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)

Posted 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.

Suggestions:
Birdy the Mighty Decode
Kaze no Youjinbo
Mobile Police Patlabor

Posted on with categories: Durarara



This episode did exactly what the past arc should have been doing for bloody ages now: having people actually talk to each other. So yeah, I liked this ending quite a bit.

I expected something epic or over the top, but this works too. The conflict between the yellow scarves was actually solved quite quickly. There were a couple of bugs here and there, like how Shizuo knew where those punks would flee to, but overall I liked how the Dollars were indeed still acting on their own even though the website had shut down, and that under the lead of Kyohei they organized a mob to get back at the yellow scarves. It’s interesting to see that in the end, they did go to the path of violence.

But I liked what happened afterwards best. It allowed everything to wrap up for the series’ conclusion, so that it could leave an as good impression behind as possible. That particular background tune with the flutes also finally returned, as if to suggest: everything is back and peaceful like it used to be, yet characters have visibly matured and moved on. The past arc would have been perfect as a middle arc to flesh out characters, though not so much as a conclusion. It just lacked the energy and variety of the first half for that for me. I really appreciate that Brains Base is finally getting to work on 24 episoded series instead of just single season series, but it still isn’t enough I’m afraid. I’ve said this plenty of times by now, but there really need to be more series that go beyond 26 episodes.

Overall, Durarara certainly isn’t my favourite series from the director Takahiro Omori, but nevertheless it was pretty good. My main problem was that it just failed to live up to my own expectations, for which I only have myself to blame. Oh, reviewing the entire series is going to be quite difficult.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 18 June 2010 with categories: Durarara



Ah, so the creators are going into an anime original ending. My opinion of those kinds of endings is simple: as long as it works, I don’t mind. Although of course in the past creators have shown that adapting a story and writing an original can be completely different (I think Claymore is the most notable example of this). But, here this series has the odds in favour of it: Takahiro Omori‘s endings have got an excellent track record. Baccano ended wonderfully, even though the source material continued on, Jigoku Shoujo always had excellent endings in which everything came together, and Fancy Lala had the single best ending of any mahou shoujo ever.

But Durarra… its ending is a bit more nuanced. You can see that a lot of thoughts went into it, but it lacks refinement. Here’s what I mean:
– I really liked how in this episode Mikado explained why he decided to shut down the Dollars. A surprisingly solid reason and gamble of him. The fighting didn’t stop immediately, but I doubt that he was just thinking in the short term. Unfortunately, he did not explain why he refused to answer Kida’s calls.
– I liked how the adults here set the children in their place, the chemistry between Celty, Anri, Shinra and Shizuo was well done, it was subtle, developed the story and was very interesting to watch. The conversation between Simon and Kida however… that was just too one-sided.
– The twist that the Blue Squares were the ones who took over the yellow scarves was actually quite interesting. It gives a reason to those random attacks they’ve been making beyond “ZOMG dollars sucks”. On the other hand… what were the creators thinking with that fight? Why can Kida easily kick away guys twice his size, and only after ten or so guys does he give up? I know that such an iron bar can hit hard and all, but it’s thugs he’s dealing with. These guys should know how to fight. I also did not like how they stood there like sheep while Kida was having a nice talk. And even during the fight, most of them just did nothing. Yeah, that’s a good idea, attack just one at a time.

Nevertheless, those are just details. What about the bigger picture? There, I can see where the creators are going here. They’re continuing the path of the flawed characters. They made Mikado more naive (seriously, I’ve seen quite a few webmasters pulling some weird drama that makes shutting down the Dollars just seem like nothing special) to let everything spiral out of control like what was originally hinted at. It decided to focus on the fact that the characters are teenagers, in the way that they have good ideas, but at the same time can’t quite see all of the consequences of their actions and don’t always take the smartest way out.

I suspected this way earlier, and with series that focus on flawed characters, it’s really hard to make your audience care about them compared to the flawless and charismatic ones. For me, it was especially Kida who got in the way and made me lose interest. This episode actually used Celty as a catalyst very effectively to develop Mikado a bit, in the same way that she took care of Anri.

The final episode is going to be very important for this series. I really want to see a good conclusion here, when the creators went out of their way to create a new one, eliminating any chance for a possible sequel. Kida is about to develop out of his angsty self. If the creators can get his character-development in the final episode right (and I really mean make something memorable out of it), then I feel like I’ll be able to forgive a bit of the disappointment of the second half of this series.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 12 June 2010 with categories: Durarara



I think that I can finally point to what exactly I’ve been disliking about this series during the second half: it’s Kida. In this episode I actually quite liked Mikado and Anri, and their actions are quite believable. Anri had a bit of a slump at the end of her own arc, but even that was great as a build-up. I loved how in this episode she came to terms with herself, and how she finally developed. It’s here where all that build-up pays off. At the same time, Mikado was also quite interesting. I can believe his angst at the end of the episode, because hey; he just found out that one of his best friend became involved with some silly struggle that he was the indirect initiator of. The guy needs a bit of time alone.

