Name: Janique/Jea (she/they)
Home Country:

Social Media —
Website: PuncProsody
Twitter: @9kumiParade
Livejournal: alice_nine (kazamesu)


A | Your 9kumi Origin Story

How did you first come across ALICE NINE.?

I first came across ALICE NINE. in January or February of 2007 on Livejournal.

I was a fan of the GazettE and because of that, happened to come across ALICE NINE. who, of course, were a fellow PSC band. I remember seeing a gif LJ display picture of Saga, wanting to know who it was, and eventually ending up at the ALICE NINE. homepage and probably also the alice-nine LJ Comm. I remember watching clips of the NUMBER SIX. movie (not just the MV), being bemused by the slightly cheesy acting but nevertheless intrigued by the song, and then on an old MP3 rotation blog (anyone remember those?), I downloaded BLUE PLANET and Q. to try listening to. BLUE PLANET was good. Q., though, became an absolute obsession for me because of the vocal harmony — though I wouldn’t find out until later that it was Shou and Saga singing together!

Once I began listening to Q. obsessively, I eventually watched the VELVET PV (pure badassery that revived my old desire to be in a band), and a preview of the JEWELS PV, I think, because the single was going to be released very soon at that point.

I just wanted to hear more.

What was your initial impression of the band, and/or of the individual members?

My initial impression of the band was that they were really serious about their music, but didn’t take themselves too seriously. Case in point: their acting was pretty cheesy in NUMBER SIX., but their passion and excitement playing even just the opening song VELVET in the HELLO,DEAR NUMBERS live was overwhelming in the best possible way. And the VELVET PV itself just made me think “these guys are really, really cool”.

What turned you into a fan? Was it a song, a release, an experience of some kind…?

I was able to listen to the first half of HELLO,DEAR NUMBERS very early on after learning of them. I had thought the VELVET MV was cool, but the live version completely blew me away. I still remember how I felt watching that for the first time. They played this song like they were banishing darkness itself to another goddamn realm, it was so intensely, powerfully bright! And I don’t mean bright like kittens frolicking in a sunlit field, I mean bright like suddenly turning super saiyan and winning the battle lmao.

And yet in the middle of this high-energy song, everyone in the audience got out lights to sway during a quiet interstitial… and then suddenly the band burst into full energy again. Shou’s stage presence as a vocalist was awesome and the other members were giving it their all… on the first song. As my first real impression of ALICE NINE. playing live, I was hugely impressed by them.

I was SO here for it.

When they played Q., I experienced the shock of realizing that Saga had been singing in this song I’d been obsessed with at first listen the whole time. I love the way that Saga sings. I can’t explain it. I just love it.

Eventually, though, I got to the live performance of mugen no hana and that, for me, was practically a spiritual experience. I felt shaken in a mysterious and altogether good way after listening to it. Up to that point, I really liked their songs and their energy, but seeing them perform mugen no hana turned me into a true fan and it remains one of my favourite bits of ALICE NINE. audio to this day.

I distinctly remember actually stopping playback of the live for that night after the song ended, in tears, because I was so overcome with emotion that I didn’t want to listen to anything else, I just wanted to sit and think about that song, let it linger. It’s a little weird of me maybe, but it was just so beautiful — haunting, in the best possible way.

By the time that the WHITE PRAYER MV dropped on MTV a couple months later, I knew they were my forever-band. The amount of passion per square inch in this song and MV is undeniable…!

B | The Way You Hear ALICE NINE.

What about ALICE NINE.’s sound do you like or admire most?

I really like the fact that it’s difficult to definitively ascribe a genre to. They experiment and are brave in how they constantly choose to try new ways of expressing their sound. You can’t give someone one song and have them understand, in general, what ALICE NINE.’s sound is — you have to give someone a playlist.

Even so, there IS cohesion in their sound, because no matter how far outside the box they go, it’s still them playing the music. I really love their atmospheric, imagery-inducing songs; something about them just clicks for me and transports me into a different landscape or scene when I listen.

I love how Saga expresses the songs with bass playing — in the early days, with a lot of very flowy, melodic phrases, and lately with a lot more accent-like phrases, and solos, adding emphasis to the songs, but never overpowering them.

I love Shou’s vocals, how distinctive his voice and style is, and I love the way that Saga sings and the sound of his voice — it’s amazing when they sing together or when Saga sings a part here or there in a given song. Something about the contrast just elevates both of their voices even more.

I can’t express this in any sort of technical way, but I’ve always found Nao’s drumming to have a very crisp quality to it, and I really like that.

It should go without saying, but ALICE NINE.’s rhythm team is the best :p

The fact that there are two guitarists gives the songs more movement and complexity, especially with Tora and Hiroto each bringing their very different sound-styles to the stage.

What are some things that give ALICE NINE. a certain je ne sais quoi?

Their experimental, genre-blending nature. The fact that each of the five members brings their own unique abilities to the table that go beyond just playing in the band itself. The way that a single live performance can span between being lighthearted, sparkly tunes, and grungy, growly rock without any song feeling out of place in the flow… all the while interspersed with dramatic, atmospheric songs that paint pictures both sonically and lyrically.

I love both Saga and Show’s voices in different ways for different reasons — their vocal harmonies really bring something special to songs when they choose to do them. It gets said often, but Show’s voice gives sound cohesion to their whole discography too. People can cover alice nine songs, but no one can replicate Show’s voice — or Saga’s.

It’s also very cool, of course, that the others trusted in Tora’s ability to direct and edit some of their music videos in recent years (to great results), and that Nao and Hiroto are so involved in designing and producing goods rather than outsourcing that part of the band’s activities. You can hear Hiroto’s networking skills in action through the guests and collaborations on his Voicy talk show. Shou, meanwhile, is involved in art direction and even in personally editing and retouching photos, and I’d be remiss not to point out that Saga is a very capable music producer and does all their sound direction!

