🎵 ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei)

アルト系 (Art Kei) / コスプレ系 (Cosplay Kei) / キラキラ系 (Kirakira Kei) / コテ系 (Kote Kei) / コテオサ系 (Koteosa Kei) /
ラウド系 (Loud Kei) / メンヘラ系 (Menhera Kei) / 密室系 (Misshitsu Kei) / お洒落系 (Osare Kei) / ピコピコ系 (Piko-Piko Kei) /
白系 (Shiro Kei) / 白塗り系 (Shironuri Kei) / ソフトビジュアル (Soft Visual) / 耽美系 (Tanbi Kei) / 和風系 (Wafuu Kei)

 

🎵 Other genres

メタル (Metal) / ロック (Rock) / ポップ (Pop) / アイドル (Idol) / ダンス (Dance) / デジタル (Digital) / サイバーパンク (Cyberpunk) / カントリー (Country) / アニメ (Anime)

 
 

ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) started to form in Japan in the 1980’s, creating a genre where the visual performance of the artist is just as important as the music they make. The name itself is derived from the slogan “Psychedelic Violence Crime of Visual Shock”, which was seen on the cover of X Japan’s second studio album “Blue Blood”, released in 1989.
By combining the often flamboyant and androgynous looks with their music, these artists tell the story of their works in a more theatrical way than other genres worldwide often do. The visual presentation also allows these artists to express themselves individually in their own creative style.
While ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) is the “top” of the genre, there are a lot of artists who can’t be categorized in any of it’s many subgenres but still have the ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) style in their works. That’s why we’ve collected them here, as well as bands from other countries that have been inspired by this unique genre.

Artists: ADAMS / Alpha999 / Ash Berry / breakin’ holiday / COLD+SLEEP / the fool / GLIM GARDO / GOTHIKA /
葉月 (HAZUKI) / ice / kanonxkanon / lix. / Pluto / REMNANT / SANA / VANIRU / VELVET EDEN / ゼラ (Zera)

Esprit D’Air (from the UK) / Scarlet Horizon (from China) / Silver Ash (from China) / VII ARC (from Germany)

 
 

As the name already suggests, this genre is most easily described as an “art project” by itself. Artists in this genre more often than not make use of the Jazz genre in their music, but using this genre doesn’t automatically make an artist or group qualify for this genre.
If the theme of the artist or group can be considered an art project in itself, it’s very likely that it can also be categorized as an アルト系 (Art Kei) project, regardless of the Jazz genre being present in the music or not.

Artists: 3470.mon / El -Ethnic Legist- / 砂月-SATSUKI- / umbrella

 
 

If you’re familiar with the term “cosplay” you can probably already guess what this subgenre entails… If an artist or group is often seen cosplaying or using elements of cosplay in their visual performance, they’re more than likely qualifying for the コスプレ系 (Cosplay Kei) genre.

Artists: Zeke Deux

 
 

While being a subgenre of ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei), キラキラ系 (Kirakira Kei) is derived from お洒落系 (Osare Kei).
While being similar to お洒落系 (Osare Kei) visually, the term “キラキラ” (kirakira) means “sparkly” in English, and the style of music is mostly known for it’s heavy use of synthesizers and saccharine (“sweet”) compositions and lyrics.

Artists: @loid / Luzmelt / Plunklock / SuG

 
 

コテ系 (Kote Kei) is probably the most recognizable subgenre of ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) because of it’s pleather, roses, spider webs, corsets, mesh and black teardrop makeup – all drawing influence from the mid-90s and early 00s gothic fashion. The term “コテ” (Kote) comes from the onomatopoeia “コテコテ” (Kotekote), and means “over the top” or “extremely” in English – something this genre can definitely be described as.
While often seen as the “original” subgenre of ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) there are still artists, “old” and “new”, who incorporate this style in their work to this very day.

Artists: BLOOD / Calmando Qual / Dio ~Distraught Overlord~ / LIV’ERT / ネガ (NEGA) / THE SOUND BEE HD / SUICIDE ALI / Tokami

 
 

Like the name already suggests, there is a bit of a crossover area between the お洒落系 (Osare Kei) and コテ系 (Kote Kei) genres. Becoming popular in the early to mid 2000s by combining the elements of both main genres (where some bands leaned more towards the お洒落系 (Osare Kei) genre and others more to the コテ系 (Kote Kei) genre).
The genre is still very much around today, but despite certain artists saying they’re aiming for it specifically, it’s still more of a category used on paper rather than in actual conversation.

