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A Brief History of Visual Kei: Unnecessary Symbols & Punctuation in Band Names

Unnecessary Symbols & Punctuation in VK Band Names Poll  

61 members have voted

  1. 1. Which symbol denotes the most quality in a VK band/name?

    • +
      2
    • 28
    • 13
    • 3
    • Any Greek letter
      6
    • Another one I'll tell you about below
      9


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One of the small joys of being a VK fan is the unique phenomenon of enjoying a band while having absolutely no idea how to say their name. And I don’t mean because a band’s name is in Japanese, I’m talking those band names that are ostensibly written in English but because of weird characters or punctuation you just have no idea how to properly pronounce or verbalize their moniker correctly (although most of the time the pronunciation just completely ignores the extraneous symbols).

 

Let’s try and trace the history of these unnecessary symbols and letters in VK bands’ names and highlight the influence (or lack thereof) of these punctuation provocateurs.

 

 

D’erlanger

5mz383.jpg

 

The band: One of the proto-visual kei bands that began in the ‘80s and had an outsize influence on the first generation of post-X visual bands.

 

The nameD’erlanger kinda makes sense as a French word, so they themselves are forgiven, but it is apparent a lot of teenagers in the 80s who would go on to become players in the golden age of visual kei saw that apostrophe and thought “oh cool!” for entirely unintended reasons.

 

I said D’erlanger makes sense as a French word… but it’s not a very ‘band name’ kind of word. Can’t imagine throwing up the metal horns to a band called ‘from Erlangen’.

 

See alsoL’Arc~en~CielLa’Cryma CristiLa’Mule

 

 

L’Arc~en~Ciel

11r6aeo.jpg

 

The band: No introduction necessary really. Almost certainly on the Mount Rushmore of VK bands, whether or not you like what they’ve done since the start of the new millennium (and I don’t). Pretty and melodious songs with just enough edge to appeal to a wide swath of fans. Not to mention a sexy frontman.

 

The name: Another word that makes sense if you’re French, but L’Arc~en~Ciel up the ante by adding some tildes for no reason other than young Tetsuya and Hyde probably thought they added an even more magical feeling to the word ‘rainbow’.

 

L’Arc~en~Ciel’s (making their name possessive *does* add a certain balance to the word…) popularity in both VK circles and a mainstream audience meant that adding dumb punctuation in the middle of your name for no reason was now completely tolerated.

 

Tetsuya has specifically denied he got the L’Arc~en~Ciel moniker from a cafe near where he worked as a teenager with the same name. It may have also been stolen from the D.H. Lawrence book ‘Rainbow’, but even that story is tainted because it includes the *movie* version.

 

See also: a million song and album titles with tildes in them, E’m ~grief~

 

 

cali≠gari

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The band: Either groundbreaking, experimental rock that revolutionized and kick-started the ‘eroguro kei’ genre, or dissonant-sounding weirdos; depending on your tastes.

 

The name: Obviously lifted from the groundbreaking German silent horror film “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”; an admittedly cool source of inspiration for an art-y VK band. The name even has a cool rhyme and visual symmetry when written/pronounced in Japanese (カリガリ).

 

See also: a ton of also-ran bands that have stuck unnecessary equals signs in their names: Loz'a≠Veria, D≒sire, Kar+te=zyAnoseEyes≒MirrorgePARANOID≠CIRCUS

 

 

ZI:KILL

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The band: Early VK rockers that burned out too quickly to be mentioned among the all-timers.

 

The name: Originally formed as G:KILL, which doesn’t shed any light onto the inspiration for the name, but is an interesting fact. G/Zi:Kill both *kinda* sound like Jekyll when katakan-ized, and Visual Kei has no lack of love for that story.

 

You may be noticing a trend so far; early VK bands apparently hated having blank spaces in their names.

 

See alsoLa:Sadie’s, ru:natic,【_Vani;lla】ha;qchDAS:VASSER, L'yse:nore

 

 

Aliene Maφriage

2elzfxu.jpg

 

The band: One of the harbingers of VK starting to get really dark and almost certainly offending the middle-aged parents of the teenagers listening to it. Lots of leather and hair... and in Aliene’s case; some good songwriting to back it up.

