The Air Moon Ch. 2: Live House Tour, Pt. 2

This post picks up where the previous one left off in the retelling of the 2002 live house tour, continuing on to the stops in Hiroshima, Osaka, and Tokyo. If you have yet to read the earlier portions, please go to the Table of Contents.

I must confess that I’m translating reading only about 5 pages ahead. So, there are some very minor things that I will be retconning. Right now the only such example is that I will go back and change the translation of 秘蔵映像 (hizou eizou, literally “treasured footage” or “special video”) to “Video Treasures” so that it looks like a proper noun, the name of this part of the show. Whether or not hizou eizou was a name Gackt decided on, or a label Hirose (the author) made up for convenience, I don’t know, but as he uses it frequently I think I should take it as a proper noun.

June 8, 2002 Hiroshima Neopolis Hall

Yesterday was for packing up and traveling to Hiroshima, and today would be another secret concert. Around 3 p.m., I went to meet up with Gackt in a hotel room right before he went into make-up.

“Last night I was playing cards with the staff in my room for a long time, but after that I was able to sleep quite a bit.”

He seemed somewhat refreshed, but the severity that had taken over his gaze in Fukuoka still lurked in his eyes.

Gackt started stretching as we spoke, then began practicing his backflip. Actually, following today’s live show, tomorrow, Gackt would be taping a TV appearance in Tokyo. He would perform “Lu:na,” and since acrobatics had been added to the choreography, he was practicing for that. “Lu:na” is one of the new songs on MOON, and it had been incorporated into the current tour, but as yet it had been performed without this intense action element.

As is commonly known, “Lu:na” became a much more compelling song thanks to the frenetic choreography it came to be performed with ever since the Kagen no Tsuki tour,1 but Gackt had already had this in mind and was practicing repeatedly. The choreography for the TV appearance at this time wasn’t nearly as intense as it would become from Kagen no Tsuki on; it was a trial run, so to speak. The performance would evolve and develop from there, and become the action-packed number that it is now.

The backflip practice continued in the hallway, but every now and then there would be a loud thud, and Gackt would collapse to his knees. Even the bodyguards seemed uneasy, but Gackt paid no heed, silently focusing all his attention on cutting through the air.

This may be hard to believe for readers who experienced Kagen no Tsuki and Jōgen no Tsuki, but at that time Gackt’s backflip, his acrobatic skills, were hardly better than those of the average person. It was like junior high school gym class level: it’s okay as long as there’s a mat. As I watched over him, it never occurred to me that in a few months, on the dark, dangerous stage of Jōgen no Tsuki, Gackt would be doing not only backflips, but also somersaults and cartwheels, all while wearing boots and those leather outfits. That was…. It’s something you can do if you concentrate, and practice, practice, practice.

I don’t want to sound cheesy, but if I say what I really feel…I want to spell it out in huge letters across the page, “THIS is the example we should follow!” ……But even as I write that, every time I feel Gackt’s energy and his philosophy of battling himself, I end up thinking, “who am I to talk?”

I went into the live house at 4:30 p.m. The venue, Neopolis Hall, had a high stage that was easy to see, and a standing room capacity of about 300 people or more; a good space for a self-proclaimed “hall.”

Rehearsals began. The members stood on stage and did a sound check. Only Gackt and staff served as audience. Gackt was constantly checking on his throat, and repeatedly went to gargle. Ever since the MARS ~Sora Kara no Hōmonsha~ Tour, Gackt always gargled with mouthwash during rehearsals, but today he was doing it with much greater frequency, and he seemed to be having quite a hard time.

“You! Watch your rhythm! Do it right!”

The frequency of Gackt’s admonitions also increased, and his expression became quite tense.

Somehow, they got through rehearsals. Gackt was still clearing his throat constantly as he went to return to his dressing room. But then he turned on his heels to go to different dressing rooms, those of the other bands that would be performing tonight.

“I’m Gackt. I’m looking forward to our show.” A completely normal greeting. There was no haughtiness in it.

A wave of nervousness swept through the young people in the band, but then they replied with an overly formal, “Please do your best.” Gackt smiled and said “Thanks” as he offered them some beers. Surprised, the band members said “Thank you!” in unison.

