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Hello dear monochrome heaven community:oops:

I'm a Japanese studies student and I am planning to write my seminary paper about Visual Kei this semester. To be concrete, I would like to analyze modern Visual kei lyrics (language and contents) and thought about analyzing them according to subgenres and take e.g 5 bands per sub-genre. Now my problem is that there are so many especially recent bands where I don't know which subgenre they belong to  and also, there are so many subgenres and everyone writes about them a bit differently.

The ones I found out in a Japanese master thesis and in the internet are:


1) Kote-kei (90's bands, so I probably won't need that one as I'm focusing on modern VK)

2) Oshare-kei (I guess the samples explain it)

An Cafe, LM.C, SuG, Kra

3) Koteosu-kei (mix of Kote kei and oshare kei)

Bands: the Gazette, Nightmare

4) Sofubi-kei (natural make-up, softer music that is catchy and easy to listen to)

Alice Nine, Vivid, SID (late era)

5) O-tanbi-kei (Influenced by the  renaissance in Europe)

Versailles, Misaruka, D, Kaya

6) O-warai-kei (I guess the examples explain what this subgenre is like)

Golden Bomber, this is a Pen

7) Wafuu-kei (costumes & setting traditionally Japanese, also using typically Japanese instruments)

Kagrra, Kiryu, Zin, Memento Mori, Orochi

8 ) Angura kei (also traditional Japanese setting& costume but usually very dark)

MUCC, cali gari, guruguru eigakan, Plastic tree, heidi, Waggakki band

sub-sub genres: misshitsu-kei, chikashitsu-kei, shironuri kei, eroguro kei, showa kayou kei

9) Kirakira/host-kei

The Sherry

10) Nagoya-kei

Avel Cain, Deathgaze


So if anyone knows any more bands for one of these subgenres it would be very helpful to me:oops: Mainly bands formed after 2000~ would be great as I want to focus on modern Visual Kei.

Also, as I mentioned, there are some bands I would really incorporate into my paper but I'm not sure to which subgenre I could add them.


:ghost:Dadaroma, Scapegoat, Mejibray, Killaneth, Balalaika, Grieva, DIO, Kuroyuri to kage etc- which subgenre might darker bands like this belong to?

:ghost:Or recent bands like Clowd, Belle, Gigamous, Chanty, Staa-ku, Pentagon, Sibile-bashir (probably o-warai-kei though) or Anfiel (maybe kirakira kei?)- I have no idea where I could add these ones.

:ghost:Or R-shitei, Royz, the Raid, Sick2, Purple Stone, Screw, Black Line, the Lotus, Fest Vanqueur, Neverland, Gossip, Blaive, Initial L/Lycaon, HERO, Astaria, BORN, Diaura, ViV etc etc


So if anyone knows something more about one of these subgenres, or just knows any band to add to one of these (doesn't have to be one of the ones I mentioned) or could guess where one of the band mentioned above might belong to- any little comment would be helpful:oops: I hope I posted this in the right category of the forum, please tell me if not or if a post like this is unapproprite (>///<)

Thank you very much in advance:oops:


Edited by haiironoanemone

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A few years ago, Megan Pfeifle from JaME conducted a case study on visual kei that was published in the George Mason University's peer reviewed journal:



At the same time, she adapted her case study into a 13 week webseries called "Globalizing Visual Kei" for JaME. You might find some useful content there.

You might also like to check out her dissection of Nagoya Kei.



5 hours ago, WhirlingBlack said:

Avel Cain and deathgaze are not nagoya kei. 

True for avelcain. Early deathgaze embodied the nagoya kei music and style. To some, they might still be considered one of the last nagoya kei bands but the lineage sort of ends with them.

Edited by helcchi

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i feel like a broken record at times like these....


Oshare kei is a mistake by whoever tried to write it at first. It's osare kei. 


Secondly, the global community is the only community who still has a deathgrip on the "~~~kei" description. In +4 years and ~200 vk concerts I've almost never heard anyone use these classifications. which is why you cant really put the label on most of the bands these days. Not to mention the terms the global community itself came up with.


also as an ensoku fan I've gotta point out--you used the band name for everything else but when it came to ensoku you wrote the song name this is a pen. 


When describing bands these days we describe the atmosphere because very few bands are strictly one way or the other. "abare" "kirakira" (I've never said or heard kirakira kei) are the two main ways to describe bands besides "futsuu." Sometimes, we do say "kote/kotekote."


you're looking at modern vk through a very dated system 

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21 minutes ago, helcchi said:


True for avelcain. Early deathgaze embodied the nagoya kei music and style. To some, they might still be considered one of the last nagoya kei bands but the lineage sort of ends with them.


I think it kinda depends. Everyone seem to have different opinions on what nagoya kei actually is. Most people would probably say it's simply visual kei bands hailing from Nagoya. The Japanese wiki states that it is simply what the western fanbase would consider "1st generation nagoya kei" that is categorised as nagoya kei (with exception for like... Arlequin who openly have categorised themselves as "New generation nagoya kei".


