DRAMAtical Murder is a short anime that packs a lot of action and story into a small amount of time. It's based off a light novel and video game that has more explicit content. The anime has toned these aspects down drastically to cater to a different demographic, so from this point on, think of the anime as separate canon from the prior material. If you have experienced this series in video game form, then it will be a new experience when watching it unfold as an anime series. Also for viewers who do not usually come across this type of anime, they will be pleasantly surprised at a compelling story that takes time to develop a rich world with new technological concepts. Anyone who is interested in virtual worlds and a controlling hierarchy of corporations with twists and turns at every corner will enjoy this anime adaptation. Let's explore some major plot points and background of this anime.
DRAMAtical Murder is based sometime in the distant future on Midorijima, a vast and fictional Japanese island. The island is split into a few different parts. A large part of the island is occupied with the Platinum Jail, which, despite the name, is actually a vast and incredible resort built by the nefarious and infamous Toue Corporation. The rest of the island's native residents are confined to a place called the Old Residential District. A look at the residential district shows that it is made up of four distinct parts. This includes the North, South, East, and West. In the North is the off limit areas where many criminals and other unsavory types lie. The south consists of shops and is a metropolitan area of the Old District. The Eastern and Western districts are home to residential areas, as well as the junk shop Heibon, a frequent meeting place for the characters, and the main character Aoba's place of work.
In the far northern part of the island is where the magnificent Platinum Jail is situated. It is guarded by an immense wall and no one is allowed in unless they have been given access, or are extremely wealthy and can afford tickets. Once inside the Platinum Jail, residents can find themselves having immense fun and doing anything their hearts desire. As the leader of the Toue Corporation once said, he wants all humans to experience pure bliss and happiness. He believes that by making Platinum Jail the ultimate paradise, he is achieving this goal. Underneath all of this lies his sinister plans and displacing of lower class citizens of the island. In the middle of the Platinum Jail is the great Oval Tower. This tower overlooks the entirety of the city and stands as the main beacon that can be seen anywhere in the Platinum Jail. The many different districts in Platinum Jail all seek to provide the residents pleasure. It is always night inside the Platinum Jail, where the sky is artificially changed for the enjoyment of their residents. The happenings in this place are in stark contrast to what is happening in the old district.
Technology & Class System
An important aspect of this series is the way technology is presented. This is a futuristic show with the exact date not specified. One of the first interesting technological ideas this show presents is the Allmates. These are AI that are shaped in the forms of various animals or objects. Many of the main characters have one of these as their companion, almost like an advanced mobile phone. It accesses the internet for them and helps people with all of their technological needs. What is is also interesting is that they each come with their own unique personalities. Allmates are also capable of joining in the online game Rhyme which will be explored in more detail later. Another interesting use of technology in this series is the use of augmented and virtual reality. For communication many of the characters can be seen using a type of smart watch that projects a holographic image into the air. Here they can then interact with the interface in the air and use hand gestures to control it. This looks like an advanced smartphone and is integral to many of the characters.. At one point in the series Aoba is spammed a ton of messages from an unknown source. He is then sent a retro looking video game that is actually clues for him to contact somebody.
It's hard not to notice the blatant class system prevalent in the show. While I think this plays a major role, it's something that could have been focused on more in the show. The old residents of the island were denied any native rights and completely under the control of a rich controlling organization. Toue Corporation was only looking out for themselves with their experiments and tampering of the island. There was a pronounced vision of separation with the physical barrier of the wall separating the two areas. There is virtually no crime at all in the expansive and rich area of the Platinum Jail. They are allowed to do experiments and harm living beings here in order for them to pursue their sinister agenda.The old residential area is plagued with crime and turf wars. Turf wars make up a lot of the story as there are groups who partake in Ribsteez, which is the term given to teams fighting to control other teams' areas.
