Post Reply DRAMAtical Murder
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Posted 7/30/14 , edited 8/7/14
by Eclipsed_Oblivion

Though becoming more mainstream, Boys’ Love is still a niche anime genre usually delegated to OVAs and visual novels instead. However, those visual novels occasionally do get adapted into a TV series, and this season it’s the wildly popular DRAMAtical Murder’s turn. The anime version well adapts the source material to be accessible to fans of the visual novel and newcomers alike, and its eccentric character designs make for a visually unique series. Its strongest point, however, is how it establishes its intensely cyberpunk environment that also somehow feels like early 20th century Japan.

Without any real dramatic murder truly involved, DRAMAtical Murder follows Aoba Seragaki, a young man who lives in the Former Residents’ District of an island privatized and turned into a resort. Despite still suffering from the effects of an accident, Aoba lives a peaceful life working in a junk shop, but it doesn’t last. As one of few young people who hasn’t joined a Ribstiez gang, not only does Aoba become involved in their turf war game, but he is thrown into popular cyber game Rhyme against his will. Though Boys’ Love anime aren’t known for having strong plots, DRAMAtical Murder does have a very creative premise that allows for heavy cyberpunk and action sequences rather than just romance.

It’s also vital to mention that DRAMAtical Murder did have quite the horrible mishap with the third episode that caused many to unfairly drop the series; the animation studio accidentally sent to TV stations an unfinished version of the episode, resulting in an extremely low quality broadcast with laughable animation. It was a clumsy, but honest mistake, and the intended episode will be re-released soon.

That aside, what most viewers, fans and newcomers alike, will first look for in DRAMAtical Murder is its quality as an adaptation, and it does succeed in being accessible to both audiences. For fans especially, that the series truly fleshes out what were static images in the visual novel is quite exciting, especially with the expanded cityscape and Rhyme battles, and for new viewers, these simply add even more depth to its vast world. The anime’s pacing is also on the slower side to avoid the information dump the futuristic world would normally require, and it instead gradually integrates information throughout the episodes to both aid in newcomers’ understanding and avoid tedious explanations for fans. While the series will likely remove all explicit content, DRAMAtical Murder does include the romance most viewers will be looking for and stays mostly true to the visual novel, some of the changes being to the moments that give away which route the anime is taking, which results in an unpredictable, enjoyable series for all.

What result in making DRAMAtical Murder also a visually unique series are its character designs. With a liberal use of piercings, tattoos, bright colours, atypical hairstyles, and odd accessories, whether one loves or hates the designs, it’s hard to deny how memorable they are. They aren’t just for show either; some elements of each character design are actually significant to plot advancement, backstory, or character development, rather than just for an eccentric aesthetic. The character designs are also not just representative of the characters, but of different aspects of DRAMAtical Murder’s world as well. The vast array of outfits are mostly cyberpunk, but each also has a different flavour, whether robotic, traditionally Japanese, gang-related, fashionable, or even just strange, and these help color DRAMAtical Murder’s world with shades both light and dark.

The amount of color in DRAMAtical Murder’s world is also due to how well the series establishes its cyberpunk, yet traditional Japanese environment. It mainly accomplishes this by blending its city reminiscent of early 20th century Japan with science-fiction technology, such as Allmates, which are network devices that look and act like pets. The backgrounds are also quite detailed, full of Japanese signage and lanterns, but also TV screens and maps of futuristic places. As well, the opening and ending songs are wholly unlike the average anime song, as the series opts for new wave and electropop music that matches the environment rather than anything more mainstream. Moreover, DRAMAtical Murder truly capitalizes on the fact that Aoba is not part of any gang confined to specific turf, as that allows him to explore all areas of town and befriend people of all backgrounds. This further fleshes out DRAMAtical Murder’s world and thus concretely establishes its Japanese cyberpunk environment.

Ultimately, DRAMAtical Murder is successful in adapting the source material to be accessible for both fans and newcomers alike, but it also stands out this season for its visually memorable character designs not eccentric just for the attention, but to contribute to the plot and character backgrounds. Most of all, DRAMAtical Murder’s solid establishment of its environment truly creates a distinctive world that merges early 20th century Japan with a cyberpunk society. Now it’s just a matter of time to see if the route DRAMAtical Murder and Aoba take will actually have a dramatic murder or not.
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Posted 8/17/14
An excellent review, full of needed info for those who are new to the story.
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