by Kiminori Wakasugi; adapted by Annus Itchii
published by Viz; $12.99 US
Review by Ed Sizemore
By day, Soichi Negishi is a meek, mild lover of saccharine Swedish pop who hopes to become a famous musician in the same genre. By night, he is Lord Krauser II, front man for the Detroit Metal City (DMC), an underground death metal band, infamous for depraved lyrics and reprobate stage antics. The manga focuses on the conflict these two opposite personalities and lifestyles cause Soichi.
Detroit Metal City is one of the guiltiest pleasures in my life. There are so many reasons not to like this series: abundant use of foul language, crude humor, misogynistic lyrics and actions, moronic fans, etc. Yet these unsavory elements are exactly what makes the series so funny and a delight to read. Wakasugi’s genius is that he has created this insane setup of musician with borderline Dissociative Identity Disorder (split personality) and just runs full throttle with it. The humor is so over-the-top that you can’t take it seriously. In fact, DMC doesn’t take itself seriously. Often the last panel of a story is Wakasugi giving us a knowing wink.
Soichi is pathetically funny. He hates being Krauser. However, Krauser is inexorably a part of him. He is disgusted by the lyrics he writes for DMC, but each song seems to get darker than the next. Even when he wants to quit, he can’t stand seeing someone else try to be Krauser in his place. It’s tempting to think that Krauser is simply Soichi expressing repressed anger and frustrations, but there’s more to it than that. Even Soichi can’t explain everything Krauser says and does. In truth, I can’t even image how to reconcile these two personas or what a middle ground between the two would look like. Wakasugi has created this wonderful paradox that’s a goldmine of comedy. Krauser is only palatable because you know Soichi is behind the makeup and the disconnect is so extreme you either laugh or turn away in disgust.
Even more amazing is the devotion and worship the DMC fans give Krauser. They accept everything he does as brilliant and analyze everything he says for hidden meanings. They have formed a cult that believes Krauser really does every depraved act mentioned in his lyrics. Incredibly enough, they actually believe he spends most of his waking hours raping every woman he comes in contact with and murdering random strangers just for kicks. The fans don’t let little details like how all these murders and rapes escape both police and news media bother them.
There is also a great cast of supporting characters. The most charismatic is DMC’s manager, referred to simply as Boss. She is bawdy, aggressive, and rules with an iron fist. She judges all things by the amount of vaginal secretions they effect in her. She is the Shakespeare of libido metaphors. She’s serious about making the band a huge success. She also wants Soichi to abandon his Swedish-pop-loving ways and completely become Krauser. She is such a forceful personality that she steals every scene she’s in.
The art is just as energetic and hysterical as the story. Wakasugi is able to make Soichi look sweet and innocent while making Krauser look demonic and maniac. The character designs are exceptional. DMC’s stage costumes are a great parody of Kiss’s look. Soichi’s facial expressions in and out of makeup are priceless. Without the great art this book wouldn’t be half as fun as it is.
As a former Kiss fan, I find DMC to be a great parody of heavy metal music and all the craziness that surrounds it. It’s definitely not a series for the easily offended. The humor and language are very crude. If you can get past that obstacle, you will find an infectiously funny series. I crack up trying to describe DMC to friends. The fact I still find the jokes humorous several days after I’ve read the book is the best recommendation I can make.
(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)