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.
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.
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 receive are shallow labels which do little more than make sure you don't mix them up.
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.
The world of anime never ceases to come up with new and fascinating series, original and interesting storylines, or iconic and highly memorable characters. There’s a reason why this form of entertainment (and art) has attained such widespread reach over the years, and I truly believe that its decisive power lies in the near unrestrained creativity present in each and every anime series, original video animation, and whatnot. This freedom of expression and imagination has become somewhat of a signature for the Japanese animation industry, acting as sort of an assurance that anime features plenty of exclusive elements and things you won’t get to see
anywhere else. Sometimes that can be a bad thing (if you know what I’m saying), but let’s face it, most of the time that’s undeniably beneficial to both the creators and the viewers.
A recent anime series, entitled Durarara!!, is a perfect demonstration of what the Japanese animation industry is capable of and the benefits of its broader range of creativity. Stretching over twenty-four episodes (not taking into account any possible OVAs or specials), Durarara!! tells a wonderfully unique story set in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo, Japan. Dealing with themes such as friendship, betrayal, gang wars, the urban lifestyle, identity and the lack thereof, consumerism, and even the supernatural, its storyline is beautifully complex, surprisingly comprehensive as a whole, and features several intertwining story arcs that blend together in an impressive manner.
Durarara!! starts off with the teenager Mikado Ryugamine and his arrival in Tokyo, where he is greeted by his childhood friend Masaomi Kida, who has lived in the city for several years now. Mikado has longed for a big city life ever since he was young, and was newly convinced by Masaomi to transfer to his current high school in Japan’s capital, Tokyo. During their childhood, the two have been best friends up until Masaomi moved away, and have kept in touch through the internet ever since then. As they finally meet again in one of the biggest cities in the world, Masaomi wastes little time with catching up and immediately proceeds to show the timid Mikado around Ikebukuro. However, Mikado, still overwhelmed by the intimidating urban lifestyle prevailing throughout Tokyo, is even more stunned after realizing just how many secrets and mysteries this city actually holds.
While Masaomi shows Mikado around the city, he also introduces him to a bunch of people, some friends of his, others not so much, something which can be seen as an act of setting up the exposition upon which the rest of the series will depend. Durarara!! features a lot of characters and every episode follows more than a single plotline, so it may take a while to become comfortable with the occasionally frantic pace and often perplexing storyline prevailing throughout the series, though once the first impressions settle in, it all becomes a very exciting and interesting ride, thanks to the various fascinating elements making up the story as the anime progresses.
As mentioned earlier on, Durarara!! is a series that is very rich in characters and story arcs. As far as the protagonist goes, Mikado Ryugamine would be the obvious pick, though under the surface, things are a little more complicated than that. The first few episodes definitely focus on Mikado for the most part, developing him as a lead character and also using him as a means of constructing the exposition of the series. Once things are in place, a great deal of characters that were previously introduced come into play and several story arcs begin to take shape. On one side, there’s the group of high school friends consisting of the above mentioned Mikado Ryugamine, his longtime buddy Masaomi Kida, and the voluptuous, introverted and often shy Anri Sonohara. There’s an interesting, though perhaps somewhat clichéd dynamic going on between the three of them, and the full extent of their common bond only emerges towards the finale.
Another set of characters come into focus a little further down the line, some of the more noteworthy consisting of Shizuo Heiwajima, a bodyguard wearing a bartender’s uniform and sunglasses who is widely known around Ikebukuro as the strongest man in the world, Izaya Orihara, a young and enigmatic information dealer who seems to manipulate other people for his own enjoyment—he’s also Shizuo’s sworn enemy, and last but definitely not least, a mysterious motorcyclist known as the black rider who is often seen driving around Ikebukuro for unknown reasons—rumours have it that the rider is actually headless, an allusion to the legend of the headless horseman. These are only but a few of all the characters appearing in the series, giving you sort of an idea of how expansive the world of Durarara!! is, even though the entire anime takes place in one common location: the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo.
As impressive as Durarara!! is on a narrative level, it also excels in the visual and sound departments. The art and animation of the series is thoroughly impressive, giving each particular character a unique appearance that contributes to making an impression on the viewer. The city of Tokyo is beautifully portrayed, and Ikebukuro is drawn in a way that gives it a special urban atmosphere, with particular attention given to the nightlife, which truly vibrates amidst the glow of streetlights and hidden secrets. Durarara!! features an art style that is a little different from the usual anime series, meaning that characters are a little more rich in detail, have a slightly different build and their specific facial traits are more accentuated. What that means is that it may take a while for some viewers to get used to this particular style, though ultimately, it fits the overall feeling of the series well.
The series is also complemented by solid voice acting and a very impressive and memorable soundtrack, constituting a vigorous and upbeat opening track during the first half of the show and a very evocative and somewhat melancholic one during the other half. Both songs work well and are especially catchy, never seeming to get old, even after twelve episodes have passed. Unfortunately, the two songs played during the ending sequence of the episodes are a little underwhelming and definitely do not measure up to the standards set by the ones playing during the introductory section, but that’s just a small complaint, because the music tracks are still quite fitting, meaning that the mood prevailing throughout the show is never ruined.
As good of an anime series as Durarara!! is, it still exhibits a fair amount of flaws and imperfections along the way. The narrative power and expansiveness of the show has proved to be its strongest suit, but it has also made way to a few inconsistencies in the flow of the story, as well as a couple of unresolved plot points that have garnered over the course of the series’ running time. The ending of Durarara!! feels pretty rushed, a common shortcoming among many other anime series, which will surely anger some viewers, especially considering the time the show spent on developing certain characters and plot elements. It definitely could have used one or two more episodes to properly conclude things, if you ask me. Here’s to hoping that a second season will be made in the future—however unlikely—that will sort out some of these unresolved issues.
Its rushed finale and partially unfinished storyline aside, Durarara!! is an excellent anime series that is unique enough and boasts plenty of originality so as to make it one of the best show of the year. It’s definitely the most well-written series in a significant amount of time, featuring thoroughly intriguing characters and engaging story arcs. The way everything intertwines and relates to each other during the course of the story is quite fascinating and it’s definitely interesting to see how things unfold in the end. Personally, seeing Durarara!! nail the look and feel of an urban lifestyle and depict the city of Tokyo in such a gorgeous way has sealed the deal for me, though I’m sure others will find plenty of diverse things to hold on to while on a ride through the mysterious Ikebukuro.
From the very get-go, even from the opening title sequence, you can easily notice one thing about Durarara, and that is that it was made by Ryohgo Narita, creator of Baccano. Everything about this show besides the setting is very reminiscent of Baccano, so inevitably, it will be compared to it. So, how does DRRR hold up compared to Narita's previous work?
Well, let's just get this out of the way now: No, it isn't as good as Baccano - but then, few anime are. If you're a Baccano fan, Durarara is definitely worth watching, and even if you aren't a Baccano fan, Durarara is still
worth watching, although some of the references may be lost on you, seeing as how Baccano and Durarara take place in the same fictional universe. The main difference between the two is, perhaps bizarrely given their setting, Durarara is clearly the more mature of the two series. It opts for a darker, big city underworld chic as opposed to the vibrant 30's style of Baccano. A lot of it revolves around mystery, an element not present in its predecessor.
