Review: Durarara!! Part 1

Most anime series these days are extremely linear and rather basic in their story direction. That is, told from the perspective of one single person or group. Siren Visual however has licensed and released ‘Durarara!!‘ produced by Brain’s Base (behind series such as Baccano), a series gaining popularity very quickly and taking a different perspective from the normal approach that a series may have.

Durarara!! follows the story of a child named Mikado RyĆ«gamine experiencing the city for the first time after transferring to Tokyo from the country. Mikado is there on the request of his best friend, Masaomi Kida. As they start exploring Tokyo, Kida explains there are many people Mikado should look out for or be careful of, though this main focus point tends to fall wayside as many of those said characters are introduced setting the scene for a series that isn’t just told from the perspective of Mikado, but from everyone.

As said, Durarara!! approaches storytelling differently to most anime in the sense that it’s presented from multiple angles. Every episode is told from the perspective of a different character in the series. While it seems a little confusing at first after watching a few episodes the story really falls into place and most importantly it allows for the chance to explore the backstory of almost every character as well as tell why they are there and what their goals are. Given the rate that characters are introduced (almost everyone by episode four) this is certainly crucial and is executed almost flawlessly with barely a character left unlooked at.

Graphically Durarara!! has a style that is worth paying attention to. The many different urban environments are all created with a style that makes you want to look closely at them. Character design is rather basic yet given the theme of the anime itself they don’t exactly need to be very elaborate so it all fits rather nicely. There is a slight use of CG also yet it feels like the CG didn’t need to be there, almost taking away from the experience.

The primary focus of Durarara!! is character development and thankfully the voice acting behind the series is of a high quality. Regardless of voice option all the voices feel like they fit the characters and aren’t overacted. Musically however although appealing and suits the anime itself, it is by no means worth remembering and doesn’t leave a lasting effect, bar the opening and ending themes.

For those who like a series that focuses around conversation and character development as well as an emphasis on backstory you really can’t go wrong with Durarara!!. The first DVD set leaves you on a cliffhanger that finally nets all the characters into one main point and really sets the path ahead for the rest of the series. Even for those who just want a series a little bit different, it’s a definite watcher. Fans of more action heavy anime will still get something out of Durarara!!, given the story does call for action scenes and has a decent pace behind it, however don’t go expecting the crazy amounts of violence one would come to expect from action-based anime.