There were 4 other bands. Before entering the venue themselves and seeing Gackt start his rehearsal, none of them had known that Gackt would be there. They’d only been told that “one band from Tokyo” would be coming. It was set up like this at all the venues. Seeing Gackt before their very eyes probably served to motivate them to greater heights, but it probably also confused them a bit. Once the live show started they’d be competing against each other, but here was this well-mannered samurai, appearing suddenly before the battle with gifts of beer. At some venues, time constraints prevented Gackt from presenting this gift in person, but the practice of giving it continued on all the stops.

Doors opened on time at 6 p.m. Like the Kumamoto show, Gackt would be the first to take the stage. Standing in the hallway in front of the dressing room, I could hear Gackt doing vocal exercises within. His throat must have been in considerably poor condition.

As I stood there listening, I couldn’t help but think of Gackt’s characteristic behavior when he’s ill. The worse his condition, the more he puts all his strength into shaking it off. That’s how the live shows have gone in the past. But when he’s overexerted himself, he tends to lose his self-control, and often ends up doing dangerous things. In short, the probability that he’ll snap increases. I wanted everything to go smoothly today, but at the same time, part of me kind of wanted to see him go berserk…….

Just as he’d explained after the show in Kumamoto, the first song was changed to “Speed Master.” Gackt, frustrated by a throat that would not listen to him, clearly seemed on the verge of losing it. Trying to shake it off, he went harder and harder from the first song on. During the bridge of the third song, “Lu:na,” he climbed up on the barrier in front of the first row, inching forward dangerously.

Mr. Asano and other staff members were able to restrain Gackt and nothing happened, but if they hadn’t done so, Gackt surely would have dived into the crowd.  Stage diving when you’re filled with uncontrollable emotions isn’t a bad thing, and if that’s how things naturally play out then I’m all for it. However, Gackt has never done it in the past, so the audience isn’t prepared for that. In other words, we can imagine that if Gackt were to jump into the crowd, in all likelihood the audience would be too surprised to actually catch him, and he’d fall flat to the floor. At least, that’s how the audience seemed to be today, so I was greatly relieved that he hadn’t done it.

“Hello, Hiroshima. Only one more song to go.” That was the entirety of the MC portion. Gackt tried to respond as the audience started saying “Aww!” and “Nooo!” but his breathing was erratic, and everyone could sense that it had taken a huge effort to string together even those few words.

After the performance, Gackt went directly to the hospital. He received emergency treatment for his throat, then met up with everyone for dinner.

Compared to the previous 2 performances, tonight’s show seemed much more consistent. It seemed the members were starting to get the hang of it, and they looked somewhat reassured. Gackt was also smiling, perhaps relieved to have somehow made it through. Everyone was in a good mood as the van headed to the hotel.

There had been a festival today, so the streets of downtown Hiroshima were still full of people even at this late hour. Gackt looked as if he wanted to walk about outside, but as that might cause trouble, he contented himself with people-watching from inside the van. We got to the hotel after taking a scenic detour.

Eventually, everyone started to head to their own room, when someone idly asked, “How ’bout going to the convenience store?” Several people said “I’ll go too.” I joined the convenience store group and was heading toward the exit with them when Gackt called out from behind us.

“Where’re you going? The convenience store? I wanna go too……. Nah, never mind. It would just cause trouble if I went.”

A sigh escaped me. Why was it so heartbreaking? That such a simple part of everyday life as going to the convenience store should be off-limits to Gackt. Call it the price of fame, but the fact was that at present Gackt couldn’t even walk the streets freely, or do something as simple and normal as killing a bit of time in a convenience store. If he went out with bodyguards he’d stand out, and if he went out alone but got noticed and surrounded by people, he wouldn’t be able to get away. This is the burden of people who go about their daily life with various restrictions imposed on them. I will surely never be in his shoes, but I can understand his pain having traveled with him.

It would have been too sad a scene to end the exchange by simply saying, “You’re famous so oh well.” What kept my emotions in check was my concern for his well-being: “Please, get some rest, let your throat rest.”

Gackt’s throat was already in such bad shape as to endanger the rest of the tour.