Here's a quick summary of the japanese wiki on nagoya kei for anyone interested:


"Nagoya kei is a sub-genre of japanese rock music. It is also used in the visual kei scene for bands in the 1990's who were hailing from the Nagoya area (at the time these bands were called "keshou-kei" "back combed hair-kei" and they drew inspiration from punk, post-punk and gothic music. 


Bands who giged at the fujigaoka live house "Nagoya MUSIC FARM" were often called Nagoya kei bands. The difference between this and regular visual kei is that their lyrics often had lyrics about depression, dark themes, violent songs and in general darker looks."


Some bands that the wiki mention as Nagoya kei bands are: CLowley, Sniper, Tilt, Laputa, Lucifer Luscious Violenoue, Sleep my dear, Kuroyume, Silver-Rose, Merry go round etc.


They also mention bands like deadman, blast, gullet, lamiel, phobia, the studs, lynch. etc, but because they were formed after the 90's they are usually not called Nagoya kei bands, but simply "Visual kei". 

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@TakadanobabaalienI don’t disagree, I hate pigeon-holing genres. And what once distinguished Nagoya Kei isn’t isolated to that scene anymore, as the looks and sounds have assimilated into the wider visual kei spectrum. It’s pretty obsolete now.

I don’t think any source is definitive of the subgenre - even english wikipedia cited Asahi Shinbun’s article on Nagoya Kei, but that doesn’t make it closed to interpretation. 


Side note: Apparently the term Nagoya Kei predates Visual Kei, so @haiironoanemoneyou might consider this if you’re excluding kotekote


Having said that, what about...

  • art-kei - moran, amber gris, more, sioux
  • zetsubou-kei - avelcain
  • food-kei - dezert
  • homage-kei - grieva, gossip
  • vk-djentcore - jiluka
  • grandpa-kei - chaos system, number mouse, the piass
  • chikasen-kei - every under code band ever
Edited by helcchi

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@anakurois right all around: it should be "osare" and "kote-osa" and the majority of these terms are out of use. it's fine and interesting to discuss the genres created and upheld in foreign fandom but it has very little to do with the current actual scene in Japan; if you want to write a paper you may want to point this fact out.

to further echo her the only ones i see getting regular-ish use in japanese fan spaces are kirakira and abare (which isn't a music genre but just bands with lots of hardcore hairwhipping over cute furi as the audience participation style),  and sometimes kote, tanbi and shironuri (again, not a musical genre or specific to vk but just whiteface bands).  no -kei required usually.


sofubi is 90's as shit (Waive/Sophia/Janne), misshitsu-kei/chikashitsu-kei was pronounced a dead meme even in this common bangya vocab list everyone cites that was last edited in 2009 and probably originally written long before that. what qualifies as "nagoya kei" is contentious as shit and almost means a whole separate set of bands to foreigners/Japanese gya as you can see from @Takadanobabaalien's translation of the Japanese wiki vs. thoughts here.


if you just want to compile anything that was ever called a genre or a "-kei" there is also pikopiko-kei (not limited to vk though, just beep boop video game-esque electronic music) and apparently according to some random old bangya blogs iryou-kei (medical themed bands ala LuLu).


oh, and don't forget 糞盤, the most important subcategory of all

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a pretty safe boundary for nagoya kei is that it died after 2004; this is the boundary most often drawn by jp fans (based on what i've read and seen). lynch. don't consider themselves nagoya kei and they are the single biggest name to come out of the nagoya kei underground after it basically died so that should mean something. no one commonly labeled as nagoya kei post-2004 refers to themselves as a  nagoya kei band from what i've read, mostly they just see themselves as rock musicians.

calling avelcain nagoya kei is the same as calling old lycaon nagoya kei; just because they were nagoya based doesn't mean it had anything to do with lamiel, phobia, rouage, laputa etc.

also, if you want your thesis/dissertation to have any weight you should have some kind of logic as to where you, the writer, draws the subgenre boundaries and how it compares to the actual fandom.

Edited by emmny

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japanese call those bands "soft kei"


I will ask 2 of my japanese friends later.

who listen much to old and new kei.

lets see how they call it. lets see if they use sub terms. 


but I often only see people write visual kei.   without any sub term.






As for lyrics.

I've read lot's of lyrics of so many bands and I don't think you can separate bands by lyrics.

sometimes  band looks dark as fack, but their lyrics are happy happy shizzel and sometimes band looks colorful as the brightest heaven and their lyrics are truly dark including bunch of suicide notes. 

If you really want to write anything about lyrics, cut off the subgenre thing and simple write about lyrics in general, how they are the same or maybe different from the western world?

