Luna Sea (ルナシー) is a pillar of Japanese rock music and one of the most influential early visual kei bands. Even though the group is no longer together, their impact is still felt and their music still highly respected. Luna Sea's members are Ryuichi (vocals), Sugizo (lead guitar, violin), Inoran (rhythm guitar), J (bass), and Shinya (drums).

The group was founded by Inoran and J while they were high school and was called Lunacy. Eventually, Sugizo and Shinya were recruited from a rival band, Ryuichi joined, and the group changed its name to Luna Sea. They played as an indies visual band until they were spotted by hide of X Japan and signed to X Japan's independent record label, Extasy Records. They went major in 1992 with their next album, Image. They took a year long break in 1997 to concentrate on solo projects, then returned to release two more albums before finally disbanding in 2000.

Luna Sea's style and music definitely changed as their career progressed. In their early days they were enthusiastic participants in the early nineties visual kei scene. Most of the band members had long hair, wore makeup and flowing gothic outfits in photo shoots, contributing to a very dreamlike, vampiric image. They toned down the visual look as the years went by until by 2000 they were totally mainstream, Ryuichi especially often having a polished, suit-wearing look. The member who held onto the visual look the longest was Sugizo, often described as narcissistic, dying his hair and being the most flamboyant in photo-shoots and on stage.

As for the music, although they moved towards a less dark and moody style after the release of their 1998 album Shine, the band has a definite signature sound. The thing that is most easily noticeable is Ryuichi's distinctive singing voice, high and sometimes bordering on a little too nasal. He may take some getting used to, but he doesn't lack for skill and his vocals have compelling intensity. Also, the generous use of guitar, especially prominent solos and Sugizo's high, echoing guitar soaring out over the band is a dead giveaway. The bass is less flashy and it usually has a heavy, driving feel on most of the songs. However, when J busts out with a bass solo, it's always insanely catchy and complex.

When it comes to writing credits, it's hard to tell who does what. One most of their albums, they don't list who wrote what song. It's all "Music and Lyrics by Luna Sea." However, the band all shares in the writing. Artists they have collaborated with are Shiver, a visual kei band lost to the mists of time (as far as I know), who they did a song with on Eden and DJ Krush on Lunacy.

Even though Luna Sea was a visionary band and a mainstay of Japanese rock, in 2000 they realized that they had done all they could do together as Luna Sea, so the band split and they all went their separate ways.

Ryuichi started a solo project under his full name, Ryuichi Kawamura, and turned towards rather saccharine pop-rock. He also did some acting, playing (among other things) the author Osamu Dazai in the movie Picaresque. Sugizo started his own solo project with a flamboyantly titled backup band, Sugizo and the Spank Your Juice. Sadly, the Spank Your Juice recently ceased activity, but he has a mysterious new project in the works called The Flare. J started releasing records as well, under the name J. His music has more of an American hard rock feel to it and, indeed, his backup band includes Franz Stahl from the Foo Fighters and Scott Garret from The Cult. Inoran joined a band called Fake? as a guitarist. Shinya doesn't have a solo project and instead concentrates on teaching drums. However, he did play with Sugizo at the final two lives of Sugizo and the Spank Your Juice.

Luna Sea's official website is at: http://www.lunasea.co.jp/

Discography

  • LUNA SEA, 91.04.21 (EXC-005)
    • 1. FATE
    • 2. TIME IS DEAD
    • 3. SANDY TIME
    • 4. BRANCH ROAD
    • 5. SHADE
    • 6. Kagirinaku toumei ni chikai buru
    • 7. THE SLAIN
    • 8. CHESS
    • 9. MOON
    • 10. PRECIOUS...

  • IMAGE, 92.05.21 (MVCD-2)
    • 1. CALL FOR LOVE
    • 2. Dejavu
    • 3. MECHANICAL DANCE
    • 4. WALL
    • 5. Image
    • 6. SEARCH FOR REASON
    • 7. IMITATION
    • 8. VAMPIRE'S TALK
    • 9. SYMPTOM
    • 10. IN MIND
    • 11. MOON
    • 12. WISH

  • EDEN, 93.04.21 (MVCD-6)
    • 1. JESUS
    • 2. BELIEVE
    • 3. Rejuvenesence
    • 4. RECALL
    • 5. ANUBIS
    • 6. LASTLY
    • 7. IN MY DREAM (with SHIVER)
    • 8. STEAL
    • 9. LAMENTABLE
    • 10. Providence
    • 11. STAY