They’re not afraid to try new things even if, at their core, they’re a rock band. I first came to know of them through their earnest attempts at acting in the NUMBER SIX. movie — years later, they trained seriously with a choreographer to be able to perform a dance number live on stage. Not in a recording where they could pick and choose shots and takes — live. That takes GUTS. Regardless of whether it was something they’d want to continue over the long term, they took the idea and themselves seriously and that attitude is just really cool. I respect that!

What are some of your favourite songs?

Who wrote this question? (I did lol) What does “some” mean? Can I just… write, like, one third of their discography down? Is that allowed?! Ahhhhhh! Ahem. Please excuse the freakout. It’s just, every time I tried to narrow this list of favourites down, I ended up adding more songs to it instead… I am currently resisting adding more songs to it ♡

Just listen to the whole discography, kids lmao

GEMINI-0III- | 無限の花 | 夢幻-electric eden- | jelly fish | birth in the death (live) | Waterfall (original or live with extra verse) | the beautiful name (rearrangement) | RAINBOWS | (live) | Grace | Funeral | 光環 | ワールドエンドアンソロジー | 月光浴 | ASYLUM | Heavenly Tale | ハロー、ワールド | すべてへ (live) | 銀の月 黒い星 | INSOMNIA | Phoenix | RUMWOLF | 風凛 | グラデーション | 華一匁 | Kiss twice,Kiss me Deadly (One More Kiss edition) | ARMOR RING | 革命開花-Revolutionary Blooming- | CYAN | 罪人 | 十六夜 | Ray | 【atmosphere】 | Solar Eclipse | 沙羅早々 | Scarlet | AFTER DARK | 闇二散ル桜 (live arrangement) | (live arrangement) | WHITE PRAYER | JEWELS | from KURAYAMI | Re:Born | 胡蝶蘭

Is there a release that you really connect to in particular, or that you have a very strong personal memory about?

GEMINI didn’t only inspire me through its sound and concept, it also inspired me in the way that it was made — that is, Saga and SHOU worked closely together on this one, and Saga sort of apprenticed with their producer, really pushing boundaries as a musician, composer, and artist. I’ve been pretty obsessed with it since it came out, to the point that it has influenced my fiction-writing in all sorts of ways, and directly inspired an art piece, a novella and an accompanying novel. I don’t know what it was about that release, exactly, but something just clicked.

VANDALIZE, the album that came out prior to it, is another one that I connected deeply with as soon as I listened to it. Fitting, since it has such close ties to GEMINI. The winter it came out, there was a public transit strike going on in my hometown, so for at least a month before the album came out, instead of taking the train to university, I had to get up early, carpool in to the university with my father, and then stay on campus all day until the evening, when he was done work and would pick me up. I did a lot of reading in a quiet, windowed hallway that winter, and was going a little stir-crazy because of it. I had resolved not to listen to ANY audio previews (or to watch the MV for the beautiful name) until release day. The day that my copy of the album came in the mail, I’d had to wait all day for my ride home from university. It was evening and snow was falling as we drove. When I got home, I scarfed down supper, and then took my precious package into the basement, warning my family members not to disturb me until the entire CD was done playing unless there was an emergency. I left the lights off, carefully loaded the CD into the CD player, turned on the sound system, and lay on the hardwood floor in the dark, listening to the album for the first time. It was perfect — from the bright, joyous opening that is the beautiful name, to the beautiful ending that is Waterfall.

When Waterfall ended, I simply lay there on the floor, tears streaming down the sides of my face, replaying the closing notes in my mind. It had been worth the wait. Eventually, my father, realizing the CD had stopped playing, came downstairs to check on me. The hall light spilled into the room, but it still would have been too dark to see my tear-streaked face. He tsked at me, muttering that I would catch a cold, threw a blanket over me, and then left.

I then watched the MV for the beautiful name, and that was perfect too.

The 15TH ANNIVERSARY BEST albums came out when there was a lot of upheaval going on in my life, and so aside from being great albums in and of themselves filled with those nostalgia-inducing rearrangements, I also listened to them every time I felt an anxiety attack coming on during that period of my life, and the songs would soothe me and help me breathe and calm down. These albums are also special because they’re the only ones I have been able to get signed in person, and the signing happened right after attending Saga’s birthday live that year. They’re imbued with a tangible protective force, you could say!

The regular edition of 絶景色 was the very first element of ALICE NINE.’s body of creative work that I ever held in my hands. A birthday present the summer of 2007. It’s an incredibly good album. I still remember the first time I ever listened to it… I put it in the CD/DVD player in my room, lay on my back on top of my bed and played the album through my little silver TV. Both ARMOR RING and Corona made me cry on the first listen, and the CD was always carefully stowed in a drawer until I started to collect more of their CDs through the years and arranged them on a shelf instead. It was and still is a prized possession!

不夜城エデン came out during the pandemic and was a huge comfort to listen to at the time, calming my anxiety attacks the way that the BEST OF albums did before it. I would listen to it to fall asleep every night and each song on the album sparked my imagination with very different imagery.

When PLANET NINE was released, I made the momentous (and at the time scary) decision to take a trip to Japan on my own in order to attend their 14th anniversary live. It was also my first time ever travelling alone — on a plane or otherwise! The album deeply inspired some of the art and writing I did at the time, and the song ASYLUM in particular really spoke to how trapped I felt back then in my job and in a personal relationship — no matter how many times I listen to it, I connect to it and am so moved and impressed with the way it depicts depression and the feeling of being trapped in a bad circumstance, all the more so when Re:Born lifts you out of it right after. And speaking of Re:Born, I connected deeply with that one too when they played it for the first time during their 13th Anniversary live; watching that live in real time and hearing that new song brought me back into the fold as a deeply-involved fan. For several years before then, I’d been continuing to keep up with all releases, a bit of news, and some magazine interviews, but hadn’t been involved to the same degree I had been when the old Livejournal community had been more active. After that, I began to try to translate lyrics, went in search of all the old interviews I could find, and became active on Twitter again just to keep up with them on a daily basis! At first, instead of interacting with other fans, I started interacting with the band members on Twitter, and reading all the interviews I could instead. And I’m so glad I did!

