Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon

Detroit Metal City

Posted in J-Pop,Japanese film,Music by bourdaghs on the February 26th, 2012

This 2008 film came up in a discussion yesterday following a workshop I led at DePaul University for K-12 teachers on using Japanese popular music in the classroom. I did a little web surfing after getting home and learned that it is now available on DVD in North America.

It’s a funny, cartoonish (not surprising, since it’s based on a successful manga) movie about a sensitive singer-songwriter (Matsuyama Ken’ichi) who wants only to record sunny Shibuya-kei style ballads about love and trendy Tokyo lifestyles, but who ends up trapped as lead singer for a death metal band. His fans worship him as the spawn of Satan, but all he cares about is trying to win over the squeaky clean girl (Kato Rosa) he’s had a crush on since college. Gene Simmons turns in a nice cameo appearance as the legendary American death metal icon who challenges our hero to a final showdown for supremacy.

Everything is played in a silly, over-the-top manner, dulling the emotional impact when it tries to go sentimental at the end. But the pop and metal songs are fun, affectionate parodies of the two genres. Around the time the movie came out in Japan, they actually released CDs purporting to be music by the fictional bands from the film.

Mark Schilling’s review for the Japan Times is available online here. Here’s a trailer for the film:

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