Detroit Metal City 10

September 3, 2011

Kiminori Wakasugi – Viz – 2011 – 10 volumes

Part of me hates giving Book Girl a bad review, then praising this to the sky. Detroit Metal City… does have its flaws, primary among them the fact that it’s been repeating the same jokes since the beginning. But since I like the jokes, I like the series. Does it have more than that going for it? No, it doesn’t. Keep that in mind. It’s not for everybody (due to its extremely poor taste), and it’s for an even smaller segment than that since you have to have a high tolerance for repetition.

But I do, and I feel like it ended at just the right time, before the jokes wore themselves out completely.

If you’ve been reading along the whole time, you may have seen this coming, but the ending is triumphant.

It does everything you expect. It pulls it off perfectly. I have no complaints.

From the end of the last volume, we can see that Negishi is quitting DMC for good. Nobody really believes him, but Wada decides to have a DMC farewell concert anyway, thinking that Negishi will show up. He doesn’t. DMC is publicly humiliated by metal newcomer “God” at their farewell concert. Meanwhile, Negishi has decided that he is really going to do what he wants with no distractions: he moves to France to pursue his true dream of being a pop musician.

The France chapters are beautiful. The one where it unveils that this is what Negishi is doing has no dialogue save for the lyrics to “Tout, Tout Pour Ma Cherie” by Michel Polnareff. In French. It simply follows a pigeon in flight around Paris, only revealing Negishi in the last panel. Amazing. I want to know what it was like in the context of Young animal.

Is pop music where Negishi’s heart lies, though? Really? I give him a lot of credit for trying again and again to succeed at it, and he says it’s his dream. But he’s good at something else.

There is one last concert.

It’s simultaneously over-the-top ridiculous and very touching. There’s the petty grudges, of course, that make Krauser so amazing, but there’s also an acknowledgement of DMC’s fans, and how important they are, and how important Krauser is to them. There’s a trailblazing aspect. There’s an embracing of the self. There’s lots of phlem and skirt flipping and boogers and vulgarity.

It’s everything that makes Detroit Metal City great, one last time.

And the art, as silly as it has been this whole time… the final two-page spread of the screaming, crazed fans throwing the horns wouldn’t have been quite the same if anybody but Wakasugi had drawn it.

Unexpectedly, the last chapter attempts to resolve the relationship between Negishi and Aikawa. Of all the loose ends to tie up, that isn’t one I would’ve picked, but I still liked the unexpected bonus. Also unexpected, Aikawa’s feelings on the matter. That was… really weird.

But yes. This series is one of my favorites for all time. I know it’s not good. But I like what I like, what can I say?

Detroit Metal City 9

May 15, 2011

Kiminori Wakasugi – Viz – 2011 – 10 volumes

Okay, so there’s a lot of the type of stories I complained about last time. In fact, it opens with two of them, one where Negishi gets more and more creative with his busking, and another where he tries to impress Aikawa with a new car. Both have funny endings, but my comments from last time still stand. I wish there were more types of stories.

Luckily, in this volume, a new long storyline starts. Negishi writes a new single that launches the same day as all the biggest acts in metal: Deathism’s new song, a band groomed by Jack Ill Dark named Cannibalism Animal, and The Gaylord Band. Plus, there is a new competitor. One that goes by the name of Karls Murder.

This is about as awesome as it sounds. It’s almost disappointing in scale, because it hypes up one thing, then turns out to be something else. There is a brief interlude where Negishi escapes to his home in the countryside and enjoys a brief career as a combine salesman, then he returns to the city to meet his nameless metal opponent. Actually, he meets him in a very unusual setting.

In fact, Negishi and his opponent have a lot in common, and I desperately want to read more. I know that we’ve been reading Negishi jokes for nine volumes, and that’s essentially what we will see here, but this has so much potential. It could go so many different directions in the last volume, and all of them seem spectacular to me.

