Health Woes

Amid all your warm wishes for the recovery of our health, we really, really hate to have to post this announcement, but knowing how full of sound and fury and wildly inaccurate information the internet can be, we consider it our duty to inform you in person of the publicly available facts as quickly as possible, so that others don't fill your ears with baseless freakouts and fearmongering.

First, thanks for asking, but unfortunately, we're not better. We're on the mend, but our condition remains serious, and for this reason, we are taking medical leave from the shopping service until the beginning of February, or further notice. Anyone with pending transactions - we'll deal with you. New orders must wait till February 1st. We have no reason to believe at this moment that we won't make a full recovery - it's just taking longer than expected. Anyway, don't worry about us too hard.

Instead, please send Mr. Sakurai all your good vibes!

Why? Because the remaining dates of the Guernican Moon tour have all been postponed indefinitely due to the fact that Mr. Sakurai was diagnosed with gastrointestinal hemorrhage, and needs to take time off to recover. No announcement has been made about the 29th at the Budoukan as yet, so it's possible that if he's recovered sufficiently by then, the Budoukan show may still take place as planned. However, I think y'all will agree that Mr. Sakurai's health is more important than any concert, and that if cancelling the Budoukan is the price of his recovery, it's not too high a price to pay.

Fans who bought tickets to the remaining Guernican Moon shows should sit tight holding onto the tickets until a decision is made as to whether the shows will be postponed to a later date or canceled outright. Don't assume cancellation - the remaining shows of the Utakata no Razzle Dazzle tour were postponed after the Great East Japan Earthquake, but then took place to great fanfare six months later. We think it's likely that Mr. Sakurai would prefer to postpone rather than cancel if at all feasible.

As far as the underlying causes of his condition, there are really too many potential causes of GI bleeding to be able to speculate, but two of the most common are ulcers and the stress related to heavy drinking, so let's just hope this is nothing more serious than a man who's not as young as he used to be working and partying a little too hard.

But whatever the cause of his illness, he needs all the good vibes you can send him. There have been an awful lot of bad vibes in Buck-Tickistan lately - an unprecedented level of crowd violence and fangirl vitriol against foreign fans, for one. Back when we started going to Buck-Tick shows, fangirls mainly pushed in the pit in order to get closer to the stage, but these days, strangely, they seem less interested in enjoying the show than they are in starting fights. In particular, the swath of fangirls including the bitchiest, most obsessive Japanese Acchan fangirls from the Tokyo area seem to have been taking it as a point of pride lately not to smile, cheer, dance, or show any sign of enjoying the music, while simultaneously attempting to punish all the people nearby who are daring to commit the terrible sin of dancing and looking like they're having fun.

How this trend got started, we can't guess, but we're quite certain Sakurai and the other band members have noticed - while the band's performance at Tokyo's Toyosu Pit was low energy verging on lackluster, and their performances at Kawasaki Club Citta' and the Fish Tanker's Only date at Zepp DiverCity Tokyo were solid but not really up to the band's full potential, the performances at more far-flung locations such as Osaka, Hiroshima, and Takamatsu were brimming with the band's usual gleeful energy, and it was easy to see why - the crowd was more into it. All you want to see when you're a performer is an audience who looks like they're enjoying the show, so holding up bitchy disaffection as the only acceptable posture for the True and Pure Acchan Fangirl seems awfully self-defeating.

I guess what we're trying to say is, if Acchan-chan caught some bad vibes, he caught them from his fangirls. And now it's up to us to send him good vibes instead. Close you eyes with us right now and imagine sending him a whole rose garden of loving, positive warmth and healing. We know he'll feel it.

