Singer, songwriter, actor and video game character. Claiming he was a vampire, Gackt used to say he was born in the year 1540, leaving the eternal question: Is he bonkers?
No, he's not. Rather, he's one of Japan's most interesting (and colorful) personalities. Songwriter, fashion model, actor, novelist, restaurateur, screenwriter and psychic, Gackt's done it all — and all before the age of 40.
After taking the stagename "Camui M. S. Gackt", the Okinawa-born rocker first debuted with the music group Malice Mizer. It wasn't simply "rock 'n' roll", but Visual Kei, a Japanese take on glam, metal and post-punk. Gackt went on to launch his own successful solo career as well as make his way into variety television shows, dramas and feature films.
But that's not what makes him interesting.
Gackt embraced gaming wholeheartedly. He didn't simply lend his latest single to whatever new game was coming out in hopes of spiking sales, he lent his voice and likeness in a way that few major recording artists in Japan had done before.
In 2003, hack-and-slash game Bujingai: The Forsaken City used Gackt's likeness for the game's main character Lau Wong. Gackt not only did motion capture for the game, but also helped with the story and appeared in the title's ads. The game was released as Taito's 50th anniversary title, a big production for the studio at the time. This wasn't Gackt's first brush with gaming, and it would not be his last.
Two years earlier, Gackt appeared in a series of Metal Gear Solid 2 ads that highlighted the musician's dry wit. In one ad, he asks, "Do you know Metal Gear Solid 2?" before pausing briefly to say, "I...don't." A Gackt dog-tag also made its way into the game.
What makes Gackt so appealing is that, besides being a bit of a nutter, the guy's truly funny, blessed with natural comic timing. There are countless "cool guys" in the Japanese entertainment business, but Gackt is able to walk that fine line between cool and clueless.
It's Gackt's work with the Final Fantasy games that is perhaps most fitting — probably because he looks like a Final Fantasy character come to life. Final Fantasy characters like Squall seem to be based on Gackt — ditto for Cloud's Advent Children make-over. Besides performing the singer got involved with Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerebus by doing voice and motion capture for in-game character Genesis. The character was later revived for Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core.
In the years that followed, Gackt, an avid pachislot player, lent his likeness to a handful of pachislot games, including "Bounty Killer" for the PS3 as well as singing game soundtracks for titles like Samurai Warriors 3 and online game Dragon Nest.