We Are X
Directed by Stephen Kijak
As glam rock's most flamboyant survivors, X Japan ignited a musical revolution in Japan during the late '80s with their melodic metal. Twenty years after their tragic dissolution, X Japan’s leader, Yoshiki, battles with physical and spiritual demons alongside prejudices of the West to bring their music to the world.
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★★★½ review by Jason Alley on Letterboxd
A solid rock documentary about the Japanese power metal band X Japan (superstars in their home country), and their nearly-thirty-year history, marked by multiple tragedies. Their story is frequently powerful stuff, and I am definitely interested in seeking out X Japan's forceful and sweepingly melodic music (which kind of sounds like Dragonforce, Meat Loaf, and Queen all mashed together?)
The documentary itself has some issues (namely, why structure the entire film as leading up to their 2014 debut at Madison Square Garden, only to barely show any of the concert?) but it's an engaging and moving viewing experience.
★★★★★ review by Sam on Letterboxd
I wanted to cry like 5 times, but I managed to remain composed throughout its entirety. Personal best.
(I just have a lot of feelings about X Japan.)
★★★★★ review by Kristina Winters on Letterboxd
One of the most interesting and engrossing documentaries I've ever seen. Probably the best music documentary ever.
I went into the film having only barely heard of the legendary rock group X Japan and their leader/drummer/keyboardist Yoshiki. I came out a huge fan and spent the next 10 hours obsessively reading more, listening to music and watching concert footage. You might want to use caution if you have work the next day!
The content is great, but the editing and visual style is also amazing. I can imagine there's a ton of subtext for longtime fans and I look forward to rewatches as well as (hopefully) bonus features and director's commentary on the DVD.
I cannot recommend this more strongly.
★★★★★ review by Heather Forrester on Letterboxd
I loved this doc! X Japan is the Motley Crew of Japan with tremendous influence in their music scene still felt today. The band existed from 1987-1997 then broke up before doing a reuniting tour years later. In the meantime lots of tragedy. The editing is amazing, the concert footage crew from London who shot the reunited show at MSG in NYC in 2014 did a stellar job, most of all the doc crew got these guys to open up a lot which is rare in the reserved Japanese culture. If you love rock and roll or things Japan like me check this out.
★★★★ review by phrosen on Letterboxd
The early 2000s were an incredible time. The best time to be a teen, certainly. The internet was a thing and it allowed for distant friendships for likeminded people and a general broadening of your own horizon. I spent a lot of my youth on an obscure Half Life 2 modding forum and I have gotten to know people my age who shared similar interests. A lot of these on-screen relationships eventually developed into actual friendships, of which some persist to this day. Those years, and those friendships, were what pushed into the anime hole and developed anime-adjacent interests. One of those was Japanese music. I was big into the visual keis. But the early 2000s weren't perfect, not by any stretch. For one, X Japan wasn't even a band anymore.
These guys were making incredible music and there were a ton of tragedies and then they just stopped and broke up the band. I didn't live through any of this. I didn't have any discernible emotional atatchment to X Japan falling apart. Sure, it was sad that they didn't continue to make new music, but if you are just getting into The Beatles, you're not going to go "Come on Paul, just one more album. This Pirates of the Caribbean project's a mistake. Do the music thing." You're going to stick with what you have. And you are going to like it. And when you grow older, you are going to expand your horizon, because you can't listen to the same three bands for all eternity. So eventually,I lost sight of X Japan. I kept listening to their music once in a while whenever a song of theirs came up, but I idn't pursue the band's individual careers. Until now. Until We Are X.
I was fully expecting this to be a retrospective, a fringe story of a band that was massive in Japan and massive in my heart, but not much of a story anywhere else. I wasn't expecting the band being back together, I wasn't expecting there to be a forthcoming album, and I wasn't expecting them to be playing Madison Square Garden. I am back in. X Japan is firmly on my horizon again. Seeing these people, and seeing these people tell these deeply personal stories that led to them all breaking up - stories, which I only ever had read before - gave this documentary a much more personal dimension and it gave my relationship to the band a much more personal dimension.
All the old footage is incredible and present day X Japan sometimes detracts a bit from it when they are preparing for their big New York show. But only a little bit. They are back together and they are doing fine and that's just worth a lot to me as I've come to realize. I love X Japan a lot and I love that I got to rediscover them.
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