June 11, 2002 Zepp Osaka

Gackt had returned to Tokyo on the 9th with his throat rapidly spiraling down toward the worst possible condition. After a press conference for a new commercial and filming for a TV show, he had yet more acrobatic practice. It wasn’t unusual for him to have no time to rest, but as a matter of course, this time he ended up going to an emergency hospital for a checkup. The diagnosis was that polyps were starting to form in Gackt’s throat. The doctor instructed Gackt to stop singing and get plenty of rest, but the schedule was packed.

Gackt arrived in Osaka on the 10th for the promo campaign. Naturally, events centered around talking were cut from the schedule, but he appeared on All Night Nippon broadcasting from a radio station in Osaka…….

What I could hear as I walked into Zepp Osaka a little early on the 11th were the voices of the staff nervously wondering if they could pull off tonight’s show, and if the schedule from here on would be alright. Once again, Gackt would be coming to the venue after getting a checkup at the hospital.

Backstage, everyone was more anxious than usual. It had recently become an unspoken rule not to smoke around Gackt, but in order to fully carry that out, today there were “No Smoking” signs posted in and around the dressing rooms. That was the environment Gackt walked into around 2 p.m.

I usually greet Gackt with a “Hello,” and “Did you rest?” But this time there was no need to ask. It was clearly written on his face that he was already well past “tired.”

“Actually, I can’t resist being in this type of situation. ‘Cause I’m like Rikiishi from Ashita no Joe.2 *Laughs wryly* When you overcome something like this, it makes you feel good.”

A particularly Gackt-esque comment. I had no reply. His gaze was eerily piercing, like he was itching for a fight. A very bad feeling came over me.

I know full well that Gackt is a man whom no one can stop. I also know that it’s because he’s someone who strives to live fully by surpassing his limits one after the next that he takes his artistic expression more seriously than anything. All I can do is follow along until he finally crashes. Be that as it may, unbeknownst to Gackt—who was up on stage starting the rehearsal—a meeting was underway in the dressing room of the staff leaders regarding the schedule from now on.

Everyone was aware of the severity of Gackt’s condition. Unexpectedly, that awareness helped everyone focus, and the rehearsal proceeded considerably well. Gackt, too, was repeatedly gargling, gathering up the strength to use his throat throughout the rehearsal. Since the order of “death wish” and “Speed Master,” and “Lu:na” and “Fragrance” had been switched, a good chunk of time had been allotted to checking the segues between songs, but that task was also easily completed. Having gone so smoothly, rehearsals finished early.

It’s not that the rehearsal was purposefully shortened out of concern for Gackt’s throat. He would never allow such a compromise. This smoothness was the result of the band members and everyone on the staff keeping Gackt’s crisis firmly in mind and concentrating on carrying out their particular tasks. If only this wonderful flow could be harnessed for the actual show…….

At any rate, the rehearsal proved that Gackt could do tonight’s concert. Even the tension backstage eased somewhat, and Mr. Asano and Gackt turned to check the Video Treasures. In the members’ dressing rooms, everyone seemed just about to change into the stage costumes. Of course, the heat from these costumes became the topic of conversation.

“It’s a fight with fever, huh?” commented Chachamaru.

I jumped in to talk with the members for a bit.

You said, “We’re moving forward day by day.”

“I’m having fun,” gushed Ryu, “I get to run wild.” Though newly added to the band, he himself was a veteran drummer, and seemed to be enjoying things at his own pace.

“I feel like my true nature slowly came out. But there are still some songs that I have to drum very carefully. “death wish” has a ton of strokes, many on the toms, right? It’d be so uncool if I messed up and hit the cymbals instead.3 *Laughs*”

There’s no way someone with technique like Ryu’s would make such a mistake, but he seemed a bit irritated at not yet being able to totally let loose on the drums.

7 o’clock. Time to start the show. The members and staff stood in a circle around Gackt. It was the pre-show huddle. With a grim look on his face, Gackt opened his mouth to speak.

“I’m in the worst possible condition. It’s been a while since I’ve been this nervous……. Let’s go wild today, got it?!”

The concert started. The audience was really into it from the very first song, and the supportive cheers were overwhelming. With the Osaka fans passionately yelling out “Wooo!” even during the intro to the ballad “Fragrance,” it started to feel unreal that the audience in Fukuoka had been stiffly “observing” the show. It was like the fans in Osaka, fully aware of Gackt’s condition, were supporting him by sending forth their wonderful energy. Of the performers, Ren was going strong, and created a groove that pulled everyone along.

