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Anime Reviews: Durarara!! season one
Director Takahiro Omori and the good people at the Brains Base studio are batting a thousand right now.
Princess Jellyfish was charming, funny and enjoyable to watch.
Baccano! is a mishmash of characters and plots that never ceased to amuse.
And now here we have what looks like the spiritual successor to Baccano! .
No, really, it is. Same STUDIO, same DIRECTOR, based off ANOTHER series of light novels from Ryohgo Narita, the same AUTHOR...hell, even their opening credits are identical.
Well, probably not, but who cares?
Durarara!! takes place in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo, a vibrant urban community where there’s always something going on and where very, very interesting people walk the streets every day. A Russian immigrant who works for, and loudly advertises, a sushi restaurant. A tough guy in a beret and his three otaku friends who all ride around in a van. A superhuman bodyguard for the mob who dresses like a bartender and can hurl vending machines and street signs at great distances. An information broker who loves people the same way that a ball-peen hammer loves squirrels. A secret underground gang known as the Dollars who are so secret nobody in it even knows who their leader is, or if they even have one. And last but not least there’s Celty, a “Headless Rider” of local urban legend who comes straight out of an ancient Irish folktale.
The show is divided into two parts. The first part deals with a girl with a mysterious scar on her neck with a face similar to Celty’s who is on the run from a shady pharmaceutical company, which also involves a partially-incestuous love triangle between her, the girl’s boyfriend and his sister, who is CEO of said pharmaceutical company. The second involves a turf war about to erupt on the streets of Ikebukuro between the Dollars and a rival color gang, the “Yellow Scarves”, and swept up in the chaos are our three high school student leads: new kid Mikado, his best friend Masaomi, and a girl named Anri from Mikado’s homeroom class, all of whom turn out to be more than they let on. Not unlike Baccano!, it doesn’t go beyond these first two stories, which is too bad since you’re kind of left wanting more at the end and, admittedly, some characters are expanded on more than others.
As was the case with Baccano!, the biggest strength of DRRR!! is in its cast. The characters on this show run the gamut from sympathetic to bad-ass to that annoying troll you’re just dying to see get run over by a semi. As if Shizuo the “bartender” wasn’t enough to recommend it, other characters like Mikado, Celty and Anri earn brownie points in bad-assery as it goes on, even though a majority of the action on this show is played for laughs. Also similar to Baccano!, both stories are told from multiple perspectives, though with this series they don’t jump around as much or as randomly and everything happens more or less at the same time, so it isn’t as hard for first-time watchers to figure out what’s going on.
But if there is one major thing that DRRR!! succeeds at better than its soul brother, it is atmosphere. DRRR!! is a moodier and occasionally darker series, even though the violence isn’t as intense. While the events of the more light-hearted Baccano! happen in numerous places and even multiple periods in history, everything on this show happens within the claustrophobic confines of Ikebukuro, giving it an aura of mystery and suspense. Who is this “Headless Rider”? What’s with everyone wearing yellow scarves all of a sudden? What’s the deal with this guy who goes around slashing people? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?! TELL ME!
I know I shouldn’t be mentioning Baccano! as often as I am in a review, but considering they’re both literally cut from the same cloth, it’s sort of hard not to. On its own merits, Durarara!! is just as fun to watch. My only complaint was that it took them so long to make another season of it. It’s such a fun show that you want it to keep going, especially since they don’t publish the novels over here.
Oh, and also, GO WATCH BACCANO!. Seriously, it’s on YouTube, what’s stopping you?!
Fun cast; explosive action scenes; good use of atmosphere and non-linear storytelling
Ends too soon; some characters are developed more than others