Guys. I am ridiculously excited to read the end of this series. I am heartbroken that it will have to wait until September. I love this series to bits in all its foul-mouthed glory.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Detroit Metal City 8

April 17, 2011

Kiminori Wakasugi – Viz – 2011 – 10 volumes

So, the formula started wearing on me a little bit here. I was a little disappointed with this volume, but I think that’s because the “getting Negishi back” story from the last volume was so good that it spoiled me a little. Plus, there was no new storyline this volume, so these were all one-shot chapters that re-used some of the gimmicks and storylines we’ve already seen. But this volume still made me laugh harder than anything else I’ve read recently.

One thing I don’t think I’ve talked about is how well this series sometimes nails awkward situations. There’s a chapter that covers a Jagi solo tour that is pure gold. There are several pages that are entirely wordless, where the audience listens to Jagi in stunned silence as he commits a terrible metal gaffe. This is not commented on at the end of the chapter. I was in complete awe of this scene. It’s easy to get carried away in the profanity and lewdness that brings in a lot of cheap laughs for this series, but scenes like this make you realize that there is still quite a bit of genius at work here.

There are two two-part stories. The first is about Krauser in a match with professional wrestlers. This one is in the style of “Negishi can’t really do whatever-this-is, so he’s fooling the crowd into believing that his ‘hell powers’ make him spectacular at it”-type stories. If that is even a genre of story. But you know what I’m talking about. He can’t actually wrestle, so the crowd invents reasons for everything that he does, like him not tagging in because “Krauser doesn’t know the rules” and “can’t see,” or a scene where “Krauser breaks his own neck” in order to leave because he is so above wrestling. Even though we’ve seen this type of story before, the invented excuses for the wrestling situation are still pretty funny.

The second two-part story is about a set of replacement DMC band members trying to overthrow the real ones. It wasn’t very good, and anyone familiar with the series can tell how it ends based solely on that one-line summary. Other mediocre stories include a pair about Aikawa, where Negishi works himself up over something simple and winds up dressing as Krauser and taking his anger out on her. Actually, one of the Aikawa stories was about Negishi going so “green” that he stopped eating and moving. That one had a lousy ending, but was still pretty great. There was another story with a similar structure a little later where Negishi starts a promising career in Enka, or Japanese folk singing, complete with mentor.

There was a wonderful story about Negishi “killing himself” on stage in preparation for a vacation he was taking, and the fans believe he is really dead this time. For some reason, Nashimoto waits faithfully out in front of the venue for his “dearly departed” owner, the implication being that he doesn’t understand Krauser is “dead” and isn’t coming back. Fans try to break the news to him, policemen try to throw him out, the venue owners are increasingly creeped out, but the fact remains that Nashimoto is just… loyal.

Even with stories that re-tread familiar territory, there’s still a lot to like in this volume, and it is nice to have a break from the longer stories. I do hope we get to see another lengthy story next time though, hopefully a long one that leads up to the conclusion of the series. Will Negishi be unmasked in front of the DMC fans? Hmm.

Detroit Metal City 7

December 17, 2010

Kiminori Wakasugi – Viz – 2010 – 10 volumes

How much do I love this series? It’s still one of my favorites. I read this volume immediately after I got it, despite the fact I’ve been in a “reading other comics” mood lately and a lot of my manga has been languishing. It makes me laugh hard, and this was the best yet. I realize it’s just the same joke over and over again, though. Souichi Negishi is a nice boy who is excessively cheerful and a failure at pop music, which is what he actually wants to do. But he is the absolute best at heavy metal, something that brings him shame.

Here, that’s taken to its logical extreme when Negishi goes to a “hip” art collective to re-invent himself, only to emerge even more extreme than he already was. Sounds boring, but man is it told well. The chapters are interspersed with the overly-chipper, obviously boring stories of the inhabitants of the “art house” in between scenes of the replacement Krauser being booed off-stage and Krauser I laying claim to all the hard work Negishi has put into the metal scene. Does Negishi care? Not really. Until you make him mad. Or just get him wound up, even.

I also like that Negishi is clearly an ace guitarist, but that somehow doesn’t translate into the pop music he wants to do. He is really that bad at pop.