While the plot of Durarara is hard to sum up briefly, the premise revolves largely around Celty Sturluson, a Dullahan (read: Headless Horseman) who has lost her head, and come to Japan in search, posing as a biker. At the same time, highschool student Mikado Ryugamine is moving to Ikebokuro, after growing tired of his life in the countryside, and meets up with his internet buddy Masaomi Kida. Kida is quick to warn Mikado of the colour gangs that roam Ikebokuro, such as the Yellow Scarves and Blue Square, as well as the mysterious "DOLLARS", a gang claiming to be colourless. The two of them soon befriend a shy, withdrawn girl named Anri Sonohara. But as the plor develops, it becomes clear that none of these people are as simple as they seem.
One of the strengths of this show is the characters. Near enough every major character, and even some of the minor ones, are fascinating and distinctive characters. Celty is considered fearsome by many, though is immediately likeable and down to earth in person. Shizuo Heiwajima is an inhumanly strong man who hates violence, but is filled to the brim with unstoppable rage. Izaya Orihara is a crafty information broker who has a fondness for deranged chess motifs and knives. Shinra Kishitani is a quirky underground surgeon who has a loveably flirtatious fascination with Celty, and even minor characters like a gang of otaku who practise torture based on anime and manga add a comedic referential streak to the series, so if you're a fan of Spice and Wolf, Railgun, Dokuro-chan or Kino's Journey, expect a few giggles.
Whilst the show is initially good, it doesn't really pick up until around a third of the way in, when it begins to move into the fast-paced action that Baccano performed to wonderfully. For most of the middle third of the series, the show is absolutely on its peak, keeping you absolutely glued to your seat wondering what will happen next. It skillfully runs through plots of Celty's missing head, a mysterious slasher attacking people, the background of the wars between the colour gangs, a medical organisation performing human experimentation, and people controlling everything from behind the scenes...
But as great as all of this sounds, in the third act, everything begins to fall apart. Once the slasher arc is over, most of the other plot threads are abandoned, and everything winds up revolving around the a gang war, which is a considerably weaker plot thread than the others, and at it's worst devolves into soap opera drama caused entirely by foolish decisions that could easily have been avoided. This would've at least stood up strongly if it had kept skillfully using the other storylines, but the plot of Celty's head is completely and utterly ignored as a result of this massive plot tumour. All of this builds up to an anticlimactic and lacklustre ending that gives very little closure whatsoever. The upcoming specials are set to wrap this up, but I really don't consider that a valid excuse. The only way this would be forgiveable is if there was a second season, and by the way that the specials were announced, this seems unlikely.
(EDIT: Future seasons have rectified this dangling plot thread, but considering how much worse the later seasons were I still can't forgive it for this.)
Final Words: At it's best, absolutely fantastic. Shame it went to waste.
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.
In many ways, watching anime might be just like listening to music for me.
I have been taught to never have any prejudices and give an honest chance to everything that comes my way.
Obviously, when it's bad ten seconds into the song, you simply know it will stink the rest of the time and drop it. You rarely even regret it afterwards (let me stress the case is somewhat different with other forms of art, like literature, which is perceived somewhat slower and more methodical).
As for Durarara, and for my most beloved songs, novels, and other works, the key is an immediate impact and
an impression that lingers.
Sure, what I have written so far only has to do with personal preferences.
But if I would want to convince you to watch Durarara disregarding my own taste (and I really want to convince people!), I wouldn't have a clue which aspects of this anime to present before you with persuasive intents, because I like it as a fully accomplished work of art in which there is good music, well-developed characters, snappy plot, etc.
Well aware that I am praising an anime which is yet to be completed (thus I feel reluctant to go into details such as animation and environments) I figured, why not simply say: try it and see for yourselves that I am right! Think about those moments as you hear a song for the first time and immediately know it will never leave you. This is exactly the same. This is like Death Note. Or Ergo Proxy. Or Tengen Toppa Gurenn Lagann. Clannad. Samurai Champloo.
And all other animes which grant you new and intellectually intense perspectives.
Still three episodes into it I can totally agree with the first reviewer — this will be, and most likely already is, one of the best animes for 2010.
I recently watched the popular show, Durarararararara!! and I have to say, it was quite enjoyable, with a few flaws/annoying parts. Durarara is a very unique show that contains a whole lot of different genres mixed together; romance, comedy, supernatural, mystery, and even some action here and there. I've never seen a show hop around all over the place, in terms of plot. In this review, I may blab nonsense, but I'll try to explain why I like Durarara.
In order for me to describe the plot, it would take forever because there's just so much happening in Durarara to a whole load of different main
characters. So I'll sum it up using Mikado Ryugamine (mainest of the main characters, I think) as the focal point. Mikado Ryugamine longs for an escape from his dull everyday life and seeks something to make his young, short life stand out from the rest, resulting in him moving to Ikebukuro, a "crazy" to say the least city in Japan. He hopes life in one of Japan’s most trendy commercial and entertainment cities can satiate his thirst for excitement and a little danger. But soon he discovers Ikebukuro is more than up to the task. An inhumanly powerful bartender, a skilled underground informant, a mysterious motorcyclist dubbed the Black Rider, an aggressively enterprising Russian sushi chef, along with all sorts of gangs are the least threatening people when there are more sinister plots simmering just beneath the surface of this urban jungle.
There really was no general plot to the story, each episode the perspective changes, meaning that the episodes are told in 1st person, by various characters. Certainly there were moments when I wondered, "Where's the story headed?", but in the end it was all answered. Each episode had a specific parallel supernatural mystery that initially appears oblique, but in the end all the mysteries are cleverly intertwined with one another, leading up to a satisfying ending. Durarara has quite a few cleverly surprising revelations and twists that had skillful misdirection, which constantly keeps the viewer guessing. Yet when expectations are heightened, the series likes to pull back, lower the tension, and make the climax seem unimportant. A thing I liked about the series is that it recognizes the important role that internet chat rooms, online associations, cell phones, and text messaging have in teenagers’ social lives. Yet it also finds opportunities to tap into that adolescent pastime of discontent with the mundane everyday. I can't relate with the overall story, because it's so unrealistic, but I can definitely relate with the main character's feelings. With that said, there are also a few things I didn't like about Durarara:
- Bad pacing; some episodes (20+ min) were dedicated to unimportant characters, and not on main characters.
- Plot is supposed to be dark, and mature, but it came out to be too bright, and naive.
- A couple moments when viewers are left to think, "This doesn't even make sense..."
- Way too much narration
- Main Character was annoying, and not very heroic, though the anime tried to portray him as so in the end(personal thought).
Characters is where Durarara shined best. The great appeal of Durarara is its diverse and colorful mix of personalities of numerous characters. During each episode, there's strang conversations on a chat in the computer, about the developing plot. I'll explain the mainest 5 characters in detail, but there are many more interesting characters that are thoroughly developed in the anime.
Mikado Ryugamine, the mainest of main characters is a polite, soft spoken boy, whom at times can be quite childish and naive. At first he is scared of all the chaos happening in Ikebukuro, but as the series progresses, Mikado gradually becomes more and more assertive, and eventually becomes able to able to accept the chaos that life throws at him without attempting to run away. With that said, despite his kindness and naivety, Mikado is much more ruthless and manipulative than he appears to be and is very capable at using intimidation to reach his goals.