 

The name: In the book Freakonomics the authors cite a study that shows, all other things being equal, people are more likely to be asked to interview for jobs if the interviewer/hiring manager can pronounce their name. I have to believe this is why even Kyoka & Co. started writing their name simply Aliene Ma’riage eventually; they were probably tired of having to pitch things to record label execs who looked at their name and thought “pass” before they even heard the banshee wails.

 

I couldn’t find anything about the origins of their name. It is a vast improvement over their original moniker Autism though.

 

See also√eight∋elf gravity∈ZETSURIN⚡HAGUKI

 

 

Kagrra,

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The band: The undisputed kings of beautiful neo-japonisme in VK.

 

The name: Even Kagrra,, who peddled a very classic Japanese aesthetic, weren’t immune to an unnecessary flourish such as a comma at the end of their name which, when spoken, led to a kind of hesitant mumble as if you were supposed to continue a train of thought which was still at the station. I mean, revisit that previous sentence I wrote, should it really have been written “Even Kagrra,,”? Kagrra,’s name certainly gave the editing staff at Shoxx a headache.

 

Kagrra,, originally called Crow, took their name from 神楽 (Kagura), a Shinto music and dance tradition.

 

See also: Thankfully the comma didn’t catch on much.

 

 

+DéspairsRay+

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The band: One of the rare examples of a band who can pull off unabashed zetsubou unironically and follow it up with soaring choruses and catchy melodies without sounding disjointed.

 

The name: Another band that dropped some of the more superfluous parts of their name as soon as they started to gain some popularity. If I had to guess, their name is probably one of the most mistagged in VK. I know for sure if I opened iTunes right now I’d have songs by +DéspairsRay+, DéspairsRay, D’espairs Ray, Despairs Ray and probably more in my artist lineup.

 

The members of the band haven’t commented specifically on how they chose the name, with Zero even saying “It's nothing special.” I interpret this as ‘we know it’s dumb, don’t ask about it please’.

 

See alsoVAL+IX+LIAMARRY+AN+BLOODTi+Dee

 

 

Nuvc:gu

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The band: Nobodies.

 

The name: I honestly was pronouncing this “nuv-ka-goo” until I heard @Biopanda say “New vogue” in a Rarezhut stream and the lightbulb went off. I almost want to give them credit for using the *shape* of punctuation to emulate letters, but then I realize that’s incredibly stupid unless you’re working with some seriously custom fonts.

 

See alsoVΩID, k@mikazeSHAD∞WXOVER

 

 

Exist†trace

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The band: Probably the most successful all-girl-kei band ever (which unfortunately isn’t saying much). Started out very gothy and have gradually transitioned to a more mainstream sound. They let the pretty one sing and it makes me sad because Jyou has come up with some flat out beautiful, haunting vocal melodies.

 

The name: Miko said in an interview that,

 

Quote

the name “exist†trace” means not only “to leave behind the proof of living,” but I feel that it also means “How large of an impact can I leave within someone?"

And let’s be honest, that explanation makes no sense. It sounds cool though, and really that’s what you need in a band name (and something unique that can be Googled).

 

My biggest problem with their cross symbol is that it probably shows up as a question mark or some other placeholder punctuation 20% of the time because who the hell has the time to look up the unicode symbols? (although I’m sure people who write about Witch-house bands have the code for the cross symbol memorized.)

 

See alsoSerpentine†GhostJail†BreakerVice†risk

 

 

xTripx

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The band: A surprisingly endearing mix of oshare kei and numetal.

 

The name: Weirdly, I always pronounce the first ‘x’ in xTripx’s name but not the last one (ecks-trip). I actually think more bands need to come to terms with the fact that eventually the world will run out of new band names and everyone will have to resort to having a moniker that looks like a circa-2002 emo fan’s AIM screenname.

 

See alsoxジハードx【TRiANGLE▼SONiX】, Noi’X

 

 

12012

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The band: Undercode stalwarts that started out lo-fi and disjointed and nu-metal influenced but very charming, and graduated to poppier fare when they decided to take a stab at becoming famous.

