Based on a game with the same name as the anime, DRAMAtical Murder follows the story of Aoba, a man living with his grandmother in a futuristic age where everyone is followed by a personal AI and where a battle game called Rhyme has been popularized. Aoba is among the unique branch of people who have not joined a gang or played Rhyme, until one day he is forced into playing the game.
Well, I’m usually pretty good at determining from the first episode whether an episode will be good or bad, but I’l be honest here, this one leaves me at a loss. It could turn into something really, really awesome, and yet there are many places where the directing made the show look like another generic bishounen anime with a pretty terrible plot and character structure.
The first half of the episode made it feel like exactly that. The character designs made every important character look dumb and cheesy (especially the main character, with that retarded haircut), and the discussions between any character and another felt childish, surreal and most of all extremely slow. Overall, the first half of the episode made this anime feel like any other bad reverse harem, which usually implies little story line, cheesy endpoints and bad character development.
The second half of the episode however picked things up and finally introduced a mysterious case of disappearances, surprising us with the potential for a really solid story as well as some darn good animation when Rhyme was introduced. Moreover, the possible cheesy aspect of the show wears off pretty quickly was we hear tale of Murder cases, gang fights and sudden disappearances, providing the possibility for fast-paced action and strong rivalry between some of the characters. Aoba, our new beginner at playing Rhyme, is also interesting with the mysterious aura placed around him as to where his will to fight came from when he was forced into battle.
If I have one last thing to criticize, it is the overall lack of originality over the general premise of the show. A man living a normal life is plunged into a game he knows nothing about, and has to save players which keep disappearing mysteriously… We’ve all heard about it, after all. However, since this is based on a game and yet the anime seems to have okay quality, I’ll let that go and give it three episodes before I say anymore. All I can say with this first episode is that the show has great potential and at the same time has the potential to flop pretty badly as well.