Midnight Madness Blog

- 2008
- 2007

Japanese society has evolved in leaps in bounds since the end of World War II (arguably more than most nations). It has gone from a culture based strictly on tradition with very few outside influences, to one of the world’s most robust economic powerhouses with American influences proliferating.

Being only able to speculate, I believe this transformation has never been fully accepted by mainstream Japanese society, and in many ways is still being dealt with. For better or worse, American influence will not be leaving Japan anytime soon, thus Japanese society must find a way to cope with its pervasiveness while still retaining a sense of the tradition of their not-so-distant past.

It is this climate of uncertainty where Detroit Metal City (DMC) exists, and is perfectly embodied by the duality of main character Soichi Negishi /Johannes Krauser II. Living with his family in a rural Japanese setting at the opening of the film, we see signs of a simpler, more innocent Japan. Negishi decides to leave his loving, farm-dwelling family to move to Tokyo to pursue his dream of becoming a Swedish-style pop musician.

It is in Tokyo where Negishi encounters the realities of modern-day Japan; an orgy of lights, buildings and money. In order for Negishi to survive this modern jungle, he must adapt to his environment and thus Johanns Krauser II (Death Metal Rocker extraordinaire) is born. Negishi is never quite comfortable with this transition but attempts to walk the line of his past of present selves.

All the insecurities of this duality are brought to the fore upon returning for a visit to his family. Negishi is aghast at the despicable behaviour of his younger brother, and sees it is himself that is to blame. Negishi attempts to rectify the situation at home, but is quickly summoned back to the big city to compete in a battle of the bands with American Metalist Jack II Dark.
gene simmons
With Jack being played by Gene Simmons, a more American symbol would be hard to find. In a showdown with the Godfather of Metal, Negishi must play the part of Krauser like never before. A telling moment is just prior to the showdown when Krauser appears with the word “Kill” written on his forehead (it is usually written in Japanese). A fan comments that he “must mean business”.  I won’t ruin the ending of the film, but needless to say Krauser is able to hold his own. Krauser, like Japan is able to survive by “playing their part” in this modern world...but they don’t have to like it.

I absolutely LOVED THIS FILM!!!

Hilarious and totally over the top fun.
I'm not a big fan of Manga, nor did I know anything about the films origins, but I highly reccomend checking out DMC.

Definitely don't miss the repeat screening if you get the chance!
Comment By GORE At 06/09/2021 1:49 PM
Hi Darryl, I like your musings a lot. It's especially interesting when you consider the introduction of death metal in the American context of the 1970's (I'm assuming KISS and company count, even if many of their lyrics are downright wholesome by contemporary standards) as a time of turmoil and cultural struggle.
But the real point of me writing in is:
Holy shit! DMC! So Cool!
Comment By weed At 06/09/2021 8:07 PM
DMC was my favorite Midnight Madness movie so far (although I didn't get to see JCVD, which I hear was awesome!)

But don't agree with your idea that this movie is about a conflict between traditional japanese culture and american influence. I don't think the character's initial obsession with 'trendy' music and styles has anything traditional about it. And his mother (such a great role!) starts the movie saying how when Soichi Negeshi was young he was often mistaken for a girl.

I saw this as a personal struggle - or maybe an examination of some conflicts in modern japanese culture. But certainly not traditional.
Comment By DaveBOTN At 07/09/2021 6:49 PM
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