Things I Like: Durarara!!

I’ve written quite a few posts lately about shows (cartoons) that have caught my attention for being bad or bland; so I figured it was high time I wrote something about a show (cartoon) that has caught my attention for being good. Durarara!! is that show. An anime that began airing Saturdays as part of the Adult Swim lineup, Durarara!!, or DRRR!!, for short, interests me, as it is one of the first story driven shows I’ve seen come out of J-Town to air on American television.

To sum up the official Adult Swim website’s description, DRRR!! is about a young boy, Mikado Ryugamine, who joins his childhood friend in the city of Ikebukuro, only to  get caught up in a crazy series of events involving his friends, rival gangs, a dangerous information broker, demonic blades, crazy people, and the “Black Rider”, a  headless Celtic creature of myth.

This is the most simple way to describe DRRR!!, but really, the show is about connections; the kind people make every day with their ambitions and actions, whether they realize what they are doing or not.

Mikado and his  old acquaintance, Masaomi Kida, along with new friend,  Anri Sonohara, don’t jest get swept up in the events in the series, but they all play important roles in what happens. Though each know they  plays a significant part in what is happening to the city, they seem none the wiser to each others involvement.

While the story may seem to revolve around these three characters, there are others with equally important roles.  Celty Sturluson is the “Black Rider”, a Dullahan from Ireland. A creature which traditionally appears as a harbinger of doom on horseback, clutching its disembodied head.  Celty currently works as an underground courier,  though she originally came to Japan seeking her lost head and the memories it holds. While many of the characters have  ties with each other, Celty is the one common thread between them all.

Shinra Kishitani, an underground doctor who knows Celty best, and is her lover, of sorts. He also knows much about her mysterious past, though he keeps most of these secrets to himself. Izaya Orihara is a devilish information broker who orchestrates much of what happens in DRRR!! for a reason only he knows.  The super-human Shizuo Heiwajima, is an enemy of Izaya and interacts with many of the characters due to his work as a “debt collector”.

The episodes, of which there are 25, usually involve a common event, and the different character’s perspectives on it. However, this is done in a variety of ways, and while some episodes may feature all of the characters, others may just focus on a few. Often, the characters intersect, even though they don’t know it, and the greater story seems driven by the continued revelations of just what they are involved in and how deeply it has impacted the lives of the others.

Yes, this is how every show should work, but this is where DRRR!! strays from most anime I’ve seen. It is truly character driven. The events are important, but almost inconsequential compared to the people, and the reasons, behind them. Everything about the characters is important, and not just to flesh out character stereotypes. It is almost as if everything is a secret, only to be revealed at the right moment.

I suppose I could just say it isn’t an anime about fighting, and is instead about human interaction. Yeah, there’s some fighting. There is also a fair bit of humor involved. DRRR!! also falls prey to some of my least favorite anime conventions, lengthy internal dialog and gratuitous gasping. Always suspect the quiet, large-breasted schoolgirl.

At this point, I’m not sure if I’ve done DRRR!! any justice with this post. In truth, I haven’t seen half of the series yet, but unlike many anime I stumble across, I will make it a point to watch this one start to finish some day.

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