Kida though… I don’t get him. His angst to protect those dear to him, combined with the way that he suddenly started yelling to Anri when he finally was able to talk to her under two eyes… I’m not really interested in that to be honest. For me, the parts of this series that focus on his angst are by far my least favourite of the entire series.

And it’s a darn shame, because the rest of this series really is excellent. It still sucks that it’s gonna end in two episodes, but this episode was well written, and one of those episodes in which a ton of build-up comes together and pays off. That really was great to see, and I loved the subtlety that the creators put into the development of the relationship between Celty, Anri and Mikado.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 5 June 2010 with categories: Durarara



“Oh yes, a girl from my school with glasses and big boobs. That sounds just vague enough to be Anri.”

I know it’s nitpicking what I’m doing here, but when this episode kept repeating it I really couldn’t help but notice how such a vague hint convinced everyone immediately about Anri’s identity.

In any case though, aside from that I can’t say anything new about how this series disappointed so far. This episode was clearly building up the things it had already established (ie, the drama around people who just refuse to talk to each other), but at this rate the series could still very much end with a bang.

Not sure whether this has to do with Mikado coming back into the picture, but I actually really enjoyed the time that was spent between him and the Dollars. To come with a bit of an analogy: it feels like Kida is trying to lead a group of dogs: loyal, but when left alone they might start barking and attacking. Anri on the other hand is leading zombies: brainless and completely obedient. Mikado on the other hand is trying to herd cats: it doesn’t work and more often than not they’ll just go with their own ideas. I find the relationship between Mikado and the dollars by far the most interesting of the three fractions that are currently about to go to war with each other.

I’m not really interested in the chaos that’s going to follow from now. Rather, I’m waiting for the moment in which the first of the three friends starts to speak up. That should prove to be very interesting. But at the same time… it’s still a pity that there are only going to be 24 episodes in this series. It really feels like the wrong place to end this series at.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 27 May 2010 with categories: Durarara



I’ve said before that this isn’t the sort of climax I like. You know, the kind where characters just refuse to talk to each other, which is something that could make things a lot easier. With Anri… it’s still somewhat understandable: she doesn’t know about Mikado, and instead she’s just worried about being rejected as a monster, that’s fine. But in this episode Kida finds out that Mikado is the leader of the Dollars, and also remains silent. *headdesk* It also doesn’t help that Mikado still keeps listening to Izaya and that the rest of the Dollars are running around beyond his control.

There’s a line between flawed and just downright annoying here, and Kida… unfortunately is constantly hopping over that line. His angst has just been a bit too much for me… I can see that he’s had quite a past, but he doesn’t quite feel like such a dynamic character; my impression of him is that he’s either angsty or hyperactively hiding his angst, with hardly anything else. Anri on the other hand is getting more and more interesting now that we’ve gotten to know her, and Mikado already was interesting… though he’s gotten way too little airtime during the past episodes. I want to see some more scenes of him, trying to keep the Dollars under control. The two of them have a bunch of different sides now, but surprisingly there are just too many characters that are just… too one sided. This also includes Simon (who seems like he always talks about how good Sushi is) and Izaya (who seems to be a professional troll or something: do we see him do anything else?).

At this point though, I’m not yet sure whether I should criticize this show for having an annoying plot on purpose: it’s clear that the creators put a lot of thought into having things escalate like this, and Izaya’s trolling is making sure that everyone keeps doubting each other. But I’m just not enjoying this show like I hoped I would at the end of the first half of this show. It’s not bad or anything near that, but at the same I consider the second half as inferior to the first half of this show.

It’s also a bit of a shame that the animation budget still hasn’t recovered here. There are a few scenes with smooth animation, but none of them last longer than half a second, and on top of that there are a ton of distorted or rushed frames. That’s something you wouldn’t expect of Brains Base. I believe that this is the first series that they animate continuously for 24 episodes without breaks, and I guess that the toll of this becomes visible now.

Let me also talk a bit about the OP here, which have been… misleading to say the least. Consider the OP, which displays a bunch of characters who hardly made any appearance in this second half. I mean, why Shizuo’s brother? Why was there the need to include his brother? Heck, I actually thought that that Cop would make a big appearance, but aside from a cameos he’s also been pretty useless aside from giving Celty a strange quirk that feels a bit overdone. It’s another one of those “hey, we’re advertising to be like Baccano while we actually are completely different”-gimmicks of this series that caused me to expect the completely wrong kind of series here. I see that part of the fault lies with me for actually expecting this, but still…
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 20 May 2010 with categories: Durarara



The second half of this series turns out to be disjointed in a completely different way than the first half. The first half threw random scenes together and kept jumping back and forth to make a fun little story. The second half on the other hand is much more linear, but instead it likes to pull twists that it’ll only explain later, without any hint beforehand whether it’s going to do so or not. It was indeed a bit weird for Anri to suddenly show up at the end of the previous episode, this episode explains what she was doing there.

Now it’s time for this series to deliver. I’m not going to tolerate any more boring episodes after this, because overall my expectations for this series might have been a bit too high. I really tried not to compare this show to Baccano, but in the end the lack of energy of this series compared to Baccano unfortunately did bother me during the second half when the pacing suddenly turned down, instead of up.

