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SnickerdoodleNinja's DURARARA!! Tv Review

DURARARA!!

DURARARA!! tv Review

In Tokyo's downtown district of Ikebukuro, amidst many strange rumors 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.

Ryuugamine Mikado has always longed for the excitement of the city life, and an invitation from a childhood friend convinces him to move to Tokyo. Witnessing the Black Rider on his first day in the city, his wishes already seem to have been granted. But as supernatural events begin to occur, ordinary citizens like himself, along with Ikebukuro's most colorful inhabitants, are mixed up in the commotion breaking out in their city.

Written by MAL Rewrite

Story & Characters

Tired of an uneventful life in the country, Mikado Ryugamine decides to enroll in high school in the downtown district of Ikebukuro at the urging of his best friend, Masaomi Kida. On his first evening in the large and enigmatic city, Mikado learns of a rising colorless gang known as the Dollars and encounters the fabled Black Rider-a mysterious being who rides through town on a jet-black motorcycle. Without realizing quite what he’s gotten himself into, Mikado soon finds his life interwoven with that of a vast number of eccentric figures in the town, all driven by different motives and emotions. Will the danger and mystery of Ikebukuro be too much for Mikado? And why does everyone and their pet dog seem to know his best friend? Alright, the latter might not be quite so pivotal, but it does remain to be seen how everyone’s connections will affect the town as a whole.

In fact, the intricate web of character interactions is both pivotal for the character-driven DuRaRaRa and one of the main points of interest for the series. Rather than telling the story in exact chronological order, DuRaRaRa follows the everyday lives of several different characters from all walks of life and looks at a handful of strange events from multiple perspectives, whether it be the Black Rider, a twisted information broker, or a dorky underground doctor, each with their own special role. In fact, even characters that appear for only an episode or two have a profound impact on certain characters and the chain of events. All this jumping around might make the story seem a bit disjointed for some, but by the latter half of the series things tend to level out as the pieces begin to fall together.

Going along with the character interactions, another plus for DuRaRaRa is its ability to make the viewer like and become attached to even rather corrupt individuals. Given that much of the story revolves around people who work “underground,” it’s only natural that many characters will have their fair share of undesirable quirks, yet DuRaRaRa manages to portray both their good and bad sides, making you love characters you would probably hate should you meet them in real life. I don’t know about you, but I would usually shy away from people with uncontrollable tempers or a love for dissecting, but in DuRaRaRa there’s a certain something that makes them endearing regardless. To make it more realistic, it’s not even so much that you forget their flaws as it is that you learn to love most of them in spite of them. That said, there are bound to be a few characters that you wish would get run over by a bus, but let’s face it-it just wouldn’t feel right if you liked everyone.

Sadly, characterization is also the source of one of DuRaRaRa’s shortcomings. Despite the fact that the series seems to revolve around Mikado, the truth is that he just isn’t that interesting. Sure, he’s vital to the story and likeable and all with his shy and kind personality, but he tends to be overshadowed by most of the other eccentric personalities around him. This is not a huge setback seeing that time is intentionally balanced between many characters and not just him, but it’s still a bit sad that the character presented as the protagonist gets so little screen time and isn’t more intriguing. Fortunately, this helps DuRaRaRa become unique in that it really doesn’t have a clear cut character that is followed. If you get tired of watching a dullahan search for her head, you know it won’t be too terribly long before you get to see someone else’s side of the story.

From start to finish, DuRaRaRa stays true to its random and bizarre portrayal of supernatural events and everyday life while keeping the focus on a wide variety of characters as they deal with regrets, honesty, and other issues that consume them. Because the quality of the story remains consistent throughout, which half of the 24 episode series a viewer prefers will likely depend on who their favorite characters are, since certain arcs tend to focus a bit more on some characters than others. On a sad note, there are quite a few loose ends not tied up by the finale that-while probably intentional-leave the viewer wanting something a bit more conclusive or climactic, and certain plot elements seem to have been swept under the rug at the convenience of the creators. As a whole, Durarara’s story can be addictive, unique, and fun with enough substance to be satisfying, but doesn’t have the extra “umph” in some areas to make it extraordinary.

Rating: 7

Art

Although fairly simple, the artwork in DuRaRaRa manages to be consistent and rather stylistic. While there are a few moments where odd angles cause objects to look unnecessarily skewed and Mikado tends to look cross eyed at times, as a whole the art stays true and clean to the feel of real downtown life, underneath the immediate appearance of shining lights and happiness. In fact, DuRaRaRa manages to successfully blend realistic, somewhat bland colors with intentionally over the top and unrealistic action, with the end result being a fun and gritty portrayal of “underground” life.

