Posted by psgels on 25 June 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Durarara

I personally like those series who manage to make their setting come alive, and Durarara turned out to be quite a fine attempt in this. In the middle of Ikeburkuro, it intertwines the stories of all kinds of interesting people as they live their daily lives. From seemingly average teenagers to invincible fighting machines to Russian waiters at a sushi restaurant.

It’s at its best when it can really intertwine these stories with its a-linear pacing. Especially the first half of the series manages to bring a lot of colour to the combination of different characters that parade the screen. It’s fairly episodic, but that format really allows the creators to show a lot of different things about its setting.

A lot of character-development can be found in the second half, which for better and for worse, is completely different to these colourful first parts. The story becomes a lot more linear, it becomes a lot darker and a lot more straightforward. Personally I’m a big fan of character-development when used right, but it felt to me that in this part, the creators sacrificed a bit too much for the sake of this character-development. Be prepared for a number of characters who tend to act rather illogical, refusing to solve problems that can simply be solved by talking to each other. Personally, for me it just wasn’t as good as this first half: it lacked energy, and it tried to look a bit too much like Baccano, which it most definitely wasn’t.

The animation varies throughout the series. It really starts off excellent, and especially the background art is gorgeous, though you can see that the budget becomes a little tighter as the series goes on, and more shortcuts show up. The music is also pretty good, and it has some excellent tracks for both the lighter parts and the darker ones.

Overall, this series has been created by the creators of Baccano, and the director had done a ton of other stuff including Jigoku Shoujo, Fancy Lala, Natsume Yuujinchou and Koi Kaze. Durarara isn’t among the best of them, and in that way it turned into a bit of a disappointment. From most other directors however, this series would have been gold. It suffers a bit with its characters (quite a few of them have their unlikable moments), it has a bit of a wonky pacing in the second half, but it has a pretty inventive plot, a ton of nice ideas and while not the best, it’s definitely worth your time.

Storytelling: 8/10 – The disjointed format in the first half has a great effect, so much that it feels empty when it’s not there in the second half. Tries to give too much pointless hints to Baccano.
Characters: 8/10 – Some characters are well developed, but the show ends too fast to actually use this, and others remain rather stereotypes. The teenagers aren’t really that likable throughout large parts of the series.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Some great stuff, some standard stuff.
Setting: 9/10 – Ikebukuro (a neighbourhood in Tokyo) is well fleshed out and especially comes to life in the first half, but also gets well fleshed out in the second half with a number of pretty interesting ideas and concepts.

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12 Responses

  1. karry says:


  2. MsteaK says:

    A bit hard to choke on the final grade when Ichiban got an eight. Oh well.

    I liked DURARARA although Bacanno was the superior product.

  3. animedyum says:

    It’s really frustrating to see a series with a great start ends like a cheesy soap opera.

  4. Etrangere says:

    The contrast between the first arc and the second was really frustrating, but I still thought that was a great series overall. I hope we might get more novels adapted eventually.

  5. Puran says:

    I liked the ending. But it felt like a set-up for something more awesome to start. Everybody got some development, kida got redeemed somewhat and now has a cool backstory. All characters have reached a point where I really want to see where they’ll go from here on.

    Let’s hope for more durarara coming in the future.

  6. MD says:

    Pretty spot-on. Though the cast of characters was large, half the characters no one cared about or liked, unlike Baccano!. The series became your typical anime in the second half when it changed to linear storytelling, bar the enjoyable jazzy tones.

  7. EJ says:

    Really characters only got an eight? Pretty much every character was interesting ONLY AN 8?! Man I know its your opinion but inferior shows, compared to Durarara’s character department, were also scoring an eight……

  8. kyuzo says:

    wow… so this:

    “8/10 – Too much pointless fanservice, but nevertheless solid entertainment.”

    is equal to this:

    “8/10 – The disjointed format in the first half has a great effect, so much that it feels empty when it’s not there in the second half. Tries to give too much pointless hints to Baccano.”


    i hope your series reviews come in genres or something.

  9. Troyen says:

    I thought I remember him saying something like he compares them to similar shows when he comes up with the scores. Or maybe that’s only for the monthly summaries.

    Then again, maybe he saw that if characters had been a 9, people would’ve complained the total score was 85. ;)

  10. kbknigon says:

    I understand your frustration with the three protagonists’ ridiculous lack of communication. I really wanted to just slap Masaomi at some points. However, I think the discommunication going on was really a major theme in the series, carried on as an undertone in the final arc. You’ll noticed that communication technology is incredibly important in the series. Cell phones especially are shown in literally every scene. Everyone has one, everyone is using them. There is constant faceless communication going on at all times. However, part of the brilliant irony of the series was how in the final act, the main characters never answered their cell phones. If you payed close attention, you’ll notice that in the final 4 episodes, there were many, many shots of Masaomi and Mikado’s cell phones ringing, but them not answering them. I think that this is just an ironic way of carrying out the whole electronic communications undertone of the series, which I think is also linked to the series’ theme of reality vs. fiction, which is brought up in the characters of Erika and Walker.

    Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but tell me what you think, reviewer-san!

  11. prettykai says:

    i loved the characters in durarara.. its so fun watching them, especially izaya-kun! a complete weirdo, you could never tell what he’d do next! i rally enjoyed it…until the second half though. i find the second half completely annoying to watch. i just wanted the damn thing to end! really i got so pissed off by the second half that i had to force myself to watch it to the end. just when i thought i found another jewel like baccano… anyway, the ending was fine so i guess it wasn’t a complete waste.

  12. Firechick says:

    Sorry, but honestly, I HATED the soundtrack for this show (but the first ED is still awesome in my book)! It made my ears bleed!

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  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 07:59 PM)
    @Masky: no definitely not every game, but you made it sound as if the whole idea of realism in videogames is ludicrous. Now I haven’t played Undertake myself, but looking at the Steam pics in looks like a humorous retro pixelart indie project, in which case it doesn’t need to be realistic but it still should respect it’s own internal logic. Unless it’s meant to be all bonkers like an Xavier: Renegade Angel episode, but again very few things are like that.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 07:30 PM)
    Oh lol the Symphogear guy teased the idea of a fourth season for it, you mad mad bastard.
  • Masky
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 08:03 AM)
    @Bam: Yeah, but simulating reality applies to certain types of games. Judging EVERY game by how realistic it is is silly xD
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 02:36 AM)
    @Masky: lots of game designers aspire for realism. Now this can be done for cosmetic purposes like face textures and lighting, practical with physic engines and movement, or contextual like believable character reactions and dialogue. Now some games thrive in being ridiculous and fantastic, but some want to create a realistic setting to further the emotional impact. Nothing wrong with that.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 02:32 AM)
    @ratsgnoF: and happy Thanksgiving to you as well.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:43 PM)
    Anyway seriously though, I’d say it does actually make sense in context xD Since none of monsters are actually that threatening.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:42 PM)
    .-. I have no words, mainly because whenever anyone uses word “Realism” in context of video game, I want to say rude words xD
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:40 PM)
    I think he gave it a passing glance and felt it wasn’t his thing, I remember he also felt that he thought the idea of sparing the monsters wasn’t believable or realistic given that he felt if you were realistically placed in that situation yourself, the real thing to do would be to fight back out of fear.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:37 PM)
    Did he actually play the game though? I mean, did he actually discover it himself or did he just heard the spoilers?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:35 PM)
    I had a talk with a friend about undertale and he wasn’t a fan, he prefers other types of rpgs, the choice element also made him uncomfortable and that he felt the game was too punishing.

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