Masaomi Kida is Mikado's best [childhood] friend, and is a resident in Ikebukuro. He is one of the reasons Mikado moved to Ikebukuro, and while Mikado is in Ikebukuro, Masaomi acts like a big brother, protector. He is a rather cheerful boy (in public) and is always enthusiastic about picking-up girls, but seems to be a failure at it. As the series progresses, it is revealed that Masaomi's enthusiastic, happy-go-lucky demeanor is actually a mask of his true, much less secure self. He appears to agonize over major choices much more than any other character in the series, although he falls just short of being paralyzed by his fears. His background is explained in depth, and his true nature was a surprising twist in the plot.
Anri Sonohara is a introverted and quiet girl, whom Mikado falls in love with. As the series progresses, she retains her shy personality, though her interactions with Mikado and Masaomi serve to pull her out of her emotional shell and she becomes much more expressive and shows a caring side to those close to her. The friendship she develops with Mikado and Masaomi was a treat to watch, something I could sort of relate with. Another character that the plot uses as a crazy, surprising plot twist.
My favorite character, Izaya Orihara. Izaya is a powerful, skilled, and snake-like informant, who is actually much more than just an informant. He claims to love the human race, excluding Shizuo Heiwajima whom Izaya likes to start fights. He greatly enjoys putting people in miserable or chaotic situations in order to observe their reactions. He plays chess in a bizarre fashion and the undiscloed rules he plays seem to be a metaphor for the way he lives his life. Izaya throughout the anime seemed like a "god" figure, because he always helped/protected people, but in a manner that makes him seem like an evil "tester". Anyways, very enjoyable character to watch for.
Shizuo Heiwajima is renowned as the strongest man in Ikebukuro. Shizuo apparently doesn't really like violence and has misgivings about his own strength; unfortunately, he has a very short temper and when angered, his body "acts on its own" and he beats everyone up. Shizuo is a very funny character who uses violence to cancel out violence... or when he's just pissed off... or if he sees Izaya. Shizuo Vs Izaya was a constant battle throughout the anime that was really fun to watch.
Celty Sturluson is a Dullahan, an unseelie fairy from Ireland who came to Japan looking for her stolen head (yes, she's headless). Celty's personality is, ironically, one of the most normal and down to earth out of the entire cast. Celty was certainly a character I personally did not enjoy. Celty, a badass who starts off with mysterious potential ends up becoming a useless, weak, and headless babe (always one in an anime...) who falls in love with a scientist.
And that's just the start of it, the list goes on and on, showing how much in detail Durarara focused on "characters". There should be at least one character that the audience can relate to. So, if you're wondering why I wrote useless information in my review, it was to represent how diverse and strong the "characters" were in Durarara.
I thought the opening songs of Durarara were also unique and nice to listen to; I never skipped the openings while I watched the anime. The "jazz"iness in the anime certainly fit the mood of the anime throughout. The voicing was superb, each character's voice fitting their respective personalities. Izaya's voice, quiet yet manipulative and ominous, Shizuo's voice powerful, and deep, Mikado's voice, innocent and normal. The art was solid. The depiction of Ikebukuro is very accurate to the real city in real life actually. Each character had their own uniqueness. Overall very solid. The art style was certainly a bit different from the average anime though, in a sense that you have to watch the anime to understand.
Final Verdict: I like it, so I'd recommend others to watch it as well. Heh, thanks for reading!~
As I write, we're only about 7 episodes into "Durarara!!", but I'm already super pumped about this show. The creators have given me a lot of reasons to be satisfied so early into the series, and that's a mean feat considering how long it takes even some of the best anime to get up to speed.
The sheer amount of awesome in this show boggles the brain. The characters are the baddest of asses and every single one, bar none, is interesting and complex. One of my favorite character introductions is in the first episode: a vending machine rockets through the air and we're told, "dudes,
that's Shizuo, stay the hell away from him." And I probably would, but Shizuo is awesome. As is every other character in this remarkable cast.
The creators, who are also responsible for "Baccano!" (as by now you've heard), play with time in a similar way in this series. We may revisit the same moment from the perspectives of several different characters, but we're never lost, and it's certainly never like "oh, this shit again, I didn't care the first time and I don't want to see it again." We know just enough to orient us, but we still haven't seen quite enough and are left yet with mysteries.
The soundtrack is great, subtle when necessary, and the intro song is both an appropriately energetic introduction to the show and an awesome song in its own right.
Also, and sometimes most impressively, the art doesn't get in the way of the anime. The character designs are at once interesting to look at and the perfect vehicle for the story.
I guess the most natural response would be to call this show a train wreck, but that would imply
1. There would have to be a train in one piece.
2. It would have to be on a set of railroad tracks.
3. It would have to be capable of moving in some direction.
Durarara!! is more like starting off with all of the train cars scattered across the yard, then having an earthquake and expecting them to somehow find each other AND put themselves in the correct order. (Nevermind getting on a track AND traveling somewhere.)
To put it in layman's terms: DRRR is
a mess. There is no logical flow or coherence or reason in events that happen throughout the course of the series. I wonder what "Durarara" actually means; if I were to venture a guess, I'd say "crazy shit happening why because it's cool does it make sense no but that's okay because it's cool." In the first two episodes alone, they introduce a number of characters not much less than two dozen. How many of them actually end up being significant? Well, not many. How many of them is it possible to care for? Not many. Then why the hell are we wasting so much screentime? No idea.
The pacing makes absolutely no sense. In the first 7-8 episodes, nothing of any real importance happens at all: just a bunch of tiny events that one would think COULD be setting the stage for much more important things later on, but really aren't. Basically, all they do is establish the fact that "this is our city and crazy shit happens sometimes." Well, ain't that wonderful. It took you that long? When things DO finally start happening, they come out of nowhere, get dropped and forgotten abruptly, picked up again just as abruptly, and end anticlimacticly in some aesop... er, cute little outro about how "things went back to normal" for them er... whatever. Yeah, in a city where crazy shit is supposed to be a regularity? Guess how long that lasts. These little expositions simply serve as bookends that define where one arc ends and another begins. They may as well just say, "Okay this arc is over now; time for the next one," and it would have the same effect.
The writers obviously have no clue about what the concepts of buildup and foreshadowing are. Granting for the sake of argument that there is in fact a complete train on the tracks and it is in fact in motion, the train is screeching and lurching and starting and stopping and running off the tracks then back ON the tracks and skipping stations randomly and... Well, you get the idea. Here's one example: Out of nowhere, it is revealed that some dude started a group called the Dollars. There is absolutely ZERO allusion that this may have been the case previously; ZERO hints dropped to get us thinking. Nope. They just throw the fact in your face when it becomes relevant and expect you to accept it. Why did he do it? BECAUSE HE WAS BORED.
