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BUCK-TICK as of 2011. L-R - Imai, Higuchi, Sakurai, Hoshino, Toll.

BUCK-TICK is a Japanese rock band from Fujioka, Gunma Prefecture. Though they have never described themselves as such, they are widely regarded as one of the key founders of Visual Kei, alongside bands like X Japan, D'erlanger, and COLOR. They were also contemporaries with many of the artists in those bands and acts - specifically, the singer Atsushi and guitarist/theremin player/programmer/bandleader Imai were somewhat close friends of hide. Formed in 1983, the band stands out amongst their peers for being relatively controversy free throughout their entire run, having had the same line up for 36 years with no break ups, hiatuses, or other such misfortunes befalling them that are so common amongst other bands within Visual Kei, save for band leader and lead guitarist Hisashi Imai getting arrested in 1989 for possession of LSD (Which, compared to some of the stuff other Visual Kei bands were getting up to at the time, is a rather minor infraction indeed). Going on for over 36 years, BUCK-TICK are the longest lasting Visual Kei band in the genre, beating out more well known acts such as X Japan and COLOR and are one of the most respected rock bands in Japan.

Every year, they host one of the few currently existent Visual festivals in Japan - Buck Tick Fest, where bands new and old are invited onstage to cover their songs and perform with them.

On October 24, 2023, the band's official site announced that the lead singer, Atsushi Sakurai, passed away on October 19, 2023, due to a brainstem hemorrhage. He was rushed to the hospital after he was not feeling well during a concert in Yokohama. He was 57 years old.


  • Hisashi Imai: Guitar, backing vocals, noises and Theremin (1983-present)
  • Hidehiko Hoshino: Guitar and backing vocals, occasional keyboards (1983-present)
  • Yutaka Higuchi: Bass (1983-present)
  • Yagami Toll: Drums (1985-present)

Former Members:

  • Araki: Vocals (1983-1985)
  • Atsushi Sakurai: Vocals (1985-2023), Drums (1983-1985)

Studio Albums:

  • Hurry Up Mode (April 4, 1987)
  • Sexual XXXXX (November 21, 1987)
  • Seventh Heaven (June 21, 1988)
  • Taboo (January 18, 1989)
  • Aku no Hana (悪の華; February 1, 1990)
  • Kurutta Taiyou (狂った太陽; February 21, 1991)
  • Darker Than Darkness -style93- (June 23, 1993)
  • Six/Nine (May 5, 1995)
  • Cosmos (June 21, 1996)
  • Sexy Stream Liner (December 10, 1997)
  • One Life, One Death (September 20, 2000)
  • Kyokutou I Love You (極東 I Love You; February 2, 2002)
  • Mona Lisa Overdrive (February 13, 2003)
  • 13kai wa Gekkou (十三階は月光; April 5, 2005)
  • Tenshi no Revolver (天使のリボルバー; September 19, 2007)
  • Memento Mori (February 18, 2009)
  • Razzle Dazzle (October 13, 2010)
  • Yume Miru Uchuu (夢見る宇宙; September 19, 2012)
  • Arui wa Anarchy (June 4, 2014)
  • Atom Miraiha No.9 (September 28, 2016)
  • No. 0 (March 14, 2018)
  • ABRACADABRA (September 21, 2020)
  • Izora (April 12, 2023)

Remix Albums:

  • Hurry Up Mode (1990 mix; February 8, 1990)
  • Koroshi no Shirabe This Is NOT Greatest Hits (殺シノ調ベ This Is NOT Greatest Hits; March 21, 1992)
  • Shapeless (シェイプレス; August 24, 1994)

Related Acts:

  • Sakurai Atsushi (Sakurai Atsushi solo, with various collaborations).
  • Schaft (Imai Hisashi. Also featured Fuji Maki of Soft Ballet, members of KMFDM and Raymond Watts of PIG).
  • Schwein (Imai Hisashi, Sakurai Atsushi. Also featured Raymond Watts and members of KMFDM).
  • Lucy (Imai Hisashi. Also features Kiyoshi from hide with Spread Beaver.
  • Dropz (Hoshino Hidehiko, Also featured Cube Juice, and Kelli Ali of Sneaker Pimps).
  • Wild Wise Apes (Higuchi Yutaka).
  • Yagami Toll and the Blue Sky (Yagami Toll).
  • THE MORTAL (Sakurai Atsushi)

