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RPF Fandom
Name(s): J-Rock
Scope/Focus: Japanese rock music RPF
See also: J-Pop
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J-Rock refers to Japanese rock music. The RPF fandom rose in the late 80s/early 90's, with the popularity of visual kei bands like X Japan, Malice Mizer and Dir en Grey, as well as more mainstream rock bands such as L'Arc-en-Ciel and GLAY.

Visual Kei bands incorporate elaborate costumes and makeup into their acts and put on complex stage productions, similar to glam rock, though with a more androgynous aesthetic. Band members are frequently shipped with each other, and bands often engage in fanservice, touching or kissing on stage. The shipping is potentially made easier by the theatricality of the music videos and live shows, and near-universal use of stage names.


In the 1990's and early 2000's, J-Rock RPF fandom was mostly conducted via mailing lists and a few archive websites, as well as blogging platforms such as LiveJournal. Some Western fans encountered the fandom through adjacent interests such as anime, though due to a relative lack of mainstream media coverage word of mouth likely played a large part in the spread of the fandom.

In the mid-2000s, as some bands were able to make their first appearances in North America and Europe, interest in the fandom increased for a few years, though older members who had been around for the previous "wave" of activity were slowly stepping back as some bands broke up or went on indefinite hiatus.

Increased attention from "mainstream" music publications in the 2010s, as well as older videos and songs being uploaded to video streaming sites, have now led to a new generation of fans entering the fandom.

Fandom Communities/Activities

Fans who spoke Japanese posted translations of interviews, song lyrics, and those who had the means to acquire or import magazines and promotional artbooks would upload scans, though they were often shared in members-only communities. Other fans would then go on to use those scans to make web graphics like banners, icons, and layouts.

Fanart, fanfiction, and role-play was also easy to find.

File-sharing was fairly common; prior to widely available streaming media, many fans would use P2P programs like SoulSeek or Limewire, or direct downloads provided by other fans. The attitude towards this seems to be mixed; some people encouraged others to support the artists by purchasing the music legally, sharing the mp3s with the understanding that people would use them to "sample" the music.

Please come to the community wanting to try out new music, not wanting to get all the music you can without paying for anything-- we prefer that you delete or buy CDs after downloading them, though we realize the likelihood of that happening is not high.
jrock_mp3s Community Profile page, "Info"

The high cost of importing physical media from Japan made it prohibitive for many fans however, especially those without a lot of disposable income. Sales/trades of merchandise and CDs between fans were advertised often, leading to an active second-hand market.


As with all fandoms a certain amount of drama was inherent, though the wank was largely confined to a small but vocal subsection of the fandom. Rivalries between hardcore fans of different bands within the broader JRock umbrella were common topics of argument - though there were just as many people who considered themselves to be members of multiple fandoms. Things such as the proper English spelling of a band's name, speculation about why bands broke up or went on hiatus (often attributed to a rift in the relationships between members), and what was required to be a "true" fan could all be seen taking place in the comment threads. Occasionally one would also encounter an especially ardent fan who believed themselves to have an extraordinary bond of some sort with a band member, or claim to be in a relationship with them.

English-speaking JRock fans of the early/mid 2000's also took effort to distance themselves from other Japan-based fandoms (particularly JPop) which they saw as artificial and too "cute". This attitude has largely gone away in more recent years, however.

Popular Bands

In the late 90's and early 00's, popular bands included:

Archives and Fannish Links