The Air Moon 〜Hakuchū no Tsuki〜 is a book published by Sony Magazines in 2004 detailing GACKT’s MOON PROJECT from 2001-2003; in other words, covering the time of the albums MOON and Crescent, as well as the movie MOON CHILD. The book was written by HIROSE Mitsuru (広瀬充) who had been writing about GACKT since he was in Malice Mizer and (apparently) last wrote about him for the DIABOLOS tour documentary book in 2006. The Air Moon is mostly Hirose’s recounting of the MOON PROJECT in its early days, but it does include several interviews/direct quotes from GACKT.
It was by sheer coincidence that I found out about this book when I first went to Japan in 2004. I was at a bookstore with my host family in Toyota City, looking at magazines. I couldn’t read much Japanese back then, which perhaps made it easier to find the name “Gackt” amongst the sea of mostly unknown characters. Inside a uv magazine with Pierrot on the cover was a double-page ad for The Air Moon. After that, every time we were near a bookstore, my host mother helped me look for it, but we never found it in Toyota. I wouldn’t find it until the very last night of the homestay program, at a Book Off in Kyoto, right as “Auld Lang Syne” was signaling closing time over the store’s loudspeakers. I had had to screw up the courage to ask a clerk for the book, in my extremely limited Japanese, as I couldn’t find it myself. Because of that, to me, The Air Moon has come to symbolize perseverance and the idea that you can find what you’re looking for as long as you keep searching. Well, knowing what it is you’re searching for is half the battle! (苦笑)
Anyway, I don’t know at this point if I’ll translate the whole thing. It is nearly 300 pages long, and I have no one to serve as editor, but some of the chapters are relatively short (20 pages or so). I figured I’d go ahead and start, and see how I feel about it.
Given that this material is from 2004, I’ve written GACKT’s name as it was written back then. Also, “MOON” can refer to the entire MOON PROJECT or the album, unless the original text made it clear that the album was intended, in which case I wrote MOON.
Now, without further ado, here’s the preface and first chapter of The Air Moon. Read it here and enjoy!
No one can easily give an explanation of their mental and emotional states, keeping up with their changes at every instant of every day. Likewise, describing in words the being known as “Gackt,” and the things found in all his musical expression, is no simple task. Even when you think, “I got it,” or firmly believe, “Now I see it,” it flits away, offering glimpses of itself, while nevertheless remaining opaque.
To me, Gackt is exactly like a moon out in broad daylight. Over the months spent covering him, sometimes he’d radiate his own powerful light, shining bravely like the sun. And yet, at other times, he looked as if he were basking in the light around him, releasing a dazzling glow. He himself is like the moon, but also like the sun. But his visible-yet-invisible appearance, as well as the minute variations in his expression—so subtle you might miss them if you don’t concentrate—are more aptly described as a “midday moon.”
This book documents the MOON PROJECT from its inception through the end of its first act. Another aim of this book is to preserve in writing and in memory the philosophy of life of Gackt, the artist who exudes a presence so rare as to defy description with mere words, as well as his creative process, all with the MOON PROJECT serving as the axis. Gackt’s thoughts and feelings rise into the air, riding the wind and spreading out; I was overcome with deep emotion as I took it all in. All these things I now offer up to everyone who likewise tries to see the midday moon, to all who are led by that moon named Gackt.
Chapter 1: MOON
“Whoa…now that’s cool! This gangster role really suits Gackt. If he appeared in a mafia movie, I’d probably get completely engrossed in it.”
September 2001. The new project Gackt turned to after finishing his work with the concept album Rebirth began with the single “ANOTHER WORLD.” When I laid eyes on its music video, talking to myself, I blurted out something like what I wrote up there. This was one scene from that day, when no one but the man himself had any way of knowing that the seeds planted at that time would sprout into the loveable gangster Gackt would eventually portray on the silver screen.
People tend to assume that as you continue working as a music writer, you develop a similarly profound knowledge of cinema. But I’m a total amateur when it comes to movies, laughably so. Before I met him, I’d heard that Gackt was very interested in movies and knew a lot about them, and when I started covering him, from the beginning, he would often talk about movies using his own unique perspective. After all, he did make what should be called a short film when he was in Malice Mizer,1 and what’s more, during the “Requiem et Réminiscence ~Chinkon to Saisei~” tour that just finished,2 a carefully made video, which shocked audiences at all venues, was shown at the beginning of the live shows. So anyone should be able to understand the depth of Gackt’s feelings toward movies.
