Whilst Japanese rock has never been able to carve more than just a niche outside of Japan, many bands have garnered a cult following around the world. Acts such as Luna Sea, Melt Banana, The Boredoms, Nightmare, The GazettE and L’Arc-en-Ciel have all built a small but meaningful following. However, there has been one band who has come closest to making it big on a global scale. They are X Japan and provide the focus of Stephen Kijak’s new documentary, We Are X.
Formed by drummer Yoshiki in 1982, X Japan have gone on to sell over 30 million singles and albums. Along with childhood friend Toshi, the band has undergone many transformations over the years. This includes the death of two of their members and a ten-year hiatus between 1997 and 2007. They’re also credited as being one of the pioneers of visual kei. A movement comparable with the British glam-rock scene in the ‘70s.
Kijak, who has previously directed Scott Walker: 30 Century Man and Stones in Exile, teams up with the team behind Searching for Sugarman to create a fascinating and moving documentary. Whilst it mostly unfolds in a fairly standard way (timeline and present day) there are several very odd elements to the X Japan story which make you wonder and question. This is particularly the case when the unusual and unique characters of Yoshiki and Toshi are taking centre stage.
We Are X is screening in cinemas on 2 March.