That brings me to another problem: Characterization occurs as the plot demands. Suddenly, CRAZY SHIT HAPPENING OMG WTF WHY. What's that? It's all about some character who seemed completely insignificant until now? Uh-oh. Time for a flashback. --5 minutes later-- "And that's how he/she got to where they are today" or "this is the secret he/she has been hiding." Er... wut? 'Scuse you? Another example: Suddenly, the guy with superhuman strength is saying that he's always hated his powers. Wait, what? He's been using them liberally on people, in front of people the entire show, and hasn't seemed to care in the slightest. Okay... There also seems to be a character who they were occasionally, half-assedly trying to paint as some type of MASTER OF PUPPETS AND I PULL YOUR STRINGS, but it's honestly impossible to tell whether he had any REAL significant role in the matters at hand or not.
The more I think about it, the more DRRR reminds me of Guilty Crown--in that GC ALSO likes to throw a shitstorm at you and then try to explain it as though it made sense afterwards. (Oh gawd; drawing parallels to Guilty Crown; not a good sign.) At least DRRR doesn't do it to quite an extreme degree.
The only exception to this trend is the case of one person whom they actually do a half-decent job dropping hints about the possibilities of his past and connections. Why couldn't they do that for everyone else?
*sigh* Anyway, on to sound and art. The OPs and EDs leave a bad taste in my mouth; there's no other way to describe it. The OST is composed entirely of a bunch of slow, nonchalant, beep-boopidy xylophone tracks that sound pretty much the same--regardless of the events transpiring on screen. No, actually, I think it's the SAME EXACT SONG over and over again. (At least it sounds like it.) The animation is generally pretty nice, although some big corners are cut at points--usually action sequences. One time, a mob of generic, unimportant people (signified by the fact that they're completely gray) is attacking someone, and they all somehow morph together into one giant amorphous BLOB. Seriously, guys: they're all gray. At LEAST draw some lines in there so it looks like they haven't turned into some monster out of a '50s B-stock horror film.
So why the hell is DRRR's mean score so high? Your guess is honestly as good as mine. To its credit, it DOES have come pretty cool characters (Shizuo, Izaya, and Celty [rest are trash]), and there ARE some cool moments (almost always revolving around one of these 3 characters). (Again, seriously: why do we spend so much time looking at dumb/pointless characters? If they had just capitalized on the decent ones...) Crispin Freeman and Johnny Yong Bosch put on a great show as always. But that's it. Some cool points.
OH I ALMOST FORGOT. They seem to REALLY enjoy throwing the word "love" around in the show A LOT. No, I don't think you get it. They do it. A. LOOOOOOTTTT. There's this whole ordeal about a guy who "falls in love" with a head in a jar. His obsession is nothing less than what can be classified clinically as a mental illness. Love WHAT? And that's not even the HALF of that story. Seriously some of the most screwed up shit I've ever heard. If I recall correctly, there's exactly ONE situation where the word is used that isn't mind-bendingly perverse or nauseatingly messed up.
The series really isn't very memorable in any way. I've already forgotten most of what happened (except for the seemingly important stuff and cool doods). Hell, I've already forgotten most of what happened in the episodes I watched just LAST NIGHT. I think 17 episodes is more than enough to base an accurate review off of; if, after 17 episodes, it's still so physically painful to keep watching the show, then for the sake of my mental state, I refuse to keep going.
"Just because I like humans doesn't mean I like you personally" -Izaya
Durarara is able to to keep you entertained for each entire episode. The art isn't so good as the colors are dull and the character's faces are often expressionless. On the other hand, both openings and endings were awesome.
Simply put, Durarara!! is a show that attempts anything and everything. It seeks ensemble-based drama with enough humorous peripheral characters to lighten its load (and some romances thrown in for good measure), and in its spare moments delves into the supernatural and attempts a meta-fictional perspective on 21st century Japanese culture. The series throws development after
development at the audience, fascinating one with modernized takes on Irish folk tales, introducing a myriad of strange characters. Durarara!! is a frustrating show to watch, one whose core story is too light on weight to work and whose levity relies too much on the slapstick and obscure cultural references, and one whose most interesting aspects seem peripheral, with the stories of secondary characters and the framework of the show itself outdoing the rather bland leads in interest.
The musical score, meanwhile, was always a welcome listen, and the mix of free jazz, atmospheric vibraphone tracks, and piano pieces perfectly suited the show's quirky intent, with the pieces being well-placed if occasionally a bit repetitive. A show that frustrates is often one whose failings prove to still be interesting, and all things considered, most episodes of Durarara!! have at least one surprising quirk somewhere that makes them worth watching, even if the level of innovation is not sustained across the full episode. The series makes too many blunders for its story to leave much of a lasting impact, and its meandering moments becoming intolerably tedious at times, but the entirety, in spite of being unsatisfying, does have something of a distinct charm that keeps it slightly on the positive side of mediocrity.
Durarara!!, meanwhile, introduces as many sub-plots as it does characters, with several remaining unresolved at series' end and various cliffhangers and tantalizing pauses leaving one curious for more and subsequently dismayed at the lack of closure. Characters sometimes act illogically, with the villainous sometimes too-easily re-integrating themselves into society and the main trio being given back stories that, while obviously designed to dramatically and stunningly bring the various "clues" the series drops early on into a cohesive whole, seem uncharacteristic and tacked on as a way to generate personality without really giving them any really depth. The end result is a story that feels much less of a triumph than it could have been, and even a surprisingly effective ending never covers up the show's lack of answers, reliance on flimsy plot-twists to maintain interest, and tepid moments brought about when the creators lie uncomfortably between bullet points in a plot summary, the flow having temporarily vanished and the audience being left with the bare bones of a fascinating but awkwardly presented thesis.
My overall score is 8.
Please give me your feedback.
Before you click the "not helpful" tab, let me say something. I wrote this review at the start of the series, and made a bunch of predictions on how it will turn out, but I'm confident that I won't have to change any of the content in this review, even after the show ends. I'm as sure about the general structure and potential of this show as I possibly can be. (It's all here in this pamphlet *passes around*)
I've now seen 10 episodes, and I could see how this was destined to go (not where, the two are different). It becomes very apparent that this
series is formulated much like Baccano!. Which makes sense, since they share a common maker. Let me start by saying, if you want to find out about the story, read the synopsis, my job is to tell you what you can expect to come from the story.
But enough with the chit chat, what can I tell you about Durarara?
Now, giving a review after 10 episodes is hardly a review, what am I reviewing? All I can, that's what!
Here is what I can say about Durarara, it's all in the style, in the opening, and in the way the show is played out.
The openings in anime are often used as some sort of extra bit of animation, often just put together for purpose of killing a couple minutes before the show starts. Durarara is different. Every character is highlighted, and each (again, this is insight from having seen Baccano) will play an integral part to the plot. And if you watch the opening, you'll see there's a lot of characters introduced there, and it's somewhat difficult to follow. The purpose is not to introduce you to these chracters, but to have you reflect on what events are happening in the opening, after watching the show. Which is incredibly interesting and enveloping. You can take in everything about the show from the opening, but it's done in such a way there's no way to understand until it's been introduced. And this perhaps, is one of Durarara's greatest strengths.
It's all in the style. And it's style is like Baccano!'s only in the sense that, it involves a myriad of characters, each interesting and intriguing, whose stories are all interwoven into each others. Again, I am basing all my assumptions of this on my viewing of Baccano!, but I'd be willing to wager that each character's story will be introduced seperately, with the chronology of the events somewhat a mystery at first, rising to crescendo and then climaxing at the end in a fantastic accomplishment of plot and storytelling.
