Ikebukuro: a town of cops, freaks, and DRRRRRRRRRR!!!!

(Say it like OnoD does on that Perfect Guide that was available on the website! (^_^))

Ikebukuro. Probably unknown to most casual anime fans until just over a year ago. Possibly debatable whether the more serious overseas fans of action, mecha and other varieties of spashy or intellectual titles knew of it – it’s Akihabara that they go to after all. Even I only found out how significant it was to a certain subset of otaku, the fujoshi, when a friend asked me about it after my second or third trip to the Animate there. But as of January of last year, it was probably added to the list of anime pilgrimages that fans will make when they hit Japan. All thanks to Durarara!!

We LOOOOOOOOOOOVE this town!!

What was it that drew us? The unanswered questions? The non-chronological storytelling? The atmosphere? I can’t speak for those that came to this series from Baccano!, but ‘new’ fans like me seemed to get hooked by the little details. The first time we saw Shizuo and Izaya face off, back in episode 3, may have had some unrealisitic elements, but it was oh-so-entertaining. And the message board: from trying to use the voices to figure out who the characters were to merely trying to assess which narrator did the best impression of each chatroom character (Nakamura Yuuichi (Dotachin) did a FANtastic Kanra). Add to that the fantastic opening songs and sequences…don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoyed it all in my own way.

Shizuo and seiyuu fangirling FTW!

Looking past the surface, the cast of Durarara!! is one of the most fascinating aspects of the series. Only a small proportion of them change in any way, but interestingly enough, their changes were all based around secrets they were keeping. The major pockets of character development are best left unmentioned to the uninitiated (suffice it to say that the romantic in me was quite satisfied by the incredibly cute behaviour of Narita-sensei’s main character), but it’s the supporting characters that take the cake in the first place. The cool but brotherly Dotachin, the perverse Shinra, even his wacky father, Shingen. But above all, for good reasons or bad, who can forget the uncontrollable Shizuo or the sadistic Izaya?

A town of friendships…and enmity…

Durarara!! was also quite fresh in its storytelling (even if it’s because I haven’t seen Baccano! yet). The interlinking plots are painted from various viewpoints, with each brushstroke revealing details that often have significance much later in the show, leading us gradually to the secrets of the residents of Ikebukuro. The audio commentary with the seiyuu and staff also reveals points that viewers may have missed during the run, such as the movement of Celty’s shadows. Durarara!! has an incredibly high rewatch value indeed: when I free up some time, I’ll be going back to watch for all the things I missed!

A place where headless riders and slashers roam…

If there is a negative point about the Durarara!! anime, it’s that the 2nd arc wasn’t quite as impressive as the first. Were there too many new characters with seemingly irrelevant bit parts? Was it because the focus turned from the supernatural entities and mysterious organisations back to the relatively mundane reality of human relationships? Or because it was focused on a few rather uninteresting characters? Must say, it’d be difficult to top the coolness of Celty, but ultimately, Durarara!! wasn’t quite able to recover the spark it had up to the 12th episode (or perhaps, up to the 11th to some), and ended up going out with a whimper.

Strange, isn't it? That the headless one is the most human-like…

Knowing what is to come, however, I’d say that most fans would quite like a second season. With 8 volumes of the novel published, there is more than enough material for another 2-cour block, and given DVD sales in excess of 10,000 despite there being no Blu-ray option, it should only be a matter of time. Until then, it’s time for the novels.

About karice
MAG fan, amateur translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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