However, the performance of the up-tempo songs was still noticeably rough, and there were many problems with this show as well. Something I noticed this time was that the impression the concert gives changes greatly depending on whether or not the members can plunge into “rain,” which is a rather complex song, and perform it well. There’s no mistaking the fact that “rain” would be the core of this tour.

After the screening of the Video Treasures (which had been modified only slightly by the addition of more captions), the show moved on to the Talk Corner.

“Osaka’s great, huh?” Gackt spoke as if he thought he’d pass out if he didn’t keep talking, being unusually proactive in moving the conversation forward himself. He did an a cappella rendition of “Happy Birthday” for fans who had celebrated their birthday recently,4 and otherwise created a good feeling in the live house. At this point Gackt paused, then turned toward the audience like he’d just made up his mind, and started telling them the purpose of the tour.

“We’re doing the secret shows because it was my selfish desire to do so. I thought it’d be a chance to take a good hard look at ourselves……. I’m sorry that the venues are so small. But once this tour is over, I’ll rethink once again the meaning of making music; what it is that we can do, what it is that only we can do, and then come back to Osaka for the tour in the winter. Everyone who’s here today, I hope you’ll be able to make it on December 20th…….”

His spirit inflamed by the audience’s enthusiasm, and buoyed up by the gratitude he felt for the fans’ passionate energy, Gackt spoke as if to reaffirm his resolve to himself. Rather than reading words in a magazine, I think that everyone can understand what Gackt is trying to convey by hearing him like this, in person, even if he can’t get out the words themselves.

“Osaka, you’re the greatest!”

The last song, “ANOTHER WORLD,” ended with Gackt shouting that at the top of his lungs. As he left the stage, he seemed more satisfied than the last time.

Gackt went back to his dressing room and was getting a massage. He would probably go straight back to the hotel, and be forbidden from going out. It had been decided at the staff leaders’ meeting that until the show at Zepp Tokyo on the 15th, Gackt’s schedule would be cleared and he’d be ordered to rest. Even one of the planned secret shows was cancelled. This must have filled Gackt with frustration, but…….

June 15th, 2002 Zepp Tokyo

A little bit past 3 p.m., I went into Zepp Tokyo. It’s in Odaiba, a developing area near the sea. Since the Zepps in Fukuoka and Osaka are in similar locales, it didn’t feel like I had returned to Tokyo. And yet, it was certainly Tokyo after all: the entrance and the dressing room were filled with an incredible number of flowers from people involved with Gackt, as many as would be sent for a concert at Yokohama Arena.

Taping for a “Lawson Video” segment was going on up on the stage, but as Gackt still seemed to be in his dressing room, I decided to wait for him in the hallway. Did the three days’ rest yield the intended results?

The door to the dressing room opened around 4 p.m. and Gackt appeared. He greeted me.

“Ah, you cut your hair. That really suits you.”

He spoke to me as if to say, “You refreshed your look,” but it was he who seemed “refreshed.” It wasn’t just his expression either; his steps as he walked to the stage were lighter by far than they had been in Osaka, I could feel a relaxed aura as I followed him, and at that moment I couldn’t feel the bloodlust he had been seething with before. Good…I doubt I was the only one to give a sigh of relief.

Gackt must have been refreshed by returning to Tokyo, resting, spending time with family, and even eating his big sister’s home-made food. He was in much better spirits than the Gackt I’d seen in Osaka. During rehearsals, he would signal to the band and staff members with big hand gestures and body movements to tell them what to fix. He repeatedly checked various things, such as lengthening the space after “Fragrance,” and the segue from “rain” to “Soleil,” all the while talking it over with Mr. Asano. For “Doomsday” he went out to the floor of the standing room and gave directions from there.

“Everyone’s barely moving. Do it over. If even from this distance the audience can’t get what we’re doing we have to change it!”

Gackt kept giving the band members instruction from the floor, focusing on having them exaggerate their movements. The next thing I knew, he had gone back up onto the stage, and was sitting in a circle with Chachamaru, Ren, and You. The four of them discussed things, then Gackt got up again, and signaled his instructions to them. Everyone was intently focused on rehearsing.

