Posted on 10 March 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Durarara

 

In reflection I think Durarara may have been a poor choice to blog. The reason being that when I sat down to watch this episode I was fully intent on finding something I could comment on. Then as the end credits roll I find myself at a loss to what to write about. With something like Death Parade it comes naturally but here I just come up blank. I could of course bring up the events of the episode itself such as Verona chasing after Celty with glee or Shizuo avoiding fighting the yakuza because he’s been framed and doesn’t want to raise any more problems. Yes, I could say it was funny when the yakuza underlings tried to explain Shizuo’s absurd fighting style to their boss. However that’s just me summarizing the episode, not reviewing it.

The cogs are in motion and something is coming but I cannot formulate an opinion on it. I do admit that this season has so far been inferior than its predecessor now that nostalgia factor has long worn off. We are now 35 episodes into Durarara and yet characters are still being introduced and the story feels like it’s setting up stages. Many animes would be moving on to getting the main event started and those shows are lucky to even get a second season. Let alone a two cour one. In the impression, I warned people not to expect progression with this series. Now I find it hard to follow my own advice. I am sorry for the lack of episode review here but I recommend trying to review just the events of this one episode in the comments. I think you might understand why then. All I can really say is this. Mikado better have made made a choice by the end of this arc as his indecision would test the patience of Buddha. I am hoping the next episode will give me something to work with as otherwise I will be forced to drop this and maybe replace it with kaleidoscope. Or an one post impression on another ongoing series.

Posted on 4 March 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Durarara

No animation issues this time around thankfully. Really like the touch of Irelands flag on the cup Shinra gave the girl at their apartment. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Celty is indeed Irish. Probably one of the few Irish characters in anime. And here we learn that the one who told the little girl to kill Shizuo was in fact Izaya. (No surprise there) Shizuo reaction to this is the most unexpected and pretty funny scene. A ridiculously off putting smile as he goes off laughing to kill Izaya. Naturally Izaya goes to lengths not to face Shizuo directly. Even framing him for murder and getting a gang after him. Izaya’s plan looks to be coming to fruition. With him even taking Masaomi out of town so that he doesn’t mess up his plans for Mikado. He is currently suspicious but hasn’t caught on to the real reason Izaya sent him to the countryside. Verona’s gearing for a rematch and Ladies man is picking a fight with Kadota. Things for this arc look to be coming to a head.

Mikado’s section basically involved him being offered the position of the leader of the blue squares. The impact of this scene is lost on me. Because it relies on Mikado denying his desires and having someone else point them out. The problem with this is that Mikado is not unaware of his desires. They are the very reason he moved to Ikebukuro in the first place. He himself pointed this out to us in his flashback. So having him deny this and claim he wants an ordinary life is just out of character. Why does he need someone to bring up something something he already knows? That Izaya brought up with him only an episode ago. I like the idea of Mikado taking up a position of power. I am just not fond of the execution.

Posted on 25 February 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Durarara

I think the problem with this episode was evident right from the opening scene. I had to do a double take when seeing a very poorly drawn Simon. I even questioned whether it was a new character entirely. But no, the animation budget took a nosedive. Or the guy who was to do the inbetweens got sick. The animation in this episode was bare bones. Movement to an absolute minimum. I mean damn, at several points there was no inbetween frames at all and you were graced with magic teleporting statues supposed to represent characters. It wasn’t done out of artistic sensibility. Of that I assure you. The fight between Vorona and Anri was really hurt by this. With the two portraying the furiosity of two mannequins in a staring contest. Even Vorona’s backstory had moments where the only background was a colour gradient.

That really did ruin the episode but truthfully the episode wasn’t that eventful. It was yet another backstory of yet another crazy character. In another story Vorona’s character might be a main antagonist or anti-hero. But here she’s the goon picking a fight with characters she is greatly underestimating. A one note conflict. So really it’s just a waiting game of seeing when she will discover what the audience already knows. Meanwhile Mikado looks to be disregarding every warning he was given about Izaya already and letting the guy play him like a fiddle. Though it is good to see the issues with Mikado’s indecision regarding his position in the dollars being pushed into his face. Speaking of which, it looks that the dollars conflict seems to have reached his doorstep.

