Oct 11, 2014- Sara Barton
Yoshiki and his band, X Japan, have returned to NYC making an appearance at New York Comic Con(NYCC) 2014 and later performing at Madison Square Garden. Fans have eagerly waited for the return of X Japan and the surprises that are in store at their NYCC panel.
We remember that iconic moment at New York Comic Con 2010 when a surprise guest appeared at Yoshiki’s panel. It was the legend himself, Stan Lee. However, the reason this moment is cemented in NYCC history is due to an unexpected twist, as Stan Lee had joined Yoshiki to announce their creation of the comic book, Blood Red Dragon.
The big questions are: “What will Yoshiki and X Japan do next?” and “Will Stan Lee make an appearance?”
Yoshiki is a very talented musician whose career is the embodiment of surprise. Originally trained as a classical pianist, at age 10, Yoshiki’s life changed when he listened to a KISS album. He and his childhood friend, Toshi, decided to form a rock band and the rest is history. Yoshiki has often been referred to as, “The Bono of Japan”. He’s the drummer, pianist and songwriter, and is the face of X Japan.
X Japan fame and worldwide success has been equated to that of Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles. Yoshiki’s many credits include composing songs for major events, such as: the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards in 2012, Japanese Emperor Akihito’s 10th-year anniversary celebration, and the 2005 World Expo in Japan. He’s also the first person to have a Hello Kitty doll named after him; it’s called Yoshikitty[i], (and my personal favorite, the album, Yoshiki Classical, collaboration with famed Grammy-winning producer, Sir George Martin.)
Today, electricity was in the air as Yoshki and X Japan walked into the NYCC panel room. Sadly, Stan Lee didn’t make an appearance, but he left a video message sending his best wishes to fans, and closing with his trademark phrase, “Excelsior!”
The audience was shown a sneak-peak of the comic, Blood Red Dragon; a comic version of Yoshiki, who has a superhero alter-ego that fights the forces of evil. Todd MacFarlane, creator of Spawn, beautifully brings the characters to life. It’s often been questioned as to why Yoshiki didn’t create a manga instead, but he loved the style of American comics and their spectacular colors, rather than manga which is generally in black & white[i]. A few lucky fans were given a paper copy of Blood Red Dragon.
Yoshiki gracefully moderated the panel, as X-Japan reminisced about old times, and the loss of their original guitarist, Hide. When X Japan began to take Q & A from the audience, a fan asked if Yoshiki spoke other languages besides English and Japanese. He then playfully demonstrated his ability to say hello in multiple languages.
The most touching moment is when Toshi, X Japan’s vocalist, mentioned it was his birthday. Yoshiki then turned wished him a Happy Birthday. Toshi then said “I love you”, Yoshiki replied, “I love you, always.” Yoshiki and Toshi have been friends for over 40 years. It was a heartwarming moment.
After the panel, Anita and I attended the press conference. I asked Yoshiki what he thought the best moment in his career was. He replied performing at Madison Square Garden. I noticed that he had a splint on his wrist and I asked if he was ok. He reassured me and said that he was in good spirits.
We wish Yoshiki a speedy recovery & Good Luck to X Japan at Madison Square Garden!
Photographer: Anita C. Wang
Guest Editor: Leigh Howard
[i] ABC NEWS. “Amplified, X-Japan(extended) October. 11, 2010” YouTube, Oct. 11, 2014. Web.
[i] Keegan, Rebecca. “Yoshiki as ‘Blood Red Dragon’: Todd McFarlane Makes Japanese Star a Hero.” Hero Complex. LA Times, 11 July 2011. Web. 4 Oct. 2014. <http://herocomplex.latimes.com/comics/yoshiki-as-blood-red-dragon-todd-mcfarlane-makes-japanese-star-a-hero/>.