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Google trends showing the decline of visual kei

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Noticed something interesting when I was exploring worldwide trends for the search term "visual kei" on google - that tiny spike earlier this year just happened to be when youtubers react to visual kei came out:

isFMdlC.png

 

So visual kei is dead. And at the rate it is going now, will be even dead-er; A scene stagnating on the same looks and sounds, rarely venturing out musically if at all. But it wasn't always that way. Although it would be  appropriate to refer to the 90s golden era of vk to remind us of how opulent the scene once was, I want to bring back memories of 2009.

 

In October 2008, Kerrang ran a feature on jrock, publishing an article predicting jrock to go big in Europe in 2009.

And sure enough, google trends highlighted the correlation clearly, confirming that the search terms "j-rock" and "visual kei" did indeed peak between January and March 2009.

 

However, following vk's brief global success was a period of near-exponential decline - to what we see now as the lowest point of popularity vk has ever experienced in a 12 year time-span. Even that spike in August wasn't enough to break above 2004's lowest point.

 

Personally, I'd been a passive fan of visual kei for many years prior to 2009, but it wasn't until 2009 that I became fully engaged. One prominent catalyst was Japanese blogging platform Ameba launching its virtual community ‘Pigg’ that year, becoming a game changer in the way fans and bands could interact. Popular musicians were also given accounts powered by ameba, a la twitter's verified personalities.

 

I remember 2009 as a year that several vk bands were going major and gaining international recognition. It was no surprise that vk reached its global height by being much more accessible through social media and other digital channels. This momentum seemed to be gaining quickly until 2010 brought a sharp turn of unfortunate events within the scene and the emergence of kpop poached a large part of the international vk audience.

 

However, the situation in Japan is a bit different, as vk has been pretty steady since it had already declined by the turn of the century. The search term "ヴィジュアル系" on google trends says as much.

 

A few years ago, major labels published all those visual kei cover albums probably in an attempt to raise the relevance of visual kei, but the hype had pretty much died by then. The drought of talent and variety meant that each band was no better than the other, and was enough for many people to lose interest. Stricter piracy laws also meant that music had become less accessible, with people being reluctant to pay the exorbitant prices of some CDs. Not to mention the discontinuation of many vk magazines as an indication of the scene's current degradation. Marketing and business models that worked in the 90s and early 00s struggle to find significance in the present day, yet management has not evolved to adapt to current trends (or have done so poorly).

 

Now that the last of the influential underground vk labels is defunct, vk doesn't have the backing and budget as it once did. X Japan and Luna Sea are like the only lifeline left for vk - there can't even be a vk festival without either X Japan or Luna Sea in the lineup.

 

I remember reading an interview where Yohio mentioned that he kinda killed western interest in vk, but I don't particularly attribute that to those western vk acts damaging the reputation of this uniquely japanese scene. Bands such as D'espairsRay, girugamesh, the Underneath, Rentrer en Soi, Dio, UnsraW and Black:List etc who laid the groundwork for vk to make its mark in the west are no longer around. I'm surprised lynch. didn't carry the torch.

 

I don't want this thread to sound too much like #resurrectvk, but instead I want ignite a discussion (and maybe create a dialog) - how did the vk boom of '09 affect you in your country, what could've been done differently, or the best things to come out of  that little modern renaissance of vk history.

 

 

Edited by helcchi

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Well, I got into VK in like 99. I'd say the 09 boom was definitely a high point because you could find almost anything on a multitude of sites though granted the quality wasn't as good as it is today. (128bitrate all over). It was a fun ride, and the ride keeps going. WE are here and we like visual kei. As long as the core group remains it shall never die in America.  It's our job to bring it to those who are interested, and that doesn't just go for visual kei but Japanese music in general. Even otonomai/yorukaze/younmai is gone now, besides shitty blogs holding the last remnants of years gone by, this is the core site.

 

#RideOrDieTogether

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How did the vk boom of '09 affect you in your country?

 

A lot of the emo/scene-kids in Sweden started liking vk. Mainly Dir en grey, Girugamesh and Mucc. They moved on to the next "cool thing" when the fad was over (new metal/death-core bands or kpop). Some people are still interested in the scene, but it's mainly fans who's into the scene for a long time. One would think YOHIO and his gang would spark up the interest but he fails to promote any Japanese bands whatsoever and instead completely focuses on the swed-kei scene. 

