Mana is a Japanese musician and fashion designer, famed for his role as a leader and guitarist of the influential visual kei band Malice Mizer. It is said that he is widely considered the figurehead of Japan's Gothic Lolita fashion movement, as he helped popularize it.Moi dix Mois is Mana's current project.
Mana was born on March 19, in Hiroshima; while many unsubstantiated rumors proliferate, his real name and year of birth are unknown. Mana's actual name is speculated to be Satou Manabu (or Satoru Manabu) according to the fan website mana-sama.net. At an early age, Mana was introduced to classical music by his parents, who were both music teachers; classical music has remained an influence ever since. Mana has said that he started making music when he was in high school, at which time he listened to Mötley Crüe and had a mohawk. Typically, Mana's compositions blend classical music (especially baroque music, featuring pipe organ and harpsichord; he also likes music by Johann Sebastian Bach) with heavy metal music, gothic rock, industrial music and other more unlikely elements such as French pop music. In a recent interview Mana revealed that he has no formal training in music theory.
Mana's first known bands were Girl'e, a punk band active around 1989-1990; and Matenrou (摩天楼, Skyscraper?), active 1990-1992. After Matenrou's dissolution in April 1992, Mana and guitarist Közi founded Malice Mizer in August of that year. Mana was the band's lead guitarist, chief songwriter, choreographer and overall artistic director. He also founded his own indie music label, MidiːNette, on which most of Malice Mizer's work was released. After Malice Mizer went on an indefinite hiatus in 2001, Mana founded his solo project, Moi dix Mois. He composes all of Moi dix Mois' music, writes the lyrics, produces, directs and designs the project members' stage costumes.
In 1999, Mana created his own clothing label, Moi-même-Moitié, which features two lines of designs named Elegant Gothic Lolita and Elegant Gothic Aristocrat. Mana continues to regularly appear in the scene's top publication, the Gothic & Lolita Bible, modeling his own designs and giving updates on his various other projects.
In 2002, Mana signed the visual kei duo Schwarz Stein to MidiːNette and went on to produce for them. Despite their growing success, Schwarz Stein disbanded in March 2004, and Mana has since been looking for new bands to sign and produce.
In 2004, Mana started to branch out internationally by opening his fan club to overseas members (a rarity amongst Japanese musicians) and setting up international distribution channels for his music and fashion. He played his first concerts with Moi dix Mois outside Japan in March 2005 in Munich, Germany and Paris, France. In recent months he has been interviewed and featured on the cover of European music magazines such as the German Goth magazine Orkus.
In the end of 2007 he re-toured in Europe, visiting France (a DVD with the whole Paris concert was released on 30 January 2008) and Germany again, and also Finland, Sweden, Spain and Italy.
Mana is also currently producing solo vocalist and cellist Kanon Wakeshima, who will have her debut in May 2008 for Sony Defstar Records.
Mana has rarely intentionally smiled or spoken in public. In his filmed interviews, he whispers into the ear of a band member or confidante, who then relates his words back to the interviewer. He has also been known to simply look at the camera as subtitles appear, as well as using Yes/No cards and expressing himself in mime. According to him, this is because he considers his music to be his voice, and to speak for him. One of the few cases in which he has spoken is a 1996 Malice Mizer interview on the TV show Hot Wave, where he apparently accidentally replied with his name and his position in the band when introduced on the show. Throughout the rest of the interview, Mana whispered in Gackt's ear. In another interview, promoting their single Gekka no Yasoukyoku he was sitting on the floor. When the interviewer went to Mana and asked him why he was sitting down there, he answered her, "Because it's cute." He has also offered his vocals to Kyomu no Naka de no Yuugi, though his voice was heavily distorted. In addition in the song and single, Saikai no Chi to Bara, he is rumored to be the one whispering at 3:20. He's also rumored to be the unknown former support member of Moi dix Mois, "Shadow X".