Posted on 18 February 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Durarara

Turns out that assassination attempt got Celty to see her life flash before her eyes. I suppose taking a tumble off a moving motorcycle is a fatal thing. But well in the last arc we saw two people survive getting blown away at about the length of a football field. So I cannot say I was worried about Celty in the slightest. True to that, Celty is fine and ready to get payback. The time leaping is getting a bit out of hand with things happening in this episode that take place in the middle of last episode abound things happening around the same time as other things and past is future and future has past and ouch…my head. I would have better luck mapping out the Doctor Who timeline. Our new characters this time are a cold analytical assassin by the name of Vorona and her eccentric boss who gets hung up on odd questions which the girl then answers. So that’s why men have nippiles. Honestly wondered about that one myself. They have an interesting gimmick but thats about it. The would need to bring something new to the already bloated cast. Vorona though seems disappointed in how easy it was to take down Celty and is annoyed over the job of abducting a child. There’s some visage of a heart in that impassive exterior.

Shinra has got to be given credit. I don’t think there’s anyone else with the courage to openly mock Shizuo to the face and not end up in a hospital. Other than that we have the Dollars kicking up trouble without Mikado’s direction. This is something that I find odd about Mikado. The plot has clearly shown that he desires a more interesting life. Hence why he moved to Ikebukuro in the first place. Yet he seems to actively avoid using his power over the dollars and keeps preserving his normal life. His actions seem contradictory. He wants the excitement of the unknown and unusual, yet avoids and fears the consequences of such and sticks to a normal routine. It would be good for the series to push him into making a decision about this. The episode ends on the note of someone attacking Anri. I would be concerned if Anri didn’t happen to be the possessor of a sentient sword and didn’t have a legion of loyal followers to get her out of this. If it was Mikado then this might hold weight but Anri? It may be a better option than picking a fight with Shizuo but you still get beaten to a pulp. Or in this case, slashed to ribbons and turned into a mindless zombie.

Posted on 12 February 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Durarara

We have yet another new character entering the show. A motorcycle gang leader who has a massive fondness for woman. Personally I am not a fan of him. His brand of female overprotective crazy just seems like a downgrade from the shows already huge cast of crazies. He looks like a character whose introduction serves only the purpose to bring another conflict to the city. However he did spring a change to one of the characters. Shizuo, whose purpose up till now was to walk in and start beating people up, is getting some attention. It is good to see Shizuo express emotion beyond blind rage. Seeing him treat someone with respect for challenging him directly and admitting that he got jealous when the man remarked that he had a cute girl who would help nurse him back to health. Even shrugging off a taser attack from a little girl trying to kill him. Shizuo getting the spotlight at last.

The three plot threads we have this time is a motorcycle gang planning a all out attack, a little girl who is trying to kill Shizuo and Celty being tasked with finding said little girl. The only carryover was the motorcycle gang leader challenging Shizuo over the guys he beat up last episode. But even that is tossed aside pretty fast as he learns why one of the towns rules is to never pick a fight with the man dressed as a bartender. We also have yet another new character who ends the episode by trying to behead Celty. A fruitless task to be certain. But Narita, seriously. Keep adding characters like this and the opening won’t have time to cover them all. A fun little tidbit I noticed is with the Orihara sisters. Strangely when posting on the Internet, Mairu(the talkative one) writes very little. Yet Kururi(the quiet one) posts walls of text. Wonder what dice they rolled to get these traits? It’s too early to say where this is going but if this is a story about Shizuo then thats always welcome in my book.

Posted on 4 February 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Durarara

The current story arc ends abruptly and unexpectedly. I am rather surprised that it came here. From how this was portrayed it felt this would be a longer arc than it turned out to be. So with its end I must think back and wonder. What exactly did this arc accomplish? We got introduced to new characters and they did get integrated into the cast. But other than that this arc didn’t really do anything. The bounty on Celty disappeared as fast as it appeared. The biker gang have been wiped out by Shizuo. Hollywood and the russian hitman have no loose ends to cover.(Well unless you are interested in Hollywoods family. Or the budding love between her and Shizuo’s brother) And the Orihara sisters were introduced and that’s about it. Really this was a story of how Celty lost a lot of money and unknowingly reclaimed it thanks to a little plotting of the Orihara sisters, featuring special guests. Because Hollywood, the Russian hitman and the Orihara sisters did more or less nothing despite getting a significant amount of screen time.

