Visual-Kei (ヴィジュアル系) is a style of band, which started with Japanese rock music, referring to bands which have the dressing and appearance of the members as one of their primary focuses of interest. Inside Japan, their fans are almost exclusively teenage girls, and as such they can be somewhat considered a uniquely Japanese version of a boy band. In other countries, the small quantity of Japanese visual-kei followers is equally comprised by male and female adolescents and young adults. A notable difference between visual-kei and boy bands is that boy bands usually are prefabricated and start with a strong marketing campaign, while there are a lot of cash-less indie visual-kei bands that won't get promoted unless they first gain popularity.
Members of visual-kei bands often wear striking makeup, style their hair with disparate but meticulously done dyes, and wear elaborate costumes. A look that recently has became popular within this trend is called Gothic Lolita. Although the whole appearance can appear feminine, almost all band members are male. Visual-kei, being based upon visual style, is a genre of band but not a genre of music.
Western observers sometimes confuse visual-kei bands with gothic bands because of the makeup and clothing, but most Japanese goths do not consider visual-kei to be gothic, and there is very little cultural crossover between Japanese visual-kei fans and Japanese goths.This trend was almost single-handedly started by X JAPAN in the 1980s and became popularized by 1990s bands like Malice Mizer.
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