Buck-Tick 30th Anniversary Best

At last, the votes are in, and the track list for Buck-Tick's 30th Anniversary Best album has been released! The good thing is, whether it's thanks to Blog-Tickers or not, this track list contains some impressively rare songs we never expected to make it on there. The less than good thing is, these songs don't really hang together at all as a collection, so this album is going to make for a weird listen: a whole bunch of moody recent numbers interspersed by profoundly silly old songs which the band members themselves are reportedly embarrassed to have written (not gonna name names, "Hearts.") Also, it's disappointing that the only two Hide songs on the fan-voted collection aside from the childish (if severely under-appreciated) "Under the Moonlight" are "Dress" and "Jupiter," which were already present on the other best-of collections. Come on guys. Hide's written a lot of other great songs. We even wrote an entire post on it once. "Jupiter" may still be the song that pays most of his rent, but he still deserves to be appreciated for more than his soccer player tan, rugged beard, and ultra-sexy mole, if you ask us.

Anyhow, here's the track list. Songs highlighted in red were songs we recommended on Blog-Tick (though we'd like to point out that while we included "Dress" and "Nocturne" on our best-of lists, we didn't recommend you vote for them, since they were already included on previous anniversary best-of albums.) Songs marked with an asterisk are songs which already appeared on previous anniversary best-of albums, while songs marked with two asterisks appeared on both previous anniversary best-of albums. Fangirls, it seems, still lack imagination - though it's heartening to see that Section 2 doesn't include any repeat songs, even if not all songs on there are ones we would have chosen. But THANK YOU for not voting for "Muma" or "Aku no Hana"! I guess there's still hope for Buck-Tickistan after all.

Section 1 (Singles Top 10)
01. Nocturne -Rain Song-*
02. Miss Take ~Boku wa Miss Take~
03. Kyokutou Yori Ai wo Komete**
04. Under the Moonlight
05. Diabolo*
06. Dress**
07. New World
08. Love Parade
09. Jupiter**
10. Angelic Conversation*

Section 2 (Albums Top 10)
01. Sapphire
02. Coyote
03. Hearts
04. Moon Light
05. Cuba Libre
06. Baudelaire de Nemurenai
07. My Eyes and Your Eyes
08. Ai no Souretsu
09. Mudai
10. Machine

But wait, there's more! It's the 30th anniversary, so shouldn't there be 30 tracks? That's what we thought when we made our own best-of lists, and apparently Victor thinks like us, because they included a third disc, this time of songs selected by the band members themselves. The upside: many of these songs (we're going to go with seven of them) are clearly and obviously Mr. Sakurai's favorites, so good on him for insisting they go on the best-of album even though they didn't make the top 10. The downside: there's only one song on this album by Hide (that's "Shanikusai," folks). Since Hide's written more than 10% of Buck-Tick's music, that's a little sad. 

Three significant things about these selections:

1) All of these songs were released in 1996 or later, which is proof of what we already knew - the band members consider their later work to be stronger than their earlier work. 

2) Three of these songs ("Boy," "The Seaside Story," and "Sane -Type II") didn't even make it into the top 30. I guess that means Imai is especially proud of them.

3) There are more songs recommended by Cayce in this section than in any of the others :P Anyhow, here's the track list:

Section 3 (Band Member Selections)
01. Cosmos*
02. Shanikusai -Carnival-
03. Serenade -Itoshi no Umbrella-
04. Romance**
05. SANE -Type II-
06. BOY Septem Peccata Mortalia
07. The Seaside Story
08. Zekkai
09. Keijijou Ryuusei
10. Yasou

What we didn't expect: the album cover is better than the track list! Check it out, guys. Maybe it's just us, but we think there's maybe a teeny tiny bit of fangirl mockery in here. Check out that bedroom! Do you wish you had that much Buck-Tick stuff in your room? Do you have more Buck-Tick stuff than that in your room and think the band need to up their game? Let us know in the comments. Bonus points to the people who can identify the source of the life-sized cardboard cutout of Imai. Further bonus points to any fans who are willing to share photos of their own life-sized cardboard cutouts of the band members. We will post the pictures, so please, share!

Even more bonus points for anyone who can forcefully unman Mr. Sakurai of that jacket, and send it our way. We want to wear it. Yes, it isn't our usual style to advocate robbery, but that jacket is so stylish we'll be willing to part from our usual style for its sake. The fan who sends Cayce that jacket gets a life-sized cardboard cutout of his/her favorite band member, handmade by us. And that's a promise.

Kurumi isn't the first of Mr. Sakurai's cats to star in a Buck-Tick CD jacket photoshoot (that honor goes to the dearly departed Boo, who appeared in the booklet for the Alice in Wonder Underground single.) However, we'll hazard that she's the most mischievous, and the most likely to destroy Buck-Tickistan government property. Burning candles, Bengals, and Buck-Tick goods don't mix!


This cover shoot is good enough that if you decided to buy the album just for the cover art, we'd forgive you. Still, for us, the two-disc best-of set is nowhere near enough to convince us to part with our money. We already have all these songs on CD anyway, so what's the point?

