Daydream Sanctuary Features

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Durarara!! - Episode 1

Many have been saying that the winter 2010 season sucks. Ah well, I guess I am one of those who agree that it hasn't been a very cool season. But to people who say that not EVEN a SINGLE show rocks this season, I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU!!!! Bwahehehehe . . . .

Ah well, obvious DRRR!! fan is obvious =P Thus, this is obviously my favorite show this season and it should have been expected that I find the first episode awesome~ Ah, I don't really need to be biased to the series to see how good the first episode is, because it really is. Ohohohohohoho!

I don't think I need to do a summary since there are several who have done so already. I placed my impressions on the opening and ending themes on another post. And if you want screenshots, aside from what other bloggers had shared, here's another gallery full of screenshots from the first episode done by ferrywoman. (But I did my own screencaps for this post)

From watching it you could see that this is just an introductory episode. It's standard shounen introduction style, wherein together with the main character, the show is introducing to us (main character + audience) what the setting is, what the crowd will be like, and what events you may anticipate.

Shows often provide general information of the setting of the story, especially if it's a fictional place. In DRRR!!'s case though, Ikebukuro is a real place in Japan. In a way the episode has given as a tour of the place. It showed us ordinary scenes like what the shopping areas, the highway, etc. Actual buildings have been mentioned as well, like the department stores and the Sunshine 60 building, which had been the tallest building in the area in the past.

Our main character, Mikado, has mentioned that he'll be staying at an apartment near that said building. It was the first place that came to his mind when his friend asked him where he wants to go; which is not a surprise because it appears to be a famous tourist spot in the area. Its surrounded with shopping areas, restaurants, and recreational areas like aquariums, plnetariums, etc.
On the image above this paragraph, the one on the right is the actual building while the one on the left is from the anime. You may see the building from there as well if you look above the "Tokyo Hand" sign.

Another place that Mikado had been interested in seeing is the Ikebukuro West Gate Park, but his friend, Kida, corrects him that the place is properly called as Ikebukuro West Exit Park. Mikado had mistaken the place with a different name because it's what it was called in an actual TV drama series called Ikebukuro West Gate Park.
The drama series involves gangs, which DRRR!! is about too. Aside from the little touring and catching up on the things he want to tell, Kida also warned Mikado about the dangers in the neighborhood and also mentioned names he shouldn't mess with.
No city is completely safe. In Ikebukuro in particular (in the show), aside from yakuza, there's also the known color gangs (street gangs wherein the members wear the same colored clothing). There aren't much color gangs in the present storyline because the jobs have been doing their job, but of course there are some still left (they can't group together wearing the same color anymore though) and the one group that the main character's friend has specially mentioned is the "Dollars" color gang. But there are dangerous people among the normal crowd as well.

Unlike the anime, the novel and the manga had hinted that the people to avoid in the ordinary crowd are more dangerous compare to those color gangs. The people mentioned had been the following: Simon, Shizuo, and Izaya.

Simon is a big guy working in a sushi restaurant. He appears harmless and a nice guy; Kida is even in good terms with him. What made him frightening was that he was able to defeat another guy about his size with just one arm.

Another frightening individual because of incredible strength is Shizuo. He's the one who's been throwing vending machines and people in the episode. He seems to be the hot-tempered type, unlike Simon. But as long as you don't mess around with him (or simply just ignore or don't get involved with him), you'll be fine. (The background music on the part where Shizuo is in was so funny by the way~)

As for Izaya, not many details have been shown on what makes him so dangerous, but from a scene we can see that he is pretty good in concealing himself. Kida says that Izaya's bad news, even Mikado's friends online confirm it (in the novel).

Aside from those characters, we also get introduced to Kida's friends. I don't know about the two in the car, but as for Erica and Walker, they seem to be otakus. They even bought a lot of copies of a certain magazine, Dengeki Bunko, which prints out DRRR!! novels as well by the way. What a way to advertise~ The anime also took the opportunity to advertise their other series: Namely Spice & Wolf and Baccano!

