A guide to FlyME Project: the pioneer 2D visual-kei rock project

The beauty and theatricality of visual-kei rock was explored by FlyME Project in 2015. Despite pioneering the movement for 2D music projects and having a jaw-droppingly good lineup for both bands, bad timing and not enough effort in promotions are making it disappear before our eyes.

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2015 was a year that would end up changing the 2D music industry and the seiyuu part of those projects.

This was the year that welcomed the IDOLiSH7, Yumeiro Cast, Ensemble Stars!!, B-PROJECT, and Dear Vocalist franchises. All of these ended up being popular franchises that – aside from Yumeiro Cast – are still alive and kicking, some of these in peak popularity in recent years.

In the middle of that rich pool of 2D music projects launched in 2015, there was one catering to a very specific type of music fan: FlyME Project.

Visual-kei rock music would get to be in the spotlight for the very first time in a 2D music project. What seemed like a small thing back then was actually the pioneer project to today’s 2D visual-kei rock bands.

What is FlyME Project?

It’s a mixed-media project created by PONY CANYON in 2015 through its sublabel EXIT TUNES, best known for their work with vocaloid talents, and Xarts with the purpose of bringing together seiyuu and visual-kei artists.

Despite its silence since 2018, there hasn’t been a confirmation that the project has been shelved/cancelled – although PONY CANYON’s behavior hints at that – so I’ll be speaking about it in the present tense.

FlyME Project features music and drama tracks within the same CDs, something that, right now, is a common occurrence in rock franchises such as DIG-ROCK, ENLIGHTRIBE, and Dear Vocalist but, back in 2015, was still a thing that only the Tsukipro franchise was doing.

The project counted with 2 bands representing different facets and sound within visual-kei rock: MEDICODE and DRINK ME.

A quick look at visual-kei: what is it?

More than a music genre, visual-kei is a movement.

And that’s through that prism that you should first tackle the rich history of visual-kei and how it came to influence rock music – in the case of FlyME project – in the most varied ways.

A note that I am not diving into detail on what visual-kei is. These are the basics for you to understand the appeal of the movement and how it influences FlyME Project.

Visual-kei is a fashion movement with deep roots in 70s glam rock, goth, punk and traditional Japanese aesthetics. It had a massive popularity boom in the 80s in Japan.

As a result, visual-kei artists can range from wearing spandex tights like glam rock stars, dresses from the Victorian-era or XVII century France inspired clothing, pitch black simple jeans and t-shirt, yukatas or other traditional Japanese attire, etc.

This is a fashion movement that is not really locked to a specific style and you’ll see that a bit of that across FlyME Project’s bands.

Makeup is an extremely important part of visual-kei. Alongside the clothing, it helps give the fashion movement an androgynous look. Same thing with the eccentric hairstyles and colors.

Given that visual-kei is a fashion movement that happens to be tied to music, you can’t – and shouldn’t – say that “this band sounds like visual-kei”.

There’s no “visual-kei sound”.

Visual-kei is the visual style, not the music performed. This is usually the most common mistake people make when labeling Japanese rock bands.

Yes, there are elements that are common to certain music genres that have visual-kei as its aesthetic.

Orchestral, heavily dramatic rock is often associated to visual-kei (for example Versailles or Matenrou Opera).

Theatricality in the performances tends to be a common denominator for some of the heavier acts within visual-kei rock. But if you pay closer attention, so was it for glam artists in the 70s. Theatricality was their bread and butter.

That’s why you can’t say that an artist that has these elements is visual-kei, as these are elements lent from other music genres.

Also, Visual-kei is not exclusive to rock acts.

You have visual-kei bands that range from extreme metal, classical to kawaii (T.N: Cute) pop and even EDM. Once again, this is a fashion movement that can be picked up by any artist performing any music genre.

At the same time, you also have bands exploring those music genres that are not considered visual-kei, as their aesthetic is pretty much what you’d call “standard”.

There’s a rich story behind the importance of visual-kei in the music scene in Japan and that starts with iconic bands such as BUCK-TICK, X Japan and LUNA SEA.

