In Tokyo's downtown district of Ikebukuro, amidst many strange rumors and warnings of anonymous gangs and dangerous occupants, one urban legend stands out above the rest—the existence of a headless "Black Rider" who is said to be seen driving a jet-black motorcycle through the city streets.
Mikado Ryuugamine has always longed for the excitement of the city life, and an invitation from a childhood friend convinces him to move to Tokyo. Witnessing the Black Rider on his first day in the city, his wishes already seem to have been granted. But as supernatural events begin to occur, ordinary citizens like himself, along with Ikebukuro's most colorful inhabitants, are mixed up in the commotion breaking out in their city.
Johnny Yong Bosch and Kari Wahlgren were nominated for the "Best Male Lead Vocal Performance" and the "Best Female Lead Vocal Performance" awards at the BTVA Anime Voice Acting Awards in 2012 for their performances in Durarara!!.
This anime is... for lack of a better term, the most freaking amazing thing I've ever seen. At first I was a bit worried, since I usually hate anime with the whole gang war theme and all, not to mention the first episode was a little bit slow, as well as the whole 'headless rider' seemed a bit silly. The characters (namely Izaya, Shizuo, Celty, Shinra... hell, all of the,) were what got me. Even the protagonist, who may seem like an average, boring male protagonist had some of his own secrets. But I'll explain in detail.
Story: Like I said, I had my doubts, but when it started actually revealing itself, the blend of the modern and fantastical and sci fi ended up blending perfectly. With the whole Dullahan concept, the mythology, in addition to the Slasher, plus the modern-ness of it being set in a big city, as well as the Namie plotline in the beginning... It may seem like those would clash a lot, but they really don't. There's a fair bit of action in it, but nothing overwhelming to make it be called an action anime for me. LOTS AND LOTS of plot twists, but it keeps you surprised even to the end, and keeps you interested in what's going to happen next. Not predictable.. at all.
Art: Not much to say, I really liked the animation of it. It's quite refreshing and smooth compared to the Naruto and the Bleach type of animation; it's different and the city was animated beautifully.
Music: I adored the music in this anime, although I felt that the soundtrack could be a bit more diverse. You'll hear the same themes and songs a lot, but so far (And I've rewatched this about 6 times) I still enjoy listening to the music. The openings and endings are epic as well.
Character: The most intriguing and amazing part of this anime, by far. It starts out with Mikado, who, though he may seem like the generic awkward male protagonist, has his own secrets that will shock you. His friend, Kida, is one of my favourites... he's adorable, first of all, although he also has lots of his own secrets and he'll surprise you... a lot. Anri gets kind of annoying since a lot of the plot is centered around her, but I actually did come to respect her once her character was really revealed. Izaya is my favourite, though. He pulls the strings with everyone... even in the beginning, he's introduced as a psycopath with no concern for other humans, although he loves them. His constant messing with peoples heads and being an awful person to everyone.. was just hilarious a lot of the time, especially since he does random adorable things like when he was walking next to Celty on her motorcycle and was all "Vroom Vroom! Vrrrrrroom!" But he also brings up psycological issues and concepts during the show, which actually make you think-- which is just amazing in an anime, and very rare usually. Shizuo I adored as well. He's mostly a comic relief character, since he's always being violent and hitting people with street signs even though he claims to hate violence.. yeahhh. Celty.. the other main female protagonist. I actually love her. Usually I hate female protagonists as a rule, but her character is complex without being overly tragic, and she's a genuinely good person without being all annoying and motivating. Shinra is just adorable with her, although he's does have his own faults and he isn't perfect. He's still adorable. That's it for major characters, but overall... they're just epic. Even though they may seem like stereotypes at first glance, none of them are what they seem. Even the minor characters provide just enough comic relief (and anime references) to keep the show happy, but still have a serious undertone.
The voice actors were all just amazing as well, they brought it to life beautifully.
Enjoyment: ...I've watched it 6 times within like, 3 weeks. I never got tired of the characters. Although it is a bit repetitive, the way it goes episode to episode explaining in detail what's going on from another perspective, that's one of my favourite parts about it; the way the story progresses from more than one perspective.
Overall: This is by far the best anime I've ever seen, I'd recommend it to anyone, no matter what their tastes are, since it has a bit of everything and an excellent cast of characters. read more
I would like to note the massive popularity this show commands, and the rabid nature of its fanbase. Normally, this would be a good enough reason for one to abstain from critically reviewing this show, but oh, the thrill of jabbing at the hornets' nest...
Let us commence.
Round One: The Stage.
Alright, this one is going to be a mess, and I should get this over with in the first bit of the review. Durarara does not have a plot. It has barely any backstory, and relies more on the established 'Rule of Cool' rather than an interesting story or an intricate plot, or even just the premise of complete pandemonium that made its predecessor 'Baccano!' such a phenomenal success. However, that is not to say that Durarara has nothing to offer in this field.
Just like its predecessor 'Baccano!', Durarara does not rely on a dominant and omnipresent central plot, but rather on the characters, although it does try to give a certain amount of depth to the stage, and this is where it fails.
