DRAMAtical Murder

This is an adult title. Please do not read if you are under 18.

Episodes 1-4 (Streaming on Crunchyroll)

“The future is like heaven, everyone exalts it, but no-one wants to go there now.” – James Baldwin.

Given that Anime UK News has covered the yaoi series Love Stage!! and the fan-service filled Free! it was inevitable that we would end up covering the other big boy’s love series currently being streamed right now. 

DRAMAtical Murder already has a big fan base, beginning as a visual novel in 2012 on Windows PC computers, and a sequel, DRAMAtical Murder re:connect following the following year. A quick search online will reveal that this video game is pretty hard-core in terms of sexual content. In terms of the four episodes streamed so far, nothing as sexual has been shown so far, although there is a gay kiss in the third episode.

Like the best yaoi, this series combines it with another genre. In this case it is science fiction, which is just as well. (The series often considered the most influential of yaoi, Ai no Kusabi, is also sci-fi.) It is set on a fictional island called Midorijima, which some point in its recent past was taken over by the Toe Company, who turned it into the Platinum Jail resort, forcing the native islanders into what is dubbed the “Former Residents’ District”.

The central figure, Aoba Seragaki, is a guy with blue, longish hair who works in a junk shop and lives with his grandmother. He is normally accompanied by a dog-like avatar called Ren. Aoba is close friends with tattoo artist Mizuki and hairdresser Koujaku. One day Aoba finds himself attacked and forced to play a virtual game called “Rhyme”, with Ren helping out in a now human form. Aoba wins, but soon things start to get problematic. He is constantly followed by the man who attacked him, the heavily-pierced Noiz, who wants Aoba to play him again. Aoba also attracts the attention of someone named Clear, who constantly wears a gasmask and refers to Aoba as “Master”. As the series advances, Aoba is dragged deeper into the world of Rhyme and a turbulent turf war.

Let’s start with some of the issue this series has. As stated earlier, little of the hard-core sex scenes have yet to appear, although this might change later in the series. The plot seems to be moving rather slowly, although again things seem to be taking a more dramatic turn by the end of the fourth episode. One thing you can certainly criticise however is the quality of episode three. The animation of the episode was very poor in parts, and in some parts there was a problem with lip-synching. Production company Nitro+CHiRAL have since apologised. 

But the positives certainly outweigh the negatives. The art is great. The backgrounds look wonderful and perfectly complement the futuristic tone of the show. The character designs are even better. The male leads all look good, especially Aoba (I admit that I would really like a pair of MP3 headphones like his). The techno soundtrack from the band GOATBED is also brilliant. Both the opening and closing themes are excellent. This soundtrack is certainly one to look out for when it becomes available.

This series is not perfect, but the good parts certainly outweigh the bad ones. The only really annoying thing is knowing that the chances of this series or the original game being released in the UK are practically nil, as none of this country’s anime distributors really do yaoi. Looks like this will end up being something to import from Region 1 DVD or Region A Blu-ray once the series is complete.

7 / 10

Ian Wolf

Ian works as an anime and manga critic for Anime UK News, and was also the manga critic for MyM Magazine. Outside of anime, he is data specialist for the British Comedy Guide, is QI's most pedantic viewer, has written questions for both The Wall and Richard Osman's House of Games, and has been a contestant on Mastermind.

More posts from Ian Wolf...