The artwork is fairly dark, which is seems to suck you in. An interesting point is that all the background people are simple shades of grey. The city is dark, full of night life, but carrying a sense of anticipation, excitement, amusement, and danger. Things feel very realistic, and at the same time, there's something going on behind the scenes that teases us with an element of our usual anime supernaturality. The same could be said about the story.
The only other thing I can say about the show at this point is the music. Durarara's soundtrack has already wowed me with it's elegant subtlety. The bass guitar plucking each note in scenes of tension. Each scene's mood is completely set by the background music, flowing beautifully, and establishing a mood.
Overall, I can say Durarara is a tapestry being woven, where we are to inspect each section as an individual, and only at the end, evaluate it as a whole. And when this event occurs, we will see how each individual thread conforms to create an impressive and awe-inspiring image, which will be worth gazing at again and again, noticing subtle nuances with each new glance.
And that, is Durarara. It is an cognitive, psychological excursion beyond our normal realm of understanding. I appreciate that I have told you very little as to who is in the show, but understand a show isn't about who, it's about what "who" does, and what is going on around "who." And I've told you all I can about that. I'll once again say, this is all a prediction, one I feel very confident in, but a prediction nonetheless. I've based it off of work from the author previously. It might not turn out that way, but just like with a series of books, you can know whether or not you'll enjoy the next few by whether you'd enjoyed the first.
What do you get when you take Baccano!, replace all interesting characters with angsty teens and characters defined by their repititious actions (one guy throws vending machines when angry, but hates violence - this is considered the equivalent of a "personality"), restrict it from killing anyone; even random extras, and have all feelings expressed through narration - given, otherwise you wouldn't have been able to tell?
You get Durarara!!. This show is awful. It's the child-friendly Baccano!, with complete disregard to the factor that Baccano! *was never meant for children*. If Baccano! had a disturbed and forbidden lovechild with Bleach, and that lovechild had a tumor,
it would be Durarara!.
I think this was a rough draft of a short story Narita wrote in high school. One day, Narita looked at it and said "I should show this to someone." So, he approaches a random stranger on the streets and says "Hey! Check this out!"
Stranger, bafflled by the current situation, agrees. After reading 3 pages, he gives his reaction:
"Wow! This is really good!" he declares, handing the pages back, "B!TCH!" - Oops, I forgot to mention it, but the stranger had tourettes. And couldn't really read narita's handwriting. "FVCK SALT! THAT WAS AWESOME!"
With his newfound confidence, he turned it into his publisher. The published kinda-sorta skimmed the pages, but didn't really read it. As the editors trudged through it, they often found themselves bored and uninterested. By the 50th page, they decided to just give up and go get doughnuts.
This is how the anime came to be. It's not very good. In fact, it's not good at all. Everything that happens is merely a means for getting from Point A to Point B, then Point B to Point C. And Point C is actually Point A, so, in the end, no matter how many times it goes from one point to the next, it always ends up going nowhere.
It follows the idea of jumping from perspective to perspective, similar to Baccano!, but it always tells us how something happens, or how a character is feeling, yet never shows us anything as back up. You can tell me a character has a special relationship with someone as many times as you like, but if all you ever show them doing together is walking around with a dreadfully bored expression, I'm not going to believe it.
Pretty standard animation. Pretty boring. Only thing that stands out is the gray extras, and they're only gray 'cause they're boring.
Characters are often stilted or seen doing the same thing with a different background.
Coolest bit of animation was epic mouse-moving, but that's also a pretty boring action.
Voice acting was okay.
Bland pop music.
Sounds usually sounded like they should. Kinda.
All the characers were about as deep as your standard Zetsubou Sensei character. Unfortunately, they were trying to be deep, yet Zetsubou Sensei's characters are intetionally 2-dimensional.
They're all defined by one trait. With 24 episodes, none of the characters accomplish anything. What was the point of watching them? They only do their specific action repeatedly, and they only talk about their one, insignifacant - often nonsensical - motivation.
There were a couple points toward the beginning that were entertaining, but the majority was generic trash.
Gang war plot? Leaders of gangs are best friends? Never seen that before. But wait! There's more! THERE'S A THIRD ONE?!?! That's still not creative! It certainly didn't need to be dragged out for 8 episodes, only to end with 3 charactes hugging eachother while crying "I'm sorry!" "No, I'm Sorry!" "No, I was wrong! I'm sorryer!" WAH~!!
That's not even a climax, and I saw it coming 2 episodes into the story arce - except I didn't expect it to be that bad. It's not even worth watching.
The anime often shows you seemingly useless information, and at times following the flashbacks are very hard. The first few episodes were very slow, and not that engaging, and while it finished very well, the journey to that was less engaging.
The story and character interactions are very well strung together, perhaps too well at points, the flashbacks are sometimes a little hard to follow and the un centred nature of the anime made following the plot sometimes challenging. This anime isn't something that you can really attach 'antagonist' labels to something, while it's an understatement to say it's
mostly the characters messing around with each other - it's probably a good summary.
The animation wasn't particularly high quality. The greying of non important characters was fine really, and helped you focus on what you were meant to, but most of the quieter scenes were animated very basically. Not so much as to detract from the story, but it lowered the engagement nonetheless.
The voice acting in the dub was very good, but the sound tracks were very heavily over used and to me they were getting cliché by the end, such was the number of times I had heard them.
I also personally didn't like the narrative style. Often what a character was thinking was literally said out loud, and the actual narrator was sometimes a character from the story and sometimes external. Without a very good ability to memorise an attribute the voices, following who was narrating what was hard, and the style of the fairly frequent narration lost any implicit messages. Everything was dictated to you like they didn't want you to miss it, and while all this information tied up brilliantly towards the end, it felt a little forced to me watching it at the start.
The style of pulling a surprise back story out of nowhere didn't really bother me, nor so much the characters/plot itself, more so the way in which it was presented.
While the animation quality might be quite low, and the episodes at the start aren't that engaging, the anime does tie up nicely and deliver on the ending.
To describe “Durarara!!” as atypical or multi-faceted would be a severe understatement by any measure. Narita’s creation is a rarity in that it is a show whose characters and the universe in which they inhabit are totally homogeneous – the characters are the universe and vice versa. Durarara is a piece of metafiction that primarily explores youth culture in Japan although much of its revelations and developments are relatable or can be extrapolated into the Western world. What is particularly impressive is that all this social commentary comes slickly packaged in a character drama whose comedy, romance, supernatural conceptions and eclectic cast can be appreciated
even if one were to ignore the underlying purpose of them all.
However, if you’re willing to commit to Durarara, you will find there is an inexplicably larger amount of satisfaction to derive from than those who decide not to. I say this because Durarara is an incredibly complex story as it comprises of a large ensemble cast, all of whom play fundamental roles in the story which itself is told in a non-linear fashion. The storytelling is done in such a way that different parts of the story are experienced through the perspectives of a diverse set of characters which ranges from insatiable high-schoolers to eccentric Russian sushi chefs and a mythical motorcyclist. Throughout the show, viewers will be exposed to seemingly tangential subplots but as one would expect, they do all coalesce and are components of the story. Durarara's brilliance lies partly in this artistically inventive mode of storytelling which enables the show to carry a sophisticated narrative without feeling overbearing or convoluted because each episode or sequence is being narrated by new key characters that are still being introduced far down the story line which keeps each episode fresh and fascinating.
