It is August 1st, known as “Yaoi Day” amongst anime fans, because “ya-o-i” sounds like the Japanese for the numbers “8-0-1”. So it seems fitting today to cover some male homoerotica aimed at women.
There are a few series currently being streamed online that do attract yaoi fans – known as “fujoshi” (rotten women) and “fudanshi” (rotten men). There is a yaoi series for example called Love Stage!! on Crunchyroll, which features comedy and crossdressing. Plus you have series like Black Butler (No. 10) and Free! (No. 17) in which viewers often fantasise about the male characters getting on, even if most of the characters are under 18.
The series being covered however, DRAMAtical Murder combines yaoi with sci-fi, much like the classic yaoi Ai no Kusabi (No. 37). It began as a “visual novel” video game for Windows PC in 2012, and the anime began in July, with four episodes broadcast at the time of writing and new episodes being released on Sundays.
DRAMAtical Murder is set on the fictitious island of Midorijima. At some point in its past, the privately owned Toe Company took over the island and turned it into the “Platinum Jail” resort, forcing the old islanders into the “Former Residents’ District” on the far side of the island.
The hero, long blue-haired boy Aoba Seragaki, is a guy who works happily in a junk shop, lives with his grandmother, and is accompanied by a dog-like robotic avatar called Ren. He spends most of his time with his friends Mizuki, a tattooist, and Koujaku, a hairdresser. One day Aoba is attacked and forced to play a virtual game called “Rhyme”, which he wins with the help of Ren who takes on a human guise.
After this, things become increasingly problematic for Aoba. The man who attacked him, a heavily pierced guy called Noiz, keeps following Aoba and wants to play Rhyme with him again. Another person, a man constantly seen in a gasmask and named Clear, is also spying on Aoba and constantly calls him “Master”. As the story progresses, Aoba is dragged deeper in the world of Rhyme, and a turf war that results from it.
So far, this anime has had its ups and downs. To deal with the downs first: so far there has been little in the way of sex, which appears much more frequently in the game as any search for screenshots will demonstrate. The plot also seems to be moving rather slowly, although the end of the most recent episode (the fourth) does feature something that heightens the tension. Also, the animation and voice syncing in the third episode is very poor in parts. The company behind the series, Nitro+CHiRAL, has since apologised for this.
The positives however outweigh the negatives. The series looks great visually, from the background landscapes to the designs of the characters, especially Aoba. I must confess to feeling slightly jealous of the character in one or two ways – e.g. I really want a pair of MP3 headphones like his. The techno soundtrack, which comes from a band called GOATBED, is brilliant. It sets the tone to the series perfectly.
If there are any really big issues it would be that yaoi anime and video games are very rarely released in the UK. If you are waiting to get this anime on DVD or Blu-Ray, you might be better of getting the Region 1 DVD / Region A Blu-Ray.
New episodes of DRAMAtical Murder are released on Crunchyroll every Sunday at 19.00.