 

The name: ‘Ichi ni zero ichi ni’ if you’re Japanese, ‘twelve-o’-twelve’ if you’re me. Allegedly named after a section of the California penal code that deals with illegal weapons… and that actually kind of tracks. It’s an extremely boring section though (besides we know Wataru prefers hand-to-hand combat):

 

Quote

12012.  The Attorney General shall provide investigative assistance
to local law enforcement agencies to better ensure the investigation
of individuals who are armed and prohibited from possessing a
firearm.

 

Not a cool law for a band name. I think we’ve got a retconned term a la 420 and 311.

 

See also: Plenty of other band names that need a pronunciation guide:  0801弐209XX6* (zero hachi), …。(silence), 6→7 (upper)

 

*The guitarist of zero hachi should get an unnecessary punctuation in band names lifetime achievement award. He was in all these bands according to vkdb: †Zaide†,  Diod'honneur,  カレヰドre:Make0801弐209XX6.

 

Be sure to add your favorite band name with unnecessary punctuation!

Edited by The Reverend

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On 3/22/2018 at 10:16 AM, The Reverend said:

xTripx

166hkww.jpg

 

The band: A surprisingly endearing mix of oshare kei and numetal.

 

The name: Weirdly, I always pronounce the first ‘x’ in xTripx’s name but not the last one (ecks-trip). I actually think more bands need to come to terms with the fact that eventually the world will run out of new band names and everyone will have to resort to having a moniker that looks like a circa-2002 emo fan’s AIM screenname.

 

See alsoxジハードx【TRiANGLE▼SONiX】, Noi’X

 

 

1. GUILTY AS CHARGED I've always mentally pronounced them xTRIP.

2. Shouldn't it be xTRPx?

 

Also props to Nuvc:gu for one of the least obvious pronunciations ever devised, right up there with kar+te=zyAnose (like srsly tho how do you pronounce that). I would have never thought "new vogue". I have a feeling a lot of the bands here are unknown because no one ever knew how to tell them about it, and then they could barely ever spell it.

 

I'd love to see a companion list of all day of vk bands with the most generic, impossible to google names.

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6 minutes ago, Zeus said:

kar+te=zyAnose (like srsly tho how do you pronounce that).

It's a combination of Karte (German for Medical Charts/records) and a misspelling of Cyanose

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This is a really cool idea for a list. I love it. 

 

I do have to ask though, why do you say Miko's explanation of their name makes no sense? "to leave behind the proof of living" literally, traces of existence = exist trace. Yes, it may be a bit oversimplified but makes sense so me... 

 

I put other -even though it kind of goes with Kagrra,'s comma- is the period

LM.C

lynch. 

…。【サイレンス】 

アリス九號.

D.I.D

UNiTE.

 

Quality. Full stop. 

Edited by doombox

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4 hours ago, AimiGen7 said:

Voted ≠ because cali≠gari. 

I remember once coming across a VisualKei band whose entire name was a bunch of unicode symbols, but I can't remember the name (and honestly, who could?)

same reasoning for the unequal sign vote

 

On 22/03/2018 at 7:16 AM, The Reverend said:

See alsoVΩID, k@mikazeSHAD∞WXOVER

XOVER? how does it fit with the other bands?

 

I would add extensions of the band name:

凛 -the end of corruption world-

Versailles -Philharmonic Quintet-

 

I call them Lin and Versailles only

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10 hours ago, AimiGen7 said:

Voted ≠ because cali≠gari. 

Yep me too. (and to a lesser extent, I also liked Loz'a≠veria and Called≠Plan)

 

6 hours ago, doombox said:

This is a really cool idea for a list. I love it. 

 

I do have to ask though, why do you say Miko's explanation of their name makes no sense? "to leave behind the proof of living" literally, traces of existence = exist trace. Yes, it may be a bit oversimplified but makes sense so me... 

 

I put other -even though it kind of goes with Kagrra,'s comma- is the period

LM.C

lynch. 

…。【サイレンス】 

アリス九號.

D.I.D

UNiTE.

 

Quality. Full stop. 

Ooh, the period has some strong contenders.

 

I think Exist Trace's explanation for their name is 1. a tenuous connection to what they say it means and 2. they probably came up with that explanation *after* they came up with the name. I really like Exist Trace's name! It sounds cool, and is googleable, I'd rather they just say "yeah we thought it sounded cool" than (I'm guessing) pretending it's got some deep meaning.