Being able to attend most of the stops on the tour just after their album GRACE was released was an incredible experience. The fact that the album threads so well into the now-trilogy that is VANDALIZE-GEMINI-GRACE made it that much more special because it stands on its own as a sort of album they’d never made before, all the while calling back to two other albums that formed such a foundation of artistic inspiration to me. When I listen to this album, I think of them playing the songs live and that series of lives; being entirely immersed in their sound inspired me to write the last couple of chapters of my latest novella. Coming out of the pandemic, so many things were still restricted and so much had changed about daily life, but one thing that hadn’t changed was this: ALICE NINE. rock and I love the refuge of sound that they create in each live.

Is there a song that you associate a really good memory to? Please share that good memory with us!

There are so many… but I’ll share a memory here that doesn’t quite fit in any of the other questions.

Shortly after the MV for the song Heart of Gold came out, I met my longtime online friend Jess in person for the first time. We became friends because of ALICE NINE. sometime in 2007, and so it felt incredibly fitting that we would listen to a brand new ALICE NINE. song together when we were finally meeting in person those many years later. In case you’re wondering: she does have a heart of gold.

Some time later, I bought two copies of the single and sent one to her as a present; the bangya version of a friendship bracelet lol

Create a 3-song single (or playlist if you prefer). Why did you put those 3 songs together?

oo1. 夢幻-electric eden-
oo2. 風凛
oo3. 革命開花-Revolutionary Blooming-

A single with a subtle but steady Japanese feel to it, each song embodying this in a different way but all of them leaving you with the same ephemeral impression after the music fades. Also, since this is an 裏シングル (hidden-single), the lead track is the last track!

Have you ever had the chance to attend a live (either in person or via livestream in real-time)? What was your experience like? Please tell us about the first time, or some very memorable moments.

Heavenly Tale was the very first song I ever experienced live and I was completely in awe. They were R.E.A.L. I could literally FEEL the music. And what a song to start with… the long intro really creates a sense of anticipation, of knowing something is about to open up, about to happen. The live happened to be shortly after my birthday in August of 2012, and they even played Scarlet for the first time! The other things that I remember most clearly about that live was how dark and solemn the room felt when they played birth in the death, how emotional I felt to hear them play JEWELS, and how it felt like the room was bathed in golden light when they played subete e, how warm and joy-filled that song was in the live. I also distinctly remember being completely shocked and impressed when some of them switched parts to perform HELLO,WORLD, as well as how excited I was to dance and jump to RAINBOWS during a live. Years later, I came across a CD Data live report from the live and was so excited to have that tiny reminder of what the live had been like. It’s so amazing that now, they sometimes put up photos from lives minutes or hours after it happens… back then, you’d have to hope for a magazine article or if you were extremely lucky, a DVD!

[ Video Saga Tweeted of Subete E ]

The live and the encore for Saga’s birthday in 2019 were amazing, and I was blissfully happy to be there… the performance of birth in the death was so intense that night that I felt like I was going into a trance. Just incredible, the energy that they cultivated in the room. But as though that weren’t enough, at the very end, Saga came back out with an acoustic guitar, HIROTO in tow, and they played subete e, with Saga singing. I will never forget that moment! It was pure joy! ♪ And if THAT weren’t enough, afterwards I got to meet both Nao and Saga briefly, and they each signed a page of my fuugetsu no uta booklet. And I got to wish Saga happy birthday directly. I used to send Saga a happy birthday message once a year, so to be able to do it in person was incredible. It’s the little things… ♡

For the 14th Anniversary, based on the tour flyer that they’d made, I guessed that they might do something with theatre elements in it… and I was right! Not only was it an incredibly fun live, it was also the first (and only) live where I got to participate in a classic v-kei style gyaku-dai! So damn fun! There were ALICE NINE.ey sparkly songs, there were laughs, they played so many gorgeous songs (mugen no hana live made me cry), the performance of ASYLUM was so damn cool, and when they played their hardcore songs, the livehouse got crazy, and it was awesome! They sounded so damn good, and their acting and dancing was great too — I’ve rewatched the live DVD several times since 😀

The first and only FC Trip I attended featured a special live performance… in a planetarium. I cried singing subaru with everyone (I’d wanted to do that ever since watching their Graced the Beautiful Day live DVD) and when I tell you I didn’t ever expect to hear tentai UMBRELLA live… it took me back to when I had first started out as a fan because it was one of the first songs of theirs that I’d heard. Still to this day, they’ve never released a live recording of that song. It was beautiful.

The setlist for their 15th anniversary outdoors was incredible and the weather was perfect. The opening notes of birth in the death are one part of the live that I remember most clearly. Something about that moment reached into my soul. But just in general, it was such a cool live both in terms of the way they sounded and in terms of how they performed the “TIME MACHINE” element of the live. Not to mention, the fact that they played kakumei kaika-Revolutionary Blooming- for the first time that night! At one point as the sun was setting, a cicada actually landed on my arm — it just wanted to join in for whatever song that was, and then flew off again. Those performances of Waterfall and the beautiful name truly moved me and left me feeling so emotional after the live was over…

SYMPHONIC GALAXY in new year’s of 2020 featured orchestral arrangements and was pure bliss. I remember they surprised us by going up onto the stage by entering through the audience doors behind us and that before the live itself, the background music was really cool pieces featuring traditional Japanese instruments. The moment I remember most clearly during the live was Saga playing the bass solo for GEMINI-I-the void. A fantastic live.

