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October 26, 2011
 

Bento Bako Lite: Detroit Metal City Volumes 8 & 9

Detroit Metal City volumes 8 and 9 (of 10)
Publisher: Viz Media
Vintage: March and June 2011 from Viz Media
Writer/Artist: Kiminori Wakasugi

[Editor’s note: My second wedding anniversary was yesterday, so I’m letting Drew take over today’s review with the very bizarre Detroit Metal City.]

Detroit Metal City will punch your face until it’s a bloody pile of dog meat, and then suck your soul through a straw, while violating both your Mom and favorite pet at the same time, as everyone watches it online as they await the coming of the devil on Earth…what…too much? Not in the least if you read Wakasugi’s Detroit Metal City, also referred to as DMC. It’s the manga that manages to make you laugh and offend you at the same time. In fact, much of the humor of this cleverly written gag-manga (although I’m sure some out there will say it’s not clever and is just offensive; I disagree, but I could see one’s point being nothing really offends me, and also the manga has a Parental Advisory for Explicit Content clearly on it for a reason) is based on the joke of the lead singer of DMC freaking out while trying to live his normal life, and spitting in someone’s face while telling them to shut up, or DMC’s jaunty lyrics, which include lines about rape, death, and darkness. DMC walks on the line of being the most brilliant gag-manga since Cromartie High School, and being the most offensive manga out there today. In its defense, for those who think DMC is some terrible summoning of evil that should not be in print, the book still is not as offensive as the drugged-out hippie comix of Crumb, and honestly may run neck and neck for offensiveness with Metalocalypse Dethklok (it lacks Metalocalypse‘s violence, but surpasses it in cruel jokes).

So for the unfamiliar, DMC is the tale of Soichi, a nice guy in his early 20s who dreams of making gentle Swedish pop sounding music on his acoustic guitar. However, his real line of work is the polar opposite, as he paints his face and dons a costume as the front-man named Lord Krauser for black metal band Detroit Metal City. Soichi hates DMC, but it pays decent, and at least he’s performing to someone’s enjoyment. However, he decides he needs to keep it a secret, and hides it from his friends, family, and the girl whom he is secretly in love with. However, now that he has unlocked the beast inside to become Krauser, sometimes he loses his temper in public, saying just about the down right nastiest things to the people who deserve it the least (which is one of the recurring gags of this manga).

For regular readers of DMC, volume 8 provides us a handful of side stories concentrating on characters in the DMC-verse other then Soichi to mix it up a little bit. Boss trying to relax, Jagi having to go on tour to promote DMC, even a story about the “pig” (which is an older business man who strips down to leather and a ball gag and lets DMC violate his body as part of their stage show). We also get a fun two-parter with Soichi/Krauser getting caught up in the world of hardcore wrestling, a former pop singer trying to help Soichi with his Swedish pop, a tale as Krauser tries to help a guy win a girl who fell for him just because he goes to DMC shows, and a two-parter bitter, funny tale of the three replacement players taking over as the lead DMC players and their demise.

In volume 9, we start off with some fun tales of Soichi trying to find the ultimate way to express himself as a street performer, a tale of him buying a used car to impress his crush Aikawa (which ends in much of the car’s destruction), and one of him trying to love the ugliest gorilla-face girls alive who just happens to emotionally and interest-wise be the perfect match for Soichi…if it wasn’t for that ugly part. The rest of the volume picks up with a great arc where DMC goes against three other groups to make the number one metal album released that week, however, against the odds all are beaten by a mysterious all dark album with no name or title, the darkest album of all time! Soichi, feeling defeated, leaves town and attempts some life back at home in the country, but (to the readers’ delight) it doesn’t work out. He ends up back in the city where he makes a new friend who he thinks may be the son of Karls Murder, the young man who created the darkest album of all time and is showing up DMC’s supremacy as the dark overlords of metal.

So, as stressed in the opening paragraph, this manga isn’t for everyone, but if you enjoy cruel jokes, death metal lyrics, people constantly getting their assholes violated on stage to the delight of other characters, Metalocalypse, those sort of things, then this is for you. Wakasugi knows how to handle the subject matter, and between the gags and off-beat art, hits the title out of park (hey, it’s even spun off a live-action film and anime series, so he is doing something right). If any of the things mentioned may bother you, there are plenty of other things out there. I think it’s in Viz’s Signature line for a good reason, and that’s because no matter how uncomfortable the comic can be, it’s done to such mastery by Wakasugi that it’s hard not to appreciate the art behind the offensivness.

Another note: The next Manga Moveable Feast kicked off this week at Manga Xanadu. Check out the archive here. This time, and just in time for Halloween, the theme is horror manga!

Drew McCabe
drew@comicattack.net

Review copies provided by Viz Media.

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