Soichiro is a fan of folksy, upbeat swedish-style pop music, and he dreams of pursuing a career in making said music. He leaves his home in the country to move to the big city, where he somehow winds up as the frontman of a death metal band… This is never explained… wearing a costume that seems to be *cough* inspired by the American rock band Kiss. This band, which has achieved fame and fervor throughout the disaffected youth of Japan, is called “Detroit Metal City.”
And thus young Soichiro is torn… In his personal life, he’s the exact opposite of his stage persona, Johannes Krauzer 2, a hardcore demon who (allegedly) brutally murdered his parents and rapes pretty much whatever he wants to, whenever he wants to. Despite his talent with this music, Soichiro despises it, and wants nothing more than to escape it all and engage in a career that will make both his family and the girl of his dreams proud of him… And yet he just keeps getting pulled back.
I know I played up this plot summary as a nuanced character study, but trust me, it’s a lot less interesting than it sounds.
I’m going to have a difficult time talking about the animation, mostly because in order to do so, I have to use the word animation… Which is a word this series never really deserves to be associated with. DMC has some of the cheapest, laziest looking animation that I’ve seen in my entire life. At it’s best, it looks like someone took pictures from the manga, colored them in, and flipped back and forth between them just to create the illusion of movement. At its worst, it’s stiff, jarring, contains way too many key frames, and abuses speed lines worse than Naruto.
The character designs aren’t that bad, as everybody seems realistically proportioned in both their bodies and their faces. Yep, nothing cartoony or moe to speak of, so that’s a plus. Oh, except for a few chunky midgets… Because Japan loves its midgets. But with that aside, this show is barely animated, save for the opening.
Say, do you remember Method and Red, a single season Fox show from just over ten years ago? No, of course you don’t. Nobody does. Although you should, because that show was pretty damn funny. Anyway, it’s about rappers Methodman and Redman moving into a wealthy, upscale, predominately white neighborhood. At one point, one of the characters… An uptight yuppie mother from the Neighbors Association… calls rap music “X-rated nursery rhymes that objectify women.” Was that fair of her to say? No, not really. I’m no connoisseur of the genre, but I know enough to know that rap music is at least a bit more diverse than a lot of people who’ve never paid attention to it are willing to give it credit for.
Now, imagine if that woman was tasked to write an entire comedy series based on her perception of the genre. The very idea of this is cringeworthy, right?
Well, Detroit Metal City had a character like her. That character was called… The writer. No, I don’t mean that literally, like there was some meta character named The Writer… I mean the actual writer who created and penned this masterpiece. Because if you’re a fan of Death Metal… And a fan of this show… Then I have a really disappointing observation I’d like to share with you. Are you ready? Here it is… DMC hates Death Metal. It hates the music, it hates the musicians, and it hates you. And it is absolutely giddy about the fact that you haven’t figured that out yet.
And if you think I’m just pulling this out of my ass, just look at how that form of music is portrayed in the series. A nice, well mannered young man gets mixed up in it, whereupon he develops a split personality, and that personality happens to be angry, abusive, and violently misogynist. Yes, I know it’s explained in the manga that he has unresolved rage issues that he vents through his stage persona, but rageaholics aren’t typically known to compulsively dry-hump other men and inanimate objects. And when they are, they need professional help, not a recording contract. It’s also made very clear that this alternate personality of his has the power to absolutely destroy his personal relationships, and yet he can’t stop going back to it. Kind of like hard drugs, or Rock and Roll in a fifties-style afterschool special.
Which is saying nothing about the music, which is literally about nothing other than sexual aggression and murder. And I don’t use the word literally lightly. The opening theme… In other words, the very first song we’re exposed to out of the entire show… Is a DMC song where Soichiros very first lines are “Yesterday I raped my mother, today I’m going to kill my father.” And there isn’t a hint of irony or satire in it… Throughout the show, his fans really believe that Krauzer is a demonic criminal who raped and murdered his parents as a child and was let out of jail to make music. A lie that the band promotes with a straight face.
As for the rest of the music, it ranges from “Kill and enslave everybody” to “Women are sex pigs.” And this is meant to be funny.
Metalocalypse is another show that paints Death Metal as violent and misogynistic. You know why it was awesome? Because it was creative, funny, well produced, and knew damn well how to go to some of the worst possible places without ever becoming too offensive. It’s a show that felt genuine love and passion for it’s subject, and as such, it was able to put everything that’s awesome about Death Metal on full display while over-exaggerating and ruthlessly parodying the things that aren’t so awesome about it. DMC couldn’t do that, and throughout the entire thirteen episode run, it felt more like a cautionary tale against Death Metal… With enough knowledge and research behind it to make Reefer Madness look legit.
This wouldn’t be a problem if DMC was written well, but alas, this just isn’t the case. I know there are some people who would say “Hey, it’s a gag comedy based on a four panel manga… Of course it’s not written well! You’re expecting too much of it!” Well, dear reader, you just insulted your show far more than I ever could, because there are plenty of anime with similar adaptive roots, and this is by far the least amusing one I’ve ever seen. The only character with enough personality traits to even be considered a character would be the main one, and while there is some complexity to his situation, it’s entirely contrived, and he’s so stupid that it makes him really difficult to root for.
