New Documentary Tells the Under-Known Story of Japan’s Biggest Rock Stars
Not enough hairspray and gel could prepare you for the rock phenomenon that Gene Simmons says could have been the biggest band in the world: X Japan! Stephen Kijak follows Yoshiki and his larger than life band from the early days to their leading-up-to sold out show at Madison Square Garden. If you aren’t quite sure who X Japan or Yoshiki, this film will make you rethink what you know about '80s glam rock.
Yoshiki is famous for his awesome guitar skills as well as his gift with playing classical piano, with multiple classical albums released. His repertoire not only consists of rocking out with his faithful legion of fans but includes his very own Stan Lee comic book series titled “Blood Red Dragon,” Soul headphones, wine, Hello Kitty Doll, own line of Visa and MasterCard’s and even penned the 69th annual Golden Globes Awards theme song, with all proceeds from the single donated to charity.
With more than 30 million albums sold since they began back in 1982, their influence can still be seen today thanks to a movement they began in Japan called Visual Kei (consists of wearing makeup, having elaborate hairstyles and costumes, usually coupled with androgynous aesthetics). Unlike most music documentaries that play more like a recorded concert then a movie, the film touches a lot on the vulnerability, friendships, fans and tremendous sorrow that followed the band, particularly getting very intimate with Yoshiki.
Kijak prior to beginning the project did not know who Yoshiki or X Japan were LAWeekly reports. It wasn’t until he was flown out to meet and see the warm-up show for Madison Square at Yokohama Arena that he realized the huge impact X Japan had on their loyal fans.
“Part of the appeal was it was a total blank slate,” Kijak told LAWeekly. “I can discover along with my audience. There’s so much depth, so much tragedy, so much hair and make-up, so extreme, and the fandom is a specific kind of extreme, like a prayerful worship. The hysteria around these guys, I haven’t seen anything like it before.”
With raw emotional intimacy, Kijak mirrors a side of Yoshiki and his band that many have not seen before. Yoshiki got very candid when asked about his father’s suicide and recalling the death of two of Japan X’s members (one who also committed suicide).
With heaps of footage from when they were starting to everything that followed after that, it’s Yoshiki's unprecedented and unconditional respect for his fans that highlight the type of person he is and what drives him to continue.
“Well, I’m so lucky to be in this position,” he told us when we last spoke with him. “Always, my fans are around, so I don’t really feel completely exhausted. They are my energy.”
Unlike most superstars, Yoshiki's deep-rooted affection and appreciation for his thousands upon thousands of fans worldwide is what’s kept the beating heart of X Japan alive for so long.
We are X opens in select theaters nationwide October 21 through November 24. For more information visit wearexfilm.com.
Written by Erick Montano