お久しぶり！It’s been a long time, O Readers. A belated Happy Winter Solstice, Happy Festivus, Happy Emperor’s Birthday (or did it switch to the new Emperor’s already?), Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa!
When GACKT announced the KHAOS tour back in September, I started making plans to go. Some of the tour dates overlapped with my mid-winter break. But then I started worrying about traveling in winter, canceled flights, feeling rushed for going for such a short time (relatively), the fact that the band will apparently be random people who auditioned(?) not the members we know and love…and before I knew it, it was October, and I hadn’t rejoined the fan club, and didn’t feel like seeking out other ways to get tickets. At this point, I probably won’t go. Unless GACKT extends the tour to have dates that overlap with my spring break!
Any overseas fans planning on going?
Speaking of overseas fans, here we are at the last 25 pages of Mitsuru Hirose’s write-up on the the early years of the MOON PROJECT. The first section of this chapter in the book is a really long interview, which includes a little bit about where Gackt was getting fan mail from back then. I didn’t want to split the interview up, but it’s just so long and sometimes Gackt starts rambling. So split it up I shall. (^_^;)
For earlier portions, please see the Table of Contents.
From Jōgen no Tsuki to Crescent 〜The Unpublished Interview〜
Jōgen no Tsuki ~Final Chapter~ came to an end. There were still many more things to be released under the “MOON” concept, but the 2003 live tour was all wrapped up. Its presence, however, could still be keenly felt. I already wrote about Jōgen no Tsuki ~Final Chapter~ at Yokohama Arena, but as there’s still something I must tell you, I think I’d like to start this chapter with a bit of a postscript to that. This will also serve to make that lingering presence felt even more keenly…
Ren, who had been holding down the rhythm section of Gackt Job as its bassist from the band’s inception, was set to leave Job at the conclusion of part of the “MOON PROJECT” in 2003, in order to focus on his own band activities. I remember that the staff informed me of this right before the time of Jōgen no Tsuki ~Final Chapter~, but it had already been settled among the members that this tour would be his last. So Jōgen no Tsuki was also a tour that included Gackt Job’s sadness and complicated emotions over Ren’s departure.
I remember how, on July 6th, right before the start of the last concert of the tour, when I had asked Ren in the dressing room how we was feeling about that day’s show, he’d just stood there with an undecipherable expression, unable to say anything. Realizing that I probably didn’t know he was going to leave, he must have thought, “Now’s not a good time to tell him…” and was carefully choosing his words. I bet he probably wanted to say, “It’s my last show, so I’m gonna go all out!” Looking back now, I feel a bit bad for putting Ren, who wasn’t particularly good with words to begin with, on the spot like that.
Ren must have struggled to come to the decision of walking a different path. He was probably filled with a growing sadness. What’s more, for Gackt and You, he was a childhood friend. Precisely because they were one precious family, they hid their sadness on the inside so they could commemorate, through their performances in Jōgen no Tsuki, the start of their fellow warrior’s new journey. I’d like for you all to rewatch the video release of the Yokohama Arena performance while imagining what they must have been feeling in their hearts. I can’t help but think that Gackt’s feelings for Ren have been compiled within it.
So, Jōgen no Tsuki had included several moving elements, even the sweet sorrow of parting. Having finished the tour, when Gackt regained consciousness after having passed out, he was once again free to smoke and imbibe at the dinner table. After that, we headed to the venue for his grand birthday party, for which around 200 guests and industry insiders gathered.
“I was completely hammered from the start. I was going around kissing everyone, no matter who they were! Once I got home, I crashed by the toilet, slept there…I need to take a hard look at my life choices from now on,” he laughed wryly.
The release that came with finishing the tour seemed to give Gackt such a sense of freedom that he went quite wild at the party. I interviewed him a few days later, while the fever still hadn’t cooled off completely. I got to hear many powerful, moving things with regards to his past and future. From the amount of detailed comments he made, I think you can really feel him.
(Note: The dancer YOSH was also present during this interview.)
—Jōgen no Tsuki ~Final Chapter~ has come to an end. Do you have any memories from Yokohama Arena?
I’ve seen the cut broadcast on WOWOW several times, so yeah. If you’re asking if I remember it, then honestly, no, not really, but I know what all happened.
—So, you had no memory of the event until you saw the broadcast?
No, it wasn’t that bad. I remember the beginning. We started the show behind schedule. We had to wait because of a problem with the lighting, right?
—Yes, you waited over ten minutes after the pre-show huddle.
I had been pretty nervous, but thanks to that problem, having to wait, it’s like it actually gave me a chance to take a good look at the stage and calm down.
—Then, at what point do things start to get fuzzy?