I adore the GEMINI album and getting to hear all the songs from it interspersed with so many other good songs old and new for their 17th Theatre live was unforgettable, even though I was only attending via the online broadcast. Saga reciting the HELLO,WORLD verses from that ornate chair was an entire fucking vibe. Loved it. Which isn’t to mention how utterly cool the setlist was in general. Hearing the GEMINI album elevated and honoured that way in such a great setlist made me feel so happy as a fan. The ending flow of the live was sublime — that version of birth in the death was a beautiful catharsis, just magnificent. I was in awe after watching the whole live and have watched parts of it over and over again since! ♪

I would never have expected Saga to do a cover-only live for his birthday in 2021, and so SAGA SEA was all the more unusual and impressive because of it. I was so happy they broadcast that performance online so that I could join in from afar. I can’t tell you how many times I re-watched their rendition of ROSIER during the archive period! Too cool! And then Saga getting out his acoustic guitar for the last song tugged at my heartstrings… it was also so cool to see them all dressed up as members of LUNA SEA for the live. I’ve been a fan of LUNA SEA for many years, but until recently I’d only listened to Period and STYLE, so I actually heard several LUNA SEA songs for the first time ever as SAGA SEA covers and after the live went to look up those songs specifically.

Instead of waxing lyrical about how awesome the four performances I got to attend were for their GRACE album release tour in November of 2022, I’ll just link to my incredibly wordy blog entries about them:
[ Niigata | Koriyama | Nagoya | Osaka ].

Speaking of lives, are there some live-only versions or arrangements of their songs that you love in particular?

無限の花 (2006 – HELLO,DEAR NUMBERS)
A spiritual experience captured on film.

birth in the death
I do love the original, but prefer listening to live versions of this one. The band-sound is gorgeous and the emotional tone seems to develop a little more each time I’ve heard it. The intro to it for 15th Anniv and the version on 17th Theatre (with extra line at the end) were two arrangements that have stood out in my mind. The song sounds fuller live, and more heartfelt each passing year. I’d love to experience Saga’s vocal cover of it live someday. The cover on the old vip salon alone was gorgeous. The short live vid posted on the note was amazing too, but not the same as a full-on live experience.

Even though they don’t play arrangements that are any different from the recordings, hearing the suite played in full during a live is always an incredible experience — they do have a live-only outro, and sometimes an extended intro, though! That adds to the ambiance.

the beautiful name / Waterfall
I would be remiss not to bring up these songs, with their live-only intro (Graced The Beautiful Day) and outro (Waterfall). Personally, I love the beautiful name in later years due to the extra harmonies in the rearrangement done by Saga… as for Waterfall, the two recorded versions I have most tenderly in mind are from Untitled and TOKYO GALAXY. I haven’t yet watched the Funeral 999 performance, as of writing these answers, but I am really looking forward to hearing those performances 🙂

Bass and Drum Jam (2011 – TOKYO GALAXY)
’tis groovy as fuck, downright exquisiiiiiiiiiiiiiiite
I think we could easily consider this an early incarnation of THE ALTERNATIVE!

Kiss Twice,Kiss Me Deadly (One More Kiss Edition)
This version is off-the-charts delicious. Just… whew. Hot. (I believe in an interview at the time the album came out, Saga expressed some frustration at the fact that Shou had had the idea to bring a female vocalist in to record the chorus vocals for the song. When you listen to this version, you understand why: Saga wanted to do the chorus vocals! 😄) The high-energy, rock recording of Kiss Twice from TOKYO GALAXY is incredibly sexy too. They put on a damn good performance of that song!

Le Grand Bleu & hana & yami ni chiru sakura sound so damn amazing live — they added so much oomph to ’em, especially the intros for each song.

Special mention for the Arc’s particularly dramatic intro though, which is in a league of its own; I love it lmao

The harmony or “coffee shop” version, which they don’t play acoustic at regular lives, but which they did a band-sound arrangement for on fuugetsu no uta is very pretty. I really loved the live versions in ALICE IN CASTLE and in THE TIME MACHINE.

Some of the songs in UNTITLED VANDAL(ism) that had vocal harmonies and piano parts… the subaru performance there was gorgeous (until I saw it played like that, with Saga and the audience singing along, I hadn’t appreciated the real beauty of that song… it’s really meant for lives) and seija no PARADE was amazing with the vocal harmony in it

The senjou ni hanataba wo, kokkai no kurage, and REAL 3.2.1. SE live arrangements in the 君ノ瞳二映ルハ絶景色 anniversary live were all completely awesome. Finally hearing a live version of ARMOR RING made me so happy ♡, especially with Saga singing the backup vocal melody… having jelly fish, Corona, and most especially WORLD END ANTHOLOGY (with a slightly different arrangement!) in the same live was like a dream. Also, their performance of DEAD SCHOOL SCREAMING was great and is the one I hear in my head when I think of the song now, because at the very end, the loudspeaker accidentally goes off with a wee-woo sound and that is now part of the song, like shunkashuutou’s glass breaking sound lol

The early arrangements of kai and Exodus: in Brutal Revelation are wicked-cool!

You get the idea. I could go on and on :3

When you listen to the songs without distraction, how do you experience them? Do you get mental images, colours, sensations, emotions…?

I often get mental images that sometimes end up close to the lyrics and that sometimes are quite different. Colour can factor into the mental images, but by and large, more than anything else, I get mental images. I sometimes even get different images based on a song’s arrangement!

When I listened to mugen-electric eden- for the first time, I imagined moving between the trunks of dimly-lit trees in a dark forest. It was an incredibly powerful image and I wandered the entire song. I was surprised when I later read the lyrics and saw that there was a lot of city imagery in it, despite the one mention of evergreens. A slight connection of imagery, yet still different. Fascinating.

When I listen to jelly fish, the sense of swimming or moving deep within the ocean is powerful too. However, listening to the reprise, I got the image of space, a galaxy, instead! A galactic sea…

Gintsuki always did give me the impression of a very cold night, along a path of streetlamps and park benches, tiny powdery flakes of snow falling, the moon bright and visible between the light of each streetlamp. However, the new version of gintsuki felt warmer, and the snowflakes feel bigger, fluffier, falling much more heavily. It’s harder to see the night sky and the moon.

