Final Thoughts on Durarara!!

Pretty depressing picture though….

The city. That was the initial premise for Durarara!! And to be honest, it’s that premise that initially drew me into the show. The mysteriousness of the city, the variety in cities, their absolute incredible nature to bring so many people and things together in ways that would amaze anyone. I love settings like this, especially when done well, because the power of the city naturally lends itself to incredible stories. And after watching all 24 episodes, I have no doubt that Durarara played that setting in a masterful way.

To me, and I’m sure many others, we can separate Durarara into two separate halves – the first 12 episodes focused on a much broader perspective of various characters, with Celty’s head being the object that ties the various characters together. The latter 12 episodes took a much more in depth look at the characters, with the overall narrative of the show shifting to the escalating gang wars happening in the city.

I’m sure that many people were disappointed at the lack of energy in the second half of the series. But that’s to be expected. In many ways, the course of the show followed the story of the typical “new guy” to the city – Mikado. When he first entered the city, there was this unspeakable thrill. The thrill of a new beginning. Entering the city is akin to being reborn. You’re leaving your old self behind, your tradition, your familial roots, and coming to the city to seek opportunity and new thrills. And that’s precisely what Mikado came to the city to do. There’s only so much to be done in the world outside of big cities. The city is where freedom reigns, where you can do anything you want, find something interesting.

Even ride down buildings on motorcycles! Wait…

Yet as you stay longer in the city, a different feeling comes over you. The thrill of discovering new people and new things soon settles down, and soon you discover the dark side of the city. The Color wars, the violence, the Slashers, the supernatural – they’re all part of a new side to the city. And soon, you get to know the inhabitants more. Their quirks, their bad side, and their good side.

And that, I feel, is what Durarara did correctly. The entire series itself builds such an incredible atmosphere, that I feel like I’m truly along for the ride. I feel the rush of excitement when I enter the city, and I feel wonder when the new city smell fades and I take a much closer look at everyone who makes up the city.

At the same time, I can’t honestly say that Durarara!! is one of my top animes of the season. There is a lot that it does wrong, or at least could have been done better. For one, the pacing just felt… off. I can’t necessarily indicate a specific reason why, but the problem with the pacing runs deeper than merely the disconnect between episodes 12 and 13. There are times when that feeling of exhilaration built up gets cut short because of rather strange dialogue scenes that get inserted. This stood out far more often in the second half of the show, though there were points in the first half where I had the same feeling.

Why yes! You are talking sentimentally during a fight!

There’s also the strange feeling of inconclusiveness that marks the end of the show. The ending of the show leads me to believe that there will be a season two, mostly because of the lack of any sort of plot movement concerning the “awakening of the head” that was dropped as a cliffhanger in episode 12. That really irritated me because it feels as if that entire train of thought got thrown aside.

The final point of complaint that I’ll bring is against the characters. At points I feel as if the main characters were too unbelievable. One major issue was the Celty x Shinra thing, which I feel sprouted out of nowhere, with not enough emphasis on Celty’s train of thought leading up to her acceptance of Shinra’s love. Aside from that, I felt rather frustrated with Kida’s and Mikado’s actions in the 2nd half of the show, as they seemed a bit too childish. I’m not sure shutting down the Dollars site would do really anything, nor would ignoring the Yellow Scarves. But whatever. Another problem was just how multiple characters were introduced, played a large part in the plot action of a few episodes, and then left to rot. Key examples would be Shingen and the traffic cop (I totally forgot his name. He was in, what, two episodes).

Seriously what happened to him? I want more of his antics!

That is not to say though, that I disliked the characters. They were probably some of the highlights of the series. Adding in a bit of fanboyism, I have to say that my favorite group has to be Dotachin and co. Appropriate comedic relief, yet extremely serious when they needed to be. Aside from that, I felt that a lot of characters were fleshed out really well, and I didn’t really feel that there were too many characters where I just didn’t understand them, aside from a few like the two mentioned above.

