Okay, so, I’ve been stewing on this one for a while, if we’re being honest. I started Durarara!! with an expectation. I expected that this series was going to be a stylish tale about noir and intrigue that would eventually tie all of the threads together somewhere near the end and allow the main characters to find some semblance of peace. Instead, what I got was a very confusing soap opera with far too many characters that have simply no point whatsoever. I cannot believe that so much time was devoted on the introductions and clever ways that characters can be thrown together, all to be shattered by the idea of mere coincidence taking over the main plot points.
What do I mean by that? Well, literally, the entire plot basically boils down to everyone being at the right place at the right time. There is not a single situation that cannot be defined by someone being spotted while they’re out and about, or a convenient meeting that is passed off as some sort of divine chess game orchestrated by forces that are out of their control. It gets a little hard to stomach at points, and the consistent bashing of coincidence down your throat can easily get tiresome. At certain points, I found myself so bored with the show’s grandiose feelings of harbored superiority. It almost felt as though the show thought it was so smart that it lost its ability to relate to the audience.
Once again, I do have to say, WAY too many characters. The main cast numbers somewhere around thirteen characters, most of which don’t really play any kind of a major role. I understand that the story revolves around the three children: Mikado Ryugamine, Anri Sonohara, and Kida Masaomi.It also revolves around the idea that each of them has hidden darkness and hidden secrets…but AGAIN, even these three are thrown together by fate. Also, the extremely forced love triangle between the three is eye rollingly mediocre writing at its best, and it’s probably one of the most odd writing choices I’ve seen in a long time at its worst.
While there are some cool moments between folks like Izaya and Shizuo, other characters fall through the cracks. Characters like Celty are built up to be so amazing, powerful, and world altering, but then fall flat in comparison to other characters. You spend so much time with characters that don’t matter. You spend even more time with characters that are extremely boring. Each time, the story loses a bit of its steam, and its very hard to consistently keep up a solid pace. Yes, I understand the story is mean to be a bit slow. Slow is the name of the game in these “lay the groundwork and then let the threads all tie together” type of show. In the same token, there are a million other examples of both Western programming and anime that do this ten times better
Despite all of this, there are definitely some positives. While the animation is pretty bland, and there isn’t anything that makes the show stand out, it does have some very cool moments. The music is always pretty fantastic, with both opening and ending scores usually being something worth listening to. Also, the cool characters keep getting cooler, and the idea of super powered people pulling the strings is also fairly interesting…unfortunately the execution is definitely lacking.
Even though Durarara!! has an interesting premise, the lackluster execution is extremely difficult to keep a solid grasp on. When you look at all of the moving pieces, and attempt to make the gears work as one cohesive machine, the whole thing really does fall apart. Its ultimately very boring, yet can be captivating in some of its finer moments. It’s one of those anime you’ll wish you never started watching, because you’ll want to see it through to the end…but you’ll also be so bored you can’t wait to finish the entire season.