animefringe july 2003 / feature
Animefringe Coverage:
J-Pop Showcase: Gackt

If you've made the mistake of pronouncing his name like the sound of your neighbor's cat choking out a hairball, then don't worry, you're not the only one!

Gackt, Ga-ku-to, one of the most charismatic characters to grace the world of j-music is one huge question mark. At one point or another, fans or anti-gackites, have all wondered: who is Gackt, really? What sort of man would claim to be a four-century-old vampire who takes four days to cook a curry dish and has a dog named Belle Constantine Chappy? Is there more to the man than frequent hair dyeing and naked commercials? Or is all that we see and hear all there is to Camui M.S. Gackt?

Despite his claims of being a vampire, Gackt has confessed to a strict upbringing in Kyoto. Though he was born in Okinawa, he moved to Kyoto at the age of seven. His parents were disciplinarians who forbade him to watch TV except for educational programs, and only allowed him to listen to classical music. His mother forced him to learn the piano, and made him sit in front of it every day, for two hours, even if he refused to play. Under his father's influence, Gackt learnt to play wind instruments, and even had the dream of becoming a professional wind-instrument player. As a child, he claimed to be able to see ghosts and spirits after a drowning incident had awakened his 'psychic powers'.In high school, Gackt was exposed to the world of rock, and quickly abandoned classical music. He then joined a band as a substitute drummer, but later became the vocalist.

It is rumored that Gackt was married to an American when he was in Kyoto University. However, this rumor remains unconfirmed, and will probably remain so. His big break came in October of 1995, when he joined the goth-rock band, Malice Mizer, as its vocalist. Under Gackt, Malice Mizer reached the zenith of its popularity, and when he left in January 1999, so did a large part of Malice Mizer's fanbase.

Gackt re-emerged into the world of J-music a few months afterwards, with his solo mini album entitled Mizerable. He has produced four albums to date, each released a year apart: Mars in 2000, Rebirth in 2001 and Moon in 2002. A new mini album is expected to be released in mid-Setember of this year. Unsatisfied with merely producing and creating his own music, Gackt has starred in his own movie called Moonchild, with Hyde from the J-rock band L'arc en Ciel. The movie was released on the 19th of April this year, the same day the Rahxephon movie was released. He has also played the voice of Seiji, a character from the OVA, New Hokuto no Ken (New Fist of the North Star), for which he also performed the opening and ending songs, as well as the ending theme of Texhnolyze, the new anime by Yoshitoshi Abe, famous for Haibane Renmei and Serial Experiments Lain. He is also a regular on Dohmoto Kyoudai, a variety program hosted by Kinki Kids, Tsuyoshi and Koichi Dohmoto.

And yet, all these have not really answered the question: who is Gackt? Even his real name is shrouded in secrecy, though rumor has it that it is actually Okabe Satoru, and that he is around thirty years old. Then again, does it really matter? To many, his music is enough to satiate all curiosity. It is hard to classify Gackt, is he a J-rocker or a J-pop artist? He has mellow ballads and hard rock action all under his belt. He writes and composes his own music, and has perfect voice control. But is his music the only reason for the exponential growth of his fan base?

Undoubtedly, Gackt himself is the main reason for this surge of screaming fangirls (and fanboys too!). Always on-screen, he is calm and cool. He cracks jokes with a poker face, provides fan-service to his loyal fans (what with all the dry-humping of his guitarist, Masa, during concerts). He has expanded from Japan, and now has concerts and promo-tours in other East Asian countries, like Hong Kong and Taiwan.

In the end, perhaps the only person who knows the real Gackt is Gackt himself.

Then again, maybe even he doesn't know.