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Detroit Metal City (Book Review)
Released: 2006, Viz Media
This is where it all started. Back in 2006 Japanese Manga artists created the comic, Detroit Metal City which is now a massive phenomena in Asia with an animated series, albums and a live action movie featuring none other than Gene Simmons in a cameo. The 10 Volume series ran originally from 2006-2010. For the record, I am reviewing the English translation/North American release of the comic.
I’m not a Manga reader so it took me a while to get accustomed to reading right to left and starting at the back of the book. The book itself is a standard sized Manga paperback in black and white and a colour cover. This edition comes with DMC temporary tattoos as well! The whole first issue runs about 194 pages. The comic rated ‘M’ for mature but is certainly aimed at adults with really graphic language and several sexual scenarios that stop just short (barely) of being explicit. I don’t really mind myself, but it is not a ‘comic for kids’ in the perhaps traditional sense.
The main plot point is that the main character is a young Japanese man, Soichi Negishi who is the front-man (Krauser II) of the insane and wild Death/Black Metal band, Detroit Metal City, or DMC for short. In reality he is a mild-mannered and gentle person who doesn’t even like Heavy Metal. The graphic novel 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 secret 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 upsets 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. Inevitably everything Negishi tries backfires in a spectacular fashion and ends up only bolstering the cult of personality surrounding Krauser II and DMC.
The whole thing is quite clever, perhaps a commentary on the extremity of the Death Metal scene, the bands and it’s fans. There are constant running gags about casual murder, suicide, sodomy and rape but there are also some genuinely funny moments as well. While I enjoyed the debut issue, I’m not sure I would rush out and buy the other nine volumes at about $15.00 per issue. DMC is one of, if not the first, Death/Black Metal themed comic. It is definitely worth checking out to see the roots of the DMC empire of albums, and movies and for a glimpse into the humorous Japanese perspective on the whole Black Metal scene. There are even rumours of a North American remake of the live-action movie with none other than, guess who, Gene Simmons. I’d recommend going to the source, get this manga/comic first to enjoy the original story upon which all the follow-up versions of the franchise are based.