Set on the fictional Japanese island of Midorijima, an island becomes privatised by the powerful Toue Konzern who transforms the island into a resort called ‘Platinum Jail’. Living away from this extravagant city is protagonist Aoba Seragaki who works at a store called ‘Junk Shop Mediocrity’ in the Old Residential area. Despite wanting to live a normal life with his grandma, Aoba somehow finds himself being forced into the popular cyber-game called ‘Rhyme’. Little did Aoba know that this was the start of a nightmare for him and his friends…
At first glance, DRAMAtical Murder entails a sluggish storytelling that revolves around Aoba’s interaction with his work, family, and friends. However, nothing could prepare the audience for what was to come. With the underground gang named ‘Morphine’ on the loose with their desire to eliminate certain individuals, this chaos is fuelled when Aoba’s grandma gets kidnapped, and it was up to Aoba and his friends to rescue her before it is too late.
As if the old world has collided with the new, the setting of DRAMATical Murder is strikingly retro and modern at the same time. From punk to yakuza gangs, turf wars are constantly breaking out on the streets. Set in a city that appears to be traditionally Japan, we also see the inclusion of high-tech technology such as the use of robotic companions, mobile devices, and of course, engaging in Rhyme.
The world may look ordinary on the outside but the game of Rhyme has taken over this world. Enriched with techno colour and bizarre virtual enemies, Rhyme’s gaming dimension immediately alters our impressions of the show. A real game changer, the story feels refreshingly dramatic and the audience is relieved to see a sense of direction. Unfortunately, it was disappointing that DRAMAtical Murder did not explore the virtual dimension in great detail as every time the world is activated, fans take a great interest in the show. Not only is there mystery surrounding this dimension, but there is a strong desire amongst fans to discover more about Aoba’s alter ego and his powers.
After all, it is Aoba’s power that saves him every time. Situated deep in his soul is the ‘other Aoba’ who happens to be a sadistic and masochistic persona that represents his ‘Scrap’ ability. Desiring nothing but chaos and destruction, Aoba’s SCRAP alter ego allows him to enter people’s consciousness through the power of his voice. One wrong move, and it could potentially leave victims in a comatose state.
But unlike Aoba’s enemies who rather use the power for evil, Aoba learns that he can utilise this ability to connect with his friends and foes in a way like never before. From the compassionate Koujaku to skilled hacker Noiz, we like it how DRAMAtical Murder pays attention to each character by delving into each person’s mind from Aoba’s point of view. As we unfold each person’s backstory in significant detail, DRAMAtical Murder teaches us not to be judgemental of those that we encounter. Just like you and me, we all have a rough exterior, but deep down, everyone has a unique past that makes them who they are today.
For most viewers, DRAMAtical Murder comes across as a mystery series that will entertain viewers with its erratic drama and action sequences. However, the audience cannot help but wonder about the story’s true intentions. While it is not unusual for an anime to have a cast of handsome male characters, DRAMAtical Murder emits a silent vibe of a potential boys-love romance. With a constant display of intense angst and brooding, fangirls will find themselves immersed in the story for the wrong reasons (Note: Believe it or not, the original manga content is actually classified as a boys-love series!) Sadly, it is a shame that DRAMAtical Murder did not extend further to offer extra depth to its story as we would have liked to see more adventures from this odd group of friends.
Overall: DRAMAtical Murder is a well-paced journey that is often flourished with action and suspense. Despite the frequent uncertainty in the direction of its storytelling, we are somewhat satisfied with the quick conclusion of the series, even if the finale was an anti-climatic disappointment.