Negishi Souichi always dreamed of joining a trendy pop band, so that he could perform music like that of his idol, Kahimi Karie. In order to realize his dream, he decided to leave the country side and his loving parents to study in Tokyo. And after graduating, he does manage to join a band... but not the kind he was expecting! As lead singer of the death metal band Detroit Metal City, under the stage name Krauser II, he is made to perform loud songs filled with obscene lyrics - a far cry from the songs he used to write in school. But despite the fact that Negishi hates DMC's music, the Krauser side of him will do anything to put on a good show for his fans... even if it means making Negishi's life a misery!
StoryI first learned about Detroit Metal City via an ANN review of the manga. The purile, no-holds-barred, and vulgar work proved to be a comedic gem, and so when KiraRin goaded me into reviewing the Studio 4C OVA spinoff, I needed little convincing. Though the animation offers little that fans familiar with the manga won't recognize, the direction and soundtrack enhance the material admirably. True to its heavy metal spirit, the concert (OVA) does not deviate in content from the album (the manga) and the result is a work that plays out more or less like I expected. DMC tells the entirely gag-driven story of Soichi Negishi, who despite his desire to become a fashionable pop musician, makes his living in Tokyo as the front man for a death metal indie band under the pseudonym Johannes Krauser II. To this effect, the OVA draws on a series of similar situations to extract maximum hilarity from the difference between the meek and upbeat Negishi and his brutally misogynistic and violent alter-ego. Though each vignette falls into one one of a handful of scenarios--Negishi meets with Yuri Aikawa, Krauser interferes; a rival tries to dethrone DMC; or Krauser solves a problem Negishi has in real life--and ultimately culminates with "Krauser does X crazy stunt", the hedonistic 'X's provide more than their share of explosive laughs that draw the viewer away from the similarities between various episodes. But the humor also oozes like a Demon Jewel (the loving nickname fans of the band give to Krauser's out-sized loogies) out of the anime's smaller moments. Since the punchlines fall with the regularity of a dialed rhythm guitar lick, I--and likely most viewers--revel in the tiny, offbeat details like Negishi's short reveries on how he wishes his life would play out or his fascination with his prissy indie fashion. His optimism in the face of continued failure and social slight makes the inexorable pull of the Krauser's rage and misanthropy darkly funny. DMC leans heavily on its lead's magnetic personality to flavor its limited narrative vocabulary, and when this slight of hand works, the resulting humor verges on sublime, but without the quirky asides, the show's lack of novelty can cause some jokes to fall flat. For example, the OVA features Detroit Metal City in three showdowns with other musicians. While the match against Jack Il Dark and the all-girls' punk band escalate to the absurd for buckets of laughs, the battle against the rapper lacks the out-of-left-field moments and self-referential gags that break up the otherwise bland back-and-forth of Krauser outdoing a rival. Similarly, true familiarity with the source work sours DMC a little, by robbing the viewer of precious moments of surprise, and given the unsophisticated humor on display here, the otherwise limp narrative needs every advantage to succeed. As a result, unless you find the word "fuck" funny by itself on repeated exclamation, this anime tarnishes quickly on a second viewing.AnimationThe source manga's pages are cluttered and occasionally confusing, and color provided in the OVA goes a long way on its own to helping many scenes make more sense or achieve appropriate visceral impact. But in addition, particular decisions of the animators add some much needed tonal emphasis to the anime. Saturated with musical and rock and roll imagery, DMC's content meshes well with Studio 4C's preferred visual style and rhythm. In a longer, more focused narrative the jump cuts, strange angles, and chronological hiccups distract more then help the cause, but here these devices complement the shorter episodes and gag-driven pacing while also helping to pave over some of the clunky character designs. That said, the main humorous impact of the OVA derives from situations moreso than traditional sight gags, so the visuals need not rise above blocking Krauser/Negishi properly for his next bout of dry humping.SoundMuch like the story, the devil is in the details. Yuji Ueda's portrayal of the Krauser certainly impresses when the demon works up a full head of anger and violence in concert, but it's when the plot catches the character off-guard and his softer self's mannerisms peek through that the voice-actor brings real flavor to the OVA. By matching the cadence Daisuke Kishio uses for Negishi when the frontman panics, Ueda-san seamlessly binds the Swedish-pop aspirant and the slavering guitar slayer into a single unified persona across the two voice actors' performances. Across the way, Negishi's seiyuu delivers a flexible performance capable of swinging wildly between the mewling and affable musician and his violent