After about an hour, Gackt went back to his dressing room and fell asleep. Surely he was going over the movements for “Doomsday” even in his dreams. He woke up an hour later, jumped into the second rehearsal going on backstage, and once again started calling out to the band members, “Everyone, bigger, bigger! Feel the 2nd and 4th beats!”5

This scenario has played out in all the tours up till now, and it’s one I’m used to seeing, but this was the first time. It was like Gackt’s slight recovery had brought back his usual tour intuition. In fact, even once the actual show started, there were many points which made it seem like he got back his sense for doing shows.

During “Lu:na,” Gackt passionately shouted out “Come at me!!”6 It’s a a familiar phrase by now, but this live house tour was the first time he used it. There was Chachamaru and Ren’s dance during “Soleil,” and there were many chances to see the band members interacting with each other onstage. It wouldn’t be a live show if the band members didn’t go at it like this. The audience, with the familiar Gackt World before them, got into the groove.

Of course, Gackt’s voice wasn’t in good shape, but the movements had become distinctly sharper. The “prayer pose” during “rain,” and other gestures, made the songs more appealing visually. I can’t say that the level of completion was high overall, but the show was certainly improving, and I could feel that everyone was clearly doing what they could. This show had the best vibe of the tour so far, and those good vibes carried over to the Talk Corner.

This didn’t happen much in Fukuoka and Osaka, but there were several people in the Tokyo audience who passed out (or seemed to be about to) during the Talk Corner, which ended up being interrupted 8 times. Each time, the person who fainted was carried out by the big, muscular bodyguards. Thank goodness they were there. Gackt also seemed worried, but the people near those who fainted cooperated, lending a hand each time. This created unity among the audience members, and had the unexpected effect of making the atmosphere even better.

After the show, Gackt went to greet various people involved in his work. Of course, there would be no after-party that night; Gackt would probably devote himself to his recuperation (even if that “recuperation” didn’t involve sleep). Tomorrow would be the next Tokyo show. I left the venue praying that Gackt’s throat would hold up.

June 16th, 2002 Zepp Tokyo (Day 2)

The next day, the 16th, was the second Tokyo show. Gackt and the band members entered the venue a little before 3 p.m. and got ready.

Since there had been so many people in the audience who became unwell yesterday, the staff members talked about that in addition to worrying about Gackt’s health. So, to be safe, it was arranged for doctors and nurses to be on standby backstage.

“Hello. What’d you think of yesterday’s show?” Gackt said to me as he left his dressing room a bit past 4 p.m.7

“So far, it was the show where I felt your energy the most.”

“Oh? I’ll go even further. To the ends of hell. Trust me.” He grinned as he walked off toward the stage.

Aha! Gackt clearly had the look he gets when he’s found something, when he’s ascertained something. At some point in a tour, this change in his expression always happens, so I could read it like a book. It was written all over his face that the significance of doing this tour, as well as a fresh resolve, had sprung up within him. I recalled the words he’d said as he was preparing for this tour.

“For example, even if everyone understood things instinctively in their indie days, now, at this point, I think there are some things that we have to understand concretely. We concluded that if we don’t do that, we won’t be able to go on to the next step. ‘This is the starting point,’ and we have to pull ourselves up higher.”8

Indie bands have to work steadily to find an audience, doing things like passing out flyers themselves. But many people will show up at Gackt concerts even if he doesn’t do that. However, if he were to rest his laurels, he wouldn’t be able to go on to the next step: all of the varied artistic expression that will go into “MOON.” They had to go back to the starting point, find their footing, become stronger, and grow…….

Those were the ideas that gave rise to this tour. At that point Gackt was already weighed down emotionally, and he was still in the process of getting those thoughts in order. During the shows those feelings would be hurled out at the audience; after the show, toward me.

During the rehearsal, the choreography for “Doomsday” and “Soleil” was carefully reviewed. Even for “Lu:na,” Gackt yelled out his instructions in a loud voice, “The three of you, it’s okay if you come to the front from the intro, so use big gestures!”

