Commenting On: A Brief History of Punk Rock in Japan

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All Comments: 3

  1. Case says:

    “Friction, who were directly from Tokyo and aped American bands like the New York Dolls and Ramones”
    What? Seriously, what? Do you know about the background of Friction’s members? Their roots in Japan early ’70s avant-garde movement and that before forming the band they played a vital role in New York’s no wave scene? And returning home from there, they also brought back the sound that came after punk, so instead of “aping” anyone, actually they played a unique fusion of noisy garage rock, punk rock, mixing it with several elements that were already foreshadowing Japan’s new wave scene that had its peak period a few years later.

  2. barak says:

    Tangentially related but if you’re interested in this kind of stuff I very strongly recommend THE manga about the Japanese music scene in the ’80s, “TO-Y” by Kamijou Atsushi. It follows To-y, the vocalist of a street punk band who ends up in major showbiz, and tries very hard not to sell out and stay true to himself. “TO-Y” is kind of unique and very authentic in that Kamijou himself was very much into the scene at the time he was working on this manga (he’s still friends with many artists and has worked for a number of them as an illustrator) and many characters are based on real people, artists and industry figures – most famously To-y’s rival and friend Aikawa Youji, who is basically the manga version of Kikkawa Kouji, who was a rookie idol at the time.

    Having been published in Weekly Shounen Sunday, “TO-Y” was also highly influential in a number of ways: many artists credit it as one of the inspirations that made them get into music or start a band (the JRock band Penicillin takes its name from the manga’s fictional band Penicillin Shock, Glay has a song dedicated to the its leader/vocalist Cahier, etc), and it was also sort of a trailblazer in techniques of expressing music and singing in manga without falling back to cartoony visual clich├ęs. (The art also doesn’t look/feel a lot like most other ’80s manga.)

    1. barak says:

      Btw, of course when I say “authentic” I don’t mean it’s a gritty, hard realistic story, in fact it’s mostly fairly lighthearted and leans toward showcasing eccentricities, sometimes tipping into fantastical. Still, it does an amazing job capturing that certain moment in time and space, and what being young and loving music feels like. It’s one of the great manga classics and it’s criminal that it doesn’t get more attention.