When someone first tells you about “that awesome show Durarara”, you may be tempted to bless him or her or expect an imminent dinosaur attack. Please don’t: it was not a sneeze or monster noms, it is simply the wacky name of a wonderfully wacky kick-ass show.
Let me give you a little word-montage to catch your attention: punching clothes off throwing vending machines shaving a gangster pretending to ride a motorcycle eating sushi torturing kidnappers saving suicides falling in love with a head in a jar and getting your arse handed to you by a headless biker woman.
That montage does not even begin to cover this show.
Durarara is officially about a dullahan, Celty Sturluson, who is a modern day headless horsewoman. She rides a motorcycle that is really a horse as she drives through the city in skintight leather with an adorable cat helmet performing her job as a courier. Celtie’s head is missing, and she’s traveled from Ireland to Ikebukuro, Japan to find it. But nothing is easy in Ikebukuro.
Unofficially, it is really the story of multiple people’s stories and how they all weave around and under each other. This concept is actually drawn out in the ending art of the first season, in which every character is being held up or is connected with another character. Each of their stories are necessary to explain the whole of any one story.
I love the way the authors used this storytelling method. It’s kind of like real-life when you think about it. Everyone has a different perspective. People can watch the same event and come away with different versions of it.
“It may not look like it at first, but everything that happens in this town is somehow related. It’s all part of some larger awful truth that’s beyond our comprehension”
The main conflict usually revolves around the missing head, gangs, such as the Dollars, causing mischief and Izaya, who we’ll get to in a minute.
The other main character is Mikado Ryugamine. He gets picked on a lot for that name. He comes to Ikebukuro form a small rural village at the invitation of his best friend Masaomi Kida.
Masaomi and Mikado fall in with Anri Sonohara, the class representative who runs away anytime Mikado starts to open his heart to her.
Mikado, Masaomi and Anri are almost always together. Masaomi warns Mikado to stay away from the dangerous people in Ikebukuro.
Mikado, Masaomi and Anri
Shizuo Heiwajima is one of those dangerous people. He’s also my favorite character by far. <3 I would have his angry little babies. Shizuo, despite being the strongest person on the show, is not a villain. In fact, most of his violence is due to his hatred for Izaya Orihara.
Izaya is the “villain” of the show. He is pretty creepy and manipulative but also very friendly, which throws other characters off. If we’re working on archetypes, Izaya is Loki and Shizuo is Thor (from mythology, not the movies lol).
Other characters include Simon Brezhnev, the black Russian sushi seller; Kyhoei Kadota, Walker Yumasaki, Erika Karisawa and Saburo Togusa, a group of quirky kids who are actually gang members; Seiji and Namie Yagiri, the brother and sister with waaay too much chemistry and Mika Harima, the missing girl.
Episodes often start at the end and work their way backwards. They are also narrated by one of the characters, which is a great way to gain more insight into the character and their mindset.
Everything is very confusing because nothing is explained at first. Who people are in relation to each other is only explained with “don’t mess with these guys”
Oddly enough, Celty, potentially the coolest mystery, is completely explained in episode 4 (except for where her head is).
Probably the most frustrating part is the chat room. Throughout the episode a chat room will pop up with random people. It is pretty artistic and modern but the problem is that you eventually find out who is who in the chat room… and then u want to go back and watch all the episodes again to figure out who was really saying what!
Mood and themes
Durarara is very artistic, jazzy and modern. Some of the themes include “What is evil, really?”, “Boredom as the root of evil” and“Isolation in a crowded place”
The city is a big, lonely, dangerous place, but you have friends to help keep things in focus.
I think two of my favorite things about this show are that nobody does dumb things and the use of modernity.
No Stupidity Please
The smart thing to do
In this show, no one does the dumb things they do in other shows, like not telling people how they feel, or not sharing information, or running into a dark alley: you never find yourself frustrated with the actions of a character. It makes the show more believable
The other thing that makes the show more believable is the use of technology. The headless lady uses a PDA to talk, the show has a chat room as a main part of it, everyone uses their cell phones to take pictures of crazy stuff happening around them and to link up with other people. It feels like this show could really be happening in the next city over.
Scenes are often set up like a play. One scene that stands out in my mind is Izaya delicately dancing around Mikado to avoid a dumpster that is thrown a few seconds later. They also often use color to highlight trends or moods. For example, the crowd in the background are often gray, but if they are in a gang then that color scarf is in color.
This show is entertaining. That is all. To summarize: go watch it. It is amazing. They leave so many mysteries each episode that you will have to keep watching and will find it hard to tear yourself away.
The mystery, combined with humor is definitely a winner. The first time you see someone get hit with a vending machine or punched so hard their clothes fly off you will know why I say that.
Mysteries, action, humor, hotties: this show has it all. Also, I also really dig all the subliminal messages to drink milk. You’ll get what I mean when you watch it.
Dub versus subtitles
For the first time in my life I will recommend a dub. If you are a Japanophile and you really understand the culture and the use of language then do the subs but if you are a dabbler in anime, not the culture, do the dub. It explains things in a way we westerners can understand.
NOW GO WATCH IT!