Durarara!! Review

Studio: Brain’s Base, Shuka
Publisher: ASCII Media Works
Genre: Action, Mystery, Supernatural
Release: S1 (2010), S2 (2015)

A totally recommended anime. From the makers of the wtf-inducing Baccano!! comes the famed and notorious Durarara!! Often romanized in Japan as DRRR!!, it’s one of those shows that are very unique in art style, plot development and overall execution. Well, this is the only anime where you can find a headless woman stright out of Celtic mythology working as a courier that rides motorcycles (and uses a smart phone). Also, there’s a black Russian and former Spetsnaz operative that’s now a sushi chef in Ikebukuro. Crazy!

Plot: The story starts with the shy and gullible Ryugamine Mikado transferring from the mundane province life to the hustle and bustle city of Tokyo, as per request of his childhood friend Kida Masaomi whom he hasn’t seen for years. Kida gives him the grand tour of the infamous town of Ikebukuro where he will stay, and meets a couple of significant people along the way. Here’s a brief run-through of the characters:

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The scene sometimes cuts to this 4-chan-ish online chatroom where three anonymous personas Tanaka Taro (blue), Kanra (orange) and Setton (grey) gossip about the hottest rumors going around Ikebukuro, and is most of the time used as a pre-text for the plot progression that will follow. As the story goes its way, more will join in the fray and you’ll pretty much figure out who among the characters these chatroom users are.

After they gossip about how kidnappings are becoming rampant in town, the scene cuts to a girl actually being kidnapped. It is later revealed in episode 2 that the one responsible for her kidnap, and ironically, her dramatic rescue, was none other than the twisted Orihara Izaya– an information dealer bent on using his resources to play with people’s emotions just to see how they’ll react. Well, he’s crazy enough to play a triangular chess board with mahjong, Chinese checkers and chess pieces in them.

Here we have another band of seemingly insignificant characters: Kyohei Kadota‘s group which comprises of himself, Saburo Togusa, Erika Karisawa, and Walker Yumasaki. They are first introduced as otaku friends of Kida Masomi who love going to cons and idol concerts, but do expect more of them later.

And of course there’s the iconic and rumored legendary “Headless Black Rider“, or other-wisely known as Celty Sturluson. It is explained that she’s an Irish Dullahan derived from Celtic mythology– a female headless horse rider that roams the land, and splashes a basin of blood to the faces of those who are soon to die. A dullahan usually holds her head in her waist, but Celty’s head has been stolen from her, and she is now desperately searching for it. In the meantime, she works as an underground courier under Shinra Kishitani.

Next we have a black Russian sushi chef who works for a Russian-owned sushi bar, Simon Brezhnev. He doesn’t like fighting so most of the time he butts-in to other people’s fights, especially when the inhumanely strong Heiwajima Shizuo goes on a rampage that’s usually triggered by his life-long nemesis Orihara Izaya.

Adding more chaos to the character list are the classmates of Ryugamine Mikado: Seiji Yagiri and (name censored), his lover who coincidentally has a wound on her neck. Which I bet you’re thinking it’s Celty’s. Nope, sorry. The story is gonna be really complicated so it’s best to just watch. Seiji also has a incestuous doctor sister named Namie Yagiri who romantically loves him in the creepiest of levels.

Lastly, we have a black market doctor named Shinra Kishitani, who’s been crazy in love with (and also living with) Celty Sturluson for 20 years. How they met and what really happened in Ireland is initially explained in episode 4, and then their story slowly climaxes just before the first arc ends on episode 12.

One notable wonder of Durarara!! is that despite introducing a barrage of characters from the get-go, which is traditionally not very advisable for any kind of show, they were able to make a workaround and instead transform that disadvantage to their advantage: one story at a time, but shown from the different perspectives of the characters, and then taking various unexpected turns to reveal certain plot twists.

A tip! Always view the opening sequence from start to finish- there’s always a re-cap of the previous episode there and it’s just really cool to watch while the awesome OP song plays along. Anyway, I guess that’s a wrap. If you like Baccano!!, you’ll love this one. But if you haven’t watched Baccanno!! yet and happen to like Durarara!!, make sure to watch it!

RATING: 8.3/10

Story
Visuals
Audio

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