 

What could've been done differently?

 

We had a company called Newnippon. They brought most of the bands over here. They could've been more professional and maybe some bands would still like to work with them. Since the interest is little to none nowadays I think it's basically over though. In general I think the VK-bands could've promoted themselves better as well (like K-pop bands) but I guess in the end VK is an underground-scene and therefore won't attract as much fans as the K-pop scene eitherway. A lot of the "vk fans" were also just in it for "cute japanese boyz" and I guess they figured cute korean boys works just as well.

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19 minutes ago, Takadanobabaalien said:

 

 

. In general I think the VK-bands could've promoted themselves better as well (like K-pop bands) but I guess in the end VK is an underground-scene and therefore won't attract as much fans as the K-pop scene eitherway. A lot of the "vk fans" were also just in it for "cute japanese boyz" and I guess they figured cute korean boys works just as well.

 

I'm still in it for the "cute japanese boyz" hahaha.

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I'm surprised that 2009 was the peak. It was already around that time I was complainin' how there's no good shows to attend lol. With that said, those shows that we did have sold very well and a few bands could even venture to have gigs in the second largest city of the country as well. 

I reckon the pop culture peak of visual kei in Finland was in 2007-2008 when the odd few bands made the telly and got gifted some magazine space. Shows were packed, the fashion was wild, no koreans gnawing in on the real estate, events that were associated with visual kei could actually be held at relatively low risk.

 

 

What's up for debate though, is how the new fanbase of the peak years wasn't able to recover from the crucial wave of hiatus', disbandments and stylistic changes that the most popular bands went through around the turn of the 2010's. Everyone should recall how often one heard people lamenting on the state of the scene with ambiguous claims of a lack of X, Y and Z, setting the scene for the gradual petering out either to the clutches of the koreans or just general normalcy. This is the way of the flesh for a fad certainly, and nobody is able to sustain creative output nor popularity for an extended period of time, but that's not all that there is to it. I suppose among great many other things, it's not unjust to consider public merely as fickle if their visual kei habit was dependent on the existence of Dio and Unsraw. Visual kei on the internet had good enough infrastructure to allow these people to discover new and old bands with relative ease, but one should still never underestimate the stupidity and the incapability of the rank and file to utilize such tools perfectly well in their disposal. There are still people who'll waltz into a conversation, feigning willful ignorance, saying "OH THESE BANDS OF TODAY AREN'T LIKE THE GIRUGAMESH OF YORE. SO WHAT HAPPENED WITH THAT VISUAL KEI?". This means that relative interest is there; they haven't forgotten about it, so what gives? 

 

A certain contributing factor that I don't think gets brought up enough is the bush league organising and the sheer ineptitude of the promoters. The fad really blew its wad during the two years it was at its peak, and it wasn't sustainable. Absurdly dumb, dead certainly set for failure, shows got booked even as late as 2015: and anyone with a lick of sense ought to know that in the long term a no-show is always better than a small-shit show. When you're flopping the proper course of action is never to keep on flopping until you can flop no more, but to change the approach. Rest assured a lot of money and contacts have been squandered by idiots already one foot out the door. Unsraw's European tour is a classic example, and Merry's a more recent one. If you're not able to project that there's no demand, and that by booking this there'll be no demand in the future, then you're simply not helping.  

 

The networking on the local level wasn't great and at its worst there were even open divisions between the fanbase of privileged rich blogger cunts and those who took the train to shows from their shit provincial towns who could barely afford the mcdonald's and second hand converse ( I confess my dislike of the former, but I'm not merely projecting it. I heard many other people voice it also, completely unprovoked by yours truly. ) When enough shows and events are abjectly booked to fail with a lack of camaraderie to match, the rot is aggravated to spread into the brain, and eventually even the life support in form of a Gazette european tour won't do you no good. Their 2016 show in Helsinki did not sell out. That's equal to the sky falling out in visual kei terms.

