Durarara, this years smash hit anime by Brains Base, hits UK shores earlier than expected in the form of sub only DVDs, split into 3 parts. The first 2 disc set contains the first 9 episodes of the series, soft subbed with the original Japanese audio track.
This series has generated a lot of hype this year, touted as the spiritual sequel to 2007′s smash hit Baccano!, sharing both the same studio and light novel author, Bones and Ryohgo Narita respectively. The show shares many similarities to it’s precursor, like a large cast of varied and believable characters and a hefty dose of the supernatural to spice things up. Also like Baccano!, the supernatural elements are an important plot device, but it’s ultimately the cast of colourful characters that are the driving force behind it.
Durarara is set in the real life location of Ikebukuro in downtown Tokyo. In this town, there are strange rumours and warnings of anonymous gangs and dangerous occupants, one urban legend stands out above the rest – the existence of a headless “Black Rider” who is said to be seen driving a jet-black motorcycle through the city streets. This world is first presented through the eyes of Ryuugamine Mikado, a country boy who has always yearned for the excitement of city life, who has moved to Tokyo at the invitation of his childhood friend Masaomi Kida. This is where the show quite cleverly takes the opportunity to bombard you with every character in the show, including a suprising cameo from Horo of Spice and Wolf fame. It’s all far too much for the viewer to bear, and captures the sense of being overwhelmed by the introduction of coming to a new city well. Luckily, the show properly introduces the cast at a more reasonable pace throughout the rest of the 8 episodes, and sets out the groundwork for the main plot of the show.
Interestingly, the main character of Durarara is the one that is seen least in the opening 8 episodes, the mysterious headless biker Celty Sturluson. It’s hard to call Celty a protagonist at all, as she only acts as an observer throughout the series, only stepping in to resolve the numerous conflicts when the heat gets too much to handle. Mikado, Kida, and Anri Sonohara, the three high schoolers at the heart of the plot would serve as much better protagonists, no matter what the Author may say. It’s very interesting to see how these characters fit in to the bigger picture of Durarara, as hints start dropping suggesting that not is all it seems between the three seemingly normal school friends.
Overall, Durarara: Part One is a great value way of getting into the series several months early of the official dub releases. It takes the formula used in Baccano!, and improves it to make it a much more accessible and enjoyable series- a mean feat considering how far the bar had already been set.