What are the most famous mainstream popular vk bands?

So I actually was thinking about this recently and never really considered it to often. I’ve been aware of bands like D’espairsRay, X, Malice Mizer, Luna Sea, Mucc etc. Or even indie bands with a lot of popularity like girugamesh, Dezert, and I suppose you could count L’Arc-en-Ciel since they once we’re if so easily both the most famous internationally and commercially or even Dir en grey Tokyo dome, nippon budokan, and Wacken appearances and also they are fully recognized in the international metalsphere both mainstream and underground communities are fully aware of Dir en grey’s existence. But I really want to know, what are the most famous, mainstream, and/or popular Visual Kei bands both modern and past?

I’d guess it’s L’Arc~en~Ciel, X JAPAN, LUNA SEA and GLAY if we’re talking popularity in Japan. Kuroyume on like a slightly lower level in terms of mainstream appeal/sales, and maybe BUCK-TICK as well, if we’re counting them as VK.

the GazettE and DIR EN GREY overseas, probably, with maybe MUCC a distant third.


Only thing I wanna add, I was so surprised when I first found out that there was a “big four” of visual kei in the late '90s consisting of FANATIC◇CRISIS, La’cryma Christi, MALICE MIZER and SHAZNA. Just because I rarely ever heard anyone talk about any of these artists except for MM (and maybe SHAZNA to a lesser extent).


Current popular younger vkei acts in Japan who made it into real mainstream?

I guess it would be maybe only DEZERT? but even I do have my doubts.

Can’t think of a current other younger guy band or maybe XAA-XAA also does do well?..but not sure if they are still a bit too small to really call them mainstream enough.

Other names I can think of it are all older bandman who still have success.

Older popular acts, where like
GLAY, FANATIC◇CRISIS, La’cryma Christi, MALICE MIZER, SHAZNA, LUNA SEA, BUCK-TICK, Valentine DC, eins:vier, XJAPAN. Later on Larc’en’ciel, Janne Da Arc, Siam Shade, Nightmare, Gazette, Alice Nine… GACKT, HYDE
(Just those bands who always appeared the magazines)

Do you mean like, internationally or in Japan? I think it varies depending on where we’re talking about. Like, the Gazette are probably the most popular abroad, but I don’t think you’d find a single person in Japan who would put them in the leagues of bands like X, Luna Sea, and L’arc. They’re easily amongst the most popular in the scene, but I still wouldn’t consider them actually mainstream like the peak bands of the 90s were.

Likewise there were a lot of popular bands in Japan who foreign fans never really cared too much for like Kuroyume and Penicillin (they had their fair share of foreign fans, but nowhere near as popular as they were in Japan). If we want to find a middle ground, I’d say Dir en Grey are the most popular. They’re well known in Japan and well known abroad, even amongst general metalheads who know nothing about visual kei or Japanese metal. And I think they’re the only band (along with Sukekiyo, lol) who I’ve heard being played in stores while I’m shopping.

All i can say is… Malice Mizer, Buck Tick, Dadaroma and Dazzling Bad (although i think their popularity as dimished slightly already) are ridicilous popular amongst “VK tiktok” and “vktwt”, so the vkei “kids” on twitter and tiktok.

On a serious note, i think it depends a lot on who you ask. The Gazette and Dir en Grey are definitly some of the more popular ones internationally. Malice Mizer seems to be quite popular with especially younger fans too.

i would definitly disagree on that. I barely see people talk outside JRO about MUCC, that doesnt mean no one listens to them, its just no one cares to much about them then to talk a lot about them.
But i do remember that during the time i got into VK, MUCC was one of the bands you HAD to listen to, too.

And I disagree again lol they opened for guns-n-roses a couple of years ago here in the US. Seems pretty big to me. They also did Wacken a number of years ago as well.

Edit: just to clarify internationally or domestically popular bands I want to know them all past or present.

The reason I said MUCC is, they’re one of the few VK bands I’ve seen that has announced an overseas tour with no anime convention appearances, etc. in recent years. From what I’ve seen, they are definitely still popular overseas, but I’d say it’s mainly with older fans who were around during the 2006-ish boom and maybe some J-rock fans who got into them from anime themes or something, so if you’re going off the VK Twitter/TikTok crowd, I don’t think it’s surprising they’re not as well known there.