Artists: Ashmaze. / ダウト (D=OUT) / Dio ~Distraught Overlord~ / MAJOLICA / Nellfin / Rides In ReVellion

 
 

Nu Metal has been increasing in popularity worldwide, including in Japan. While お洒落系 (Osare Kei) and コテオサ系 (Koteosa Kei) still hold the title of having the most artists active in their respective genres, there has been a significant increase in artists and bands who desire a more Metal-type of sound in their works.
If you can categorize an artist or band under the Heavy Metal category, but with the androgynous and flamboyant visual aspect of ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei), you have the main ingredients required for a ラウド系 (Loud Kei) band!

Artists: Cazqui’s Brutal Orchestra / DEVILOOF / DEXCORE / Dio ~Distraught Overlord~ / エンヴィル (ENVYL) / JILUKA / 摩天楼オペラ (Matenrou Opera) / NAZARE / ネガ (NEGA) / Nellfin / NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST / -OZ- / Rumbless. / Tokami / TRNTY D:CODE / vistlip

 
 

Coming from the English term Mental Health, this subgenre is often seen as rather controversial overseas due to artists using mental health issues as a shock aspect. The genre is characterized by the use of bright pastel colors combined with taboo mental health topics like self harm, depression and suicidal ideation in the song lyrics which are often presented in a more cute way and in a more positive light.
This is often received as grotesque or morally questionable in the west, but in Japan it’s instead received as a coping mechanism for certain people who experience these issues in their daily life. (This is however not the case for everyone, so the genre is still considered to be a niche within a niche.)

Artists: Calmando Qual / MEME / MORRIGAN / 孔雀座 (QJACKTHE) / Synk;yet

 
 

While ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) is known for it’s androgynous and over the top looks, 密室系 (Misshitsu Kei) can be seen as the complete opposite. While being a subgenre of ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei), 密室系 (Misshitsu Kei) rejects this androgynous beauty of the mainstream VK genres and replaces these with scary or disturbing aesthetics and themes, basically giving a middle finger to the standards set by the main genre.

Artists: Calmando Qual / nüe / SUICIDE ALI / 燭台(怪) (Syokudai (Kakkokai)) / umbrella

 
 

お洒落系 (Osare Kei) (can also be written as オサレ系) is a bright and poppy subgenre that has been misspelled for many years, resulting in the Western fans often using the term “oshare” instead.
お洒落 (Osare) means “fashionable” or “stylish” in Japanese and this definitely reflects in the outfits of the artists in this genre, which also involves 原宿 (Harajuku) fashion styles like デコラ (Decora) and 妖精系 (Fairy Kei), while lyrics often include themes like “innocence”, “love” and “friendship”. These themes can also be used in an ironic way to hold on some youthful innocence, however.

Artists: Anli Pollicino / Capella / ダウト (D=OUT) / DaizyStripper / LM.C / まゆ (Mayu) (guitarist of DaizyStripper) / Plunklock / SuG

 
 

Also referred to as 電車系 (Denshi Kei), “ピコピコ” (Piko Piko) is an onomatopoeia for “Beep-boop”, the sound computers or video games make. The Japanese電車 (Denshi) means “electronic” in English, and as you might have guessed at this point, the “electronic” types of music are the typical sound for this genre, regardless of which name you use to refer to it.
The use of 8-bit or chiptune sounds as well as techno and rock elements is just the everyday standard for this genre, but visually the artists might also make use of futuristic outfits or computer elements like PVC or floppy discs, electronic visors and so on.
Additionally, the genre also has roots in the アングラ系 (Angura Kei) genre, and can be combined with the 白塗り系 (Shironuri Kei) genre as well.

Artists: HITT

 
 

Just like some other subgenres, 白系 (Shiro Kei) is more of a visual aspect than anything else.
The term “白” (Shiro) means “white” in English, so like the name already suggests at this point this genre has everything to do with the white outfits of the artists. If an artist or group consistently wears white outfits (once or twice for a specific release doesn’t count) they’re very likely to qualify for the 白系 (Shiro Kei) genre.
While there doesn’t appear to be a specific sound connected to this genre, the angelic style does often make an appearance, resulting in more symphonic influenced music.