If you do want to better understand the origins of visual-kei, I’d thoroughly recommend you to check those bands, their music, path in the music industry and how they’ve all influenced the visual-kei rock bands that are now active in the industry in Japan.

By now you’re starting to understand that visual-kei may have some common elements in the sound but ultimately what makes an artist “visual-kei” is the sum of sound, lyrics and visuals.

The aesthetic as a whole.

Common elements in visual-kei rock

This is not exhaustive and, if you read everything in this article up until now, you’ve noticed that even these elements are not set in stone as “gender defining”.

With that in mind, please take the elements I’ll be listing next with a grain of salt. Some may be common, others not. Some may even be specific to a band/artist.

Visual-kei is that free in what is fair game or not in the sound and visuals that make a band/artist, to the point that there are really extreme subgenres in rock that have visual-kei in the aesthetics (eroguro-kei is a good example of that).

Theatricality

So, when you listen to visual-kei rock you’ll notice, first of all, that there is theatricality.

Some artists are more upfront about it – for example Kamijo – others a bit more subtle – the GazettE – but theatricality is what drives their performances forward and what helps enriching their storytelling.

It can range from the dramatic way in which a singer performs, to the progressions in the instrumental, solos, pitch vocals, screamo or the soundscape/atmosphere created for the songs.

On a live setting it goes from the clothing, to the makeup, hairstyles, to acting stories on stage and even performing shocking acts to add drama and get a reaction of the public.

In FlyME Project, MEDICODE and DRINK ME have some theatricality in their performances, with MEDICODE nudging past DRINK ME for the mix of sound + performances that are impactful and filled with a theatrical touch.

Dark lyrics covering sensitive topics

Then you have the dark, introspective lyrics tackling delicate themes.

This is not a feature you’d call “common” but established bands like Dir En Grey and the GazettE are often found tackling those.

Death – not only dark and grim fatalistic approach but also the “romantic” way of “if we can’t be together then, let’s die together” -, religion, abuse and depression are themes that are approached with some frequency.

In FlyME Project, MEDICODE have the darker, dramatic approach to life and unchanging love in their lyrics. DRINK ME are on the upbeat, brighter side, with their lyrics not tackling delicate themes.

Makeup

I won’t be talking about the clothing because let’s face it, there are all kinds of styles blended in the movement thus, let’s talk about a bit about the makeup as an element that is consistent across all visual-kei bands.

This is an obvious visual aspect of “visual-kei”.

Sometimes the bands/artists don’t go all out in the clothing side of the movement but are heavy on the makeup and have one or more additional elements to them that classify them as “visual-kei”.

Good examples of that include lynch. or Dir En Grey (not their old-school look).

In FlyME Project, both MEDICODE and DRINK ME are all about the makeup.

FlyME-Project
DRINK ME and MEDICODE rocking that makeup

The characters are seen wearing flashy, neon makeup or, in the opposite side of the spectrum, heavy, dark makeup.

Saito in 2015 for MEDICODE's photoshoot
Soma Saito in 2015 for MEDICODE’s photoshoot

In a rare promotional occasion for a magazine in 2015, MEDICODE’s frontman, Soma Saito, went for the look sporting heavy eye shadow, eyeliner, and dark nail polish, completing his look as MEDICODE’s Qumoli.

Faux baritone singing style

Another element that is common is: the faux baritone singing style.

This is an element that’s more common than you’d think in visual-kei rock.

Singers like Kamijo and Gackt are known for performing in a faux baritone style which, in simple terms, consists on singing in a lower tone than their normal one, thus tapping into a vocal range that they don’t have naturally.

This technique enables singers with a tenor singing range – once again Gackt and Kamijo – to pass as baritones, having a somber, darker and deeper color to their singing that fits better with visual-kei’s theatricality.

In the FlyME Project franchise, MEDICODE’s Soma Saito is the one that has embraced the tricky singing style citing in an interview for Pash+ in 2017 that it “took me 5 – 7 hours (of recording attempts) to nail the performance for “ROSA” (song in MEDICODE’s 2nd single “GABBY”)”.

