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Visual kei (ヴィジュアル系, vijuaru kei?, literally "visual style") refers to a movement in Japanese popular culture characterized by the use of eccentric, sometimes flamboyant looks. This usually involves striking make-up, unusual hair styles and elaborate costumes, often, but not always, coupled with androgyny or distinctively feminine or bishōnen aesthetics.
These looks have enjoyed popularity especially in Japanese music, ranging from independent underground projects to artists achieving mainstream success, with similarities to and influences from European and American genres like new wave, punk and glam rock. Magazines published regularly in Japan with a visual kei focus are Arena 37°C, Fool's Mate and Shoxx. Noted bands who at least at some point sported a visual kei theme include Dir en grey, Luna Sea, and Malice Mizer.
Popularity and awareness of such groups outside of Japan is rather sparse, but has seen an increase in recent years. While the popular X Japan launched an attempt to enter the international market as early as 1992, it would still take another decade until live concerts and regular domestic releases by visual kei bands in Europe and North America came to pass."