Editorial: Detroit Metal City & The Cultural Impact Of Offensive Metal Satire In Japan!

Detroit Metal City is a vulgar comedy seinen manga series by Kiminori Wakasugi serialized in Young Animal from
’05-’10. An anime OVA series was produced by Studio 4°C with just twelve very tiny thirteen minute episodes in August of ’08. Surprisingly, a live film adaptation of the series directed by Toshio Lee was also created on August 23rd, just a few weeks after the anime aired. The story begins with a young musician by the name of Soichi Negishi, who wants nothing more than to write the most saccharine dream pop you’ve ever heard in your life. Unfortunately, his music is essentially considered terrible by most people, so he takes up the job as lead vocalist for a blackened death (they’re not really blackened death, more like groove-thrash with slight death metal elements) act by the name of Detroit Metal City as Johannes Krauser II. Krauser is rumored to have done everything that would be a clickbait wet dream for Metal Sucks, which includes being a terrorist demon from hell who raped and murdered his parents in addition to weilding his giant death penis with complete abandon. One of the trademarks of Krauser’s stage show is his ninety rapes a minute gimmick, where he says “raperaperaperaperaperaperaperaperape..” with the same amount of force as an auctioneer.

The series essentially revolves around Soicihi being a rageaholic, who brings out the Krauser persona more and more as he becomes frustrated with his failure to become a pop artist, and it is a bit comical watching the character’s antics, like the episode where he was forced to go back and forth from a signing as Krauser to a normal date as Soichi within the span of an hour. The live version adapted this scene very well, and it remains one of my personal favorites.

I also have a copy of the record that released around the time of the live action film, which literally is Makai Yugi. As in, they assembled a team of musicians and were able to record a full album as would have been released from an actual Japanese metal band. The record is extremely offensive, telling fans to do all sorts of things like rape and murder. There’s even a song which translates to “Rape That Girl” that details the kind of imagery they had in mind for the act. Anyone who has watched the anime or the film knows what we’re dealing with here and Japan more or less recognized the parody nature of it. Makai Yugi couldn’t really be compared to any of the Dethalbums though, because these tracks were just a little more over the top in some cases, despite being completely sung in the band’s native. That being said, the anime OP and band theme “Satsugai/Murder” does contain some English lyrics.

Now that you’ve read my pseudo-review of Makai Yugi, let’s go back just a few lines. You’ll remember that I said, “Anyone who has watched the anime or the film knows what we’re dealing with here and Japan more or less recognized the parody nature of it.” However, I don’t think that what I said there was quite right. Rather, what I meant to say was that Japan recognized the parody nature of it to such an extent that they had some of the most popular J-pop acts of the time gather to record their own songs in a heavy metal style. The disc is essentially titled Detroit Metal City: Tribute To Krauser II The Metal Mix, but the Japanese title is a bit longer and contains the word “Sacrifice” as part of it. In any case, this selection of various LPs and single releases also contains the songs that Soichi sang in the anime/film too, like “Sweet Lover” and “Raspberry Kiss” as well as singles from the fictional bands in the series, like the punk band Kintama Girls and the rapper MC Kiva. As you can tell, it was a big thing in Japan for a while and just sort of petered out after the film. All of this material was released here in the west, so go track it down.

That being said, the songs were extremely offensive and the culture didn’t seem to mind. There weren’t any groups banning the anime series or the Toho produced film for misogyny, promotion of rape, murder, fascism or anything else, surprisingly. The Japanese just sort of went about their merry way with it. Though I guess this has a lot more to do with Asian culture than western American culture in general. As I’ve noticed, the number of social justice advocates in Japan and other places in Asia are quite small. I’ve also noticed that many game developers over there mock us. But come on, we’re talking about the place responsible for anime girls, oversized breasts and even that dangerous subject of lolicon (even though I’ll argue that traps have somehow become more popular – who knew that ladyboys would ever become a serious thing in anime culture?) which many people in the west feel is a dangerous door to pedophilia for youths. But that’s a completely different subject altogether and one of very little importance to me.

That being noted, we should also note that Japan is a very odd country with used panties available in vending machines, people reading eroge at the bus station, love hotels and much more. Yet they are also a very traditional society that believes in proper morals, hard work and cleanliness. Some Japanese schools don’t even have any janitors, the students clean the school as a sign of respect for it. Japanese people have also been known to work off the clock for ridiculous amounts of time, which has resulted in overexertion and the death of several anime artists. It is a much different culture than our own.

But what can we learn from it? We can learn that first of all, bands of an extreme nature will utilize imagery that we do not feel is appropriate. They may sing about topics that we do not agree with, but we don’t have to. That’s what you aren’t understanding. Even I don’t have to agree with the kinds of topics that pro-social justice bands sing about, but I can still like the music. I’m not vegan, but I still enjoy the music of Deadlock. I don’t consider myself prejudiced at all and feel that most racial stereotypes are a bit humorous for all races, my own included. I used to like going into offensive humor groups (where I had actually found and talked to an awesome Asian IFBB) where I could read all the silly memes for white, black, latin and every other color of person.

Yeah, I’ll admit that some of those people were downright racist to the core. But I’ll say again, that there were some non-prejudiced people who would answer what was meant to be an offensive statement in a very logical way. You could also get insight into other people’s backgrounds and discover why they think the way they do. It could either be cultural, religious, environmental – there are a lot of reasons as to why people feel a certain way about different topics and I see it often in my place of work. I’ve never agreed with all opinions nor language, but I do respect other people’s views and the reasons behind them. The truth is that some people have personal truths that are so engrained into them, no amount of social discourse will change them. It takes a lot of people and a lot of viewpoints to make a world, and as long as they aren’t acting upon any hatred that they have for one another, I’ll condone it to an extent. I’ll also add that I’ve never had disdain for any one culture as a whole, but people in those cultures can really grind my gears a bit. There are people that just rub me wrong and it doesn’t matter what solor their skin is. I’ve noticed this working in the public. It doesnt take a certain color to be an asshole, they come in several varities. I might even be an asshole. You might be an asshole. We all might be assholes to someone. So the next time that someone calls someone else an asshole, tell them, “Well, you know – you might be an asshole to someone too.”

So, we’ve been everywhere with this one. Starting to feel like Johnny Cash a bit, eh? In any case, I hope that what I said here makes some sense to you and I hope that you’ll see that some of the ideologies in black metal are to nihilism, misanthropy and fascism in the same way that goregrind and pornogrind are to rape, murder and misogyny. Even death metal had it’s share of these topics, so there’s no real getting out of that bubble in this extreme underground portion of the scene. If you don’t like anime girls with big breasts, just don’t look at them. No one is forcing you to do so. Same with black metal. If you don’t care for the themes of some of it’s bands, then you don’t have to listen to or support them. If you don’t approve of what a member did, but still enjoy the band; then you have to learn how to separate the artist from the artistic medium. I like Jeepers Creepers, for example. But I don’t care for what Victor Salva did. Same with Ren & Stimpy, which my mother and I have loved for decades. I don’t know if you are aware of the allegations towards it’s creator John Kricfalusi, but things are not looking good for him right now. It’s only a matter of time before more people are called out from out of the woodwork and you’ll be tested with even more situations in which you’ll have to separate the art from the artist. But if you can’t do that, you don’t have to. Rather, you can just skip over it so that someone else who can respect the medium for what it is still has a chance to enjoy it. That I think, is the biggest takeaway in all of this.

– The Grim Lord

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