Buck-Tick provides examples of:

  • One-Woman Song: "Maria" from the album Cosmos. "Lily" from Tenshi No Revolver. "Mona Lisa" from Mona Lisa Overdrive.
  • Alice Allusion: Alice in Wonder Underground, one of their earliest tracks.
  • All Drummers Are Animals: Averted. Toll is never less than composed on stage and in interviews, and the entire band refer to him by an affectionate nickname meaning "big brother".
  • Anime Theme Song: The band provided the OP themes for Trinity Blood, Shiki, Nightwalker, the second ED theme for ×××HOLiC and the fifth ED theme for GeGeGe no Kitarō.
  • Artistic Stimulation: Sakurai is pretty frank about the fact that he likes to drink alone, and particularly when writing song lyrics. Imai hasn't exactly been shy about mentioning his alcohol input while writing the music, either.
  • Ax-Crazy: A very common theme in lyrics. Has overlapped with Gun Nut (in Revolver lyrics and live where a gun is mimed) and Psycho Knife Nut (in Jupiter in lyrics), among many other insanity tropes...
  • Badass Longcoat: Sakurai's wardrobe has featured a number of longcoats over the years, and he is adept at swishing and twirling them for dramatic effect.
  • Band of Relatives: The rhythm section, at least. Drummer Toll is the elder brother of bassist Higuchi.
  • Biblical Motifs: Quite a few songs, though often subverted, inverted, and otherwise played with to the extent that it would make a scholar Face Palm and hit every single Berserk Button The Fundamentalist has.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "Nakayubi" is a Cluster F-Bomb. "My Fucking Valentine," also rather obviously, but "Jonathan Jet-Coaster" contains Atsushi repeatedly dropping one of these as the chorus.
  • Concept Album: Juusankai Wa Gekkou, though frankly it pretty much applies to all their studio albums from Taboo onwards.
  • Cover Version: When the band started out, they played cover versions of the Japanese punk band The Stalin. They also recorded a cover version of hide's "DOUBT" for the "hide: Tribute Spirits" album and Michiro Endo's song "Omae no Inu Ninaru" for the "Romantist - The Stalin, Michiro Endo Tribute Album". Subverted for their 20th anniversary when they invited other bands to cover their music for the "Parade: Respective Tracks of Buck-Tick" albums, and with the covers of their work appearing on the recent "Crush!-90's V-Rock Best Hit Cover Songs" album series.
  • Darker and Edgier: The band's fourth studio album, Taboo, was this - to the consternation of many at the time. Arguably the band themselves and their entire musical and visual output embody this when compared to their contemporaries.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Sakurai seems to have this effect on most women, with the exception of That One Girl in the "Live At The Night Side" video.
  • Dramatic Shattering: "21st Cherry Boy" PV.
  • Dramatic Wind: Often made an appearance on live videos back when Sakurai was a Long-Haired Pretty Boy.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Sakurai and Imai, in some early photo shoots, to some people.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: No, they really did, even if they didn't all know one another until they formed the band. The exception here is Toll, who joined later and is a few years older than the rest - but he knew them all through his brother and he did teach Sakurai to play drums, so it's close enough.
  • Eye Scream: In the "Romance" PV, done with CG and FX makeup to appear as if Atsushi is puncturing his own eyeballs with his fingernails.
  • Family Business: Atsushi Sakurai has a rumored adult son who is also a Visual Kei bandman, leading the band Vaniru as its vocalist. While there has been no confirmation of this officially, Leoneil has been seen in the "band member family" section at Buck-Tick lives, and he and Atsushi look very similar and their bands and performance styles are quite similar - see Generation Xerox below. While the above rumour is highly unlikely to be true, Sakurai actually has a real son who is also in the arts: Tono Haruka is an award winning, acclaimed writer.