and angry repressed self. The potent mix of desperation and optimism that keeps the lad teetering on the edge of sanity shines through under Kishio-san's careful portrayal and helps drive home the hilarious disjoint between his on and offstage personalities and proves an able springboard for much of the OVA's gags. But beyond the lead, most of the glory rightly belongs to Ai Kobayashi's full-throated performance as Death Records' President who charges guns-blazing into every scene with a fusillade of profanity that manages to both offend and endear. That "Satsugai" put DMC on the map should come as no surprise, as the song rocks hard. The tight, dirty vocals perfectly complement the the rolling bass line and brutal drumming. True to Negishi's genuis, the song proves an admirable earworm DESPITE its inaccessible style. In contrast "My Sweet Lover" plays like the empty piece of fluff that the show sells it as. While in another context, the castoff pop number would merely fade from memory, here it provides humorous juxtaposition against the vulgar events of each episode. Along with the intermittent pop performances and a number of other DMC tunes this soundtrack feels heavily integrated with its content in a manner akin to Nodame Cantabile--the music itself serves direct purpose in the anime.CharactersThe OVA derives most of its energy from the disparity between Krauser and Negishi. While the young musician would like himself (and the audience, and everyone he knows) to believe his alter-ego exists as a separate person, a good deal of surprisingly subtle humor emanates from situations wherein the two entities bleed together. After Krauser screams and gyrates through the initial stories, watching him sing and dance to a pop tune or get flustered in an interview both results in giggles and creates a sense of irony as the rocker's floundering reinforces the connection between his two faces. But those bits only serve as amusement between major set pieces that feature DMC's front man, and there, he shines with black, hilarious light. Feeding off the energy of the moment, the demon performs some crazy stunts and inspires strange behavior with a gleeful fatalism that makes it hard to dislike him no matter how revolting his actions. In comparison, the supporting cast is a mixed-bag. Some characters, like the nonchalantly profane President or the nameless recurring fan manage to spice up every scene in which they appear, while others--like Krauser's band mates or his supposed love-interest--fail to rise to the occasion. True, series' short length and almost singular focus on Negishi leaves little time for developing anyone else, but even a modicum complexity could have helped flavor the main comedic offerings.OverallIf you've got a strong gag reflex and don't offend easily, Detroit Metal City serves a platter of amusing laughs wrapped in decent death metal. Bouyed by the music-video inspired visuals and the fast-paced vulgar humor anyone who's ever found the word "fuck" funny should giggle at least once. Studio 4C's over-the-top visuals and excellent soundtrack accompany the subtle-as-a-brick content congealing the whole thing into a delightful mess of of rock and profanity.
StoryNever has so much promise come to so little. Alright, there probably are bigger misfires, but permit me my hyperbole. There's a really funny idea here - the sweet young Soichi Neghisi loves innocuous Swedish pop but, for the sake of getting a job in the music business, becomes Krauser II, the lead singer in a shockingly controversial death metal group known as Detroit Metal City, 'the DMC'. Sound funny? Sure. Would it sound funny if I said it again? Maybe a few more times? Because that's what watching this series is like. Even as short as it is, Detroit Metal City really has very little idea what to do with its own premise - and most of it is to repeat ad nauseam gags that aren't funny to begin with. Of course, there are the clichéd situations where our protagonist's dual identities cross place - with hilarious results! Only not really - these go through the motions of these stock situations without any conviction. When Detroit Metal City is funny, it's as a result of individual set-pieces rather than anything directly related to the premise. One of the funniest, for instance, would be a cute little girl made up as Krauser II and singing one of DMC's indecent songs. There are too few of these moments for me to be particularly forgiving. What progression of the plot exists beyond restating its premise is essentially of the tournament variety - there are battles of the bands featuring increasingly high profile opponents before taking on the emperor of death metal himself. These proceed as much as one might expect, even in terms of humour. There is some talk of this series being a satire of the music industry, but it never progresses much further than what I've already told you. Yes, a sweet young man is part of a manufactured image and he couldn't get far in the industry otherwise. And the same idea is repeated a bit with other bands. But it's never done in such a way that it becomes funny.AnimationWhile the bondage imagery may recall ‘End of the World' to fans of Studio 4C, the visual look is considerably more normal than much of their other work. Their high standards are upheld in terms