Corona gives imagery as if lifted out of a fantasy movie. Bright light, but then also bodies of energy meeting despite vast distances in space. The new version of Corona is completely different! I get the image of floating above the Earth in a spacesuit, tethered to a station or ship, looking down tenderly at the world. Sci-fi instead of fantasy.

The original arrangement for Waterfall is very dark, a moonlit river turning into a waterfall at night. I imagine floating along, unafraid and without resistance because I am at peace, replaying my life in my mind. On the other hand, the rearrangement makes me imagine standing on a small island, the entire world melting into colour (like paints) and flowing past me where I stand. Everything is changing, but I’m not afraid. It is beautiful.

The original arrangement of the beautiful name makes me imagine starting in a dark room and then bursting out into a cloud-filled sky, the sun clearly visible. This song feels like hugging the universe! The rearrangement has me imagining ascending and dancing up through pastel-coloured clouds, heading for the heavens above.

When I listen to 【atmosphere】 I imagine a canyon or valley below the points of two cliffs, spreading my arms wide, and preparing to leap toward the other cliff. It’s a song that makes you feel like you can fly, that makes you imagine breathing fresh air.

So many of ALICE NINE.’s songs delight my imagination…

Let’s talk lyrics: if you understand them in Japanese or have read translations, what are some of your favourite song lyrics? Do you have any favourite lines or imagery in the ALICE NINE. discography?

Yes, I absolutely have favourite full lyrics and individual lines in their discography, and the admiration has changed and evolved over the years. It’s one thing to read someone else’s translation, it’s another thing to read the original Japanese (and notice wordplay that can’t be entirely translated, in English, anyway), and it’s been yet another experience to then try to translate the lyrics myself, in my own words. While I’ve been able to admire the songs for their sound, and even the lyrics just for their musicality in the way they’re sung, appreciating the lyrics was in some ways like re-experiencing the songs all over again…. and that’s something very unique to non-Japanese listeners. To listen to a song and (at first) just appreciate the lyrics for their musicality and melody, without automatically understanding them. Though I suppose some Japanese listeners may have had the same experience when listening to songs like STRAY CAT, that have English lyrics.

But I digress. It’s a very interesting experience to not know right away what SHOU (sometimes Saga) is singing, and then to go to the effort of reading up and figuring it out. Maybe the lyrics were not at all what you expected! Maybe, strangely, you felt out the general image conveyed by listening to the sound alone.

What follows a list of favourite lyrics overall, favourite lines from lyrics, and favourite imagery from lyrics; in all three cases, these are not exhaustive lists! Rather, they should give you an idea of the types of things I am drawn to when it comes to ALICE NINE. song lyrics.

Some Favourite Lyrics Overall:

birth in the death
mugen-electric eden-
the beautiful name
Kiss twice,Kiss me Deadly

Some Favourite Lines:

The distance between myself and the moon has no meaning at all
It made even the distance I felt between you and I hurt less

Any percentage of you is okay —
I want to know you better, so let’s run away

Place the tones of winter on words that show signs of spring
And they’ll be born anew

If we held each other close in the centre of the light
I’d want our hearts to leave our bodies, melt together for eternity

They flow forth, down they flow—the flicker of human lives
And to the night sky I, to the night sky I just
Am holding my finger aloft, hoping
(birth in the death)

I am born, experience the end of the four seasons,
am a flower that blossoms in the midst of the wreckage

Heartbeats are carving out the time we have together
In times of health, in times of illness, together with you
I can’t arrive at the reason for why I love you but
I just want to gaze at you, playing out this rhythm

Fall into a dance through the wind, song of sorrow
(when falling and dancing, flowers will bloom)
For thousands of nights, let’s play music together, us two
*With a word that is ours alone
*Hold close the story for eternity
*Until dawn comes

You were the one that taught me
That the things I’ve come to embrace
Aren’t a mistake

I don’t need delusions

知らず 知らずに 傷付けてる 自分を
You don’t want to hurt anyone
So unaware, without realizing it, you’re hurting yourself
(Le Grand Bleu)

Some Favourite Imagery:

Snowflakes being called cold weather stars

The sky like a burning emerald

The darkness/light that illuminates the colours of a world cut open

The darkness of pure white and the spindle-spun eternity of an instant deeply, deeply inspired me
(birth in the death)

Memories flowing like a river into a sea, quietly drawing the listener into the song

The navy-blue colour depths of the peaceful ocean
(jelly fish)

Gladly fulfilling a wish near a cream-soda sea

The good humour of a shared train ride across beautiful countryside

C | The Way You See ALICE NINE.

What about ALICE NINE.’s visual aesthetic do you like or admire most?

In my opinion, there is a whimsical undercurrent to ALICE NINE.’s visuals a lot of the time… a dreaminess that can veer into nightmarish territory, but that on the whole sparks wonder. Their looks and visuals are eclectic, which matches the way that their music resists being put into a neatly-labelled box. Personally, I love when they go for visuals that blend eastern and western fashion/design elements or that are space-related. I have a soft spot for them wearing Japanese clothing or wearing outfits that incorporate traditional design elements; it just looks so damn cool.

Do you have a favourite visual, look, or release era? What did you like most about it?

What immediately popped into my head was VANDALIZE. They were so coolly confident in that era, and their visuals were rockin’ but also somehow very dignified, and you could feel that in magazine photoshoots, but most especially in the photographs in their limited edish CD booklet. I still have a poster of them from that era as a centrepiece on the wall in my apartment, right across from my desk.

I loved the looks for their Case Of~ 15th anniversary tour & finale too (one of the most gorgeous looks Saga’s ever gone with, I think — with the flowy shirt tucked in or out!), and loved the visuals that went with the release for how dreamy and rich they were. The props at least seemed like a callback, in a way, to their yami no chiru sakura era, whose visuals I also really love.