 

5 hours ago, JukaForever said:

XOVER? how does it fit with the other bands?

 

I would add extensions of the band name:

凛 -the end of corruption world-

Versailles -Philharmonic Quintet-

 

I call them Lin and Versailles only

The 'subtitle' band names are so dramatic aren't they? Haha. It wouldn't fit on this list but I also really like band names that are just entire sentences.

 

XOVER fit on the list because they wanted us to pronounce it "cross-over". So the X is being used to represent a shape, rather than making any sound an X ever makes.

 

9 hours ago, Zeus said:

 

I'd love to see a companion list of all day of vk bands with the most generic, impossible to google names.

Haha, we can cross off about a fourth of the alphabet with just one letter VK names (some are solo act peoples' "names", but they're just as eminently unsearchable.) Just off the top of my head I know VK has had:

 

A, D, J, K, M, S, X

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9 hours ago, The Reverend said:

they probably came up with that explanation *after* they came up with the name. I really like Exist Trace's name! It sounds cool, and is googleable, I'd rather they just say "yeah we thought it sounded cool" than (I'm guessing) pretending it's got some deep meaning.

Well you're probably right about coolness coming before logic when discussing band names, but I'm just saying the explanation made sense to me. I do see what you mean about trying to come off like it's deeper than it is though. lol. A lot of bands try to pull that fast one over on us... 

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Starting off with an ≠ there's Called≠Plan

I've got a feeling 'Heidi' used to be Heidi. as well as Zip.er

Although this could make the list go on for a while, we could throw in random punctuation and grammar in song titles as well

STARlighT☆WORLD 

Dizzy?Trip[show]

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On 22/03/2018 at 11:16 AM, The Reverend said:

 

The band: A surprisingly endearing mix of oshare kei and numetal.

 

The name: Weirdly, I always pronounce the first ‘x’ in xTripx’s name but not the last one (ecks-trip). I actually think more bands need to come to terms with the fact that eventually the world will run out of new band names and everyone will have to resort to having a moniker that looks like a circa-2002 emo fan’s AIM screenname.

 

See alsoxジハードx【TRiANGLE▼SONiX】, Noi’X

Initally I was also guilty as charged of calling them ecks-trip, lol

 

but then they called themselves torippu in a video, so apparently it was just trip, the x being there just for a bit of confusion

 

I always fiercely hated 0801弐209XX6 name, but their sound was catchy as fuck, I firmly believe their bad taste in names heavily impairs any chance of them succeeding somehow...

 

CODE7203-KineSicS was also ASS.

 

But I do love me some period at the end of names/songs. First to come to mind is baroque's kei solo project. All the songs are written lowercase and have a period in the end. COOL AS FUCK.

 

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Does the ◇ in FANATIC◇CRISIS qualify? I sure think so!

What about Lυτёη∀, mi'ze:lia, ∀ile≠de〔Σu〕, Loz'a≠Veria, L∞P, Lure+Selene, Λucifer, 【zɔ́:diæ̀k】 , Mëbíus, DAS:VASSER, 【denno:oblaat】 , MARRY+AN+BLOOD, La'miss†fairy?

 

I love the story about nuvɔ:gu, they used to be called just Vogue back in the early 90s and played a very standard type of V系 and, for some reason, around 1995 just decided to go "fuck it, we just love Pete Burns way too much, let's be Dead or Alive!"

Spoiler

 

 


 

 

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There were two bands named ιδεα, which still baffles me because that means more than one group of people wanted to have a really stupid name for their band.

 

ФFlairФ tried to use the phi aesthetic as well, but thankfully they dropped it after two tapes. 

 

What does Gro⇔Milky even mean???

 

 

Lest we forget, ∀ile≠de〔Σu〕. They later changed their name to be Eile de Mu, which honestly isn't even any better. I still don't know how it is supposed to be pronounced!