Here's where things get interesting, my friends. Despite all their past failures, this time, Victor has actually made it worth our money to buy this release, by including three extra discs in the limited edition: two discs of live tracks from various tours for which official live albums were never released, and one video disc of rare live footage of the band performing at various rock festivals over the past two decades or so. The only thing we're sorry about is that they didn't include the clip of the band's performance of "Rendezvous" at the Rising Sun Rock Festival, during which a drunken Mr. Sakurai reportedly fell off the stage. But you can't have everything in life. Here are the track lists for the bonus discs. Songs marked with an asterisk are songs which were voted into the top 30 by fans. Songs highlighted in red are songs which were recommended by Cayce (to be fair, we would have recommended "Heroin" and "Yuuwaku," too, but there wasn't enough space.) Total count of Hide songs for both discs: 4/20, one of which is "Jupiter." They still need to up their Hoshino Hidehiko game.

Disc 3 (Live Tracks, Part I)

01. Physical Neurose
(Jan. 20th, 1989, Nippon Budoukan)

02. Jupiter
(Climax Together, Sept. 10th, 1992, Yokohama Arena)*

03. D-T-D
(July 29th, 1993, Darker Than Darkness Tour, Omiya Sonic City)*

04. Ao no Sekai
(July 28th, 1993, Darker Than Darkness Tour, Omiya Sonic City)

05. Heroin
(May 8th, 1998, Sextream Tour, Nippon Budoukan)

06. Glamorous
(The Day in Question 2000, Nippon Budoukan)

07. Cyborg Dolly: Sora-Mimi: Phantom
(The Day in Question 2000, Nippon Budoukan)

08. Zangai
(Mona Lisa Overdrive Xanadu, June 28th, 2003, Hibiya Yagai Ongakudo)*

09. Yuuwaku
(July 3rd, 2005, 13th Floor With Diana Tour, Osaka Kosei Nenkin Kaikan)

10. Doll
(July 3rd, 2005, 13th Floor With Diana Tour, Osaka Kosei Nenkin Kaikan)

11. Mienai Mono wo Miyou to Suru to Gokai Subete Gokai da 
(The Day in Question 2005, Nippon Budoukan)*

12. Memento Mori 
(July 1st, 2009, Memento Mori Tour, NHK Hall)

13. Django!!! -Genwaku no Django- 
(Dec. 16th, 2010, Go on the Razzle Dazzle Tour, NHK Osaka Hall)

14. Alice in Wonder Underground
(The Day in Question 2011, Nippon Budoukan)*

15. Muma -The Nightmare- 
(The Day in Question 2011, Nippon Budoukan)*

Disc 4 (Live Tracks, Part II)

01. Love Me 
(Sept. 22nd, 2012, 25th Anniversary Festival, Chiba Port Park)

02. My Eyes & Your Eyes 
(Sept. 23rd, 2012, 25th Anniversary Festival, Chiba Port Park)*

03. Elise no Tame ni 
(The Day in Question 2012, Nippon Budoukan)

04. Miss Take 
(The Day in Question 2012, Nippon Budoukan)*

05. Miu 
(Dec. 23rd, 2013, The Day in Question 2013, Kooriyama Shimin Bunka Center)*

06. Rhapsody 
(Dec. 23rd, 2013, The Day in Question 2013, Kooriyama Shimin Bunka Center)*

07. National Media Boys 
(July 31st, 2014, Arui wa Anarchy Tour, Shibuya Kokaido)

08. Keijijou Ryuusei 
(July 31st, 2014, Arui wa Anarchy Tour, Shibuya Kokaido)*

09. Dokudanjou Beauty 
(Dec. 14th, 2014, Metaform Nights Tour, Zepp Tokyo)

10. Devil'N Angel 
(The Day in Question 2014, Nippon Budoukan)

11. Iconoclasm 
(The Day in Question 2014, Nippon Budoukan)

12. Speed 
(Sept. 11th, 2016, Climax Together 3rd, Yokohama Arena)

13. Machine -Remodel- 
(Sept. 11th, 2016, Climax Together 3rd, Yokohama Arena)*

14. Melancholia -Electria- 
(Nov. 10th, 2016, Atom Miraiha Tour, Nakano Sun Plaza)*

15. Mudai 
(The Day in Question 2016, Nippon Budoukan)*

Disc 5 (Live Videos)

01. Iconoclasm 
(Summer Sonic 2003, Aug. 3rd, 2003)

02. Baby, I want you 
(Rising Sun Rock Festival 2007, August 17th, 2007)

03. Kyokutou Yori Ai wo Komete 
(Inazuma Rock Festival, 2009, Sept. 20, 2009)*

04. Yasou 
(Countdown Japan 12/13, Dec. 28th, 2012)*

05. Dokudanjou Beauty 
(Countdown Japan 12/13, Dec. 28th, 2012)

06. Yumemiru Uchuu 
(Dedicate to... ~gang 451~, February 11th, 2013)

07. Elise no Tame ni 
(Kishidan Banpaku 2013, Sept. 14th, 2013)

08. Climax Together 
(Kishidan Banpaku 2013, Sept. 14th, 2013)

09. Melancholia -Electria- 
(Lunatic Fest 2015, June 28th, 2015)*

10. Mudai 
(Lunatic Fest 2015, June 28th, 2015)*

It would have been nice if there were fewer double songs on these extra discs. It would have been even nicer if the songs on these extra discs weren't mostly crowd-pleasers that the band play all the time. But let's focus on the good stuff: they included "Ao no Sekai" and "Yuuwaki," despite the fact that they were written by Hide and they were nowhere in the fan rankings. Maybe Hide asked them to do it. That's great, Hide. Start standing up for yourself more often. You might find that you get used to it after a while!


