Check out J-Generation′s best J-Pop and J-Rock album/single jackets of 2015, chosen by David Cirone, Jen Wang, Nhu Nguyen, and Greg Hignight.
Matsushita – Matsushita ga Nijigen ni Koisuru 15 no Riyu
David: Wildly colorful with the promise of light-hearted adventure, Matsushita’s candy-colored artwork sets you up for an electro-pop treat.
Trustrick – Trust
Nhu: The duo are floating in space above the sun. Taking a closer look, you can see the galaxy is made up of layers of different types of flowers placed in a gradient pattern.
Capsule – Wave Runner
Greg: Capsule’s logo, realized as a bold industrial image, reflects the power and high-energy of their EDM-driven Wave Runner.
Color Pointe – First Pointe
Jen: Being a dancer, I really appreciate nice lines, graceful arms, and pointed toes.
AKB48 – Koko ga Rhodes da, Koko de Tobe
David: In stark contrast to recent AKB48 full-color-overload imagery, classic composition and understated beauty are the highlights of this elegant group pose. Added points for simple yet classy wardrobe, plus the black-and-white photo brings our focus to the members’ relaxed beauty and poise.
Takeshi Washizaki – What a Pastaful World
Nhu: Oh, gluttony! The pasta is so good, the two have stains on their clothes from the pasta the other person is eating.
HKT48 feat. Kishidan – Shekarashika!
Jen: It’s great to see a group of cute idols embrace their inner sukeban, and some of them really do look like they can beat you up!
Egoist – Reloaded
Greg: The stunning Reloaded cover captures Egoists’s anime, virtual idol and electronic roots.
Rumi-chan starring Shiori Tomita – 17 Sai no Uta
Jen: No idea why Shiori Tomita is cuddling a fish, but she manages to make it super adorable.
Momoiro Clover Z / KISS – Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina
David: Epic-sized heads dwarf the resilient MomoClo members, but they’re ready to face off against the massive force of KISS.
Gen Hoshino – Yellow Dancer
Nhu: At a quick first glance, the image of a geisha is apparent, but upon closer inspection, the details are impressive. There are dishes stacked on top of books to create the neckline. For the hair, a cat and rolls of black tape. Hair accessories include dangling electronic audio plugs, cords to gloves. You can play a game of “I Spy” with this cover!
Tomomo Itano – Gimme Gimme Luv
Greg: Tomomi Itano’s most recent solo effort Gimme Gimme Luv goes for a classic rock album motif that’s both sexy, and kitschy.
Kryzler & Kompany – NEW WORLD
Nhu: Three white masks against a black background seems too simple. Looking at the details, each mask represents each of the three members and their respective instruments. Can you tell which one is the keyboard, bass, and violin?
Perfume – Relax in the City
Greg: Known for slick, presentational covers focused on the artist themselves, Perfume’s Relax in the City takes the a different approach, evoking the classic rock album covers of the 70s and early 80s.
Death Rabbits – Usagi no Kimochi
David: Equal parts playful and dark, Death Rabbits brings in some apocalyptic comic-book imagery to their fourth single. Says heavy-drinking manager Bucho: “Metal? Rock?Jazz? Fusion? Blues?? NO WAY we’re just doing JAPANESE DEATH POP”.
RAIZENxFReECOol – Yume ni Hajimari
Jen: Even rappers find owls cool. The best part, however, is how the duo’s name is used as an artistic frame for the image.
Kalafina – Far on the Water
Nhu: The three ladies of Kalafina are drawn into a pencil stippled cover posing among flowers, books, and a bird cage. The artwork instigates freedom is a life filled with books and nature.
Yumemiru Adolescence – Summer Nude Adolescence
David: Over the top glamour and glitz put an extra shine on Yumemiru Adolescence, striking a pose balanced between youthful charm and adult sexiness.
ALI PROJECT – Violetta Operetta
David: The perfectly apt fairy tale imagery for ALI PROJECT’s storybook of strings.
Shishido Kavka – K no Ruijo
Jen: Leave it to the ever-chic Shishido Kavka to hold a cymbal like it’s a hat and make it look totally natural.
Kyuso Nekokami – Jinsei wa Madamada Tsuzuku
Nhu: The boy under the spotlight looks to be welcoming the attention he’s receiving. The hands below could either be cheering him on or eventually drag him. As the album title goes, “Life still goes on.”
MAN WITH A MISSION – Seven Deadly Sins
David: A great match for MAN WITH A MISSION’s style, this image packs fantastic irony and a quick joke that gets darker the more you think about it.
Matenrou Opera – Burning Soul
Jen: Fashion is often a huge part of a visual kei band’s identity so it’s bold and unique for Matenrou Opera to strip down and express themselves through their bodies.
KEMURI – Ska Bravo
Nhu: The most alternative angels in heaven are the three on this cover. Their pink, green, and yellow hair makes them look fun and cute.
VISTLIP – Layout
David: Other than the instantly cool design, VISTLIP’s Layout cover caught me off guard when I realized I could be looking at the re-construction of either man or machine. is the beautiful male image covering up a complex, fantastical apparatus, or is man evolving into something more dangerous?
Yogee New Waves – Sunset Town
Jen: Yogee New Waves presents the skateboard in a triumphant manner that takes us back to the carefree summer days of our youth.
MOWMOW LULU GYABAN – Champs-Elysees
Nhu: The cover is as quirky as the three band members. It’s a sweet and colorful hair extension cake.
Lin – Memento Mori
David: Simple yet powerful design conjures the power of imagination and memory, a beautiful contrast to the album title’s sobering reflection on mortality.
The GazettE – DOGMA
Nhu: The GazettE love to put females on their album. Most of the time, the females are bare. It could have a deep meaning to it, since females are the carrier of life, or it’s just them being rock and roll. With DOGMA, there’s a strong, dark, ancient pharaoh quality to her. However, her eyes are hidden with the heavy headdress. Her suppressed powers are turning her evil.
Plastic Tree – Rakka
David: Plastic Tree’s Rakka features artwork by Gekidan Inu Curry (Puella Madoka Magica), and you’ll immediately get the connection.
TsuShiMaMiRe – Abandon Human
David: Packaged humanity does double-duty as packaged female identity. All-girl punk veterans TsuShiMaMiRe continue to rock, even bolder than before, on their self-made label Mojor Records.
Golden Bomber – No Music, No Weapon
Nhu: A dark form is trapped inside a chrysanthemum made of knives. A fight with oneself to the extreme.
Ali Project – Keraku no Susume
Jen: This is the first time I’ve seen Ali Project go sexy, and I hope there’s more in the future. In her cage dress, Arika Takarano proves that she is indeed a chameleon.
URBANGARDE – Showa 90
David: Getting into the 2015 lineup just under the wire is the delightfully apocalyptic artwork of URBANGARDE’s Showa 90 by Trevor Brown, combining the band’s two obsessions: schoolgirl youth and doomed Japanese society.