When Soichi Negishi vowed to make it big in the music scene, he’d imagined a peaceful and intellectual career emulating his Swedish pop heroes- but unfortunately, things don’t always go to plan. Playing guitar at street corners is all very well, but when it comes to making money, Negishi has to rely on his other job as lead singer of heavy metal group Detroit Metal City. Playing the role of Krauser- a demon from hell who claims to have started his life by raping and killing his parents- goes against everything Negishi believes in, but somehow this sweet and gentle young man just can’t walk away from the nightmare he created.
At first glance, Detroit Metal City sounds like exactly the kind of series not to bother with- aside from the fact that I don’t like heavy metal, Krauser himself sounds like exactly the kind of puerile and unpleasant character that should be locked away in a deep, dark place and never spoken of again. To my surprise, however, the content is handled in such a way that, whilst it certainly isn’t the kind of thing you’d want to show to your grandmother (or indeed anyone except close friends and fellow anime fans), it is actually entirely hilarious. And in case you’re worried, no one gets raped or killed in the making of it.
The humour in Detroit Metal City arises from the mismatch between Krauser and the ‘real’ Negishi, one that causes him all sorts of mishaps. Whether it’s an attempt to do good that backfires, or an inadvertent slip into his Krauser personality, Negishi is always the centre of some escalating situation- and it invariably proves to be thoroughly entertaining.
As with most comedy series, Detroit Metal City is more about getting in the jokes rather than developing the characters, but there is no doubt that there are plenty of memorable personalities, from the masochist who plays a whipped ‘capitalist pig’ onstage for DMC to the fearsome group manager who only wants the kind of sick extremes that get her ‘wet’. Of course, Negishi/Krauser remains the centre of the show, but it is only through his interactions with all these extreme personalities that the series really takes shape.
Visually, Detroit Metal City sticks with a simplistic look that will hardly win any aesthetic prizes, but which suits the nature of the series well. As someone who isn’t a fan of either Swedish pop or death metal, the music alone does little for me, but as the central theme of the series, it performs its function admirably.
Against all the odds, Detroit Metal City emerges from a potentially gratuitous and unappealing premise to deliver something completely hilarious. As long as your sensibilities can cope with some crudeness and bad language, you’ll have a whale of a time watching this one.