Out of the other characters who matter… Let’s see… I know there were a few… Oh! There’s Capitalist Pig, a middle aged midget who gets tied up, gagged, and abused on-stage. But it’s okay, because he’s a masochist. Yeah, that’s all well and good, but his only significant story arc was about Soichiro trying to set him up with the girl of his dreams, and then blatantly dicking him over at the most crucial moment, just to be thanked anyway right afterwards.
Umm… There’s his little brother, who got so turned onto Soichiro’s music that he grew his hair out, dyed it, and now refuses to go to school or help out around the farm. And the resolution for that problem was… Well, really stupid, and never ever brought up again, except for a throwaway gag in the last episode involving a cow.
There are three women who play somewhat significant roles in the show… Kind of… There’s the band’s manager, who’s only personality trait is that she doesn’t care about anything that doesn’t make her wet. There’s the lead singer of a punk band, who was stupid enough to believe a Japanese guy with a cold was the reincarnation of legendary rocker Sid Vicious. There’s also Yuri(Yay! I remembered someone’s name without looking it up!), Soichiro’s former friend from college, who’s interested in him despite not being very close to him in school. Her attraction to him is never explained, but she hates Death Metal and all it represents. There’s something wrong with both of those statements, as there are several moments in the show where Soichiro acts VERY verbally abusive towards her without ever suffering any consequences. I’m assuming she still likes him afterwards, because she doesn’t appear in any of the last few episodes.
Much like certain other shows I’ve reviewed, or plan to review, the writing in DMC has one other serious flaw… It’s so dependent on coincidence that pretty much everything that happens can be predicted at some point during it’s respective episode. This is true not only with the pop band Tetrapod Melon Tea(For the love of god don’t ask) and the American villain from the final episode. While surrendering to the police for disturbing the peace, Soichiro trips and just happens to smash one of them over the head with his guitar. Because of course he does. He then stumbles backwards into a female officer, and falls onto her in a very rapey way, then runs off while fans chant about his nefarious deeds. This is never followed up on, nor is his humping of a certain famous monument… Which them lights up and is rained upon, another complete coincidence that adds to his legacy.
On top of that, the very premise… bland main character has to keep their secret identity secret so the two sides of his life won’t ever find out about each other… Has been done to death and beyond, and as far as execution goes, this take on the concept is about as consistent and well thought out as Hannah Montana. There are several instances where his personal identity should have been blown wide open, and yes, most of them involve police. We go through the same tired plot episode after episode, with Soichiro forced into situations where he somehow protects his secret identity despite idiotically and ‘hilariously’ screwing it up every time, and for what? For characters that we’re not even expected to remember in the last few episodes.
For the longest time, I was fully intending to give this series a 2/10. I hated it to the point that I was actively looking for chores to do between each episode, but at least it was mercifully short… Only fifteen minutes per episode… and it had a pretty well acted Japanese dub. This is especially true of the gravely performance put forth by Yuji Oeda in the role of Krauzer… He only plays the Krauzer version, but he plays it very convincingly. Then something happened at the end of episode eleven that changed my mind. And since this show doesn’t really have any plot or story to spoil, I’m going to tell you exactly what it was.
After a particularly racist stage show that painted the band’s manager as just barely competent enough to host a WWE show, we see a woman and her four year old child waiting in the lobby for her father as a group of fans point her out as a Mini-Krauzer. She starts belting out a DMC song that’s called An Anthem to Female Pigs(Or something like that), which is just a constant repeat of the phrase “I only need your lower half.” Fair enough… This kind of thing could be funny. If it had stopped there.
The mother gives her daughter a bottle of milk, and the crowd proclaims excitedly that she’s drinking a white liquid. Oh, and before you start saying I’m getting too offended by a ‘child drinking something that looks like semen’ joke, just hold on, because it gets worse. Her father comes out of the bathroom, and the adorable little tot runs at him, jumping into her father’s arms, as the crowd cheers that she’s raping him. And since they’re stupid enough to think that Krauzer was REALLY released from jail after murdering his parents just so he could make music, there’s no particular reason to say that they’re joking about this. It beg the question of how they’d react if they were to stumble upon a real life crime as it were taking place. Would they cheer it on? Would they join in? Krauzer’s band is creating these people.
While there’s no dub for this series… And I really can’t blame them… The DVD has been released stateside by Sentai Filmworks, and I can only speculate that they’re releasing a lot of undubbed DVDs because they’re strapped for cash and don’t want to spend the money on voice actors for the majority of their projects. Fair enough, they’ve been through some hard times recently, and I can respect that decision. The DVD itself can be found for dirt cheap, with the average store price ranging somewhere around twenty dollars or so. There’s also a translated manga from Viz Media, and while I haven’t read it, it can’t possibly be worse than the show.
And it feels, to me at least, like my twenty dollars alone paid for their entire animation budget. I didn’t find anything about this show to be enjoyable… It’s not funny, it’s terribly written, it’s misogynistic down to it’s deepest core, and the in-show music was clearly written by somebody with no understanding of the genre they were supposed to be representing. The characters are awful, the situations are poorly thought out, the humor ranges from Baffling to Stomach-churning, and for a show that portrays itself as being realistic in design, the presence of the law is entirely inconsistent. Soichiro’s deplorable behavior is not only excused and forgiven, it’s often encouraged by infuriatingly positive outcomes. Even at fifteen minutes an episode, this show was a chore to sit through, and I feel dumber for having done so. It doesn’t feel as potentially dangerous as Popotan did, but it still stands right alongside it as one of the worst anime I’ve ever watched. I give Detroit Metal City a 1/10.