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I think Mucc were fairly popular back in their day, but nothing too big. Karasu fans were just discussing this not that long ago (because of that song, lol), and the general consensus seemed to be “Maybe ex bangyas in their late 30s know them, but they’ve mostly faded away by now.” They used the exact example of “any bangya, young or old knows who The Gazette or Nightmare is, but nobody really actually knows MUCC anymore.” I didn’t know they opened for GNRs but it didn’t seem to actually get them anywhere internationally if they did. Now if I had to put bands into tiers of popularity it’d probably look something like this:

Mainstream popularity amongst the general public: X Japan, L’arc en Ciel, Luna Sea, Anything with Hyde, Anything with Gackt, Glay, Dir en Grey (but they’re for edgy kids).

Bands that were once mega mainstream but their popularity is fading or faded: Buck Tick, Shazna, Malice Mizer, Penicillin, Kuroyume, just most of the super popular bands from the 90s boom.

Super popular bands but maybe not quite mainstream because the average joe isn’t going to know them: The Gazette.

One tier down from the Gazette: Nightmare, Sid.

One tier down from that: Lynch, Mucc.

Popular VK bands that don’t quite reach what any of the guys above have accomplished but are known as the most popular acts in the current scene: Dezert, Kizu, Razor, Dadaroma, Arlequin, Xaa-Xaa is kinda getting here. Gulu Gulu can maybe fit here too.

Popular indies: Ashmaze, Virge, Nicolas.

Rising indies stars: Xanvala, Ari, Kaneto Juusei, Dazzling Bad.

I’m sure there’s tons of other bands that could go into those categories, but those are just the ones I can think of right now.

There’s also another tier that I would like to add, but it maybe doesn’t fit above because it’s almost like it’s own entity while still being VK. But the VK bands doing metalcore/deathcore have also seen a boom in popularity in the past few years and they tend to be fairly accepted even outside of VK. This tier would have bands like Nazare, Jiluka, Dexcore, NB, etc. They’re doing well for themselves.


I checked Dazzling Bad, they might bit rising but also not really, I think still more rising in popularity in the foreign vkei loving world. (judging the events they play at… well we will see where they are next year.

I also doubt that people really don’t know The Gazette…They are everywhere… even on big billboards and station halls in Tokyo. They play at big venues etc, can’t call that not mainstream, you cannot miss them… They are still on covers of bunch of magazine and in the past on almost every damn magazine. How could you not know at least their name or one of their songs? Might people feel embarrassed to know them? (Maybe a secret love band)

Nightmare also still seem to be popular? their songs get covered a lot by session bands tho.

Janne Da Arc and Acid Black Cherry were also both names people don’t really talk about in the foreign world but still loved by many people in Japan.


Nobody mentioned Golden Bomber lol


@Jigsaw in the early 00s internet I can tell you at least MALICE MIZER and La’cryma Christi were pretty big deals, maybe SHAZNA too. But this FANATIC◇CRISIS, never heard of her.

If we are talking older bands, like GLAY and L’arc en Ciel are/were SUPER popular in Japan but not exactly vk past beginning years … for an older vk band super popular locally and internationally my guess would be X and then Luna Sea and BT in this order since I have a feeling they are bigger among Japanese vk fans …

For the following 90s generation definitely MALICE MIZER and then anything with Gackt (or rather with MM since MdM was pretty popular … ) in my mind Pierrot, Cali Gari, Laputa and Plastic Tree were pretty big deals at least overseas at some point too and nobody mentioned them. On the other hand tbh Kuroyume seems to have been quite popular in Japan but I personally don’t remember them making waves outside it (to be fair I personally liked some of Kiyoharu’s solo work but took a while to realize he how famous he actually was) .

Then right after that … really Gazette and DEG lol. Though I have a feeling Gazette was more popular in some places / crowds (probably my places/crowds, the non-metalhead fangirls lmao, my crowds were definitely more likely to be into … Due le Quartz which as Miyavi himself aptly put was a small band but ppl gathered to check the guitarist some bc he truly was skilled and some only for the looks and fanservice really ) . Really after the early 00s and the “neo vk” boom it feels like a matter of “depends on who you ask” . Besides anything Gackt and anything Hyde, anything Kamijo, anything Kyo and stuff like that obviously.