I’m also very fond of the WHITE PRAYER and RAINBOWS eras. What a vibe, the both of ’em. RAINBOWS was particularly wild lol… the Discotheque DVD with its documentary-style footage is so much fun to revisit.

The peacocks in hana. The peacocks! The petals! I shall say no more. 😀

Have you seen the visuals for 7th Theatre? Those shoulder pads!

I also was real fond of zettai KOKU ryouiki for how darkly, decadently visual-kei it was. For the same reason, the visuals for Funeral were incredible as well, the associated MV an utter feast for both the eyes and the ears.

There are so many visuals that I love — including their most recent stage outfits which balance style with ease of movement.

What are some of your favourite MVs?

There are so many, it’s really difficult to narrow down favourites!

I really love the beautiful name x Grace, VELVET, Phoenix, Eraser-memoire d’une fleur-, kakumei kaika, RAINBOWS, Funeral, GEMINI-I-the void, WHITE PRAYER, izayoi, AFTER DARK, TESTAMENT, Mandala, Kokuu, CYAN, hana, SHADOWPLAY …I could go on.

Honourable mention to Bury the night, BLUE PLANET, and shunkashuutou for being loveable and so much fun to watch, each in their own ways.

BLUE PLANET was one of the first songs of theirs I heard, so when I popped the Alpha DVD in to watch cosmic world/BLUE PLANET for the first time, it was confirmation that I was definitely in the right place. Boy, did they ever have fun in that MV… lol

Last but not least, I would like to give the highest of fives to the RAINBOWS MV because it was an absolute sensation in the visual kei fandom the summer of 2008. The moving walks! The shades! The absence of an actual rainbow anywhere in the video! Somehow, it was just right — and the song is legendary 😀

Let’s talk cover art: what are some of your favourite single or album covers in their discography? Is there one that takes the #1 spot?

VANDALIZE (limited), 華【】 (regular), WHITE PRAYER (regular), 絶景色 (limited for the colour, regular for the sentimental value), RAINBOWS (regular), 15TH ANNIVERSARY BEST (all types), Supernova (both), Grace (1st collection), LIGHT AND DARKNESS, 革命開花-Revolutionary Blooming- (limited), 虹の雪 (regular), GRACE (regular), MEMENTO (limited A), PENDULUM (limited)

In terms of total packaging, GEMINI (limited), 銀河ノヲト, VANDALIZE (limited), and Alpha (limited) are particularly cool.

Honorable mention: the shiny, prismatic Discotheque DVD lol

Do you have a favourite photoshoot from a magazine, for instance? Which one, and why?

I’d like to start off by saying that, aside from the discography itself, my favourite ALICE NINE. thing to collect is magazine articles and interviews. I keep digital copies to rifle through on the go, but also have an extensive collection at home (mostly as clippings, but sometimes in the form of the full magazines).

Especially in the beginning, as an overseas fan, aside from CD/DVD releases, the best way to feel involved in their activities was to keep up with their blogs and magazine appearances. So even now that they do so many great online broadcasts and things, I still have so much love for their printed interviews! And the photos that went with them, of course 😀

– musicQ vol 8
– arena 37c 2009.04 vol 319
– arena 37c 2007.08 vol 299
– arena 37c 2009.05 (with chiko-san)
– arena 37c special 0704 vol 32 (a fav cover)
– Cure vol 22
– Motto2 vol 20, 27 (both featuring Saga)
– Fool’s Mate 2007.08 vol 310
– Neo Genesis vol 10, 13, 31, 47
– SHOXX vol 217,
– rock and read 10, 23, 43, 47, 48, 65, 73, 86, 90, 103

Tour Pamphlets
– Case Of ~ (this one is just incredibly beautiful… like, I don’t know what got into them, but it’s basically a masterpiece. And Saga is breathtaking in that outfit)
– Royal Straight Flash (it’s both really serious and gorgeous, while also having funny/playful team-up photos — it really captured both aspects of their personality as a band).
– Fuyajou touhikou (the posing with the sheer fabric… it’s dark and decadent, while also being elegant. I loved Saga’s outfit, and that long dark hair… the pamphlet and that release in general really drew us in to a dark, mysterious fantasy)

Special Books
– Saga (13th Anniversary Book)
– Dive Into The Sun
– B-Pass VANDALIZE Special (2009.01)
– Gekkan A9
– Piece of 5ive elements [The Book]

Out of all the goods that ALICE NINE. have released over the years, do you have any favourites? These could be goods that you’ve actually bought or goods that you’ve simply admired from afar.

I’ve been wearing these every day for years so they’re a little scuffed, but only because they’re so well-loved. The SG pendant has needed to go in for repairs at one point, and when it did, I decided to switch out the original stone for an amethyst. I think of it as a protective amulet.

Saga Water Bottle
This goes to work with me every day, protected in a mini ALICE NINE. tote bag… I’ve been using it daily for so many years that the black paint has begun chipping anyway. The bottle still seals perfectly, though. Thanks for keeping me hydrated, Saga! ♡

Got by chance at the new year’s live; the zekkei motif on it reminds me of back when I first became a fan (the first thing I ever bought was the zekkeishoku CD). I have one omamori on the bag I carry daily and one hanging on the wall next to my desk at home. Both together protect my travels and my creative projects!

I bought the set of five tumblers during the pandemic so whenever anyone comes over to the apartment and I offer them something to drink, I also ask them to pick a part/member…
Though the Saga glass is always off-limits, as it’s mine :3♡

The simple and gorgeous FC keyring with the band logo on it keeps my keys safe and comes with me everywhere.

Tour Towels
I use tour towels as hand towels in my bathroom and I love using them that way. They’re the perfect size and it’s really fun revisiting different band eras each time I switch them out to wash them. I also sometimes use tour towels on my cat after he has a bath… and always put on my Saga Ear-Headband to give said baths to my cat!

I only wear it on special occasions now, but I also love the GMY ND Saga birthday T-shirt (though I wear it more like a dress)!

There are many goods that I have admired from afar but don’t actually have, as well.

