The main male protagonist.
The penultimate review for the ongoing ‘Anime of the Year 2010’ audition will be made specifically for Durarara!! ahead of B gata H kei. I’m saving the latter for the finale of the audition because I have heard ‘good’ things about it. It is not to say that the former isn’t good; in fact it is and is able to go toe-to-toe with the current front-runner for the ‘Anime of the Year 2010’ award, Working!!
This beautiful long-haired brunette here, who is immortal and ride a bad-ass motorcycle that is every environmentalists' wet dream, is our silent main female protagonist. Did I say she is beautiful? You can gawk at her beauty with the picture above.
A country bumpkin who has a thing for big breasts, enrolls in a private high-school in Ikebukuro, Tokyo after being invited there by his old friend. Never being out from his rural village before, his wish for a life out of the ordinary was swiftly fulfilled as he encounters the upright, law-abiding and outstanding Ikebukuro icons; such as a Ghost Rider-like female grim reaper who is looking for her missing head, a Sadako-like sword-toting freak who slashed people randomly, a debt collector who hurled vending machines at other people, an informant who likes to stomp on mobile phones and more. Thinking about it, this anime is no different than Arakawa Under The Bridge after all.
This anime spends the first 8 or 9 episodes or so planting the multiple story arcs that will converge themselves later, and also do character introductions and developments. Prominent in this phase is the Kara no Kyoukai-style time-shuffling story presentation technique, usually applies in character-specific episodes like the ones for the aforementioned grim reaper and the debt collector. In fact, I think this anime uses that technique better than Kara no Kyoukai did. After the initial phase, the multiple story arcs mentioned above has merged into a single multi-faceted larger storyline that flows very smoothly with flawless pacing, all the way to the ending.
The story itself is very good and has one trait that is rarely seen in other titles in the same shounen genre: unpredictability. This anime has its fair share of plot twists that steered the story in a different direction compared to what I have originally predicted in the course of watching this anime. For example, at first, I thought that the story would paint itself a darker tone in the middle of the series during the Sadako slasher arc but eventually it doesn’t, taking up a more conservative turn instead. In hindsight, while the anime doesn’t go far enough out from the mainstream in that arc, the alternative turning point the anime has taken is not that bad either.
This anime also have some references to other anime/manga/novel titles. A very glaring example is the wolf-girl cut-out board early in the series. It was so blatant that even I, who are used to external references done by other anime titles, paused the episode at that point wondering whether this anime is trying to pull my leg or something. The only weak aspect of this anime’s storyline would be the ending, which amounts to nearly nothing at the end despite the frenetic activities in the flurry of events that makes up the final 3 or 4 episodes. So many things happened, yet nothing is over. The ending set up a potential second season very nicely though, although if ANN is to be believed, there is none in the pipelines.
Character developments in this anime are done very well all-around. The ones that really shine includes the main antagonist and the main protagonist’s best friend. Talking about character developments, the main female protagonist has a very weird and negative character developments strategy. She is a cool character up until the scene where she performed that skyscraper-descending bike stunt (the Ghost Rider movie also has a similar stunt) before kicking plenty of asses, halfway in the series. Right after that, she forgot that she has a head to find and highly likely, she forgot that she is a grim reaper too. Being separated from her head sure does serious damage on her personality.
Proof that the Japanese in this anime who doesn't have black hairs dyed theirs. This probably applies too for characters in other anime titles.
The character design in this anime is just your average shounen genre stuff. Black hairs are quite common though, and those who doesn’t have one has definitely dyed their hairs. See above.
This anime has done very well in this aspect overall. Outstanding characters notable for their voice actors/actresses great jobs includes the two best characters in this anime, the grim reaper and the slasher. Definitely a positive for this anime.
The main antagonist and also one of the two best characters in this anime.
The OST of this anime is excellent, definitely the best one amongst all 9 anime titles reviewed in the audition so far, by a million miles. B gata H kei will have a lot of work to do to match this anime in this department. Too bad though that the four OP/ED themes cannot keep up with the OST excellence, with only 1st ED theme worth listening.
Animation quality in this anime is good, even in fast-paced scenes. This anime did use that blurry animation technique mentioned negatively before in this blog, but only briefly and under the correct context (flashbacks), therefore I will let this one slide. Choreography in action scenes is decent overall. The director has done a very good job in this anime, as seen in my commentary about the presentation aspects in the story section above.
The main male protagonist's best friend, also one of the best characters in this anime.
9 out of 10, the same score as Working!! I would not proclaim this anime to be the new front-runner for the ‘Anime of the Year 2010’ title though, because the final anime in the audition, B gata H kei, may gazump both of them with a perfect score and run away with the title instead. The next entry will definitely see a new winner at the sidebar of this blog for 2010, joining (as of writing) Chocotto Sister (2006), Bokurano (2007), One Outs (2008) and Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (2009).
Just one of the creepy monsters that inhabits modern Tokyo, therefore YOU SHOULD NOT GO THERE!