There are lots and lots of other jokes in this volume that make it worth reading if you’re starting to grow tired of it (and if you’re looking for something other than jokes… well, this IS a gag series). Krauser I’s band consists of people who hold grudges against the members of Detroit Metal City, and I loved seeing Wada trying to figure out who hated him so much. Also, Krauser I’s first band is there to support him, including a man who is totally naked. He plays a prominent role in the flashbacks, still totally naked. This fact is never commented on. Later, we get to meet up with Deathism, who’s appeared before. Their forte is scatolo-metal. There are a lot of… pardon me, but shit jokes that I surely did not get tired of. I don’t know how, but they were really, really funny every time.

I also liked that Krauser I’s real name was Gaylord. I’m told that the scene where the two Krausers have a spitting contest is a more direct parody of Dragon Ball’s genki dama in Japanese, but it was simultaneously funny and a little weird in English (Krauser’s loogie is called a “Devil Bomb” while Krauser I’s is a “Gay Bomb”… because of his name, but still… uh). It was funny to see people doubt Krauser because Gaylord was an old man, and thus could spit more. This is also related to their “more rapes a second” contest to see who the real Krauser is, where Krauser I is caught cheating in a very un-sportsmanlike way. And who has more rage? Both are bizarre and petty and just… sad. But it works for them, I suppose.

This was my favorite volume yet. Very triumphant, especially when Negishi comes back and wins. Like I said, I can see how the joke might be getting old for some people, and I wouldn’t blame you, but I laugh myself silly with every volume. I’m very much looking forward to the scatolo-metal jokes continuing in the next volume, which I am vaguely ashamed to admit but they really are THAT funny.

Detroit Metal City 6

September 11, 2010

Kiminori Wakasugi – Viz – 2010 – 10+ volumes

Because I reviewed something classy like a Moto Hagio book, I can only follow that up with Detroit Metal City.

Honestly, even I was put off a little by how much the Boss talked about how she needed her juices flowing. She used some sort of… animal metaphor. A few times. “I want to hear the sound of baby animals in my vagina” might be the line. I have a feeling that, if it does make sense, it’s something I’m better off not knowing.

As grossed out as I was by the frequency of this line of discussion, I also laughed every time. I think it came up a lot because the first part of the volume spent a chapter each on the three main members of Detroit Metal City. Negishi got an awesome bath scene in Aikawa’s apartment, Wada was deciding if he wanted to join a Visual Kei band (complete with hilariously lame Visual Kei lyrics, about as stereotypical as the metal ones that come up all the time), and Nishida participated in a Taiko Drum Master tournament that was not at all lecherous.

Actually, most of the volume was unrelated short stories, building up to the beginnings of a storyline about the confrontation between Krauser I and Krauser II that looks like it won’t truly get underway until volume 7. This volume offers some background information about Death Records, the Boss, and Kraser I, all of it worth knowing. Part of the exposition for this story involves Negishi giving metal guitar lessons as himself instead of Krauser. I think the best thing about Negishi, and one of the things that makes this series so funny even after telling the same jokes for six volumes, is that as much as Negishi hates metal, he’s just really, really good at it, and can’t help but do it. The story never really comments on this or probes it further, which makes it even better, because it’s just a fact of life. He’s a really nerdy kid that’s really good at something he apparently hates. And unforgivably terrible at the thing he loves. He speaks to a small part of all of us, I think. What’s better here is that someone who is presumably his match in hardcore metal is portrayed as equally uninteresting in real life.

My favorite part of this volume, however, was another Negishi/Aikawa story. Negishi, fixated on Aikawa’s breasts, loses the thread of conversation, and Aikawa accuses him of not paying attention. Furious, he writes lyrics for three solid days and performs a truly nonsensical song about breasts, violence, and being long for the sake of being long. There’s a double-page illustration of Krauser belting out pi to over 300 digits. I think that makes this my favorite manga for life.

Detroit Metal City 5

July 5, 2010

Kiminori Wakasugi – Viz – 2010 – 9+ volumes

I love this series unconditionally, and every new volume is a treat.  I admit to loving the crude humor, little more than well-placed swears sometimes, and that everything about Krauser and his fans brings me great joy.  There is nothing like this series.

