Durarara is about a high school boy named Mikado Ryuugamine who moves from the countryside to the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo to attend the same school as his childhood friend Masaomi Kida. The two then meet Anri Sonohara and the trio grow to become really good friends. However things soon begin to change in the bustling city and fates become tied as friendships and old enemies pop back up with a gang war looming. The trio must learn to find out who and what is important to them and if they can hide their secrets from each other anymore.
The synopsis of Durarara barely does it justice in terms of the complexity of the story. The first 10 episodes of the series are basically the same events told through different points of view. While I’ve never seen the show myself; I’m told that the storytelling is close to that of the show Baccano (for reference to those that’ve seen Baccano). Honestly the story of Durarara is pretty hard to review just because of all the different points of view that the story looks from. While only the first 10 episodes repeat practically the same events the rest of the series moves forward with each episode but each episode has a new character as a “narrator” for the episode and the episode is more or less told through that person’s point of view. Because of this there are some overlap which can get tedious after awhile but most of the time it’s nice to see things through another perspective. Durarara can get very confusing if you’re not paying attention to the episode closely. I found myself having to re-watch some episodes because sometimes it just got really confusing. If you multi-task while watching anime it’s probably best you don’t watch this show or don’t multi-task when watching. To be honest at times it felt like Durarara was trying too hard to be complex. We’ve all seen shows where you can tell that the show is trying too hard to do something and Durarara has a some of those moments. Durarara gambled on it’s storylines and some paid off nicely while others crashed and burned. Even though I feel like they tried to hard I have to give props to the creator of the show because it takes guts to try and pull some of that stuff off. I did like some aspects story. I liked the whole gangster vibe the show had with kids starting gangs that grow to be too much for them. I also liked the Yakuza element thrown in to kind of make it… real, for lack of a better term. What I liked most about the story was the supernatural element to the story with Demon Swords and Dullahans. While it may seem out of place for a story that’s seemingly a slice of life gangster show the supernatural element is worked into the story in a way that doesn’t make it weird or out of place. I find it really hard to describe the story of Durarara without giving away spoilers because of it’s complexity but I will say that the story will either hook you or drop you. There’s not really a gray area with it which I guess I kind of like that about it too.
I have never seen a show with more characters that were essential to the overall plot as much as the Durarara series. I counted 20 characters that you could deem essential to the series. Of these 20, 12 of them were “narrators” during the series. This definitely widens the show and you’d think that it wouldn’t deepen the show but it actually widens and deepens the story. This is done by the strings or threads of fate that tie each and every character in the show. Everyone is connected in some way or another. The show acknowledges this on several occasions and they really play off of it. The characters of Durarara are all unique in their own right and make this show one of the most diverse shows in terms of characters that I’ve ever seen. They pretty much have a character for each character-type that you could think of. The main 3 characters are Mikado, Masaomi, and Anri. I never really liked Mikado or Masaomi much during the series. Out of the three my favorite was definitely Anri but even then she would get on my nerves at times. To me this show is carried by what I’d call the supporting main cast. They’re supporting characters but they have the importance of main characters. They all shape and mold the main three in some way or another either for good or bad which is really what makes the show more interesting. I loved seeing how Mikado, Masaomi, and Anri changed throughout the series as new influences affected them. If I had to pick a favorite character it’d probably be a tie between Celty, Shizuo, and Mizuki. Celty is the Dullahan that was mentioned before and I like the fact that she isn’t human yet she is probably the most human relateable characters in the entire series. I also love seeing her powers and just the overall mystery around her character. In a way she is the focal point of the series and towards the end she actually acknowledges this fact. Celty is a complete character in my opinion because she shows all the emotions that someone can feel throughout the series which makes for both some funny and touching scenes. Her reactions are priceless and it makes me love her character even more. Shizuo is pretty much the badass of the series in my opinion. I love his fights with Izaya. I also found it funny how these scary gangsters were afraid of him because of his freakish strength. What made him even better was when they showed his soft side when they introduced the character Varona. She tries to kill him at first but slowly the two grow to have a relationship that is strange but yet somehow fits their personalities. Lastly Mizuki is the other tie. He is a gangster for a Yakuza outfit called the Awokusu but he cares for Anri and protects her but what I really like about him is how clever he is. He seems to know everything and despite being a gangster he does what he can to help those he cares about even if it goes against his gang. There’s just something about his character that drew me in. He was really fun to watch and I enjoyed the show more because of, not only him, but also the other great characters in the series. I could go on forever about the Durarara characters but that would take forever. Take my word for it; you’ll love the diversity of the characters in Durarara.
I really enjoyed the soundtrack to Durarara. The in show music is some classy jazz and piano solos which I think fit perfectly with the whole gangster theme to the show. They just give you that feel that your watching something that’s about gangs is about the best way to describe it. The openings and closings were all pretty good as well. They featured artists such as Rookiez is Punk’d and FLOW. The majority of the songs were jazzy rock or pop songs that further emphasized the gangster theme and also set the tone for what that part of the season was going to be about by whether is was upbeat or more of a suspenseful sound. My favorite song was probably the 2nd opening in the 1st season by Rookiez is Punk’d which was uploaded to the site earlier. Not much to say about the soundtrack other than it was solid and really immersed you in what Durarara was about.
The voice acting in Durarara was downright amazing! In fact the show just won the Behind The Voice Actors People’s Choice Award for best voice cast for a 2016 show. I watched the dub version of Durarara so that is the version that I’m referring to. The amount of big time voice actors in the cast for this show was astounding. I kept wondering how they got them all together for this because I just couldn’t comprehend it. Here’s a list of all the big name voice actors in the show just to give you a visual: Bryce Papenbrook, Kari Whalgren, Crispin Freeman, Johnny Yong Bosch, Michelle Ruff, Yuri Lowenthal, Steve Blum, Mela Lee, Vic Mignogna, Christina Vee, Patrick Seitz, Matthew Mercer, Brina Palencia, Stephanie Sheh, and Liam O’Brien. Talk about an all star cast. There are many more in the cast but these are all the ones that are “big names” in the industry. With a cast like this it’s no wonder that the show’s characters felt so real and just the overall quality was phenomenal.
Overall I found Durarara to be complex and deep. This is also part of it’s downfall as well. Sometimes it’s too complex for it’s own good but the story does enough to keep you hooked. If the story doesn’t interest you then the characters sure will. There’s so many of them you’re bound to find one you like. There’s even an all star cast of voice actors to go along with all those characters so they come to life so to speak. Durarara also has a solid soundtrack that is perfect for the show. With 2 seasons totaling 60 episodes there’s plenty for you to watch. Season 2 is divided into 3 mini seasons called Shou, Ten, and Ketsu. Each season has a handful of OVA’s to go along with them so you can watch to your heart’s content. There isn’t any word about another season yet so keep a look out. I really liked Durarara I just wish they would’ve made it a little bit easier to follow. I’m giving Durarara an 8/10!