"Durarara!!" is the story of a boy who came to the big city with hopes of escaping his boring and ordinary life, as he encounters many extraordinary people and strange events in the big city that is Ikebukuro.
The photo-realism of the background and simplicity of the characters generated a unique atmosphere for this series.
The background has extreme detail, with enough deliberate flaws (such as fading street lines, stained asphalt, individually colored bricks etc) and natural reflection of light to make them seem more than just drawings. What makes them seem even more realistic is that certain locales are exact reenactment of the actual city. The JR station in the first episode, for example even used JR's actual, un-altered logo. There were many other scenes where I actually recognized the backgrounds, and even the stores like Tokyu Hands and Wendy's had the original logo designs with minimal alteration in spellings.
The background characters (or extras, if this was live action) were sketchy outlines. I personally don't like this technique being overused throughout the series, but as usual, it worked very well in certain scenes to show the busyness of the city and one's insignificance in society. Of course, it also brings out the main characters.
I would say there was very little room for improvement in animation considering the atmosphere they were trying to create. Although there could've been a lot more surreal scenes.
Voice acting done very well, especially for Kida, whose voice was somewhat unique and showed massive variance from when he's serious to joking. The entire cast were noticeably motivated. You can tell they gave everything they've got, especially in dramatic scenes.
This may be a personal opinion, but I firmly believe a seiyuu's skill is measured by quality of his/her narration. It's something that you can't BS through, and truly talented voice actors are capable of moving the audience by subtly expressing emotion in seemingly unemotional dialogs. "Durarara!!" had different narrators for almost every single episode, and I feel I really connected with almost every characters by the end of the show.
Music score was pretty good, often essential in setting the atmosphere. There was a particular clown-ish, jovial piece that really impressed me.
This may be a bit harsh since we live in an era where everything's been done before and recycled plot lines are hard to avoid, but the story of "Durarara!!" is like a bunch of previous Japanese works patched together.
Unveiling of the characters and exploration of loneliness in Tokyo in first half, as well as the intertwining events/lives and search for the exciting life is a carbon copy of 2009 film "Lala Pipo" (based on 2005 novel). This may be excused since this series was produced by many of the same staff from "Baccano!", but the similarity was disturbing.
The general atmosphere and gang war aspect in the second half is almost identical to the infamous dorama "Ikebukuro West Gate Park" (IWGP). In fact, the main color gang even had yellow identification color just like IWGP, so was the gang leader's jester personality and Heiwajima Shizuo as the invincible fighter (though he's in different gang and strength was significantly beefed up).
Then you have Orihara Izaya, who's pulling strings from behind the scenes like controlling chess pieces, much like the duo from "Death Note".
Individual segments of the components may be unoriginal, but they were fused well together to make a story as a whole. The entire show had a consistent atmosphere and pacing, and surprisingly, the modernized Dullahan didn't seem to be forced into the story.
The ending was slightly disappointing for me, since everything worked out too well. It felt like they were trying too hard to make an 'everyone's happy' ending. Fortunately, we can expect much darker story if they ever decide to make a sequel, judging from plot synopses of following novels.
Characters are the most intriguing part of this series.
The protagonist is Ryuugamine Mikado, seemingly an ordinary boy who's curious about everything about the big city he moved into for high school. Other than his super-cool name and secret background, I would say that he is THE Mr. Average, even that he doesn't have a personality since he's so bland.
Like "Baccano!" there are many main characters with nearly equal screen time, each of them with unique backgrounds and interests that eventually converge. (Amazing use of cameo and that particular episode was the highlight of the series too.) The most interesting of such characters were Celty and Heiwajima. Celty Sturluson represents the mystique this big city Ikebukuro has to offer. Other than having kick ass 'horse' and method of communication, her character was the most complex out of all the cast in the series, ironically making her the most human out of all. Then you have Heiwajima Shizuo on the other side of the scale. Despite the fact that he is a human being, his monstrous power is just absurd with attention span of a child and serious temper tantrums. He's like the coolest walking destruction.
Most of the story focuses on the unveiling of the characters' unique backgrounds and secrets rather than actual development.
"Durarara!!" attempts to explore a large number of extremely common themes in Japanese media such as personal barrier, search for meaning in life, violence as a form of love, responsibility as leader etc, but none particularly as in-depth as they could've been.
It is still the series that left me the most lasting impression this season though, with unique animation, sounds, and characters. The story lacked focus, but the pacing was excellent and kept me interested throughout the 24 episodes. Those who liked "Baccano!" and "IWGP" will most likely to enjoy "Durarara!!".
What this series had, was the magic, and I will definitely watch the sequel if it ever comes out.
9 out of 11 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.