- Production Values
Studio: Brain’s Base
Synopsis & Opening Comments
“Ryuugamine Mikado has always longed for the excitement of the city life, and an invitation from a childhood friend convinces him to move to Tokyo. Witnessing the Black Rider on his first day in the city, his wishes already seem to have been granted. But as supernatural events begin to occur, ordinary citizens like himself, along with Ikebukuro’s most colorful inhabitants, are mixed up in the commotion breaking out in their city.”
With the same author (Ryohogo Narita) who wrote the fantastic series, Baccano, and the same crew (Director Takahiro Omori and Studio Brain’s Base) that adapted the anime, comes yet another dark and gritty work, Durarara!! Due to this sort of staff I was pumped and ready to go watch this series and at first, I genuinely found this to be slightly better than Baccano.
Key words: At first
The first thing that hooked me to Durarara was the setting. By capturing the Japanese culture, showcasing the dominant use of technology and delving into the grittier areas of crime and violence, Brain’s Base did an impeccable job breathing life into the modern Tokyo city, Ikebukuro. It oozed with hip, slick style and never once did the setting feel underwhelming.
With the engaging setting, Durarara makes fantastic use of it in its first half. The pacing is in constant, exceedingly entertaining motion and with a wonderfully diverse cast, there’s something new and exciting at every turn.
Durarara also has one of the most brilliant story set-ups ever. It’s a multi-layered story filled with subplots that brilliantly intertwine and the series never comes across as frustratingly confusing. It keeps the viewer immersed by letting them try to fit the puzzle pieces together and it was a fantastic build-up to say the least.
I fell in love with Durarara and was almost ready to call this a near flawless anime.
While Durarara sets up a vastly engaging storyline, its payoff is a load of rubbish, primarily, because there is no pay-off.
What started off as a series in constant, breakneck motion, the series eventually starts to ease its foot off the gas pedal by the second half, before slamming on the brakes in its final third. At the height of every climax, Durarara wimps out and takes the safer, duller route; reducing all tension it originally built up. After everything the show promises, it fulfils none of them. After so much anticipation, the series just ends with very little resolved.
It’s like waking up on Christmas and tearing off the wrappings of a nice present only to find out that it’s coal.
Diverse, large and insanely fun to watch, Durarara has a phenomenal cast. We get characters from both ends of the spectrum. Wild to meek, tame to absolutely psychotic, idiotic to clever, normal to the supernatural; characters range from Celty, a beautiful vigilante riding on a motorcycle looking for the head of Shizou, a man with serious (and I mean serious) anger issues – possessing super strength as he can lift cars and vending machines – to even the typical, but very relatable teenage lead, Mikado. These three characters just barely scratch the surface of the whole cast.
Claiming that Durarara doesn’t have a wickedly delightful cast would be absurd.
But unfortunately, Durarara’s cast is brought down by the lacking story and awful utilisation.
Instead of resolving characters, Durarara only gives them more problems, throwing them into weakly written angst and drama. Instead of fun quick-witted dialogue and bouncing off each other, characters begin to bicker and whine and cry. They hold grudges over illogical reasons and silly miscommunications; strained relationships and misunderstandings, that could have easily been cleared up, take up a good chunk of Durarara.
Oh, and out of all the villains the series could have chosen to end with, it ends with that one leader of the gang, Yellow Scarves. What was his name again?
Like mentioned earlier, Brain’s Base does a very fine job bringing everything to life. The art fits the the series perfectly and sets that stylish, gritty mood perfectly. The animation has occasions of very small slip ups but is otherwise fluid with very well-choreographed fight scenes. The voice acting captures character emotions very well and the music gives everything a nice flare.
If only actual story had retained the same quality.
Durarara is fantastic for its first half and painfully lacklustre in its second half. The story builds up to nothing and with an incredibly entertaining cast that is misused by the end, Durarara was downright disappointing by the end.
Even so, while I would never call Durarara a good series, it certainly does stand out from the average anime and if you’re willing to tolerate an inconclusive ending, the final half does have enough charm to keep those less critical than me entertained.