Daydream Sanctuary Features

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Finished Anime: Durarara!!

Ryuugamine Mikado is a boy who longs for the exciting life of the big city. At the invitation of his childhood friend Masaomi, he transfers to a school in Ikebukuro. Masaomi has warned him about people he doesn't want to cross in the city: a champion fighter, an informant, and a mysterious gang called "Dollars." Nervous from Masaomi's stories, Mikado witnesses an urban legend on his first day in the city, the Headless Rider astride a black motorcycle. From then on, the existence of supernatural cases and a gang called the Yellow Turbans will rise to the surface, and Ikebukuro will pushed to the breaking point.

Type: TV | Episodes: 24 | Aired: Jan 7, 2010 to Jun 24, 2010 | Genres: Action, Comedy, Psychological, Romance, Supernatural
Animation Production: Brains Base | Main Cast: Miyuki Sawashiro (Celty), Toshiyuki Toyonaga (Mikado)
Original Creator: Ryohgo Narita | Director: Takahiro Omori | Series Composition: Noboru Takagi | Music: Makoto Yoshimori | Character Design: Suzuhito Yasuda, Takahiro Kishida


Should one be really surprised of this? Haha!

Shounen series, particularly those with action scenes, tend to have a number of teens that kick ass in its cast. When the protagonists fight, there should be incredible stunts.... doesn't matter if they're not exactly realistic. And most importantly, this formula should be followed: protagonists will go through some struggles and challenges but in the end they should be victorious in one way or another. A hero's death could still be a victory; what's important is that the villains shouldn't ever win in the last fight.

Durarara!! actually follows that shounen formula. It even has the fanservice (thankfully not that explicit) and the random fun. It contains the generic stuff that entertains fans. It's no surprise that it has become very popular and had a huge fanbase!

But please, don't put Durarara!! in the same level as the typical shounen. Even though it follows the standard shounen elements, it deviated from a lot of things that are usual. It makes fun of the cliches and avoids following the same path as other shounen plots follow. It may present you with something common at first but later it will surprise you that things aren't actually what they had seemed.

Want to go into a bit more detail on what makes this series amazing? Then let's explore some of the aspects of the show:

The main setting of the series is a city that actually exists in the real world. Do you have any idea how CLOSE the locations that have been featured in the series are to the real one? If none, please check out the comparisons done by kissmygeass, or you could also take a look at this video:

In a way the series had acted as a tour guide to this city in Japan, for it featured most, if not all, of its famous tourist spots! And of course, not only the popular places are featured; even the common restaurants, parks, and so on! Moreover, they don't only look similar to the real location, they're almost the same place! It's so detailed that the location of the signboards, positions of vending machines, and others are even taken note of.

That's not the only thing that made the series so close to the real world. Putting aside the supernatural and extraordinary elements of the show, the events here are actually realistic. We have people sharing gossips, the streets being so crowded even during the night, children attend school, and so on. But like many other cities in the real world, though it may seem peaceful on the surface, it's not without its dark sides. Horrible things like fights, crimes, sufferings, and other forms of chaos and disturbance still occur. There are times that something big makes it to the headlines. But no matter how bizarre it is, just leave it to Time and eventually things will be back to normal.

Seeing how close this series has been to our world had made it seem so real.

The series thought of making its realistic universe a bit more interesting by adding something that couldn't be possible in the real world. Introducing, a supernatural creature from Celtic/Irish mythology: The Dullahan.

Although the monster is based on an actual myth, it didn't exactly follow its original descriptions in the mythological records. Making the said creature undergo amnesia is a nice technique to be used as an opportunity to create a totally different personality for this mythological being. We are given a different perspective on something that is supposed to be horrifying, and it didn't exactly rebel against the original characteristics of the creature. In other words, if this show involved a demon, it has a good excuse on why its demon isn't being evil; unlike other shows that have demons that don't act as such without any explanation at all.

Speaking of origins, some of the names of its characters have interesting sources. Mikado, someone who looks so plain, has a very grand name... which will make sense once you see the other side of him. Shizuo's name though is quite ironic... for its meaning is the absolute opposite of how he's usually behaving... when angry. As for Izaya, for a person who is popularly known as someone rotten and evil, has a name that is based on a Biblical character… a prophet in particular. The connection of the names and the personality of the characters possessing them sure are... intriguing.

One of the most astonishing things in this series is the number of main characters it has. It will take a while to remember all of them (for others though, they don't get to remember all the names at all).

But even with its huge cast, it managed to give each character "individuality". The ages, statuses, backgrounds, abilities, and personalities vary. All of them have good and bad sides; and a majority of them have a cool side, whether they're a major or a minor character.... even extras or side characters! "Stereotype" is not part of its vocabulary; they would possess or do something that makes them different of what you commonly see from other shows. Not all of them are likeable though. In fact, some of them are meant to be pathetic or despicable. But one thing's for sure: most of them, if not all, will provide you entertainment..... and entertainment comes in many forms.