While I had confidence in my knowledge of everything related to music, given my ignorance on the subject of film, I always felt nervous when it came time to interview Gackt. If he brought up movies, I was pathetically worried that I wouldn’t be able to smoothly swing the conversation my way. I’m reminded of this conversation we had in an interview quite some time ago:
“Meg Ryan’s great, isn’t she?”
“Ummm…yeah, yeah, that’s right! Hahaha!” (But I had not the slightest idea who Meg Ryan was at that time.)
However, there is just one type of movie that I really do love. No one around me shares this interest, so I don’t mention it to anyone, but I’m a huge fan of so-called gangster, or yakuza, movies. So much so that “fanatic” is probably a better word. For some reason, the atmosphere these movies create, and the chivalrous worldview in them,3 sets my soul aflame. I don’t know why….
I got pretty fired up when I first saw the video for “ANOTHER WORLD.” At the same time, I wondered, why did Gackt change course, turning to the world of gangsters after just finishing Rebirth? What ideas were behind that change? I became ever more interested in these questions day by day. Let’s look back at an interview from that time.
—This is a new tale, right?
“This tale is fairly long. I’ve got it all laid out in my head. Chapter 1, Chapter 2, it’s split into quite a few chapters. The song ‘ANOTHER WORLD’ comes in around the end of the first chapter, a small part of a much larger tale. Its coupling track ‘Fragrance’ comes in at a certain point in Chapter 2, so these two songs are pretty far apart in the story’s chronology.”
—I see. And how many chapters are there in this new tale?
“How the chapters are divided depends on the composition, so I can’t say just yet how many chapters there will be. Only that ‘ANOTHER WORLD’ is at the end of Chapter 1. But, while the story is one of the enjoyable aspects of listening to my songs, it’s not that I want everyone to be aware of the whole tale, and each song can stand on its own. But knowing that those songs are derived from just one story does create another way to enjoy them. So if you put the songs in order, there’s one tale, but even just taking them one song at a time, the tale is still there.”
At that time, Gackt hadn’t even spoken the word “MOON” yet. This was an interview from a time when I had no means of knowing that there would be this epic tale called “MOON,” that MOON CHILD would be one part of it, and so forth. However, (and this is something I can only say in hindsight having seen the movie), now I think that the “Chapter 1,” “Chapter 2” that Gackt was talking about then weren’t just the chapters of “MOON,” but also the chapter divisions of the movie MOON CHILD. After all, the music video for “ANOTHER WORLD” is clearly a prototype for MOON CHILD, and it seems to serve the purpose of symbolizing the movie’s whole story.
Let me pick out one more part from that interview.
“I said, ‘Let’s go out to the suburbs today,’ put the top down on the car, and went for a drive with You. When we went into the mountains there was fog, and then it started raining, and I was going pretty fast. Then it hit me: this situation that we’re in, this is the situation of the characters and protagonist in the story, it’s the situation in the video. The idea for the sound just came to me, like ‘This is it!’ After that we returned to the hotel, and I had the music arranged in about two hours.”
That was the story of how the concept for “ANOTHER WORLD” came to Gackt while in Hawaii.
“Convertible,” “speed,” these were key words……. No matter what, when I see that one scene in MOON CHILD I always get “ANOTHER WORLD” in my head. That scene where Shō, Kei, Son, Toshi, and Yi-che are out driving around the town super fast in the middle of the night, headed for the beach. So then, does that mark this scene as the end of the Chapter 1 within MOON CHILD?
Speaking of which, I assume it isn’t clear where MOON CHILD’s chapters begin and end, so this is nothing more than my own speculation. But it’s better that way. There are some “important things” that can get boring if you know too much about them. Yet, I’m sure there are many fans who think of “ANOTHER WORLD” when they see that scene.
“‘Fragrance’ is at this point in Chapter 2…,” Gackt had gone on to say.
When Yi-che was on life support, with an oxygen mask, fighting to just barely stay alive…that scene. I can’t help but think of “Fragrance” during that scene.
I wonder if that’s Chapter 2…….
Let’s get the story back to September of 2001, when there was not even a sign of the word “MOON.” I can clearly understand now that at that time Gackt already had a great vision, and was trying to get the “MOON” project started within himself.
Gackt had immersed himself in not only recording “ANOTHER WORLD” and shooting its video, but also in the production of the videos for “Requiem et Réminiscence ~Chinkon to Saisei~.” The audio made use of 5.1 channel surround sound, at the time becoming a landmark for music DVDs.