  • Fanservice: Sakurai is well known for his tendency to "caress" other members of the band on stage. Initially mostly Imai, though he's also copped a feel or two of Hoshino and Higuchi at various times. And if a band member isn't available, a special guest will do, or even an inanimate object. He also makes good use of illustrative facial and hand gestures to great effect both on stage and in videos. He's also more than happy to engage in fanservice with women, either teasing the audience at lives by getting close enough to let them touch him or by engaging in risque behaviour in videos.
  • Female Gaze: The camera spends an inordinate amount of time on Atsushi's crotch, from as many angles as possible.
  • Flame War:
    • "Living On The Net" is arguably at least in part about someone engaging in a flame war.
    • Strangely enough, the band doesn't seem to attract as many fan flame wars as other bands of its era do, mostly because of its relative freedom from internal controversies such as deaths, disbandment, and the like.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: Sakurai's feather boa accessory during the Tenshi No Revolver tour. Also his feather-trimmed hats.
  • Generation Xerox: The New '10s Visual Kei band Vaniru, and its vocalist Leoneil. See Family Business above.
  • Genre Shift: Started out as Punk Rock, but have shifted to Industrial, Post-Punk, New Wave, Alternative Rock, Goth Rock, and now what Sakurai is calling "straight rock." In effect, almost every studio album serves as a New Sound Album to some extent. They also reputedly started Visual Kei somewhere in there.
  • Gratuitous English: Most notably on "Love Letter", though their early work is smattered with English titles and random lyrics, often badly pronounced or nonsensical (or both). "Sexual XXXXX" for example, is often referred to as "Sexual Tacos" in Western fandom. Why? Go listen to it.
  • Great Balls of Fire!:
    • BUCK-TICK's stage shows often involve the use of pyrotechnics, and they also have a love affair with fire - particularly candles - in their videos. The video for "Kuchizuke", rather bafflingly, featured a flaming wheelchair - and not in the figurative way.
    • Kyokutou Yori Ai wo Komete PV takes this up to eleven - everything that can be on fire is.
  • The Grunting Orgasm: Atsushi is given to random grunts, growls and sighs during or between the more sex-oriented songs in their repertoire. Sometimes this spills over into The Immodest Orgasm if it's a particularly intense performance.
  • Gun Nut: The variant of Ax-Crazy depicted in Revolver.
  • Harsh Vocals: Combined with Hidden Depths for both Sakurai and Imai. Sakurai can be capable of it, though he doesn't try that often. Detarame Yarou, however, shows him to be just as capable of Harsh Vocals as Kiyoharu or similar artists more well known for that. Another fine example is their cover of hide's Doubt, where Sakurai on lead and Imai on backing easily hit hide's notoriously difficult vocals perfectly.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Sakurai mostly, in the early days of the band, though Imai was no slacker either. It still makes costuming appearances, though these days it's a bit less shiny.
  • Improbable Hairstyle: In the early days, anyway. Now, it's mostly just Toll, although Imai still has his moments.
  • Intercourse with You:
    • The aptly named "Sex For You" and "Sexual XXXXX", plus less obvious ones like "Chocolate", "Tango Swanka" "Cream Soda," "Kimi no Vanilla," "Jonathan Jet-Coaster," and from the new album, "Cosmic Circus." Frankly, a good portion of BUCK-TICK's songs are in this vein, one way or another (pun intended).
    • Suzumebachi and Jonathan Jet-Coaster are what happens when Intercourse with You and Ho Yay get in bed together. Alternately, Cosmic Circus is explicitly heterosexual.
  • Internet Jerk: In-Universe example - "Living On The Net" is an early example from the perspective of someone being an example of the GIFT and getting into an argument on the internet.
  • It's Not Porn, It's Art: This covers a lot of BUCK-TICK'S output. The rest is either porn or art or some combination thereof that cannot even be explained.
  • Japanese Delinquents: Sakurai's circle of friends outside of school, until he met Imai and the rest.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: J is about Jekyll from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Sakurai is the poster child for this trope, though some might argue it crosses into Crazy Cat Man territory.
  • Literary Allusion Title: "Mona Lisa Overdrive" (named after the book by William Gibson), "Aku No Hana" (translation of "Les Fleurs Du Mal" by Baudelaire).