The characters here are dynamic, and the show sure made proper use of its time to give each character some development and a chance to shine, whether major or minor. Yes, even some random dude who works while wearing a bunny suit get to do something awesome; a character doesn't need to have supernatural abilities or incredible skills in order to do something cool. And no, not only the main characters play a role on the significant events. The main characters don't even get to perform the "hero's role" all the time nor are they immune to screwing up and chickening out.

Aside from the fact that the main characters here aren't your usual perfect ones, the central character of the show isn't someone usual either. Despite the “obviousness” in the title, many of the audience have mistaken Mikado as the one with that position. The reason is most likely because his debut has been the same as the common way on how central characters are introduced in an animanga series.

The original creator, fortunately, intended to use a type of character that seldom, if not never, gets to have a big role in a series: a Dullahan. Have you seen a shounen main character who is headless elsewhere? I haven't.

The uniqueness of our main character doesn't stop there. I believe it's natural that a shounen main character plays a big role in almost every arc in his/her series; but that's not necessarily the case for DRRR!!'s. The main plot involves her, but she doesn't claim the spotlight all the time. And even though she's not the focus of a certain arc, she still fulfills her main character role by trying to connect the main actors in the arc. She's a great character, but it's also nice if it's not all about her all the time.

Another thing that makes it so different from other shounen shows is how the fight scenes are shown. The moves are superb and the stunts are epic; yet it didn't need to include some loooooooooong exchange of lines with the opponents bragging to each other during fights not did it make the battles take so loooooooooooooong to finish. Awesome fights are not measured by the number of episodes it had taken, nor are they judged by how powerful the fighters who have participated in the battle are.

The series is not limited to slice of life, supernatural, and action. It also gives you a taste of horror, romance, suspense, mystery, and comedy. I find it very remarkable on how these genres are mixed and balanced.

Don't you know that this show is mainly a love story? It's more on the twisted romance though. It tells us different love stories.... different types of couples.... different ways of how their love is being expressed. Some are canon; some are one-sided. Some are pure; some are so wrong. Some have happy endings; some are not meant to be happy from the beginning. Despite the differences, they end up with one thing in common: in a way, it's twisted.

Thanks to the twistedness, the characters and their relationships have become pretty complex. They aren't exactly what they seem.... and exploring the peculiarity has made this series psychological and philosophical (either those or plain creepy, haha!).

Even though the series intentionally shows silly and random things at times, it could also be complicated enough that you have to analyze the situation and crack some puzzles in order to discover the mystery behind what initially appears to be deep or nonsensical. In other words, this series makes you think. Or if you're reading a book, it's like reading between the lines.

Some scenarios here by the way are things that you could relate to or could compare to the real world. It's even upto date on its examples because the timeline of the series is so close to the time it aired on screen. About the issues tackled here, majority of them have in relation to the problems/experiences encountered by the youth. They could be about oneself, relationship to loved ones, to society, and so on.

Eros love may be one of the primary focuses of the series, but since this is a shounen series, I think it's safe to conclude that the most general themes of this series would always center or involve the youth. They are the main target audience after all. So this series didn't only discuss about their problems and their love lives, but also their relationships with family and friends, their growth, and so on. Each character has a story to tell, and we learn something from them.

The story's not just told by a narrator.... and neither is it told by the main character alone.

On certain episodes, a certain character, whether major or minor, will tell you their story.... and the subplots or the minor parts of their story could be the main one of another character. We can see the same scene in different perspectives.... in different angles.... in different manners. You get amazed on how so many things could happen at the same time thanks to this style of have various characters tell the same story in their own way. How these stories have been connected have been brilliantly presented. It's also a relief that they don't exactly do recaps, nor repeat almost the entire episode. They'll just replay what's necessary for the audience not to be so lost on when it exactly happened.

Durarara!! isn't just a story of the main character being largely involved by arc. It's a series with multiple stories of multiple characters intertwined magnificently; some of them get to play a big role on a certain arc while in others it's for the other characers' turn. Though it's true that there are certain characters that don't get enough screentime, but at least, when they do, they steal the episode. They're not absolutely neglected. They're not exactly just there.

Not all stories or arcs turn out to be as exciting as the others. A lot of fans weren't pleased with the events in the final arc that they end up calling this series a "disappointment" because it had potential and it blew it.

I admit that those parts bored me as well.... but hey! They're about teen angst! Teen angst is never awesome! Whether you admit it (that you have undergone or are undergoing the same stage as a teen) or not, for some reason, the teens are the most annoyingly angsty age group ever (Of course, not all teens are like that. But the majority I believe had their moments of… duh). That makes teens never awesome all the time. For me, the series recognizes that it has teens in its cast, and want to show how much they can suck aside from how much they could rock. We see their stupidity.... their weaknesses.... their drama. But the good thing is, in the end, they finally talked about it.... apologized.... made up.... and moved on. They learned from their mistakes and going through such obstracle has made their bond stronger even if they're apart. This series has been teaching teens a positive light over the depression they're going through since episode 2.... should you wonder why the main characters aren't excluded?