After that, Gackt headed to one of his favorite places, Hokkaido, for his 2002 calendar photo shoot. This is a famous story from that trip: at a certain pub, Gackt was surrounded by fans and couldn’t leave. It turned into a commotion, with local police getting dispatched there. Incidentally, at first it had been planned to do the photo shoot in Germany, but a change was unavoidable in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
And then, Gackt set off for Madagascar, which yielded such an experience as to make the words “powerful stimulus” seem cliché.
Madagascar, Approaching the Embodiment of “MOON”
At the end of 2001, Gackt went to Madagascar, the island country in the southeastern part of Africa, to film for the NHK BS show Ima Hadaka ni Shitai Otokotachi.4
Shortly after he’d returned to Japan, as the December wind was howling on through the night, I went to interview Gackt for the first time in a while at a room in a certain hotel. The moment I saw him, I was surprised by how incredibly short his hair was. It was so short even though he’d been back for a few weeks. I figured something quite shocking must have happened, and asked him about his days in Madagascar.
“I had various things on my mind. Cultural differences, economic differences, different ways of thinking; all these things are intertwined. How should people navigate that tangle, how should they live? Things like that. An unimaginable world awaited there, really. I’d gone to meet the people who lived there, but there were many things that I found rather shocking. The day I landed in Madagascar, I had so much stuff, too much stuff, and I thought, ‘there’s no way I can convey my feelings for others like this…….’ I cut my hair that night.”
Looking out from Japan, we can’t begin to imagine a reality with economic conditions different from our own, a reality in which material goods are lacking. However, there was something at that island that we can’t feel while living in Japan. There were no traces of pity for the people of Madagascar in Gackt’s expression. Rather, he continued talking about the trip with an air that could only be interpreted as respect.
“I had a chance to engage with some children, right? There was nothing there, yet everything was there. It’s we who don’t have anything. Sure, our material needs are being met, but I think we’ve lost something essential, the root of things. These kids have everything. Even when it comes to a single smile. Have I ever seen such a smile? No……. Could I smile like that from now on? It may be an abstract concept, but that’s what I was feeling the whole time.”
For Gackt, it was a time when every minute, every second, was stimulating and shocking. His thoughts were set racing on a course to find the essence, the root of human beings. It would be a defining experience.
“The biggest thing for me was participating in a village’s wrestling meet. Getting beat on with hundreds of people around, and just losing it, that was a first. I think it was also the first time that I truly tried to kill someone in front of that many people. As I was fighting I snapped, and when I realized it, I was strangling my opponent. When the match was over, the villagers were excited. Then someone who seemed to be the village elder came up to me and said, ‘You fought well for us.’ He said that it took a huge amount of courage to come to a different, distant country, and fight surrounded by people you don’t know. In that moment, when I was being thanked for being courageous in front of everyone, I started to think, ‘shouldn’t I be more natural about the things I’ve always been bottling up inside myself?’ Be it my feelings toward family, or the feeling that if I have to die anyway I’d like to die fighting; protecting people, interacting and going out with people, my feelings towards all those things should be more natural, I thought.”
Previously, Gackt would often speak about the aesthetics of interacting with those you love, or of dying in battle. It feels like ever since returning from Madagascar, his philosophy has gained a layer of depth, becoming perfectly polished. Actually, he says he’s often told that he’s changed since returning to Japan. Of course, I felt the difference, too. It’s extremely difficult to express the sensation in words, but it felt like the way Gackt interacted with people had become more open, and friendlier, than before. What’s more, at the time I felt like he’d become more calm and collected, and a more broad-minded individual.
“Ever since getting back, I’ve become able to be more relaxed about interacting with people. I want you to accept the person I am, so I’ll accept the person you are. I want you to believe in me, so I’ll believe in you. There’s no special reason for that. I’ll accept whoever comes. People who leave, leave, and those who are left are still here. And that’s fine, isn’t it? I think my staff’s impression of me has probably also changed after Madagascar.”
That’s exactly right. On an emotional level, he’s more passionate, and he’s grown on a spiritual level as well. The change in these two levels is the product of Gackt’s experience in Madagascar.
“I’ve stopped holding myself back, cooling myself off.”
