//Review Series – Durarara!! (No spoilers): Interconnection, paranormal, gang wars)

Review Series – Durarara!! (No spoilers): Interconnection, paranormal, gang wars)

It happened one of these days of the week when I found myself not knowing what to entertain myself with. I’m not a super fan of Japanese anime but I have some series that I have enjoyed for their content, situations, and story, and I felt like trying something different. Apart from the classics we grew up with, and a few gems like Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo (which I discovered because of CB’s creators), Elfen Lied or Hellsing, I don’t have many references about what could be a series that would entertain me for a couple of days, and that I wouldn’t have to spend several months catching up with the plot. But thanks to some research on Discord channels, I discovered Durarara!! (or DRRR!! abbreviated), an anime of 25 episodes that quickly became one of those series that I can recommend without knowing much about the anime genre.

BY: Elis

Image from: Justwatch.com

“Who is the main character?”
– Yes
“Okay? And who’s the villain?”
– Uh-huh
“Whatever. What’s the plot?”
– Yep
— Comment on YouTube


First part – For those who haven’t seen the series.

The series begins as one would assume a typical anime series begins: A boy (Mikado Ryugamine) comes to study in a new city (Ikebukuro, Tokyo district) where he meets a childhood friend (Masaomi Kida), who shows him around the city, introduces him to some friends, and explains in broad terms who he can trust and who he shouldn’t mess with. It introduces us to the conflicts between the color gangs and shares rumors of a mysterious colorless gang that no one knows. In addition there’s an urban legend of a headless motorcyclist that appears and disappears through the city streets. And frankly, this is where the story stops being conventional.

This particular series offers us a very good pace with its varied occurrences, between confrontations and betrayals between gangs, paranormal activities, criminal encounters, philosophical questions about human interconnection, high school romances, sad revelations, friendship stories, and comedic situations.


And this is because this series has many, many characters. To start, we have between 8 and 10 main characters (!), plus around 25 secondary characters (!!), plus many others who come and go, divided into, depending on how much you have advanced in the anime, between 4 and 7 factions, with about 7 defined story arcs that intertwine, intersect, and blend at different points in the story.

Sometimes, especially at the beginning, it’s difficult to get an idea of who is who, but as the series progresses, we realize that the characters are grouped into defined clusters with their own interests, aspirations, and ways of life. However, as the story progresses, the sides change, separate, combine, and betray in a way that immediately reminds me of the intrigues of Game of Thrones.

And it’s that in Durarara!! each story arc influences the others, very much in the style of a Guy Ritchie or a Tarantino movie, the situations in one arc change because of what happened in another. It’s a combination of a puzzle and a chess game that unfolds little by little. I couldn’t find a chapter where any mention or change of circumstance doesn’t become a moment that makes you point at the screen and shout “aha!” Every new revelation (and believe me, in this series everyone has something to hide) makes you review what happened, reassemble the puzzle, and see more clearly the overall picture, as well as the implications it will have for the other arcs. Even our common and ordinary Mikado Ryugamine, who initially serves as our eyes knowing the peculiarities and secrets of the Ikebukuro district, has moments that completely shake our perception of the general situation. If I could oversimplify the series in two words, they would be: completely unpredictable.

Durarara!! was produced for the 2010s and isn’t afraid to show that it’s a product of its era. Chat forums, emails, internet search engines, and cell phone use are not only common but essential for the characters. It’s not afraid to parody real brands (my favorite was Yohoo! the internet search engine) and pays attention to details like real website errors. It touches on topics like the use of the internet as a tool for human connection and discusses the shortcomings and insecurities that accompany urban life.

The sound has several pieces that give us the tone of the scene: For example, there’s a somewhat rustic version of Für Elise that tends to announce to us that what’s happening is part of everyday life, while another musical cue warns us that what is being discussed is important to the story, or that something unexpected is about to be revealed. There are also important visual cues, such as the tendency to decolorize those who are not immediately related to the current conflict.

In my opinion, the music of the openings and endings is easily forgettable, although the visual sequences reflect very well the theme of interrelation that permeates Durarara!!. I would say that the first sequence of the opening is the best way to understand how the characters relate to each other:


My only real criticism is that sometimes some arcs seem to remain unresolved, and sometimes, the revelations, no matter how serious they are, seem to have not much consequence. I feel like the series declined a bit after the big moment in episode 10. As viewers, we stop being outsiders to the situations. We start to see moments where we know the circumstances that the characters are not aware of, and for a good part, scenes of intertwined story arcs are somewhat set aside in favor of a more conventional conflict. The series becomes less of a puzzle and more of a chess game. Still, they manage to appear revelations that throw us a curve to what we thought was happening, and the final chapters manage to retake those characteristics that have made me recommend watching it.
Perhaps Durarara!!x2 will close some of these stories more appropriately.