Within the space of 24 episodes, an enormous quantity of information is being relayed to the viewers and Durarara excels at juggling all its characters and subplots, giving the right amount of focus for all our characters. But it is precisely because the story is so hectic that it requires your full attention because all the supposedly “irrelevant” subplots and interactions are all elements that will be drawn upon much later on even into the second season. It is crucial to note that the notion of “seasons” is a purely economic one – the story doesn't suddenly “conclude” in the first season. Durarara is a singular piece of fiction based on light novels and whilst the show has arcs, the relevance of the show’s arcs do not stop when the respective arc ends. Despite this, its ending does feel wholesome and it deftly executes the conclusion in such a manner that it could very well stand alone as an individual work.
The fundamental essence of Durarara is that of a supernatural Ikebukuro where the story is set. Indeed, Ikebukuro is the only one thing that connects all our characters and their plots. The series’ presentation of modern society and youth can be seen by both its aesthetics, conceptions and the inclusion of the Internet. These exist to explore a whole host of ideas such as but not limited to: the notion of identity, especially in a world of anonymity, reality (or at least the perception of) and power and its various forms. But it does so by elegantly weaving this into the story rather than shoving these themes down your throat. Durarara vastly distinguishes itself from the rest by creating a consistently engaging fictional universe that emulates reality, where all these aspects exist and can be further delved into, instead of the usual attempts that feel artificial because it is evident that every creation of the story exists solely to explore a specific theme, sacrificing realism and preventing any semblance of transcendence from a work of fiction. I feel Durarara does transcend; it understands that there is no “main character” in real life as we are all individuals living our own lives and in an increasingly connected world, there are bound to be overlaps. And if you have a cast like the one Narita has created, then you have one hell of a story.
A show’s universe is never complete without complementary audio-visuals. The soundtrack is a quirky, snappy and a primarily light-hearted score produced by a combination of piano and jazz instruments. It no doubt helps to construct Durarara's version of Ikebukuro and is unique although nothing too special, in my opinion. Conversely, I must mention that the OPs are outstanding and both OPS are of my personal favourites. Visually, the show is nothing too spectacular. The background and setting emulate much of real life Ikebukuro and the colour palette is wonderfully vibrant to match. The character designs are wholly distinct for each one and cement each character’s idiosyncrasies and general traits - the abundance of Durarara artwork in the anime community acts as a testament to how beloved the character designs are.
Ultimately, Durarara is a multi-dimensional, fast-paced and innovative drama which successfully blends mystery, the supernatural, comedy, romance and social commentary. I feel that there is something for most people in this show with its diverse cast and multitude of subplots although much of the entertainment can be missed if you look for quick satisfaction. In which case, it may not be for you because the show definitely takes its time to explore itself and its many themes. If any of the aforementioned descriptions do appeal to you or you’re simply looking for a distinct experience that encompasses a wide range of genres, then much like one of our characters, you may look to relocate yourself in this electrifying world that is Ikebukuro.
Ikebukuro is one crazy ass town set in one crazy ass country that produced one crazy ass series of novels that now has a crazy ass anime adaptation, now replace "crazy ass" with "entertaining".
STORY: Durarara (Or DRRR, which by the way sounds like an insult to someone when they make a stupid or obvious statement) can be described as two things: crazy and entertaining, and entertaining and crazy. Durarara is as crazy as it is entertaining, I mean what other anime has gang wars, superhuman people, super natural elements, and enough characters pushed up into like several clown cars, packed up like sardines, that start
to break the hinges and screws start flying off... I can name one other but anyway, Durarara is the adaptation of light novels created by Ryohgo Narita, the creator of another crazy ass series named Baccano (Which there is only one other series I can compare that one too).
But seriously, I must applaud this novel writer, who now has two well loved series under his belt that both received great anime adaptations, that's right I'll say it right now, Durarara is a great anime, great as in entertaining, with an early competent story and a huge cast of wonderful and unique characters.
The story is about... mostly everyone! Just about all the characters receive a good bit of devoted screen time and get to narrate an episode, and you should be intimidated by what I mean by "everyone" as Durarara just has too many to write about in one review, so I'll just write about the most interesting ones, and the "main" characters, as the third half focuses entirely on those certain set of "main" characters.
The story isn't really straight forward but mostly character driven, the entire anime can be summed up into three parts: The first 1/3 is the slow start, building up the characters and establishing many elements of the series, the second 1/3 is pay off of the start up, fantastic and fun moments are all found here folks with a lot of the more interesting characters featured the most, and then finally the last 1/3, the umm, lamest part of the anime...
The first third of the anime is spend mostly introducing characters and establishing bits of story elements for the latter part of the anime with Mikado, the seemingly main character of Durarara and his friends Kida, his childhood friend, and Anri, a well endowed girl with a quite interesting back story. It's pretty slow to say the least, but it's all worth it later on.
The second third of the anime is the real meat of the entire anime, with the build up from earlier episodes, but the real reason is because the majority of the focus is on the more interesting characters like Celty, the headless Dullahan from Ireland who drives a black motorcycle around the city, Shizuo Heiwajima, the one guy in the dangerous city full of many dangerous people that you don't want to mess with, and other characters related to them in some fashion.
However, the last third of the anime is where I wouldn't mind to say there's no point on continuing further, unless you're a completest or have been enjoying the show to this point and want to continue. The story quickly shifts from being creative unique character driven story to a very lame teen drama involving gangs, with the focus being the most bland group of characters of the entire anime (Like Mikado and Kida), with the villain having the charisma of a random background character (And looks and starts out like one too).
I would consider calling this part of Durarara, DRRR, as it's sort of an insult to be stripped of all the greatest parts by the end of the anime, sure the other characters do have their moments (Like Shizuo tearing shit up), and bad moments too (Shizuo learns that he too be taken out by simple measures just like everyone else, and of course, the teen drama), but there is still worth while parts (A certain a**hole gets whats coming to him, and damn is it satisfying).
Though it's a shame Durarara mostly ends on a low note rather than a high one, but it blows it's load early on, and it might be a good idea to pretend it's only like 13 or 16 episodes like it's predecessor adaptation.
ANIMATION: Very unique and stylish, with character designs by Suzuhito Yasuda (The original artist for the novels and creator of manga series Yozakura Quartet). Apparently the original creator of Durarara wants consistency that even the studio that made Baccano, Brains Base, is also the one behind the production.
The animation is great, and the character designs are diverse enough to compliment their personalities and quirks (Of course a headless girl wouldn't need a detailed personality to stand out from the crowd), but most of them look rather generic, and the later part of the anime looks noticeably lower budget.
SOUND: With both a japanese and english voice over for Durarara available, I would recommend going your preference language to listen to since both languages are fine, however, I would give a more slight nod to the japanese voice over simply because the setting is Japan, and the english dub voice actors tend to be stumped by a japanese word when it would appear in dialogue, overall both have their stellar performances that only each language provides.
The theme music are great, especially the first opening, but as the later part of anime becomes blander, so does the theme music.
The background music is mostly loud jazz music, that seems out of place at times.
