Check out J-Generation′s best J-Pop and J-Rock album/single jackets of 2013, chosen by contributors David Cirone, Nhu Nguyen, and Jen Wang.
The GazettE – BEAUTIFUL DEFORMITY
Dave: No album package made as big a stir as the awesomely bold (and crazy expensive) limited-edition release of BEAUTIFUL DEFORMITY. 3D packaging + DVD + 30 illustrated cards made this a must-have for The GazettE fans worldwide. Could any other JRock band pull this off?
Miyavi – Miyavi
Dave: Intentionally Jesus-like, Miyavi’s suspended pose adds drama to this album of EDM-meets-slap guitar.
T.M.Revolution – UNDER:COVER II
Jen: I did a double take when I saw T.M.Revolution channeling Madonna and Pink. He pulls off the contrasting looks so well that I immediately knew the inspiration but didn’t realize it was him.
Soil & “PIMP” Session and Shiina Ringo – The Assassin’s Assassin
Nhu: It looks like a movie poster for a new gangster film– I’d watch it in a heartbeat.
URBANGARDE – Koi to Kakumei to URBANGARDE
Dave: URBANGARDE’s first “Best” album balances Yokotan’s beauty and the colorful/chaotic “trauma techno pop” that surrounds her in performance.
Matenrou Opera – Kassai to Gekijou no Gloria
Nhu: This cover has a fleeting dream quality to it — I hear music, a slight sand storm kicks up, and Matenrou Opera appears.
D – Rosenstrauss
Jen” The prevalence of white really gives Asagi’s vampire an angelic quality, and it makes the tears of blood stand out even more. You can’t help but admire and ache for this tormented creature.
Yousei Teikoku – PAX VESANIA
Dave: Decadent and playful, the ink-soaked tones of PAX VESANIA’s jacket art clue you in to vocalist Yui Itsuki’s dark inner thoughts.
SEKAI NO OWARI – RPG
Nhu: The use of light is playfully devilish!
The Hiatus – Horse Riding
Jen: Someone in the band must be an art history buff because this looks like a work by Hieronymou Bosch. It’s provocative, chaotic, and intellectual.
BULL ZEICHEN 88 – Lovely
Nhu: What “lovely” placement of hearts there!
Shakalabbits – Rabbits, Rabbits, All the way
Nhu: Rabbits for dinner or rabbit cake served by rabbits? I’ll take the cake!
Ecosystem – Ushiro no Shomen, Dilemma
Nhu: The peculiar sight of an owl covering the eyes of a pink haired girl makes me wonder what it doesn’t want her to see.
Alice Nine – Daybreak
Jen: This is proof that the visual aspect of visual kei isn’t all about the hair. This portrait of Shou looks like it could belong in a modern art museum.
Hayato Kishimoto – Naked
Jen: Illustrated by the mangaka of GTO, this cover reveals what’s really inside a musician.
The Back Horn – Battle Ima
Nhu: Flowers tend to stand still and look pretty, but these flowers explode in beauty.
Radwimps – Go gatsu no Hae / Last Virgin
Nhu: This drawing of the mouth bleeding onto the body is a little disturbing, but engrossing.
Sasaki Sayaka – Break your world
Jen: I love the mix of traditional Japanese clothing with rocker fashion. Sasaki’s pose and smile ooze confidence, and that is sexy.
Nogizaka46 – Girls Rule
Dave: Mai Shiraishi goes bravely eyes-wide-open into a Tokyo pool for a (literally) unblinking look of youthful innocence and girl-power potential.
EXILE PRIDE – Konna Sekai wo Aisurutame
Dave: This superhero-inspired lineup makes EXILE PRIDE look like they could take flight at any second.
Momoiro Clover Z – 5th Dimension
Nhu: Illuminati!? Nope! It’s just Momoiro Clover Z… with a full face, baby pink, spiked mask.
BENI – Red
Dave: BENi is all class (when isn’t she?) with this back-lit, elevated pose.
BiS (Brand New Idol Society) – BiSimulation
Dave: BiS continues their mission to beat the image of “idol’ to a pulp. There’s enough tinge of menace in their eyes to make me think they’d really use those nail-spiked bats to punish any rivals who got too “kawaii” for their own good.
Jin Akanishi – Hey What’s Up
Jen: What is up with the multiple hats and straws? We may never know, but it’s nice to see Jin break out of his polished boyband look for something more kooky.
FUDANJUKU – Shita Wo Muite Kaero
Dave: The girls of FUDANJUKU have found the perfect balance of host-boy charm, sexy style, and high-energy humor that has their Tokyo concerts packed every time.
JASMINE – Hero
Dave: JASMINE goes full-out Clockwork Orange for her latest release. I get the feeling Malcolm McDowell would’ve reformed his ways with a bit more Jasmine mixed into his therapy.
Koda Kumi – Summer Trip
Dave: Shot in the freezing winter winds of Malibu Beach, Koda Kumi’s pregnancy-comeback EP jacket just made me say “Goddamn!” Half the world joined in with me.
Kana Nishino – Love Collection – pink
Nhu: This cover could double as a Marc Jacobs perfume ad. Become a lovely, simple, clean, bright, and expensive woman with just one spray!
Perfume – Love The World
Jen: This cover mixes pointilism with LED lights to create a futuristic silhouette of the ladies of Perfume. This is right up their alley.
The Gospellers – Hamo Sodo
Nhu: That dressing room is simply too small, or this group is too big! Either way, they throw caution to the wind, or rather, clothes.
Yuki Koyanagi – One in a million / return to you
Nhu: I am enamored with this cover as the man and woman find love despite a universe (there are planets growing from the tree branches) that is spinning around them.
Yuzu – Tomo Tabidachi no Toki
Nhu: The winding road the two children walk on continues onto the heavens, showing that the sky does not have to be the limit.