Hump Day Husbandos: Clear (DRAMAtical Murder)

I’m currently in the middle of writing up some thoughts on my playthrough of Slow Damage, the latest Nitro+Chiral game to have come out. It recently got its physical copies shipped and arriving at the doorsteps of its fans in the west via publisher JAST BLUE. I’m one of those fans who was extremely selective in timing when I’ll get to playing Slow Damage since it released digitally at the end of last year. I had kept myself busy with other interests up until I got the physical copy just recently.

It made sense in my mind but with that way of thinking I have now become fully consumed by all things Nitro+Chiral once more. Naturally. Then it hit me – we never did do a Hump Day Husbando on a Nitro+Chiral title.

Let’s get all emotional and weepy over DRAMAtical Murder’s best boy Clear then!

Who is Clear?

Clear is one of five love interests from DRAMAtical Murder, Nitro+Chiral’s most infamous Boys Love game, whose route is best left until the very end of the game before its true route unlocks. But Clear is extremely difficult to put off until then or even ignore for any amount of time. For how much of an unassumingly bright and colourful adventure game DRAMAtical Murder looks to be based on its visuals alone it’s not at all sunshine and rainbows. It was certainly a harsh lesson my teenage self had to learn from during my Tumblr days. Thanks, Mink.

But back to Clear. Clear never fails to be that always reliable safe space for the player during their most gruelling times in the game. As long as you do not do him wrong within his own route that results in a devastating bad ending, that is. Clear is a goofy, bubbly weirdo. He is literally thrown at the player as he crash-lands right in front of Aoba, the main character, upon their meeting of one another. His behaviour is downright bizarre, with his habit of wearing a gas mask hopefully being the most blatant obvious sign to the player that there’s something not quite right with him.

Other scenes that highlight his unusual way of just existing is played up for laughs for the most part. If it’s not him misunderstanding the use of a simple umbrella it’s how he seems to think of a variety of ways in incorrectly getting into a house, avoiding the use of a front door completely. But in typical Nitro+Chiral fashion, not only is everything not what it seems when it comes to his character but the truth is downright tragic and way too emotional for even my adult self to re-explore.

Here goes nothing I guess.

Why you will love him

If that lengthy introduction on who Clear is isn’t obvious enough as to just how much I adore him then prepare for an overwhelming amount of gushing to commence right here and now. Clear is a sweet and good-natured love interest who I personally find to be the most sincere and innocent of the Nitro+Chiral lot. The only other love interest to rival his overall goodness would be – and I’m mostly assuming here – Asato from Lamento, but that’s the only Nitro+Chiral game I have yet to actually play.

Clear is a politely spoken, loyal do-gooder, especially whenever Aoba is involved. Clear goes through the ringer numerous times for the sake of protecting him in fact. He even gives up existing for the sake of connecting to Aoba as intimately as a human being possibly can which results in one of the most emotionally charged h-scene within any visual novel ever. It’s not something you recover from but something you carry for the rest of your life. It hurts that good.

Why we love him (spoilers)

It’s poetic really since the truth revolving around Clear is that he is an artificial human. He is a wonderfully written character route whose arc just hits. Aoba wants to feel more human, but by doing so he has less of a grasp on who he is, or rather what he is. The developing bond between Clear and Aoba is extremely sweet where Clear learns to express who he is gradually. Tiny steps. First he literally unmasks himself to show Aoba who he is and in doing so he discovers his own identity through letting go of even the most basis of habits, such as addressing Aoba as master.

The good ending further illustrates this growth and personal journey he goes through with a perfect example of a trick choice given to the player. The correct answer that allows Clear to make up his own mind is by selecting neither choice. Clear is his own person whose very recent taste of freedom should allow him to shape the type of being he deserves and wants to be, regardless of his origins. And even then he’s such a good-natured person that he chooses to not only save the day by bringing down his own original master for the sake of literally everyone else, it means that he has brought an end to his own existence.

While this finale is emotionally damaging enough to have to take in, his bad ending is traumatizingly depressing. If Toue, his original master retains control over Clear, it does not mean that he’s gone completely, and is perhaps trapped in his own subconscious. The final bad ending CG, the credit song that accompanies it and the very last line of dialogue that hits during this bad ending is enough to haunt my dreams even now.

If you have yet to play DRAMAtical Murder then I must implore you to give it a go. Clear is worth losing your sleep over. He’s such a good boy and a blessing.

Lilia Hellal
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