Fans who reserve the limited edition of the best-of album by August 20th will receive a special bonus calendar, and let's hope it includes more of that photoshoot of the Buck-Tick members invading that Buck-Tick superfan bedroom, because it's the most humorous photoshoot they've done since that sexy birthday card photoshoot a few years ago and we want to see more of it. Blog-Tickers who wish to reserve the album through Cayce, please contact us as soon as possible. The prices are as follows:

Limited Edition A (special package, 5 discs with Blu-Ray)
12960 yen, incl. tax

Limited Edition B (special package, 5 discs with DVD)
11880 yen, incl. tax

Regular Edition (2 discs)
3240 yen, incl. tax

Also, if you are interested in asking our help to purchase tour tickets, please contact us as soon as possible, and please specify how many tickets you wish to buy per show! If you don't give us all the information up front, and then don't answer your email in a timely fashion, there is little we can do to help you.



Cheese and Bunnies and Gingerbread Men

You thought we were joking about the gingerbread version of Hoshino Hidehiko?

We were not.

This is the work of intrepid Instagrammer q.j_mom, who just can't get enough of food art! Although scrolling through her account, it's easy to see that gingerbread isn't her usual medium - most of the time, she prefers a healthier option, in the form of nori-on-cheese collages. Check these out!

Look, it's Buck-Tick!

And Cali-Gari!

And Kikkawa Koji!

And Prince!

And David Bowie!

And Boy George, looking a lot like young Imai Hisashi!

And look, here's the real Imai Hisashi!

And Hoshino Hidehiko! (Mm doesn't that stuffed chikuwa look good...?)

And here's Mr. Sakurai in a garter belt! (She hashtagged this one #sexybento)

And more Acchan-chan, saying "Eat me, eat me!" (But also eat your beans.)


Not only that, but Ms. Q. J. has also tried her hand at Serious Toast.

In addition to making "character lunches," her other main hobby appears to be crocheting silly hats for her cat. We dunno about you, kids, but we always wanted a cat whose head looks like a strawberry, and we're pretty sure Mr. Sakurai does, too (we'd ask him directly, but according to our sources, Kurumi upended a bottle of shochu all over his phone and he needs to get a new one before he can reply to our texts. This is the danger of real cats vs. watching cat videos on YouTube! Are you sure you wanted a real kitteh, Acchan-chan? Are you sure?) Look at the guilty face of this cat! She's definitely up to something wicked!

But bravo, Ms. Q. J. We applaud your brave efforts to push the boundaries of fanart further than they've ever been pushed before. Go check her out on Instagram, y'all. There's way more to be enjoyed over there.


In other news, one of our long-time readers recently emailed us to let us know that her pet bunny has become an avid Buck-Tick fan.

Michelle wrote to us from the east coast of the USA, to inform us of the following:

"Lately I started binge watching Buck-Tick videos and now my pet bunny is a fan. Seriously. On the third day she went over to the TV and stood up on her hind legs to get me to turn on the TV. Once I hit play, she did her relaxed pose, and I had to take a photo.

My bun's name is Cocoa, and she has a very sweet personality. I found it interesting that she faces the TV when I watch Buck-Tick (& The Mortal & Sakurai) concerts, but with movies and TV shows she sits off to the side often facing away from the TV. Of course rabbits have almost 360-degree vision so direction may not matter. Her ears are definitely up and attentive."

Cocoa is surely soothed by the velvet tones of Mr. Sakurai's voice, Michelle. We think that's more than abundantly clear. Welcome to Buck-Tickistan, little bunny!

No need to be lonely, either. There are other rabbits in Buck-Tickistan, too! Melissa from Belgium is the proud mama of another two:

What a charming sight! How soothing for the soul!

But what about those days when the famous and powerful oligarchs of Russian Buck-Tick fandom keep sending you jars of pickled herring with threatening letters attached, full of dark, vague pronouncements such as "In Soviet Russia, Fly High okays itself to YOU!" What's a humble gonzo tabloidist to do?

Another one of our readers had an answer for us.

Sorry, Russian fans. We're sorry for picking on you. We know you're not all alike, and that some of you okay yourselves to the fly high and not the other way around. Keep your English очень styly and save us some vodka for next time :) Cause we love you, Russia, and so does Q. J. Mom.



Open Letter to Fish Tank

First of all, I'd like to thank all of you for your contributions to the discussion on the previous post. There was some disagreement, but everyone who contributed wrote in full sentences and largely refrained from ad hominem attacks, insults, or flames in general. Thank you for demonstrating that the internet doesn't have to be a mindless chaos of shrieking trolls.

I was hoping that the Russian commenters who accused me of "breaking the rules of Japanese etiquette" in my open letter to Fish Tank would respond to my queries and tell me what "rules" they think I "broke," exactly... but it doesn't look like that's going to happen, so for the rest of you, I offer an English translation of the letter, just to clear up any confusion.

Here goes:

To Fish Tank:

The number of B-T fans is increasing in various countries around the world. These fans discovered B-T by finding photos of the band online, watching PVs on YouTube, etc., then looking up English-language information about the band on fan sites aimed at foreigners. Most overseas B-T fans can't speak Japanese, so if it weren't for overseas fansites, it's unlikely that they would ever have become B-T fans at all. When overseas fans share B-T-related content on the web, it's not because they want to spread pirated materials, it's because of the simple fact that it's basically impossible to access Buck-Tick CDs, goods, and related information overseas. Fans share content because they want to learn more about the band and enjoy them better.