Ribsteez as previously mentioned is the name given to people who partake in the team turf wars. There are a few major teams that circulate amongst the Old Residential District vying for control. Many of the main characters in this anime are the leaders of these teams. A list of these teams include: Benishigure, Bug Bomb, Dry Juice, Scratch, and Morphine. Each group is different and adds a varied perspective to the world around them. First let's start off with Benishigure, who is led by one of the main characters, Koujaku. They are a relatively small team, but are well respected because of their leadership and helpful ways to the elderly and children. Bug Bomb is less known and is once seen attacking Aoba. Aoba, the main character, is considered a No Mark and doesn't belong to any team, as he doesn't want to involve himself with the Ribsteez. He is also a friend to many other leaders of the teams. Dry Juice is one of the largest of the teams and their leader is Mizuki, a respected man and friend to Aoba. They have a tattoo of a tear drop as their main symbol. Many of these teams, which are essentially gangs, all have tattoos to denote who is in which gang. Scratch is a team consisting mostly of ex cons that reside in the aforementioned Northern District of the Old Residential area. They are ruthless and led by Mink, a no nonsense guy. Aside from these Ribsteez teams is the most legendary of them all: Morphine. This team has the most intrigue about them and it isn't until later in the series that its true purpose is unveiled. Led by two characters with ulterior motives, Morphine seeks to control its members through mind control and complete brainwashing.
As the real world consists of these gangs fighting for control, another area of interest is in the virtual scape which is dominated by the Rhyme game. Many characters do not enjoy this, as they think of Rhyme as something that just occurs in the mind and has no real purpose.
Rib Teams dismiss the growing trend of people entering the Rhyme world and having battles against one another, even though Rhyme serves as just an important area as the actual world.
Rhyme is a virtual game that anyone anyone who owns an Allmate can access.Rhyme conjures up a battlefield that is a mix of virtual and augmented reality in the user's vision and mind. Here the two Rhyme users will battle one another in a sort of death match style gameplay. Most matches are started from the random appearance of a special Allmate called Usui. Watching the battles is a favorite pastime amongst residents, and they will do anything to be able to spectate a match. This also attracts some law enforcement who try to break these matches up while arresting the spectators. The way to win a Rhyme match is to take out the opponents health all the way down to zero. The combat usually consists of melee between each opponent. Allmates serve to utilize the characters individual power. An example is one of the first battles that is shown between Noiz and Aoba. Noiz possesses a bunny that can replicate itself and shoot projectile attacks at Aoba. Aoba uses a type of ball of energy and unleashes that at Noiz.
Another interesting aspect of the Rhyme fights, is that they can sometimes be started without the presence of Usui. These are called drive-by fights and can damage the players both physically and mentally. Rhyme, being a counterpart to Ribsteez in the real world, has begun to develop teams and similar aspects of turf wars.This proves to be an interesting dynamic as there are now two realms that are being competed for by different groups and their differing motives.
Durarara!! is an excellent anime that has an intriguing group of characters, and deals with gang issues and an underworld of organizations and different groups vying for control. One of the similarities and interesting parallels between Durarara!! and DRAMAtical is the allure behind mysterious gangs. A dangerous online gang exists in Durarara!! called The Dollars, who is in control of various parts of the city. Their unknown origins and anonymous nature makes them a compelling group. If the allure of gangs intrigues you then this is a definite must watch. The Dollars are similar to the Morphine team who play an integral role in the unfolding story. Durarara!! also follows a protagonist who is living an ordinary life, only to be whisked away into a world breaking into a commotion of epic proportions. This show includes technological aspects as well as a supernatural fantasy twist.
Gangs and assisted motor devices. In Air Gear, gangs of people ride something called Air Treck, that are motorized roller blades which they use to engage in races and street fighting. As the main character Minami Itsuki discovers his own set of wheels, he begins to dominate in the underground world of Air Gear battling. He starts his own gang and becomes a top contender. This is an excellent and similar anime because it delves deeper into the gang aspects of the show and what goes into starting and leading a successful gang. There are also competitions like the Rhyme game that people put a lot of stock into and want to win.
Gangsta is a newer show that explores the gang dynamic in great detail. It follows two main characters called the Handymen. They are assassins and are tasked with the disposing of high level targets in a crime-ridden city. The two lead characters are a well made match as they possess elite skills that can be utilized by anyone looking to pay their fee. Worick and Nicolas are their names and Nicolas is basically a superhuman, although he is deaf. He wears dog tags to signify that he is one of the elite soldiers. He communicates with his friend through sign language and has exceptional vision and lip reading skills.
All of these shows are based in urban environments that deal with territory control and gangs. While also adding in an element of technology or supernatural abilities. Check out some of these shows and see what peaks your interest.