 

A curious example of grassroots level organising seemingly done correct: take a look at the pictures of SANA's recent solo tour from from the backarse of eastern europe. Going through all those pictures you'll notice that while the central and western European crowds are only a handful at best, the Russian and Ukrainian shows pull a kind of a crowd that man of SANA's stature has no right of pulling. I'm terribly interested to find out how they've managed to do this. The only reason I can manage to come up with by speculation alone is that the fans of "Japanese stuff" are so organised, if not rabid, that when something is organised, enough effort is done that it'll pull enough solidarity to maintain the scene's health. I swear to God one of those Sana crowds has equal heads to what EAT YOU ALIVE or heidi had here in the past three years. It can't be that there's more fans of this shit there than in here just by sheer chance, luck and coincidence. 

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1 hour ago, Disposable said:

no koreans gnawing in on the real estate

hahaha

 

Sorry, I should’ve put a disclaimer. VK peaked as fast as it declined in 2009, but in the years leading to 09, it was on the rapid rise. So you’re right, it’s better to associate the boom period as ending around 09.

 

Also, I’m a bit scared to pull up the vk obituaries, but if I remember correctly, 2010 had the highest amount of deaths of any year, and that was one of the “misfortunes” I mentioned about 2010.

 

Poor organising seems to be endemic to alternative music - here in Australia, our biggest rock festival Soundwave was axed because the promoter fell in debt due to poor ticket sales and wasn’t able to refund all the tickets. It seems like anyone who’s business-educated knows that pop would be a more lucrative venture and anyone who’s adamant about promoting anything otherwise is 1. most likely just passionate about it and haven’t necessarily attained any formal qualifications to do so and 2. only popular enough in their own circles.

 

Maybe there’s some kind of Sana cult in eastern Europe that we’re not told about, because otherwise wouldn’t every vk band and their grandmothers be flooding Russia right now…

Edited by helcchi

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There's a few things I want to point out while the topic is still young.
 

  1. This is only reliable to gauge foreigner interest in visual kei. I do not know if Japanese fans of visual kei use Google, a different type of search engine, or if they avoid the process altogether and share privately. We have to combine this data with some other sources of data for more info. But this is a great start.
  2. The focus is on March 2009 but the rate of decrease is at its highest in 2010 roughly a year later. Then it peters out. What gives? Well, that's when Tainted World died off and we had to navigate to our ZetaBoards replacement. We used it until the end of 2010-2011 when we are able to get some real hardware and hosting providers (before we were running on total crap and the forum could barely stay up...oldies remember that). In that time I imagine a lot of people's interest died off since they couldn't get free music anymore.
  3. Tour managers shitting the bed bringing visual kei to the masses; fans shitting the bed asking for bands to come and then not going to the concerts.
  4. The sound changing. 2009 is where I'd peg the overall direction of visual kei to change to what it is today. I can't describe it aurally but we all know VK in 2016 isn't the same as VK in 2006. I think this lost a lot of people too when their favorite bands disbanded and there was no one to fill the void.

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In Japan visual kei was already niche. There are big names (Golden Bomber, MUCC, X, Luna Sea) but most of them have to fight now with the emerging "Loud Rock" (metalcore and hard punk) scene. Visual Summit was packed this year. I do wonder why The West lost their interest in VK. 

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Most people in japan use Yahoo, but I don't think Yahoo has a similar trends analysis tool to google. Hence I searched in Japanese, and Japan was the only region available so I didn't have to narrow it down further:

 

Blue: "visual kei" / Region: global

Red: "ヴィジュアル系" / Region: Japan

i8hVgv5.png

 

Also communities and individuals migrating from livejournal to tumblr might've been a factor as well. It created a mess at the time and information sources became convoluted.

Edited by helcchi

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could there be some correlation between myspace fading into obscurity by late 2010, and last.fm following its steps, with tumlr not really being focused on music/media sharing, but rather being granulated into small fandoms and meme reblogging? the myspace/last.fm tandem were relatively efficient for sharing media and luring heterosexual men into mana sama's fandom dungeons.

 

nowadays tho there's barely any way for unsuspecting normies to get acquainted with this genre (visual kei in russia was covered by both animoo/gaming magazines and the local teen vogues of the time around '03-'05) - and I'm not even aware of those existing these days, press took a huge nosedive as well somewhere past 2012;

everything that was spoon-fed in bi-weekly issues is now spread over a dozen blogs/twitters that I have zero interest of following tbh.

