This is an old review of mine, so grammar errors and bad sentence structures are the name of the game here. However, this is probably one of the few early reviews of mine that I actually like, and I think that’s because this is one of the first reviews that was entirely my own opinion! I know that’s kind pathetic, but considering all my old reviews were influenced by Nostalgia Chick and JesuOtaku, it’s really not surprising to me.
I was really proud of this review back in the day for that very reason. I remember seeing no reviews for this things as I was watching it, and after I wrote I began to check some critiques of Durarara!! on Youtube, and to my shock many people had the same thoughts as mine. It was great to know that I was starting to develop good critical tastes, and for that reason I don’t absolutely loathe this old crappy review. As much as I hate to admit it, this is the review that helped make me the critic I am today, and for that reason I’ll always like it, even if it is poorly written like all my old reviews.
Old Review, Commence!
On January 7th, 2010, Durarara!! aired its first episode in Japan. It then finished airing on August 25th, 2010, with its 24th episode. Now before I begin, I would like to say that even though this is a spiritual sequel to Baccano!, I will not be comparing the two. I will instead just be looking at this as a standalone series and whether it’s good or not. I’d also like to say that I will sadly not be reviewing the dub for this show, because I can only review dubs when I have the dub available for me to watch; and sadly I only have subs available with this case. So with that said on with the review.
Durarara!! takes place in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo, and follows an large amount of characters and the supernatural like events that occur around them. When I say extreme amount of characters, I’m not kidding, there’s probably over 20 recurring characters that have an important role in the plot. Now in an average story, this amount would become very hard to use properly. Surprisingly though, Durarara!! is somehow able to keep up with the cast, they are also able to use all of them in some fashion or another. Sure, a character may get dropped from the plot every once and while, or become mostly useless, but it holds up surprisingly well and will not ruin your experience of the show. Whoever was able to write this story and use this many characters effectively should be applauded for their efforts.
As for the supernatural events, they split themselves up into two mystery arches. The first arch is about mostly about the mysterious Headless Rider and where her head is. There’s also the mystery of the gang called the Dollars. There’s more to it, but telling any more would be spoilers, let me just say however this arch is probably my favorite of the two. First of all, at the beginning of this arch, everything seems jumbled and disconnected. However, slowly throughout the arch it pulls every mystery together to a shocking conclusion, which I liked a lot. They also have individual episodes, in this arch, to delve into the important characters back-stories. It’s really interesting to watch and the whole arch is entertaining and is probably the best part of the show.
Then there’s the second arch, now the second arch I have more problems with. While the second arch is just as entertaining, it contains some pretty glaring flaws. Basically, like the first arch, it starts out jumbled with many mysteries waiting to be solved. Weirdly enough though all of these threads seem to combine in Episode 17, were almost all the twists are finally set in place. Then comes the wait, because after this episode, the story starts to build the tension between the gangs of the Yellow Scarves, the Dollars, and the Slashers. Now all the tension is based around the three leaders of the group, all of whom, let’s just say, have an interesting connection, and so your just waiting for them to find out about each other.
However, this wait takes forever, starting from Episode 18 and building until the last episode of the series. This may not sound bad, but for me it felt a little dragged out, they could have really done without some of the extra tension building episodes. Specifically Episode 19 which is really only there to explain why Anri was spying on Masaomi, not only is the episode filled with too much narration, it’s pretty much something that could have been explained in 5 minutes. Really the final build up didn’t need this many episodes, it could have built it up in half the episodes and it still would have been just as effective.
Now, despite my rambling, this probably won’t be that much of a problem if you watch it, because despite this, it’s still entertaining. The lively cast and build up will keep you watching, but like I said before, eventually you will start to notice it’s taking a long time to get to where you know it’s going. Overall though, the finale does make up for this, it was a very nice ending and was perfect to end everything off. Even if it took a long time to get there.
So with that out of the way, let us talk about the music of the show. The soundtrack really didn’t stand out much to me throughout the show, but I will admit this is mostly because it fit very well with the scenes. I honestly don’t think it’s a soundtrack as amazing as Cowboy Bebop and Madoka Magica’s, but since it’s able to create an atmosphere and fit the mood of the scene, it makes it pretty good soundtrack.
The openings however are something else, let’s start with the first one. Now the first opening goes along with the first arch, and fits the overall tone of the show very well. The animation is gorgeous, and luckily for those who were a little confused with the last episode, it gives you a little recap to help you remember. It also introduces all of the characters uniquely and reveals their names as they are introduced to use throughout the show.
The second opening however, is the one I like the least out of the two. Like most anime that change their opening half way through the show, the second opening of Durarara!! is much more dreary and dramatic to fit the tone of the final episodes. Now while this makes sense, and the second arch of Durarara!! is much more suspenseful than the first, it loses its charm in my opinion. The second opening just doesn’t make me fell as excited for the show like the first one does, I honestly wish the first would stay.
The endings have the same problem, though to a lesser extent. You see the first ending, like the opening goes with the first arch, so it’s very goofy with its English lyrics and changing color overlay. The second however is much more serious and has the same color overlay changing. Again, it just seems to lose its charm because of this. However, you just skip the ending anyways, so you probably won’t notice it too much.
Finally, we must talk about the animation, which was made by Studio Brain Base. Now Brain Base has made other works such as Baccano! and Spice and Wolf Season 2. So with that in mind, the show of course looks great. It has a very interesting art style much like Baccano! and is always a treat to watch. The action scenes are also very good and I never noticed any shortcuts, so overall it has some very good animation.
Durarara!! is a very good show, it was a pleasure to watch and honestly I could recommend it to any otaku. However critically speaking, the show suffers from some problems, specifically in some of the pacing near the end. It just builds up the final conflict for too long and honestly, it could have been done in less time with an equally good pay off. It also stumbles a little on its large cast, but it still holds them well together for the most part. Really though, even with the flaws, the show is still quite entertaining and I highly recommend to any fans of Baccano! or just otaku in general.
Before I go, I should mention the fact this is based off some light novels, which also have a manga adaptation. If you want to buy this show you can get it from its American distributor Aniplex. It is also available for free streaming on Hulu and Crunchyroll if you don’t have the money. There’s also the two OVA special that came of the DVD, they are both available for free streaming on Crunchyroll.