Saga’s classic black and white Chiko pick or any of the butterfly picks are so cool-looking. I don’t have any of the picks, but I do have the hoodie with the groovy-Chiko pick and Saga on it and I love it!

I always enjoy being able to use goods in my everyday life so I’m always attracted to items like totes (for groceries lol), card holders, keyrings/charms, and kitchenware that I can incorporate into my bag on the go or in my space. I wear tour Ts a lot too, so I enjoy getting prints (and most especially ones with the band name on them) that I can layer well with other clothes or that are comfy to sleep in during the winter.

The prismatic rainbow unicorn pouch from SHOU’s 2021 birthday was a full mood.

The SHADOWPLAY moon phase art piece with pressed flowers (from SHOU’s art gallery) was very cool.

I admired some of the scarves from past Valentine and Christmas lives from afar.

The Chiko leaf-hat keyring was beyond cute.

If I had the zettai KOKU ryouiki Sagasan stamp, I’d be using it as my stamp of approval at work lol.

I have the オールタナティ部 sweat band, but have been admiring the Arsenal-theme one that Saga designed years back, too… And speaking of THE ALTERNATIVE, that band logo dish set was so sleek and cool!

In terms of shirts, here’s a general list:
– Untitled VANDALISM tour T (white shirt with deconstructed red heart)
– ROYAL STRAIGHT FLASH tour T (solid gold heart)
– Groovy Chiko tour T (with Saga’s motto)
– Nosemountain or Master Saga b-day Ts
– Cum for Saga 2014 Asia tour T (….lmao)
– Lilac SHADOWPLAY T-shirt (from SHOU’s art gallery)

D | ALICE NINE.’s Impact and Influence

Has ALICE NINE. ever inspired you to try, do, or make something? Tell us about the point of inspiration and what you did as a result.

They’ve inspired me so much since I first encountered their music and they continue to inspire me to this day. Thanks to them, I’ve done so many things outside my comfort zone (in a good way), and made so many things inspired by them and their art.

I’d been kind of interested in Japanese years earlier and had learned little bits here and there, but when I became a fan of ALICE NINE., that’s when I took learning Japanese seriously. I wanted to be able to read their blogs, lyrics, and their magazine interviews myself. I wanted to be able to understand what they were saying in video messages. I bought textbooks and studied on my own for a while, and then minored in the language in university… and I’ve been back to studying on my own every since.

This entire interview project was of course inspired by ALICE NINE., as is the fansite that is tied to it!

In 2018, I worked up the courage to take my first solo trip to Japan specifically to attend their 14th Aliversary, and to mark the occasion, I wanted to make something as a little homage to their album GEMINI (which has been a huge source of inspiration for me since it came out), and to honor both Saga and Show, who were the main ones responsible for the sound and concept behind the album. It was a sort of collage called void/eden that I worked on after work and on weekends on and off for months leading up to the live and I was really happy with the final result, even if my level of Japanese wasn’t good enough to write what I had truly wanted to write as an accompanying story. That shoddily-written Japanese version formed the precursor concept for two pieces of writing in English that came after (one completed novella, the other a WIP).

SHOU’s lyrics and the imagery in them, especially when I started translating them for myself and giving the words a lot of thought, influenced me deeply. I think quite a bit of my original writing is proof itself of that!

Saga gave me the courage to want to create original worlds again — through writing, most especially. When I started reading about the way Saga spoke about remembering melodies for years, imagery that had inspired him in creating music, and his mindset toward composing and creating, it reignited my own desire to make things again. For this, and for so many other reasons, I love Saga.

Following that period of reading, listening, and translating, I created my website PuncProsody (previously known as Jeaology), along with three narrative/music mix CDs called Birdsong (’18), Dreams & Visions (’19), and The Timeslip Anthology (’20) and why I then wrote The Everyforest (’23), inspired heavily by the GEMINI album, among many other Saga and ALICE NINE. related works. The lyric translations I put up there are a source of inspiration and an integral part of my writing, too!

After reading those interviews, I also… felt inspired to work up the courage to try singing in front of an audience again, so to speak. If you’re curious, I attempted an unusual arrangement of jelly fish and sang over the music box version of Phoenix. Like so many of us, I learned to sing their songs before I even knew what the words meant… :3

Have you ever recommended ALICE NINE.’s music to someone who was not already a fan? How did it go?

Yes, absolutely, I do so whenever I think the person might be receptive to their music! I’ll write down a few anecdotes.

When I played the opening of “I.” for a manager at work he commented that it “sounds like a national anthem” and I thought that was an amazing first impression lol

My cousin, who has been playing guitar for years and has performed seriously as well said that he thought INSOMNIA. was a cool song.

When I was a tasker in a large bookstore several years ago, replenishing stock before the store opened in the mornings, my supervisor noticed I sometimes  wore a “Japanese” t-shirt to work and when I explained that it was actually the name of a Japanese rock band, he got me to set up the work room with ALICE NINE. music on Spotify so we could all hear who I was so obsessed with. Winnnnnn.

In two separate offices, the people I worked most closely with have accepted to listen to a few ALICE NINE. songs I’ve recommended to them, and enjoyed them. Among the songs I recommended were (recently) GEMINI-I-the void and Grace, and (previously) birth in the death, jelly fish, from KURAYAMI and some other things… it’s been long enough that I don’t remember correctly, but because ALICE NINE.’s discography is so eclectic, I try to give people a few different types of songs, or if I know what their general taste in music is, will try to recommend songs based on that!

Recently, when I went in to the office to lead my team on a Sunday shift, they got curious about “what Japanese rock sounds like” so I satisfied their curiosity by playing 革命開花-Revolutionary Blooming- and Grace for them while we typed away at our keyboards. It was a damn good morning.

The one time I clearly failed was in the following instance:

I tried playing the beautiful name for an ex, and he made a face of annoyance and told me to turn it down. I did not go on another date with him.