From the beginning of the tour, the band members had been giving special attention to unifying the ensemble, and Gackt to making the movements easier to see. “Big movements” were consistently the key words, not just for this tour, but also for Kagen no Tsuki and Jōgen no Tsuki, which were carried out in bigger venues.

The photographer, Mr. Tsukagoshi, said in a low whisper, “He seems to be in a much better mood today…….”

Gackt’s expression during the rehearsal certainly gave off a good vibe, as did the band members’ expressions. Everyone also seemed greatly united by a desire to make the most of the limited time and have a productive rehearsal.

“We don’t have much time left, so later, after we’ve gone back to the dressing rooms, let’s work on the choreography one more time.”

That’s what Gackt said, but in the end, he ended up going over the allotted rehearsal time, staying up on stage the whole while to check the choreography. The staff, always fighting for time, became nervous, but Gackt’s stance on tackling the problem was overwhelmingly right.

Before the show started, an announcement was made asking people to come forward quickly if they started to feel unwell. The band members gathered in the wings.

“This is the second day in Tokyo. Let’s do as much as we can today. We’ll worry about the day after tomorrow when we get to it. I get the feeling this is gonna be a great show.”

Gackt’s message filled the members with fighting spirit.

From the instant the intro to “Doomsday” played, the audience was in an incredible groove. As I watched from the second floor, I saw the crowd surging more than yesterday, and even more than the Osaka crowd. I couldn’t help but think, “Just what is going on?!” The male fans stood out, and the number of people throwing their hands in the air was more than twice what it had been the previous day. It was so noticeable that Chachamaru commented, “I was surprised because all of a sudden everything was shaking so hard.”

Perhaps aroused by the crowd’s energy, Gackt moved on stage even more vigorously than he’d done in rehearsals. The sound of his body collapsing onstage at the end of “Doomsday” (as part of the performance) was so loud it made you jump, but there was no need to worry. With the heat in the hall only getting hotter, the show reached fever pitch during “Lu:na.” Chachamaru demonstrated his tapping technique, which he usually didn’t show off.9 It was a completely unplanned move. At times like these, he gets totally in the zone!

During “rain,” Gackt’s voice got a bit rough, probably from overexerting himself throughout the show, but it was like he didn’t feel it at all. Pausing for a moment, he summoned forth more strength, and sang “Soleil” amidst a sea of cheering. He had several unplanned exchanges with You.

The music portion ended on that high note, and Gackt passed out. It had been a while since that happened; in fact it was the first time this tour that he lost consciousness for so long. Passing out at a show was one thing, but the Talk Corner was supposed to be next. He pulled himself together and after about 10 minutes went out to the wings.

When he appeared onstage again, Gackt was greeted by loud cheers. But Gackt’s energy level surpassed even theirs.


He repeatedly let out incomprehensible yells, and the chat after that was also so hyper it seemed a bit strange.

Compared to other artists, when I interview Gackt his energy level usually doesn’t change much. But every now and then, he’ll get a bit excited for some reason, and on rare occasions even starts speaking really quickly with no lack of details. That’s close to what Gackt was like for today’s Talk Corner.

Next, they jumped into “ANOTHER WORLD” while still on a high, and everyone got really hyped up. They messed up the poses at the end, but the reaction to the mistake seemed to be, “It’s cute, so it’s okay!” As the members left the stage, they threw more items than usual into the audience. *Laugh*

There were still many things that needed work, and the always-critical Mr. Asano probably wouldn’t speak too well of tonight’s show, but I for one thought it was good. Gackt must have been able to get a little closer to his ideal.

“I don’t worry about what’s coming up next anymore…….” Gackt whispered after the show, flushed with its energy. He slowly regained his composure, and at the after-party he once again had on a discreet air.

Late at night, the band members and related personnel had gathered at a yakiniku restaurant. For the time being, I took a seat in the corner and was spacing out at the window when Gackt suddenly came to sit beside me.

“Ah, what’s wrong? How unlike you.”

I looked at him. He’d removed the make-up and wasn’t wearing sunglasses either. He didn’t seem tired from the concert, but there was a complicated look on his face that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. His mind was in a chaotic state, but his will was strong…that was the look he had as he ordered a drink. He seemed to make up his mind about something and started to speak.

