Soichi Negishi, the nice guy hero of Kimihori Wakasugi's energetically rude death metal comedy, Detroit Metal City (Viz Media), is a man of dual identities. As Negishi, the sweet face 23-year-old with a bowl cut and a predilection for Swedish pop bands, he's a sensitive man/boy. But when he dons a wig, whiteface and a futuristic KISS-style costume, he becomes Johannes Krauser II, mother-rapin' front man for the indy "evil-core" band Detroit Metal City (any echo of KISS' "Detroit Rock City" is strictly intentional).
Loved by his rabid fans for his shrieking lyrics about sexual assault and murder (the band's signature song, "Satsugai" translates into "Kill 'em all") and hardcore monstrous persona, Krauser is an embarrassment to Soichi, who would rather be a singer in the mold of whispery-voiced Kari Kahimi than the raspy creature he portrays in DMC. Unfortunately for our sensitive new age guy, he can't get arrested singing sweet pop confections like "Raspberry Kiss" while his celebrations of rape and domination are finding a growing cult of fans. The foul-mouthed president of the band's label puts it bluntly: Krauser's violent lyrics get her wet, while just a few stanzas of "Raspberry Kiss" are a dehydrating turn-off.
The conflict between these two aspects of Soichi provide most of the comedy in this "mature" readers manga — which has also inspired a live action movie and a direct-to-video anime — the first volume of which is reaching American shores in an understandably shrink-wrapped edition. "This album contains nothing but the most profane of profanities," the back cover of DMC's debut disc warns. "Listen at the risk of your immortal soul." Viz could just as easily put a variation of this sticker warning on the back cover of the book since much of its dialog (especially that delivered by Death Records' leather-wearing president) can be gleefully obscene.
Poor Soichi is a victim of his underground success. When he's falsely accused of groping a cute young thing on the subway, a notepad of prospective DMC song lyrics ("Spread 'em wide, you sows!") makes him look even guiltier to both girl and subway cop. To make matters worse, his ability to lose himself in the Krauser interferes with his attempts at wooing a pop-loving girl named Aikawa. Prodded into doing air guitar to one of DMC's songs in a music store, Soichi so gets into character that he begins shouting abusive invective at Aikawa. Singing one of his death metal compositions in a karaoke bar, he becomes so wrapped up in the song's nasty lyrics that he gobs on his would-be girlfriend.