Personally agreed on Alice Nine, SID, D’espairs Ray (not to mention Janne da Arc and Acid Black Cherry to a lesser extent) but at a point bands like AnCafe, LMC, SUG and Psycho le Cemu were big among my crowds tm (the oshareish crowds!!! Baroque seems to have suffered from a fate similar to Kuroyume tho … ) . Nightmare definitely only got this popular after they started doing anison so more in the late 00s … for this era I would name SCREW, Kagrra, ViViD, D=OUT too. And maybe MUCC, Matenrou Opera and D. On the other hand I feel like Girugamesh may have been VERY popular but wouldn’t remember to name them.

So this is why I feel like after the 00s it depends on who you’re talking to and what “subgenres” they like, what magazines they read, what labels they enjoy etc. And of course there is also the matter of “did its members become influential in the scene, did it last long enough to make an impression or was it popular for 3 seconds because of tanukis?” . If you mean mainstream as in TV-mainstream, imo Golden Bomber in a way but LOL ? Definitely heard of Arlequin, Mejibray, Jiluka, Lynch, Dadaroma (yeah… ) or Kizu even if I am not into them, but for me … Vivarush is everywhere, DIV > ACME , we miss Pentagon and Purple Stone lol. Then you have bands that were a tsunami for a sec like Gigamous (rip) and Dimlim, then you have whatever you wanna call the likes of Vrzel … really don’t know if I can name any single mainstream-popular vk act for the 10s but if I had to, GB probs :confused:

@JukaForever LOL whoops.


Lol I shouldn’t have mentioned them. MEMEshikute is now stuck in my head again -.-


Actually fr. Lol

Well Goldenbomber creates a mainstream sound, melodies which fit the radio and most people simply accept.

rock and Metal are difficult accepted on the Tv and radio also. Even in your own country you hear only accepted songs of some bigger mostly old rock and metal bands. While bands still can be damn mainstream even if they are almost not played on the radio.

I’m talking based on my observations. I don’t like them at all and think 60% of their selling point is their imagery and themes instead of their music, so I’m not simping here, but I gotta rank them based on my observation of how well I think they’re selling. Dazzling bad can draw in a healthy crowd, even at taibans. It feels like half the people are there to see them when they play. I don’t know about their Onemans, but considering their mobilization number is big even for events, they’re probably doing well on those too (nothing like Xanvala or Kaneto Juusei who are consistently selling out Onemans though). Like you said, let’s give them a year and see how they’re doing.

And about the Gazette. Again this is based on my experience. I’ve never met a normie who knew who they were. I definitely thought they’d be more mainstream before coming here too, and they do have a healthy advertising team with the trucks and all. but the average, completely unattached from metal japanese person doesn’t seem to know them. At least from my experience. On the other hand everyone is going to know who X Japan or Hyde is.

Nightmare may actually score more brownie points with the general public because a lot of people still recognize them from doing the songs for Death Note, but they don’t sell as well as the Gazette anymore. Though I think they did at one point. I like both bands and see way more people at Gazette gigs than Nightmare gigs.

Isn’t Janne Da Arc really popular in Japan? I always see them place number 1 or 2 in Japanese Visual Kei popularity rankings right next to X Japan.

The thing about MUCC they are a really good Japanese Rock Visual Kei band but they don’t get as promoted. If they marketed themselves better they would reach more people. I actually know of them but I do not think it is the norm for those who mostly come across bands through anime. How I came across a lot of JRock bands (VK or not). I do not think they have anime theme songs or possibly not many in more popular anime. I only came across them thanks to a JRock music giveaway.

It is truly too bad. In 2016, when I came across them with The End that whole album from start to finish was really good.

Coincidentally I just read this about the Gazette from Wikipedia, “Blinding Hope” reached the top on iTunes UK Metal Songs chart and the top ten on Amazon Hard Rock and Metal Songs chart in several countries.[3] As of July 6, 2021, the official music video of “Blinding Hope” accumulated 1.7 million views on YouTube.[4]

Mass reached fourth position on Oricon Albums Chart and fifth on Billboard Japan Hot 100.[5] On Billboard Japan Top Download Albums, Mass reached the top.[6] It was also number one on iTunes charts in Brazil, Chile, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Finland and Malaysia.[7]" this is chart positions for their album from last year. I always knew they were pretty popular domestically but it seems mass did pretty well internationally and those yt views are pretty impressive for a vk band.

They are. But overseas not many people like them or care about them.