However, I will have to say that my overall feeling of Durarara is positive. The story is involving, and one of the best parts about the show is the soundtrack. You can find zzeroparticle’s review here, but I’ll just say that the music worked so well with the setting of the city, and was a vital component in bringing it all alive. If anything won me over, it has to be the setting. It was for me a kickback to Gothom City from Batman in that all different sorts of characters appear in the city, from the country boy to an Irish Dullahan to an insane information broker to a pacifist Russian advertiser. I love the way that the show depicted the city, but you’ve probably heard enough from me about that.

The show also tackles numerous other themes in the second half of the show, where the show shifted to a much more character driven approach. Each of the main characters came to symbolize a certain conflict. For Kida it was the guilt he felt over his past, for Anri it was her fundamental personality and emotional issues brought about by childhood trauma, and for Masaomi it was his own childishness and inexperience. Each character has his or her own personal issues, and the events occurring in the city caused them to reexamine themselves. Kida and Anri just want to have a normal high school life, but their idealistic view of being able to dodge the past is challenged and finally brought down. Ultimately, they became stronger by confronting the ghosts of their past, as running away and ignoring their past only brought them troubles. For Celty, the entire series was a quest for her own identity. After her head was stolen, her sole mission was to reclaim it, but she soon realizes that perhaps she doesn’t need her head. She can recreate her own identity, and she doesn’t need to be confined to her past memories.

In any case, that’s enough about Durarara!! The show is a great work, but can throw some people off. Should you watch it? Give it a try at least. Depending on your tastes, you may or may not like the show. At the very least you should watch it to understand the Shizuo x Izaya Doujins that are going to be popping up soon

PS – I find it funny that I have a screenshot from every single sub group whose releases I downloaded to watch this show. And I swear that it was just by chance.

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29 Comments

  1. Rayneman
    Posted June 25, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    I agree it was a good series, thought the pacing at the end was off. The end was satisfying though, I would of preferred their was a more epic battle between yellow scarves/blue squares (what should we consider them? The people at the end were mostly blue squares loyal to horada).

    Anyway great series, has to be a second season two with all the plotlines left open.

    I think the cops name is like kinnoske kizusomethingorrather

  2. Posted June 26, 2010 at 2:19 am | Permalink

    I still have to finish the series, but I have no regrets with solely focusing on Tatami Galaxy, especially in light of the entire series. Durarara was great (from what I’ve seen), but Tatami Galaxy just trumps it.

    • Posted June 26, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

      I agree. Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei is one of those shows that comes along once in a blue moon… I wonder when we’ll get another show like it again?

      Durarara does appeal to its own niche though.

  3. vin-nii
    Posted June 26, 2010 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    quite a amount of
    plot holes and loose end i see
    second season then?

    vin-nii

  4. Posted June 26, 2010 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    I think the first 12 episodes of this show were pretty awesome. If the show just ended there I would have been pretty happy with it. As for the second half, while it wasn’t exactly a trainwreck, it was pretty dumb.

    I don’t agree with your assertion that Kida and Masaomi were too ‘childish’ in the second half, because… well… they ARE children! Their actions are pretty consistent with kids their age.

    What I do find a bit funny though is the whole idea of the ‘gang warfare’ in this show. They show off Ikebukoro as some scary place, with all of these gangs. The sad thing is, go to any other country outside of East Asia and “gangs” like the Yellow Scarves would be complete laughingstocks. These guys hang out and beat people up. Where’s the drug dealing? Where’s the protection money? Where’s the underage prostitution? Actually I’m not even sure if the REAL Japanese gangs (the Yakuza) would allow such a large organized gang to exist in the first place.

    • Posted June 26, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      I can kind of understand Mikado’s actions in the second half, but I have trouble understanding Kida’s actions. After all, he’s been through so much more than Mikado. He’s seen his love’s legs get broken, he’s been betrayed by Izaya, he’s been the leader of the Yellow Scarves, and he’s fought against another gang. To get completely disillusioned by what he’s been through just seems to me like he hasn’t learned at all.

      Well, I think we had a sneak peek at the real Yazuka in the form of that guy (don’t remember his name) that the journalist (Haruna’s father) went to see. I wouldn’t think that they perceive a bunch of rowdy teenage boys as a threat to their operations. And if what Jaysus says is true, then apparently there’s more to Ikebukuro than just the Yellow Scarves and Blue Squares..