+ A unique and great character driven story.
+ Diverse cast of interesting characters.
+ Both japanese and english voice overs are equally great.
- The last third of the anime is disappointing, with too much focus on the bland characters.
- The technical side also suffers at the later end of the anime.
As an added bonus, Durarara also has many cameos of several different anime thrown about, so be sure to pay attention to the back grounds and what figures and manga you'll see.
For anybody trying to decide on whether or not they should watch Durarara, do yourself a favor and watch it. This anime is easily one of the best I've ever seen. The story starts off a little slow with a shy and timid boy named Mikado moving to new city in Japan who has high hope to start a new life. from there the story takes off. The anime stays pretty consistent with presenting new information and ideas, and easily keeps your attention. As far as story goes it is one of the most well thought out, complex, developed, and mature plots I've ever had
the pleasure of watching. When I say mature I don't mean that there are breasts bouncing around everywhere or anything else ecchi like that, but mature as in you have to have some type of common sense to keep up with whats going on, which is another thing I love about this anime.It is not the type of story where everything is laid out on silver platter for you. 10/10
Within the very first seconds of this anime you know that the illustrators took pride in what they were doing. Every scene is intricately drawn to keep the audience entertained, whether you may be looking at a vibrant and colorful vending machine flying across the sky, or a dark and mysterious alleyway waiting for you to make the mistake of deciding to take the shortcut home.9/10
If you are experienced when it comes to watching and anime you know that the soundtracks in the anime can make or break it. Fortunately for Durarara they knew exactly what they were doing. For an anime to have such a wide variety of genres they spread it out extremely well to compliment every scene needing an extra push of anxiety, calmness, happiness, or anger. Durarara isn't the type of anime to leave you crying at the sound of some beautiful soundtrack but you will definitely catch yourself at the edge of your seat while yelling something to a character attempting to do something that could potentially lead to their demise. This anime features genres everywhere from Rock all the way to Classical or Pop so you don't need to worry about getting bored with the soundtracks although you will be able to associate some of the soundtracks with a certain type of scene. -Every time I started an episodes I would always listened to the opening at least twice just because I liked it so much :)-. 10/10
From the beginning of this anime you are constantly given new information about every character, whether it may be told to you straight forward or something you discover on your own by untwisting the plot. What I am trying to say is that you immediately start to form some type of relationship and, or bond with every character in the show. There is constantly new character development so you don't have to worry about getting bored with one character. Another thing I like about this anime is that you are given the opportunity to see things in another characters eyes besides the protagonist. This is a very great technique to give the audience a chance to get to know a character because you are seeing exactly how they think instead of just seeing the main character perception on that person. Every character in the anime played an important and irreplaceable role. They all add their own little spin to the plot which keeps you interested in how the story may change once you learn something new about a character. 10/10
As far as enjoyment goes just try to stop watching this anime in the middle of a big part of one of the charter's arch. I can tell you that I stayed up until 3am even though I knew I had to get up at 6:40am simply because I did not have it in me to call it quits. Every episodes leaves you wanting more so if you are worried about not being able to get through this anime you should be more worried about stopping once you've started. 10/10
Overall this anime is nothing short of a master piece. There is only one thing that I really wanted to happen that didn't. If you are looking for a serious anime but you want to laugh I wholeheartedly encourage you to give this one a try. 10/10 Thanks for reading guys ^__^ (by the way this is my first review)
When I said there was only one thing that didn't happen that I wanted to happen it was Mikado and Anri not getting together. His excuse was that he wanted to wait for Kida to come back to try and make a move even though Kida got back with his old girlfriend and left. -__-
Trying to figure out how to write a review about this in a way that made sense, the best I could come up with is that this feels like an attempt to imitate Baccano while conforming it to much more normal anime standards and tropes.
The reason that Baccano is phenomenal is that it ignores many of these standards and focuses on its chaos and glib fun. Durarara, on the other hand, chose a plodding pace and complete lack of chaos, which would be perfectly fine on its own, but it tries to imitate Baccano's charm and sense of wildness, so a lot of Durarara
ends up feeling forced and entirely inauthentic.
I found that the real root of my utter dislike for this series is rooted in the characters. Perhaps some of it comes from my dislike of slice of life stylings. For instance, the simpering "romance" maybe or maybe not developing between Mikado and Anri made me grimace every time it was a focal point, and the "glib" romance of Selty and Shinra is just as plodding and unbearable for me, mostly because Selty is such a pansy about it at all times. But it is not just that...I find Shinra inauthentic, I find Anri and Selty inauthentic, and Shizuo and all his IZAYAAAAAAAAing and swinging around street signs a shoddily inauthentic attempt at badassery. They are all just so tepidly crafted and their existences in the series so plodding that I cannot help but not want to see them at all.I would be more fine with this if the focal point were Masaomi and his buddies/Mikado and a steady explanation of the Dollars, with a plodding pace to match the scenic action, but instead they are shifting around constantly between scenes and characters.
The other root of my dislike is probably the scenic action. Again, I feel like plodding scenes randomly barged in on by the IZAYAAAAAing and the like is really disruptive and both waters down the plot. While the scenes are certainly coherent, they drag all the time, like any of the scenes between Selty and the doctor. Perhaps some incredible part of the story or some incredible action will happen later on, but as of episode 11 ending with an awful Selty action scene (horrible whining by her, horrible action), a lot more scenes in this anime have bothered me than have thrilled me!
Even without the character problems, I do not really feel the whole vibe of "a city made of jokes, whims, and coincidences." Everything moves at such a plodding pace with predictable, tepid action that everything is very explicitly planned. You never feel surprised by anything at any time. I get the feeling that this might be a loss from the novel to the anime, but that is just a guess.
The sound varies between interesting and awful, but only Selty's voice acting particularly bothered me as far as that goes. The art varies between average modern anime and average modern anime, so nothing really exciting nor bad there. The story is entertaining enough when not getting in the way of itself, like with the overuse of computer gossiping to actually propel the plot, rather than just show how excited everyone is about the events of the super awesome city.
I do not expect you many people to agree with me about my take, and that is fine. I had a long discussion with mostly one person, and there was enough for me to turn into this review, so I decided to go ahead and make it. I do apologize for making this a bit too much about Durarara versus Baccano, but I felt that it had to be part of the discussion.
And that certain part of episode 11 that everyone is "excited" about is just disgusting fanservice (the clothing standing out was a really nice touch, but that was about all that I liked there). Again, surprisingly inauthentic following up a series so authentic like Baccano.
Okay, so after surrounding all the hype that encased this show, and because Crispin Freeman made a big deal about it at NYAF 2010, I decided to give it a shot. Half of me feels like it was a waste of time, and the rest of me isn't so sure. I am almost finished with it at this point, but I feel that writing the review now might be best (the end that is in sight isn't looking good.)
Now, if you're one of the people looking to watch this show because you enjoyed Baccano! (I mean, who didn't?), then this is NOT for you. It
will rub you all sorts of the wrong way. If you are someone that enjoys psychological thrillers with violence and mythology, step right up! However, I warn you now that it is a LOT to keep track of and isn't an overdose of any one genre specifically (except the sick pervy romance kind.)
