Durarara!! – 1
With the first episode of Durarara!! also comes the first series this season where I feel completely confident in saying I will enjoy this show the whole way through. Maybe Sora no Woto and Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu will both come through later (and I’m still waiting to try Ookami Kakushi and Dance in the Vampire Bund, along with other yet to be aired series), but Durarara!! is the real deal.
Now, I don’t want to completely jizz all over this episode and pretend it’s some masterpiece — it’s not. The pace is initially slow (which feels slightly weird for the type of story this will eventually become), and we’re just getting bits and pieces of most of the characters right now. However, what it gets right almost immediately is the feel of things. The whole tone of this episode feels as if it is tapping into that free-flowing, jazzy type of atmosphere that made Baccano! so fun to watch. Durarara!! isn’t as stylish as Baccano! by a longshot (not yet, anyway), nor is its first episode as out there, but the potential is there. You can just feel it.
The first part of the episode might be slow, but I think it works to the extent it can work because Kida and Mikado give off the impression that they’ve been friends for a long time. We all know that one guy (or gal) who knows literally everything about a town, especially all the crazy stuff, and Kida is that guy. He knows exactly how to deal with Mikado: The guy’s a bit of a chicken, and he’s never been on his own for any appreciable amount of time, so Kida constantly works at him, regaling him with silly jokes, tossing out anecdotes that will make him excited about the city, warning him about certain things so Mikado knows what’s up and so on. Not terribly exciting from a narrative standpoint, but I enjoyed seeing how their relationship works and running into the random places, events and people in the city from their point of view.
The real excitement, of course, comes from the headless rider ripping through those low-level gangsters who seem to be running some sort of human trafficking ring. (Selling young girls into prostitution? Or maybe they were just collecting new girls for Shugo Chara! Party‘s live action sequences.) Most of the violence is suggested rather than the crazy brutality shown in Baccano! (aside from the rider ramming the motorcycle tire into that one punk’s head), but the action is pretty good regardless. Like Baccano! this series is getting into the mystical right away; the rider is a tangible being, but at the same time not as easily felled as regular Joes by petty attacks such as tasing and being run over by a van.
I’m kind of wondering what horrible fate comes from being slashed by that scythe, too. No blood spilled from the guy that I can see; instead, he seemed to be in a stupor, just staring mindlessly at the ground after being attacked. Fun stuff.
At any rate, the first episode mainly offers little bits and pieces about what kind of craziness is to come: The girl with the scar that wraps around (?) her neck, the headless rider kicking ass and taking names throughout the city, the little girl swiping, and whatever other dangerous activities are going on. That Simon guy looks badass too. There’s no way this series has a big Russian black man and doesn’t have him furiously beat the shit out of someone at some point. And it will be guaranteed awesome. I’m also looking forward to more of Izaya Orihara, the dangerous man Kida told Mikado to stay away from. I don’t think I’ve heard Hiroshi Kamiya voice a straight up evil bastard before (unless you count Tieria being a dickhead for the first two-thirds of Gundam 00‘s first season, which I don’t), so that will be fun.
Color me excited for the rest of Durarara‘s run!!