Unfortunately, while DuRaRaRa’s art is fairly unusual and contributes to the mood of the series, it isn’t exactly revolutionary either. It does its job sufficiently and does add to the experience-after all, there’s no way anyone could take a series about gangs and illegal activity seriously at all if it had lots of sparkles or glam-but there isn’t much that puts the artwork head and shoulders above that of other shounen anime. In sum, it might be better than that of certain mainstream anime, but when it comes down to it DuRaRaRa’s artwork is not what the series is likely to be remembered for.

Rating: 7

Sound

As a whole, DuRaRaRa’s music is nothing sort of excellent. Starting the series, my first impression was that the opening and ending tracks would be typical shounen yelling and sound as if the singers couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. To my pleasant surprise, every single song proved to be worth listening to several times. Without being female j-pop or male screamo (And yes, I’m looking at you Death Note!), the songs for DuRaRaRa start out fun and catchy and switch appropriately to serious and reflective as the story goes on.

As for background music, the story-surprisingly-has some piano melodies that are both lovely and fitting for more reflective moments of the series. Of course, there are also some pretty creepy tunes for more intense, life-threatening situations, but somehow DuRaRaRa finds a nice balance between intense and pleasant. The tunes also seem to repeat fairly often, but most of the time this isn’t a distraction from the focus of the series-the characters.

Finally, I come to voice acting. In Japanese, each actor manages to accurately convey both moments of eccentricity as well as serious dialogues while still being unique and full of personality-which is vital, seeing as how often and seamlessly DuRaRaRa shifts from light-hearted to serious and back again. The English cast seems to be slightly less suited to such flexibility, but still fits each character, and let’s be honest-when you’ve Crispin Freeman as one of your most interesting characters, it’s almost impossible to completely miss the mark.

Rating: 9

Presentation

Trying to tell someone precisely what DuRaRaRa is about is kind of like trying to explain to someone what the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is about-it’s next to impossible because of the oddness that goes into it. However, you can describe DuRaRaRa in genres-from slice of life to action to comedy and even romance, there aren’t many genres that DuRaRaRa couldn’t be classified as. Its ability to also blend supernatural and everyday life can draw in fans of all types-male or female-regardless of its presentation as a shounen anime. That said, DuRaRaRa certainly isn’t for everyone. Those who dislike slice of life or don’t enjoy randomness and slightly twisted story elements will probably not enjoy the series, and any Mothers Against Violence will probably have a cow over the series because of its portrayal of gangs and social networking as major subject matter. Of course, the series shows both the excitement and repercussions of gang life, but that might be irrelevant to some.

Although melodramatic at times, DuRaRaRa has a lot to say about human nature while still being a fun, random series-without lots of cliches or reliance of fan service. Some of the subject matter can be a bit above the heads of younger audiences and lead to some serious melodrama, so discretion never hurts, but most will find they can enjoy the portrayal of downtown life with a laugh while still genuinely caring about the characters. While the story might be too slowly paced for some or lacking in conclusion for others, no one can deny the fun of the series. For instance, take the title. I, frankly, have no idea what it means, but I do know that it’s incredibly fun to randomly shout “DURARARA!” Try doing that three times fast.

Rating: 8

Final Verdict

7.67 (good)

Reviewed by SnickerdoodleNinja, Sep 25, 2011

Comments

  1. angelxxuan Sep 25, 2011

    very nice review and I adored how you mentioned something and provided a link, kudos to you ! I really tried to get into DuRaRaRa! I really did, I adored the helmet and seriously jealous of it, but every time I tried to watch it, it seemed bland to me. although I did find it good in artwork without a doubt, but still, there was something lacking for me when I tried and failed on many attempts to watch this. maybe it could have been related to the plot? or too common of a plot? first episode in disturbed me slightly, so I was extremely cautious onward to finally give up and surrender to spoilers :( can't wait for the next review provided by the doodle !

  2. aozoraskies Sep 25, 2011

    *Popping out of exile to squeal at Drrr! review*
    Durarara fan here, and glad to see how most points of the anime have been covered with deal justice. \(^o^)/ Especially in the story section. Because it's very true that Durarara is essentially a story told from the many perspectives of certain individuals in Ikebukuro, and how crazy yet endearing they are. :D (After all, the writer made Baccano as well, and that's definitely a crowd of a cast there) Sadly, as you say, this also stretches the story-telling and characterization a bit <b>thin</b>. I think it has something partly to do with the fact that Mikado's voice in the novel does not completely carry over to the anime, especially in later episodes.. Strangely, Celty's voice is really well done. The irony. muahahaha. A hint? Actually... We're being conned. Mikado isn't the main protagonist, Celty is. xDD Mikado is a right con, I tell you. It's more obvious in the novels, but he still is. lol

    The problem with Durarara's anime plot is that we're shown a LOT, from many character's perspectives and with a whole lot of drama - but the tying up of events isn't always spot on epic. Unless you're happy enough when they give you a dramatic appearance of a cameo/side character near the end. It certainly had me going, initially. hehe

    Art: You might like to know that the slight derps in the special episode 26 is possibly because they were trying out the manga illustrator's style (Akiyo Satorigi) which is charming in its own way but.. not exactly easy to go smoothly in an action anime lol. That really did cut off animation points.
    I personally find Durarara's smooth but simple art memorable. It's rather clean, with some over-simplism perhaps but when it wants the dramatic effect, it has it. Also, the anime's interpretations of Izaya's mannerisms. xDD And noting the faithfulness to the setting of Ikebukuro..

