Review: Durarara!!

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Anime: Durarara!!

Studio: Brain’s Base

Episodes: 24

Original Run: Jan 8, 2010 to Jun 25, 2010

Genres: Action, Drama, Supernatural

Synopsis:

High school student Ryugamine Mikado has moved to Tokyo at the request of his childhood friend. Mikado has always longed for a life of excitement rather than the quiet existence he led at his small town. And his new home of Ikebukuro, which is abound with rumors of dangerous gangs, inhuman bartenders, devious informants, and the most infamous of them all, the Headless Rider, seems to be just the right place for him.

But the colorful inhabitants of Ikebukuro have many secrets of their own and Mikado just may have bitten off more than he can chew.

 

Story:

I’ve been meaning to watch Durarara ever since I watched Baccano, and I finally got around to it. And let’s just say that I was not disappointed in the least. I already knew to expect the ridiculously huge cast and disjointed storytelling, and I’m fond of that style when done well, so in a way, I was biased in favor of this anime before I even started it.

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The convoluted narrative, with its multiple points of view, lack of chronology and general confusion, is highly entertaining. It did take me a few episodes to get sucked into the story and learn to distinguish the myriad of characters but once I was properly invested, there were few dull moments. Durarara is divided into two halves, each with a central focus while a million little things and subplots happen around it. The first half deals with the Headless Rider Celty’s search for her head and the memories that it carries while the latter half focuses on the gang war between two groups while a third one interferes with both. I’m not even going to try and explain Durarara’s plot any further because that’s an exercise in futility. It’s too much of a mess to summarize. The good kind of mess though.

Aside of the fun but insane story, what really sold this anime to me was its characters. You would think that, with a cast this large, there would some trouble keeping up with them all or in getting invested in the lot. But each of them is unique and memorable, by sight if not by name, and when they all come together in the main and sub plots, it’s endlessly entertaining. Even the characters that are not particularly likeable tend to be interesting and/or disturbing enough to keep the story’s momentum going. The interactions between these quirky personalities are a rich source of amusement.

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That said, Durarara is not without its faults. There are points, usually during the build-up episodes, where things lag somewhat. But they are usually compensated for quickly so the boredom is only momentary. The first and the second halves are quite different from each other from a narrative standpoint. The cast is more or less the same, but the idiosyncratic narration that characterized the first half is abandoned for a more typical, linear mode of storytelling. The difference can be a bit jarring.

Altogether, Durarara is a worthwhile show to spend time on. It’s hilarious, dramatic and absolutely crazy.

 

Characters:

The size of Durarara’s cast and its style of narration mean that there is no actual main character. The focus jumps between different people, all of them the stars of their own stories. I’ll just briefly cover some of the more notable ones in this session.

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First we have the student trio; Mikado, his childhood friend Masaomi, and the girl they befriend in high school, Anri. The three couldn’t be more different so naturally, they end up as bosom friends… who’re all hiding bigass secrets from each other for pretty much the same reasons. Naturally, these secrets cause them a lot of trouble later in the story. Mikado is an unassuming guy from a small town who dreams of living a life of excitement and adventure. That’s pretty much his defining passion. Kida is a self-professed ladies man who maintains a façade of obnoxious cheerfulness and is trying to run away from the mistakes of his past. Anri thinks of herself as a parasite who uses others people’s emotions to live vicariously through them since she herself is hollow. All three have their positives and negatives, and are actually more engaging as a unit than as individuals.

Celty is the Headless Rider, who remains a mystery for all of four episodes, and the designated mascot of the show. She’s usually involved a least marginally in all of the various incidents of import that are occurring in Ikebukuro. You would think that a headless fairy from Irish (and maybe Norse as well) mythology who’s associated with death and the dying would be a sinister, or at least somber, character. Nothing could be less true because Celty is best described as adorable. This old-as-dirt mythical creature looking for her head is the most endearing – and arguably the most sane – person in all of Durarara. She’s compassionate, thoughtful, sweet and always a delight to watch even when she’s not doing anything particularly important. It’s impossible to mention Celty without Shinra, a shady, eccentric human doctor who’s been maniacally in love with Celty since he was a kid. It’s not as creepy as it sounds and they actually make a lovely couple.

char-2

Two other figures who stand out are Shizuo and Izaya, a pair of very interesting (to put it politely) personalities who also happen to be mortal enemies. Shizuo is a debt-collector with super strength and severe anger issues, which do not make a good combination as evidenced by his tendency to send anything from vending machines to street signs flying whenever he’s pissed, which is often. Izaya is a resourceful informant and the show’s resident chess-master who claims to love all of humanity (well, except Shizuo).  Unfortunately, his love is more toxic than a yandere’s since his way of expressing it is to push people towards their darkest emotions. Out of the two, Shizuo is certainly the more likeable one but Izaya is pure entertainment in a fur coat.