Saito, a tenor, tackled and ended up pulling off the well-known faux baritone technique and thus, he was unrecognizable in “ROSA”.

Once again, these elements don’t define the genre but may help you get an idea of what to expect in visual-kei rock music.

The main cast: when betting on “unknown” voice talents pays off

Looking at the cast, right now you’ll be saying “But these seiyuu are all popular!”.

You’re right, most turned into incredibly popular seiyuu in the past half a decade, others are on route to be bona fide stars in this industry, while others are already branching out to other fields within the entertainment industry.

But let’s go back to 2015…

No one knew about some of the names in this cast and many were still on the fence about the qualities that these members could or couldn’t have by then.

After all, back in 2015, there were very few 2D music projects out there.

Utapri was the most popular (and it is arguable if the project is, indeed, a 2D music-focused one), Tsukiuta and Pythagoras Production were also there.

2015 would end up being the year that welcomed TSUKIPRO, IDOLiSH7, Ensemble Stars!!, B-PROJECT, Dear Vocalist and many other high profile 2D music projects. The boom, if you will.

Most projects that year were betting on a mix of popular, established seiyuu and newcomers, especially those that were starting to be on the radar of media and fans.

And within that boom, the FlyME Project franchise was launched, bringing with it a cast of mostly unexperienced – apparently – singers as the frontmen for both bands.

EXIT TUNES built the bands around 2 extremely talented and versatile singers – with a similar path and skillset – that were starting to make heads turn in the seiyuu industry despite being relatively “unknown” for fans of anime.

The rest of the cast doesn’t participate in the music portion of the CDs but if you check the names, you’ll quickly notice that there is a lot of talent there for the drama sections in MEDICODE and DRINK ME’s CDs.

Let’s cover the members of each band.

The Bands: MEDICODE and DRINK ME

MEDICODE

MEDICODE

MEDICODE are a visual-kei rock band with deep influences of metal, punk-rock, hard rock, and screamo. Their sound is fast-paced, the guitars are aggressive and the vocals are intense while tackling dark, introspective lyrics.

You could say that their sound is a mix of lynch., NIGHTMARE, the gazettE and DIAURA.

The frontman for MEDICODE – Qumoli – is voiced by none other than the multi-talented seiyuu and singer-songwriter – that, at time of the casting was still a rising star in the seiyuu industry – Soma Saito.

Qumoli is a character on the quiet side, not showing much emotion outside of when he is singing in which he goes for an impressive, all-out emotional showcase.

He is the former frontman for DRINK ME, having left the band before debut to create the dark and dramatic MEDICODE.

This kind of role is rare in Saito’s repertoire (the quiet yet extremely emotional character) and it was certainly a refreshing take on characters in 2D music projects, in a way channeling the aloofness or rather quiet and introspective vibe that most visual-kei rock frontmen have when they are not singing.

Saito was, at the time he was cast in this project, an unknown when it came to singing.

His singing tone was still rather high and young, not yet packing the punch he’s now able to deliver. Yet he rose to the challenge and impressed for each MEDICODE CD released to date.

The rest of the band only participates in the drama portions in each CD.

Yuichiro Umehara voices Semimaru, MEDICODE’s calm-and-collected guitarist with quite the funny personality. This is a role really on brand with what Umehara is best known for voicing. Semimaru adds a grounded element to MEDICODE.

Takuya Eguchi voices Hachiya, MEDICODE’s leader and bassist as well as resident “onee” character. He is always following Qumoli around, trying to make him do or react to something.

Eguchi’s acting as Hachiya makes the character come across as playful, dorky yet, at the same time reliable and caring.

Yoshitaka Yamaya voices Tento, the band’s DJ and resident dark angel. A bit on the bratty side, Tento is intense and gets on the nerves of the calm Qumoli.

DRINK ME

DRINK ME

DRINK ME are an oshare-kei rock band that focuses on electronic-rock and pop-punk music.

Their music is more happy sounding, the lyrics lighter and happier and their visuals although with a lot of black in the mix, have pink accents and the hair colors are bright and the makeup a bit lighter on the eyeliner and dark shadows.