Gackt says that while alone on the beaches of Madagascar, where there was no artificial light, he’d often construct the concepts for musical pieces. Working out the plan for “Juuni gatsu no Love Song,” for which only a year-end release was seasonally appropriate, was the top priority. Standing on that beach with no man-made lights, lit only by the moon, Gackt must have surely seen “MOON” on the other side of “Juuni gatsu no Love Song.” That song has become an annual tradition, a present to fans. But while “Juuni gatsu no Love Song” is not a part of the “MOON” concept, its conception probably had many points in common with “MOON.” The link with MOON CHILD, which takes as its backdrop the various problems of economics and race that spread across Asia, was surely also felt in Madagascar, which is an island country like Japan. No, like Mallepa.
“After returning from Madagascar, what I think has clearly changed within me is……well, I always took to my work eagerly, but in my private life I was always being careful, right? I’d often hold myself back, thinking ‘If I do this it’ll cause trouble for others,’ but now I tell myself, stop thinking like that, act on what you feel. Up to now I’d been thinking things like, ‘It’d be bad if there were an argument and things got physical,’ but now it’s different. Just GO! *Laughs* It’s about a state of mind.”
Upon his return to Japan, Gackt declared that he was pulling out the stopper, removing his limiter, to run on harder than before, releasing himself, and that he would stop holding himself back. Turning his attention to the new album, he opened the doors on 2002, a year which would see further development of the “MOON” concept. But before he could put up the specifics of the entire “MOON” project, there was something else he had to do…….
Tackling the Live House Tour in Anticipation of MOON 5
Gackt closed out 2001 with his first ever appearance on the Kōhaku Uta Gassen.6 He kicked off the new year without drawing attention to himself, instead devoting time to production activities, starting with the album MOON.
Due to his appearances on television and in commercials the previous year, Gackt had become a household name all over the country. The number of fans standing at the entrance to the Gackt World increased in an instant. On the one hand, this was something to celebrate; on the other, Gackt became immediately recognizable no matter where he went, imposing restrictions on his private life. Even so, he did not neglect to show his affection for his fans, boldly holding the first fan club event. He headed for Hawaii to spend quality time with over 1,000 fans. I was surprised by the fact that the event included taking a photo with each person, one by one. Just how long did that take?!
“Oh, that was rough! There were people who touched me, surprising me. *Laughs* But I thought, this sort of thing is important, too. I’m glad I did it.”
There’s Gackt, who carries out his own artistic expression with steadfast selfishness, and there are the dear fans who follow him. It’s necessary, every now and then, to create a space for the kind of communication that usually can’t be had between the two. Truly, it was only after removing the brakes on himself that Gackt became able to do something like that for his fans. He seemed to have immediately started thinking up ideas for what to do for the next fan club event.
In March, Gackt released Soyokaze, which contained the music videos and making-of clips for “ANOTHER WORLD” and “Juuni gatsu no Love Song.” He also released the maxi-single for “Vanilla.” After having just delivered this small gift to the fans who were waiting for a new song, it was announced that starting April 1st, Gackt would serve as a regular on-air personality for Nippon Broadcasting System’s late night radio show All Night Nippon, broadcast on a network of 36 stations. Appearing on this show further cramped up Gackt’s schedule, but at the same time, it created a new space for communicating with fans, and multiplied the number of people who got to know about him.
Actually, when I first tuned in to Gackt’s All Night Nippon show, I really felt, “This is good!” That was because on the radio show, Gackt spoke in almost the same way he normally spoke. It wasn’t exactly the same, but still, it was the same as the Gackt I knew. Gackt never seemed quite suited for television, but it was precisely because he wasn’t suited for it that he would take on this mysterious character, and that grabbed people’s attention. But from my point of view, when I would see Gackt on TV, surrounded by cameras, other guests, and staff, his expression seemed to say, after all, “I’m not good at this.” However, the Gackt on the radio felt natural to an astonishing degree. This has a good vibe to it, I thought. It could be a golden opportunity for the fans to feel Gackt’s true presence, making his appearance on the show a success.
From now, Gackt had to deliver the magnificent “MOON PROJECT,” but if fans only got to feel Gackt through his artistic expression, things could become overly formal. It seemed that being on the radio show also served as an effective space for Gackt and fans to take a breather. In fact, it was quite fun.
In the middle of the night on June 3rd, Gackt was broadcasting All Night Nippon live from Kagoshima when he took a shining to a boy who’d called in to the listeners’ segment. When Gackt heard that the boy lived close to the radio station, he said, “Come over to the studio right now!” Of course, it was the middle of the night so the boy didn’t go. But Gackt being able to communicate so directly and honestly was, I felt, a result of his post-Madagascar transformation.
“I want to compete with the listeners earnestly.”