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Sakurai, in his younger days.
  • Long Runner Lineup: From 1985 to present day, Buck-Tick has been touring and had the same line up for almost 30 years, which is LUDICROUSLY long lived for a Visual Kei act.
  • Man in a Kilt: It was more of a faux-tartan manskirt, but close enough. Manskirts have been a regular feature of Sakurai's wardrobe over the years, both plaid and otherwise. Other band members have also indulged, most notably Imai.
  • Mangst: Sakurai's late father was a violent alcoholic, and Sakurai himself was a little on the wild side as a teenager, when he wasn't being That Silent Kid In The Corner. In interviews he has admitted to having problems as a result of this, but rarely dwells on it. He has also reflected on the death of his mother in his lyrics. A touch too wry and self-aware to be The Woobie, though that doesn't stop a lot of fans from wanting to give him a hug.
  • Masquerade Ball: The theme of the songs J, Django, and masQue among others. Django's PV even centers around it.
  • The Mentally Disturbed: Probably one of the most common lyrical tropes the band uses. It's been combined with, among others, Ax-Crazy as mentioned above, Funny Schizophrenia (the song Physical Neurose,) and many other themes. Strangely enough, though, unlike other bands that focus on lyrics and songs about mental illness, none of the members have had an open or public struggle with it.
  • No Ending: The albums "Mona Lisa Overdrive" and "Kyokutou I Love You" were originally intended to be a double album. Though they were released separately, they are structured musically to feed into one another in an endless loop. The last track on each album contains musical elements that also appear in the first track on the other.
  • No One Could Survive That!: In late 1996, Atsushi suffered a Ruptured Appendix and abdominal peritonitis while in Nepal. He demanded to be transported back to Japan because he wished to die in his homeland from the almost-always fatal illness, but somehow began to recover and became one of the few survivors of the illness. (For reference, this is the same illness that killed AV actor Masaki Koh, and it has a fatality rate of nearly 80% once peritonitis has developed.)
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: Averted. EVERYONE loves Yutaka, and when the band first formed he was reputedly the one who was most often their public face, being the friendliest and most willing to talk to people.
  • Non-Appearing Title: There are quite a few of these but "Cream Soda" is a nice example, just for the clever wordplay. The words in the song SOUND LIKE THE TITLE, but they're not.
  • Ode to Intoxication: "Speed," "Heroin," "My Fuckin Valentine," possibly "Jonathan Jet-Coaster."
  • Older Than They Look: Applies to all of them to some degree, most notable with Higuchi.
  • Painted-On Pants: Atsushi has worn these. Many, many times.
  • Performance Video: Though not ALL their promotional videos are this, MOST feature the band playing their songs, even if in an unusual setting or intercut with more surreal elements. Notable exceptions are "Love Me", the singles version of "Kodou" and "Love Letter".
  • Phrase Salad Lyrics: Along with the later-mentioned Word Salad Lyrics, something that Imai is famous for doing in almost any song he writes and sings. "Sid Vicious on the Beach" is one example, "Dada Disco G J T H B K H T D" is an even better one.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Sid Vicious on the Beach", "Cream Soda," "Living on the Net".
  • Putting on the Reich: J-Rock seems to have a love affair with faux-Nazi uniforms, presumably for the shock-factor. There's a well-known photo shoot from the early days of the band that features Sakurai in one of these, looming over Yoshiki Hayashi of X Japan, who seems to be taking the role of the Damsel in Distress (or Femme Fatale, depending on how you view it).
  • Rap Rock / Rap Metal: Overlaps with Spoken Word in Music. Aikawarazu no 'Are' no Katamari ga Nosabaru Hedo no Soko no Fukidamari and some sections of My Fuckin Valentine feature Sakurai doing something that, if not "technical" rapping, is very close to it.
  • Rearrange the Song: The band often play new arrangements of both old and new songs at live shows. See also the "NOT Greatest Hits" album, which is a collection of their older songs, rearranged.