You could say that their sound is a mix of Alice Nine (A9), SuG and AN CAFE.

Daiki Yamashita is the voice of DRINK ME’s frontman, Rentarou.

Rantarou - Yamashita

Rentarou has big shoes to fill as he joined DRINK ME to replace Qumoli – that left the band to venture towards darker visual-kei rock with MEDICODE – and he certainly brings a completely different dynamic for the band.

Yamashita made Rentarou stand out for his energy and excitement for music. The character is friendly with the band’s members as well as MEDICODE’s members. He often mocks Hachiya for his “onee” quirks.

This role wasn’t that different to those that Yamashita had been voicing prior to it. Youngsters overflowing with energy and quite intense are common in his repertoire, thus this role was not only perfect for him in the singing but also acting sides.

The rest of the band only participates in the drama portions in each CD.

Uzushio - Masuda

Toshiki Masuda voices Uzushio, DRINK ME’s leader and guitarist. Eccentric and always on the move.

Yunagi - Hosoya

Yoshimasa Hosoya voices Yunagi, DRINK ME’s aloof bassist. He’s always focused on music, leaving most of the members talking to themselves whenever they approach him.

Den - kaji

And Yuki Kaji voices Den, DRINK ME’s drummer and the resident father figure within the band, responsible for keeping everyone in check and updated on each other’s whereabouts.

The frontmen trailing the visual-kei genre: two of the best singers among male seiyuu

EXIT TUNES really nailed the lineups for MEDICODE and DRINK ME.

They saw in Soma Saito and Daiki Yamashita the versatility, theatricality, and quality both had – and still have, however, vastly improved since then – and didn’t care much if they were known or not at that time.

It was a bold bet, going all-in on 2 seiyuu that had been recently awarded Best Rookie awards at the Seiyuu Awards and didn’t have much – or any – experience performing 2D music at that time.

Soma Saito
Soma Saito

Soma Saito had a lot of momentum going on with him in 2015, after winning the award of Best Rookie Seiyuu at that year’s Seiyuu Awards for his work in Akame ga Kill! and Terror in Resonance.

A note that, between 2012 and 2014, Saito was seriously pondering leaving the seiyuu industry and thus went on hiatus only returning to the industry in late 2014.

This was a sort of phoenix rising from the ashes kind of story. He made his return to the seiyuu industry, won the Best Rookie Seiyuu award in 2015, and all of a sudden, all eyes and ears were on him and it didn’t take long until he started to be cast in 2D music projects.

As a matter of fact, in 2015, he joined:

  • FlyME Project (MEDICODE),
  • TSUKIPRO (SolidS),
  • Yumeiro Cast (Genesis),
  • IDOLiSH7 (TRIGGER),
  • Dear Vocalist (Kagaribi’s Judah),
  • I-CHU (Tenjyou Tenge),
  • Ensemble Stars!! (2wink).

Quite the impressive feat as no one outside of the seiyuu industry – not even fans – really knew about his singing skills up until then.

As the voice of Qumoli, Saito took upon himself the challenge of performing visual-kei rock with screamo, rolled “Rs” while singing in a lower tone and, at times, in faux baritone register.

And yes, he’s a tenor.

He does everything on the vocal end, even working alongside DIAURA’s Kei in order to better understand how to pull off faux baritone and sound genuine in his delivery, something that Kei, in an interview for Pash+ in 2017, commended, being quite impressed with Saito’s want to sound like the real deal visual-kei rock frontman.

Soma Saito
Soma Saito @ We are Bloom live tour (2021)

Years have passed and Saito is now a bona fide star among seiyuu and one of the most sought-after talents for 2D music projects.

Soma Saito is renowned for his emotional range, wide vocal range, being a vocal chameleon as an artist (solo artist) / singer (for 2D music projects), and versatility as a voice actor, as well as for his outstanding songwriting skills.

Daiki Yamashita
Daiki Yamashita

Just like Saito, Daiki Yamashita was a rising star in the seiyuu industry in 2015.

He won the Best Rookie Seiyuu Award at the Seiyuu Awards in 2014 and it was safe to say that the seiyuu industry had its eyes and ears on him as well.