Speaking of references, I believe many are familiar with the story of the
Headless Horseman in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. Well, this series also has its headless rider.


Aside from Mikado, another main character of this series is the legendary biker, who is also known as the "Black Rider". The rider is in all black (even the motorcycle) and wears a yellow helmet. But there's something supernatural with this character because it has a monstrous shadow and is actually headless! This type of creature is called a Dullahan, an Irish faerie that is headless and rides a black horse.

The black motorcycle most likely represents the black horse that the creature rides in the myth. The novel has mentioned hints that the Black Rider's motorcycle doesn't seem to be a normal vehicle:
The very first time he heard it, he thought it was the roar of some wild beast. However, when he listened closely, it sounded like it came from the highway, from the far-side of the carriageway. Then when the sound rang out for the second time, Mikado identified it as the sound of an engine. It really did sound like an animal’s roar, but seeing as it sounded on the road, it ought to be the sound of a car or a bike’s exhaust.

Back to the rider, a character who is called Dota-chiin mentions that the rider is also called a "Grim Reaper". It must have been because the creature could make a scythe appear from her head. Aside from that, she had also used her motorcycle for a weapon.

In this episode, the black rider has beaten up criminals who've kidnapped a teenage girl. (She had been badass and pretty brutal by the way. It was so awesome~) Reasons of the black rider for being so haven't been stated yet, but I guess it's safe to assume that this creature doesn't like punks that harm women. Perhaps this creature is acting like a savior to women? Well, she's female after all.

This character is a popular legendary figure in the series and can even be seen in public that citizens could take pictures of her. But despite this character's popularity, she's still a big mystery. There's definitely something not ordinary about her, and that makes Mikado, our main character who is interested in extraordinary things, very excited.

Speaking of which, how Mikado saw the headless rider had been presented differently in the different adaptations. If I remeber/interpreted correctly, in the novel, Mikado and Kida saw it from afar by chance. In the manga, Mikado gets to see the rider up close in pure chance. While in the anime, Kida actually led Mikado to the location where they'll be able to see the rider as soon as he heard it approaching. I prefer how the manga presented it. Kida has been mentioning how Mikado was lucky on his first day, and I say seeing the legend up close out of great coincidence is the real luck. Moreover, Mikado has noticed there is nothing inside the rider's helmet, and being able to notice that is more believable if he had seen it up close.

That's how the show's main characters get in close contact for the first time. The title most likely refers to the rider, so we can say the story revolves on that character. But the character that also plays a huge role in keeping the story going is Mikado.


The episode began with Mikado arriving in Ikebukuro. He'll be attending high school in that neighborhood, and one of his reasons is because he was invited by his childhood best friend. His parents are actually against the idea and prefers him to study in a public school near their place instead. Mikado managed to persuade them by promising that he'll take care of his daily expenses as he finds a part-time job (this part is only mentioned in the novels).

It was not only Mikado's first time in the city, but being out of town as well. He never joins field trips since primary school. He dislikes crowds so much and highly prefers to just stay at home chatting online. So it's not a surprise that the first thing he mutters when he arrived in an unfamiliar city and is lost in such a crowd is:"I wanna go home."
Mikado's really not used to crowds to the point that he often bumps into people and he has the habit of automatically apologizing to the person (okay, maybe not people all the time, since he also apologized to a cardboard. LOLz!) he bumps into when it happens.

With this type of personality, it wouldn't be a surprise either if he had been a target of ridicule and bullying. One of the things he's been made fun of is with his name.
Mikado Ryuugamine's name was mistaken for a pen name, or a name of some writer or radio host. Non-japanese watchers will certainly not realize what exactly is peculiar about it, but the novel has given us an explanation:
He had a family name of Ryuugamine, “Peak of Dragons”, and on top of that, the grandiose name of Mikado, “Emperor”. It was certainly true that his ancestors were somewhat of a distinguished family, but Mikado’s parents were both simple white-collar workers......The name Mikado was chosen presumably so he could grow up admirably in the future.....
I thought Mikado's name is something ordinary. But after knowing the meaning, it turned out to be really COOL!

