Detroit Metal City Vol. #04 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, July 16, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Drawn-out jokes become the series's worst enemy.
Writer/Artist: Kiminori Wakasugi
Translation: Annus Itchii
Adaptation: Annus Itchii
What They Say
Prepare to have your mortal soul devoured by the demonic Johannes Krauser II, front man for Detroit Metal City, the most outrageously hilarious death metal band on the Japanese indie scene! Music has the power to KILL!!
Even though I haven't always laughed at some of the gags Wakasugi's gone for, the continuation of the "Satanic Emperor" story arc in Detroit Metal City's fourth installment marks the first time I've wanted to outright question the man's judgment. The first three chapters, where DMC faces off against the "scat metal" band Deathism, end up being not a whole lot more than an extended poop joke: take DMC's standard one-upping battles against other death metal bands, replace the offensive lyrics with juvenile toilet humor, and you've got a fairly good idea about what to expect. This is the kind of stuff that could work the way Wakasugi normally handles gross-out jokes -- throwing 'em out there only for a one-off gag -- but not so much for multiple chapters at a time. Deathism's origin story is about the only thing I even smiled at; the rest had me wondering how Wakasugi'd possibly think that stretching out the joke this long would be a good idea.
The rest of the Satanic Emperor festival arc is generally more interesting, though -- Wakasugi picks a target that's rife for parody, facing a Norwegian black metal band named Helvete against DMC in the festival's final competition. There are some moments of inspired genius here: poking fun at real-world black metal fans' reputation for taking themselves way too seriously, the arc delivers some really funny gags about Helvete's ridiculous prophecies (which come true because their rabid fans immediately carry them out) and violent tendencies that involve, among other things, ascending to the final round by executing their opponents on stage. Not that this part of the story doesn't also suffer a little under its length, though; seemingly reaching for ideas, Wakasugi eventually falls back on a plot twist about Helvete's true identity which feels strained at best.
As for the rest of the chapters: they're all one-shot stories, and none of them are particularly noteworthy. The first, and probably least successful, of these has Negishi attending a retreat at a Buddhist temple to sort out some anger management issues. In the follow-up chapter, DMC winds up talking to a major label who'd consider signing them if they switch to a poppier sound. Though there's something to be said for the ridiculousness of having DMC show up to formal business negotiations in a suit and full makeup, the story too quickly descends into an awkward joke about Negishi belting out his interpretation of pop metal (which, incidentally, may be about the only thing in the world worse than real pop metal music). And finally, there's a short chapter about Negishi finally going on an honest-to-goodness date with Aikawa; yep, it's another bog-standard Aikawa storyline, with Negishi acting awkward for most of the date before eventually letting his DMC persona seep through in predictably traumatic fashion.
If not for the Helvete arc, I'd say that Wakasugi's lost his satirical touch. Does that arc alone justify the purchase of this book? Nah, probably not, unless you're desperate to find out who wins the Satanic Emperor battle.
Mania Grade: C-
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translation Rating: A-
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Detroit Metal City