Some overseas fans come to Japan to see B-T live, but it's very expensive to travel to Japan from overseas, and many fans are also held back by school, work, and family circumstances. Even if fans think, "I wish I could make the trip to Japan to see Buck-Tick live!", realistically, many of them can't manage this. Also, many overseas fans are significantly younger than Japanese fans, and many are students with limited ability to travel.

These fans want to support B-T, but for the most part, B-T's CDs and DVDs are not sold overseas, and when they are, shipping costs and customs duties mean that they cost much more than in Japan. Furthermore, since most overseas fans can't speak Japanese and can't attend live shows in Japan, they feel that there is little point in becoming members of Fish Tank. However, if B-T songs were available internationally via digital downloads via iTunes or similar, or if there were an English-language version of Fish Tank, we overseas fans would happily spend money on such services to support the band. We urge you to consider our suggestion.

Overseas fans love B-T as much as anyone, and we don't want B-T's management to think of us as enemies. But... sing and spread the love. Love your enemy, can you do it? 


The final line is, of course, a quote from the lyrics to "Kyokutou Yori Ai wo Komete." I included it very deliberately, to underscore the point that whatever Buck-Tick's management thinks, the band members themselves support an international, pluralistic world. And I can further say that I've seen it in person at countless live shows - the band members always look fucking delighted when they see foreigners in the audience. Look at it from their perspective: people from other countries are flying all the way from Japan, just to see them play! If that's not flattering, I don't know what is. Japanese fans who get bitchy about this are just jealous. Ignore them.


ATTN: Fish Tank

Edit: If anyone else is getting ready to tell me all about how xenophobia is an ancient and noble part of Japanese culture, just like Pikachu and underwear vending machines, I first ask you to consider the following phrases: Muslim travel ban, "Build the Wall!", Brexit, Le Front National, Syrian refugee crisis. Xenophobia's on a buy one, get two free special all over the world, right this minute! What are you waiting for? Go stock up while you can!

Also, go read the comments section if you want some more of our choice thoughts on this matter. We were debating writing a second post, but upon consideration, decided we'd rather bring you some lifelike Hoshino Hidehiko gingerbread men and Buck-Tick addicted bunny rabbits instead.

Holy shit, did Blog-Tick just turn into a Japanese blog!? OMG halp! There's even a new banner! What the hell is going on here, Cayce?

Don't worry. The text at right is an open letter to Fish Tank, in case they check Blog-Tick. Ignore it as you see fit, or use it for Japanese practice, but don't let it bother you. It's not aimed at you.

As to what's going on here... for my next post, I had originally planned to bring you a light-hearted human interest story about a cute lil' bunny rabbit who just LOVES Buck-Tick, but then... this happened. 

You can see it all for yourself on Twitter, but it appears that our fellow B-T fansite proprietress Buck-Tick Zone received a cease and desist letter from Fish Tank threatening to cancel her fanclub membership because she shared images from the Fish Tank newsletter, and other images of the band. Now, the fact is that the most unsavory type of fangirl has been whining to Fish Tank for years to "crack down" on people sharing images from the Fish Tank newsletter online... their argument goes that if they paid money to receive the newsletter, then no one who hasn't paid money should be able to see it. It's been the cause of Japanese-language social media firestorms many times before now. So in a way, this isn't surprising. But let's examine what's wrong with the argument:

1) If Fish Tank are really so exclusive, then why do they let Fish Tank members purchase multiple tickets to concerts or multiple copies of fanclub-only DVDs? Oh right. They want money. But guess what, Fish Tank: in Japan, there's an expectation that if you want people's money, you should provide them with good hospitality and I'm not sensing a hospitable atmosphere right about now.

2) If we go to our friend's house and read her issues of the Fish Tank newsletter, are Fish Tank going to send that memory-erasing team from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to our house in retaliation, to erase the memories of the content from our mind, and erase all our memories of Buck-Tick along with them? Take that gun, point it at your own foot, and shoot it. Go on. Shoot it!

3) Is the point of joining Fish Tank paying money to see exclusive content? Silly me, I thought the point of joining Fish Tank was to get good tickets to the shows. This is the main benefit of the fanclub and it would be silly to pretend otherwise. The newsletter is just an added bonus.

4) Fish Tank/Buck-Tick management: I thought your job was to advertise the band, not advertise them as being the only band in the world whose management seem to actively hate their fanbase. Buck-Tick Zone has been spreading the Buck-Tick love for like 20 years now (and you thought our 11 years was long!) She's never received any money or glory for her work. The only reason she does it is because she loves Buck-Tick and wants to spread that love... which equals more fans... which equals more people spending money on the band. If the management weren't so fucking dumb, they'd realize that fansites are free advertising and they should be tacitly encouraged, not squashed.


Anyway, if this makes you angry, I'm going to encourage you to do the following: 

1) Send Buck-Tick Zone an email, Twitter message, etc. telling her how you appreciate her work. This shit is very discouraging when it happens and I'm sure she'd appreciate moral support.

