Time for something a little out of the norm when it comes to reviews here at Japan Curiosity, but we think our readers will find it interesting. This week Manga Entertainment release one of the most compelling and emotional documentary films we have seen, which follows the careers and preparations of X Japan as they rock New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden in their reunion concert – We Are X.
We Are X comes from the production team behind the Oscar-winning Searching for Sugar Man. Stephen Kijak (Stones in Exile, Scott Walker: 30 Century Man), the director, has worked magic in chronicling what makes X Japan one of the most interesting bands of the past 30 years. Captivating admirers from the likes of KISS, Stan Lee and even the Japanese Emperor, X Japan also pioneered the Visual Kei movement and remain, under the direction of drummer, pianist and composer Yoshiki one of the most intriguing and successful bands of Japan, and the world.
I wouldn’t call myself the biggest fan of X Japan, I don’t own any merchandise or apparel, but I have enjoyed their music for the past 10 years or so and they are quite easily my favourite band from Japan, and possibly one of my favourites of all time. So, I’m not going to lie, watching this documentary really hit me emotionally, I quite literally had goosebumps throughout the entire film. The storied lives that Yoshiki in particular, but even most of the band members have lead lends itself so well to the big screen that you’d hardly believe some of it were real.
Through watching the film you can truly see why the X Japan fan base is so diehard in their support and that’s because this band really touched lives and defined a generation and pioneered a whole new style. Even when you haven’t been part of the fan base since the beginning, or even during the periods of great sorrow and hardships, you can still be overcome by emotion through their music and through the film. I was only around 9 years old when singer Toshi left the band, the Last Live concert taking place and guitarist Hide’s death some months later. I wouldn’t become a fan of their music for another 10 years after those events and even now, 20 years on I can feel the emotion every time I listen to their music.
We Are X is one of the films that you need to watch regardless of whether you’re a fan of X Japan or not. It’s such a masterful piece of documentary film-making that you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who wasn’t in awe after they’d seen it.
As with most documentaries that cover long periods of time archive footage will not always be of the highest quality. Everything filmed for the documentary and the reunion concert looks fantastic, as does a good portion of the archive footage. Soundtracks, music, what can you say when you’re watching a documentary about one of the greatest bands of all time, it’s fantastic! There’s a generous helping of classic X Japan songs throughout the film as well as live performances. I’m glad they held off on using “Tears” because I’m sure anyone that has heard that song will agree it would have pushed emotions a little over the edge and the song title will have been very aptly named.
Plenty of brilliant extras fills this release including interviews with band members, deleted scenes, Last Live concert performances and a fan video ‘Born to be Free’. Once you’re done with the main feature I recommend jumping straight into those extras as there’s some great stuff in there and a lot that ties into events that were highlighted in the documentary.
We Are X is an emotionally powerful film about one of the world’s greatest bands of all time and I implore anyone fan or otherwise to watch it!