As a fan, do you keep to yourself, or do you interact with other fans? Have you made friends with other 9kumis? Have you ever participated in a fan project, whether to share information with other fans or to make something to give to the band?

I used to interact a lot more in years past than I do now. Years back (2007, possibly) I sent in a birthday message for a Nao fanproject that took place through the alice-nine LJ comm, and over the years I made tons of fellow 9kumi friends through LJ especially. Even before becoming the active LJ mod, I posted and commented frequently in the comm.

In university I started working on a fact-heavy fansite that I called “arisupedia”, but I didn’t get much farther than their basic discography and starting to organize a magazine article index… I didn’t have strong enough Japanese language skills, so I could only base my information on what had already been translated by others.

When I started modding the LJ comm (which was truly an honour back in its active era), I decided to try just putting everything I’d already done for the website on the LJ comm itself. I was working on a full magazine archive for the comm (that gathered links to translations as well), but life got in the way and that project fell by the wayside. Not to mention, building everything through LJ really limited the formatting of the information. I next tried building a site and coordinating it with some Tumblr content, but life got in the way again and I couldn’t keep it up, and was again sort of limited by the free webhost that I was building the site (and tumblr) through. For some time around 2018 or so, I also sent old, rare magazine scans directly to the Fantasy A9 maintainer because they’d found my magazine archive project on LJ helpful for filling in missing content back in the day.

Now I’m back to working on that archive, but I’m doing it on a website I host myself (Alice9Lives), which means complete control over format and plugins! And this time, I’m integrating everything together, delving as deeply into each release and individual song as I possibly can, thanks to my much-improved Japanese language skills! I’d like everyone to be able to experience the band’s growth visually and musically, era by era through audio, video, and scans, and gather links to translations in any language all in one place. It doesn’t mean that everything will be up on the archive (mostly old, rare, or out of print scans/audio/video at the moment), but having information about all their releases and appearances all in one place, along with links to all the official audio/video that the band have put up themselves will hopefully make for great nostalgia-inducing content and raise awareness about some content you might never have come across before. It’s also a great excuse for me to delve more deeply into the band’s history, and I’m glad that others seem to find that aggregation of facts interesting. Let’s get nerdy about arisu, 9kumis.

Meanwhile, this 9kumi interview, dear reader, is the large-scale version of an old international-fan friending meme from LJ, and is yet another extension of the website and fact-integrated archiving project. To understand the band, it’s incredibly interesting to also see how fellow fans experience the band’s music-world.

In terms of official fan projects…

There was a fan project before shooting star came out via J.A.M.E. I believe fans were asked to send in messages about what they loved most or what was most important to them (SHOU later wrote the lyrics to “affection” based on the replies), and I decided to participate. I went (too) philosophical with it, and I believe I answered “imagination” or something like that. I wish I’d saved a copy of what I wrote. Just thinking about it gives me a chuckle. I’m a total weirdo…

Last but in no way least, the ultimate fan projects were the crowdfunding ones that ALICE NINE. (A9) did to be able to record and release Ginga NO OTO and LIGHT AND DARKNESS. These band projects were such a cool opportunity for fans, and I participated in both. It’s truly amazing that my name is in the ginga NO OTO booklet along with so many others’. I’m glad we could all help bring both of those music projects of theirs to life!

Have you ever sent a comment, message, or even been able to speak to one or more of the band members? What was the experience like and how did you decide what to say?

After a couple years, I started to send Saga yearly “happy birthday” messages through the “fanmail” submission box on the old PSC website. I was too shy to send anything more than that.

I have a screenshot of the very first Twitter reply I ever sent to Saga in late 2017. I will not post it here. It’s cute and embarrassing. But after that, I started replying regularly.

I was lucky enough to have been able to speak to all the members in person at least once each through a few events. I was nervous, but able to speak more or less normally with everyone… except Saga. The very first time I met Saga, despite everything I had planned to say, I just couldn’t do much more than stammer out a few words and hand him a letter I’d written along with an experimental art piece. I just… love the way Saga thinks and his approach to making music and playing live so much. He inspired me so much as an artist, even though our mediums are different. I did a lot of nodding, wide-eyed.

Thankfully, the second time we met after his birthday live, I felt much more relaxed, and, short as it was, we were able to have a normal little conversation! That moment with Saga after such an incredible live means a lot to me 🙂

I remember Nao grinning and thanking me for coming all the way out for Saga’s birthday (it was so worth it!), I remember sharing a companionable silence with SHOU before discussing the FC live a little in my halting Japanese, I remember TORA suddenly appearing by my seat and filling a glass during the FC trip, and then HIROTO appearing at my other side and startling me to the point that I exclaimed “ahhh!” to which he replied “ahhhh~!”, chuckling. Of course the guitar team would appear in a pair… lol.

I once sent fanmail to Shishamo. I folded the letter up separately from the letter I had written to SHOU, sealed it with cat stickers, and wrote “FOR SHISHAMO ONLY” or “NOT FOR HUMAN EYES” or something like that lol
SHOU probably tried to read it. But I wrote it in cattish, so there’s no way he could have understood… unless he managed to decode it with the help of the cat-themed poetry book I gave him… Heheh! Mrrrrw mrwp prrrrr!

At this point in your life as an ALICE NINE. fan, what does the band mean to you?

Their music is a home I return to, they’re a huge part of my artistic roots, and I am so glad that they exist and that somehow I managed to find them when I hadn’t even known what I’d been looking for.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank them and wish them happiness.

E | Freeform Section

If there is a question you wish we would have asked, or something else related to ALICE NINE. that you’d like to talk about, please feel free to write about it here.

My cat Scout looks up to Saga… quite literally. You can sometimes find him leaning against the wall, looking up at a framed photo of Saga playing bass at a live. After all, Scout is learning to play the bass (purr) and practices a bit every day. He served as the inspiration for the Alice9Lives site and twitter logo and tends to snooze near me whenever I’m writing or web-building.

In this home, we feel the groove!