He was also cast in several 2D music projects in that same year, overlapping with Saito in some franchises (and, at times, being part of the same groups):

  • FlyME Project (DRINK ME),
  • Yumeiro Cast (Genesis),
  • Tsukipro (Growth),
  • Ensemble Stars!! (Knights).

Additionally, he joined the Utapri franchise (HEAVENS).

Yamashita is a classically trained singer, having majored in Music from Muse Academy of Music in Japan.

He’s a natural tenor, known for having his wide vocal range – if you haven’t had the pleasure of listening to him singing, his higher notes are crystal clear and filled with emotion – and absolute control over his singing.

He’s an outstanding singer that pushes the boundaries of his skills time and time again. Whatever group he joins in, immediately benefits from having him in the dynamic, being as good a support to other singers as he is a lead singer, stealing the spotlight for himself.

As Rentarou, he goes for powerful performances brimming with life. The intensity and emotional range of his performances stand out right off the bat. With DRINK ME’s music being on the alternative rock side, the performances he pulls off are not excessively technical to the point of having to learn a completely different singing style.

Instead, those are more intense than usual, given the power and energy needed for DRINK ME’s brand of visual-kei rock.

Daiki Yamashita
Daiki Yamashita’s promotional look for solo debut with “hear me?” (2021)

Years have, indeed, passed, and Daiki Yamashita is not only a popular seiyuu but he’s also going to make his solo debut in June 2021.

This is an important step that will put his singing skills in the spotlight outside of 2D music projects and, at the same time, positively improve his skills to later employ those improvements to 2D music projects’ music.

The bands behind the authentic visual-kei rock sound in FlyME Project

Authenticity is something that will instantly stand out in the music by MEDICODE and DRINK ME.

It is the real thing.

Visual-kei rock bands are usually shrouded in mystery.

It’s not common for members of visual-kei rock bands to collaborate with 2D music projects – much less in 2015 when 2D projects were starting to be a thing – however, for Pony Canyon and EXIT TUNES, it was essential for artists active in the visual-kei scene to help giving life and authenticity to the music in the FlyME Project franchise.

And they sure managed to pull that off, bringing awesome members from bands such as LM.C (Aiji – guitar), NIGHTMARE (Sakito – guitar), DIAURA (Kei – guitar), Matenrou Opera (Ayame – keys), and A9 (Hiroto – guitar).

MEDICODE have a heavier and pitch-black sound, drawing inspiration from metal, hardrock, punk-rock, and screamo thus, their music has the genius touch of LM.C’sAiji, NIGHTMARE’s Sakito, and DIAURA’s Kei.

DRINK ME have a more alternative rock approach to their music and thus, Alice Nine (A9)’s Hiroto and Matenrou Opera’s Ayame took the reins and created music with that feel yet still having the drama and tension that is characteristically found in visual-kei music.

FlyME Project’s music: a quick analysis

MEDICODE and DRINK ME’s music are two sides of the same visual-kei coin however, fundamentally different in the themes explored, sound, and vocal performances. 

MEDICODE

MEDICODE is the heavier outfit in this project, making quite an impact with their self-titled debut CD “MEDICODE“.

MEDICODE Carma
MEDICODE’s self-titled CD (2015)

Everything about the sound in “MEDICODE” is aggressive and dark. Back then people were split between those asking “Who the hell is Soma Saito?” and “What is this? I want more!“.

The lyrics are dramatic at all times, the performances are theatrical and overflowing with emotion, the instrumentals are incisive, hard-hitting, and fast-paced. There’s a sense of urgency and a looming sensation of emptiness going in the group’s music.

CARMA” is a banger from start to finish. Fast-paced, aggressive and insanely challenging on the vocal end, it shines as the best song in this CD.

HOLLOW” is darker in tone but softer in its approach to rock. The instrumental booming in the back of Soma Saito’s powerful vocals, at times, trading places with him for the spotlight, is such a unique touch.

MEDICODE "GABBY"

The band’s 2nd CD “GABBY” was a massive departure from that sound, as DIAURA’s Kei took over on the composition team.

