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