That’s what Gackt said in an interview from March, when I had asked him to comment on his upcoming host duties on All Night Nippon.
Competing earnestly……. Those were key words in that interview.
Having started 2002 working on the album MOON, the first new song from Gackt was “Wasurenai Kara,” released on April 24th. I carried out an interview in March centered around this song, and it was in this interview that Gackt first spoke the word “MOON,” and little by little, the story therein became clearer.
“What I want to do now is, let’s say…hypothetically speaking, okay? Let’s say that after ’ANOTHER WORLD’ the topic is something called ’MOON,’ and the tale within ’MOON’ has already come to me quite clearly……”
Even as he denied that at that point he had already decided on titling the album MOON, Gackt made such comments one after another:
“It’s really quite an idea. I plan on working on it for a year and a half, after all. Starting now.”
These comments hinted at the “MOON PROJECT” already having taken on a concrete form within his mind.
“‘Wasurenai Kara’ and its coupling track ‘Doomsday’ have completely different tones, but since the thing called ‘MOON’ is the nucleus, I think people will be able to sense that the same thing is at the heart of both. Listeners will understand the core more and more with each song that is released.”
Gackt emphasized that the songs he would be releasing all had “MOON” as their nucleus, as did all the other vehicles for his expression.
“I won’t be telling the story within the album as-is through concerts and videos. The tale of ‘MOON’ that I’ll be presenting will absolutely not be constrained to just one form of expression. Maybe people won’t be able to tell how all the parts are connected. But this time, I want to make it so that everyone can understand it more easily than last time [with Rebirth]. The core of the story is very simple. To put it briefly, I want everyone to be able to say, ‘I truly understood what Gackt wanted to tell us.'”
Up till now, the form of Gackt’s expression in albums and live shows, namely MARS and Rebirth, was moving, but in a way that escaped description. I think it’s all well and good if you can’t express how you were moved using words; even more so if you were truly, deeply moved. Even so, however, the sentiment “I didn’t really get it, but I was moved” has something of a lukewarm ring to it. In that case, you want to convey your message more concretely, and have people feel it. That was Gackt’s stance as he took on MOON, and it was what I felt the most from him in this interview.
Yes, that’s how it was. From the live shows that were to come, and the movie MOON CHILD, Gackt’s works have become easy to understand, unlike before. I’m sure the readers feel the same way. Of course, this change was possible because the concept of the concerts and the movie was already clear in Gackt’s mind from that time.
The interview in March left me wondering all sorts of things about what was to come of these developments that all had “MOON” at their core, but I heard something even more surprising in that interview: a story about the live house tour which was to start in June.
According to what was publicly announced, the tour was limited to fan club members, and its main stops were the high capacity Zepp live houses in each region. As it combined live music with a chat by the artist, it would probably be more accurate to call it a “fan service event” rather than a tour.
However, this tour hadn’t been planned for from the start. Apparently what happened was that this tour sprung from Gackt’s initial proposal to do secret concerts at live houses. Since it would be a secret, there would be many fans who’d miss it. So it came to be that the secret concerts were set up to interlock with the fan club’s request for shows only they could attend. In other words, first there was the idea to do unannounced concerts. Then, a request came in from the fan club. So, Gackt approved the schedule that was put together using the relatively large venues.
Securing tickets even for fan club-only shows is still a matter of luck, right?7 With those conditions, if Gackt announced a tour with stops at only smaller venues, people would panic. So I understood the need to make the appearances unannounced, but why in the world choose live houses? Not only that, but the concerts would be a “taiban,” like a “battle of the bands,” rather than one-man shows. “Taiban” is a general term meaning to perform on the same day, on the same stage, as other bands.8
“I’ve been wanting to do something to support the music scene for a while now. That’s why I’m doing this. I want to compete earnestly with other bands.”
Gackt’s feelings toward the music scene, which were at the root of his desire to do secret concerts, vividly came into view.
“I think the roots of people who perform on stage, and of the people who go see them, are to be found in live houses. But these days, there are lots of things that are produced. I don’t think that auditions and plans arranged by TV networks are bad things, neither do I condemn that way of doing things. But, I’m different. It’s because of people with the human desire to show gathering in live houses, that people who want to see start to gather there too.”
Gackt and all the members of Gackt Job have grown by competing with other bands on live house stages, polishing their skills, scrambling to steal fans over to their side. That’s something that every band should go through. Gackt wanted to go back to his origins, and motivate up-and-coming bands. This desire is what set him on the path toward the secret concerts. It would have been meaningless if it didn’t involve sharing the stage with other bands.
