J.D. Considine

J.D. Considine is a critic, musician and recovering otaku. He is jazz critic at The Globe and Mail, and writes for Revolver, Bass Player and Downbeat.



"Tokyo Style Wars: Death metal, Shibuya-kei and Social Status in Detroit Metal City"

Kiminori Wakasugi’s manga Detroit Rock City is in many ways a standard fish-out-of-water story. Soichi Negishi, a hapless naif from rural Japan, moves to Tokyo to pursue a career in music. But instead of making poppy, fashionable music like the Shibuya-kei acts he adores, Negishi winds up performing as Krauser II, the demonic frontman for the most notorious death metal band in Tokyo: Detroit Metal City. DMC fans worhsip Krauser, but Negishi is mortified by the music, and keeps his identity hidden from his family and friends.

Beneath the comedy of Negishi’s ongoing humiliation (he tries to remain true to his trendy tastes around his old friends even as his label chief swears to “make you death metal all the way down to your balls”), Detroit Metal City makes some sharply drawn points about the Tokyo music scene. In addition to name-checking actual Japanese bands, the story clearly sketches the social and class distinctions that define musical taste and identity among Tokyo youth.

This paper will look at all four versions of Detroit Metal City — the manga, the anime, the live-action film, and the CDs — to unpack the story both as a critique of Tokyo’s underground music scenes, and as a meditation on the importance of identity and authenticity in popular music. In the process, it will address the unspoken hierarchies of pop taste, and consider whether an obsession with stylish, sophisticated Shibuya-kei pop really is more admirable than a devotion to sexist, blood-thirsty death metal.

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