First Impressions: For the past few years, I have been an ardent fan of the Japanese rock musician Hyde, vocalist of the bands L’Arc~en~Ciel and VAMPS. The Hyde is his autobiography, his way of removing the veil of secrecy from his life in his tell-all autobiography. Even though I couldn’t read it in its original language, I decided to order a copy anyway and find unofficial English and Spanish translations online.
Hideto Takarai known as Hyde, is one of Japan’s most famous singers. Born in Wakayama in 1969, in the early nineties Hyde rose to fame as the vocalist of the band L’Arc~en~Ciel. L’Arc~en~Ciel continues to be one of Japan’s most famous bands, garnering a worldwide fanbase. In 2012, L’Arc~en~Ciel was the first Japanese band to headline Madison Square Garden in New York. This unique autobiography, The Hyde, explores Hyde’s life from A-Z, including his childhood memories, the indie days of L’Arc~en~Ciel, and his evolution as a person and artist.
About the Book
Title: The Hyde
Author: Hideto Takarai (寶井 秀人)
Year Published: 2012
Original language: Japanese (no official English translations available as of 2017)
Genres: Non-fiction, Autobiography, Japan, Japanese rock, Music
From what I read, this book was supposed to expose ground-breaking secrets that Hyde himself had kept hidden for all these years. I didn’t find that the book revealed any secrets that I didn’t already know. It might be because I ended up reading translations of this book a few years after the initial publication of The Hyde. By the time I read The Hyde, I had already known that his real name is Hideto Takarai (寶井 秀人), and that he was born in Wakayama, Japan. Even though I didn’t learn any juicy new secrets about Hyde, I still enjoyed reading his autobiography.
As a general rule, I usually do not read celebrities autobiographies. Whenever I attempt to read one (if I do), they usually sound like a long-winded sappy motivational speech. In other words, I find them insincere and dull. The Hyde is not like that at all. Hyde relates his childhood memories, philosophies, and interests as if he were making conversation with an invisible reader. He doesn’t try to transform himself into a superhuman being who overcame all obstacles by sticking to a catchy mantra. He may have bragged a little about his artistic talents (though honestly, he has reason to brag), but otherwise, he is humble man with a creative mind.
Instead of talking about himself, he tended to talk more about his views on certain things. Although this is his autobiography, he never really discussed important things about his personality. The most information that I received about Hyde is in the “Childhood” chapter. In the chapters about his band L’Arc~en~Ciel, he doesn’t really fully provide his opinion on the band or his fellow band members. Again, I found this very disappointing. I understand that he still wants to maintain a level of privacy. However, it defeats the purpose of writing a tell-all autobiography. For instance, in the chapter “Family,” he spends two pages explaining why he refuses to discuss his family. His intentions are indeed noble, especially for someone who is constantly in the spotlight. If there is one thing that I admire about this elusive person, it is his integrity and devotion to protect the people he cares for.
Long after reading translations of The Hyde by devoted fans in both English and Spanish, I decided to buy the book to have as a keepsake. Although the book is written entirely in Japanese, I found that the amount of illustrations and photographs placed in the book made it interesting to flip through. I really enjoyed looking at the self portraits which Hyde created years before. Each of Hyde’s self portraits are very thought provoking and include poems wrapped into the strange images. Although these self portraits were released long before the publication of his autobiography, I believe that they capture the essence of Hyde’s personae as a rock musician. They also appear to be a reflection of how Hyde sees himself as an artist, as if he were two separate entities. Most of the images have poems, sentences, or random words embedded into these surrealistic pictures.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Japanese rock music, L’Arc~en~Ciel, VAMPS, and of course, Hyde.
Final rating: B
Until next time,