In the world of Visual Kei, Mana has reigned triumphant for the past 20 years distilling his personality and artistry in a shroud of mystery that reaps a cult following of fans not only in Japan, but worldwide.
As a fan of Mana's for over 10 years now, I created this website as a means of information for the curious minds finding themselves entangled into this strange, dark world, hoping to give you a taste of this enchanting individual.
Mana grew up in the country side of Hiroshima prefecture with his mother, father, and two younger siblings; a sister and brother. While his real name and birth year have never been announced or published, we do know he was born on March 19th. Mana has often recalled upon his childhood through interviews, articles, and his blog, where he has mentioned his parents were music teachers and would play classical music throughout the house on weekends. They even tried to make him take piano lessons, which he hated, claiming it was "for girls". As a young child, Mana was less interested in classical music, and more keen to video games, board games, manga, movies, bicycles, and an assortment of other typical childhood toys. One memory Mana brought up in a Cyzo magazine interview that gained immense popularity amongst fans, was his fondness of Snoopy since childhood that presides today due to a Snoopy futon he slept in from a young age and even brought along with him to Tokyo.
Furthermore, in "Game Lab" magazine he writes a monthly column known as "Game inferno" (2010-present) where he often talks about visiting gaming centers from a very young age in his home town and wanting to be like Arashi, the hero of a monthly comic titled Game Center Arashi who had special powers that could defeat virtually any opponent in tough gaming competitions.
As a teenager, Mana attended an all boys high school where he was part of a wall ball team and eventually found himself immersed in interest for punk rock and metal bands. According to Mana's fanclub, Mon+amour, which ran from 2002 until around 2010, Mana's first concert was Motley Crue and was also his first time to "cosplay". At this point in time his mother warned him not to get too involved by wearing all black or trying to stand out, but it was almost too late as he became inspired by Tommy Lee and obtained his very own Tommy Lee drum set and began dressing more and more in punk style with leather jackets and unnaturally colored mohawks. Eventually he changed his entire bedroom to look like a concert hall and attempted to play just about every band instrument (drums, guitar, bass, and vocals), but in the end he fell in love with the electric guitar and taught himself how to play until he would be able to perform with various other bands around the area. The first band he really got into playing with was Ves.Tearge, but then moved on to Girl'e where he picked up the stage name "Serina" for the duration of that particular band activity.
After graduating High School, Mana moved on to a vocational college where he studied music, although he spent far more time playing in bands and trying to create an image for himself than studying (Kera vol. 153).
It was also around this time when Mana was truly changing and becoming an individual, particularly as an artist. He ended up moving to Osaka from his small town in Hiroshima and began to change his image from punk to more experimental styles that involved make-up and dresses. He became interested in the charm of women's clothing, especially historical European dresses, and purchased a number of fashion books and magazines to look through which gave him a number of ideas for his own fashion style.
His father had also given him a classical CD, which he began to acquire as personal taste along with the rock music he loved a few years prior. Not only that, it was around this time that he began to take fortitude in Italian horror movies, especially Dario Argento's Suspiria, Christopher Lee Dracula films, and The House by the Cemetery among many others.
With all these interests combined, Mana began to form an image surrounding the things he loved and wanted to make music based on rock, classical, and elements from horror movies (as well to some extent influences from horror-based video games).
Eventually, outside school, Mana was able to meet someone who would end up becoming a very good friend of his, Kozi. Together, Mana and Kozi performed in the band Matenrou, with Kozi on Vocals and Mana on Bass. After leaving Matenrou, Mana and Kozi became co founders of MALICE MIZER (band name officially written in all caps), hence the start of one of Mana's biggest careers.
As most people know, Malice Mizer became a hot commodity in Japan's visual kei scene. The band started out with Tetsu on vocals, Mana on guitar, Kozi on guitar, Yu~ki on bass, and Gaz on drums. The early Malice Mizer music took obvious influence from Bach with the basis of songs reflecting popular classical and Baroque tunes that would break out into rock numbers. The melodies and bridges of songs generally flowed to the classical elements of the piece which gave some songs a more pop-like feeling than the anticipated rock sound, but the overall mix of rock and classical worked in the band's favor creating pieces that would become well known Malice Mizer songs still played from time to time up to this day.
Early on in the band's fast-paced career, Tetsu and Gaz left. Malice Mizer had come to a point where they had become a very poor band for about a year and were on the verge of breaking up, until Gackt (vo) and Kami (dr) came into the picture. With these two key people in the band, Malice Mizer was now growing into full speed again. Malice Mizer had full potential to accomplish what they were looking for in their careers and doing it quickly.
