by Gabriella Ekens,
DRAMAtical Murder doesn't have much murder in it. It does, however, have a lot of drama, particularly melodrama, particularly failed melodrama. This episode bucks the trend by actually sorta working because Clear's story had been built up fairly decently over preceding episodes. Unlike Noiz, he's had conversations with Aoba in previous episodes that weren't mostly antagonism or sexual harassment, and unlike Koujaku his drama-bomb doesn't come out of absolutely nowhere. Clear's a weird guy, and we've known that and been allowed to grow curious about it over the course of this show's run - almost like it understands build up and payoff - leading to its best episode so far. I wouldn't call it good, but parts were endearing and I wasn't bored for twenty minutes. It's learning.
This episode is dedicated to Aoba's pet robot boyfriend, Clear. He enters scenes by jumping off roofs, calls Aoba "master," and constantly wears a gas mask. He's adorable and probably my favorite character. This episode begins with Clear getting sprayed in the face with acid while protecting Aoba from a gang of roving hooligans, forcing him to take of the gas mask and reveal his face/tragic backstory. It turns out that he's never seen his own face because he was told it was cursed - cursed with bishonen, because that's what he is. Then, he and Aoba go on a date where they're rudely interrupted by a bunch of other Clears, who reveal that Aoba's Clear is a defective member of Toue's robot clone army and try to murder them. OG Clear reaffirms his desire to protect Aoba and become human before stabbing himself in the head, ripping off his flesh, and bursting into song, which disables the poser-Clears. That's his robot power. He proceeds to die, but not before telling Aoba that he became human because loving Aoba gave him a heart. Also, Noiz, Koujaku, and Toue all show up for a second to advance the plot, which remains too ambiguous to describe.
This episode was as a whole about as technically lacking as I've learned to expect from DMMD, but they did seem to put some extra spic-and-span into the montage stills detailing Clear's childhood. They're nicely illustrated at least, and this show has started leaning towards using well-chosen stills instead of clumsy motion. It also doesn't immediately reveal that Clear's death was a fake-out (will he come back? Poor Robot baby!), so I'll give it some points for that. I'm also singling out Masatomo Nakazawa's performance as Clear as part of what makes the character work. He's fun to listen to and the performance is endearing, capturing the mix of vulnerability, naiveté, and sheer happiness that makes Clear cute. I also might just like Aoba and Clear together. They're just nice people, being nice with each other, only one is a blue-haired superuke and the other an albino robot. Aoba even taught him to love! …I think I have Stockholm Syndrome for this show.
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. She writes at animeintrospection.tumblr.com.
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