At the same time, there were two more reasons he wanted to do these shows.
“All the members understood things on instinct in their indie days, but I think that there are some things that, precisely at this point in our careers, we have to understand concretely. If we don’t do that, we won’t be able to go on to the next step. That’s the conclusion we came to last year. ‘This is the starting point,’ and we have to reach higher. We have to feel once again just how scary it is to perform competing against other bands, in a place where we don’t know if there will be fans of ours. After all, indie bands are hungry, right? I think I’ve got that hunger too, but as far as the other members are concerned, I told them, ‘If you’ve lost that drive, then quit.’ I wanted to make sure that these were comrades strong enough to keep performing together.”
Each member of Gackt Job can boast of a long career, but they haven’t necessarily been with Gackt ever since his indie days, standing on stage together, through thick and thin, growing together. So before going on to “the next step,” in other words, before the concerts in the large halls and arenas that would tell the tale of MOON, these members would stand together at the starting point, check to see if they really needed each other, strengthen their resolve, and polish their skills. That’s what drove them to do the secret concerts.
But it wasn’t just the other bands that Gackt was eager to take on. He was also setting a challenge before the members who would go into battle at his side, to perform in a venue with so many constraints: a live house.
There was one more reason Gackt chose the live houses for venues, a reason whose main component was a call to fans, or rather, to all music fans in the country and to listeners in general, to urge them to change their way of thinking.
“There were fans who sent me emails saying stuff like ‘How will you make it up to me if I can’t get a ticket?!’ But isn’t that how things are supposed to be? Everyone’s become complacent, used to the certainty of being able to secure a ticket. But naturally, the things that are truly worth having aren’t easy to get.”
For example, if you join the fan club, you’ll get the tour schedule immediately, and can pre-order tickets. That’s probably how it is for most artists. But is it okay to get used to that system? This is the question Gackt raised.
“There’s too many kids who rely on others for information. The things that you truly want to see, you should seek out for yourself, searching all over, working hard at it, and judging things with your own eyes.”
Those who communicate with music take their volition up on stage, giving rise to a feeling of tension between themselves and those who have a strong desire to see the performance. Gackt, who hates when things get tame and cozy, wanted people to go to the concerts only when their desire and volition to see the shows was strong enough to move them to action.
Gackt wanted to fight an earnest battle on three fronts—the music scene, the band members, and the audience—via the secret concerts. But there was something in his expression during the interview that seemed to say that the battle had a fourth front: himself.
Completion of MOON, Prelude to a Hard Tour
Gackt spent the entire month of April pretty much holed up in the recording studio. Fans awaited the finished album. May went by in the blink of an eye.
MOON, Gackt’s third full-length album, was slated for release on June 19th. Yet there was no word of its completion a mere month before the street date. That’s how things usually end up, but still, it would be down to the wire for every aspect of production. However, once June came knocking on the door, the live house tour would start, and there would be no time for interviews. I had conducted the interview meant for the June 16th issue of uv having listened to demo versions of 4 new songs at some point in May. What’s more, unbeknownst to anyone but the staff, it had already been decided to start production on MOON CHILD; however, the public announcement and promotional activities would come further down the road. Gackt’s expression stood out to me as he said with some irritation, “I really want to talk about the movie too, but I can’t.”
“Sorry I can’t be more specific.” Those words also crossed his lips often.
I still can’t help but smile when I recall how animated Gackt became answering a question about “Lu:na.”
“Actually, there’s going to be vampires in this story, for sure. They have an intense ability to charm people, but at the same time, they can never be the ones who shine. They’re people who can never be out in the open, so to speak. It’s different from the vampire tales of the past, because it takes place in the near future.”
Gackt gave a wry smile as he dropped too many clues, giving hints not only about Kei’s character in MOON CHILD, but also revealing the story’s temporal setting.
About two weeks after this thrilling (?) interview,9 this message was left on my answering machine:
“Sorry you had to do that interview the other day without having heard the completed album. We just now got done recording. I’d like to have you hear it and experience it soon.”
Within about 12 hours a CD arrived, and I finished my write-up on the album in a frenzy. It was quite the rush job, as it was already June 1st by then. The live house tour was to start on the 4th and I was to follow it on all the stops; I didn’t have the luxury of spending time writing. And the next two days, I was supposed to go to the studio where they were having the final rehearsals before the tour. My main goal was to introduce myself to the staff and members as I’d be accompanying them, but it goes without saying that I also wanted to check out the atmosphere, gauging what everyone, including Gackt, was feeling as they headed into the tour.