You see, you can put up a decent enough play without equipping your stage with crimson curtains and whatnot, and instead focusing on your cast. Should you succeed in the latter, it might still be an extremely enjoyable presentation. If you to divert your attention to the stage itself for a slight, change your mind, and leave it there will certainly result in a spectacular failure on both sides.
'Durarara!' is set in Ikebukuro, one of the more dangerous urban neighborhoods in Japan. The neighbourhood plays host to all of Durarara's resident checkpoints on the unwritten list of anime stereotypes. The story takes place in the aftermath of a gang war that is only known as 'The color gang war', something we find out close to nothing (interesting) about. This was a miserable failure at adding depth to a stage, and is where it falls short.
For a rating, I'm going to have to give this section a 4 out of 10.
Round Two: The Cast.
The collection of Ikebukuro's occupants who partake in the story of Durarara! isn't exceptional in any sense.
You have Mikado Ryugamine; a country bumpkin who's moved into this wild urban district to-
Yes, go to high school…
Cross out 'Well-endowed class representative' (with a deep, dark secret that you will not give two Kusos for) and 'Pervert best friend' on the aforementioned list of anime stereoty- Oh, I know! Let's do something that has NOT been done to death in the world of Anime; put 'em in a love triangle!
Then, you have your filler material. Enter;
- The Otakus.
- The walking sack of anger issues that tosses weighty objects at anybody who looks sideways at him (CRISPIN FREEMAN!)
- His sworn foe, the 'Smart guy' with an affinity for slick combat (knives and evasion)
- The immigrant (they emphasize upon that to a degree that borders on racism) African-Russian sushi-bar worker.
All of the characters above get absolutely no development. Their introductions are rather bland, and their hastily added origin stories are almost cringeworthy. The most they recieve
But enter a pleasant surprise; there is an ace in this chaotic mess of a deck, and that would be Celty Sturlurson.
Celty is a Dulahan, the celtic equivalent of the grim reaper, a being with a dismembered head that guides souls into the afterlife. However, Celty differs from other Dulahan as she is missing her head, and is in the process of searching for it. She is the only standout character amongst this ocean of cardboard cutouts, alongside Shinra, whom she shares an… Unusual relationship with. Watching this is, quite frankly, is thrice as interesting as the rest of the show.
If I could change this show (and good lord, do I wish it to be so), I would focus on what the show is really about; Celty. The other characters only serve to detract from her story, and the focus is on the worst possible group.
This aspect of the show, in my opinion, gets a rating of 6 out of 10.
Round Three: The Sound.
The soundtrack is where this show really picks itself up, with some funk and jazz, and a very Baccano-esque initial opening theme (both in terms of animation and sound) that I thoroughly enjoyed. There's even a couple of unconventional but compelling tracks with solo upright bass that I particularly appreciated. In this respect, the show follows in the footsteps of Baccano, and the results are remarkable.
With two solid dubs and a great score, I see no reason why it doesn't merit a 9 out of 10.
Round Four: The Animation.
I'll have to concede that the animation for the show isn't all that bad, and it even has an appreciable organic vibe to it. However, at times this doesn't shine where it needs to, and I can even recall scenes where the average animation quality detracted from the show itself. As is evident, there is no worse sin that the art of a show can possibly commit. For shows that follow the previously mentioned 'Rule of Cool', the animation requires a certain emphasis which this show doesn't seem to have.
The animation scores a 7 out of 10.
Round Five: Entertainment Value.
I might appear to be dissatisfied during the course of my this review, but when I watched the series, I found that I was rather enjoying it, and would watched a slew of episodes in a single setting. It would be abject dishonesty to say that it wasn't enjoyable initially, but following the first few episodes, I found it was becoming boring rather quickly, and all of the aforementioned flaws became painfully apparent. Some were prominent enough to serve as immediate deterrents, but its merits were just enough to counteract them when they received attention.
The score for entertainment value is a 6 out of 10.
The overall score for this series will be determined by the average of the above scores, which is a 6.4 out of 10, rounded off to 6 out of 10.
As for an alternative, I would recommend Baccano, which is the spiritual predecessor to this series, and does everything a whole lot better, and I can say this despite not having completed the series yet (which is a very good sign). Also, most of Baccano is set about a century before Durarara, with certain parts in the 18th and early 21st centuries, so if that strikes your fancy, it's definitely a show you will like.
Durarara!! is one of those shows with a double life theme, add that with some gang drama and a headless motorcyclist, and you got yourself a mashup! Which is exactly what this is. A mashup.
Just what I said above. This is a mashup of different cliche or used ideas. The headless motorcyclist, the gangs and mobs, the secret double life of a high schooler, and two best friends who end being on the opposite end. I was a bit disappointed in the fact there was much at the beginning but silly introductions to the characters and their profile. I don't care! They could've easily done the same thing while they moved through the plot. And it was a bit hard to understand why this was considered "supernatural" minus Shizuo having extreme strength.
It was decent enough, but still had so much potential.