Edited by Peace Heavy mk II

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On 3/22/2018 at 2:16 PM, The Reverend said:

Nuvc:gu

What makes a band so desperate to be unique that they come up with this?! Imagine trying to explain the concept to your band mates and then selling the idea to the label. "No really! If you use this font it looks like it's supposed to sound! "

 

Quote

…。(silence)

I think this is my favorite one. I feel like it shouldn't be pronounced as anything. Instead the members just say "we are..." and proceed to awkwardly look around the room in silence.

 

Also ~ASS'n'ARRow~ deserves a mention :D 

 

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On ‎3‎/‎22‎/‎2018 at 10:16 AM, The Reverend said:

 

Aliene Maφriage

2elzfxu.jpg

 

The band: One of the harbingers of VK starting to get really dark and almost certainly offending the middle-aged parents of the teenagers listening to it

were they not following Madeth Gray'll? and who ever was  responsible for Madeth Gray'll?

 

anyway

Oyuugi Wagamama Dan x [PaRADEiS]

D'ual 

Aicle.

Sick²

Lustknot.

Called≠Plan

 

i think "the" is stupid cause the gazette doesnt bother with it

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Oh, another one is the now largely forgotten Crow×Class~黒鴉組~. Combining the X, the tilde, and the unnecessary, unpronounced subtitle. I always pronounced the X in their name and still do. 

The name, quite obviously if anyone takes a second to read the subtitle (or put it in google translate) is a pun on "Kuro Karasu", Black Crow. 

So it's Black Crow ~Black Crow Group~.  Despite the fact that they were all professional Traditional Japanese musicians (their Shamisen player actually being the one who played the Shamisen parts in the Naruto soundtrack) before becoming Vkei, they knew how to name their band like a vkei band.

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backwards letters courtesy the Cyrillic alphabet:
CoЯe The Child, ReivieЯ, DiSPiИA, OUTЯAGE, MoЯGuE, Яe:sK

 

Greek letters:
α:Vout, Kαin, Λucifer, π乙, ν[NEU]

 

Mathematical symbols:
スゥイート×ホォム, +ISOLATION, DEVI+TEC, JACK+MW, EVER+LAST, Un=(XAG), エゴis≒徒, Be≒Luna

 

★STAR☆

THE DEAD P☆P STARS, PANIC☆ch, DIS★Marionette, Crazy★shampoo, ワン★スター, ★NOハウス, Anzel☆Stripper【 AKR】, ネオロックンロールスタ→☆エース, RoNo☆Cro, RABBI★STAR, Death★Rabbits

 

Currency symbols:
「xxx」is D£AD, $”Casper.
 

Numbers replacing letters:

DI3SIRAE, ∞INFi2TY, VAN9ISH (vanquish)

 

other punctuation, accents and symbols:

SERIAL⇔NUMBER, Medi@lize, Ap(r)il, ∀NTI FEMINISM, CLØWD, the:Ø, Cu[be], C”LOW”N

L’yse:nore, Silver~Rose, Black:List, Arc:g:noël

 

Random capitalizations:

NoGoD, MoNoLith, KuRt, UnsraW, Hi:BRiD, ViViD, NightingeiL, ALiBi, Blu-BiLLioN,  SaTaN, DixdriveR, Eze:quL, RevleZ, LUCHe., LAYZis, MeteoroiD, Cat fisT, uBuGoe, DEViL KiTTY, LiZ, iNSOMNiA



 

Edited by helcchi

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i think about the symbol is for no have the same name in the band

mean official same name like example : sadie   sa≠die

  he can't make the other band with the same name

my opinion.

Reversing letters is common until around age 7.

Writing letters backwards is not necessarily a sign that your child has dyslexia.

There are things you can do at home to help your child stop reversing letters.

(normal nothing paranomal or satanic )

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On 3/22/2018 at 11:16 PM, The Reverend said:

 

L’Arc~en~Ciel

 

See also: a million song and album titles with tildes in them, E’m ~grief~

 

 

For the record, tildes are an incorrect Westernization of the Japanese 'wave dash' 〜, which is like a lengthened tilde. Laruku's actual name uses that, not the Western tilde. And the use of the wave dash in various song titles is legitimate and not a result of bands like Laruku becoming popular - in Japanese, it denotes subtitles. So for example, Gackt's 絵夢〜for my dear〜 could be romanized as M: For My Dear rather than using tildes.

Edited by Shmilly

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