2) Write to Fish Tank. Tell them how much you love the band, and how you'd never have become a fan without the help from overseas fan sites. Beg them to consider starting an English language version of Fish Tank and/or making Buck-Tick's music available as digital downloads legally available in other countries. Tell them how excited you'd be to spend your money on things like that. If we're going to change their minds, they need to hear from as many of us as possible. I encourage you all to write! The text of the open letter above is basically words to this effect, however please do not copy and paste it, because if Fish Tank get spammed with the same letter again and again it might make them hate me more than they already probably do. Also, original letters in foreign languages will have more clout, I think.

3) If overseas fan sites played a big role in you becoming a Buck-Tick fan, leave a comment on this post.


For those of you who fear that if Buck-Tick Zone's been targeted, Cayce will be next... for the time being, we're not worried. As a non-corporeal entity, we are very difficult for lowly meat-puppet beings to pin down. Fish Tank can try to figure out who we really are as much as they like, but we doubt they'll succeed. So this big fat raspberry is aimed at you, Fish Tank! Plus, we still remember how Imai took the name "The Dazzler" for his guitar right off this blog, and yet remains too shy to thank us/pay us for our translation. Run run as fast as you can, you can't catch us, we're in Buck-Tickistan!

Also, Buck-Tick Zone notes in her tweets the re-location of the Fish Tank office, and speculates that perhaps the Fish Tank management are new and overzealous. As a matter of fact, we can confirm through personal experience that this is the case. Without going into too much detail, we had a run-in ourselves with a new member of Buck-Tick's management in which the party in question treated us with a baffling level of unnecessary contempt and inexplicable rage. As it stands, we can't say whether this treatment represented the attitude of one angry staff member or whether it represents the attitude of Banker as an organization, but it was dismaying, to say the least. And to further fan the flames of scuttlebutt: it's not just us. A number of Buck-Tick's musician friends have reported being treated in a similarly contemptuous fashion by Banker at various points in time, for various stupid reasons. Buck-Tick's management is known in the industry as being one of the most uptight, paranoid management establishments in existence. They've engineered a monster they can no longer control.

Anyway, I'd like to point out that this has, in all likelihood, nothing to do with band members themselves. The reason Buck-Tick have a management office is so that the management office handles their affairs so they don't have to. Whatever it is the management gets up to when the members aren't around, the members may very well not know about. This is how Japanese industry works. So don't go worrying that Mr. Sakurai personally hates you all (even though it's true that he wrote a song called "I Hate You All," that was Jim Foetus's title, so it doesn't count). So let's place the blame where it belongs: with the management team, not with the band.

Oh yeah, and if you can't read the text on our new banner, it's that line from the lyrics to "Only You." It seemed relevant, somehow.


Buck-Tick: The Climax - Review

Hey, folks. Long time no see. Where has Cayce been, you ask? The short answer: we were traveling internationally and then on our way back to Japan we got stuck in various alternate dimensions accessible through portals located behind the Sushi Zanmai in front of Koenji Station and #1159 Mermaid Beach Drive, Minami-Boso, Chiba Prefecture (don't tell them I told you). In the alternate dimensions, we met some genetically engineered monsters designed by Imai Hisashi, and offered some comments on the designs (they're still in beta right now). Hijinks ensued. It was distracting and we were unable to stick to our writing schedule. The long answer: brain whisper head hate is noise.

But... we're back now. And we'd like to thank you for your concern. We've been writing Blog-Tick since 2009, and we've gone on brief hiatus a few times in the past due to personal circumstances, but this is the first time we've received multiple concerned emails from readers begging us asking after our health and gently threatening to upend containers of molten chocolate over our (non-corporeal) person unless we get back to writing pronto. Folks, thanks a lot for showing that you care. We write this blog for you, so it's highly inspiring to see that you're all so interested in reading the continuation, and we don't mean that sarcastically.

So now, at last, we get back to you with a review of Buck-Tick: The Climax, which we just managed to catch on its last day in theaters. If you think that seeing the movie on the last day of its run rather than the first demonstrates a lack of sufficient respect for the band, we'd like to point out the following: 1) we ran into Mr. Imai's sister-in-law in the theater so if we're being disrespectful so is she, and 2) yesterday was the ten-year anniversary of the show Buck-Tick played with Tsuchiya Masami on July 7th, 2007, which went down in the annals of Buck-Tick lore as The Day Mr. Sakurai's Pants Ripped, Mr. Sakurai Gave no Fucks, and Thereby Broke the Internet. And if that's not an anniversary worth celebrating with a Climax, I don't know what is.

Though frankly, as we suspected when the Climactic movie thing was first announced, the whole shebang was more of an anti-climax than a Climax with a capital C. Or at the very least, a minimalist climax that lives in a spare white room with no furniture and is self-righteous about its Pilates routine and chia-seed-based vegan diet. In brief, better hands on that film could have made it a lot more excited exciting than it ended up being.

First, there was the problem of tickets - Fish Tank advertised special picture tickets for fan club members, which were sold at a 200 yen discount and came with a special extra: one random trading card (wow, much special!) What they didn't bother to announce was the fact that the shipping cost for the fanclub tickets was close to 800 yen, meaning that rather than getting tickets for a discounted 2200 yen, Fish Tank members who bought tickets through the fan club had to pay 3000 yen, rather than the 2400 yen that civilians paid at the door to the movie theater. And folks, 800 yen is too much to pay for a small piece of glossy cardboard printed with a picture of a Buck-Tick member. We're grown-ass adults here. Fish Tank, up your game.