    Sound: I'll be biased here because listening to the OST is such a random and fun experience. xD The jazz trumpets going mad, the baritone choir being all random, the wild laughter alongside the beatboxing, the plunking piano, the hip hop DJ beats - then suddenly there's this pristine Irish folk tune arising from the chaos. I loved. xDD
    And you're right about the opening and ending songs catching the mood. Mood seems to be a big thing in Durarara, and the music and voice-acting rather helped it along.

    I rather identify with your presentation blurb - tried to sum up Hitchhiker to someone before. epic fail.. ;^; (( Doesn't help that I didn't know much else beyond the first book. But with Adams' writing going whheee everywhere - ah hahaha, surely can't blame me? )) Durarara is just as bad. It's all Narita Ryohgo's fault. xDD

    You've caught on to the mood and flaws of Drrr! rather well. I knew there was something oddly lacking in its overall viewing appeal, but I didn't know how to put it to words lol. Yay for a great review!

    [...Now, don't poke me for being stupidly absent for so long. B-be gentle...]

    P.S. oh, no more html coding for posting? :o

  3. MisaSasekage Moderator Sep 25, 2011

    I like DuRaRaRa^^ I thought the show was pretty fun to watch as well as funny, and I liked a some of the characters, especially the interactions between Izaya and Shizuo, they tended to make me laugh, while other characters I really couldn't get attached to. Nice review Snicker^^

  4. CyanideBlizzard Retired Moderator Sep 25, 2011

    I won't lie, I was not a terribly big fan of the show and how disjointed the plot was delivered. It made it very difficult for me to get into the story and care about the characters and sadly I ended up giving up on it midway through. I had several other issues as well with it, but you get the general idea that the show itself just did not click with me.

    However, Snicker you've certainly got a way with words because I've got a renewed desire to check this out again. Fantastic job on your review and you did a wonderful job of, despite being such a big fan, being able to keep your score grounded and able to write a very enjoyable read. By far your best review yet in my opinion.

  5. aozoraskies Sep 25, 2011

    P.P.S. (or P.S.S. ? x-x) a bit o' grammar: "why do everyone and their pet dog ..." ---> "why does.."
    [ obviously bringing my beta-ing stint over *cackles* ] >_>

  6. z827 Sep 26, 2011

    DRRR fans united! XD

    Anyways , I've enjoyed how DuRaRaRa has given an actual role for each of it's cast as you had said in the review - each character have their own tale , backstory and well - the oddness that floats about it.
    The plotline starts off slow but when everything falls into place - it's like watching Light writing names on the Death Note - that particular scene was a masterpiece.

    It's also true that the main character is a mite bit bland as compared to the other weirdos - I mean , dudes and dudettes of the DRRR. I mean , we have a headless rider , a weirdo whom likes to observe people , someone whom can send a vending machine flying in the air and a nutty doc.
    Whilst he did "make up" for his mild personality in certain scenarios , overall his pretty bland of an individual - even when you compare him to his pal.

    Either way , 'tis truly an accurate review. Kudos to you Snicker!

  7. fallenkaze Sep 27, 2011

    Wow, that was a thoroughly awsome review Snicker, especially the Story section, and I believe that you've done this in a way that my review never could. I personally thought that the art style stood out from the crowd with sharp edges, a darker more city like and realistic pallete, but like you said its not its main selling point.

    I think thta why Mikado is so bland is....well if I continued i'd spoil this for people, but anyway I think what the writer was going for was that he's like us, not very intersting when your put next to eccentric people(sorry if anyones offended by being compared to Mikado). Or maybe I can just relate better because I was born in a smaller town, but anyway excellant review!

  8. LightFykki Oct 09, 2011

    You know.. This show was actually recommended by a lot of people for me to watch. And I actually just want to start it, but before that I noticed something interesting and that is your review. Since I haven't seen any reviews of this show (even though it is famous, I just wasn't attracted by it), but your review seemed very interesting so I had to check it out.

    And as I expected, you definitely write reviews as I expected. In a positive way of course, very well done~! I was a little bit confused about the art part, but you did cover what is mostly to know about it and I like how you wrote for the sound one, it reminded me on how I usually try to write it.

    I liked this review and I know that you wrote what you really thought and from the professional point of view. I will still watch the anime and see how well it fits and of course enjoy in it.

  9. back07 Oct 31, 2011

    I like this anime..
    cuz i think this series is funny and i like your review too SnickerdoodleNinja..
    :)

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