So in general Mikado's your ordinary socially awkward teenager, or at least that's what he appears to be for now. He has this side that is interesting on anything extraordinary. He may had been depicted as a cowardly fellow (see the image above on how that side of him is amusingly presented in the manga),

But on something supernaturally dangerous, he got excited instead (like with the rider). So most likely our main character is more than he appears to be~

Mikado wouldn't be able to think of getting into the new city if it weren't for his childhood best friend, who moved to Ikebukuro fours years ago. Even though they're apart, they managed to get in touch with each other by chatting with each other virtually every night. The first episode had been the reunion of childhood friends who hadn't seen each other for a long time (perhaps there's no webcam yet in 2004? I'm lazy to research that. But I'm certain that chatting is already prevalent arounf year 2000, because it was my addiction back then).


I was very amused on when I've read the part about Mikado's reaction upon seeing Kida after a long time in the novel:
Mikado’s whole body jolted in fear, thinking he had run into an extortionist or fraudster,

Mikado didn't recognize his friend at first because Kida had dyed his hair and his voice has become deeper. The side of him that didn't change much is his habit of telling lame jokes! Haha! Lame jokes aren't funny (because they're lame, duh). But jokes that are meant to be lame (at least, that's what the author seems to intend. The character who cracks the lame jokes doesn't accept his jokes are lame. Haha!) are hilarious! Here are some of the Kida jokes:

1) When Mikado and Kida first met, Mikado wasn't sure if the person he was seeing before him was indeed Kida. Kida gave him three choices:" (1) Kida Masaomi (2) Kida Masaomi (3) Kida Masaomi". That made Mikado confirm that Kida's indeed Kida because the joke was lame. What made it hilarious was that Kida actually spent three years to come up with such a joke. Haha!
2) Kida says he wants to go west ("sei"), but adds that they're just pretending to go west because he's using the direction in Seibu department store's name when in fact they're heading east. He used such a joke because the department stores with the "east" and "west" directions in their names are actually at the opposite side of the direction that their names say. Since it was a pretty complicaed joke, Kida even had to explain it. Kida realizes his failure (as usual) in making Mikado laugh because of his confusing joke.
3) When the two friends had been talking about the Dollars color gang, a part of their conversation went like this:
Mikado: Dollars?
Kida: Yeah. Dollars, as in the one in "one dollars".
Mikado: Again with those bizarre examples…
The wrong grammar and bizarre example combo made it funny for me. Haha!

The funniest joke that he had cracked was unfortunately not in the anime. In one scene, when Mikado asked about the people he should be careful with:


With the attitude that Kida's showing right now, who would think that he could be one of the most dangerous individuals in the neighborhood. Mikado finds the joke extremely lame to the point that he grades it as square root of 3 points. It's that low. Hahahaha! Kida's response in the novel about that score was longer:
"√?! The hell do you mean, √?! At least retort with something easy to understand, like minus twenty or something! No way… You’re saying my joking style is something not even primary school kids who don’t know about square roots would understand?! Dammit, so you’re making an enemy of me the moment the words leave my mouth! Since when did you turn into such a retard! Is it the lack of pressure? Is it the pressure-free education system that’s changed you like this?!"
By the way, aside from his lame jokes, there are two other things that makes Kida so hilarious: his hand gestures and his perverted side.

Kida is very very very very very talkative that despite him and Mikado chat everyday, he still has a lot to talk about. What he had been saying in the episode is just around 4/500 of what he wants to say. And you should observe when he's speaking . . . because he makes a lot of poses/gestures/expressions:

Miyano Mamoru is certainly the perfect voice actor for him. He had done a very good job in voicing a popular character who makes speeches in a similar way (Yes, I'm referring to Tamaki of Ouran Host Club). Oh it's so amusing to watch Kida when he speaks that he doesn't need to crack a joke to be funny. Haha!