As a result, it was put emphasis on the songs in the CD sounding dramatic and grandiose without all the apparatus of having orchestral instrumentalization.

The vocal performances required for this CD were more demanding than the – already demanding – performances in “MEDICODE”.

While for “GABBY” (the song) Saito was one and the same with vibrato, delivering a dramatic performance that demanded him to tap into both his lower and higher registers, in “ROSA”, he was completely unrecognizable.

He challenged a much lower, rougher, and more aggressive register, fitting with the song’s longing and dramatic soundscape, while perfectly channeling the whole visual-kei frontman vibe for this performance.

This CD features the most challenging collection of songs Soma Saito has ever tackled.

I dare say that it is the most challenging collection of songs that any male seiyuu has ever tackled.

You don’t have the screamo and Kansai’s trademark rolled Rs, something that was common on the band’s first CD.

“ROSA” preview, the song that showcased an unrecognizable Soma Saito on vocals.

GABBY” (the CD) managed to keep everything interesting by pushing Saito’s singing to a whole different level. In return, you will find what is quite possibly one of the most unusual and impressive performances within all 2D music projects in the past decade.

DRINK ME

DRINK ME pale a bit in comparison with MEDICODE when it comes to the intensity of their sound however, it ends up working in their favor.

Their music is uptempo and upbeat, with an interesting blend of rock and electronica going on at its core.

DRINK ME self-titled CD (2015)
DRINK ME self-titled CD (2015)

The band made their debut in 2015 with the self-titled album “DRINK ME“.

わくドキ☆ワンダーランド (Wakudoki ☆ Wonderland) put on the spotlight happy-go-lucky synths with simple, splashy beat, a punchy bassline and minimalistic guitar work.

The spotlight is put on the synths, that drive the song forward and add it a happy, upbeat vibe that is heavily contrasting with MEDICODE’s pitch-black rock.

Daiki Yamashita did have to tap into his higher register to pull off Rentaro’s voice in this song, giving the performance a youthful touch.

メロンソーダ急上昇↑↑↑ (Melon Soda Kyujoshoo ↑↑↑) kicked off with a cute, minimalistic music box melody and quickly evolved into an explosion of color. The verses were simple yet the bassline was massive for this track. As the song progressed, drums got increasingly intense, with the splashy touch of those painting the playful soundscape of this song.

For this song however, Daiki Yamashita wasn’t performing in similar tone to the leading track. His key was slightly lower – still high, but noticeable lower in comparison -, settling in a comfortable register for Yamashita to pull off his performance.

So, as you can tell, DRINK ME’s debut CD was pretty much a textbook happy-go-lucky oshare-kei release. Rock was a thing although not an important one as synths took center stage.

DRINK ME The New World

After a 2 year hiatus, DRINK ME made their comeback with “The New World“. The band changed their sound and visuals for this CD, with Alice Nine’s Hiroto taking over the composition for DRINK ME.

And much changed about their sound. Forget the oshare-kei happy-go-lucky feel you got from their self-titled debut CD.

In “The New World“, the band was all about their pop-punk sound and low dramatic vocals.

The title track “The New World” brought to the spotlight shredding guitar riffs, fast-paced punk-rock-inspired drums, and thunderous basslines. Synths took the backseat for this song, a big departure from DRINK ME’s original sound, however, those still had their spotlight in the chorus, serving as interesting accents to this rock tune.

On the vocal end, Yamashita changed completely his singing style. Rentarou stopped having a higher-toned singing style, going the opposite way, lowering the singing tone, now sounding quite dramatic and, in a way, more serious.

EAT EAT EAT” brought a dirty, slow-paced guitar intro, quickly shifting its tone for the increasingly speedy verses. Guitars take center stage for this song, with the bassy drums and punchy bassline painting the background as Daiki Yamashita further changed his singing style.

For this song he’s trailing faux baritone territory, sounding pretty deep – for his usual singing range – while putting emphasis on sounding edgy throughout.

As you can tell, the music in the FlyME Project franchise is insanely good and both bands have their own, defined identities.

