At the tender age of ten, Johannes Krauser II picked up a boning knife and slashed the throats of his hapless parents, leaving their lifeless corpses bathing in pools of gore. Prison’s puny walls couldn’t hold a specimen of pure evil like him forever, though … and while locked in his cell, he realized the only music that could keep him from killing again was the violent sound of DEATH METAL. And so after his release, he formed blood bonds with two other madmen (Jagi, bass; Camus, drums) and created the most terrifying onslaught of evil-core death metal ever to sweep the face of this undeserving earth … DETROIT METAL CITY!
Except that his real name is Soichi Negishi and he’s really a demure young man who loves his mom, folksy pop ballads, and a nice comfy sweater (not in that order). But put him on stage and wrap him in a costume that Gene Simmons would find gaudy, and lo’n’behold he turns into an earsplitting underground devil of blood-sucking sonic blasphemy. “I am a terrorist from hell!” he bellows in Detroit Metal City’s opening panels. (The rest of the lyrics to that song sound like what you’d hear from the mother-rapers and father-stabbers [and father-rapers, and mother-stabbers] that shared the lockup with Arlo Guthrie when he got picked up for littering and creating a public nuisance.)Read more
If there’s a difference between a cliché and a trope, it’s that a trope can be the start of something great, but a cliché is where things end up, often being not-so-great. Nightmare Inspector has its own internal set of tropes, but they never bottom out into cliché. We have Hiruko the baku, an intriguing narrator with motives of his own, with an instinct for things being askew. Said instinct leads him into the ugly spaces in people’s lives that are never what they seem like at first (or even second) glance. Think of Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret, turning over rocks in Paris’s darker corners and finding human monsters. Here, it’s 1920s Tokyo, and it’s every bit as decadent and seamy if not more so.
It’s either great or terrible that the first chapter of volume 7 is the best thing in the whole book — possibly even the series as a whole. Great, because right from the start you get a sense of just what sort of heights this series can rise to. Terrible, because while the rest of the adventures in the book are still inspired, they come in a distant second. Put this episode last and it would have had even more impact. Said episode gives us a manga-ka who’s come to the Silver Star to have one of his dreams investigated — a dream which is itself in the form of a four-panel manga. The whole way this is depicted is nothing short of brilliant; it’s as much a commentary on manga as an art form as it is a clever use of the medium for the sake of the story. Read more