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Nagahama, Hiroshi (Director)
Detroit Metal City (Animated movie) (DVD)
Released: 2012, Sentai Filmworks
DMC is quite an odd Metal themed cartoon from Japan. Originally running on TV in 2008, the DVD of the entire 24-episode season was issued in North America in 2012. The episodes are short, really short, about 7 minutes long, each paired up so you have about two 12- minute episodes as presented on the DVD. The anime series (or Japanamation if you prefer) was based on a manga-comic that ran for 10 volumes from 2005 to 2010. It gained quite a rabid following in Japan and eventually a live-action movie was shot featuring a cameo with none other than Gene Simmons. Apparently there are talks to redo the movie for a North American audience, which has Gene’s fingerprints all over it. I grabbed the entire series on the two-disc DVD recently.
The plot follows the adventures of the band Detroit Metal City (or DMC for short). The series is certainly for adults, not an enormous amount of sex or violence but certainly lots of adult themes and language and gross-out humour. It is a bit sanitized compared to the original comic. The main plot point is that the main character is a young Japanese man, Soichi Negishi who is the front-man of the insane and wild DMC but in reality he is a mild-mannered and gentle person who doesn’t even like Death Metal. The various episodes follows his trials and tribulations as he is coerced and manipulated by his somewhat corrupt (and perpetually horny) female manger. He wants to break free from his double identity and the fame and fortune and settle down, meet a nice girl and play J-pop and simple love ballads. There are constant jokes and plays on his double-identity. To add another dimension Neghishi has anger management issues and very often breaks into a rage and adopts the persona of his alter-ego Krauser II. DMC consistently plays songs about rape and murder that upset Negishi, who has nothing in common with his band, his fans, or his manager. His attempts at a career as a singer-song-writer on his own meet with total failure and ridicule which continues to fuel his rage and public outbursts. Of course the girl he is trying to win the heart of hates DMC adding another layer of difficulty for him.
I feel that DMC follows similar thematic ground as the other great Metal-themed cartoon, Metalocalypse. The private lives of the main characters are a total mess riddled with incompetence but onstage they are revered as gods. The running gag about the dichotomy between Negishi and Krauser trends to wear thin as it is one of the only central points in each episode. The music is not done by any well known Western Metal band, I think most of the music is done in house. There are some genuinely funny moments and they play on the stereotype of Death and Black Metal bands quite well. The animation is quite choppy and cartoony which brings the whole impact down a bit. It is certainly based in slapstick presentation style, with exaggerated running and jumping and other effects. The translations are quite humorous, intentional or otherwise, and there are some funny scenes, many of them coming from the legion of crazed fans who hinge on his every word and worship him blindly.
Overall, DMC is an amusing diversion. There are not really many bonus features to speak of. This is a relatively obscure (for North American and European audiences) animated series but interesting look at the perceptions of Death Metal and Black Metal with a good sense of fun. If you enjoy watching or reading comedy-based, Metal-themed projects like DOMINATOR, METALOCALYPSE, (or even reading the BLACK METAL comic series) then buying DETROIT METAL CITY will be a good addition to your video library. Please feel free to read my review of the original comic as well.
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