The music and visuals of Malice Mizer now underwent somewhat of a change compared to its earlier years. Although rock and classical music were two very important themes to the band, it was easy to hear an even larger influence of French pop (Mana in the past talked about his interest in the French pop singer Mylene Farmer) as well as more traditional European style sounds incorporated into the music. The visuals of early Malice Mizer seemed quite limited in funding with small stage set ups using minimalistic props and costumes in comparison to the large back drops, intricate stage costumes, and a number of special effects used in the newer Malice that included Gackt and Kami.
As co-founder and leader, Mana had a big part in the decision making behind concerts, events, and of course music. He was often said to be seen carrying a note pad of critiques and ideas for the band and staff. Unfortunately, even with a wealth of information via interviews, articles, TV appearances, etc there isn't much that has been said about Mana's personal thoughts and feelings during this time. Many articles written by Mana during the time tend to suggest he hardly had any time to himself due to band activity as well as hints of sadness or loneliness (surely there were good times too, though). Most interviews focused on album and music video release concepts or silly questionnaires that hardly contained any substantial information. Whenever Mana reflected upon himself during this era, many articles and interviews seemed to go back to his childhood or activities he enjoyed from before Malice Mizer started that he continued to keep close to his heart.
Merveilles, Malice Mizer's fourth album, reached Number 2 in album charts and the concert which came shortly after the album release sold out in a record of 2 minutes. Things at this time were going great, but during the production of the Le Ciel PV, everything began to flip upside down. Shortly after, the band started getting into disagreements, causing Gackt to leave. Even more tragedy arose when the drummer, Kami, unexpectedly died of a brain haemorrhage in his sleep.
Not much is truly known about Mana during the time of Kami's death save for information and speculation based on very little substance. However, it is safe to assume Mana took the blow rather harshly and tended not to speak openly about the situation until recent years, especially in 2013 when he wrote an entry on his official blog reflecting on time spent with Kami earlier on in their band activity together. Mana has made it a ritual since Kami's death to eat melon bread and drink Max Coffee (Kami's favorite food and drink) on both February 1st (his birthday) and June 21st (death date) in memorial of his friend and fellow band mate.
After the situations concerning Kami and Gackt, Malice Mizer was now at a low point being out a vocalist and drummer, once again. In the mean time, Mana opened up his very own clothing line, Moi-meme-Moitie, and Malice Mizer retorted back to its original record label, Midi: Nette after having gone major with Nippon Columbia during their Gackt and Kami era.
Another year later, Malice Mizer was back up again to where they could produce more with Klaha as a support vocalist, and a support drummer. Klaha eventually became Malice Mizer's permanent new addition to the band, but Kami was never to be replaced with an official drummer in his dedication as an "eternal blood relative". The band held up until December 2001, when they decided to go on a hiatus for unknown reasons.
In what is considered Malice Mizer's final "era" (eras are typically counted by the prominent vocalist during each time), the music and visuals had altogether abandoned the light hearted French pop and European themed music and focused largely on more dramatic melodies with dark overtones. The imagery had also changed accordingly, with all the band members often times seen in black or gothic style clothing; this can be seen somewhat as a precursor to the drive behind Moi-meme-Moitie.
On March 19, 2002, Mana was resurrected in the music scene with a new appearance and solo project, Moi dix Mois. The sound and image of Moi dix Mois more closely portrayed the ending years of MALICE MIZER with a large emphasis on gothic imagery and a combination of rock, metal, and classical music fused more sinisterly than before.
Mana's image changed from the feminine character he often portrayed in Malice to something more masculine than before. Although on most standards Mana's appearance is still considered feminine due to his usage of make up in virtually the same style as previous years as well as wearing long skirts and corsets, but the influence in his visuals are obviously less focused on looking like a woman than he had been previously notorious for.
Mana has been using the overall same basic format in music and fashion as a performer since the start of Moi dix Mois, but still tends to make small changes based on the theme of concerts, events, and even album concepts. His primary goal as an artist is to stay true to the image he has created, but still find new ways to grow in his own world. The focus of Moi dix Mois is based on beginnings and eternity, using occult based themes and symbols to convey spirituality and other worldly concepts. The lyrics of Mana's music tend to express concepts of life after death, contrasts between good and evil, love and hate, and even light and darkness. Various other songs tend to focus on super natural phenomenon as well, such as angels, demons, Armageddon type scenarios, and various influences from cryptic themes and a number of ancient myths and lore.