A story event that isn't "fun" or "cool" doesn't make it "bad". And since the matter has been resolved smoothly anyway (and it didn't take too long), I don't even think that it could be considered a "flaw". More of a "strong point" if you look into it in another way. Ah well, this is just my opinion.

Fans of the predecessor would certainly have reminded of their favorite series upon watching Durarara!! It's no surprise, because the creator's the same, the staff's the same, the style's the same, and so on. It is indeed a fact that fans of the predecessor may appreciate Durarara!!, but of course, that's not true all the time.

And no, it's not exactly because the predecessor's much better. It's more of because: they're not the same. Even though they are from the same creative origins and even presented in a similar style, I think from their difference in storytelling and level of violence alone could already tell that each is aimed towards a different audience. Like, a person who doesn't get
jumpy" storytelling could enjoy Durarara!! (because it's much straightforward and in chronological order) but not its predecessor. There are other differences aside from that of course. I think I could elaborate those but…. The purpose of this article is to post my final impressions for this season of DRRR!!, not to compare these two…. And I believe they shouldn’t be compare (in regards to which is better based o the same terms) at all.

So yeah, I'm intentionally not mentioning the title of the predecessor for one to focus on Durarara!! This series doesn't really need to rely on its predecessor to become awesome. It's more popular and successful even. Durarara!! and its predecessor are awesome in their own way.

Aside from what I've already mentioned, there's no doubt that Durarara also has good quality animation and excellent music, whether in background tracks, songs, and so forth! Great acting from the cast as well, though it'd be better if the voice actors have been fluent on the languages they're speaking since their characters are. But the staff in general had done a really good job on it… especially on their research on Ikebukuro! Wow!

Overall, this series is so outstanding that from the title alone, it already stands out a lot! It's very different from your typical shounen. It delivered a lot of fantastic and amazing stuff. It's so enjoyable, interesting, and brilliant that evry single episode is something to look forward to! But naturally, there's no such thing as a "perfect series". Nevertheless, if this series indeed have a number of flaws.... you think such TINY flaws could make such a magnificent series go down???? I think the problem is that the audience got exposed on many of the awesome stuff so early that once they see the downfalls, they forget about what's so fantastic about this show.

Perhaps I'm the only person (or only one of the few people) who think that this series had been excellent overall.... I don't care if people see it as my bias to Ryohgo Narita.... I think it's a fact that the guy's a genius. He's so rare; we should treasure him. People who write stories that deviate from the popular patheticness should be honored!

I highly recommend this show, of course. It’s definitely a gem, especially among the shounen series. Don’t miss an amazing show because they don’t come around often~

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abandonedfactory said...

I agree with you. DRRR is awesome, and Ryohgo Narita must be revered. :bows:

You brought up a lot of excellent points, so I wish I wasn't too sleepy to respond to some, but, yeah. Heck, let's make that YEAH!

Sapphire Pyro said...

@ abandonedfactory
Thank you very much =)

Anonymous said...

thank you for your review. I just started watching durarara~

Manga Therapy said...

DRR!! is truly an awesome series. Here's hoping to another season based on further developments in the light novel. It would be exciting to see Izaya's sisters, Vorona, Aoba, and more in anime form!

The series also takes a look at chat room psychology, besides the themes you just stated. I actually did a entry about this. You can read it at:

I like how DRR!! showcases the power of modern technology in its full potential. Don't you agree?

Malini said...

"Fans of the predecessor would certainly have reminded of their favorite series upon watching Durarara"

Even the opening song is alike. i was like, 0_0
it was only a few days that i found out they were made my the same person. *bows to Ryogo Narita*

i am also a fan of the said predecessor, and i agree, both of the series are both awesome in their own ways. and i wont say the other are better than the other (though, i do favor the other a little bit more XD)

Sapphire Pyro said...

@ Manga Therapy
Interesting psychological viewpoint on the chat behavior in the series! There are many other psychological aspects in the series though, I hope you'll be able to do articles on them too ^^

"I like how DRR!! showcases the power of modern technology in its full potential. Don't you agree?"
= I do *_*

@ Malini
"Even the opening song is alike. i was like, 0_0"
= Yeah, and I think they did it intentionally. It's like they're implying "Hey viewers! The same geniuses are working on this so you don't need to worry about DRRR!!'s quality;D" Hehe.

" *bows to Ryogo Narita*"
= *bows to the great writer along with you*

"i am also a fan of the said predecessor, and i agree, both of the series are both awesome in their own ways. and i wont say the other are better than the other (though, i do favor the other a little bit more XD)"
= The same~

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