 

I think there's an overall trend of Japanese media losing its presence in general (like the only semi-recent development I'm aware of is anime alt-right nazis, aside from regular pokemon iterations); lack of new bands of the same caliber as what used to define VK even in early 2000s is also showing - another Rentrer en soi or kagerou caliber band would be both welcome and will definitely revive interest in the scene. there's not much stuff comparable to those. even a good nightmare or SID copycat without the excess of ayabie's poor choices would probably do something in a scene this dire.

 

5 hours ago, Disposable said:

no koreans gnawing in on the real estate, events that were associated with visual kei could actually be held at relatively low risk.

giphy.gif

 

5 hours ago, Disposable said:

A curious example of grassroots level organising seemingly done correct: take a look at the pictures of SANA's recent solo tour from from the backarse of eastern europe. Going through all those pictures you'll notice that while the central and western European crowds are only a handful at best, the Russian and Ukrainian shows pull a kind of a crowd that man of SANA's stature has no right of pulling. I'm terribly interested to find out how they've managed to do this

It's a combination of higher population density (Tbilisi that you've linked has over a million residents), not much other stuff going on coupled with the novelty factor of a real japanese celeb descending over there, and likely close-knit local vk.com animoo community sharing news in advance.

iirc, the recent gazette moscow gig was sold out in 30 minutes (I can't find a source for this though, was on someone's instagram that I don't follow on the reg.)

Edited by nekkichi

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Clearly the best example we have of this is the rise and fall of Batsu.org ahaha. I remember getting into VK around 04-05 about the time Gundam Seed came out and loving T.M. Revolution's Invoke from their of course was the L'arc discovery of Ready Steady Go and then on to Dir en Grey, The gazzette etc etc

 

Socially no one every cared about VK at least from where I was. Anyone who did was Japanese/Korean and have been familiar with the music their whole lives already. I honestly blame the lack of products and publicity. I remember how difficult it was to buy merchandise. Yes we had Tofu Records but their availability was limited. No one wants to spends $30+ on a cd. I still don't.

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5 hours ago, Atreides said:

Well, I got into VK in like 99. I'd say the 09 boom was definitely a high point because you could find almost anything on a multitude of sites though granted the quality wasn't as good as it is today. (128bitrate all over). It was a fun ride, and the ride keeps going. WE are here and we like visual kei. As long as the core group remains it shall never die in America.  It's our job to bring it to those who are interested, and that doesn't just go for visual kei but Japanese music in general. Even otonomai/yorukaze/younmai is gone now, besides shitty blogs holding the last remnants of years gone by, this is the core site.

 

#RideOrDieTogether

 

Pretty much this, and even earlier than that. This goes for any media type.

Back in the early 00's, P2P file sharing/online pirating sites were free from the laws that had yet to destroy, or corrupt it.

I remember finding music at the drop of a hat, and although they were low quality, they were at least there.

There was minimal fear of viruses, but they were still there. They just weren't as potent as today.

I feel most of us from those times learned how the internet worked, and discovered the scene at some point from our exposure to Anime or Video Games.

 

Good luck finding anything without some sort of malware, viruses, or even a root kit on the web. People just wont take the risk like before, on top of when the laws here in the USA in particular find ways to make sure you get fined.

 

If you run a Google trends for Anime, you may see a similar decline.

It all boils down to lack of resources and marketing/exposure. In fact, Japan's influence in general is slowly declining here in the USA, but I wont go into details there.

 

Truly, the enthusiasts are the ones keeping the scene alive. How long? Idk.

 

Also, as @Zeus had mentioned, people who really weren't interested in the scene, will just give up entirely if the source is cut off.

(Which is funny because I didn't hear about TW, Batsu, or MH back then)

 

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2009 was just a hype period, Also many did learn about visual kei, what it means etc, so why would you still search it 10 years later?

I still think visual kei is big. MH is still running. And the reason why bands can't play in Europe / america is because they are too expensive or the bands which are coming aren't the bands people REALLY want to see. So no wonder why it will flop. of course back in the days it didn't really matter which band you would bring, but if you look up at those names, no real big band EVER came over back then. okay big names where despairs ray and dir en grey. And yes back then everybody loved them and I guess somehow also less expensive than bringing some bands now because Japanese people know that they are loved too overseas.

 

VKEI isn't dead not even in Japan. Maybe the real boom is out, but who knows what will happen in a few years a boom always CAN return.

 

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4 hours ago, DarkWater said:

2009 was just a hype period, Also many did learn about visual kei, what it means etc, so why would you still search it 10 years later?

