Brainwashed: The Story Behind X’s Destruction and Resurgence

Some six months ago, I bought a book on property investment in Japan. The book is about 240 pages long and six months later today, I’m still just one-third into the book

A few days ago, I bought Toshl’s book Brainwashed, which is about the same length but I’m already halfway through reading it. The book is such an excellent read revealing the X Japan vocalist’s brutal experience of verbal abuse and physical violence from his X Japan days under an organization called Home of Heart.

I’ve never been so chafed reading a book, but the resentment against the organization that created chaos in the fate of X Japan irked me every single passage.

When I first came into contact with X Japan in year 2000, the band had already disbanded and Hide already left this world. Then, I wasn’t too eager to listen to their music because I was first shown their visual kei photos and had an irrational judgment against listening to them. A friend who was a huge fan at that time insisted day-in day-out that we give their songs a listen. One fine day, he decided to go for his last attempt at spreading the music of one of the best bands in the world to us. In his words, “Just listen to this song once and if you don’t like it, I won’t bother you again.”

He passed his earphone to me and I placed it in my ear. The track was Forever Love. Some few seconds into listening, I fell in love with their music. I began to have a different perspective on visual kei bands. From there, I branched into listening to other bands like Luna Sea, Dir en Grey, Malice Mizer, La’cryma Christi, Siam Shade and even began to appreciate some bands for their visual appearance without ever listening to their songs.

At that time, self building computers was very popular then because packaged desktop computers were shitty and expensive. DVD players were also a very expensive luxury that my family couldn’t afford and for my self-built desktop computer, I could only afford to get the CD-RW drive instead of the DVD drive. Somehow, my friend managed to get hold of the live concert of X Japan’s 1997 last live on VCD and shared the video with me. I watched the video and loved it so much, I watched it again and again and again. Even during the first few days during internship at KPMG when our team manager insisted we spend time studying the proprietary API before he will give us our assignment, I secretly watched the concert at the office because I preferred a hands-on approach to programming (i.e. look up the appropriate classes and methods as I program instead of remembering all of them beforehand).

Having read half of Toshl’s Brainwashed today gave me a new perspective on the concert and I definitely want to rewatch it again when I’m done with the book. The autobiography spoke of how Toshl took the stage while under the brainwash and abuse of the above-mentioned organization that affected how he behaved at the concert. Since I didn’t know about it when I watched the video back in polytechnic, it all seemed perfectly normal to me. But now, I can probably see more details that I wasn’t able to some over 10 years ago.

I’m not certain if the book was translated to other languages, but if you understand Japanese or can get hold of the content in a language you understand, and you are interested in the story, I strongly recommend it. Once you’re done, go back to watch the Last Live and perhaps you will be able to see not just a performance by the greatest Japanese band ever, but also the vulnerable human behind that superstar facade who is really very much like one of us.

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