Get ready for the ear-splittingest, skull-smashingest band to ever assault your senses! Led by phallus-waving terrorist-from-hell Johannes Krauser II (guitar/vocals,) and given pulsing, throbbing life by indestructible drummer Camus and bassist Alexander Jagi, they’re Detroit Metal City, the hottest ticket on the concert circuit! There’s just one catch. That “hottest ticket” is just a meal ticket, and beneath the makeup these ultimate headbangers are hired doppelgangers who don’t even LIKE what they do! Jagi is actually Wada, who wants to play Glam Rock, Camus is Nishida, an anime fan with an appalling weakness for curry and NSFW videos, and Krauser is—oh the shame—street-singing Soichi Negishi, whose dreams of singing happy pop seem hopelessly doomed by the success of his rage-fueled alter ego. Worse, he can’t even tell anyone who Krauser is. Not even the girl he likes, who hates DMC! Will rage against the corporate machine consume Negishi’s tortured soul? Is there life after Death Metal? What’s it like to put your head in a jet engine and turn UP the volume? Find out as angst, amps and anarchy collide in Detroit Metal City!
Only took two years after the domestic DVD release for the Blu-Ray to finally reach us. Considering that this series is from 2008, what the hell? Anyway, here it is at last. 12 15-minute hi-def OVAs (each divided into two parts, and one has a little extra) which may be short, but still serve to show that nothing exceeds like excess.
It is said that suffering makes for the best comedy. Enter Soichi, a nice, shy boy from the farming district of Inukai (which was merged with other towns and villages in the Oono district into the city Bungo-Oono in 2005) who just wants to play nice pop songs but winds up looking into the abyss for a living, only to have the abyss look right back into him for sheer demonic giggles. Detroit Metal City is one of the most currently successful bands in Japan’s indie music scene, which makes Soichi all the more terrified by the thuggish, cement-headed hardcore fans it has attracted, who think that his alter ego Krauser is real and spends his spare time destroying, killing and raping instead of listening to Shibuya-kei singer Kahimi Karie’s CDs (not a fictitious character; check her stuff out). The Death Records company boss is a tough hard-drinkin’-and-smokin’ metal bitch—yeah, I know, but she’s the sort of woman who would consider that a compliment—who is responsible for most of the English-language F-bombs dropped, all of the references to how songs or events (including upcoming episodes) affect her personal humidity level, and most of the assault inflicted on Soichi. Every time he tries to get his pop songs heard by a wider audience, they go over like a fart at a funeral. As if his inescapable secondary personality didn’t supply enough adversity (the result of one escape attempt makes up one of the episodes), he also winds up slinging beef with a riot-grrl punk band and a rapper. There’s no real beginning or end to the story, but the last episode closes things out with an appropriately inappropriate story.
As you may have gathered by now, this series isn’t afraid to be vulgar, as the use of the word “rape” in DMC’s lyrics makes clear—but keep in mind that they’re written by a hopelessly romantic virgin, most likely under duress by his highly unconventional female boss, and, in the end, it never comes off as anything other than utterly ridiculous. However, the humour hinges mainly on the characters and the missile-grade lampooning of the music scene. Poor high-string walker Soichi’s classic overreacting to…well, basically everything spinning wildly out of his control gets most of the laughs, especially when Krauser takes him over and he does things like appear to bump uglies with that trollop the Tokyo Tower in front of a big crowd of his unnerving fans. Many other cast members get their moments in the spotlight as well, including the Capitalistic Pig, a balding middle-aged man in women’s fetish lingerie and ball gag who Krauser abuses on stage during their shows and Soichi profusely apologizes to afterwards (his standard response is “It’s all right, I’m a masochist”). DMC’s music may be big and loud, but sometimes it has to struggle to be heard above its leader’s cognitive dissonance; the scenes where Krauser tries to do Soichi’s good things while staying in character are some of the funniest here.
Whoever did the subtitles for this did some serious pooch-humping. The English lyrics of the opening theme get “fifteened,” which is pointless, since there are enough obvious swearies in the show as is. A scene in which Soichi tries to showcase one of his pop songs to the record company president, only to have her DMC-ize its lyrics on the office whiteboard, is not given any explanation. One of her spoken lines winds up being a grammarless mess. Even the lyric subs to one of DMC’s songs disappear after a bit, despite having no dialogue over top of them. By accounts, all this was on the DVD as well; you’d think that somebody would have gone in and fixed it up for this release, but I guess that would make too much sense for Sentai. This is a 16:9 show, but the staff had a lot of fun changing the framing of the screen from shot to shot in several scenes. Don’t know if that helped production costs or not, but it was novel, at least. The video quality of the Blu-Ray is mostly excellent, but the bits of banding in the OP sequence when shots fade to black (which never happens in the actual episodes) get awfully annoying when they happen 13 times over the course of the disc. Of course, if you just skip it after the first ep or two, (since it never changes otherwise), it’s not so much of a problem.
The music? Since this is a comedy about music, every song you hear is served heavily smothered in cheese sauce, especially the themes. DMC’s slick but heavy signature song “SATSUGAI” (“Murder,” sung by metal vocalist Tetsuya Kanmuri), which is all about Krauser killing everybody, serves as the opening. While the song is quite amusing, the sudden cutoff ending with reverb tail during one of Kanmuri’s high notes gets me every time. On the other side of the coin/episode is one of Soichi’s pop songs, “Amai Koibito” (“Sweet Lover,” voiced by indie-pop veteran Hideki Kaji), which is a perfectly pleasant love song with some of the most rancid lyrics you’ll ever encounter. Of course, that’s on purpose, so smile, darn ya. There is BGM in this, but, as you can imagine, it’s overwhelmed by the large number of insert songs in its short amount of allotted time.
Clean opening credits and Sentai trailers. Why they didn’t carry over the clean ending from the DVD (black screen with “Amai Koibito” playing), I don’t know. We also still don’t get the “Birth of the Metal Devil” episode, but, since that’s just ep. 2 part 1 and ep. 1 part 2, in that order, no loss.
If you can handle the bits which earned Detroit Metal City a TV-MA rating (pretty much all for the language), clap your eyeballs around it and whack it against your funny bone. It runs at a metal pace, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. This is a perfect gift for the music fan with a sense of humour in your life—and you should grab a copy for yourself and go to DMC, too.
- Released By: Sentai Filmworks
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen / 1080p
- Audio: Japanese DTS – HD Master Audio 2.0
- Running Time: 150 minutes
- Rating: TV – MA
- Release Date: 12/16/2014
- Reviewed By: Neil Ellard