.
  • Vocal Evolution: Over time, his vocal register has deepened significantly, but not to the point where his older hits are unsingable.
  • Visual Kei: Essentially went into the territory fashionwise in the 90s, with his makeup and clothing in the mid-90s making him resemble Hideto Matsumoto to some degree.