There are others, and there will be more added in the second season, but these guys are the most noteworthy of the lot.

 

Art and Music:

There’s nothing particularly special about Durarara’s animation but it is of great quality and also has its own distinct style. The landscapes and cityscapes are beautifully drawn. Animation is pretty fluid in general.

art

I paid almost no attention to the OST in this. None of it was irritating or bad but the tracks didn’t stand out either. The opening and ending themes, on the other hand, are excellent earworms. The second OP Complication by ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D (I can never remember that name) is most likely to haunt your waking hours. Not that I’m complaining since I enjoyed it quite a lot.

 

Veridct:

A crazy show with a crazy cast. It has its duller moments and the two halves are pretty different but all things considered, Durarara is one of the best shows I’ve seen, even if it’s a pain to spell.

Rating: 8/10

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About D

Just another avid anime fan.
This entry was posted in Anime, Durarara and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Review: Durarara!!

  1. I have seen different peoples saying that Durarara and Baccano are really good anime, so I gave it a shot. But I didn’t enjoy any of them, I could slightly favour Durarara over Baccano as it was a little bit more interesting. The only thing I liked about Durarara was the character Izaya, which I think is a really badass anime character and fitting with the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      Taste is always relative. I’ve also seen a lot of highly praised anime that didn’t appeal to me. I’d choose Durarara over Baccano as well though. And yes, Izaya was great. There’s never a dull moment when he’s involved.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. cauthan says:

    Ah, Durarara is great. So many highly memorable characters and a distinct style of storytelling. I’d say you hit the nail on the head with ‘It’s hilarious, dramatic and absolutely crazy.’ Do you plan to watch the other ~36 episodes?

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      I already did actually. The next review is about that. I enjoyed it as much as the first season. Between the two, they made me stay up late a lot while I tried to convince myself that it’d be ‘just one more episode’.

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. raistlin0903 says:

    As I am a little bit crazy myself (lol) I can appreciate shows that also try to be a little bit crazy as well, amidst a great storyline. I think this one does both, so you have definitely managed to get my interest with this post. Great review, even though I have to add yet another anime in my to watch book 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      I’m not the most normal cookie in the jar either. Pfft who needs sanity. But if you want crazy, this show’s got you covered. It’s not just the plot but also the characters. They’re all batshit insane – don’t let the pretty faces and timid smiles fool you.

      And thanks!
      It’s best to resign yourself to it. That’s what I did and now look where I am…with about a 100 shows on the list…oh god help me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. ennadune says:

    Haven’t watched this show fully yet but I’ve caught a few random episodes here and there. Looks interesting and I may watch it when I’m on holiday. Thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. weekendotaku says:

    I watched the first episode of this and I remember being very confused. Seeing now that the jumpy story line is done on purpose is a little relieving. I agree that those kinds of stories are rewarding when things start to come together.

    I plan to give this another shot sometime. Thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      I was the same when I watched Baccano. With Durarara, I had some idea what to expect but it still took a few episodes to really get into the story.

      I hope you enjoy it when you do. Thanks for dropping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. remyfool says:

    I really like the series as a whole. The chaos was definitely part of the fun, in my opinion!

    Who was your favorite character? I liked Akabayashi Mizuki since he was such an upstanding guy, for a gangster. Oh, no, my cool-old-guy-fetish is showing more and more…

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      Funnily enough, my impression of Akabayashi is the same. He rocked in X2 every time he showed up. I mean, woman takes out your eye and what do you do? Rip it out and then confess to her. That’s just awesome.

      My favorite is Celty. I don’t usually go for the nice characters but holy shit, Celty!! I empathize with Shinra so much.

      Liked by 1 person

      • remyfool says:

        Yessss he’s so coool. Even his voice was awesome and how he tries to protect the daughter of the woman he loved was amazing. 10/10
        Celty was also really cool and awesome. I was really sad when she started acting like she didn’t know Shinra. Thankfully that didn’t last!! (You scored big time, sketchy alley doctor)

        Liked by 1 person

      • D says:

        It’s also great how he shows a morallity that we wouldn’t expect of him in the beginning. He could have easily killed Anri’d dad but didn’t and was pissed when his boss caused that mess. Great guy.
        …what are we, the Akabayashi fanclub?

        That didn’t fool Shinra though. The guy’s either super smart or super obsessed. Yeah, probably the latter. They’re a fun couple.

        Liked by 1 person

      • remyfool says:

        I totally agree. So cooool. His shithead boss had it coming!
        Hell yeah, I’ll join the Akabayashi fanclub.
        Hmmm yeah I’ll have to go with the latter, too. The man in white with the lady in black. They’re great.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Review: Durarara!!x2 | D Talks Anime

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