  5. Jaysus
    Posted June 26, 2010 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    After spoiling some of the details for the novels, I can say that things get a lot darker and there are some major changes in some characters that provide for VERY interesting developments. The novels plunges you deeper into the underworld of the city.

    While the second half of the series seems a bit of a let down after the first half, it’s all necessary for the future progression of the story. The other novels get into Russian Sushi’s characters, the Yakuza, Shizuo’s brother, and introduces a slew of new, awesome characters. Wait till you see Mikado and Anri’s kouhais (I’m being as vague as possible so that I don’t give anything away). And for one of them, you had to have the second half of the series in order to really understand his character.

    • Posted June 26, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      That makes me more hopeful that there will be a second season. C’mon! *fingers crossed*

  6. SA
    Posted June 26, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    “Kida and Masaomi”

    You mean Kida and Mikado?

  7. akani
    Posted June 26, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    “Aside from that, I felt rather frustrated with Kida’s and Masaomi’s actions in the 2nd half of the show, as they seemed a bit too childish.”

    Um, Masaomi IS Kida. Masaomi is his given name. Perhaps you mean Mikado?

    Yeah, I agree that Mikado was pretty childish, but given the circumstances it’s understandable. In the light novels he’s pretty epic. Scary, too.

    I felt that Durarara!! ended on a satisfying note. A second season would be great, but it wouldn’t be as fun since Masaomi won’t be there except through Bakyura.

    • Posted June 26, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

      /facepalm Yes I did mean Mikado =D

      I just have trouble believing that anyone is naive enough to think that by disbanding the Dollars, the attacks would be solved. Or even that not talking to Kida would solve the problem either. But whatever I suppose… And I really need to read the light novels or something. But first that would require learning a bunch of kanji @_@

      • Jaysus
        Posted June 26, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

        You should visit: http://anni-fiesta.livejournal.com/

        The nice author of that blog is in the middle of finishing up Book #4, with hopes of doing the other ones as well.

        • Posted June 27, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

          Woah thanks for the heads up! I’ll find the time to go through that ^^

  8. Posted June 26, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I think you hit the nail on the head with the story style. Something I didn’t even think about until the end is how the setting is realistic, and instead we just have some fantastical aspects added in. So while the ending felt underwhelming, it’s also how almost every city in the world behaves on a regular basis. I think with a little bit better pacing in the second half of the series, it could have sealed the deal on it. We needed a big buildup in the four episodes preceding the finale, but instead it stayed at the same relatively slow speed throughout.

    • Posted June 26, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, the slower pacing in the second half of the show definitely made the show lose a lot of its momentum that was built up in the first half of the show. I still liked the second half, if only because I did like the greater focus on the characters.

  9. Tanuki
    Posted June 26, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Well, there is gotta be a extra dvd-only episode with the last dvd volume and will feature 2 new characters from the novel. And it’s Izaya’s little twin sisters Mairu and Kururi! So they’ll definitely liven things up a bit. It’s just too bad we won’t see it for a long while.

    • Jaysus
      Posted June 27, 2010 at 12:30 am | Permalink

      They’re going to need a lot more than just an OVA to handle that story. It involves a whole lot of people that you just can’t cut out. Oh… and you’re forgetting about the third kouhai who’s just as awesome, but in a totally different way.

      • Tanuki
        Posted June 27, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        I know that of course and depending what they are planning with ep25, it might or might not include Aoba Kuronuma. Although, I doubt brainbase is going to start vol4 of the novel with an ova. I just said Mairu and Kururi because they were confirmed to be in it and Aoba isn’t confirm yet.

        • Jaysus
          Posted June 27, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

          Ah… gotcha.

          I’m not a fan of that decision by brainbase. It ruins the great first impression they make.

  10. Chan
    Posted June 27, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Judging from the way that they strayed from the novel there probably won’t be a second season, considering that most of the things that didn’t expand on become important later on. That being said the anime version of Durarara!! is much more idealistic than the original novels, I can’t say if this is a good thing or a bad thing (though in Mikado’s case it may be a bad thing).

    The anime was good though, and I enjoyed it.

  11. Posted June 27, 2010 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Really loved this series was very enjoyable at times, but also had a few boring episodes closer to the end I found myself getting bored just wanting it to hurry up and end. The story at first I thought would be just about Celty getting her head back, but guess they wanted to show off the other characters.