I still think visual kei is big. MH is still running. And the reason why bands can't play in Europe / america is because they are too expensive or the bands which are coming aren't the bands people REALLY want to see. So no wonder why it will flop. of course back in the days it didn't really matter which band you would bring, but if you look up at those names, no real big band EVER came over back then. okay big names where despairs ray and dir en grey. And yes back then everybody loved them and I guess somehow also less expensive than bringing some bands now because Japanese people know that they are loved too overseas.

 

VKEI isn't dead not even in Japan. Maybe the real boom is out, but who knows what will happen in a few years a boom always CAN return.

 


Even D'espairsRay took a huge financial loss on their MONSTERS tour in the USA. Like I said in my last post there were plenty of online fans begging D'espairsRay to come but not everyone could make it. I remember by the end they were begging people to buy a ticket. I would have...if they didn't play shows exclusively on the West Coast :(

 

5 hours ago, helcchi said:

Most people in japan use Yahoo, but I don't think Yahoo has a similar trends analysis tool to google. Hence I searched in Japanese, and Japan was the only region available so I didn't have to narrow it down further:

 

Blue: "visual kei" / Region: global

Red: "ヴィジュアル系" / Region: Japan

Screen%20Shot%202016-12-29%20at%2012.25.

 

Also communities and individuals migrating from livejournal to tumblr might've been a factor as well. It created a mess at the time and information sources became convoluted.


So then what really matters is the red line and the blue line is extra? That falls in line with what everyone is saying; visual kei was a fad that died out overseas but more or less remained a constant force in Japan (however weak that may be). What's very interesting is how the interests seem to be converging between Japanese fans and overseas.
 

 

It's not quite related but tangentially so. When we placed the new rules into effect last month I created a new user group to make things efficient. Out of the 8000 members we have here only 300 qualified for this group. That number has since doubled but only because of outside incentives, but I'll take it anyway. The 600 is an important number because that's about how many regular members there are on this forum. Lurkers bump it up to ~1000, which means that there are approximately 7000 unused accounts. That's...about the difference in size between the peak and today according to your graph above. Does that mean the size in Japan of visual kei fans are about a few thousand people? When you put it into perspective like that, no wonder the global market is totally unappealing.

 

4 hours ago, YuyoDrift said:

 

 

If you run a Google trends for Anime, you may see a similar decline.

It all boils down to lack of resources and marketing/exposure. In fact, Japan's influence in general is slowly declining here in the USA, but I wont go into details there.

 

 

 


This isn't the anime topic so I'll keep it brief but yesterday I had a conversation with my friend about this very subject. We were not impressed with this season's offerings, we haven't been impressed for the last few seasons, and next season is looking even worse than this season. I'm not even sure how that's possible, but the issue is simple: no originality. Everything is too safe. I've heard all the stories before just different names, different powers, different hair colors. On one hand it takes a lot for an anime to stand out to me, but on the other hand it doesn't take that much at all. But understanding the financial situation of most production studios and how they struggle to turn a profit, and I get it.

I see the same thing happening with visual kei. The same exact thing, which makes me think the problem lies elsewhere in Japan's economy. Like @nekkichi said, the scene hasn't had a powerhouse band for a few years. This void has been sitting there since 2011 and a few bands have been competing for the throne but no one has seized it. It's sad when the "face" of visual kei is YOHIO. We lost a lot of good bands within the last three years and literally nothing interesting has come along to replace them. If you asked me who the biggest names in visual kei are, I'd give you a hearty chuckle before telling you there really aren't any.

 

I also forgot to mention one pivotal event around the start of 2010 2012 that was a real kick in the ass for visual kei. The death of MegaUpload took out so many archived files it wasn't funny. There's still some stuff you can't find today! Byouto went offline. The lossless website Gakuon had to move to P2P exclusively. Private servers got even more private. The files being seized were one thing; the paranoia that came after hasn't really gone away. @CAT5 has plenty of stories from the indie side.

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Just now, Zeus said:


Even D'espairsRay took a huge financial loss on their MONSTERS tour in the USA. Like I said in my last post there were plenty of online fans begging D'espairsRay to come but not everyone could make it. I remember by the end they were begging people to buy a ticket. I would have...if they didn't play shows exclusively on the West Coast :(

 

 

 

Ah, but for Europe it packed out good. But I also think in 2006~2010 it was also more popular in Europe. somehow it still feels as people from the US never really were into VKei, at least not that much as the European people.