I got to the studio a little bit past 3 in the afternoon. The tension was palpable as the members ran through the songs over and over again. I had also gone to scope out the pre-tour rehearsals for the previous two tours, but comparing the three, this was definitely the most on-edge I’d ever seen everyone. I hesitated to approach the members. Of course, it was only natural for there to be so much tension in the air. They’d been simultaneously rehearsing and recording, finishing up the latter just a few days ago. They had wanted to focus on rehearsing but hadn’t been able to do so.
Gackt, having taken care of some business elsewhere, arrived about an hour later. He didn’t have much time either, and immediately headed for the inner rooms of the studio. Even so, it would have been strange if I didn’t say anything to him, so I called out to him, “Heard the album, thanks for contacting me!” Gackt shook my hand, saying, “Good, isn’t it?” and gave me a thumbs-up as he disappeared into the studio.
Two different set lists had to be arranged for this tour. While they had enough time to do 9 songs at the publicly announced fan club-only shows, they could only do 4 at the secret shows. The tour schedule mostly alternated between the fan club shows and the secret shows, so the members had to get used to the 4/9 pattern, and figure out how to set the pace. I observed from a corner of the booming studio as Gackt and the members repeatedly practiced, alternating set lists with each run-through.
The set list for the secret concerts consisted of “death wish,” “Speed Master,” “Lu:na,” and “ANOTHER WORLD.” Clearly a blitzkrieg intended to give fans a hint of MOON through power and speed, overwhelming them in an instant. The members’ sweeping movements on stage and the frenetic action were the most impressive aspects of this set list. It was a fierce blaze that burned out in a little under 20 minutes. Gackt spun his arms around for “ANOTHER WORLD.” With the actual concert just around the corner, his spirits were in good condition too.
Time flew by, and rehearsals didn’t finish until the middle of the night.
In the lobby just outside the studio, YOSH, who had been a dancer with the previous tour, was standing around with two other dancers whom I didn’t know. Of all things, it turned out that they were headed to a different studio with Gackt to rehearse the dance moves for a television performance of “Lu:na.” Gackt departed from the loud studio with the words, “We’re going to use acrobats this time. I have to go,” uncharacteristically letting the anxiousness show on his face as he set out with quick steps for the other studio.
I went to greet the remaining members. This was the first time for me to meet the new drummer, Ryu. Masa was now gone from Gackt Job, so while I did feel like something was just a little bit off, I was also excited to see what this new face would bring to the performance. Ryu’s powerful drumming, especially, would probably blow the live house crowds away.
For the next three days, Gackt headed for Kagoshima for the live house tour. He broadcast All Night Nippon live from Kagoshima in the late of night, and would set off on campaign in Kumamoto on the 4th. That night would be the first secret live house show. Then on the 6th would be the first fan club-only show, in Fukuoka. During the studio rehearsals, the staff had told me, “Gackt’s supposed to drop some hints about where the secret shows will be during All Night Nippon.” So the night of the 3rd I listened intently to the radio.
No matter how much you want the fans to track down the secret shows on their own, if you don’t give them any hints at all they’d have no way to start searching. Gackt had said in magazine interviews that he’d be touring by bus, so of course it was easy to deduce that the secret shows would take place around the same time as the fan club shows, and if more hints were given, a good number of fans could probably find the unannounced venues. Even so, as Gackt’s name wasn’t used publicly at all, not even on the day of the show, and he appeared on the list of performers under an alias, people couldn’t be sure whether or not Gackt would be at a certain live house without actually going in and seeing the show.
In the latter half of that All Night Nippon broadcast, Gackt started talking about the attractive aspects of touring.
“I want to eat delicious foods in each town. Maybe I’ll eat some horse sashimi while watching the FIFA World Cup. Mm, and I want to eat okonomiyaki this weekend too.”
He let out just that single comment. Since I knew the tour schedule, I couldn’t help but laugh.10 Well then, what kind of night sky would the full-scale “MOON PROJECT” paint for us? As I set out a plane ticket for Kumamoto on my desk, my heart throbbed with excitement over the upcoming battle which would surely rival the World Cup. Meanwhile, however, Gackt was in bad shape, and his condition was steadily deteriorating.