Second, there was the problem of goods - of course they wanted to, um, "monetize" the movie even more by selling merch to go along with... but not only were the designs mind-numbingly boring, the actual items, which we viewed on sale in the Buck-Tick shrine at Tower Records Kinshicho, were of inferior quality compared to Buck-Tick's usual tour goods standard and altogether not worth it. Of course, it doesn't really matter whether the merch is cool-looking or not - boring merch just means you don't feel tempted to waste money on things you don't need. But when we consider that if a more creative person had been in charge of the design team, they might have made t-shirts which said "BUCK-TICK: THE CLIMAX" on the front, context-free, we started to feel a tiny bit disappointed at the missed opportunity.

Third, there was the film itself. Buck-Tick: The Movie, Buck-Tick's first foray into cinema, was an original film, made up entirely of new footage that had never been released or aired anywhere else. Beyond that, the director allowed the footage to speak for itself - unlike a typical documentary there were no interviews or narrations or voice-overs of any kind. One scene flowed into the next in a dreamlike fashion, showing the band's life in the studio and on tour in a way much like the way the band members themselves might see it. The end result was that rather than feeling like a documentary, Buck-Tick: The Movie felt like a surrealist drama that just so happened to also be real life. It was a very arty piece of cinema, saturating the big screen with music and color, the sort of thing you'd want to go back and watch in the theater again and again.

By contrast, Buck-Tick: The Climax couldn't be anything but a documentary, since the whole premise of the film was to offer a retrospective on the Climax Together concert series. All footage from the Climax Together had been aired before in some form, so the only parts that were new were the interviews with the band members looking back - and however interesting and gothic the lighting and decor were in these scenes, retrospective interviews with the band members is the definition of "standard documentary format," and therefore much less interesting than what Buck-Tick: The Movie had to offer.

Given the less-than-stellar choices made by Buck-Tick's management of late, and the fact that overall, the fanbase seems to have bad taste (every time Buck-Tick or one of its members does something genuinely cool, the fans complain!), we fully expected that Buck-Tick: The Climax would demonstrate at least some, if not all, of the worst tropes of the rockumentary retrospective format (if you think I use the word "rocukumentary" too much, all I have to say to you is: it's a stupendous stupid word and you'll pry it from my cold, dead hands!) However, the film was directed by Hayashi Wataru, who has directed most of Buck-Tick's live videos and many of their most famous music videos, including "Aku no Hana," "Speed," "Dress," "Die," all the Six/Nine videos, "Kyokutou Yori Ai wo Komete," and "Climax Together," among others. If anyone knows how to represent Buck-Tick visually, it's Mr. Hayashi, so much as we might have secretly hoped that Buck-Tick: The Climax would be a no-holds-barred cheesefest, it wasn't.

Instead, Mr. Hayashi did his damndest to give Buck-Tick the classiest silly retrospective possible, by completely avoiding voiceovers, keeping interview segments brief and to the point, and including full-length clips of songs wherever possible, in order to allow the band's performances to speak for themselves. Thanks to these efforts, Buck-Tick: The Climax is a classy enough film that it could be sold in a Muji and/or taken round to your parents' house for dinner. Yet at the same time, it remains fundamentally conventional and restrained by concerns for commercial appeal, and thereby not remotely close to the level of transgressive experimentalism that it could have achieved in another, better world.

To keep things simple, the film moves through the Climaxes in chronological order, starting with 1992, then moving on to 2004, and finally to 2016. Each section lasts about the same amount of time, and is bracketed with comments from the band members, as well as some silent-film style text sections. These were the most off-putting part of the film overall - even for someone fluent in Japanese, the text moved past so quickly it was difficult to read each passage in its entirety before the passage vanished, and the sentences were both dry and too long. Voiceovers may be cheesy, but in this context, a voiceover might have been a better choice.

The band member interviews, too, get a lackluster start. For all that the band members are painted up with more layers of makeup than matryoshka dolls, and seated in a soft-lit, luxuriously furnished gothic interior which looks suspiciously similar to the location where they shot the photos for the DIQ 2015 tour pamphlet, they all display their usual reticence when faced with a formal interview. Though Imai comes across as surprisingly articulate (almost like he planned in advance what he was going to say in order to avoid being tongue-tied!), it's still easy to see that he'd rather be somewhere else. Hide and Yutaka are earnest but brief. As usual, Toll seems to be the only one more than willing to expound, but for the most part, he doesn't have much to say about the themes the film focuses on. Therefore, it's up to Sakurai to deliver.

In fact, you very quickly get the sense that perhaps, this might have been a better film if it had been titled Climax Together, with Atsushi Sakurai and just left the other band members out of it entirely. Viewed on the big screen, you can practically hear the panting, heavy breathing of the camera as the live footage twines itself around Sakurai's stage presence, caressing his silver-bangled wrists and eyes and hair like a lens-eyed, robotic fangirl. Yet in contrast with the power, sensitivity and passion of the man on stage, the Sakurai being interviewed afterward appears waxed, glazed, and resigned. He can't help but be articulate and charming - it's his nature. Yet you can tell he feels confined - his hair has been gelled to within an inch of its life, and there's a sadness in his smile as he addresses the camera. He does his best to answer the questions honestly, yet you can tell he's only speaking a very small sliver of what he actually thinks and feels, because he knows, as we do, that if he were to tell the whole real story, the fans wouldn't get it and the management would get angry.