of the animation's quality and fluidity- this series always looks excellent. I haven't seen guitar-playing this well animated since Haruhi. There's just a stylistic confidence that puts this show head and shoulders above anything average.SoundVoice acting is excellent across the board, either for speaking or singing in the various styles portrayed. The music used is predominantly death metal, and may be liked by fans of that sort of thing. I really don't, hence the comparatively low rating. In a mildly amusing contrast, the opening number is metal and the closer is light pop, both sung by the lead in character.CharactersThe most interesting facet of Negishi is the division between his charmingly naive identity and the lecherous uninhibited demon thing that he becomes as Krauser II. As a narrator he frequently insists the latter is just an act and he really dislikes his job, but over the series one sees him channelling this identity whenever he gives in to paranoia and rage - and, ultimately, having more pride in his work than he'd care to admit. He may nicely ask his college friend to have a pleasant dinner while his other self just pulls up her skirt, but they're just two sides of the same coin. The aforesaid college friend is notable for being sweet, stupid, and very forgiving. I didn't find her that interesting and clearly neither did those behind this production as she's forgotten along the way. There's also his fellow band members, who are never developed to the point of being interesting - aside from ‘the capitalist pig', a masochist who is a rather affable middle aged man in normal life, not the least of the series' funny ideas that it's not sure how to execute in a funny manner. A weak point would be the DMC's manager, in whom the fondness for violence common to many anime comedy women is combined with a notably foul mouth. The former is never done in any way that's funny, and the latter only works if you find vulgarity in and of itself funny (let's call that the Family Guy principle, for a token cheap shot). A failing grade is given because the characters are those who provide and drive the comedy - and they do not deliver.OverallStudio 4C. Hiroshi Nagahama. This could have been so much more. This should have been so much more. I know that this anime has its fans and I wanted to like it very badly, but after enduring twelve episodes in stone-faced disillusionment with the odd furtive chuckle, I cannot in good conscience recommend Detroit Metal City.
Detroit Metal City, AKA DMC is a (slice of life) 15minutex25 episode comedy anime about music, with much crudeness and shoddy attempts at romance. I’ll disclose that I’m a fan of metal, not as much for death metal these days but I appreciate it. As I enjoy that genre of music, this anime came across terribly to me initially. I guess it’s aimed at older teenage boys/adult because of the outrageous and vulgar content. They exaggerate many aspects of this industry, but even with this purpose I didn’t appreciate it, mainly because of the shoehorned romance angle and that Soichi was trying to act two different ways while trying to form a relationship with Yuri. That aspect of this anime is the worst, least enjoyable bit, but there are other bits that were actually funny. Animation The animation quality for a 2008 anime is a bit of a let-down, the anime looked like it was made in the late 90s or early 2000s and I even watched the 1080p version. I guess it was upscaled then? Some scenes really lack colour and just seem underpowered. That said, the band scenes like the intro look much better, it’s just the normal going around scenes that are so underwhelming. But the saving grace for this anime is the animation style. They don’t always have the usual 16:9/4:3 aspect ratio for every scene. Some shots even have vertical aspect ratios. The anime is very stylised and it just looks very unique, despite a few of the characters looking like tropes. The drummer looks like a typical fat Otaku and the protagonist looks like the average nobody. Of course, the whole death metal visual style is generally very rare in anime, heck I’ve yet to see Visual Kei (a Japanese visual style for bands) in an anime. There’s quite a lot of crazy imagery and they even split the screen up and show two different aspects of things at times. In the first episode, Yuri is laying out the lyrics to a pleasant song on one side of the screen, while Soichi imagines what the vulgar DMC equivalent would be on the other side of the screen. There is plenty of vulgarity in this anime, but none visual. There are things mistaken for it, but the worst it gets is pretending to be ‘fucking’ inanimate objects. Were this an anime made in the early 2000s or late 90s, I’d be completely appreciative of the visuals for the great and artistic use of style. But the actual visual fidelity of the anime is a major disappointment. Sound This is the type of music I have, though I prefer more normal metal and just good old rock and roll, I used to love death metal and can still appreciate it. But I can also understand how people might not like it. You’d be expecting to hear that I downloaded the soundtrack at this point. As well as featuring the death metal, this anime also features more passive music like the Swedish pop that Soichi really likes listening to. This