Hm, I wonder? I kinda remember transitioning into Chapter 2. I think it starts to get fuzzy from around the piano performance. But it’s not always like that, because there are times that I do remember… It’s embarrassing watching the videos. Like during the talk portion, or during “Mirror,” I’m thinking, “Wow, I had such a crazed look.” I stayed down by the audience forever, right? Didn’t go back up on stage. I’d thought to do it, and I’d said, “I might go down, I wanna do it.” So I ended up going down there.
—Speaking of that, you took a little tumble there.
Ah, that. I was out of breath, it was so painful. It took everything I had in me. It’s because I’m old… Ahaha…
—They had a ton of audience shots in the WOWOW edit. Nothing but beautiful women! (LOL)
That’s great, everyone put their best face forward. They’ve beautifully become sexy women, don’t you think?
—You yourself looked completely different during “Orenji on Taiyō.”
Maybe that was because I had Leehom and them, Tarō and Zeny, at my side. When I was on stand-by after changing, I think I was still in a haze. But what I clearly remember is that when it was time to go on stage, Leehom said, “Let’s go,” and gave me a firm pat on the shoulder. I think that’s when I snapped out of it. Their presence pushed me forward. I thought, “I gotta get out there.” I felt it, deeply.
—How about when you were singing “Orenji on Taiyō”? Do you remember?
I remember it very well. It was kinda weird actually. But when I saw Zeny’s face, then Leehom’s, and Tarō’s, it was like memories from my past, and even family I’d gotten separated from, they were all there. The things I wanted to do in MOON CHILD and express through this concert, I had been able to give myself over to them completely, so I was really happy, but there was some sadness mixed in there too. That’s what I mean by “weird.” When I glanced over at Zeny, she gave me this big huge smile, and for the first time I thought, “Whoa, how is this girl so cute?” It was like finally realizing you like someone. In the movie, Shō’s in love with her, right? It was like I understood why in that moment. She’s really cute. *Laughs* Yup, I’m really glad it was so dramatic in the end.
—The reaction to HYDE’s voice was incredible, too.
Hmm, yeah, I couldn’t really tell up on stage, but I was surprised when I saw the video. It was incredible.
—I was thinking he’d show up at Yokohama Arena too, actually.
He was doing a show at Yoyogi, so… *Laughs*
—It was impossible. (LOL) So, how would you summarize Jōgen no Tsuki?
Well, we started with a venue the size of an arena from Day 1, right? It felt like the last day from the start, so I think everyone was tense. But I think that when we got up on that stage for the first time, a part of me was watching us very calmly, and all of us knew what we each should do, what we had to do. Take YOSH for example. This wasn’t his first time being in one of my shows. It was his third time as a main dancer, right? His first show was Requiem et Réminiscence ~Chinkon to Saisei~, then in Kagen no Tsuki he was chosen for the lead position.1 In contrast, for Jōgen no Tsuki, I think he became able to actually lead the other dancers objectively for the first time. I knew that, so I felt like I could trust in him pretty much all the time. Up till now everything was so much for everyone to process that I had to be telling them, “You gotta do this, you gotta do that.” So I think it was a big thing for them to finally become able to think for themselves about what had to be done, and do it without my telling them to. Maybe you could say there was a great sense that they were all leading each other forward. Not that they were leaning on each other, it felt more like they were pulling forward and raising up anyone who was falling behind. I could see that happening with the band members, too.
—What examples come to mind looking back on them?
If Chachamaru was down because of a problem with his performance or mental state, then You or Ren would lift him up. Then if You was down Chachamaru would lift him up. Because I knew that they would do that even without my saying to, I made a point of not butting in at those times. I was like, “Ah, they’ve become able to do it themselves.” Before there were many things they wouldn’t even notice if I didn’t say anything, so I had to say it. I mean, I think it was natural that I would be the one to say it. I think that it can be shown and proven that there were people even among the dancers who emerged as leaders for those taking the stage for the first time, and when I see that I think, “I’ve grown, too,” so that lets me feel confident when I go up on stage. I say pretty harsh things myself, but I’m not saying them because I think people can’t achieve what I’m asking them to, I say those things because I believe that they can.
