Tuesday, June 2, 2015

San Jose Fanime City & Detroit Metal City

Last weekend Math Mage, Huntress, Berkeley Blazer, Book Wyrm, and I (Lord Battle) attended Fanime. The decision for most of us was spur-of-the-moment, despite having discussed the possibility of going all week. Math Mage has attended the con for years now and has even hosted a panel for the past 3. Berkeley Blazer had attended years ago as a cub but hadn't returned since, due to his strict study regiment. Book Wyrm has wanted to go for a couple years now and finally was able to. Huntress and I were mostly indifferent (A full retelling of this adventure may come about later, so for sake of keeping that interesting I'm going to skip ahead.).

Fanime features ------ all day and night viewing rooms, each with its own theme of content. I had been following the lead of veteran Fanime adventurers when I found myself in a room at 1AM about to start a show called Detroit Metal City. To be honest I try not to judge any film before actually watching it but I had hated DMC the instant I heard the name. I'm not even exactly sure why, at that point I had known nothing about the show other than the name, which I had been hearing for years. Usually someone would say, "Oh I know you don't really like anime but you'll love Detroit Metal City." I had also heard this about Bastard!! (D&D meets Metal, how could I not like it?! Easy, the clunky slapstick of Anime bleed too heavily into two mediums which I think are cool. Cool in this case meaning; Take it seriously and its amazing, make it a joke and you offend me.) 
Originally I had planned on listing a few things and complaining about them like I just did with Bastard!!. Instead I'm just going to use 1 word to explain what I love to find in any art medium and why this applies to anime; authenticity. I need my art to speak from the creator's heart. I understand that when Cuthulu mythos are applied to a harem anime (Haiyore! Nyaruko-san) that I won't be getting brutal introspective tales of a paranoid racist with a thing for architecture, but that super serious theme will be applied to a standard Japanese trope and made incredibly silly. That is fine with me, I think taking something so dark and making it light is awesome. Now coming from a fan of both Dungeons and Dragons and Metal music I expected a much more authentic approach from Bastard!! By authentic I refer to where fans of the material find their entertainment. I believe fans of both media clubs have a strong passion for the art they love and take both D&D and Metal as serious  artistic outlets. Bastard!! simply used the media as a superficial skin, naming characters after metal figures like King Diamond even though there is no real justification for this other than a creator is a fan, which just seems like stringing the culture out to be laughed at. Basically you don't want people making a mockery of stuff you like when they don't even have a chance to understand it...

Johannes Krauser II & Soichi Negishi

Detroit Metal City is a very straight forward comedy about Soichi Negishi moving to Tokyo to fulfill his dream of playing in a pop-band. This of course doesn't work out and he somehow finds himself fronting a quickly rising Death Metal band called Detroit Metal City or DMC.
At first glance this show appears to be yet another attempt to exploit metal without actually knowing anything about it. In fact, it does such a good job of making Soichi seem like a such a lame ass for pursuing his sissy pop music over his obviously awesome band, who actually consists of a couple of not so bad dudes. This is where I realized the creators obviously did understand metal culture, the hype-active lame and uninspired attempts at being "evil" weren't a commentary on metal but how people perceived it. Things like Krauser II raping 10 people by merely saying rape 10 times in a second makes absolutely no sense but people fear/worship him for it constantly. There is a great moment where Soichi is speaking to Yuri Akiawa (a girl he's had a crush on since collage). Yuri makes a comment about DMC saying she heard Krauser II rapes people at their shows. The audience then gets a close up of Soichi as he thinks to himself, "I'm still a virgin."
An authentic fan perspective isn't the only hint that someone behind the scenes knows what's up; the music DMC plays is also very specific. DMC is a Blackened Death band, meaning they fit culturally in with the second wave of Black Metal (metal nerds may disagree, it really depends on if you acknowledging the 3rd wave of Black Metal) but musically sound and write like a Death metal band, not unlike Behemoth currently (Cultural ties are huge in metal!). Another interesting comparison would be to American animated band DethKlok. DethKlok's creator Brandon Small is a huge metal head and great guitarist but still ran into a problem while recording drums, the problem being he didn't have the chops. When you listen to early DMC you'll quickly notice the drums are competently played.
I think I've ranted/rambled enough to prove how excited I walked away from Fanime this year. I honestly hoped I would find something interesting, I had no clue I'd enjoy something so much that I'd be watching it again later that week! Next year I plan on tracking down a screening list before the event and sharing recommendations.

- Lord Battle

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