Durarara, aka “Let’s milk the Bacanno fans.”
When Baccano! (henceforth B!) aired in 2007, it was received as a refreshing take on action/adventure/fantasy. Its story was told in non-linear fashion that was spanning centuries, by the various individual characters, each adding something to the plot. The pacing was fast, the characters were lively, and there was satisfying closure in only 12 episodes.
So 3 years later, the same guys make Durarara!! (henceforth D!!) a story with a similar feeling. Most expected a series that would be equally good or better than B! Why? Well, it would be a newer series; that’s supposed to mean better visuals and more mature storytelling, as the scriptwriter is supposed to learn and improve as years go by. Plus, the series was now 24 episodes instead of 12; which most assumed that it would be double as complicating.
But in the end it was none of the above. Let’s start with the story for example.
-The main scenario is already less exiting than B! A creature looking for its head and street gangs feel far less interesting that mafia and alchemists trying to cheat death in a span of centuries.
-The pacing was far looser and was getting slower and slower as it went on with the second half being as fast as a snail. The double duration turned boomerang against the series, as there was nothing left to fill it with.
-The ending is not really an ending. It resolved only a small portion of the issues involved, failing to wrap things up even if it was given double the duration.
-Even the setting itself felt less interesting. B! was set in Europe and America of the 20th century, a time and place quite uncommon in anime. D!! on the other hand was… Modern Japan. How typical is that?
-I could even nag about all the fan catering. B! had a few hints with perky and good looking characters but D!! goes overboard. You are being bombarded with otaku culture, like images and quotes from other anime. One of the main characters is the “indecisive lead” archetype which I loath as it has been used to death over the past decades. No more! Some may find that easier to relate too than that of B! as there is a high chance they are actually living like that, but no thanks. We already have anime specifically for that. D!! was supposed to be about the characters and not about otaku culture.
Also, one of the things I hated the most in B! was that couple of young kids running around with their super positive mannerism, doing silly things and acting as if the world is a fairy tale. Stupid brats; they ruined all the serious moments! And just when I thought D!! would lack such characters… It brought them back! ARGH! I wanted to smash my screen when they suddenly appeared. What is this crap? Why did this series turn to Gintama? And by the way, I DON’T FIND GINTAMA TO BE FUNNY! I find it to be a stupid Shounen Jump advertisement, in a similar way this show is full of otaku pattering.
So, anyways, I leave those two aside and pretend they didn’t exist. The rest of the original characters in the series must be better than this… ARGH! Celty! An otaku’s wet dream! The dreadful Dulahan of Irish mythology turned to a chick that either runs around naked or rides a bike in tight leather while wearing a helmet with… CAT EARS?!?!? For the love of God, the characters of this series are so damn made to fan-please, it becomes retarded.
Relax, deep breath, it can’t be that bad. Looks aside, they must at least be well developed and relevant to the plot… ARGH! Not even half of them are! Since the story was left incomplete, most are there for no reason… other than stupid FAN PLEASING! So retarded!
And by the way, very few of them count as support characters to be excused not developing. Most clearly have their own side stories and not being given their own arc is nothing else but a sign of “We ran out of time and ideas” trope. In fact, you easily see how the scriptwriter is wasting time towards the end as means to end the series without doing anything with them because he knew there wouldn’t be enough time for more arcs yet refused to end the series in less than 24 episodes. Retarded cubed!
ART & SOUND SECTIONS
Oh well, at least the external looks of the series are nice; that is something I guess. The backgrounds are artistic, using real photos with filters to make them look distorted and dirty. And characters are drawn with almost no shading or many details, while having a big liveliness in motion and facial expressions. The dialogues are smart and the music is very pleasing, although I didn’t find anything remarkable in all that. As artistic as it looks, having photographs and shadeless characters does strike as cheap for some, while the songs are not memorable.
VALUE & ENJOYMENT SECTIONS
Bottom line, this is far inferior to B! and even if not compared to it, it has a laggy and incomplete story, plus characters that are mostly style than substance. They should have remained to the 12 episode format.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 10/10
General Artwork 2/2 (looks great)
Character Figures 2/2 (generic but lively)
Backgrounds 2/2 (detailed)
Animation 2/2 (smooth)
Visual Effects 2/2 (artistic)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (silly but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 2/4 (average)
Sound Effects 3/3 (artistic)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (slow)
Complexity 2/2 (rich context)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 0/2 (open)
CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10
Presence 2/2 (cool/sexy)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 5/10
Historical Value 1/3 (a bit famous but hardly as much as Baccano)
Rewatchability 2/3 (low because of the slow and open ended story)
Memorability 2/4 (nice ideas and visuals but hardly exploited as they could have)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Art 1/1 (looks great)
Sound 0/2 (sounds uninteresting)
Story 1/3 (good ideas but not exploited properly)
Characters 1/4 (perky but not special)
And in case you wonder about my B! scoring, it gets 8 in all sections.