major - active (1997 - )
Visual Kei band Raphael take their name from the archangel Raphael, the divine healer, and their concept is based on the idea of healing through music. This is reflected not only in their upbeat, very melodic sound, which is characterised by Yuki's beautiful vocals, but also in their costumes, which often feature white accents. Despite the band members' tender age at the time of their formation, they rapidly gained recognition in the scene, but disbanded after band leader Kazuki's untimely death. However, the other members have since reunited and released new material.
author: Lacy, Kay & Geisha (2013-04-21)
line up
  • Guitar: Kazuki [1997 / 2000 - deceased]
Bassist Yukito started Raphael in 1997 and was soon joined by guitarist Kazuki, who became the leader of the band. Next came the band's vocalist, Yuki, and drummer, Hiro. With all members at just fifteen years old, Raphael's lineup was complete.

The end of the year saw them performing for the first time. 1997 also saw the release of their first and only demo tape. In 1998, they released their first mini-album, Lilac, and first single, White Love Story.

The following year was good for Raphael. It began with the release of a maxi-single, Sick ~XXX kanja no Karte~, and two more singles, Sweet Romance and Yume yori suteki na. By the middle of the year, the band had gone major, signing with For Life Music Entertainment. They made their major debut with another single, Hana saku inochi aru kagiri, in July. Following the release of two more singles, they released Mind Soap, their first major label mini-album.

Along with their major status came a change in visuals. Rather than sporting special costumes and excessive make-up, the band opted for a more natural look. Though the band said that they hadn't changed, varying opinions arose regarding their new look.

Raphael's release schedule was busy in 2000, as they released two videos, two singles and two mini-albums. One single, Lost Graduation, mini-album, Sotsugyô - graduation, and video, Raphael Special LIVE 'graduation' -2000.3.4 Nippon Budokan-, all revolved around the fact that, had they stayed in school, the members of Raphael would have graduated on that day.

Following three years of success after success, tragedy struck Raphael when their leader and songwriter, Kazuki, passed away on October 31st 2000 at the age of nineteen. He had only recently spoken in an interview about his eagerness to work on new material.

Despite the loss, Raphael continued their releases into 2001. They released four DVDs and an album, Fumetsuka, between February and September. On August 1st, they released Raphael Singles, a collection of all of their previous singles.

Following these releases, the remaining members went on a short hiatus to gather new strength, but eventually decided that Raphael should disband for good. Hiro and Yuki went on to form the band Rice and Yukito started a solo project, Black Love, which later also disbanded.

In 2012, however, they announced that Raphael would hold two revival concerts at Zepp Tokyo, the first of which took place on 31st October, the date Kazuki had passed away twelve years earlier, indicating that his death still greatly affected the other members. On the same day, they also released a re-recorded version of their single eternal wish ~todokanu kimi e~, originally released in 1999. This new version, which was released under the name Raphael -Starring Kazuki-, also featured three unreleased songs: Dear, Haikei Nervous and Elf no yuutsu. The second concert took place the following day, 1st November, and both concerts sold out in record time. The shows were recorded for posterity and so in December they release the 30-track live album Tenshi no hinoki butai and the live DVD Tenshi no hinoki butai dai ichi ya "Hakuchumu". This was followed in January by another live DVD, Tenshi no hinoki butai dai ni ya "Kokuchumu", which featured yet more footage from the two revival shows.

Despite the success of their revival, no further activities were announced and it is currently unknown whether Raphael will resume their career for good.
author: Lacy, Kay & Geisha (2013-04-21)

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