by Gabriella Ekens,
DRAMAtical Murder finishes up by finally providing pretty much the only thing I wanted out of it, hot gay blue dog action. Of the 12 episodes in this BL visual novel adaptation, the first few minutes of this week's are the only ones that succeed at being even slightly titillating, largely because Ren's human form has by far the hottest design. (Tip for character designers of sexy men: nipples.) In a moment that screams "THIS WAS A SEX SCENE IN THE GAME," Ren explains his backstory as a projection of Aoba's consciousness into a dog robot that lost his memories or whatever, who cares, their abdomens are touching and he's not wearing a shirt. For five brief minutes, the show's exactly what it should have been in the first place - bishonen in tight pants rubbing up against each other - and I was happy. We'll always have Episode 12, timestamp 1:00-6:00, DRAMAtical Murder.
Other than that, this episode wrapped things up by having Aoba beat up Toue (who commits suicide after his loss out of sportsmanship, thus avoiding the unnecessary narrative complication of making Aoba a killer), watch his brother sacrifice himself to save everyone, and ride down the building on a motorcycle driven by Mink's pink cockatoo robot, which is as incredible as it sounds. Aoba's split personalities as a normal uke and god of destruction were also reunited, but that doesn't matter because there's a pink cockatoo robot.
Another one of my favorite things about DMMD is that the Aoba/Ren romance gets more confusing and problematic the more you learn about it. It starts out as a romance between a boy and a dog and only goes deeper into the weird zone from there. Ren turns out to have been an aspect of Aoba's personality who he projected into the dog robot during his rebellious teenage years, who grew into a separate person and then, one year after Toue is defeated, comes to inhabit the comatose body of Aoba's twin brother. Is that… incest? Was it already incest? Is it incestuous to date a part of… yourself? I don't know. He's hot though, and that's all he really needs to be.
In terms of the Ren storyline, DMMD suffers from not having brought up the fact that he has a human-looking alternate form after the first episode. The cognitive dissonance between "adorable pomeranian with an unfortunate smoker's growl" and "sexy man I have never seen before" is too great. In hindsight, virtual reality and gaming never featured heavily in this story at all, no matter how much they were played up at first. It was mostly Aoba hanging out with dudes, getting attacked, and then storming Toue's house. It was also nice to see some VR segments again. This show's art style shines during the VR segments, where vibrant colors and blue lineart make the show look like a cross between Summer Wars and the Monogatari series. Too bad there were only two in the whole thing - in the very first and last episodes.
Ultimately, DMMD's biggest narrative flaw is that its setting was both both badly articulated and underutilized. The plot arcs were all disconnected - Koujaku's is about some cabal of wealthy people working for Toue, Clear's is about his army of robot clones, Mink's is about Toue's attempted exploitation and murder of "natives," and Noiz's about the net. They don't integrate into a cohesive whole, which could have served to chain together all of the individual stories. It feels as though the world was reverse engineered from the characters' individual stories. The show's other issue is that it didn't get sexy until the very end, and even then just by the skin of Ren's virtual nipples. DRAMAtical Murder ended the way that it began, and always was - boring, chaste, and incomprehensible, but punctuated with the occasional moment of much-needed silliness.
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. She writes at animeintrospection.tumblr.com.
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