Not very good. Why do some of the people on the streets end up being just grey silhouettes? Now I haven't read the manga, so I don't know what the drawings look like, but the animation just seems so...sloppy. It looks like the animators got super lazy and said fuck it! Good enough. Heck! They look like they worked more on the background than the actually characters!
Probably what saved this anime. The sounds in this were pretty good. They added to the suspension of the scene and drew the watcher in. The two opening songs were spot on and prepared the watcher for what was too come. Kudos to the soundtrack team!
Not much to say really. These characters are pretty much based off of other characters from classics, although they are pretty well thought up and they do have their own personality. No sterotypes, although Mikado was a bit of a goody too shoes. My favourite had to be Shizuo of course. The way he got when Izaya came around was hilarious!
50th anime watched! I really didn't get into this until around episode 17/18. The first few episodes were a bit too dull for my taste. It seemed to be repeating itself over and over...I got bored. No lies.
I finally finished "Durarara!!" and while there were characters that I liked and moments that were entertaining, I don't think it's a series I would willingly put myself through again. I'm not even sure I liked it as a whole.
Putting aside the immediately obvious fact that the animation for this series is superb and all opening and ending songs are awesome, what's left for me to complain about is the pacing, the plot, and the nearly nonexistent character development. Oh, and the mind-numbingly boring way in which the dialogue is remarkably unsubtle, anvilicious, and pretentious.
I know this is based on a series of light novels and that there's also a manga version. But while I know a bit about both, I haven't read enough of either, and this is an anime review anyway, so I'm glad I haven't yet so I can focus on the anime. I actually wonder if I may be too old for this anime, because it left me completely unimpressed, didn't change my point of view in anyway, and I learned nothing and felt nothing while I watched it. It felt like the entire thing was made by a bunch of disaffected college students that have nothing better to do with their spare time than angst about how the world is so sad and boring. And while this seems perhaps an unfair attack on the team that made the anime and for all I know they're completely the opposite, it's how the series came off as.
For all the darkness or apparent maturity of the themes, the show comes off as incredibly naive. The characters spend way too long and talk too much in an effort to explain themselves and their actions. There's too much talking! Even when what they're saying is plainly obvious or when they could have stopped after one sentence and it's especially annoying when you realize that their justifications are pretty much senseless or stupid after the nth time they've explained it. I honestly blocked out whole chunks of dialogue from boredom. Then I went back to see if I missed anything by doing so. I didn't.
I don't think the series is as meaningful as it thinks it is, and I wasn't moved by most of the characters. The only ones I really cared about by the end of it all was Kida Masaomi and Celty, the headless biker. (And Heiwajima Shizuo who is crazy awesome. I like Orihara Izaya and he's one of my favorite characters, but I don't really care or am concerned about the guy because he should honestly die in a fire.) Speaking of which, what really bothered me was how so many of the characters escaped karma -- except Kida Masaomi, who the show seemed determined to break because that's his designated role. The show also tries to present Mikado Ryuugamine as somewhat of a hero, which I refuse to accept. And to bring up the manga and novels, I think the anime tries much harder than those two make him likeable or acceptable (and overall NICER) to count as one and it's obvious. I'm sorry, but no. Better to have left him a bit of a magnificent bastard than to do so. By extension, the Dollars are supposed to be the good gang, which is laughable, since while they do some good in the anime, they're not much different from the bad gangs -- they're a bunch of easily manipulated cowardly sheep who can't even do good on their own (with the exception of a few, but they're in the extended hero's group so...).
What really bothers me about the Dollars is, had their leader been actually smarter and less interested in his own entertainment, they could have PUT AWAY SOMEONE THAT'S DONE SOMETHING CLEARLY WRONG. In the first half, the major conflict involved a shady pharmaceutical company responsible for a string of kidnappings and that was covering up an assault. Granted, the assaulted girl was cray cray and a stalker, and she didn't press charges because she's madly in love with the guy that nearly killed her and they wound up together thanks to the said pharmaceutical company, but really? REALLY? The guy that ALMOST CRACKED HER HEAD OPEN escaped punishment and is later on referred to as "he's weird, but kind of cool"? By the show's protagonist? WHAT?! And what did the leader of the Dollars choose to do about this? MESS WITH THE MIND OF THE PERSON BEHIND ALL OF IT. Yeah, that's all. And the result? Was not so awful that by the next episode she's seen working for the information broker that orchestrated it all while still full of haughty arrogance. And speaking of the information broker, I don't know if he really is just that awesome or the other characters are just so stupid or weak that he's pretty much untouchable despite being so plainly evil.
The only thing that could have possibly redeemed this whole show was the friendship between the three main characters (Anri, Mikado, and Kida). But as a friendship, it just fails. There are countless other anime and manga that have portrayed friendship in an amazingly poignant way. This anime had that chance but it just fell so miserably short.
The light novels and the manga version of this show goes farther from what I've seen and heard about. If there's a second season, my point of view might change. Who knows? As it stands, it's pointless, other than being pretty to look at. Much of the show seems focused on being cool for the sake of being cool and that's it.read more
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