Dramatical Murder – Rhyme or Reason?

Tired of all those harem animes that simply have too many women? Looking for one to cater to your pseudo-yaoi needs? Well… look no further! Dramatical Murder has you covered. Dramatical murder is a bromance harem anime that takes place in a world that looks like it came straight out of the nineties.

It’s fairly hard to evaluate a show like Dramatical Murder. It is a lesson in contradiction. And, in some cases, it is hard to tell if this is intentional or not…

The story stars Aoba, a young man who strongly resembles Mega Man, suffers from periodic severe headaches, and lives with his grandmother – his only relative and the woman who provides him with the strange medicine for his headaches. He works at a junk shop called ‘Mediocrity’ and is friends with a variety of equally strange young men with their own… interesting histories, which you discover more about over the course of the show. Yes, aside from his old, strange-looking grandmother, virtually every named character in the show – no matter how feminine they may appear – is in fact male.

This feels kind of strange because there seems to be no explanation for this to be the case… characters don’t even seem to have female living relatives except for the main character’s grandmother. That isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with that… I just wish they’d come up with some reason for it. Something to explain why the only women you ever see are essentially extras. Even something as shallow as the ‘all girl school/profession’ Blade Dance used. Having no even attempt at an explanation just makes the fact that there are no female characters stand out all the more.

One of my big problems with this show is that, for most of its duration, it seemed confused as to what it wanted to show you… without any real logical episode flow. There’s a lot of interesting little arcs that get built, but for the most part none of the arcs really last past the episode they’re built in… at least, until the ending. In the final few episodes, most of the little subarcs suddenly get resolved, without warning or pretense… but then they transition into one of the most unsatisfying and mind-boggling endings I’ve ever seen.

I’m not entirely certain whether this was a conscious intent on their part, or just fear of alienating people, but the writers seemed afraid of consequences. Every time they looked like they had a really good moment, they ruined its meaning the next episode by removing the consequence. I won’t say this is uncommon, since a lot of tv and anime do it, but it is always a let-down. Especially when they show scenes that could have had consequences but just refuse to follow through on them.

Probably the best selling points of this show are its unique art style and audio direction. The opening and closing themes are both very interesting, and they had a series of episodes where each of the major characters got their own variant of the ending theme/scene which was really cool. Dramatical Murder also has a very distinct and unique look to it, which is all to the good because not much else about it is memorable.

To be honest, writing this review has been hard simply because I had a hard time placing the things that actually happened… I enjoyed it to an extent while watching, but nothing really stuck with me. And, for a show with a unique premise, unique art style, and unique soundtrack… that’s impressive. Part of that may be due to the incredible calibre of the Summer 2014 anime season, but part of it is also bad decisions when it comes to pacing and episode flow… and overall it just lead to an unsatisfying show with an unsatisfying ending.