Another thing I was really happy about was being able to see people growing on stage. I felt that about the band members from the first live shows. During MARS ~Sora Kara no Hōmonsha~ and Requiem et Réminiscence ~Chinkon to Saisei~ it felt like they were fighting for dear life, so I could really feel how much they were improving. Now, since they know what they should be doing up on stage, it’s not so much just that they’ve grown, it feels more like they’re in the process of figuring out how to put the results of their growth to maximum use. When I was watching the new young dancers, some were just up on stage dancing without even knowing what they should be looking at. But they gradually came to realize they had to look out into the audience and convey their own feelings to the people watching. Seeing them become able to do that made me really happy. This time, KAZUYA stands out in particular. The one in the white costume. He’s only 21. Whether performing in front of 15,000 people or a few thousand, what with it being his first time and all, I think he understood that his responsibility was to be front and center, and I think he understood the meaning behind carrying out his responsibility. But I don’t think he understood it from the beginning. At first, I think he didn’t really get it. But whether it’s the weight of the duties you must carry out, the kind of person you think you want to become, the person you want to but can’t become, the pain of thinking you’re doing things right but having the people around you tell you you’re doing them wrong, being unable to run away, feeling like you mustn’t run away.2 I was really happy when I realized there were young people who had grown onstage.
—The members had become stable.
Yeah, they’ve settled down now.
—So it was like the dancers were going through the growth spurt that the band members had gone through during MARS ~Sora Kara no Hōmonsha~ and Requiem et Réminiscence ~Chinkon to Saisei~?
Yup, just like that.
—You said a lot of things to the dancers during rehearsals, too.
If I point something out to the band members in the dressing room after rehearsals, it’s okay, because they can remember everything. But it’s really tough for the dancers if you don’t correct them in the moment. I think that’s why they would always film the rehearsals, and check the video immediately afterwards.
—When KAZUYA did poorly during the rehearsals at Yokohama Arena, he was called out immediately.
YOSH: He was unsteady, wasn’t he? He had to have been nervous. We don’t get nervous like that anymore. He’s got spirit, but he’s so young the nerves get to him.
Gackt: That’s how anyone would be, naturally. I mean, think about it: anyone would get nervous moving to Tokyo, suddenly becoming a lead dancer, and performing in front of nearly 10,000 people. I’ve been thinking, Kanata’s way too special. That child is a genius. It’s impossible. Normally that kind of kid just doesn’t exist. His talent should be noted. Usually, there are people who can easily dominate the stage, and those who are swallowed up by it. You see, in the course of their career, most people either become the type that imposes themselves upon the audience, or the type that opens up to let the audience into themselves equally.3 This time we were overwhelmed by the large number of people in the audience, so we couldn’t really open up to them. As we kept performing, little by little we were finally able to open up. Once in a blue moon, you get someone who can control the distance between the stage and the audience; they pull the audience in from the stage. They can control the audience naturally, so they don’t get nervous. But most people get nervous. When you have a kid who can visualize what they’re gonna do before they even go up on stage, or who knows what they should do, then they can become confident performers. The first time I saw Kanata on stage, I kept wondering how things would go, but after the first day I thought, “This kid’s incredible!” On the second day I verified it with the video, but it was still surprising to watch. I’m telling you, the kid’s a genius. He’s the rare type of person who can control the psychological distance between the audience and the stage.
—The choreography for “Tsuki no Uta” changed over the course of the tour, right?
Yeah. He can do anything you ask him to, he always delivers. I think he’d be able to pull something off on the spot even without talking it over beforehand. If you come up with something new to try out, he’ll be responsive to it.
—He’s the type who’s good with ad libbing?
He’s a genius. Only problem is he’s physically weak.
—Huh? What’s that about?
He’s weak. Was it the day before yesterday? I called him to say “good job,” and he told me was burning up with fever and had stayed home from school. He’s really weak… *Dry laugh*
—Still, his movements were really sharp for the Cat Dance in “Soleil.”
YOSH: He was awesome! He’s got great rhythm.
Gackt: Most people are the type who can nail a rehearsal but mess up the actual performance, right? That kid’s different. He doesn’t mess up, and he’s always watching the audience. He’s incredible. Other kids wearing full-body costumes for the first time can’t move in them as well as he did. I was surprised watching the tape recording. That’s the sort of thing only your stage family recognizes. For instance, there are people who have been slower to progress than KAZUYA. That’s normal. But, among the dancers, when they realize that they haven’t grown as much as somebody else, it becomes an internal conflict. Everyone was struggling. It’s a given as human beings that we’ll struggle.
—Is it fun to watch them struggle?
It is. I think it’s wonderful to get to watch people grow. Of course, it sucks for the people struggling, but I’m struggling right there with them. But it’s wonderful to watch nonetheless, including myself. I’ve always thought that this must be what it’s like to have children. That’s why I don’t need to have them. Hahaha!
—Ahaha, those are some pretty grown children.
