DRAMAtical Murder – 06

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It’s ironic that DMMd brings up the concept of mind control, since that’s what one could call the effect that led me to continue to watch a show that isn’t quite up to snuff and probably never will be. Last week’s action was diverting enough, but only led to more of everyone gathered around the table as Grams talks, and talks, and talks some more. It was boring and tedious.

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The show had been stubbornly maintaing an atmosphere of mystery, and I’d been hankering for some answers, but this gratuitous infodump didn’t satisfy as I’d hoped. Brain research; human experimentation; brainwashing; conspiracies; accidents; latent abilities; it was too many cliches dropped on us too fast, and all kind of ran together.

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I also have found myself unable to ignore the show’s thoroughly lackluster animation. I’ve dropped shows with similarly iffy stories that have looked better than this in much less busy seasons. And the monocled villain and his goals are just…not interesting. I stuck around for six episodes, but there hasn’t been enough improvement to merit continued watching.

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DRAMAtical Murder – 05

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Aoba wakes up from his fist nap face to face with Mink, leader of Scratch and the guy who punched him…only to get beaten again for protesting the situation. I was right there with Aoba in his combined confusion and rage: damn it, show, what’s going on here?

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The show eventually relented, but only partially: Mink wanted information from Aoba; information he has now acquired. Mink agrees to help Aoba find Grams if Aoba agrees to do what he says. Mink is not the sort of guy you want to try to haggle with, and Grams comes first, so Aoba agrees.

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Returning home to find a worried Clear and Koujaku, Aoba has to play peacemaker between Koujaku and Mink, which is fine; it’s not as if opposing gang leaders are supposed to get alng. When Mink discovers Noiz has the house under surveillance, they invite him to join them in the operation to save Grams.

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The operation that follows is the first time the show has gathered so many disperate actors in a loose coalition, all helping Aoba out. Koujaku, Mink, and even Clear prove quite capable of dealing with the Morphine foot soldiers sent at them, many of whom are former members of Dry Juice.

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When Aoba arrives in the parking lot where Grams is being moved, there’s another surprise: Mizuki is the one shoving her into a truck. He clearly isn’t himself from Aoba’s perspective. Things get a little bit weird when Aoba suddenly involuntarily enters a virtual world where the “real” Mizuki describes how Morphine betrayed him.

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Then Aoba’s head starts pounding again, and an evil-looking “inner-Aoba” says “Destroy” again and again, causing Mizuki intense pain. Not sure what’s up with all that, but I will say this episode was never boring.

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DRAMAtical Murder – 02

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With most of the characters introduced, the plot gets a chance to thicken this week, as a mystery surrounds Aoba and Ren’s impromptu trip to Rhyme, and none of his elaborately-dressed buds can shed any light on it. There’s a ton of questions asked, but its slim pickings, answer-wise, which combined with the leisurely pace of this episode, made it more of a drag than the first.

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The entire first half consists of a rehash of the Rhyme battle with that annoying bunny thing, which I really didn’t need to see again. Turns out the outdated Ren’s initial attacks are no match for the foe, but Aoba instinctively busts out some kind of orders that win the day. He wakes up where he passed out, is excused from work, and goes home to rest and repair his Allmate. Things are very slice-of-lifey.

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That’s not a lot an awful of ground covered, by the standards of some of the better-paced shows out there, but it’s also arguably admirable the show is still keeping its cards close, preferring to show Aoba interacting with his friends and grams more and let subtle clues trickle out one by one. It’s obvious, for instance, that Aoba has played Rhyme before; he even has a handle: “Sly Blue.” The popularity of Rhyme is also sapping the ranks of real-world gangs.

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But due to an unspecified “accident” a while back, Aoba’s memories must have been messed with, the same way the data in Ren was damaged. He also must have been a player of no small accomplishment, since he not only seems to have some antagonist on his trail, but also has an apparent fan who reverently calls him “master”—that’s Clear, the gas-masked fellow we thought was behind that first battle but turned out not to be. In any case, Aoba’s a popular guy right now, and there’s a lot more to him than even he knows.

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DRAMAtical Murder – 01

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Bodacious. Stylish. Crisp. Zany. Rad. These kinds of words swirled through my head during the OP (with a catchy theme by techno rock band GOATBED) and those descriptors served me well all the way through a very introductory episode to the ED (also a catchy theme by techno rock band GOATBED). On further research (Wikipedia) I learned this show is based on a BL visual model, which explains the lack of any female main characters, along with the reliable attractiveness of all of the male characters we come across.

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The gender of the various players isn’t of much consequence in the first episode; but what is evident is that they all cultivate extremely elaborate, colorful looks; clearly a lot of effort was put into giving them very memorable, eye-popping appearances. One could even throw around the word flamboyant without fear. The setting is similarly impressive; as the protagonist Seragaki Aoba and all his pals live in the somewhat rundown”old city” (let’s say it has “character”) on an island now dominated by a massive, pristine arcology-looking thing.

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We follow Aoba through a pretty typical day in which he crosses paths with many different folks, from a trio of neighborhood urchins, to his hairdresser friend Koujaku, to his gang leader friend Mizuki, two the non-twin brother yakuza duo of Trip and Virus, and finally, some big dude he bumps into who drives off on his motorcycle without a word. There’s also a kid with a gas mask on, Zvezda-style, but Aoba doesn’t run into him. The whole time, his pet Japanese Spitz Ren is by his side, who happens to be able to talk, serves as a mobile computer, and takes human form in game fields. Everyone seems to have a little mecha-animal on their person. Wish I had a mecha-animal…

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While Aoba’s clearly done a few unsavory things in his past, he seems content with a quiet, honest living at the Junk Shop “Mediocrity” and living with his battleaxe Grams. But he’s also a lad being pushed and pulled by his pals to doing something more with his life; something he’s capable of doing. The final straw comes when he’s drawn against his will into the VR combat game “Rhyme” that’s all the rage in the city. While he pleads with the guy who instigated the game that he’s never played Rhyme, he’s clearly played something before, because he uses something called a “Jubilation Set” to defeat him.

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Keeping track of so many new faces on new shows is often, to borrow a word from Aoba, a “hassle”, but DMMd at least makes it easier by making them so distinctive, and there’s a nice flow to Aoba’s travels around the huge, surging city. I can’t say much about Rhyme, except that Ren looks really cool in human form and their evil bunny rabbit opponents were lame as hell. Between Grandma throwing death flags and the gas mask guy, I’d bed on Aoba’s quiet, unassuming life getting a bit louder and more assuming in episodes to come. And by all means, keep rockin’ those moon boots.

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