is the type of music I really don’t like, but it’s not at the forefront of this anime. I will say one thing about the death metal though, one of the reasons I enjoy listening to Japanese music is because I don’t understand the lyrics, and to me it’s just an additional part of the music itself. I can’t get mad at the lyrics for saying dumb stuff. But due to the language choice of this anime, I had no option but to read the lyrics and I didn’t like them. It doesn’t improve with the Swedish pop whose lyrics are soppy and a load of nonsense. I’m a pacifist and I hated the absurd positivity of those lyrics. This anime is available in Japanese only. Considering the vulgar language of this anime, I very much doubt it would ever get an English release. But the subtitles also had the bonus effect of making me understand the lyrics, which I didn’t want to. English really wouldn’t have helped here. Maybe if they didn’t have subtitles for the lyrics or did another language altogether like German (German death metal is good like their beer). Soichi is voiced by Daisuke Kishio, who voiced Suginami in Da Capo and various other anime I ether haven’t watched or didn’t enjoy watching. The strange thing is that he doesn’t also voice the alter ego, Johannes Krauser II (JKII), who is instead voiced by Yuuji Ueda who hasn’t voiced much. I guess this shows that Soichi’s VA isn’t capable of doing a variety of voices or isn’t skilled enough to voice JKII, probably a bad decision they made when casting these voices. Krauser’s voice is tricky to pull off, so well done for that, but then again, even I sound like that in the mornings. The Death Records president is voiced by Ai Kobayashi, who also hasn’t voiced too many anime characters, the only one of note is a minor character in Ergo Proxy. Yuri Aikawa is voiced by Masami Nagasawa who does even less voice work than the other Vas. Wada Masayuki is voiced by Yuto Nakano, once again an individual who has done very little voice acting. Terumichi Nishida is voiced by Makoto Yasumura who voices Fumihiko Matsumaru in Rec, Shouzou Tadokoro in Rinne no Lagrange 2 and a few other roles in anime I haven’t watched/mediocre anime. Judging by this cast and the animation quality, this anime looks like it had very low production value. Characters Before I go ahead, I’ll mention that all of the characters are adults working pretty much full time (as musicians…), a good thing since it would be very inappropriate for kids to do these things. Soichi Negishi is a weak-willed sissy man who loves his parents and enjoys listening to the Swedish pop genre of music and his favourite artist is the pop idol Kahimi Karie. He likes to drink tea and be a sensible sissy with a haircut that people say makes his head look like a dick, it’s his dream to make it big with his terrible pop music, he is good at the guitar, but which nobody seems to listen, especially after he gets encouraged by an old friend from his uni days, Yuri, whom he has a crush on. However… Soichi Negishi has an alter-ego, an alternate personality if you will. The more filled with rage, the more stressed out and the more upset he becomes, the better he is at being Johannes Krauser II. Krauser is the lead singer and guitarist in the most controversial and puerile Death Metal band in Japan, Detroit Metal City, DMC. The fictional backstory includes him being the resident emperor of hell after killing his parents among other things. He doesn’t like that sort of music at all, but it’s his job and it pays for his life while he tries to be successful at the music he really likes. Krauser often gets misunderstood by fans and the like, but all this does is increase his popularity and add more the legend of DMC. He’s good at being Krauser, writing offensive lyrics and improvising offensive content. He can also get his real feelings across at the same time, at one point he manages to convince someone to be a well-behaved good individual while still maintaining the uncouth Krauser personality. Soichi also can’t keep in his alcohol and uncontrollably turns into Krauser when drunk. Yuri Aikawa is Soichi’s old friend from his uni days and a girl he really loves. He loves her so much that he even wrote a song for her (the Swedish pop type, not death metal). Their adoration of Swedish pop and Kahimi Karie brought them together. Yuri is miss pleasant, Soichi must hide the fact he is really Krauser, for fear that Yuri would hate him if she found out, since she dislikes DMC. She is too forgiving and blind, at times it’s obvious that Soichi is Krauser and she still has no clue. At times he letshis guard down and switches to horrible Krauser mode in front of her and offends her or makes her cry in some way. It seems that she forgets it and forgives him too easily. She knows a popular fashion designer, who Soichi is a fan of, from work. Possibly the most horrible character in this anime is the Death Records label president, a woman who is not named but appears often. The behaviour of this individual is atrocious, she is DMC’s biggest fan and also their manager, keeping them on track, getting them gigs, promotions and helping them record their albums. She wants them to be as much like their death metal egos as possible, especially Soichi, who’s normal self is a pussy in her eyes. She isn’t afraid to treat people