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Review: Detroit Metal City (Vol. 03)

Reviewer: Andre

Manga-ka: Kiminori Wakasugi
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: December 2009

Synopsis: “By all appearances, Soichi Negishi is a sweet, well-mannered boy who likes Swedish pop music, trendy boutiques, and all things fashionable. But at the same time he’s also Krauser II – prepare to have your mortal soul devoured by the demonic front man for Detroit Metal City, the most outrageously hilarious death metal band on the Japanese indie scene! Death metal screams the despair of dying heathens! What the hell kind of song would you sing?!”

Bringing more of the same combination of shock value and endearing characterization as the first volume, the third collection of Wakasugi’s DDetroit Metal City gives us more inappropriate behaviour to ponder. Wakasugi delivers on his early promise, while also finding a way to succumb to traditional manga expectations in a way I hadn’t expected.

The manga kicks off with Krauser having to chaperone Ill Dark’s daughter Kenny around Tokyo. As she studies him to see if he is a willing successor to her father’s metal legacy, Negishi proves himself through some accidental moments and sudden bursts of his Krauser-persona. The progression of his inability to keep his personalities separate proves a major source of the humour. Maniacal outbursts occur during a picnic, or when jealousy causes an angered Negishi to take vengeance on a supposed friend. His unconscious aggression makes his wishy-washy moments all the more enjoyable. You have to love the bland, non-sensical cutesy lyrics Negishi spouts when he thinks he’s being “cool”, and how others’ hatred of them brings out his inner-Krauser to the utmost.

The later chapters, wherein Krauser and Co. enter a metal festival, brought about a plot I hadn’t expected – the standard of shonen manga everywhere – the Tournament. Many manga succumb to the Tournament plague after an initial promising concept, but Wakasugi’s style allows us to forgive him. After attempting to give it some structure, Wakasugi promptly goes back to the usual DMC format by having the first battle be between the human “M” fetishists/stage props of DMC and a French band, Poison. As the leaders of each band rides their respective leather-clad M’s like ponies, the reader is provided with an epic manga battle you’ll probably only ever see in the pages of DMC.

The supporting cast continues to accentuate the oddity of the work, with Negishi’s younger brother returning complete with an unfortunate hairdo, which becomes the star of this volumes bonus chapter. Negishi’s attempts to steer him right in volume one have backfired as he attends the festival, and Krauser yet again has to hide his identity. I also enjoyed some of the unexpected moments from the quiet yet violent Camus, as the lethargic drummer seduces another band’s lead singer (who’s more of the band’s manager), and can never pass up the chance to coat a word balloon with marvellous swears.

Design work continues to be solid, with even more ugly characters with a decent sense of anatomy and space, and some intriguing designs like that of Rei, the Pipanic’s lead husky-voiced singer. Wielding a chainsaw with a scared face and thin eyebrows, she makes for the most striking of the competing band’s characters, who for the most part lack DMC’s sense of stage style.

In terms of content, this volume solidified my recommendation of this book as something for immature mature readers – some of the dialogue and humour is not for the faint of heart, as Krauser’s vile mouth provides many an expletive, and assorted cast members reveal their own share of poor life habits. If you enjoy this sort of stuff, you’ll have fun with this volume. It also continues with VIZ’s superior translation job, featuring a solid, appropriate English rewrite, translated sound effects, and the larger trim size we’ve come to expect from VIZ’s Signature imprint.

Detroit Metal City continues to be a hilarious, cynical offering unlike the majority of other manga on the market and is something that should serve the aging manga audience well. Be sure to check it out if you’re looking for something more then yet another high school dilemma.

Review written December 18, 2009 by Andre
Book provided by Viz Media for review purposes

Andre Paploo

About the Author:

André is a long time comics and animation fan who draws assorted webcomics like Jeepers, and designed the mascots for the Maritime provinces' anime convention, Animaritime. He has a scary anime collection including about 900 dvd’s and tapes, and has been reading comics for 15 years. Somewhere in there he got an English degree, but spend most of my time now reading comics and fantasy novels. He's a fan of cheesy anime, Disney, X-men stuff, Transformers, and CLAMP.

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