If Mr. Hayashi had left the sets and makeup behind and taken Mr. Sakurai round to his local bar sometime in the middle of the night in his favorite McQueen skull tee and goth jeans and simply let the vibe and Mr. Sakurai speak for themselves, who knows what kind of film would have emerged... but that's exactly the kind of film that will never get made, and that's exactly the problem with Buck-Tick: The Climax. Mr. Hayashi and Mr. Sakurai both do their best to create a serviceable film offering a glimpse of the band's work that both fans and newbies should find engaging, if not fully satisfying, but if you see the true soul of Buck-Tick in here, it's by accident, not by design.

Each of the three acts focuses on a different overarching theme, and for Act I, that theme is Buck-Tick's newfound musical maturity, as made possible by Sakurai taking creative control of the band's performances. Following a brief discussion of the unique nature of the 1992 Climax Together concert plan, stage effects, etc., we're treated to a series of clips from the show which illustrate the muddy, bloody, visceral sensuality of Sakurai's stage performance. The other band members hardly appear. Instead, Sakurai talks about his requests to the camera crew. "Film it so you can see my veins," he reportedly requested at the time. "Do you remember saying that?" Hayashi Wataru asks him in the retrospective. Sakurai pauses for a moment, reflecting, then his face blooms into a wicked smile. "I guess I did. What I meant was, I wanted them to show the sordid earthiness of my performance. I wanted it to be more carnal, more fleshy." The supercuts of "Chikashitsu no Melody," "MAD," and "Hyper Love" certainly make this apparent - and props to Mr. Hayashi for including this famous shot, which we would have thought too risque for national theaters:

Even "Speed" comes across more physical than usual - when Sakurai sings the lyric "holding tight to everything you love / you're the universe," he puts his arm around Imai and gives him a tight squeeze, to a deafening roar from the fangirls. Since we now know that Sakurai has indeed held tight to Imai for 30 years (or rather, they've held tight to each other), it's one of the most poignant moments in the whole film.

Following this, we get a bit of the show from Imai's perspective, as he comes back onstage to play "Iconoclasm" in the encore, wearing a white helmet which he admits in the interview blocked out all sound and thereby made it impossible for him to hear the fans' cheers. This kind of experimental weirdness is what Imai does best, and paired with Sakurai's carnal sensuality, it's what made the 1992 Climax Together such a stellar bit of musical theater. Yet still, it feels that the movie skirts the really important parts. Sakurai's self-indulgent rose-wallowing on "Taboo" remains one of the most interesting performances in the whole show, yet we don't get so much as a peep of that song, let alone "Victims of Love," which was unquestionably the band's masterpiece in this era of their career. Also left entirely unaddressed is the way Sakurai's struggle with his own fame was the cause of much of the angst on the Kurutta Taiyou album.

"The world of Kurutta Taiyou was what defined the atmosphere of the show... it's a very nervous, anxious world... For me, the whole thing was very personal," Sakurai says, of Climax Together 1992. "I was taking my personal struggle and turning it into something public. I guess in retrospect, that's what the show became: a fusion of those two things." Yet despite the fact that a clip of "Taiyou ni Korosareta" was included in its entirety, nowhere does anyone mention how the eponymous sun in "Taiyou ni Korosareta" is nothing less than the flame of Mr. Sakurai's stardom. Of course they don't mention it - they can't mention it. Because ultimately, this film is not a critical review, but a commercial product marketed to fangirls, and fangirls don't want to pay money to have the image of their precious idol shattered right before their eyes. Sakurai knows this, so he keeps his mouth shut, and lets the music do the talking.

Surprisingly, it's Act II that delivers the heavy-hitting. Though Buck-Tick have made numerous political statements through their music over the years, they've always kept it oblique and veiled, most likely for the very same commercial pressures we discussed above. And yet, Act II centers on the way in which the band staged Devil and Freud: Climax Together as a statement about the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

From the perspective of an overseas fan, it's a bit surprising. Why should Japan care about the World Trade Center? Yet clearly, Buck-Tick cared. Act II opens with an explanation of how the events of 9-11 served as most of the inspiration for the Kyokutou I Love You album, which in turn served as the inspiration for Devil and Freud: Climax Together. This concert was held on September 11th, 2004 by happenstance, yet the band members are very conscious of the meaning of the date.

"I didn't really want to talk about it openly, but then it seemed like it wasn't something we could keep quiet about," Imai says, with unusual candor. Following this is one of the few never before seen segments of live footage: Sakurai makes a speech to the audience about remembering the victims of the attack, then leads everyone in observing a moment of silence in memory of those who lost their lives. As long-time fans all know, this is a very, very unusual occurrence at a Buck-Tick show - Sakurai's a wonderful talker in interviews, but stage speeches are not his forte, and as we have already discussed, Buck-Tick's political thoughts usually remain unspoken. In fact, we've only ever seen the band observe a moment of silence one other time - in memory of the victims of the 3-11 Great East Japan Earthquake. Props to Mr. Hayashi for recognizing the importance of the moment, and making sure to include it in the film.

Most of the rest of Act II is live footage, and the tension here builds far better than at any other point in the film. The section begins with the opening sequence and fan joy as the band open with "21st Cherry Boy," before plunging into the drama of "Kyokutou Yori Ai wo Komete," which the band perform surrounded by jets of live fire on all sides. The last Devil and Freud song we get to enjoy is "Rakuen -Inori Negai'-," and nothing could be more on point, politically. If the band make a film like this about Atom Miraiha, we'd really be getting somewhere.