Also, for what it's worth, we were at Zepp DiverCity on December 9th (yes, we have been following B-T despite our illness, yes it has been very difficult at times, but somehow life is so much easier when B-T are onstage, so we found the strength to carry on even if we couldn't manage to dance quite as much as we would have liked). In any case, we witnessed Mr. Sakurai's near stage collapse for ourselves, and all we have to say is, he's one tough cookie. He'd been looking a little off since the beginning of the show - missing lyrics, dancing less, though we doubt most people noticed it - but it wasn't until about halfway through the show that he started to look visibly ill. At first he hid it well, keeping it to less movement and longer breaks between songs, but once he left the stage to speak to a staff member, we could tell it must be something serious. His wan performance of Gustave was troubling, but somehow it hurt more to watch himself draw himself up to try and take on Rozen Kreuzer and growl out the vocal line perfectly despite the fact that he appeared to be having trouble standing. Each song grew obviously more difficult, and he spent more and more time in between songs wandering in circles, drinking water, or bending over and clutching his left side. During Imai's noodling before "Seven Deadly Sins," Sakurai picked up his handheld spotlight and flashed it aimlessly across the stage and the crowd, staggering in a slow circle as if at a loss for what to do and hoping that the light would guide him. And yet somehow, he sucked it up, and performed the song in its entirety, and even managed a little awa-odori dancing on Memento Mori before stumbling off for a much needed break.

Personally, we'd have been okay with the show ending right here. Had the people cheering for an encore not noticed what was happening? It seemed unfair to cheer for an encore, somehow - health is always more important than encores. But Mr. Sakurai is a perfectionist with a lot of pride, and in retrospect, it seems likely to us that he finished the show as much out of personal pride as out of reluctance to let the fans down. After a slightly longer break than usual, he returned for the sequence of "Reishiki 13gata Ai," "Guernica no Yoru," and "Tainai Kaiki," belting out each number with pitch-perfect aplomb, despite the fact that at certain points, he was once again obviously having trouble standing up. Fans were increasingly cottoning on to the fact that there was a problem, but still seemed reluctant to dance in support of Mr. Sakurai's bravery, shame on them.

Again, it would have been fine if they'd ended the show after the first encore - once you've played "Guernica," you can call it a show, right? But after another longer-than-usual delay, the band were back out and Acchan-chan was back with them, with a smile on his face, performing "Tango Swanka" with more energy than he'd shown since the first half of the set, and even deigning to service a few fans with the opportunity to grab at his outstretched fingertips.

"Sorry for causing trouble," he announced between songs. "I won't make excuses. All kinds of things happen in life... I won't go into detail. But thank you for the warmth of your applause and your cheers of encouragement."

As usual, the band concluded the show with "Kodou," which seemed even more appropriate tonight than on previous nights. Before leaving the stage, Sakurai strolled across the front of the stage in a semicircle, reaching out his hands and miming embracing the audience. See? He felt the good vibes already.


So that's what happened, and never let the Twitter nits tell you differently. But we admit, we'd been waiting for an announcement of this kind ever since Sunday. We understand that it's probably quite distressing for some of you to hear, and we're more than a little bit distressed ourselves, but look on the bright side: he's been diagnosed and he's being treated, and the Japanese medical system is one of the best in the world. It's much better that he should take the time off to recover than continue to push himself and worsen his condition. Something about his announcement on Sunday night makes me think that whatever happened didn't just happen out of the blue - but that might not be bad, it might just mean that he already knew about the problem, which with luck will make it easier to treat. Ulcers, for one, tend to stick around, but they also don't tend to be serious. A witchy friend of ours believes this is simply a necessary wake-up call to him to improve his health routine. Let's hope she's right, and send him all the good vibes in the meantime. Whether or not you believe it, this stuff works.

And while you're at it, send us a few good vibes, too, since we're sure that without a fully recovered Mr. Sakurai slinking around flashing his shiny hotpants at unsuspecting citizens, we will never recover enough to rise from our coffin and stalk the nighttime Tokyo streets for blood anymore, and what a shame that would be. For one thing, it would mean the end of NGS/Blog-Tick, and after nearly 13 years, it would be a damn shame to fizzle out just as the cute kittehs are finally multiplying. So let's hunker down and kumbaya and get the big bad groove back for a scintillating and salacious 2019.