like shit, even the band members. If they underperform, she assaults them and also has her two twin bodyguards manhandle them. She provokes the band members to do disgusting things and gets off on it. She refers to her cunt too often, claiming that DMC’s music makes her cum or her cunt is being stretched if they are doing something she dislikes. She smokes, is hardcore on the booze and even does drugs, she tries to force Soichi to take drugs at one point. The other characters aren’t as big, but there are a few. Wada Masayuki is the bassist, pretty much a normal guy but unlike Soichi, he enjoys being a famous band member. He also enjoys pleasing their manager by doing well, either he fears her punishment, or he probably really wants to bang her. Terumichi Nishida is the drummer of the band, this guy is just too into his metal drumming and he’ll even drum at tables in karaoke bars. He looks like the typical fat otaku, he likes food and is also a pervert, the words he uses the most are girl’s private parts. The capitalist pig is the ‘gimp’-like M-man AKA the masochist. He is the mascot of the band and gets abused on stage by Krauser and while Soichi feels sorry for him, he enjoys the abuse. He is very dedicated to his role and enjoys it, but he also has to work a second job. There’s various other characters like Soichi’s childhood friend Kibayashi. Like Soichi, he was once an innocent pleasant boy who turned to offensive music. Unlike Soichi, this isn’t his alter-ego, he literally is a gangster-rapper, though his fake story is that he is from the hood in New York City (rap originated in the States). There’s the all-girl punk metal band, with the lead singer who really hates DMC and guys, especially with the way they talk shit about women. Then finally, there’s Tetrapot Melon Tea, a Swedish pop band whose lead is Soichi’s old uni friend and junior. Story Detroit Metal City is the most grotesque and offensive death metal band in Japan, with legends and stories of them having done so many horrible things. Soichi Negishi is a wuss in real life, he likes drinking fruity tea, terrible Swedish pop and soppy romance movies. His death metal alias, Johannes Krauser II is the complete opposite and the popularity of this band means this is Soichi’s job. Their foulmouthed manager pushes them to become a big band, much against Soichi’s true desire, which is to become a successful Swedish pop artist. Unfortunately, Yuri is the only one who appreciates this terrible music he makes when he isn’t rocking out. That was my explanation of the plot. The narrative you ask? That’s it. Soichi is the most popular death metal ‘emperor’ in Japan and he really doesn’t want to be. There is no plot. Nothing much happens, it’s a very slice of life type of anime. What about Soichi’s crush on Yuri? It’s obvious from the start that goes nowhere and that’s not a spoiler. That aspect of this anime heavily frontloaded and probably the worst bit about it. Yes, it’s even worse than the obscenity in this anime. Granted, at times it was fairly funny. The Tokyo tower episode, the theme park episode and the music battle episodes were my favourite. This anime really does get off to a bad start, mainly because of how pathetic Soichi’s character is and the whole ‘romance’ thing. It gets better and funnier towards the middle. And that comedy is the appeal of this anime. But boy the vulgarity of this anime. The intro song alone is offensive and I personally don’t like the way they depict death metal. It’s like they got mixed up between death metal and American hip-hop/rap. I know for a fact that some hip-hop/rap songs are very offensive and that the artists can be as horrible as the legends say about Krauser in this anime. It’s that genre of music where the artists get arrested for crimes like murder and rape. And I don’t mean to hate on hip-hop/rap since I used to listen to it when I was younger… and before Snoop Dogg became a sellout. Krauser is often misunderstood when he does nice things. At one point he saves a girl from a burning building and falls on her after being out of breath. His fans misinterpret it as saving her to rape her. Other times he just goes along with it, he accidentally punches a policeman and ‘fucks’ an inanimate object. I will never understand how such things can be appealing. At least they got the whole death metal mixes with hell and demons right. Conclusion Of course this is definitely not an anime for everyone. I didn’t completely enjoy it, but I didn’t absolutely hate it either. I’d probably recommend it to folks who can tolerate loutish behaviour and offensive crap, the sort of people who laugh at every dick joke and when people swear. The comedy and the juxtaposition between the cowardly real Soichi and the nutcase maniac Krauser is also a thing that people might like. But the lack of story and the disappointment, heck the disrespect this anime gives to a genre of music I enjoy is just one aspect. It’s short so you might as well try it if you are likely to not get offended by constant swearing and screamings of rape and murder. It had the potential to be more. Family-friendliness Rating: 5/5 I’d give it 666, but the rating doesn’t accommodate this anime from hell (lower is better) Overall Rating: 5/10 (higher is better)
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