And as Mikado says, he's a perv. Bwahahaha! His main reason why he learned many things in the neighborhood is in order to use it as an advantage on hitting girls. Haha! He is trying to influence Mikado on that in the manga:

The anime showed a different scene to present Kida's pervy side. On the scene wherein Mikado had bumped into a girl, Kida's initial reaction was being concerned about his friend, but since the one Mikado had bumped into is a pretty girl, Kida ran to the girl's side instead. I guess it's obvious that he wants the opportunity of holding a pretty girl in his arms. Haha! Oh Kida's smile as he goes to the girl instead had been so amusing~


But like Mikado, Kida doesn't seem to be as ordinary as it seems either. Mikado himself has been wondering how Kida had such acquintances, and how he got to know such things, and what exactly Kida had been through in the 4 years they had been apart. It appears that Kida is also a big mystery.

It's so awesome when best friends are so different yet so the same at the same time, right? Oh I love those two~


We could already see that on this pair, Kida is the one who does most of the talking. It had been mentioned in the novel that since primary school, it was Kida who's the one who takes the lead and drags Mikado around. Mikado doesn't have problems with this arrangement.

The two friends like to tease each other. Kida shows it at times by treating Mikado like a kid (like with the part of him patting Mikado on the head). He considers Mikado a coward and teases his friend into bringing him into crowded places, knowing fully that his friend hates that.

But Mikado also has his comebacks. In fact, his insults on Kida's jokes are actually meaner than how the anime presented. Like the square root insult. Kida actually feels very bad on those insults.
Kida:...what the hell am I doing, explaining a joke that I’ve bombed once.
Mikado: Probably being a fool.
Kida: Bastard, you've got a pretty sharp tongue on ya.
That's in the novel, but in the manga Mikado's insults had also been comical and sarcastic. Here's his reaction when Kida gave the three choices joke:

He ignored the joke and his happy face was funny. He's even holding his friend's hand from so much happiness, haha!
The second time was even funnier (this is after the joke on the directions):

He got confirmation on Kida's identity because of the same lame jokes. And his face was the same as before. It was so hilarious! Hahahha!

Yes, it appears that Mikado's pretty much an expert in insulting people, haha! I love that side of him!
Mikado: Unexpectedly damaging, huh?
They tease each other, but get along very well. They had been pretty sweet too. I love this part:

Kida: I'm happy that I get to go to school with you here, and that we can hang out again.
Mikado: So am I.

Alrighty, these are just some of the interesting things I wanted to point out in this wonderful first episode! But before I end this post....


HELLO YOU HANDSOME RETARD!!! *squishes him to death*
KYAAAAAA!!!!!!! HE WAS THERE!!!!!!!! It was only a very short while, but at least, IZAYA SHOWED UP!!!!!!!!!
*crazy Izaya fangurl is crazy*

And does he have a habit of stepping on things?! He was crushing a pink cellphone in the trailer then now it's a cigarette (he must be environmental friendly because cigarettes shouldn't be thrown away just that, LOLz). I am so amused~


Oh my god . . . this post is shorter than what I had planned (I haven't even talked about the chat and the strange girl and the punks, etc.). . . but it's still freakin' long!

Ah well, to be continued next episode~ Yay!

~ Scanlations and novel translations are not by me.
~ Ikekuburo stuff are snatched from WIkipedia and Japan tour sites


crazyanimegyrl said...

What a great post! I'm looking forward to this series too! =)

Sapphire Pyro said...

@ crazyanimegyrl
Yay! And thank you =D

Anonymous said...

I watched the 1st episode and i think it's very cool, i'll keep watching it >u<!

Blogger said...

After doing some research online, I got my first e-cig kit on VaporFi.

Post a Comment