  • MOTHER, 94.10.26 (MVCD-15)
    • 1. LOVELESS
    • 2. ROSIER
    • 3. FACE TO FACE
    • 4. CIVILIZE
    • 5. GENESIS OF MIND ~yume no kanate e~
    • 6. AURORA
    • 7. IN FUTURE
    • 8. FAKE
    • 9. TRUE BLUE
    • 10. MOTHER

  • Style, 96.04.22 (MVCD-34)
    • 1. WITH LOVE
    • 2. G.
    • 3. HURT
    • 4. RA-SE-N
    • 5. LUV U
    • 6. FOREVER & EVER
    • 7. 1999
    • 8. END OF SORROW
    • 9. DESIRE
    • 10. IN SILENCE
    • 11. SELVERS

  • SINGLES, 97.12.17 (MVCH-30003,4)
    • Disc 1
    • 1. BELIEVE
    • 2. IN MY DREAM (WITH SHIVER)
    • 3. ROSIER
    • 4. TRUE BLUE
    • 5. MOTHER
    • 6. DESIRE
    • 7. END OF SORROW
    • 8. IN SILENCE

    • Disc 2
    • 1. Claustrophobia
    • 2. SLAVE
    • 3. RAIN
    • 4. FALL OUT
    • 5. LUV U
    • 6. TWICE
    • 7. Ray

  • SHINE, 98.07.23 (MVCH-29022)
    • 1. Time Has Come
    • 2. STORM
    • 3. NO PAIN
    • 4. SHINE
    • 5. I for You
    • 6. Unlikelihood
    • 7. ANOTHER
    • 8. MILLENIUM
    • 9. BROKEN
    • 10. VELVET
    • 11. Love Me
    • 12. BREATHE
    • 13. UP TO YOU

  • NEVER SOLD OUT, 99.05.29 (MVCH-30007,8)
    • Disc 1
    • 1. LOVELESS (1995/12/23)
    • 2. Dejavu (1998/12/10)
    • 3. END OF SORROW (1998/12/08)
    • 4. BELIEVE (1996/08/31)
    • 5. SANDY TIME (1992/03/20)
    • 6. Providence (1998/12/24)
    • 7. Another (1998/12/23)
    • 8. STORM (1998/12/23)
    • 9. SILENT NIGHT - MOON (1996/12/23)
    • 10. SHADE (1991/12/30)
    • 11. ROSIER (1996/12/23)
    • 12. MOTHER (1995/12/23)

    • Disc 2
    • 1. Time Has Come (1998/12/24)
    • 2. G. (1996/12/23)
    • 3. FACE TO FACE (1994/12/27)
    • 4. DESIRE (1998/11/16)
    • 5. RA-SE-N (1998/11/16)
    • 6. GENESIS OF MIND ~yume no kanata e~ (1996/08/31)
    • 7. IN MY DREAM (WITH SHIVER) (1995/12/23)
    • 8. IN FUTURE (1995/04/02)
    • 9. I for You (1998/12/23)
    • 10. PRECIOUS... (1992/03/20)
    • 11. WISH (1993/08/30)
    • 12. UP TO YOU (1998/12/23)

  • LUNACY, 00.07.12 (MVCH-29047)
    • 1. Be Awake
    • 2. Sweetest Coma Again feat. DJ KRUSH
    • 3. gravity
    • 4. KISS feat. DJ KRUSH
    • 5. 4:00 AM
    • 6. VIRGIN MARY
    • 7. white out
    • 8. a Vision
    • 9. FEEL
    • 10. VELVET
    • 11. TONIGHT
    • 12. Crazy About You

  • PERIOD, 00.12.23 (UUCH-1012)
    • 1. LOVE SONG
    • 2. STORM
    • 3. gravity
    • 4. TONIGHT
    • 5. END OF SORROW
    • 6. ROSIER
    • 7. TRUE BLUE
    • 8. SHINE
    • 9. FEEL
    • 10. I for You
    • 11. LOVELESS
    • 12. BELIEVE
    • 13. Dejavu
    • 14. PRECIOUS...
    • 15. IN SILENCE
    • 16. WISH

  • SINGLES II, 02.03.06 (UUCH-1045)
    • 1. Kono sekai no hate de
    • 2. Looper
    • 3. WITH
    • 4. inside you
    • 5. My Lover
    • 6. be gone
    • 7. be in agony
    • 8. INTO THE SUN
    • 9. UNTIL THE DAY I DIE

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Major references for this write up,
My friend's encyclopedic knowledge of Luna Sea which she is always happy to impart, my own Luna Sea CDs, and Tomobiki.com J-Pop/J-Rock Guide: http://www.furinkan.com/tomobiki/wagaku/

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