Review: DRAMAtical Murder

dramatical_murder_3146So if there’s one thing that’s of common knowledge it’s that adaptations of video games are either fantastic or phenomenal. If you didn’t know DRAMAtical Murder, a recent 2014 summer release anime from Nitro+chiral, is on the weird middle cusp, where it can be good on some aspects while near awful on the other side. So for the low down Dmmd is an otome Japanese game, essentially a yaoi/bl dating game, for adults, which was later adapted into an all ages anime. This is one of the reasons this show doesn’t essentially work, as it struggles to make it accessible for an inclusive audience. It’s obviously for an 18 and older audience but it downplays a lot of important plot points because of that. But anyway, enough of that for now, and onto the plot.

The main character Aoba lives on an Island, Midorijima, where there is an old district and a new district, named Platinum Jail. He meets with old friends and new friends, all who have their own special issues, and then evil befalls upon them! Well not really but an evil plot of mind control is I guess? The plot was never really that good as in the game you only really play for the other characters backstories, but I suppose I have to cover it despite all of that. So… Anyway. Aoba and friends must rush to Platinum Jail and stop a dastardly plot as well as come to terms with their troubled pasts that hold them back from living full lives. There’s also this whole thing with games like Rhyme or Rib, and the war between the players. Yeah. That’s the plot.

There’s also this whole thing about robot companions, often looking like real pets, called All-Mates who are the coolest thing ever. They will search the internet for you as well as check for viruses, and much more. We see ones that are birds, rabbits, lions, snakes, and dogs. I want an all mate and so should you.

So then. Characters.

Aoba Seragaki is our main dude, a blue mullet wearing twenty-three year old, who apparently has mind powers. Yup, he can literally turn your mind into a bowl of noodles, well only if he really wanted to. He’s pretty much a big ol’ blue nerd, has a robot dog, lives with his grandmother, and works at a junk shop. Also he wears a stupid puffy jacket. He is able to pretty much date any of the following options of characters.

Kojaku is our samurai ladies’ man, who is a hairdresser when he’s not the man in charge what is basically a gang, Benishigure, but not yakuza. Really he’s just a huge nerd too, but has a tragic backstory. He’s also Aoba’s childhood friend, which if you didn’t know is always a choice in otome games, who just wants to protect said person. Kojaku is tough guy who doesn’t let harm come to civilians, especially the ladies. He’s also got a bit of temper issue when it comes to certain things, including his tattoos.

Noiz is our younger brat type, who is the head guy of a Rhyme team, Ruff Rabbit, as well as an information broke.  He’s also got a tragic backstory concerning how he was raised and how it turned him into who he is. Not very tact he literally is always pestering someone to fight him or pissing someone off because he can. He sees the world as a give and take system, everyone wants something from him, which is the only reason anyone would be kind to him. There’s something that he cannot feel that Aoba helps him understand.

Clear is our tragic white haired anime boy, except… Well spoilers on that one, anyway… He came into the story because he heard Aoba’s voice call out to him. That’s why he’s there, for his Master’s voice. He’s happy go lucky, if not a bit dense about things.  He doesn’t show his face to people out of certain reasons and everyone seems to love him in the fandom. Unfortunately he also has a tragic backstory. All of them do.

Mink is our cinnamon flavored thug, leader of the group Scratch, and man is he controversial in the game. Quiet and reserved, he’s only really interacting with the other’s to meet his own ends. There’s a reason he’s in Midorijima, and it’s not a good one. Still he’s the one least willing to let Aoba into his life and for good reasons. Everyone either loves or hates him, and it’s ridiculous because he is fictional.

Ren is Aoba’s All-mate, but also something deeper than that, his partner. Without any spoilers I’ll let you know that Ren is there to help Aoba no matter what happens. He will fight in Rhyme if need be, which gives him an alternate mode from his dog all mate form, as a beefcake. He’s also faced with many tough choices, mostly concerning how he feels, and if he is even justified in having emotions. At the end of the day he just wants to be by Aoba’s side. He’s also got a voice deeper than an abyss.

There’s also these two guys who say they aren’t twins but they are totally twins. They’re pretty…. Pretty messed up.  But also pretty. They are yakuza trash and seem to be pretty proud of it as well as unapologetic. The role they play is actually pretty important but far better explained in the game. In the anime they’re really only there to be ambiguous.

So the animation was definitely a downgrade, but that’s a bit hard to really talk about, as the game was not actually a moving animation. But still just the art of the anime was a bit on the dull side, as well as god damn atrocious in Episode 3 where apparently the animators sent the rough draft rather than the final product. The version that aired was clunky and horrible anatomy wise. And they later re-released the episode, but only in Japan, mostly due to the uproar of poor animation. It dulled out characters and made them blockier and less them. When the game that wasn’t animated but had literal stills of scenes is better than your animation that you definitely had more money to make… Well that’s just sad. Also while I’m not complaining, all the money had to have gone to that last episode. Sweet Jesus they made the Ren beach scene beautiful, I may have cried because of it.

This series had the unfortunate problem of having to deal with a multi-ending game, where were they going to take it? Which route? Well they decided to do all five routes in one go, which wasn’t the best idea on their part. It made the story telling as clunky as the animation, because Aoba was forced to fix a friend’s situation in basically ten minutes. It resolves things in a way that isn’t believable and I had a hard time really caring about the problems these characters were faced with. Nothing was fixed that fast in the game and I just had a hard time connecting to the characters like I did in the game. I know it’s not fair to constantly be comparing, but as a source material it is important.

Now the music was all pretty much done by the Japanese band GOATBED, which actually in canon is Aoba’s favorite band, and was not my favorite part of the show. I could give or take the opening and ending, but honestly it didn’t ruin the show either. Also pretty much everyone from the game returned to their roles in the animation, minus Mink’s original voice actor, and it was nice to hear some new line and bits from them. Still there was the whole issue of things being way too fast for me and that was mostly a story telling issue.

All together it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve watched, far from it actually. While it was a bit of a let-down compared to the game, which I’ve played, and found far superior, despite its own faults. I still found it entertaining and if I were just coming into it without any prior knowledge I might have liked it even more. Still overall it wasn’t the worst possible thing. And we’re still waiting for the two OVAs to be released that may or may not be the bad endings from the game but toned down. Now let’s also remember that, if you’re going for the source material after reading this, the game is for adults and features adult themes.

Overall rating: 6.5/10