  • Rock-Star Song: "Itoshi no Rock Star".
  • Rule of Cool: Used by the band in the early days to explain their Improbable Hair and make-up. Later used by Atsushi to explain his early lyrical output.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Imai. Dear God Imai.
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Sakurai has made no secret of his love of alcohol, and the band took a hiatus back in 1989 when Imai was arrested for LSD possession. Arguably he was the unlucky one, as opposed to the only one. Drugs are also the probable or obvious subject of the songs "Speed" and "Heroin", possibly also "Candy".
  • Sexy Sax Man: Sakurai has played sax live and on recorded tracks in the past.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Sakurai has embodied this for years in a million magazine shoots and on stage. Often combined with a Waistcoat of Style, a glass of wine, a cane and black nail polish to give an overall effect of Wicked Cultured. Once or twice he's successfully experimented with Gorgeous Period Dress or a white suit. Basically he looks good in a suit, whatever the style or color.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Played straight for years until most of the members gave up the habit.
  • Something Blues: "Madman Blues".
  • Something Else Also Rises: BUCK-TICK's lyrics and videos are full of euphemisms, from the party popper in the "21st Cherry Boy" video, through the illustrative finger-sucking in "Zangai" to songs like "Cream Soda" and "Chocolate". They really like their blatant double entendres.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "Uta" contains a couple of sampled lines of dialogue from Day Of The Dead. "Loop" features Sakurai talking over music.
  • Stage Names: Yagami Toll. To this day his real name remains unconfirmed. Sakurai has also had a name change of sorts, altering the kanji spelling of his name to an older form after the death of his mother.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: In the initial line-up, Sakurai was BUCK-TICK's drummer. Imai sometimes performs lead vocals (both live and recorded) on songs for which he has written the lyrics.
  • Succubi and Incubi: The theme of "Muma ~ The Nightmare," made most obvious in the 13Stairs live - the song is about an incubus/sexual vampire, and Atsushi plays the role as he sings it. Also the theme of "Devil'N Angel" except with a subversion - the "angel" is just as horny for the devil as he is for him or her.
  • Surreal Music Video: "Candy" PV, anyone? Or if that doesn't take your fancy, try "Loop" or "Love Me", because everything is better with a talking oven-ready chicken.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: While Sakurai fits, Hoshino IS this Trope!
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: Which is presumably why Sakurai has absolutely no problem playing up to the physical stereotype - especially in the video for "Romance". In case you had any doubt about his sex-Godliness, he's also appeared in a short Japanese vampire movie.
  • Visual Kei: While a contemporary of noted visual kei bands like X Japan, Buck-Tick never laid claim to being part of the scene. Nevertheless, they are repeatedly credited as being an inspiration for many bands who followed. Their song "Jupiter" was recently covered by Duel Jewel on "Crush!-90's V-Rock Best Hit Cover Songs" - an album on which current visual kei bands cover songs by bands who are considered important to the original '90s scene. Another Buck-Tick song, "Speed" is due to be covered by 9Goats Black Out on the sequel.
  • War Is Hell: While Buck-Tick generally is fairly apolitical (like X, unlike Loudness and EZO and SEIKIMA-II), they do throw the occasional anti-war Protest Song out there. Revolver is likely one fusing Gun Nut, After the End of a nuclear war, and Ax-Crazy with War Is Hell.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: Rather famously, Atsushi suffered one of these partway through the Parade Tour, when his pants split from knee to groin during a show. Unfortunately for the audience, he managed to cover the damage until the end of the set by tying his coat around his waist.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Imai is a master of this. Some good examples include "Physical Neurose" and "Dada Disco G J T H B K H T D."
  • You Bastard!: Detarame Yarou translates to this and to "you asshole!"