Monday, August 5, 2013

Durarara!! Anime Review

Durarara!! Anime Review
Written by: ClayDragon

The successor to Baccano! suffers from Difficult Second Novel Syndrome.

In a similar vein to Baccano! (in fact, they’re both written by the same person), Durarara!! started life as a light novel, before being adapted into an anime series. However, Durarara!! is different from its predecessor in a number of ways, and these keep it from being as good as Baccano!

The story starts when Mikado Ryugamine, a modern-day middle-school student, moves away from his country home and into the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo to start high school. He meets up with his old friend, Masaomi Kida, and develops a friendship with a fellow pupil, Anri Sonohara. Elsewhere in the district, a modernised headless horsewoman called Celty Sturlson searches for her missing head, a group of four gang members drive around and fight crime, and a bartender with inhuman strength fights one of the most manipulative people of the anime world.

Just a typical day in Ikebukuro...

The first arc of Durarara!! is well-done, with focus switching between the ensemble cast, and we get to know the main characters quite well as a result. At the start, the story is mainly driven by Celty’s search for her head, and this quest takes centre stage, with Mikado and his friends being pushed slightly to one side.

However, two characters in particular appear in both Celty’s story and Mikado’s story – the bartender and the manipulator. The bartender (Shizuo Heiwajima) has a hair-trigger temper, and pretty much trashes the place when he gets upset. However, he really hates violence, and tries as hard as he can to keep his emotions in check. On the other hand, the manipulator (Izaya Orihara) seems to make it his life’s work to annoy as many people as possible, and he’s the closest the anime has to a main bad guy.

Yes, he punched a guy so hard his clothes came off.

When all’s said and done, the first arc of Durarara!! boasts a good story and interesting characters, and, if things had continued that way, this show could maybe have even rivalled Baccano!

The key word there is ‘if’.

After the fairly awesome climax of the first arc, we’re presented with a six-month time skip, and the story moves away from Celty. Instead, the focus is given to the school kids – possibly the most boring characters out of the entire cast. When you have characters like a headless horsewoman, a hugely manipulative bastard, and a rather eccentric back-alley doctor, why on earth would you focus on the school kids? Perhaps even worse is the fact that Celty’s story arc just seems to stop, and her driving motivation for the first arc has pretty much been forgotten.

...Yeah, this happens.

The third arc is arguably worse, as it focuses almost exclusively on the kids, although Izaya and Celty do get a decent amount of screentime. The ending makes very little sense, and a few plot threads are left unsolved, as if the producers were angling for a second season. In fact, the whole ending feels too contrived, as if a whole lot of coincidences led up to the event. Of course, that could be seen as Izaya’s doing, but it still makes little sense.

Over the course of Durarara!!, it becomes obvious that almost every character has a secret that they’d rather keep hidden. Some of these are believable, like those of Shinra (the back-alley doctor). However, the secrets that Mikado, Masaomi and Anri hold are contrived at best and unbelievable at worst. Part of the reason the ending is so screwed up is because they chose to keep their secrets hidden (that, and there are enough stupid misunderstandings to rival Romeo & Juliet).

Let the fun begin!

On the positive side, the music is enjoyable, with a lovely piano piece that plays during the quieter, more introspective moments of the series. The openings are good as well, especially the second one, which is one of my all-time favourites. In a similar manner to Baccano!, the cast members are shown during the openings, but strangely, some characters are shown even though they get barely any screentime. This is especially true of Tom, Shingen, Kasuka and Kinnosuke, who are shown in the second opening despite the length of their appearances ranging from ‘only in one episode’ to ‘only in one scene’.

Despite the problems with the story, Durarara!! is funnier than Baccano! was. Any scene that involves Shizuo is likely to be either funny, awesome, or both (hence why most images and gifs on this review involve him). And despite only having a bit part, Shingen manages to make me laugh with almost every line. Of course, it could be argued that the funniest moment was when two strangers made a minor cameo appearance...

The best part is, there is absolutely no reason as to why they shouldn't be there.

Overall, Durarara!! suffers from a number of ups and downs (although maybe more downs than ups). Most of the characters are interesting, and the music and humour are a welcome addition. Sadly, the second and third arcs seem contrived and the conclusion just seems unfinished. It’s entertaining, sure, but there are better shows to watch.

And by the way, I have no idea what the name ‘Durarara!!’ means.

Good Things:   Most characters get decent screentime.
       The nice soundtrack.
                                The first arc.

Bad Things:    The second and third arcs.

                                The main storyline seems to trail off.

The Verdict:


Got any ideas for an anime I should review? Post your suggestion in the comments below!

ClayDragon is currently studying Physics at university, and is constantly bewildered by it. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at The alternative is his Skype account at kyleroulston1993. When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to understand quantum physics. He is trained in the art of Mortal Kombat.

No comments:

Post a Comment