Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bangal A Go-Go Part 1

The following is my translation of pages 6-11 of the first volume of Bangya A Go-Go by Karin Amamiya. The volume was first published in 2006 with a reprint in 2009, and is a novelization of bangya life in Japan in the 1990s. Though the book is fiction, it's believed that much of it is based off the author's personal experiences as a bangya during the "boom" era of visual kei. Names of many of the bands and their members are made-up.
Readers should bear in mind that much of the bangya culture described in the book no longer exists in the modern day -- but provides a lot of insight into how the scene used to work 15-20 years ago.

BANGAL: A girl who likes visual kei bands. The kind of person who puts their favorite band before anything else in their life. Shorthand for “band-gal.” Also called “banga.”

199X. Our story begins in Sapporo.

My legs were tired.
I’d been waiting for roughly three hours already for the band members to come out.
It was two in the morning; the location: in front of a Chinese restaurant in Susukino*.
Passing office workers stared at the group of us wearing all-black clothes and thick makeup, and went on their way. There were about forty or fifty of us all in black. We were waiting after a live, in front of the restaurant where the band members were having an after party, to get a glimpse of them.

* Susukino: The red-light district of Sapporo.

It was a famous high-class Chinese restaurant in Sapporo, and it was impossible to see inside past the opaque windows.
“They’re not coooming.”
“They really aaaren’t.”
When I’d been eating cup noodles in the road beforehand, a group of old fogies walking along the street had clicked their tongues, “Gah, band-types.” Even though we don’t do anything, we were often arbitrarily discriminated against. Bad things were said about us. About a week before this, we “okkake*” were featured on a special nighttime television program. It was a feature about okkake for the popular band ZEX, and I stuck to the TV in my desire to see the band. I got the impression the program depicted the okkake people just like criminals, but more than that I was happy to see the inside of the ZEX members’ green room so it couldn’t be helped.
“TOSHIKI was pretty cool before,” Noriko said with an air of excitement.
“Yeah yeah, he had Chocola BB** in the green room,” I shouted with my nostrils flaring in excitement, too.
“He cares about his skin, huh.”
When it came to talk about our favorite members, our voices all went up an octave.
* Okkake: In the realm of visual kei, this is a term for fanatic fans stalk band members; beyond simply waiting outside of live houses, they tend to pursue band members at their hotels, train stations, or other places they’re known to be. This word can also refer to the action of pursing band members in this manner. The term and practice are outdated as of this translation but were common in visual scene in the late ‘90s and early 2000s.

** Chocola BB: An acne supplement.

Yuki in particular, who was a huge TOSHIKI fan, would even snort. Yuki’s complexion was always violet because of a heart condition. She would cosplay TOSHIKI in a jet-black dress like a wedding gown, with that violet face of hers. When we’d run during okkake, Yuki would take the hem of the wedding dress and run wheezing, breathless, as her violet face grew even more violet. Okkake was a battle with yourself. No one would help Yuki when she’d fallen behind. If you got separated from your friends you’d lose your bearings. If you’d seen Yuki running while breathless and having a coughing fit, you’d occasionally think she was going to die. But Yuki said her physical strength had improved since starting okkake.
Noriko raised her voice, “They’re here!!”
The dozens of people dressed all in black crouching in the road stood up all at once. At the same time, shrieking cheers enveloped the area. The members of LUNATIC MOON had come out through the door of the Chinese restaurant.

Everyone rushed up to the members at full speed, shouting their names. We lost our heads and rushed forward yelling, too. The area was glimmering, illuminated by camera flashes from the okkake girls. Offstage, the guys had taken off their gaudy clothes and washed off their makeup, but with black suits, long hair, and dark sunglasses, they looked so good you could swoon!!
I got carried away running toward the guitarist, Shizurou. Since he was wearing sunglasses I didn’t know what his expression was. I bolted for Shizurou, body-checking the other fans gathering around the other members.
There came a thudding blow to my stomach and I went down on the spot.
“Okay, okay; no pictures, no pictures; you’re in the way so get lost,” a rugged male staff member said, expressionless, and waved away the flocking fans like flies.
“Okay, make way!!” he shouted, but what he’d said went unheard by everyone. I gulped down the pain in my stomach and climbed to my feet. I knew the rugged man hit me with the bag he was swinging around, but that kind of thing didn’t really matter.

And… and Shizurou was standing just a meter away from me now!! He was standing so close I could’ve touched him if I reached my hand out!! The Shizurou I wanted to see so badly my heart ached and I could’ve died!! I felt faint. I wanted to touch him; I wanted to touch Shizurou. I reached out to him with abandon while he was swarmed by other fans. “Kyaa!” “Shizurou!” “Gimme your autograph!” “You’re so cool!” “Take a picture with me!” Everyone was repeating the same things. There was even a girl crying emotionally. Even though I reached out I was blocked by other fans and my hand didn’t reach him. At least, at least… where I can feel his exhaled breath…
“I’ll get to you, Shizurou…”
At that moment, someone grabbed my shoulders from behind. Startled, I looked back and Noriko came close to my face and spoke in a soft voice, “We’re going; we’re going to get a head start on the other okkake and catch a cab.”
The eerie look on her face left no room for argument.

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