Edited by BrenGun

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4 hours ago, anakuro said:

also as an ensoku fan I've gotta point out--you used the band name for everything else but when it came to ensoku you wrote the song name this is a pen. 


there's actually a vk band called 'this is a pen' (http://this-is-a-pen.net/) although in all likelihood OP might have been referring to ensoku /shrugs.


most of what i have to say about genres and how they are mostly a matter of historical interest rather than categories of contemporary relevance have already been said. even 'kirakira' and 'abare' are very blunt ways of thinking about vk in general, and its inadequacy is acknowledged by large sections of the fanbase. sdm probably has more fans wearing kira rings than smileberry but their furi is as aggressive as metalcore vk bands. what about rides in revellion--would they be kira or abare? there are numerous other examples one can give. also, flip through one of the latest free papers and you're like to find at least a handful of bands expressly rejecting these labels in their interview since they think of themselves as doing music unconstrained by generic conventions.


i'm also wondering why you're troubling yourself with such extensive taxonomic legwork on genres which seems unlikely to be beneficial for a paper on lyrics--something that ordinarily relies on close reading as its primary mode of analysis. if you're going to do proper academic work on 'vk lyrics' (whatever that may mean) by cobbling together 5 bands from each subgenre that you've listed, you'll probably need to write a 3-volume treatise to say something of value that isn't reductive. my point is that lyrics are singular phenomena unique to each band, and it's very difficult to extrapolate the lyrics of one band to make a more general claim about a vk subgenre (assuming such a subgenre can even be stably conceived), much less 'vk' itself as a whole, at least for the purposes of a seminar paper.

Edited by hiroki

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1 minute ago, hiroki said:


there's actually a vk band called 'this is a pen' (http://this-is-a-pen.net/) although in all likelihood OP might have been referring to ensoku /shrugs.

oh ok I'd never heard of that band and if OP is talking about that then my bad
but i do feel like it is ensoku based on the category they placed it in

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anyway I asked a few Japanese friends who love visual kei, let's see what they say.


But as said before, I doubt that they come up with many....

I don't really see them using any terms.

What I see they call it mostly 90'-kei, soft-kei, rock-kei, metal-kei, nagoya-kei (only if they talk about old nagoya bands)


But let's see *_*

after reading this topic more after my first answer, I really got curious.





EDIT 01:

We often use tanbi, kirakira, nagoya, angura, and kote. Other words are not so much used these days…

Yes, we often use kirakira for bands such as Sick2, smile berry, WING WORKS, and so on.


Also osare-kei seems to be called now kirakira-kei 


EDIT02: shironuri kei is still used often

For example 犬神サアカス團 and 燭台(怪) can be called "shironuri kei". They may be also "angura" for their styles of music and activities.









全員のV系ファンが知っているわけではないと思います サブジャンルに興味がある人は知っている 興味が無い人は知らない


Edited by BrenGun

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Thank you to everyone who shared his/her thoughts about this topic so detailed :oops: I wouldn't have expected so much reaction, but I guess my friend was right about monochrome heaven being awesome to discuss things with other VK-fans after all:lolita_happy: Also thank you to those who even gave me links to some useful topics of this forum or to other useful texts/websites!!!:lright:

I realized a lot through the kind answers and I really might rethink putting bands into those subgenre categories as they are outdated and as the bands themselves mostly don't even use these kind of subgenre terms to describe their concept so a lot of people put different bands into different categories while many bands would probably fit in more than one as each and every band is unique. For example, a Japanese master thesis said the Gazette was kote-kei but other websites put the Gazette in kote-osa kei and it's really hard to categorise a band like that. The subgenres are very loose and actually not clearly stated by anyone. (I totally misunderstood Nagoya-kei for example from what I read online until I read the posts here) If I was to use terms for subgenres for modern VK I would probably have to interview a lot of Japanese fans about how they categorize bands<<


My teacher just said I need to be careful about which bands to chose as they would represent VK in my paper then so my first thought was like what about splitting VK in subgenres and look at the lyrics of each subgenre seperate...but well as I said I have to think about that.

It's really hard to choose bands to represent VK and results might differ upon which bands you choose. My plan was/is to use a content analysis program to find out the most used terms and topics in the lyrics of VK (and maybe some pecularity in the used language) but it's also hard because there are probably changes over time but as I'm only writing a 20 pages seminar paper I can't write  about all the years from ~1980 to today so I would have to decide on a time slot. Before dividing bands into subgenres I thought about taking albums/singles of VK that have made it into the oricon indies charts (the weekly ones as there are only big bands like R-shitei or Kiryu in the yearly ones) in a certain time frame but I also don't know how representative that is and which timeframe would be good to choose. My thought was the last 5 years as I know the most about recent bands but maybe I should choose some complete different topic orz

It would be easier if it was a master thesis where you can write way more pages than just some seminar paper ><



And also I need to apologize because I always mistake this is a pen with Ensoku because of the song, but I actually meant Ensoku and not this is a pen:lolita_sad: I will take care from now on to write the right band name of the band I actuall mean (>_<);; Already saw Ensoku live three times together with my fav. band so it's a shame I still mistake the band name ><;;


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OF course you can write about the last 5 years.  You can choose some bands and even study about where their inspiration came from, from which former vkei bands.


However to write about what really represent VK, If you really want do it good, it will be as so tick as good tick book which even never really will end.



But yes to interview Japanese visual kei fans is also a good thing, they also can tell you their thoughts about visual kei.

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I think that with the exception of the obvious labels such as Kotekote, Oshare, Angura, Eroguro, Nagoya and  perhaps one more all others are irrelevant and you can classify them as simply Visual Kei.


Today's bands seem really hard to put in a specific subgenre. I don't think bands today need to be thought in those terms anymore...

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