“Cancelling the secret show in Osaka to get ready for Tokyo…I said many times that doing that wasn’t right. I had wanted to achieve several things with this tour, but then at some point I didn’t know why I was doing it anymore, and I was mad at myself……I was so mad, I was holding back tears as I sang in Osaka. I wondered, will my feelings reach them……?”

He had started speaking slowly but emphatically. It seemed like tears were welling up in his eyes. When was the last time I’d seen him like that? Or maybe this was the first time ever.

“But after the Osaka show, I realized that what I was searching for was unexpectedly simple. Little by little I started to see the things I couldn’t see before……because this is nowhere near where my limits are. I’ll lift off from here. The winter tour’s gonna be incredible. I’m gonna reach even higher!”

Mad at himself for the poor condition of his body, Gackt was spurred on by the feelings he’d found performing onstage, even though he couldn’t express them in words. He laid bare his resolve to push on towards his limits. He wouldn’t be Gackt if he didn’t do just that. It’s okay, you don’t die just because you get killed.

My spirits brightened, I changed the subject: “It looked like you were thinking of jumping into the audience during ‘Lu:na.’ You really gonna do it?”

“Stage diving? Mm, it’s pretty dangerous. But I also feel like people should realize that there are dangerous aspects to doing live shows, so…maybe I will do it this tour. Ah, anyway, eat up! What’ll we have?”

I looked out the window, gazing up at the moon while thinking giddily of the upcoming shows, and praying that Gackt didn’t have a relapse.

[Continued in Chapter 2, Part 3]

1. 下弦の月 (Kagen no Tsuki, “The Waning Moon”) was the hall & arena tour in support of MOON which started in the fall of the same year as the live house tour (2002). The similarly named 上弦の月 (Jōgen no Tsuki, “The Waxing Moon”) was the tour in support of Crescent carried out in 2003.

2. あしたのジョー (Ashita no Jō, meaning “Tomorrow’s Joe” but often written in English as Ashita no Joe) is a manga about boxing originally published in 1968. RIKIISHI Tōru is the rival of the protagonist, Joe. I haven’t read the manga nor seen any of its adaptations so I’m not 100% sure I get this reference, so if anyone more knowledgeable than I on the matter would be so kind as to leave a comment, I’d greatly appreciate it. From what I gather on the Japanese Wikipedia page for Ashita no Joe characters, Gackt is referring to how Tōru wanted a rematch with Joe, but since they were in different weight classes, Tōru had to lose a significant amount of weight to be able to face Joe. The explanation on said page adds that for someone to go from a welterweight to a featherweight as Tōru did in the story would require a weight loss of 13 kg (about 30 lbs); the steps required to achieve such a loss while still fighting as a pro boxer could be fatal. (Interestingly, this storyline apparently came about because the artist drawing the story wasn’t familiar with boxing and drew Tōru bigger than he should have been. Whoops.)

3. On a modern drum kit, the toms, or tom-tom drums, are positioned above the bass drum, and the cymbals are right above the toms.

4. I’m not sure if this is supposed to mean that Gackt sang “Happy Birthday” to one particular fan whose birthday he happened to know or found out, or if it was more like he dedicated the song to all the June babies in the audience, or something en masse like that.

5. Assuming the song they were practicing was in 4/4 time, Gackt is telling them feel the backbeat, which is usually not accented.

6. What Gackt said in Japanese was 「かかってこいよ!」(kakatte koi yo!).

7. The greeting used here (and in several other places) was actually おはよう (ohayō), which is usually translated as “good morning.” Here, it’s used more in the sense of a greeting before work begins. I don’t know if this is just me, but I think that in English it sounds weird to say “good morning” when it’s not morning unless it’s being used as a joke. As that is not the case here, I’ve chosen to translate all instances of ohayō with the temporally neutral “hello.”

8. Nearly the same quote was used in Chapter 1. The words aren’t exactly the same in the original Japanese, so I didn’t make them the same here either.

9. Tapping is a way of playing stringed instruments wherein sounds are produced by tapping the fingers on the fretboard at the point for the desired note rather than having one hand holding down the note on the fretboard and the other hand plucking or bowing the string. It is an integral part of shredding on electric guitar.  Learn more on Wikipedia or watch demonstration videos on YouTube.

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