That said, this volume was more one-shot stories than anything, and I think I like it best when the chapters form a longer story, so that the jokes get a chance to build on each other and top themselves again and again.  There is a story getting underway in the last two or so chapters, and I’m looking forward to it very much since it seems like it will feature the (I guess?) mythical Krauser I.

The stories here are very funny, though.  My favorite was one where Soichi, dressed like Krauser and in a fit of rage/jealousy, tries to get one of his friends to swear on a live radio program so that it gets pulled off the air.  DMC fans get in on the act and offer commentary while listening to the program, giving Krauser advice while he plays a game where the participants have to rhyme words with “buck.”

In a later story, Soichi is suffering guilt and remorse, and takes the above girl out to dinner, where a series of unfortunate events nearly blow his identity as Krauser (taking her to a fudge restaurant, his Krauser armor falling out of his backpack, his insistence on spitting all over her performance spot, et cetera).

There are stories that are metal variations on fables, stories about the DMC pigs, and stories featuring Kiva, Pipanic Chainsaw, and Deathism.  If it is possible to love anything in this series more than the duality of Negishi/Krauser, than I love Deathism best.  Then again, I think scatological jokes are very funny.

If you’ve been reading along, it really is just more of the same, and with no major storyline to talk about, that’s all I’ve got for now.  If you’re still on the fence, this is honestly one of the funniest series I’m reading right now.  It’s sense of humor is very, very immature, but it is absolutely pitch perfect with its immaturity.  It’s just impossible to fault.  And beautiful.  Very beautiful.

Detroit Metal City 4

March 13, 2010

Kiminori Wakatsugi – Viz – 2010 – 8+ volumes

Oh.  Oh my.  Every volume of this series is like a gift for the reader.  I wonder if it’ll get old eventually, but then the absolute most extreme things keep happening, and it stays funny.  Mind you, I have an extremely juvenile sense of humor, which is absolutely necessary if you’re going to get anything out of this.  But goddamn, this series makes me laugh harder than anything else I’ve ever read.

The first part of this volume focuses on DMC’s next opponent in the Metal Festival, Deathism.  They have… a niche in the metal world.  They are a scat metal band.  This is prefaced by a couple chapters of flashbacks for these characters.  They’re like a regular band, except they have to take a shit all the time, or can’t take a shit when they need to, as the case may be.  They are in a metal rut.  In between sessions where they confer in the bathroom and talk it out with a strange, old barman-type mentor, they wonder how they can differentiate themselves from regular metal.  Then they realize that they shit better than anyone else, and they use that as their hook.

Somewhere in there, the barman encourages them by telling them about how he had a divorce from his first wife.  “I came home drunk one night and left a huge mudslide in the bed.  She divorced me.  At the time, I was embarrased.  Now I’m proud.”  He’s behind them all the way, and so are their fans, who loved being sprayed down by “shit” from a hose the singer holds on stage.

Of course Krauser wins because Negishi has shit his pants while waiting for Deathism members to get out of the bathroom, and coming out on stage in a metal fight with them with his pants covered in shit is “extreme.”

How can this be topped?  The final metal band is Helvete, who want to bring about a metal apocalypse.  They reveal their true identities as celebrities from all areas of popular music, saying that their fans are bound to do whatever they say now.  The leader is a Swedish Pop star that looks exactly like Negishi.  You… you see where that goes.

I laughed so hard I cried at some parts.  The part with Helvete seems to be a kind of climax, since it involves Negishi admitting defeat on stage, and then coming back for a triumphant victory.  It highlights the themes of Negishi’s life, where he would rather play pop music that nobody wants to hear rather than his metal, which is necessary to so many of his fans.  I mean, it does get serious sometimes.  But then he does things like dress up as Krauser and blow garlic breath at a fortune teller that made him mad.  Hilariously, there is a one-shot chapter that addresses his anger at the end of the volume, but of course that doesn’t go anywhere.

Good stuff.  Great stuff.  I left it off my list of best series of last year, but it really should have been there.  I mean… it is so far over the top that it comes back around to bust up from the bottom.  Everything about it is perfectly calculated.  The absolutely obedient fans that make up the most insane shit about the band?  The owner, whose every line is like a treasure?

Never change, DMC.  Rock on.