First Impressions – Durarara!!x2 Shou

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Considering how much has changed, watching Durarara!! is a remarkably familiar experience.

OP: “Headhunt” by Okamoto’s

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5 years and 2 says after the first anime premiered, Durarara!! is back with one of the most long-awaited and eagerly-anticipated sequels in recent anime history.  This show holds a particular place in my heart, as it was one of the very first anime I ever blogged – though truth be told, I actually prefer author Narita Ryohgo’s other series Baccano! by a good margin.  That’s as may be, though – given how much I love that series there’s plenty of room to come in below it in my esteem and still be a series I like an awful lot.

Durarara is certainly a series I like an awful lot.  I think the first cour of the 2010 adaptation was a good deal better than the second, but taken as a whole it was a highly worthwhile experience.  Narita has provided the source for some of the very best light-novel adaptations ever, and I think to some extent he’s a relic of another time in the LN market (which he references constantly in DRRR) – a time before formula became the all-powerful God, and most series seem as if they’re written with nothing more in mind than getting an anime adaptation ASAP.

In addition to the passage of four-and-a-half years since DRRR ended (though only six months on-screen), this new series also features a new studio – Shuka, formed jointly by director Omori Takahiro and producer Satou Yumi.  They were the heart and soul of Brains Base and DRRR one of its signature series, so seeing this new version produced elsewhere is more than a little sad for me.  That said, however, this show remains very much an Omori standard – you’d be hard-pressed to tell much of anything was different (and in fact, almost the entire staff list is identical).

As much as any show in recent memory, I think. Durarara!! has been much-imitated and never equalled.  Narita has a signature style in general – huge casts, action pinballing across the screen from setting to setting, self-referential humor, a narrative jumping forwards and backwards in time.  In DRRR there’s also a very distinctive sense of style – this series is cool and ironic in a way today’s LNs and their adaptations almost always try to be, and almost never are.  It made Ikebukuro a place I very much wanted to visit, though truth be told the real thing isn’t nearly so interesting as the fictional version Narita and Omori created.

As for that cast, it is indeed a big one.  I’m going to dispense with the usual listing of characters and linking their seiyuu here, as it would just be too exhausting – you can pretty much assume if they’re a big name, they’re in this show somewhere.  Truth to told it’s been long enough that I wish I’d had time to re-watch at least the last few episodes of the first series, because there are so many people and so much happens that it’s hard to remember every detail.  The most important characters are all touched-base with in the premiere, though Celty is the biggest focus – she’s subjecting herself to experimentation by Shinra’s father and his trophy wife and still fleeing from the media and Officer Kuzuhara (Hunter X Hunter has changed the way I look at that dynamic forever).  Kida is still missing from Ikebukuro (though we do get a look at him) and Mikado and Anri are still seemingly just friends.  Of the memorable Shizuo we get only the briefest glance, but he’ll surely rise in prominence soon enough.

Durarara certainly has enough style and wit to get by strictly on those charms, but the difference between the first and second cour was really the story – the first featured a really compelling and coherent plot, but things seemed to drift quite a bit in the second.  We’re dealing with the same source material here, with largely the same staff, so there’s not really any reason to suspect DRRR won’t sail along at a quality level at least on-par with the second cour.  Of course I’m hoping what we get is closer to the first, which would make it a contender for the year-end best lists.  There’s certainly plenty of time to find out, as the series is going to run in three split cours bleeding over into Winter 2016.  Any way you slice it, it’s great to have Durarara back – it’s a reminder that even if the imitations have become largely unwatchable, the original remains a hugely entertaining proposition.

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ED: “Never Say Never” by Three Lights Down Kings

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8 comments

  1. A

    I think they'd definitely upped the headless moe aspect of Celty in this episode. I kind of wish I'd had time to rewatch the original as well, but I do vaguely remember the characters at least. Looking forward to seeing where this goes.

  2. f

    I've read the translations of the fourth LN, and I think it's really good and similar to the tone of the first cour of season one – a bunch of things which are all connected to each other happen, all sorts of freaky coincidences occur, characters clash and it's just a lot of fun. I think it's going to be a fun ride.

  3. f

    I just realized I was being really vague in my attempt not to spoil anything, lol. Whoops!

  4. The vaguer the better, believe me. I've heard what you're saying before, that this next phase of the LNs is a good one – I hope so.

  5. s

    judging from the first ep, it seems that the director has gotten a better handle on how to make the non-linear story-telling a lot more seemless. The first core of durarara had non-linear story telling, but it was more segmented and not as cohesive. When i say "not as cohesive" I dont mean that the writing was bad or that things didnt come together nicely but that the scenes focused on particular people at one given time while hinting at things happening in the background rather than everything happening psuedo-sequencially.

    The second cour ended up being more linear which sort of turned-off people who liked the first cour so much while reeling in people who didnt like the first cour as much into the durarara fandom. This season (at least this ep) seems to tell the multiple narratives more seemlessly than it did in season one, almost as if you're just watching one big collage of seemingly non-sensical events happening in tandem (and at different moments in time). That's the biggest praise i can give this opening premiere. The fact that this season of durarara is going to be split 3 cours is really cool and it makes me hope that some really good stuff is on the way as alluded to by some LN readers.

  6. T

    I just want to ask the creator whom were his inspiration for these characters? I mean they are so out there and so much fun that its a question worth asking him someday lol

    While I wish there can be a baccano sequel I like durarara a lot and so I'm excited for a very fun ride.

  7. G

    I really liked the original. Celty is a great character. One thing I don't like about this sequel is that too many characters look the same making things confusing to figure out in an already complex story.

  8. S

    The art style is definitely a bit different in this season. In the first one, the outlines were thicker, there were less details, characters stayed on model more, and the movement was a bit more fluid. Other than that, same old Durarara- and goodness knows, I've missed it! Not just one but three seasons of this brilliance seems too go to be true. I'm guessing this is all cause Ryogo Narita finished the Durarara LN series. Which raises the question: when he finishes the Baccano LNs, will we get a sequel for those, too. Having dabbled a bit in the LN's, I can say that Baccano's plot branches out from the anime rather than moving forward- which makes an OVA series seem like the better fit. Either way, I've just happy to be in Ikebukuro again!

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