Artists: Angels’ Temptation / DaizyStripper / Fleur Tentation / まゆ (Mayu) (guitarist of DaizyStripper) / MIRAI (vocalist of Angels’ Temptation) / 砂月-SATSUKI-

 
 

With roots in the アングラ系 (Angura Kei) and ピコピコ系 (Piko-Piko Kei) scenes, the Japanese term “白塗り” (Shironuri) literally means “white face” in English – the type of makeup that is the standard for this genre.
The style evokes a very “Japanese” look, which often goes hand in hand with the expression of Japanese ideals, culture, tradition and look – like the アングラ (Angura) groups often want to express in their visual performance.

Artists: 燭台(怪) (Syokudai (Kakkokai))

 
 

Like the name already suggests, ソフトビジュアル (Soft Visual) is a more toned down version of the ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) genre, “created” when some artists toned down their visuals after the 2000s without letting go of their more alternative rock, grunge and new wave sound.
This resulted in a group of artists who were too dressed up to categorize as your average rock band, but weren’t dressed up enough to fully earn the category of “ヴィジュアル系” (Visual Kei) anymore.
Nowadays these bands can range quite a bit in genre, but the majority plays rock music, occasionally with some pop influences, sticking to so-called “soft” genres.

Artists: 砂月-SATSUKI-

 
 

Influenced by European nobility, 耽美 (Tanbi) stands for “aestheticism”, “pursuit of beauty” or “obsession with beautiful things” in Japanese, something that clearly reflects in the visual performance of the artists in this genre.
While the genre has no specific sound associated with it, there is often a classical and symphonic influence as well as references of France and French being used in the titles, roses and love songs. Artists and band members are often referred to as prince, princess, duke or duchess, but neither the French influence nor the naming scheme is a standard for every artist. The pursuit of beauty is the main focus of this genre, and it can come in many different forms.

Artists: Angels’ Temptation / David / Jupiter / KAMIJO / Magistina Saga / 摩天楼オペラ (Matenrou Opera) / Megaromania / MIRAI (vocalist of Angels’ Temptation) / ミサルカ (Misaruka) / Rose Noire / Scarlet Valse / SUI / Synk;yet / Versailles / Zeke Deux

 
 

In Japanese “和風” (Wafuu) stands for “Japanese style” or “Japanese way”, meaning this genre has a lot of Japanese influence that returns both in their visual performance (through wearing a 着物 (kimono) and 帯 (obi)) and their lyrics (which often contain stories about Japanese myths and folklore).
Unlike other genres 和風系 (Wafuu Kei) often has more grandiose lyrics, and make use of Japanese instruments like 三味線 (Shamisen) and 箏 (Koto) and Japanese chord progressions while mixing in a more Western-inspired ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) sound.

Artists: 浅葱 (ASAGI) / ダウト (D=OUT) / 縁 (Enishi) / 大蛇 (OROCHI) / 龍 (RYU) / ソメイヨシノ (Somei Yoshino) / 游彩 (Yusai)

 
 
 
 

Artists: ANCIENT MYTH / BAND-MAID / BRIDEAR / BURN WOUND / Crossfaith / DIR EN GREY / FATE GEAR / Little Lilith / Lovebites / NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST

Clownus (from South Korea) / Madmans Esprit (from South Korea)

 
 

Artists: BAND-MAID / The Betrayed / DIRTRUCKS / Each Light / G.L.A.M.S / LOKA / marlee / ONE OK ROCK / ZEROSHIKI

Guren (from Belgium) / Madmans Esprit (from South Korea)

 
 

Artists: G.L.A.M.S / GOOD THRU DATE / HimemaniK / marlee

 
 

Artists: SVGV

 
 

Artists: Galaxy7

 
 

Artists: PLASTICZOOMS / sleepyhead

 
 

Artists: High Tech Low Life

 
 

Artists: DIRTRUCKS

 
 

Artists: Dress Up Town (from The Netherlands) / Trebulence (from The Netherlands)