In the fullness of time and for the sake of overblown pretentious prefaces it becomes apparent that we must discard the cheesy gimmicks of the past and embrace the responsibilities of a no-name, amature review writer. In the spirit of that crap I just wrote I’ll be abandoning the whole “1st episode review” thing. I’ll still be writing reviews, but I will endeavor to view and inform on at least half whatever series I end up talking about. On that note, welcome to the first Solid Anime Review.
There are quite few times in my life when I notice odd parallels that crop up whether by design or coincidence. You know the kind; Friends is Coupling but American and with less sex, Rogue Squadron 64 is Star Fox 64 but with people not cybernetic furries and Gundam is just Cheers with giant robots. Detroit Metal City, or as it prefers to call itself DMC, is one of those.
I’ll get back to that in a minute. For now I’m going to go over what the show is and what it’s about. The episodes are short: you get two 13 minute helpings in one sitting. It was because of this that I thought that perhaps DMC was based a four panel comic like Azumanga Daioh, but it turns out that it’s actually a serialized manga. Still, the short form lends itself pretty well to the show’s extremely light hearted tone and snappy pace.
The crux of the story is the eponymous band, a blackened death metal band – one of whose songs is literally them just shouting “murder” in Japanese over and over again – that is wildly popular in the underground music scene in Tokyo. The lead singer and guitarist, a character named Krauser. Rumored to be a terrorist demon from hell who raped and murdered his parents. (rumors spread by the bands borderline psychotic sex obsessed manager for more metal cred) He plays guitar with his teeth and spanks the band’s masochistic mascot The Capitalist Pig to the delight of hardcore fans. In reality, Krauser is the onstage persona of Soichi Negishi. Soichi just wants to write calm, happy pop songs about cheese tarts and puppy love, but continues to play in DMC because it pays the bills. He hates the band, the music he has to play and especially the Krauser persona. Each episode usually centers on his efforts to keep his professional and personal lives as separate as possibly and the hilarity that ensues when those efforts inevitably fall apart.
Soichi’s bandmates, an otaku drummer and a ladies man bassist, while sympathetic to his problems, only ever seem to make things worse for him. Soichi’s college crush, Yuri Arikawa, hates DMC as much as Soichi does and always tries to support his pop aspirations. Many of the most embarrassingly cringe-worthy moments come from Soichi trying to keep his stage persona and membership in the band a secret from Yuri. The band’s manager, simply known as “Death Records President” can always be counted on to come up with some harebrained scheme to get the band more publicity. Scheduling the band to appear on a local talk show alongside another band then demanding they crash the other band’s performance to enhance DMC’s image for example. She also shouts about how her awesome ideas make herself wet… a lot.
The series relies heavily on slapstick and coincidence, but on the whole it really does well by itself. While the jokes can be fairly predictable sometimes, they can always be counted on for at least a chuckle. The punchline to many of the outlandish situations Soichi ends up in, more often than not had me laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe.
That being said, DMC is not without it’s problems. All too often rape is used as a joke, and just to be clear, I don’t mean someone gets raped and it’s treated as a joke. Usually Soichi as Krauser humps something; a tower support for the tokyo tower, a fellow musician’s tambourine, etc. and either he or one of the fans claims that it’s being raped, and that’s the joke. It’s inappropriate, it’s dumb. and rape is not something to be joked about. I should also mention that Krauser and sometimes Soichi when he is channeling the Krauser character offstage tends to go into the kind of profanity laden rants that might be a trigger for some people.
Getting back to my mangled simile from the beginning, DMC made me think of what would have come about if the idea for Metalocalypse had gone through a Japanese pitch meeting. Maybe more accurately, you could call it Spinal Tap, but also Three’s Company – and it’s an anime.
I’m giving DMC my recommendation. You should give at least the first two episodes a shot to see if you enjoy it as much as I did. It’s not without its problems, but whether or not they ruin the experience for you is something you’ll have to decide for yourself.You can find Detroit Metal City for free on Hulu.