 

 

 

 

But visual kei is also a bit smaller in JAPAN.

I went for the first time to Japan in 2012 I went to  shops and going back there in 2016 a few of them ARE smaller.  closet child in shinjuku and ikebukuro are smaller than in 2012.

Also the area of VKEI in some normal CD stores are also a bit smaller than before.

 

But who knows...

Maybe some new good bands will stay alive longer and bring in good music again.

Nowdays it's a bit too much of "ikemen vkei + shit music"  and not "ikemen vkei + good music kei" 

 

In about 3 years another 10 years will end. and then we can look 10 years back again.

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57 minutes ago, Zeus said:

Does that mean the size in Japan of visual kei fans are about a few thousand people?

lol, by that logic, no band will ever meet the criteria to play at O-East again. 

So this is just data from google. I admit it's by no means conclusive and am interested in what results Yahoo will show...it might bump that red line up a bit. I think that if the average capacity  for a one-man show is akin to Takadanobaba Area's, then that's a healthy number.  If you look at the popularity of some of the vk artists on Line, Niconico or Ameba, the numbers speak for themselves.

VK peaked in Japan in the 90s. The west caught on the vk at a time when it was already pretty dead in Japan. The data on google trends only goes back to 2004, but you can still see that it was higher than it is now.

 

57 minutes ago, Zeus said:

the scene hasn't had a powerhouse band for a few years. This void has been sitting there since 2011 and a few bands have been competing for the throne but no one has seized it. It's sad when the "face" of visual kei is YOHIO.

I did touch upon piracy laws and X Japan/Luna Sea holding the fort, which I might elaborate later. Yohio may be the arbitrary face of vk now, but in the broader sense, yoshiki and his vice grip on the entire vk brand wants you to believe that he is.

 

MegaUpload didn't shutdown until 2012, but still a huge blow nonetheless.

Edited by helcchi

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To me, the popularity of post-hardcore and screamo music with younger audiences also peaked in that same '09 time, which, stylistically, V-Kei shared sonic similarities with.  Not to mention American festival runs were featuring Japanese bands (like family values with Dir en grey, a Taste of Chaos with Mucc/D'espairsRay, etc.) to build the Japanese music exposure with artists that shared their sound with.

 

... but then came the EDM and Dance-pop wave that took the wind right out of the sails of rock popularity.  Now you have metal artists pushing more electronics into their sound to try to bridge that gap, and it is just not keeping people interested in the genre.

 

I think the decline of V-Kei has more to do with the decline of Rock in the face of dance-pop and EDM than it specifically does with just the niche of V-Kei.  I mean, you have people also jumping on the K-Pop bandwagon now more than ever, showcasing the popularity of embracing Dance-pop/EDM sonic sound that is "so hot right now" with the kidz of today.  Rock and metal festivals are also struggling in the U.S. to stay afloat, so it shows that right now, there is no money in promoting the genre.  As a result, less people are exposed to rock-oriented groups that typically would not seek them out, and you have decline.

 

Luckily the internet is alive and well and people have many resources to search for music; The responsibility is now on people like us to bring V-Kei, J-Rock, and guitar centered music to the younger group of impressionable listeners that are more interested in mumble-rap and EDM divas today.

 

Those are just my thoughts.  This is an interesting topic!

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Having been around and about in the scene back in the day, having talking to people left, right and center: I have this feeling that most of those people didn't download a thing from blogspots and messageboards. In fact the people I introduced to visual kei blogspots were absolutely mind blown that such a places existed, because it wasn't common knowledge. The average people, ie. the paying public who actually did the needle moving in 2006-2009 made due with services ingrained in the culture at large at the time: winmx, limewire and the others, most importantly of all Youtube. It is staggering that there still exists a considerable segment of people who consume visual kei by Youtube or EU-editions only. This is anecdotal on my part obviously, but I'm confident that anyone who actively took part in the fad in Europe wouldn't outright disagree with the observation. One should never forget that most of the people are pretty dumb, and back in 2006-2009 not everyone was as internet savvy as today either. I legitimately think that those who actually were the monetarily contributing members of the swell in popularity hardly made themselves a presence on the messageboards, livejournals and etc. They just went to shows, bought EU-presses and lived out their bum lives in peace until kpop or adulthood came knocking. 

