Shinji KawadaKen'ichi MatsuyamaRyo NaitouRiki Takeuchi
Detroit Metal City (anime)
Medium: OVA, series
Year: 2008
Director: Hiroshi Nagahama
Original creator: Kiminori Wakasugi
Actor: Daisuke Kishio, Yuji Ueda, Ai Kobayashi, Kaori Nazuka, Makoto Yasumura, Masahito Yabe, Masami Nagasawa, Riki Takeuchi, Takashi Matsuyama, Takeshi Maeda, Yuto Nakano, DJ Oasis, Eugene Nomura, Hideki Kaji, Hisanori Yoshida, Junko Iwao, K Dub Shine, Ken'ichi Matsuyama, Kiminori Wakasugi, Lion Kako, Mariya Ise, Mika Itou, Rosa Katou, Ryo Naitou, Shinji Kawada, Shinya Hamazoe, Shugo Nagashima, Toshio Li, Yoshiko Iseki, Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi
Keywords: anime, comedy
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: Twelve 13-minute episodes
Website category: Anime late 00s
Review date: 25 May 2016
Ghastly and painful, but deliberately and for comedic value. Imagine the stupidest thing you've ever watched, then imagine something filled with people ten times stupider than that. It's a parody of death metal. Now bear in mind that it's also being offensive as often as possible, with gratuitous references everywhere to rape, murder, devil worship, children raping their parents, rape of inanimate objects, etc.
Wikipedia notes that it's based on a "vulgar manga series". Wow, no shit. It's funny and absolutely no holds barred, but it's also not a show to try to marathon. One episode at a time was my limit.
Our pathetic loser hero is Negishi, who loves drippy Swedish folk songs and other nice music his mother would like. His main hobby is playing songs he's written on street corners as the entire world ignores him. He grew up on a farm. There's a girl he likes, but he's a virgin. When he dies, he'll still be a virgin.
However Negishi has a dark secret. He's the front man for death metal band Detroit Metal City. This makes him one of Japan's most successful musicians, but that doesn't make him happy because everything about Detroit Metal City is appalling. Their lyrics are unspeakable. Their fans have escaped from a zoo. The president of their indie label is the vilest woman on the planet. Negishi's professional identity of Krauser behaves like the worst caricature of death metal pop stars and will reduce any situation to obscenity, violence and chaos. (The worst of it is that Negishi's actually very good at this. He hates every minute of the job, but he has a gift for acting like a lunatic.)
Mind you, at least no one will ever recognise him under his stage make-up. He looks a bit like Gene Simmons from KISS, who as it happens is in the live-action Detroit Metal City movie that was released the same year. (As it happens, the title is similarly a reference to a KISS song, "Detroit Rock City".)
These people are beyond stupid. You can't compare them with ordinary morons. They're another species. Imagine some alien dimension of impossible super-stupidity, where everyone's on exotic super-illegal space drugs that put your brain into reverse. The band's fans believe every word Krauser sings on stage, e.g. that he's a terrorist from hell who raped his mother and killed his father immediately after being born. They think he has magical superpowers, that he built Tokyo with his bare hands and that he commits ten rapes a second. They'll invent new impossible feats for themselves and immediately believe that he did those too.
Negishi's nearly as bad, though. He tries to do drippy nerdy things with his inhumanly forgiving not-a-girlfriend. There are algae on Alpha Centauri that can see how that's going to go wrong. This show is fuelled by the train wrecks Negishi manages to create in the intersection of his private and/or professional lives. He should know better than... well, to get up in the morning, really. Furthermore it's clear from ep.7 that Negishi isn't as pure as he thinks he is. He's not a nice guy. There's a stupid possessive jealous vile cock under that persona of a nice guy. Krauser's just the outlet. (He has two different voice actors, incidentally, one for Negishi and another for Krauser.)
It should be noted that this vicious, sadistic, mean-spirited show hasn't even a glimmer of decency or goodness, except in its victims. That is of course the point.
Is it good? Would I recommend it? Well, that depends on whether you think you'll find it funny. Sometimes it's wearying and it's almost always trying to make you cringe. Don't expect plot, theme, deep characterisation or indeed anything except terrible, terrible people. I do have some favourite episodes, though. Detroit Moe City actually caused me pain. (I'm saying that in a good way.)
I also like the way the show also skewers other musical genres, including the only one I'd flee from faster than I would from Detroit Metal City. There are some pretty good parodies, including at least one that had Tomoko wondering how on Earth the show's producers got away with it. Ep.3 skewers a well-known (in Japan) home makeover show, even using the same incidental music.
The show looks terrible. (It's been Flash-animated to look only slightly better than Beavis and Butthead.) This is a great choice and it fits the material. It's a short show, but I'm not sure the material could have taken a long one. I should also note that music fans (including death metal fans) mostly seem to love this series, as far as I can tell. You can't accuse it of half-heartedness, that's for sure.