And here is one of the major problems with Narita. Here we have a story that was by all means self contained. Because in truth Narita is an episodic writer. By arcs end, everything returns to zero. Yet Narita always seems to try and present this as “only the beginning” Like this arc was just setup for a greater overarching plot. However if previous experience says anything it’s that the only thing that lies in the future is a weak climax and a return to zero. Yet here he is again building up a conflict within the dollars, Saika growing out of control and Izaya plotting something big. But I know how this works. These things will get wrapped up quick and then other things will be foreshadowed which also will get wrapped up quickly and unceremoniously. If you want to write episodic stories Narita then do so. But stop trying to tease the possibility that you will move beyond that. It’s a pet peeve really. Even if Durarara is essentially the daily hijinks of the eccentric cast it would still be entertaining.

Posted on 29 January 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Durarara

If its one thing you to can credit Narita for it that just when you think he cannot possibly make a stranger character, he then does. So the monster that Shizu smashed into the air in the last moment gets their story told and I am sure there are not many who would have guessed what was under that makeup. Yes not only is the serial killer Hollywood female but she also happens to be a famous idol called Ruri Hijiribe. Really question how she fits killing into what is most likely a packed schedule. My issue with this is that on the episode in which she is introduced is also the episode she essentially reached the end of her character arc. Her problem was that she felt like a monster that couldn’t be understood. Only to find that this town is filled with monsters living normal lives. I really don’t see how her character can evolve from here. At most she’s now just a love interest for Yuhei. Yuhei is also quite the character having reacted to his guest trying to kill him with the same apathy one would reserve for a school play. Well according to him he was actually quite scared but is bad at expressing himself. Saving his life by weirding out or potentially charming Ruri. The dialogue between these two was so off that you can’t help but feel they are strangely made for each other.

The time jumping is getting rather confusing now. Seeing as this episodes beginning takes place at the start of the first episode but jumps to the middle of the second episode and it turns out the Orihara section of the second episode took place before the beginning of the first episode and…like I said. Laying out the timeline is likely an endeavor. On one note it’s a little unbelievable that the guy who was previously dying in the last episodes ends up fine with some bandages. It’s true that if he did die that would mean that Shizuo murdered someone under false pretenses but it’s a little hard to believe that this guy survived a hit like that. But then again this is a world where a man can pull up lampposts to use as makeshift baseball bats. The Orihara sisters still manage to be endearing despite their incredibly messed up personalities. Just what kind of childhood can create monsters like this? They seem to have taken on the job of the injured Russian and look to be getting wrapped up in what looks to be this arcs climax.

Posted on 22 January 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Durarara

If this episode had a focus then the stars would be Celty and the Orihara sisters. Though there were other events such as Anri and Mikado going to karaoke with Erika and Walker but it wasn’t really all the important and seemed to be there to foreshadow a new character and set up what looks to be future hijinks. Though we have the standard of Narita storytelling going on, namely jumping around in time to past and future events with little to no context.

Celty truly is a interesting character from an animation perspective.  Its easy to overlook but when you think about it she must be one of the trickiest characters to animate. Why you ask? Well how do you show a character is sad without words? The easiest is to turn her eyes to the ground and give them a frown. Add in a tear and a slight head droop if they are really sad. But in Celty’s case, how would you do that? The girl doesn’t have a head therefore removing the large emotional range a face can provide. Of course they could have easily made her a deadpan snarker but instead Celty is presented as a fairly emotional character. All of this through body language.  I am reminded of the Raimi Spiderman movies where Tobey needed to exaggerate his movements to act when Spiderman. Celty twirls when happy, fidgety when embarrassed and puts her hand to her chin when thinking. In a strange way it makes her seem the most human character in the show. Odd considering that she is by definition, not human. Its this that makes her so likeable. The voice actress does deserve credit but the animators really did a great job.