If you like your rock music with shredding guitars all around, fast-paced and highly technical guitar solos, explosive basslines and drums that lit the room on fire, or even your rock music mixed with electronica, then MEDICODE and DRINK ME’s music is just what you’re looking for.

PONY CANYON/EXIT TUNES dropping the ball on FlyME Project

2015 was a year in which everywhere you looked, there was a new, shiny idol project with dozens of characters to follow.

Most fans of 2D projects tend to flock to idol music so… as the only rock music project active at that time, FlyME Project was at a disadvantage.

EXIT TUNES would have to focus a lot on promoting it to overcome the noise coming from 2D idol projects with a bigger budget and what did EXIT TUNES did?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Despite enlisting “real” visual-kei bands and members of those bands to help to flesh out the songs to be “believable” and to teach the voice actors on how to perform the music genre befitting of their bands’ sound, EXIT TUNES didn’t make an effort to put the project in the spotlight.

And like that, FlyME project counts with 2 CDs released for each band, with both selling poorly and then… EXIT TUNES went missing in action on the project’s official Twitter account in 2018 something that, for fans of the franchise, doesn’t come as good news for the project’s future.

Why should you check FlyME Project and its bands? What is so unique about it? Will casual rock or pop fans enjoy it?

This is a unique project.

A project that made it cool for seiyuu and especially 2D music projects to embrace the richness and versatility of visual-kei rock music.

Although highly underrated, FlyME Project would end up opening the doors completely to visual-kei to be a thing for 2D rock projects. OSIRIS (Band Yarouze!) and Fantôme Iris (ARGONAVIS from BanG Dream) now carry the visual-kei torch, proudly holding it while making an impact with their unique sound and visuals.

ENLIGHTRIBE’s ESMERALDA draws a lot of inspiration from visual-kei rock although they aren’t necessarily what you’d categorize as a visual-kei rock band.

It appears that Visual Prison, a visual-kei-centric 2D music project launched in 2021 – and getting an anime adaptation later in the year – will try to put the spotlight on the movement as well as its music.

Although not exploring visual-kei rock, there are few rock franchises with a lot of flair currently active:

  • Dear Vocalist (hard rock, punk-rock, pop-rock, acoustic, etc.),
  • DIG-ROCK (grunge-rock, groove metal, powerpop),
  • ARGONAVIS from BanG Dream (pop-rock, hardcore, punk-rock),
  • ENLIGHTRIBE (rock, hard-rock, visual-kei),
  • VAZZROCK (electro-rock, alternative rock, pop-rock),
  • DYNAMIC CHORD (electro-rock, hard rock, punk-rock, emo-rock).

While it seems that every fan of 2D music only cares about idol groups and rap crews, there’s a substantial part of those fans that actually crave rock music, many wishing visual-kei and metal were more “common” among 2D music projects or just seiyuu music in general.

FlyME Project has an awesome lineup, a star-studded producing team, exciting and powerful music. The bad timing – launching in the same year as 3 other idol-centric 2D music projects – and the subsequent lack of effort by the marketing team at EXIT TUNES ultimately made it so that today very few people actually know about this project.

What drew me into this project back in 2015 – and I believe many other people – was the fact that there was no other 2D project like it (and still there isn’t). Visual-kei music had never been welcomed by a 2D music project like how FlyME Project did.

It is their greeting card. Not a feature to add variety to a project like in Band Yarouze! or ARGONAVIS from BanG Dream (the focus in both franchises is “rock” in general not the visual-kei side of rock).

FlyME Project is all about visual-kei and the different music subgenres connected to it.

Years have passed and, since then, no other project has dared go all-out with visual-kei music.

Although not in the spotlight and while experiencing a weird hiatus, there’s still a place reserved for FlyME Project should the project make a big return.

And that’s because no other 2D project has dared take that seat for itself. Those are some big shoes to fill in. It would be a challenge to pull off something as impressive and authentic as this franchise managed to in the 2 CDs released by each band.

FlyME Project’s selling point is its authentic visual-kei rock sound and performances.