    Guess I need to find the manga and check that out! now to wait and see what they do with this, with the way it ended they should do a Ova or something but guess ill wait for the Dvd to catch the 25th episode!

  12. blind_dead_mcjones
    Posted June 29, 2010 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    i would disagree on mikado’s decision to shut down dollars, if anything it makes the show that little bit more believeable, given that Mikado IS that naive,

    as for kida he was kinda being manipulated by Izaya who was using saki to guilt trip him, people in that kind of situation aren’t known to make sound, rational, or logical decision making

    also its a very human reaction in regards to dealing with a problem to just ignore it and pretend it will go away.

    as for the ending, well given the novels are still ongoing and the anime barely even scratches the surface there really wasn’t any other satisfactory way of ending it, i wouldn’t hold out hopes for a 2nd second season though as baccano! still hasn’t gotten one yet

  13. Sarah
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    I love this series so much,
    it’s also very hilarious! , it slaps a smile across your face
    Izaya deserved that punch

    And I hope there will be a second season
    Well, Izaya still has Celty’s head, ( • u •)

    The end was very satisfying, sure, there wasn’t any large explosions or a gigantic war, but that shows how realistic it can get,

    Wonderful series!

  14. Posted July 3, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    ‘Adding in a bit of fanboyism, I have to say that my favorite group has to be Dotachin and co. ‘ I can certainly see why. Also glad to see Dotachin gettin his arse-kicking freak on in the final epi.

    Adding in a bit of fangirlism, I have to say (er for the Nth time lol) that my favorite character has to be…the freakin awesomeness that is Shizuo! :p

  15. Mabui
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    I sometimes wonder if I should feel bad about dropping this show at the halfway point conclusion – I just sort of felt as if it was a good end and I had enough.

  16. Noodles :D
    Posted July 26, 2010 at 2:36 am | Permalink

    I have to say, i really liked the second half of the season. Yes i have to admit that the pacing of the story near the end was pretty slow( when i was on the 23rd episode i was like “what about Celty’s head and her fear of traffic cops, and Izaya’s Vallhalla dream and stuff, what happens to Namie? and wheres that idiot Shingen? they cant cover all of this in one last episode”) but the stuff with Saika *spoilers* that is before anyone finds out that Anri is infact Saika, I was always on the edge of my seat freaking out on the eerie chat messages and that scary music that reminded me of Siren:blood curse :P it was quite the thrill and i was expecting some actual monster being Saika who would eventually be put an end to instead of Anri being Saika and then joining forces with everyone after all that slaughter :P

  17. Noodles :D
    Posted July 26, 2010 at 2:37 am | Permalink

    But the ending was somewhat satisfying and with all the loopholes there probably will be a second season *fingers crossed* :D

  18. AnnaBanana
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    I felt like the ending of the series was quite anticlimactic. I was expecting a MASSIVE fight between the Yellow Scarves and the Blue Squares (and maybe even Saika’s followers). Even though there was a fight…I don’t know, it wasn’t as big as I was expecting. You’re right about the dialog scenes and how they were put in the wrong places.But stopping in the middle of a fight to talk to your beaten up friend is not the most realistic of scenes.

    Also, was I the only one who was waiting on some more background info with some of the other characters? Izaya as the main example. We don’t know anything about him other than the fact that he’s an information broker who likes to mess with people. I was expecting a whole episode dedicated to his past like they did with Shizuo. I was really disappointed about not knowing how he got to the way he is now. And I’ve heard that he has twin sisters that weren’t even mentioned in the anime. So, I’m still hoping for a 2nd season to explain things! In the mean time, I should check out those light novels…

    Basically, if the ending was a bit more action packed and there was more background info on some characters, Durarara!! would’ve been an A+ anime in my opinion. Still an enjoyable watch, none the less!

  19. Ay
    Posted September 12, 2012 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    I’ve just finish watching Durarara! :D
    And I think there would be Durarara 2nd season because there’s still a lot to be shown, no? XD

    I hope it’ll be like fullmetal alchemist which in the end give 2nd season .. (even though it’s 5 or 6 years after) *laugh*
    But then again let’s wait patiently for the 2nd season :D

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