 

1 hour ago, helcchi said:

Also communities and individuals migrating from livejournal to tumblr might've been a factor as well. It created a mess at the time and information sources became convoluted.

 

I think this is the biggest contributing factor to the divisions within the existing hardcore community. Message board culture isn't what it used to be in general ( In vk I think that lj -> tumblr migration is one cause of this. ain't no1 got time 2 write ), and a majority people prefer to spam pictures and communicate with a character limit.

A lot of folk aren't cut for that message board life either, and this place especially I can imagine freaks out A LOT of people. As far as message boards go MH has been the premier destination for a long time, but there are people even in my circle who don't like to read or post here due to the perceived "hostile" atmosphere ( well... they're not exactly wrong on that count). So those at least in the anglosphere prefer Twitter and Tumblr, which is where you definitely have to go these days if you want to make friends. 

 

What this sort of reminds me of is a group of activists spreading leaflets and their bi-monthly journals on the street and wondering why no one cares. They're not losing heart though, because back in the 60's their predecessors were a force, so naturally history should just be cyclical and one day we'll be back in the mix doing what we've always done! Organise those fucking SANA and Satsuki concerts until not even the bouncers show up: then blame the fans and the bands for being lazy and greedy. A good allegory is that there's no party without a base and there's no base without a party. It's a puzzle that we most likely will never be able to solve and in a good 30-50 years when rock music is completely irrelevant and faded under the wave of flying cars and synthesiser music, we'll be right there with 'm. Like @TheStoicsaid the winds of popular culture are so against us that it's an uphill struggle to gain any notice in the wider world, and in addition we as the underground fucked up on the organisational front to even grant ourselves the whatever few shows we did used to get annually. 

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Huh, by 2009 I was heading into my longest break from visual-kei so to speak. Especially after disbanding of Kagerou, Rentrer en Soi and Phantasmagoria. Some of other favourites followed soon after, cementing the break for me. The fandom in my country fragmented itself few years earlier, and I had no idea how to approach the groups of young, new fans. I was way too old for this stuff in their eyes.

 

I also remember it was the time v-kei fandom started losing its presence on manga convention - before there was always j-music dedicated room, or even two - one for prelections, events, contests, make-up presentations etc, and other for pv viewing.

 

Global fandom wise I think it's a combination of several factors. Tightened anti-piracy grip which made it harder for new people to find something and gain their introduction, could be one thing. Fall of myspace and great livejournal exodus too. I still fondly remember numerous communities either focused on band, label, or other kind of activity, like live reports, magazine scans, making pretty graphics, lyrics translation, fanart and so on. Fansites died a bit before too.

 

Tumblr might be okay for pretty graphics, but it's hard to hold a discussion there. You can have a blog dedicated to one thing, where you only reblog things related to that - but it's a blog, not community of people who interact with each other. 

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As someone who has been here since the early days of Tainted World, I can only say that I agree that a lot of the decline seems to be due to a lack of exchange online. When my interest in VK sparked again a few months ago, MH was pretty much the only place I could go to, since the rest of the international community is way too spread. It's virtually impossible to have a proper discussion about recent stuff going on in the scene outside of MH, and as @Disposable said, message boards are more or less a thing of the past (although I feel like the atmosphere here is way less hostile by now, or maybe it's just me growing a thicker skin with age). There are some large facebook pages like the Visual Loner blog which are up to date and would theoretically allow people to exchange, but somehow most facebook users can't be bothered beyond "reacting" to a post or linking some names under it. I still feel that YT plays quite a large role in the decline of interest too, mainly because it was an easy way to discover new bands through the recommended or related videos. But since YT got crippled by all the copyright nonsense, it's hard use it the way people used it a few years ago.

 

As for bands who could fill the void girugamesh, D'espairsRay etc left, there really seems to be no band which I feel has what it takes (except for maybe Dadaroma, they have quite a big presence on YT compared to your average VK band and recently got a big boost through the Fine Bros video). It also seems like it's never new musicians who form the more appreciated bands, but always people that have been or used to be popular before, so there is rarely this feeling of novelty that bands like girugamesh had when they started out. Plus many bands feel very inconsistent or have too much output to really leave an expression.

