Chapter 1:

"Resident In My Room"

VISUAL SHOCK - sometimes you have to promise not to fall in love~

15 Years Ago~

“Hey TJ! How’s it going? You feeling any better today?”

I sit up in bed to give my brother my full attention. He’s real nice. Every day when he gets home from school, he sets up his GameBox on my TV, and we hang out and play games or watch stuff.

“Mmm… Tired. Mom said, 'Dinner’s in the microwave, Johnny has to heat it up AND check Tyler’s school work in the answer booklet.' She still thinks I’m cheating!”

Mom teaches me during the day, then when she goes to work, my brother looks after me. Dad works loads and always comes home late.

“Don’t worry about it, chief! I know you don’t cheat. You can’t even get out of bed, let alone reach the answers all the way up on the top shelf. If you could, you’d be giving me a hand setting up this. Oh, shi-“

Johnny nearly knocks the TV over at least once a week. This time was super close.

“If I ever get out of this bed I’ll do that all by myself, so you can make dinner, deal?”

I put out my hand to shake on it. He gives me a sideways high-five instead.

“Deal! Phew… Now that’s done, I’ll go put the microwave on. I’m starving!”

He pats his belly while making a frowny face.

He’s always so funny. We laugh and joke a lot… it makes me feel better. I’m tired all the time and I don’t know when I’m going to be ok. I don’t like making Mom and Dad look so sad, but my brother doesn't. He always does silly things and spends time with me. I wish I could do something for him too.

“Oh yeah? How about you pick what anime we watch? But keep it light, I need a laugh after school today. Lemme tell you…”

Johnny always talks to himself while he’s walking about the house. I don’t know if I’m meant to listen, because I can’t always hear through the walls, and I don’t always know what he’s even talking about.

“…then I was stuck in Maths doing these insanely hard quadratics…”

There’s a mark on his jacket that kinda looks like a shoe. I think he might have been kicked.

That happens a lot. I don’t know why. It makes me sad that someone would be mean to my brother when he’s so nice to me.

“…so I told my English Teacher about all the religious symbolism and mythology they used in New Beginning Evil Angel and he…”

I like it when he talks about the things he likes. He gets really happy and excited, and I smile more too, even when I get jealous of him doing normal things like taking tests.

“…you get me, right?”

I didn’t hear what he was saying…

I think it was probably another thing where his opinion was right and whoever else’s was wrong. He’s not mean with it, he just gets lost in thought. I do too. I can tell it was something like that, because he gets this cheeky smile when he talks about that sort of thing.

He’s grinning round the door frame right now.

“Totally, Aniki!”

He loves it when I say that.

It’s like a nickname or something from the shows we watch. He said it’s a nice way of saying brother in Japanese. Means you’re paying respect to the person, even if you’re not actually brothers.

I think I get it.

He grins even wider and does a peace sign, then starts fumbling with whatever he’s hiding behind my bedroom wall.

“Yo! So this arrived today! I think Mom was trying to hide it, but she still signed for it for me, so yeah. Best open it before Dad gets home, though. Gotta slip everything into the collection, so it’s harder for them to confiscate anything.”

“What’d you get this time? I can’t remember you talking about any new games… was it some DVDs?”

Johnny saves all the money he gets from birthdays and Christmas and chores, so he can order stuff off the internet. Sometimes they come all the way from Japan!

“Yeah, there’s DVDs, CDs, magazines, wall scrolls, and even some clothes in this one!”


“Oh! Dinner! Right, I’ll be back in a minute. Have a look through if you want. Don’t grab the whole thing, it’s heavy.”

I try to pull a few of the magazines up at once. About half slip out of my hand, they’re so heavy, but I manage to get two onto the bed.

“Viscus? Gross! And… Gothic Girl Testament? What?”

I want to ask my brother what these are, they have such weird names, but I have to do some things for myself. I can’t always have others do everything for me.


It’s all in Japanese, I think, but the pages are filled with people dressed like dolls, lords, pirates, zombies, witches… They’re like real life characters from the anime and manga and games my brother shares with me.

“Ahh!!! What’d you do that for?!. Eww…”

Johnny had snuck back into the room and got really close without my noticing, then…

And it’s not the first time he’s done this to me!

…belched in my face!!!

“SeE aNyThInG yOu LiKe?” he burps~

It is funny that he can burp on command, but he mostly does it to me, so it’s not always funny.

“I guess? I mean, I don’t know. It’s cool, but I don’t know what anything is. What do you even call this stuff?”

He takes the book off me for a second to get a better look.

“Hmm… You In Grey? Oh! They’re a band! That’s their new look. They used to be more Visuel Kei, but have gone more Gothic for the new album. I think their first album was a bit rough, then the second, third, and fourth were all very them. The latest one is a little more Western sounding, but it still has their fingerprints all over, that’s the one I have. You’ve heard it through the wall from my room a few times. There’s a new one in the works too! I’ve only listened to everything else online, just can't get hold of them. J-Rock just doesn’t work for me for the most part, though. I do have a few other CDs from the big names, like Z JAPAN and LUNACY, but none of it is my kinda thing, except the ones that made it into anime. You remember Knightmares’ opening for Dead Letter, right? That was so good! And, y’know…”

Johnny keeps talking, but I only hear what seem like super important words.

“You In Grey. Visual Kei. J-Rock.”

I keep repeating.

“Z JAPAN. LUNACY. Knightmares.”

“…fashion stuff is beyond me too, I just don’t get this fad with all the girls being in Gothic Lolita dresses. They’re too frilly and impractical. You might like Paradise Embrace if you’re interested. It’s this new manga about Japanese fashion from the person who wrote KANA, so…”

“Gothic Lolita. Paradise Embrace. KANA.”

“…nyway, did you choose an anime for tonight?”

I finally catch up with what my brother is saying.

“Oh, err… Visage Of Escaflowering? That cool fantasy one with the big robots!”

“Superb choice, Monsieur! A perfect accompaniment for the main course, reheated lasagne!”

We watch the anime and eat dinner and I realise that the bad guy, Lord Falcon, is dressed like some of the people in the magazine.

A few episodes later, Dad comes home and Johnny hides a few things in my room like usual. I spend the night looking through the magazines.

I want to dress like them.


Present Day~

It’s a muggy, cloying summer day when I step off the plane in Tokyo. My suitcases heavy with all my clothes and accessories.

I fell in love with Visual Kei 15 years ago. As soon as I was healthy enough to work, I’ve been doing part-time jobs to afford to come to Japan someday. That’s a decade of saving to be here.

I’m so excited!

I’m already dressed in the best I could travel in; a modded long sleeve top, covered in prints and straps - my jeans equally altered - so I could arrive in style.


The humidity is threatening to melt my knee-high boots, reducing them to puddles on the runway, but I only have a few weeks before university starts, so I gotta make the most of it… if the heat doesn’t kill me first.

Primed with my homemade street fashion - hair product threatening to sweat its way off my head - I am ready to meet my first love, finally!!!