1. The short film 「ヴェル・エール 〜空白の瞬間の中で〜」(“Veru Ēru ~Kūhaku no Shunkan no Naka de~” meaning “Verte Aile ~Inside an Instant in a Vacuum~”), shot entirely in France, was released in 1997. Several users have uploaded it to YouTube, both as “Verte Aile” (Green Wing) and as “Bel Air.” I’m not entirely sure which one Malice Mizer intended. Maybe it’s both. ↩
2. Requiem et Réminiscence 〜鎮魂と再生〜 (“Requiem et Réminiscence ~Chinkon to Saisei~” meaning “Requiem and Reminiscence ~Rest and Resurrection~) was the tour for the Rebirth album. The recording of its final stop at Yokohama Arena in June of 2001 is available on DVD. ↩
3. While in the U.S. Japanese mafia are usually referred to as “yakuza,” Japanese police and media refer to them as bōryoku dantai, literally “violent organizations,” and yakuza call themselves ninkyō dantai, “chivalrous organizations.” Like any other group, yakuza have a “code” or a philosophy. How close that philosophy is to medieval European chivalry, I don’t know. But I first heard of the concept of yakuza chivalry in the drama Don Quixote starring MATSUDA Shōta, and after seeing that, and reading a little more about real yakuza, it sorta makes sense. Not to say that yakuza aren’t bad guys, because they are a shady bunch. ↩
4. いま裸にしたい男たち (Ima Hadaka ni Shitai Otokotachi, literally meaning “The Men You Want to Strip Naked Now”) is a series on a cable NHK channel highlighting popular actors and other entertainment personalities. Its companion show is 輝く女 (Kagayaku Onna, “Women Who Shine”). The special with Gackt has been uploaded to YouTube by a certain user. ↩
5. A ライブハウス (raibu hausu, from the English “live house”) is a venue for live music, usually with a relatively small capacity, ranging from a few hundred to a couple thousand people. I could be wrong on this, but I think there’s no one proper English term that conveys exactly the same type of venue succinctly; in my neck of the woods at least such venues are known by their individual names. Anyway, as this term will come up often, I’ve chosen to leave the Japanese-made-English term as is in many instances. ↩
6. 紅白歌合戦 (Kōhaku Uta Gassen, literally the “Red and White Song Battle”) is an annual music competition aired on December 31st on NHK. It features the most popular music acts of the day, who are invited to perform on the show by the broadcaster’s selection committee, musically competing against each other. Gackt first appeared on it in 2001 singing “ANOTHER WORLD,” then again in 2002 singing “Juuni gatsu no Love Song,” in 2003 singing “Last Song,” in 2004 singing “Kimi ni Aitakute,” and in 2007 with “Returner ~Yami no Shūen~.” ↩
7. For those not familiar with the way Japanese fan club ticket sales work: Joining an artist’s fan club allows you to enter into a lottery wherein the prize is the chance to secure tickets before they go on sale to the general public. However, in the case of small events/concerts, or a lottery for a limited number of seats e.g. the front rows of a big hall, if many members enter the lottery the odds of securing a ticket drop. Personally, for less in-demand events like the Gakuensai or stage plays, I was always able to secure a ticket through the fan club lottery, but I was unable to get tickets in the lottery for premium seats for the Best of the Best tour. ↩
8. This sentence giving a generic explanation of taiban (対バン) is in the original Japanese. The Japanese Wikipedia article for taiban links to the English article for “Battle of Bands.” Gackt does talk about “competing,” however, as far as I’ve read there wasn’t any concrete competition, with winners announced and everything, at this live house tour. EDIT (9/18/2015): Don’t know if the above-linked Wikipedia article wasn’t as specific back when I first posted this, but now it gives a detailed explanation, including the fact that in most instances taiban is used to mean simply bands performing on the same stage, rather than bands competing on the same stage. I came back to this thanks to seeing a post on an exist†trace fanblog about the term. ↩
9. This parenthetical question mark is in the original Japanese after the word スリル (suriru, “thrill”). I assume the author used it to mean “I’m not sure if ‘thrill’ is quite the right word.” Either that, or he wondered if there were going to be Thriller like elements in the vampire story. Ahaha… ↩
10. Gackt’s clue depended on listeners knowing what foods were associated with what regions. Basashi, prepared slices of raw horse meat (horse sashimi in other words), is associated with Japan’s sourthern-most island of Kyushu in general, and Kumamoto Prefecture in particular. The first stops of the tour, on weekdays, were in Kumamoto and Fukuoka. The next stop on the tour, over the weekend, was in Hiroshima, which is known for its okonomiyaki. ↩