Though it was the Orihara sisters that stole the show. They certainly prove to be Izaya’s family, being completely strange and insane. If Izaya’s word can be trusted they chose their personalities on the roll of a dice. But ended up with a disjointed disconnect between personality and appearance.  So we have a girl with the look of a quiet library girl being talkative and proclaiming to be a outgoing bisexual. And a girl in a gym outfit whose sullen and quiet. Naturally the two stand out and I sighed as the stereotypical bullying starts. But luckily the bullies a taken care of quickly. Its good that these throwaway villains were just put in to point out that the Orihara sisters are just as dangerous as their older brother. I am willing to bet the two have become fan favorites by episodes end. Though I wonder what their role will be in this particular arc? From the looks of things they are getting involved as near the episodes end they find a dying man that Shizu bashed into the air. Well we have set up two dynamic characters so at least make use of them Narita. Don’t toss them to the sidelines.

Posted on 2 March 2011 with categories: Durarara



Not as good as the first DVD-special, but still a nice little aftermath to the series. Like with the actual TV-series, the first special had all the events running through each other, and threw many flashbacks and -forwards at the viewer, only to have everything come together at the end, while this one had that a lot less, aside from one single scene at the beginning of the episode. The creators did succeed however, to put as much characters on the screen as possible.

Instead, whenever this episode had the chance it would show different characters, cleverly using Shizuo’s brother who was doing a live report and finally giving him the chance to show off his acting. This episode was full of these little details and subtle characterizations that ere also prevalent during the first half of the TV-series.

The least interesting parts of this episode were probably the subplots that were already dragged out in the TV-series: Mikado vs. Anri and Shizuo vs. Izaya. As dynamic as this show is, the relationships between these people somehow refused to really go anywhere throughout the series. After 26 episodes, Shizuo still is running after Izaya, and Mikado still is trying to tell Anri that he likes her. (Though granted, at least Anri behaved differently from what she would have done 20 episodes ago).

This episode also provided a few hints for an upcoming season in the form of some new characters. If that’s going to happen though, it’ll probably still take a while, because the director first is going to be busy with Natsume Yuujinchou.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 27 August 2010 with categories: Durarara



Most DVD-specials are simple side-stories. This one is too, but in this case I really recommend it because it was everything that made the first half of Durarara so addictive. It doesn’t have anything to do with the main storyline, but it’s a really fun ride from beginning to end.

I’m not sure whether this is an anime original chapter or a side-story taken from the light novels, but whoever it came from, they really went all out here. The time line was more screwed than ever. Because of that, the first scenes of the episodes are completely random and nonsensical, but as the episode goes on they all fall wonderfully into place. There are some great plot twists too, I especially had to laugh when the creators explained the source behind those sparkly ufos. The only thing I didn’t get was that really weird Daffy Duck laugh at the five minute mark…

Central to the plot were a number of mysterious red bags that kept travelling from one place to the other in this episode, and even though they mostly served to confuse the viewer rather than the characters apart from the Americans, it worked really well, considering how different their contents were. I also loved how ridiculously cheesy those American thugs were: their accent was horrible, and yet they had no problem pronouncing Japanese names. Ah heck, for all we know they could all be Japanese people who are forced to talk in English for their jobs. Oh, and Isaac and Miria made their comeback again!

Mikado and the others had no purpose whatsoever in the story, but I still like how the creators found something interesting for them to do, just portraying them hanging out and doing nothing with strange ears on. The TV-series should have had more scenes like those.

Speaking of which, yeah. I now fully understand why I didn’t like the second half as much as I would have liked: it had none of this addictive pacing, and instead went for a very straightforward style of storytelling without pretty much any kind of warning. It tried to make up for this with its character-development, but that just wasn’t enough. A second season would completely fix the problems I have with it, though at this point this seems unlikely, considering how the director has already moved on to a new series Kuragehime. I’m really looking forward to what he can do with a josei-series, though at the same time it looks to be one of the weakest premises he worked on for a long while. I don’t really like the thought of yet another one of those otaku-aimed shows. On the brighter side though, I just discovered that the Series Composition Guy has this habit of completely disregarding his original source material, so we might be in for something completely different from the original manga it’s based on. That provides opportunities, both good and bad.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

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