The segue into Act III is natural. For one thing, Climax Together 3rd was also held on September 11th, though there's no special mention of that in the film. For another, Climax Together 3rd opened with "Speed," and at this point, Hayashi feels compelled to ask Sakurai why he changed the lyrics. 

"When I first wrote the song, it was all about freedom," Sakurai replies. "When I said 'blow ourselves up,' I was encouraging everyone to be free and do what they want. But when all the terror attacks started happening, the word became too associated with suicide bombing, and it put a bad taste in my mouth, so I decided to get rid of it. The earlier version remains as a work of art, but from then on I decided to sing 'let's love one another' instead."

We're then treated to a clip of "Speed" from Climax Together 3rd, a nice complement to the earlier clip of the same song from Climax Together 1992, and from here on out, it's all typical retrospective. While the band members comments are certainly interesting, the analysis remains shallow overall.

"I feel so much more tension these days when I play the opening chords of 'Speed,'" muses Imai. "I have so much more consciousness of what I'm doing. Back in 1992, I never really thought about what I was doing or how I was playing, I just did what came naturally. These days, my choices are more deliberate."

"In 1992, we were trying very hard to put on a spectacle, a piece of theater that would show what we were all about as a band," says Sakurai. "But as the years went on we loosened up and started to enjoy the fun, interactive side of the shows more. We got less uptight. I guess that's what comes of getting older - you get more freedom to play around."

Aside from this, however, there's no deep acknowledgment of how far Buck-Tick have come, and the song selections for Act III feel largely random. What was the value in choosing "Memento Mori," rather than showing a clip of the 2016 version of "Kyokutou Yori Ai wo Komete" to offer comparison with 2004? Also, while we get plenty of shots of the chandeliers, courtesy of the aerial camera, why don't we get to enjoy a single second of "Romance," the song which actually made use of the chandeliers as part of the staging? "Romance" was the most memorable number from 2016, but just like the 1992 "Victims of Love," it's been erased from history in this film. Instead, we get treated to "Sekai wa Yami de Michiteiru" in its entirety, complete with Sakurai's coded farewell speech to Ken Morioka, but without any further context or commentary, what was the point of including that particular song? It smells distinctly like cheap fangirl pandering, but really, if they were going to do the cheesy rockumentary thing, why couldn't they have indulged us a bit further and included some sepia slow-mo? Go big or go home.

And then there's more regret.

"Up until now, I basically chose all the set lists," said Sakurai, with a twinge of rue in his smile. "But for this concert, I left it up to the other band members."

"When I picked the set list, I tried to include both old songs and new songs, that would show the evolution of Buck-Tick over time," Yutaka continues.

The thing that never gets mentioned: Sakurai stopped picking set lists because apparently, the band received so many complaints about the set list for the DIQ 2015 (selected by Sakurai) that either the management asked Sakurai to stop picking set lists, or he voluntarily gave up on it... and kids, can we cry about that for a moment? The DIQ 2015 was only the best set list Buck-Tick have played since At the Night Side 2012... plus, how can self-proclaimed Acchan fangirls hate on Acchan's set list picks? Yutaka may be far more in touch with fan favorites than Sakurai is, but as I recall, the song that Buck-Tick will be forever known for is "Iconoclasm," and I don't believe they ever released a song called "Shameless Pandering to Fangirls."

After "Green Cheese," we get "New World," followed by "Jupiter" from 2016, complete with the overlay of footage from 1992, and then finally "Climax Together," the song. These last two songs could have been the linchpin that tied the whole film together, but when they finally arrive, they feel like an afterthought - much like the entire Climax Together 3rd concert. There's no discussion of the meaning of "Climax Together," the song, the meaning of the concert title, or anything. (Fun fact: the phrase "Climax Together" is actually an English translation of the lyric 「絶頂へ統一」, from "Brain Whisper Head Hate is Noise." Imai chose the title Climax Together for the 1992 concert because he wanted it to be a showcase and culmination of the band's work to date. The more you know!)

The film ends with Mr. Hayashi asking the band members how they feel about their upcoming 30th anniversary.

"People are always saying to us, 'wow, you've been together so long, that's so amazing, that's so impressive,'" says Sakurai. "But since for me, since it's my daily life, I never noticed it had been 30 years till people pointed it out."

"I guess 30 years is a long time, but for me, it feels natural," says Yutaka.

But it's Hide who says it best"Hell, that's a long time."

Whatever the film's flaws, it's nice to see the Buck-Tick members keeping it real at the end. They've never been sentimental, so why should they start now?

Unlike Buck-Tick: The Movie, Buck-Tick: The Climax does not end with an original song. Ending it with "Climax Together" would have been the most obvious choice, but instead, the film ends with "New World." Though the end credits are nothing but white text scrolling over a black field, the whole audience remained silent and seated till the very end. Perhaps they hoped there would be something special after the credits? There isn't, but watching the credits is bizarrely satisfying nonetheless. All the crew members for all three concerts are credited individually, serving as an excellent reminder of just how many people worked to help Buck-Tick realize their vision - that's the benefit of fame, and the price paid for it, too. The more people you collaborate with, the less in charge you become, and when things get out of hand, you might find your hands tied and your management forcing you to climax again and again before a crowd of 17,000 people, never able to talk about how it really makes you feel.