Our real ages are those of far younger children though. Seeing everyone else grow makes me realize how much growing I have to do. I feel it so deep in my bones it makes me happy. On top of that, they can nail rehearsals and the actual performances. During rehearsals in Sendai, when I couldn’t stick the landing in “Lu:na” and hurt my legs and back, everyone said to me, “This is too dangerous, you’ve got to stop.” But if I stopped, that would have an effect on everybody else, so I couldn’t. But it was scary, and when I was onstage, even if I stuck the landings, the thought would cross my mind, “Will I be able to do the next song with my body in this condition?” But when I took my position, the other three gave me a slap on the shoulder, and burst out shouting “Woooo!” In that moment, I felt how much everyone supported me. I always give everyone a pat on the back before they’re about to do forward somersaults. Some members are even worse than me at this, you know. You can tell when they’re nervous even when looking at them from behind. So I give them a pat on the back and tell them, “You can do it!” But in Sendai, I guess everyone knew what was going through my head. For the first time everyone turned to me, they didn’t use words, but they shouted “Woooo!” I remember being moved, thinking, “I can do this. I can do this cuz they’re here.” I knew I wasn’t alone. I was deeply moved.
—Yes, I remember this tremendous burst of energy from you.
The last day at Yokohama Arena, EGA couldn’t stick the landings. It was bound to happen with a two week gap between shows. But nobody freaked out. I’m sure he must’ve felt some pressure, but everyone, himself included, believed that if he tried to do it, he could. That’s precisely why he could do it. People get really uneasy when they become unable to do something they used to be able to do. It’s scary. But he practiced by himself for a little bit and nailed it. I think the reason he said “thank you” to everyone afterwards was that he felt that he wasn’t alone. We helped each other out like this many times throughout this tour. Of course, if you ask if everyone got excited in the exact same way, I can’t quite say that they did. But even if we weren’t all together, at some venue or other there would be a point where I’d be like, “Everyone understood we have to try to reach and entertain the audience.” I was happy to see how they were growing, and in all seriousness I felt like I wanted to go all around Asia with this group.
—So next you’ll expand to Asia!
Oh no, it was just a thought. Ahaha…
—Come on, do a version of Jōgen no Tsuki for Asia!
Hm, I don’t think I’ll do Jōgen no Tsuki for Asia. How to put it… I think it’s too soon to do it for Asia. But I was thinking it would be nice to do my next live show somewhere in Asia.4
—With the live shows done, once other related works and books are out, will that be the end of one phase of the MOON PROJECT?
It’ll be a closing of the curtains. The curtains will close, but I can’t say whether I’ll continue doing it or not. I said this during Rebirth too, but it takes a great deal of resolve to take one single concept this far. I’ve spent over two years on the concept of MOON, after all. I’m tired…
—So if you were to do something in Asia, would you go with a different concept?
I think it would be a different concept. But if I could show them Jōgen no Tsuki, I would like to. I get tons of mail from overseas fans. As yet I’ve gotten mail from about 40 countries, including all Asian countries, the United States, and nearly all European countries.
Yeah, you’d be surprised. When I get mail from Yugoslavia, I think “How does this person even know about me?!” I also get lots of mail from Moscow, Russia. How do they know me? It figures I haven’t gotten any from Africa though. The one that surprised me most was from Puerto Rico. I didn’t know the first thing about it, I was like “Where is that?” (LOL) We should try to go to Russia, too, don’t you think? But first is Asia. First we have to get set in Taiwan, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore.
—Will the movie MOON CHILD be released in Taiwan?
It’ll be released all over Asia, though on different days. It’s already out in Taiwan. It’s been out since my birthday.
[Continued in Final Chapter, Part 2]
1. The words here are 「ピック・アップされたポジションになってて」which literally mean “became the position that was picked out.” This doesn’t really make sense. YOSH was the lead dancer in Kagen no Tsuki so I went with “chosen for the lead position,” however, I feel like I might be missing or misunderstanding something. ⤴
2. This sentence doesn’t have a verb, and the next sentence feels a bit jarring. I don’t know if Hirose skipped a word, or we’re just meant to understand this as Gackt listing examples of things people struggled with but eventually conquered.⤴
3. I’m not sure I understood this one. The original Japanese says 「ほとんどの人はキャリアをもってステージから客側に自分の精神を乗せていくか、対等に精神を開放する側になるなんだ。」One thing that was throwing me off initially was that I was reading 開放 (“open”) as the homonym 解放 (“release”); with the latter I didn’t see a contrast with the first type of person described. A more literal translation of this line would be “Most people, in the course of their career, either put their mind/ spirit on the audience from the stage, or become the side that equally opens up their mind/spirit.” ⤴
4. This line sounds weird in English (at least to me) because taken at face value it would seem to imply that Japan isn’t a part of Asia. In Japanese the fact that Asia is being Othered is clear, but…hm, this discussion is beyond the scope of these footnotes so I’ll leave it at that. ⤴