We Are X is the story of one of the biggest bands of all time. While many Americans are likely clueless to their superstardom, X Japan is an act that has captivated millions of fans around the world. This documentary serves as a good primer for the uninitiated as a straightforward account of the band’s rise to fame. While the rags to riches story is simplistic in its illustration, We Are X succeeds at conveying the massive scale of the band at its center while also giving an intimate look at the group’s lead composer, Yoshiki.
It’s hard not to come away respecting the hell out of the two primary bandmates, Toshi and Yoshiki. Both men are at the point of breaking their bodies in the name of live performance, but are motivated to keep going through sheer force of will. It is their stories that give We Are X its driving momentum and grace. The interviews with both men are extremely personal, helping to flesh out just how much the music means to them. Yoshiki is painted as a tortured soul; a man who never truly came to grips with his father’s death. Toshi, who was initiated into a manipulative cult at the height of the band’s popularity, is a man trying to reclaim his life after losing all control. Their stories and friendship keep the documentary grounded in a humanistic way.
Compiled from a huge resource of home videos, taped performances and documentary footage. The doc follows X Japan during their preparation for a blow-out Madison Square Garden show. The lead up to the show itself is played as a framing device, although not much of the show is ultimately shown. Granted, this is more of a documentary about the rise of the band rather than a concert movie. Films like Shut Up And Play The Hits find a balance between the two, but We Are X is more concerned with the history of why the band rose to prominence in lieu of intense concert footage.
The story of the band is a fascinating one. It’s a testament to the filmmakers that they give plenty of screen time to each bandmate since they all have very distinct stage presences and personalities. The band is illustrated here as a gang of misfits who all deal with their demons through their music. This aspect of the band seems to have genuinely effected people throughout the world. During a segment on the suicide of their guitarist, Hide, news footage is shown which showcases riots in the streets at the news of his passing. People fell down and screamed out at the sight of his hearse driving down the street. That kind of fandom is something only a very rare band can achieve, and X Japan are one of them. This film will no doubt please both longtime fans and newcomers alike with its rousing concert footage, emotional interviews and respect for the band that changed music for so many.