Coming to prominence in the 1980’s as a member of ground-breaking Japanese metal band X-Japan, drummer and pianist YOSHIKI experienced all the highs and lows that fame brings. Throughout it all a special relationship with his fans is what kept him rooted and levelled, and during the past four decades the stories have been inextricably linked. A very personal film, YOSHIKI: UNDER THE SKY explores the connection between artist and spectator, and how they often bleed into each other.
Primarily revolving around a concert to celebrate his birthday, this film features appearances from artists as diverse as Sarah Brightman, the Scorpions, and SixTones, and evidences what a diverse artist YOSHIKI is. However, the concert is the sun around which this film revolves and it pulls other aspects of his life into its orbit. Through candid interviews we really get under the skin of YOSHIKI as he bravely bears his soul to talk about his inner demons and struggles with depression. Having lost his father and two former bandmates to suicide, his trials are all the more pertinent. It’s common knowledge that men don’t open up and talk about their feelings enough, and especially in patriarchal cultures such as Japan where there is a tradition of death instead of defeat and seppuku are so ingrained. Therefore, YOSHIKI is going against the grain somewhat, trying to overturn centuries of programming. It’s a big task, but we must start somewhere.
You’d expect a film detailing such weighty topics as depression and suicide to be a harrowing watch, and while it does weigh heavy sometimes, this is a film about the healing power of music. As this film perfectly illustrates, music has the ability to knock down walls and unite people in a way that no other medium can. It is something intangible, an entity that can’t be touched or felt, yet it is captured here on celluloid, which was no easy feat. As with his drumming, Yoshiki has found his signature style as a director; often this film feels like a painting, not only in the vibrant colours employed, but also in the way he guides our attention by lingering, or passing, on certain subjects.
After the film YOSHIKI is in conversation for 30-minutes, giving us the backstory to Under The Sky, but this is one film that everyone should see.