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Detroit Metal City (volume four)

Posted: Wednesday, March 10, 2010
By: Danny Djeljosevic

Kiminori Wakasugi
Kiminori Wakasugi
VIZ Media
By publishing such books as 20th Century Boys in addition to fan favorites like Naruto and Dragon Ball, Viz Media is probably doing the most for manga fans like me who aren't 16-year-old girls. For the Metalocalypse crowd, we have Detroit Metal City--a crude and incredibly silly manga (and I mean that in the best way) that is obsessed with heavy metal.

Given the premise of Detroit Metal City, I was pretty sure I was going to like the book--sensitive indie kid Soichi Negishi just wants to be an indie pop idol, but he's simply TOO METAL not to perform as Detroit Metal City frontman Johannes Krauser II. Then, after flipping through this fourth volume before reading it, I found myself and being sent into wild giggle fits at every random page, so then I knew I was going to love the book.

Volume four opens in medias res with part five of the band's exploits at the Satanic Emperor music festival, where they perform in a heavy metal battle against bands with names like Horror Aestheticians and Deathism.

Deathism is a particular treat for their brand of "scat metal"--which is exactly what it sounds like (with scat as a reference to feces rather than to a style of jazz vocals). The battles are surreal and incredibly funny because creator Kiminori Wakasugi treats them like actual battles, complete with ridiculous stage maneuvers.

Wakasugi takes a break following "Satanic Emperor" with some self-contained chapters that show us a bit more of Soichi's personal life as he deals with band business (embarrassing), copes with his blinding heavy metal rage (hilarious), and goes to an indie show with Aikawa--the love interest who only sees him as a friend (a bit standard, but it ends in a suitably metal fashion).

Much of the tension in the comic comes from Soichi's need to keep his heavy metal identity secret to his friends and loved ones, which leads to some great comedic embarrassment when, as Krauser II, Soichi ends up doing something decidedly un-metal--such as singing Swedish pop over the phone to Aikawa while on stage.

Being a comedy manga, Detroit Metal City is incredibly easy to get into. While most of the band members blur together--probably because they've been well established for four volumes--many of the supporting characters are unforgettable (such as the band's excessively foulmouthed female manager and their Satanic Emperor opponents). While Soichi isn't the most lovable protagonist on the planet, the contrast between his sniveling true identity and his extreme Krauser II identity is great--especially when his alter ego displays the wrong personality.

I love comics about music, and Detroit Metal City is no exception. It's important to note that I'm not the biggest metalhead on Earth, but this graphic novel is so self-aware and hilariously over-the-top that it can appeal to people--provided they can stand all the crude humor--who have no interest in Motörhead (even though they should).



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