Internet Go BOOM: Visual Kei’s Deep Throat

March 9th, 2010 by Daniel Morales

This marks the debut of Internet Go BOOM, a series that will look at how topics du jour evolve online in Japan.

The Epicenter

3.1.2010: Tokyo Damage Report posts a nearly 10,000 word anonymous interview with a former executive of a Visual Kei record label. The executive dishes on the state of the industry, exposes harsh working conditions of band members, gives examples of marketing strategies of the executives, and draws a detailed picture of the mob-like connections between different Visual Kei labels.

Between March 1 and March 7 a 74-comment (and counting) discussion ensues between TDR, Visual Kei fans and curious bystanders. DaRC promises to blog further on the topic and interview to “rip holes” in fan girl “dream bubbles.” Mary worries that her money spent on Visual Kei music and merchandise isn’t going to the artists. “Relatively Mature Adult Fangirl” calls some of the interview exaggeration and says that the interview would be more believable if it was about Johnny’s Jimusho. “Don’t want to get kneecapped,” a journalist who covered Visual Kei bands, claims that the rigid control is far worse than U.S. artists experience.

The Aftershocks

3.1.2010: Adamu of Mutantfrog Travelogue, a multi-author blog about East Asian culture and politics, posts a link to the interview. 19-comment (and counting) discussion ensues. Dave worries that sites may be considering the interview actual investigative journalism when it is actually of questionable authenticity. He also notes that the tone of the translation has TDR’s trademark style – casual, lots of pop-culture references, very entertaining. Adamu notes that he called it “a probably true-to-life mokumentary.” In the comments, Roy of Mutantfrog requests David Marx’s opinion.

3.3.2010: Mash Potato Poet, Visual Kei fan and rural poet, expresses mixed feelings of betrayal (on the part of the producers and shadowy label owners) and sympathy (for the band members who are just like sarariimen even if they don’t wear suits).

3.4.2010: David Marx, chief editor of Neojaponisme, a webjournal about Japan, summarizes some of the main points of the interview and shows how the Japanese music industry on the whole shows similar characteristics of 1) total control of artists by management, 2) receipt padding for tax evasion purposes, 3) false creation of diversity, and 4) secret practices of questionable legality. Deep discussion takes place with 25-comments (and counting). Marx, M-Bone, Mulboyne and Jared debate the nature of Japan’s pop culture: Is it merely a commercial vessel? Is there any function to it, or does there have to be one? Adamu is just bummed out that the quality level of popular culture isn’t higher.

3.7.2010: Tokyo Damage Report posts a follow-up entry in the form of a list of bullet points. He admits that the translation was in typical TDR style and that next time it’ll be more serious; he’s still surprised that only Visual Kei fans, and not professional translator Adamu, jumped on the quality of translation. He also points out that the mob is definitely not involved in Visual Kei. Currently 11 comments into a lively discussion. Orestria says Visual Kei fans try too hard.

Movers and shakers:

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One Response

  1. Koenji Calling has added her two yen here: http://koenjicalling.com/2010/03/visual-kei-is-big-money-making-scheme.html

    She adds an interesting point about the Live House audition scene.

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