 

Here in Germany, we still have a few concerts every year though and some of them seem to sell quite well - from what I've heard, Nocturnal Bloodlust's show was very crowded.

Edited by Kaleidoscope

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2 hours ago, Zeus said:


 @CAT5 has plenty of stories from the indie side.

 

The parallels between the decline of VK and the undoing of the global J-indie scene are almost scary. By 2009, the fandom had already gone into recession and has since only snowballed into oblivion. Granted, the J-indie world has never had the viral reaches of VK, but what little we did have is all but a snapshot in the web archives now. There have been a few sparks here and there, but it's never been enough to ignite that oh-so necessary communal flame. Thankfully, the VK community has had MH here as a pillar of sorts, while the feeble structures of the J-indie scene mostly lie in ruins with too few enthusiasts around to help excavate.

 

I could point towards a few things that I think lent a hand to the global J-indie scene's decline from within, but given the almost parallel time-line between it and the global VK scene, it does make me wonder what external factors might have affected both international scenes (in addition to the points some of you have already mentioned!)

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5 hours ago, Hakari said:

Clearly the best example we have of this is the rise and fall of Batsu.org ahaha. I remember getting into VK around 04-05 about the time Gundam Seed came out and loving T.M. Revolution's Invoke from their of course was the L'arc discovery of Ready Steady Go and then on to Dir en Grey, The gazzette etc etc

 

Socially no one every cared about VK at least from where I was. Anyone who did was Japanese/Korean and have been familiar with the music their whole lives already. I honestly blame the lack of products and publicity. I remember how difficult it was to buy merchandise. Yes we had Tofu Records but their availability was limited. No one wants to spends $30+ on a cd. I still don't.

 

Batsu was a cancerous horrible place, but it was a bastion of visual kei.

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52 minutes ago, CAT5 said:

I could point towards a few things that I think lent a hand to the global J-indie scene's decline from within, but given the almost parallel time-line between it and the global VK scene, it does make me wonder what external factors might have affected both international scenes (in addition to the points some of you have already mentioned!)

AFAIK, it seems to just be a general decline in Japanese things. In the 00s, anime (and Japan in general) was a lot "fresher" and interesting to people. I think it was around the end of the 00s that interest really started to fade. Others can probably qualify this better, but around that time there were a lot of people going to uni with a major in Japanese who had jumped ship around that point to study Korean instead. I feel like Japan themselves has noticed this as well. I've seen a much bigger push in the last few years for trying to get people interested in traveling there from their tourism bureau. 

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@Zeus Didn't D'espa come to NYC? I remember at the time you couldn't get into the venue unless you were 21+ and I turned 21 about 6 days after the show so I complained on their promoter's Facebook group lolol

 

 

Kind of just thinking aloud, but does it seem plausible that the decline in interest in vkei and Japanese things in general have to do with the general populace's expectation of someone who likes these things is?

 

I've noticed something similar in other communities, such as Tumblr as an example. There were rabid superwholock protohumans running amuck from 2012~2014 or so, then almost immediately stopped mid-2014. Like, cold turkey. People who liked that were associated with being annoying, overzealous, and probably change their pronouns as the seasons come and go, etc, which really deterred casuals from even trying any of that collective's interests for fear of being "like them."

 

When I saw Kamijo in 2015, most of the audience was what I would generally surmise an anime fan to be like--kinda greasy, lacks social grace, probably collects dragon statues, and will end up working at Gamestop till they're 40.

 

The way people are now more connected with each other means that more people have at least heard of anime or maybe doesn't quite know what that is, but knows of people who like "weird Japanese things" (quote from my sister). Social media today is absolutely nothing like it was in 2006 and it exposes people to a number of things they would not otherwise know about, but only enough to get a general idea of who might be interested in a subject and subsequently form an image of the kind of people who would enjoy it.

 

tl;dr people probably don't care as much in the west because they think it's for gross weebs

 

52 minutes ago, Biopanda said:

Others can probably qualify this better, but around that time there were a lot of people going to uni with a major in Japanese who had jumped ship around that point to study Korean instead.

 

#IStuckWithIt

#MyExpensivePieceOfPaperSaysSo

#HontoniNihonJin

#waaKireinaUmi

Edited by Peace Heavy mk II

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