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REVIEW: We Are X (2016) dir. by Stephen Kijak

11 Oct REVIEW: We Are X (2016) dir. by Stephen Kijak

By Bob Sheldon

A documentary film about the Japanese heavy metal band X Japan and its co-founder, drummer, pianist and leader Yoshiki. Directed by Stephen Kijak.

X Japan formed by childhood friends Yoshiki and Toshi, formed in the early 80s, one of the first Japanese acts to achieve mainstream success while on an independent label.

The story is told through Yoshiki, leading up to the Madison Square Garden performance in 2014, he tells of his childhood and when his father committed suicide, this was the decisive point in his life where he found Rock Music. Yoshiki quotes in the documentary ‘after my father died, my mother bought me a drum set. Instead of braking things, I started banging drums’.

The documentary highlights the ups downs and struggles of the band, and one of the key features was the breakup in 1997 where childhood friend and X Japan co-founder and vocalist Toshi was “brainwashed” by a cult leading to the group’s breakup.
Five months later guitarist Hide died in an apparent suicide followed by bassist Taiji in another apparent suicide.

It seems Death becomes a relentless villain in the story of X Japan.
Throughout the film, Yoshiki is seen visiting the cemetery on multiple occasions to honor the departed.

In 2007 the band reformed when Toshi visited Yoshiki in Los Angeles in November 2006 to work on the song “Without You” as a tribute to Hide.

In reflection of the film it certainly took you through the emotions, . With archival footage and in-depth interviews, WE ARE X basically gives the fans access into the personal lives of Yoshiki and his bandmates.

I felt it was a surprisingly intimate documentary of a band I honestly had never heard of before. The concert footage, the editing, and they way these guys put it together was brilliant. ‘If you love X this will hit you emotionally’,and I wonder how many people will be saying ‘X Japan are my new favourite band’ after watching this and don’t be surprised if you are converted by the end credits.