Let's begin with the STORY, which I gave a 6. I pondered over this one for a little because it's actually a lot of stories all jammed in together, and individually they are all pretty boring, but together it makes for an interesting mix. In Baccano, which I highly recommend, you have three or less stories to keep track of at any one time; in Durarara, you have ... I dunno... a lot? A lot. You've got headless horsemen, sick doctors, unloved high school girls, a psychotic informant, some guy that throws vending machines, high school kids that lead huge street gangs, and some manga-obsessed quad-team that doesn't seem to matter but takes up screen time to confuse you. And yes, all of these things are stories that all interlace and run headlong into each other, until you don't know which was is up or down, and if you wanted it to be either of them!
Granted, people throwing vending machines is REALLY cool, so Crispin Freeman can have his kudos for being one of the few awesome characters. But I mean. If you're just gonna watch it for Shizzy-chan, then just watch episode 7, which is his backstory, and be done with it.
I just have a sinking feeling that this is the kind of anime that won't ever be resolved in a satisfying way. Why do I say that? Well, at the point where you find the epicenter of ONE of the plot lines, and two characters meet head to head (figuratively speaking, since one of them is headless), there is the feeling that the source of all the pain should be taken and everything can be resolved and we can move forward. What happens? One of the characters says 'Nice job killing everyone. Bye.'
Anyway, the art (which got an 8 in my book). Well. It's very stylized, and I particularly love the grayed out background people, because it helps you keep track of who is not important. Until of course, everyone gets colored in as a huge 'EVERYONE IS IMPORTANT' statement. Hello Captain Obvious! I won't deny that the animation is fairly well done and the background work is phenomenal. Very rarely do they reuse any of the footage. We see the inside of one man's office maybe 20+ times, and only 3-5 of those times is it the same art. I really appreciate them not half-assing it artways, but it doesn't necessarily make up for the shitty incoherent plot they tried to concoct.
As for sound, I'm extremely picky. If I don't notice it, it sucked. My favorite sound track is from Eureka Seven, but I can honestly say DRRR comes pretty close! It is not very often that I actually LIKE the OP and ED songs from a show these days. It is even rarer that animators use music correctly! However, they have a refrain that they play several times when everyone should be rainbows and butterflies, and I love it! Absolutely love it! So the sound got a 9!
The characters were... mediocre at best. They were all very stereotypical, and nothing was TOO surprising. Watching them develop hasn't been the most interesting thing in the world, in fact it sometimes seems irrelevant despite the fact that the whole thing slowly seems to be turning into a slasher soap opera. As I said for the 'story' section, it is more about the characters than anything else, and so their histories ARE, essentially, the story. But you know, innocent high schoolers being majorly important gang leader/murderer/opposing gang leader... that's really original. I totally didn't see that coming in Higurashi when all the girls took out butcher knives and killed everyone. Come. On!
I did enjoy all the character DESIGNS. Especially Shizuo and his bartender outfit, and Selty with her shadow-leather biker suit. So I didn't score it TOO badly. I just wish... all the characters had been less typical. In Baccano, all the characters kept me guessing; I couldn't tell bad from good and I loved every second of it! (Jacuzzi was the most surprising!) But man... like I didn't know Celty was gonna turn into a pile of mush around her captor (Stockholm Syndrome much?) Shinra? Everyone can see it coming, so it's not a spoiler. If you didn't, this anime is too dense for you, you need some light hearted shojo. (May I recommend Kaicho wa Maid-sama?)
As for enjoyment, I gave it a 6. I'm still watching it aren't I? Could be I'm cooped up in the house for winter break like any anime fan, but it also could be that it has a mildly captivating watch value. I would recommend a rewatch, but only because it's so damn confusing. I feel like I should make a chart or something; in fact... I almost did. But how silly is that? If you have to watch anime with a chart, then it's too fucking complicated. Even Spice and Wolf, which people complain has a LOT of dialogue, isn't that complicated (AND IT INVOLVEES MATH PEOPLE.)
So anyway, I gave DRRR a 6. And I wanted to be able to provide a comprehensive reason as to why I'm scoring so low, so as to provide a new and fresh look on things. I hope it helped!
The anime has a series of tags and I would add 'psychological' to better describe some scenes. The story immediately caughts your attention by the way it's told, not by the content itself. Narita, the original creator and the rest of the team, in this regard used some cool classic tricks seen on many "best seller" books. Not only that, but overall the 'sound guys' managed to capture every scene with the right OST, making this an anime very easy to marathon.
Its quality can vary, sometimes it feels brilliant, by giving insight to what the characters are thinking or to give a better
understanding of them. The problem lies in the action, sometimes it's just missing by plot constraints, which gives the (now and then) long monologues an important task. They must keep the viewer hooked. Doesn't always work, as not every single line of dialogue is great. So be aware, you can have the feeling it's just there to fill blank spaces (maybe to reach those 24 eps mark).
Reverse chronology? Check.
An old trick but reliable. Many times the episodes starts showing the third act (final scene; climax), then going back to the first act (the setup act). This arouses the viewers attention, as you now are hooked to watch until you can comprehend that final scene.
Some times, to exploit and empathize some important moment in the overall comprehension of the story, the first act (setup) is also traded with the second (development) and vice-versa.
I'll describe the feeling as seeing a Houdini's trick. Admiration and confusion will be felt at the beginning, then you'll slowly understand what you're watching as the trick is revealed.
This show has a considerable number of characters. Not all have the same importance to the story, but there's at least one ep, where we will be presented with a certain point of view, where their opinion will be given on whatever is going on. It's not perfect as sometimes you can feel a little bittersweat about some of them, especially in the second half of the plot. It's there where you'll notice some flaws in some characters design.
The sound is what I would call the perfect 'accompanist'. It's just a series of spot on instrumental beats that follows the visual and the plot, and that's it. Don't expect epic tracks to be played, a beautiful voice singing as an epic kick throws someone of. The show already has a lot going on, intricate ways of story telling, different characters (points of view) are shown all the time, lots of suspense, etc. Having those kinds of songs would just get in the way and divert your attention from the suspense. In this regard, I'll consider this anime OST not perfect or a masterpiece but the best 'accompanist' I've seen, as it just sets the right mood.
I'll not mention openings and edings, as that to me is only relevant if used in the actual scenes, not just at start and end.
Some quick regards for the animation. It's well made and executed well; not overwhelming, but it also doesn't go unnoticed. Kuddos for some details, like making the spectators who not intervene in the course of action/ or are not important to the plot go grey! Barely any visible mistakes in the animation.
Is it perfect? No. I already hinted that it's not a masterpiece, especially at the beginning: "caughts your attention by the way it's told, not by the content itself". I'll not compare this show to Bacanno like most do, because I want to focus in one important story aspect, so forgive the next comparison. Anime like Shinsekai Yori or Shingeki no Kyojin have one thing in common, whether you agree it's well executed or not... Both start of with a very compelling plot or story that immediately hooks you. This show doesn't.
What's Durarara then? It's your normal setting/plot that can get interesting because of the way it's told. Despite all the gimmicks I said previously, it doesn't change that fact! The team who worked on Durarara never had a compelling story, so they had to use every trick they could to make it stand out. I have no doubt, if it wasn't for them, Durarara would not be as good as it was, it would fall to average or fine.