I watched Durarara this past (much missed) summer, before I was sucked into the black hole of Junior year and battered with homework. Though it was a while ago, I remember really enjoying this anime after a bit of a rocky start. Though I can’t call Durarara my favorite anime ever, I highly enjoyed it and I understand why it has such a large fandom now.
The series begins with a timid boy named Ryuugamine Mikado arriving in Tokyo and meeting his old friend Kida Masaomi. The two are going to begin attending Raira Academy together, and Mikado has moved to Tokyo from the countryside. Kida leads Mikado on a tour through the city and Mikado finds himself fascinated with the people Kida knows and Ikebukuro in general. But even as Kida excitedly talks about the city, he warns Mikado to stay away from certain people: namely a bad-tempered man dressed like a bartender called Shizuo Heiwajima and a dangerous, sly man named Orihara Izaya. The two frequently get into fights and it would be safer for Mikado to avoid them. Mikado is also told to avoid the color gangs and to keep an eye out for the “Black Rider”, an urban legend about a headless motorcycle rider.
The story begins rather slowly, and I personally was pretty disinterested in the lack of obvious plotline for quite a few episodes before everything began falling into place. The story does not focus solely on Mikado, but instead changes perspectives with each episode, and eventually all the strange things you learn and see around Ikebukuro tie together into the finale. All the characters are unique and interesting, and the plot is very original. I found some of the characters sort of boring and dry (Mikado and Anri) but they all end up playing important roles in the story. It’s actually very hard to describe Durarara because it isn’t a story with a main character and a goal in mind. It instead follows an extensive cast through the unique lives they lead in the city, and then shows how their lives overlap and intersect until an eventual conflict is revealed.
I find myself generally bored with any sort of slice-of-life story, but Durarara does not show characters leading typical lives. While many people seem on the surface to be very normal and boring, they aren’t at all. Everyone is hiding something. One of the my favorite things about this anime is actually the fact that some characters are very disarming, but actually hide something very dangerous inside. No one is what they appear to be. Everything is significant, and this all came together beautifully in the finale that (of course) made me cry. The first half of the series was somewhat boring, but it shed a lot of light on each character’s background and gave them “color”, so to speak. By the second half when the conflict began to appear, you understood and felt more attachment towards each character. The first half is light-hearted and humorous for the most part, but the tone and plotline take a significant turn towards something dark and sinister in the second half.
There are not many things I disliked about this series, but nevertheless there are some. I felt the anime finished far too quickly. While the pacing in the first half went too slow for my tastes, when I got hooked and began to really enjoy the plotline it felt like everything culminated in two episodes and then it was over. I felt unsatisfied because I wanted to know more and see more of my favorite characters. Many of the characters are also rather unlikeable, and that was kind of a strange feeling for me since I’m used to falling in love with every character. In the end I think I only really loved Shizuo, Kida, Celty, and Shinra. I really did not care that much about the rest of the characters, and that made it hard for me to keep watching when I got to episodes that featured them. I also felt that the lack of focus in the first half of the series made it difficult for me to continue watching. I watched up to episode 10 before I had to go to China, and I wasn’t upset at all that I wouldn’t be able to finish until I got back. When I did return to America, it was difficult for me to work up the motivation to continue watching the series. It took some patience because I really didn’t care for a majority of the characters. Many unresolved plotlines at the end of the series also had me a little upset, because what the heck Celty what about your goal?
In the end, I still feel that people should give Durarara a try. The story is ridiculously creative and while the plot can be convoluted, it really does become worth it once you reach the second half of the series. I would rate this series PG-13 at best for violence, blood, and disturbing plotline. As usual, I leave you with the first OP of this series and I recommend you check it out.