Another thing is that Baccano just did have a huge cast of incredibly charismatic characters. Durarara on the other hand doesn’t: it’s about a bunch of angsty teenagers, a bunch of psychopaths, a headlesss rider and a bunch of characters whose quirks could have been great, but were underdeveloped. Sorry, Simon. I really liked him when this series started, but this guy never really got further than his episode in which he was the narrator. There are more of these minor characters who degenerated into caricatures due to lack of airtime in the second half, and I think that that’s something that I’ve been missing with this series.

Having said that though, I’m very interested in the plot here. It’s the kind of plot that I dislike, but in a good way. The way in which everything is based on misunderstandings and everything would be solved if people would just stop listening to Izaya and instead talk to each other. It’s been well built up however, and the creators can actually get an interesting climax out of it if they go out all the way with this, remain true to their characters and let everything spiral out of control.

The characters are acting with a kind of stupidity that is incredibly annoying with underdeveloped characters. However, now that Kida’s background has also been shown, they’re actually turning into rounded characters here, and that’s something that I appreciate a lot. However, character-development is one thing, now they also have to use it. I did cringe at the point in which Anri in this episode refused to show her face to Kida, however when the creators back it up well enough this can do interesting things for the plot.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 13 May 2010 with categories: Durarara



So this episode delivers Kida’s background. I have a few problems with it, but that doesn’t take away that this was a very interesting episode. This episode has been hinted at ever since we saw that mysterious girl in the hospital, and I’ve been dying to know what happened to her. This episode tells exactly what’s up with her, and why she’s so important to Kida.

As amazing as a middle school gang leader may be, he was quite naive in thinking that he could just do what he wanted, and therefore ended up paying the price when the blue squares he was at war with went too far. While I don’t quite get why she’s still in the hospital after all these years (couldn’t she have gotten herself a wheelchair or something), it gave quite a bit of insight into Kida’s character. The reason he went back to the yellow scarves turns out to be the need to protect, ironically from the threat of the Dollars.

This has me slightly worried about an annoying climax, though. I mean, it’s another one of those “talk to each other dammit!”-finales. It’s going to have to come down to the creators properly balancing everything out and make it believable why the three friends refuse to talk to each other. I’m especially looking at Anri, now that she knows about Kida. Please talk to someone about it, rather than gathering your army of zombies in response.

We also finally learn about the strange board-game that Izaya has been playing: as it turns out the three kinds of pieces stand for the dollars, yellow scarves and saikas. In this episode he grabs a bunch of cards to symbolize the rest of the cast. It was just a way of foreshadowing and symbolism, and as everything went into flames here, another possibility of the ending could be total chaos, rather than total annoyance.

I liked this episode quite a bit now that the story is coming together very nicely. However, this episode did leave me disappointed in one area: the way that it did not show how Kida actually managed to become the respected leader of an army of people older than him as a middle schooler. It just starts him off as the leader, but we never actually get to see what makes him such a good one; we never get to see why he was so special. While Mikado and Anri had very good and believable reasons for being special, I just fail to see that with Kida: how did his network grow? How did he pull that one off? To attract these kinds of people you’d expect him to have tons of money, but we never see any hints for that.
Rating: * (Good)

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  • Emma
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 08:02 AM)
    Problems lie in pandering , the whole thing coming up largely paper thin and weak script and screenplay dragging it down to a poor pace and flat dialogue that render the film although only just over 90 minutes feel like 140 minutes. But this is by far the worst thing he’s ever worked on as far as I see it. There is some moments of comic relief but its not exactly all that amusing.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 08:02 AM)
    Well that’s me just finished Expelled from paradise. I will give credit where credit is due, though I do not care for the 3D CGI art and animation style when used in some anime in this film the full CG was much better done than usual even if it still looks noticeable, ugly to me.
    The action scenes when they happen are at least decently watchable enough, it’s a serviceable setup.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 08:02 AM)
    I believe there is a three hour star driver compilation film and wasn’t there going to be a follow up film?
  • lieo
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 05:42 AM)
    Did they make a session 2 of star draver
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 04:35 AM)
    Though its time to just get down to properly watching and continuing it now that my brother kept going on about it and now Aidan you are too.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 04:31 AM)
    Props then to Charlie Brooker then for that.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 04:30 AM)
    Honestly even I was pretty effected by black mirror and felt it was dark dark stuff and I’ve had a hard time watching beyond the first episode.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 03:29 AM)
    Damn…Black mirrors Christmas special was pretty chilling. Hope there’s a lot more episodes. 3 episodes per season is far too little an amount.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 02:38 AM)
    For those that are in a hurry to see it, heres a flawed but understandable I think subtitled release of expelled from paradise, might as well give it a look if you are an Urobuchi fan: http://www.nyaa.se/?page=view&tid=636163
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 02:33 AM)
    I think its important to remember, for those enjoying log horizon and parasyte, both of those are two cour so you can all still have those to follow next season so its not all bad.

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