In fact, Mana also has a specific spelling of his name in Japanese kanji, that suits the image of Moi dix Mois rather well, which he carefully chose -- 「魔名」. The first character, 魔 (Ma) has a large range of meaning, but all derive from evil spirits, acts, or demons. This character is often seen in Japanese terms such as "Majo" (Witch), "Mahou" (Magic), or "Akuma" (Devil/Demon/Satan). The second character 名 (Na) simply means "Name". The combination of these two characters together implies Mana created his name (through kanji) to roughly mean "evil name" or "evil one". Whether or not this was his original intention as to why he chose the name Mana in the beginning of his career is unclear, but it goes to show how many ways Mana has changed his world to suit the appropriate image he strives for with Moi dix Mois.
Often time the imagery of Moi dix Mois contains a variety of hidden messages and meanings in artistic ways Mana carefully plots out, but all come down to the same themes that tie into his particular ideals.
Outside of Moi dix Mois Mana has a great variety of interests and tastes. One of his biggest passions for several years has been cooking. In Malice Mizer days he would often talk about his love for curry, particularly Indian curry, and from time to time still talks about how he has perfected his home made curry recipes to match authentic flavors and consistency. Outside of indian curry, Mana tends to take it upon himself to try new foods whenever he gets the chance and admits to enjoying dishes most Japanese people refuse to even try.
He often mentions a large number of movies he enjoys watching, although once admitted in a fanclub article (the Madousho) that many of them often have similar themes. Many fans are well aware of Mana's love for horror movies, above all Dracula films, but he also enjoys Sci-fi, Action, War, deserted island, prison, and end of the world type movies. Mana is also a big fan of older Japanese animations such as Mobile Suit Gundam and Youkai Ningen Bem among others and even has somewhat of an extensive collection of a variety of figurines and toys from animes and horror movies.
In relation to the above topics, he also enjoys reading informational books based on a large number of subjects ranging from cooking, air crafts, space, and even technological innovations, especially if they pertain to Mac products.
As for musical interests, Mana is a big fan of Slayer, Iron Maiden, and Motley Crue, and has mentioned a few Japanese artists he likes such as BUCK-TICK and Akina Nakamori. Although he hardly speaks of it now, during his activity with Malice Mizer he mentioned his love for Maylene Farmer's music.
At home, Mana owns a number of instruments including 13+ guitars, an accordion, a violin, a bass guitar, and a synthesizer. Mana's guitars (known as Jeune Fille) are all produced by the ESP craft house in Tokyo, Japan.
You can visit the ESP website with Mana's guitars for sale here:
As a big Macintosh fan, Mana often uses his three screened Mac Pro for developing and recording all of his music via MUTO's Digital Performer program.
Once a year at the end of December to early January Mana goes back to his home town to visit his family and spend New Years with them. Although he hardly gives much information on his brother, he often talks about his sister's family and her children, particularly her daughter Mi-chan. Mana has also had a big connection to his cousin Katsuo since childhood who got married in 2009 where Mana was chosen to escort him down the isle at his wedding. Since then, little is known about Katsuo's current whereabouts or activities, but prior to his marriage he had performed with Mana a few times during Dis inferno, Mana's annual year-end concerts.
In conclusion, Mana is a unique individual with an extensive history that has brought him to the position he is in now as an artist. At first glance, many new fans tend to believe Mana is an utter mystery as his appearance would make you believe, but when you pull back the curtain it becomes easier to understand the person he is based on his past and present activity. Truthfully Mana did appear somewhat mysterious in the beginning of his career, but over time he has opened up more to his fans and allowed us to see into his daily life that still continues to intrigue and amuse many. By going to a concert or event one can tell Mana is hardly as serious as his image makes him seem, and enjoys many of the same things that many of us do on a daily basis.
Currently Mana has had concerts and events not only in Japan, but throughout Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Finland, and Sweden) and in the US (California and Washington). As an artist, he has a large interest in performing world wide so its certainly only a matter of time before he is able to perform elsewhere based on demand from his foreign fans.
Bands Mana has taken part in from past to present:
Art Marju Duchain (guest guitarist) --> Ves.Tearge --> Girl'e --> Matenrou --> Malice Mizer --> Moi dix Mois