DRAMAtical Murder

DRAMAtical Murder

IMG_0867.PNGSet in the near future on the fictional island of Midorijima in Japan, DRAMAtical Murder is the story of Aoba Seragaki who lives on the island and works at a shop named Junk Shop Mediocrity, hoping to live a relatively hassle-free life. However, Aoba finds himself forcefully dragged into a popular cyber game called Rhyme, which is a virtual world that uses Allmates – mobile devices that often appear as the owners pet in forms of dogs, birds and other animals. Along with the rumoured disappearances related to Ribstiez and the many turf wars between gangs, all semblance of a peaceful life just dissipates.

DRAMAtical Murder already has a bit of a fan base thanks to its beginnings as a visual novel back in 2012 on Windows PC as well as its sequel DRAMAtical Murder: re:connect which followed in 2013. From just watching the anime, what you don’t realise is that DRAMAtical Murder’s roots lie in some pretty hard-core sexual content. I’m about halfway through the series, but there’s overtly (or covertly, really) sexual so far, bar from a gay kiss in the third episode.

Screen shot 2014-09-01 at 12.38.27Like most good yaoi anime, DRAMAtical Murder is combined with another genre: science fiction, in this case (similar to Ai no Kusabi). The fictional island of Midorijima has been taken over by the Toe Company and the elite resort Platinum Jail was created, forcing the natives into an area known as the ‘Former Residents’ District’.

As mentioned earlier, Aoba works in a junk-shop and always keeps his Allmate Ren – a small black dog – nearby. Close friends of Aoba include tattooist Mizuki and hairdresser Koujaku. When Aoba finds himself attacked and forced into playing the virtual game ‘Rhyme’, things start to get a little problematic. Aoba wins, but only because of ‘another side’ of him that he didn’t know existed. The man who challenged him, pierced computer-whiz Noiz, is keeping close tabs on him because he wants a re-match. Another character that Aoba draws the attention of is Clear, a guy in a gas mask that refers to him only as ‘Master’. As the plot thickens, Aoba finds himself drawn deeper into gang turf wars and the confusing world of Rhyme.

IMG_0866.PNGSadly, this plot is a fairly slow mover, which is likely to do with the open-endedness of its visual novel foundations, as well as getting in all the trademark scenes and mentions that the original fan base would love to see. It’s a difficult plot to describe, and I don’t think I could sum up the world of Rhyme without getting anyone who doesn’t already know the franchise even more confused than they probably are already. Now that we are about halfway through the series, we are seeing some more in-depth character development through the typical harem-anime approach of ‘dedicated episode for each supporting character’ tactic. Whilst a very obvious tactic, it has certainly given a spotlight to some very interesting characters and gives Aoba a chance to use his unique ‘scrap’ ability to see inside their minds.

IMG_0863.PNGAnother thing that I did notice in the first few episodes was that some scenes seemed to be a little ‘off’ regarding lip-synching, but this is something Nitro+CHiRAL have since apologised for, and I haven’t seen any problems since.

Having started off on the cons, I hope I haven’t put anyone off on reading the pros. The artwork is fantastic, and the character and clothes design, and even the backgrounds, are an absolute treat to look at. Aoba in particular looks like a seriously cool dude (to the extent that I considered him a candidate for a future gender-bent cosplay). The music is another point which I enjoyed, which has a unique, futuristic feel that immediately caught my attention. The techno sound of GOATBED is always something that I look forward to hearing before a new episode.

In my opinion, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. There is a lot more yaoi anime to be seen this season, such as this and Love Stage!!, and it’s quite refreshing to be honest. Living in the UK, it’s not often that we see this sort of anime around because our distributors don’t really ship much of this genre, so I can’t say that I’ve seen much of it. Sadly, for this same reason, it is unlikely that we will be seeing a release of the visual novels either.