Rape is not funny. It just isn’t.
However, for reasons that I can’t bloody fathom, Kiminori Wakasugi seems to think that it is. To be fair, he probably just thinks that there’s something hilarious about extreme metal – which sometimes takes things too far.
And he’d definitely be right about that.
The problem is that, by trying to be satirical of a genre of music that is so outrageous that it becomes parody, Wakasugi took things too far. Yes, the lyrics in extreme metal might refer to brutal murder or raping and pillaging – and it’s worth taking the piss out of that.
Except that, in making incessant (incessant, really – this is not a joke) references to rape in a mocking manner, it devalues the word and strips it of all the trauma revolving around rape. It’s not only insensitive to rape victims, but it’s incredibly irresponsible.
This reminds me of a budding stand up comic that my partner and I saw on a talent night recently. He focused most of his act on his own child abuse experiences. This was uncomfortable to say the least: not only did we feel bad for him as a victim, but there’s nothing one can find funny in a child being sexually abused.
So we didn’t laugh.
And neither did most people in that room. As well they shouldn’t.
Much as Wakasugi shouldn’t.
Even if it were a personal statement, even if it was his way of coping with his own personal traumas, I don’t think it’s responsible to do it in this manner, to so carelessly poke fun at what has been a soul-destroying experience for so many people around the world and through the ages.
But I suspect that Wakasugi isn’t even exorcising his demons, exposing his own traumas. My gut feeling is that this is just some dude who finds extreme metal a riot and, unfortunately, doesn’t know where to draw the line. We should probably pity the bastard; to have such a damaged moral compass is kind of pathetic, really.
But I don’t. I don’t know if I can.
Anyway, speaking of not being able to draw the line, Wakasugi’s artwork is quite juvenile. Manga artists are often quite skilled, but I don’t see much evidence of that here: Wakasugi’s penciling reminds me of the sketches a teenager might make while waiting for the school bell to ring. It’s not great. And hardly surprising, given the tone of the piece.
The writing isn’t exactly stellar, either.The story is contrived and clichéd to a degree that left me dumfounded. I’ve found that manga and anime works frequently touch on the same subjects and many are pretty much interchangeable, but DMC is so derivative that it reeks.
Still, it did have some amusing moments, such as the interactions between the band and their manager. She is a crude metalhead who actually pushes the band in their vile direction because it’s bringing them success. And because it turns her on. It’s ridiculous, but amusing.
Which makes me wonder if that was Wakasugi’s cop-out for the whole thing: because a female character is pulling the strings. Be that as it may, it’s still disturbing: rape is rape is rape. It’s the violation of a person on a deeply profound level – and I can’t think of any just cause.
Also disconcerting is the fact our lead, Soichi, vacillates between being a shy, sensitive teenage boy, and transforming into an egotist monster who threatens humiliation and violence on everyone in his path. It could only be a stage persona, except that he lapses into character in his personal life too. This is done for comedic reasons, but it’s extremely troubling: Soichi is basically psychotic.
All this to say that I am quite perturbed by Detroit Metal City. Even though it has its moments (hence its “high” rating), I found it grueling to get through and almost didn’t – I only finished it to give the author a chance. And to be able to report back on it. Because it needs to be said: this highly offensive book should be avoided.
Post scriptum: Detroit Metal City has been turned into an animated show, a japanese live action movie, and there are even rumours of it being considered as motion picture material here in North America. So, obviously, some people are nearly as “sensitive” as I am. Go f-in’ figure…