Blu-ray Review: DRAMAtical Murder – The Complete Collection
09/02/2017 Leave a comment
Murder and Drama don’t usually mix well together but what can one expect from Manga Entertainment UK’s Blu-ray release of DRAMAtical Murder – The Complete Collection? Well it turns you can expect both and some more; so let’s take a look!
Nothing on Midorijima has been the same since the powerful Toue Konzern forced the original population into the Old Residential District and converted the rest of the island into the exclusive resort Platinum Jail. Despite that, Aoba Seragaki has tried to build a normal life for himself, working part-time in a junk shop and hanging out with his friends and his A.I. “pet” AllMate, Ren.
But when Aoba is drawn into the shady underworld that surrounds the popular virtual game Rhyme, the universe that he thought he knew falls apart. If deja vu describes the sensation of experiencing something that you think you may have done before, what is it called when other people seem to recognize you for doing things that you don’t remember doing? All Aoba knows is that there are gaps in his memory, people are disappearing, and a secret buried in his own mind may be the only keys to revelation!
DRAMAtical Murder offers the impression of a technological story that could rival the ideas of Digimon and Summer Wars with its heavy reliance on futuristic technology and the possibility of fighting each-other using digital avatars; but instead it’s nothing more than a poorly written series with some rather uninteresting characters and disappointing enemies. In fact; this is the real DRAMAtical Murder a story so bad it’s not really worth your time unless you enjoyed the source material, which in this case is a Japanese BL visual novel by Nitro+chiral.
So; what’s DRAMAtical Murder all about? Well it follows the events of Akoba, a guy with long blue hair that is often mistaken for a girl who tries to live an average life by working at a retro computer shop; that is until he is randomly attacked by a mysterious stranger and drawn into a Rhyme fight. These ‘Rhyme Fights’ use digital avatars to attack each other with and it quickly sees Akoba overwhelmed by this mysterious attacker – to which Akoba’s latent ability appears and he somehow manages to fend off the attack. It’s a mysterious set-up and leads the viewer to think that the series may off a ‘Summer Wars’ styled battle royale; but alas thats not to be.
Instead Akoba ignores the attack and goes about his daily business; but it’s not long before new characters important to the series begin to appear; namely Noiz, a cyber-hacker that wants to defeat Akoba in a Rhyme battle for some reason, Clear, a robotic android that deems Akoba his master for some reason, and Mink, a criminal with a questionable background that lends Akoba his assistance from time to time. For the most part these characters introductions, as well as introductions to Akoba’s close childhood friend Koujaku, are spread out across several episodes with each discussion being surrounded in either mystery or conflict; but alas this is where the series true agenda begins to show itself.
The true storyline with DRAMAtical Murder is that Akoba holds a unique ability that allows him to ‘push his consciousness’ into the minds of other people; thus allowing them to do his bidding. This ability has remained dormant ever since a rhyme battle several years prior; but now Toue, a man wanting the ability for his own twisted desires, has now located Akoba and tends to secure him by any means necessary. This conflict between Toue and Akoba – of which mostly takes place in secret – leads Akoba in to trusting his new found friends to which we see his ability used in order to learn more about the characters and develop a stronger bond with them.
The bizarre aspect of this series is that it takes so long for the introductions of these characters (and in turn Akoba’s ability) to take place that the finale to the series; namely the confrontation with Toue and his minions, is left to the final few episodes and as such feels rushed. Personally the story of Akoba taking part in Rhyme battles, which like I mentioned see digital counterparts battle against each other, is far more entertaining than seeing a group of five random people attempt to overthrow an organisation and his twisted ideals.
It’s not just the story either; the pacing and presentation of the series feels completely wrong with important facts and information being provided at random and almost inconsistent times. For instance the fact that Akoba’s hair hurts when touched is briefly mentioned – even though it feels like it should be an important part of the story. It’s slow, it’s boring and more importantly it’s extremely disappointing for a series which – on the surface – looks pretty good; which is a real shame.
As per usual Manga Entertainment have opted to use disc assets provided by Sentai Filmworks which means we receive a relatively selective selection of content; namely textless songs and trailers for other Sentai Filmwork releases.
In addition to the usual selection of content, of which only one (in this case Bakumatsu Rock) has been released by Sentai Filmworks, we have the inclusion of the bonus OVA episode which highlights the bad endings within the game in anime form.
Media: BD 50 x1, BD 25 x1
Region: A & B
Running Time: 3:51:49 (Disc 1), 1:40:27 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD 2.0 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps
DRAMAtical Murder is an anime adaptation of the Japanese Otome styled Visual Novel of the same name developed by Nitro+chiral which sees Akoba, a seemingly average person, become the target of an organisation that want to use his unique powers for twisted ideals. Explaining the plot like this suggests a rather interesting series; however the way its presented depicts a confusing and disappointing story that just gets boring the more you watch and it’s mostly due to the extensive introductory period and a lack of a linear narrative.
For instance the series spends a large amount of time discovering the allies that Akoba will form friendship with; to which when this happens Akoba uses his power to ‘unearth’ their fears – all of which takes an additional five episodes. It’s not entirely explained what the point ofall this is – I assume to cement the friendship – but ideally these should have occurred at the time of meeting these characters rather than at the time of invading the organisations hideout. It’s all just bizarre and just doesn’t flow naturally and it’s a shame as the series offers some great potential; such as the rhyme battles (which we hardly ever get to see) and the rival gang groups fighting over the districts. So much potential; and yet it’s wasted on something that feels trival when it should be important.
This aside this release by Manga Entertainment is exactly as you would expect it to be; with a selection of episodes spread across two Blu-ray discs presented to the highest quality; however one oddity does remain. The disc artwork features the MangaUK logo; however the Animatsu logo appears at the start of each disc. It’s a small error and most likely a mistake by the authoring studio – which could be Sentai Filmworks as the discs replicate those found in America. It’s also worth mentioning that the series is presented in both English and Japanese (with English subtitles) and although the subbed version of the series is bearable the English Dub track isn’t half bad; but as one would expect all of the notable Sentai Filmwork voice actors are present with their lacklusture attempt at dubbing. Subtitle wise we are treated to the standard yellow subtitles with translations (and background discussions) being white; so at least its easy to understand whats being said by what character.
DRAMAtical Murder potential offers an interesting story with the way it starts; but ultimately its nothing but a disappoint that just gets more tedious the further you get along. Realistically this series has been produced for fans of the original game and (in turn) fans of Otome visual novels as other than that theres nothing new here to experience; which is a shame as the production quality – especially for the Rhyme battle scenes seem quite high. Watch if you dare; but if you don’t like otome styles then you may wish to skip. That aside the production of the disc is exactly as you would expect – so no complaints in that regard.
DRAMAtical Murder – The Complete Collection will be available as a Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack from the 13th February 2017.