More than a matter of whether casual rock or pop fans will enjoy it, it’s more a matter of how open you are to listening to new music genres and different singing styles regardless of what is trendy or not.

If you’re the type of music listener that loves to check all kinds of music, checking FlyME Project’s bands will be an interesting exercise. It helps if you’re prone to liking rock music, as you’ll already arrive at this project knowing what to expect, even if you’re unfamiliar with the theatricality of visual-kei rock in general.

If you’re the type of person that loves upbeat music and EDM/pop, this may end up not going in the same direction. The visual-kei rock music in this project is not the upbeat, peppy kind with catchy lyrics – DRINK ME flirt with it but never end up being all-out peppy or catchy – so it may prove to be a different experience or even one you may not fully enjoy at first.

Regardless of your approach to rock music and especially visual-kei, I’d love it if you took the time to check this franchise out.

In conclusion, FlyME Project is a hidden gem among 2D music projects.

Visual-kei takes center stage through the craftsmanship of renowned visual-kei artists and is breathed life through the outstanding performances by Soma Saito and Daiki Yamashita.

If you’re a fan of rock with substance, lyrics with depth – depending on the band within this project -, and unusual – albeit impressive – performances by male seiyuu as visual-kei frontmen, FlyME Project is definitely a project you should check out.

Join me in trying to revive the project by sharing this article with your connections. Help rekindle the light for this awesome visual-kei rock project!

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for your articles, they are very interesting! I like the way you write reviews about various songs, makes me wanna check them out. While i’m not a big fan of rock music(i’m more of a fan of electronic/pop music), your reviews made me slightly more interested in this genre(well, at least the more soft-ish subgenres). Are you planning on making a similar articles for franchises of other genres(hiphop or edm for example)? And thanks again for good read 😀

    • EV, thank you so much for your feedback! Really happy that you find the articles interesting and that my reviews, in a way, make you want to check new music out (it means I’m doing something right! ).

      DRINK ME – at least their self-titled CD – will fit well with your music tastes, that’s for sure!

      To answer your question: If the response to the articles released this year for this “Guide to 2D rock music franchise” feature is positive, I want to start covering other franchises with different music genres.
      I’d love to dive into those obscure idol franchises few people know about, as well as the really big ones that everyone loves. There are too many awesome 2D projects to cover!

      If you don’t mind me asking, which 2D music projects would you love to know more about in an article like this (when and if I start covering other music genres)?

      Thanks for the kind comment!

  2. Thanks, i’ll definitely check DRINK ME’s discography! And i’ll be glad to find out about new series. So far i didn’t check out many of male seiyuu projects, as i mostly was into idol-based projects the last few years(my main interest being I-Chu, but i also listen to songs from Ensemble Stars, Imas SideM, A3, BanYaro, Argonavis/Bang Dream and WITH(an idol boygroup from PriPara franchise)). While reading your reviews, i got interested in HypMic, also Paradox Live and Handed Anthem seem like something suitable for my taste. I would like to know more about those series/groups what make EDM-ish and danceable music(ex. 2wink and Eden from Enstars, Twinkle Bell from I-Chu, etc.). It would be exciting to find the songs exploring the genres i generally enjoy(Tropical EDM, house, synthpop and synthwave, r’n’b, actually many of them :’D). So i’m certainly looking forward to see similar articles about the dance-based genres. Thank you again for the reply and attention, your website is amazing!

    • Ev, thank you so much for the suggestions! With that variety in projects and music genres, I got a good idea of what I can explore next!

      As for Paradox Live, if you enjoy hip-hop music and are curious about its subgenres (lo-fi, afrobeat, electro-hip-hop, and trap), this is the franchise for you. The teams in this franchise release music with a completely different sound and vibe than that in HypMic. This means that you got around 40 hip-hop tracks to have on rotation, being a good complement to Hypmic’s massive repertoire!

      HANDEAD ANTHEM is clearly the project that you’ll love! Their sound is made for the dancefloor and each group has its identity, something that makes it worth checking all music in the franchise.
      They recently added 2 new groups to the franchise.

      Please do look forward to it! In the meantime, I hope you continue to enjoy the content on the website 😀

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